November 21, 2013
Guest: Judith Browne-Dianis, Steve McMahon, Vincent Bugliosi
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Attack!
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York.
"Let Me Start" tonight with today`s daring attack, the Democratic
breakout that could change the course of this political war. Nothing is
more daring or more effective than the attack from a defensive position.
It`s how Henry V won at Agincourt, how Alexander defeated the Persians.
While that`s true of military strategy, it`s also true of political
strategy, go from the defensive make time (ph) go on the attack.
Well, today, the Democratic leadership struck with all its pent-up
fury. It broke through the lines that have strangled every effort to move
the country forward, that have tried to kill every nomination, every policy
initiative for rebuilding the country`s economy, for fixing the immigration
system, for bringing equality of opportunity to the workplace, the same
forces that have tried choking the president`s health care law in its crib.
Well, as Diana Washington once sang, "What a difference a day makes."
Due to the action of the Senate Democrats today, there will be no more 60-
vote requirements to get the president`s appointments confirmed, no more
dallying around and delay tactics, no more Mickey Mouse. And with any
luck, there will be action.
Steve Kornacki is the host of "UP" weekend mornings on MSNBC, and Joan
Walsh is an editor at Salon and an MSNBC political analyst .
Well, the president`s enemies have made history in both the ferocity
and frequency of their attacks against the most basic rights of a president
to run a functioning government. In February, they challenged his right to
defend the country by temporarily blocking Chuck Hagel to head the
Pentagon. It was the first ever filibuster of a Pentagon chief.
They challenged the president`s right to protect consumers by holding
up his nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for two
full years. That nominee was finally confirmed in July.
In October, they challenged his right to an economic agenda by
blocking the nomination of Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance
Agency. Watt was the first sitting member of Congress to be denied
confirmation to any office since the Civil War.
And most recently, they challenged the president`s right to appoint
any judges. Between October 31st and November 18th, they shot down all
three of the president`s nominees to the D.C. court of appeals.
Well, the president, along with Democrats, are on the attack as of
today. As I mentioned, today they invoked what`s known as the nuclear
option. It kills the Republican threat of a filibuster on most
But the bigger message behind the move is clear. Democrats and this
president have gone to war with their enemies, finally.
Let`s listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today`s pattern of
obstruction -- it just isn`t normal. It`s not what our founders
envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no
matter what the merits just to refight the results of an election is not
normal. And for the sake of future generations we can`t let it become
normal. This isn`t obstruction on substance, on qualifications, it`s just
to gum up the works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s what they`ve been doing. Steve, run through the
implications of this. I was -- I knew this might be coming. The Senate
majority leader, Harry Reid, was talking about it. They talked it back a
while ago. They cut some deals. McCain did some good work there. But
they kept coming at Obama. They kept saying, You don`t count as president,
you can`t pick your cabinet, we`re going to question the patriotism of your
cabinet, we`re going to vote against everything.
Leading the charge, of course, has been Ted Cruz, the worst of the
bunch, who votes against everything. And by the way, I`ve said this. If
the Caroline Kennedy`s nomination had come to the floor, I would have bet
on Cruz to vote against that, for ambassador to Japan -- total negativity.
And now the Democrats have taken the attack against it.
STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Well, that`s just the
interesting thing about this because when we first started hearing
rumblings of the nuclear option the last few weeks and we started looking
at these nominees to the circuit court being denied the up-or-down votes
that the Democrats wanted, I think we all said this is a scene in a play
that we`ve seen before and we`re about to see again where Harry Reid will
make the threats, it will come to the wire.
And then there`ll be some kind of a deal struck. A gang of six, a
gang of eight, a gang of fourteen, whatever it is, will want to step
forward to sort of preserve this tradition in the Senate.
The amazing thing here is -- to me, is two things. One is the
Republicans put President Obama, they put Harry Reid and they put the
Democratic Party in a position where if it did -- if they did anything
other than what they did today, they would have looked weak.
This is a move Democrats had to make. Republicans put them in a
position where, basically, Republicans were saying, We are not going to
honor the power of the president to put his appointees through in the wake
of an election...
KORNACKI: ... that he won. So they put them in a position where they
had to do this.
But the amazing thing to me is you did not hear in the last few days,
as this moment drew closer -- you did not hear what you`ve heard every time
this has happened in the past, and that is the McCains and the Grahams,
maybe the Corkers, whoever, stepping forward and saying, OK let`s find a
way out of this.
I think at, a certain level, Republican senators -- not the Republican
base, but Republican senators are relieved that this happened today.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I`m hearing. Let me go to Joan on the broader
political fight here. I`ve been arguing for I don`t know how many years
now the president needs a phalanx, as in Roman times, a bunch of soldiers
that are at the front ranks, ready to take on the enemy and charge.
And here you see them doing it. Harry Reid has guts because he`s
basically saying, It`s better to get something done than just pretend to be
Senate majority leader.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: He`s not interested in the form of being a Senate leader,
he wants to be the leader.
WALSH: I agree, Chris, and I think they also voted today to...
MATTHEWS: Unlike Boehner.
WALSH: Yes. I think they voted today to let Barack Obama be
president, finally, five years after he was elected. He`s been elected --
we`ve elected him twice. And he`s been treated like no other president,
and he`s been hamstrung like no other president.
So you know, I`ve given Harry Reid a hard time over the years, but I
have to say he has not necessarily securely had the votes until now. And
you`ve had Democrats like Dianne Feinstein or Max Baucus or even a liberal
like Barbara Boxer say, you know, they were worried about this step.
They`re institutionalists. They wanted to protect the rules and the way
But even they have been driven over the edge by that litany of
obstruction that you opened this segment with. I mean, really, when you --
and you know, Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell -- they went too far by
saying that simply appointing judges...
WALSH: ... to the D.C. circuit was, quote, "court packing," they
forced the hand of the Democrats.
WALSH: They cannot be reasoned with or compromised with. This is
obstruction, and finally, Democrats went along with Harry Reid and said,
We`ll do it.
MATTHEWS: Well, as I said, Diana Washington`s great song, "What a
difference a day makes." I`m telling you, this is going to be a say we`re
all going to remember.
Anyway, for the president`s enemies out there, their motives behind
blocking appointments has been to attack the president`s agenda, of course,
his character and legitimacy. They do that all the time. They`ve blocked
appointments and used their own obstructionism, in fact, as a reason to
attack the president`s health care law.
And this is the Senate`s top Republican. Here`s Mitch McConnell
speaking in the Senate earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Here`s the problem with
this latest distraction. It doesn`t distract people from "Obama care," it
reminds them of "Obama care." It reminds them of all the broken promises.
It reminds them of the power grab. It reminds them of the way Democrats
set up one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know what, Steve? I think he`s making a kind of a
heroic effort here to try to change the subject. You know what it reminds
me of? The damn filibuster itself. They`re breaking through the
filibuster. They`re -- now people are thinking back of all the things and
all the games that have been played.
There`s Ted Cruz -- remember why we don`t have a budget this year, why
we had a CR, why we had a government shutdown, why it was so easy? Because
Cruz wouldn`t let the Budget Committees meet. All these games they play on
the Hill now to stop this president from being president, to get him off
the record books so they can claim, Well, he never really was president.
Look, he wasn`t able to do this, he wasn`t able to do that. This is a
broader attack. I hope Reid sticks to it.
KORNACKI: Well, this is why I think a lot of Republicans -- they`ll
never admit it publicly, but if you gave truth serum to a lot of Republican
senators, I think they`re secretly relieved by this because the more and
more absurd this got, when it finally got to the point that the argument
from Grassley and the argument from McConnell and all the other Republicans
wasn`t that these individual nominees are unqualified, that this -- there`s
a specific problem with this specific nominee. The argument was, you know,
The court itself is too big, and therefore, we`re not going to confirm
anybody to sit in it.
When it got to that point, I think Republicans really found themselves
trapped, Republican senators, between the war that their base wants, the
war that their base wants against any and every nominee who Obama sends up
-- that`s the war that their base wants to fight -- and the fact they as
senators who represent full states, not -- you know, not these Republican-
friendly districts in a lot of cases, but states where they`ve got to
answer to a -- maybe a more difficult general election electorate, having
to defend these filibusters or risk the primary challenge that would come
for breaking with a filibuster and for allowing any one of these Obama
nominees to come through.
So this rules change today takes them off the hook for that, and it
lets them -- as you`re seeing, it`s going to let them spend the next year
playing victim and saying, Oh, wow, they...
MATTHEWS: I know. Let me go back to Joan. Joan, looks to me -- look
at the game they play. They basically say, Oh, Sebelius is no good, this
cabinet member`s no good, or this guy`s no good, or whatever. And then the
reason -- one of the reasons I think in (ph) the side (ph) why the
president doesn`t change anybody who may not have done a great job is they
know they`ll never get the next person through.
MATTHEWS: So it`s like a double whammy. They attack anybody in
office, and then the one reason the president can`t make any changes, as
he`d like to, he knows he`ll never get anybody through without another
MATTHEWS: ... another -- another three or four days of Benghazi.
Whatever the subject, old Lindsey Graham`s waiting to bring in the Howitzer
and start pounding away with Benghazi. He did it again today, apropos of
this, apropos of nothing, he`s now attacking them again on Benghazi because
of ending the filibuster power.
WALSH: Right, and threatening to block Janet Yellen, who had nothing
to do with Benghazi, until he got answers on Benghazi.
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t the Fed involved with Benghazi?
MATTHEWS: Weren`t they over there somewhere?
WALSH: She must have been. I don`t know where she was that night, so
she needs to answer some questions.
WALSH: It is unbelievable. And that is what they`re doing. And you
know, similarly, on the Affordable Care Act, there are fixes that need to
be made. We`ve all known it. We`ve known it since the day after it was
passed because that`s what happens with big legislation. But they won`t...
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s true.
WALSH: ... collaborate on common sense fixes, and so you`ve got --
you`ve got the legislative path is completely obstructed. You`ve got the
appointment path. You`ve got judicial nominations held up. It`s a
And now Democrats have realized, We`ve got to go ahead.
WALSH: We`re going to let him make these appointments, and we`re
going to govern as best we can in these straightened circumstances.
MATTHEWS: Well, just to make the point, here`s Lindsey Graham going
at it again with the one word he`s learned.
MATTHEWS: This is his word. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s 14 months later, Steve,
the survivors, the people who survived the attack in Benghazi, have not
been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes.
So I`m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate
until the survivors are being made available to the Congress. I`m tired of
hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what he`s talking about. We`re not reading
from books. Here`s a guy saying we can`t have a Fed chairman a while back
-- fairly recently -- because we can`t get more witnesses on Benghazi.
This sense of the Senate hold, one-man rule, not the president -- not
the president -- but any one senator like Ted Cruz or Lindsey Graham can
pretend for a day or two or on an issue like Benghazi or the Fed chairman
that they`re the boss. This is really getting to be pretty chaotic.
WALSH: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And you know, they`re going to
continue to look for ways to continue to obstruct. I think we -- I think
we know that.
But you know, I think the other thing that Democrats saw -- I think
there was some hope at the beginning of the year that we`d have movement on
immigration reform. And there was sense the Democratic senators didn`t
want to poison the well because they were hoping for collaboration. And we
did have some collaboration in the Senate.
But when you`ve got, you know, a House GOP like you`ve got, that won`t
do anything, either -- you`ve got Ted Cruz in the Senate and you`ve got the
Tea Party caucus in this House, Democrats can`t do anything. Reasonable
Republicans can`t do anything. So Democrats just had to go ahead and do
MATTHEWS: It wasn`t always just like this. I was just reading a book
the other night about the role the Republicans played in Civil Rights.
MATTHEWS: A totally different party, guys.
Anyway, thank you, Steve Kornacki. Thank you, Joan Walsh.
Coming up, the smoking gun. I love this. We now have, because of the
good reporting by "The New York Times" today, the Republican playbook.
They`ve discovered it. It`s an actual document about how to kill
Affordable Care. It`s a methodical, multi-part effort to collect the
stories of people who`ve complained they`ve been hurt by the law and make
it seem that it`s happening to everyone, when it`s only happening to six
tenths of 1 percent of people.
Plus: If you`re young, black, Hispanic -- in other words, likely to
vote Democratic -- Republicans want all kinds of ID in order for you to
even vote. But if you`re willing to give 10 or 20 million bucks to fund
voter suppression efforts, the GOP is more than happen to keep your name
secret. Isn`t this wild? You don`t have to have a name even to give
billions of dollars in (ph), by try to vote somewhere like in Texas.
And case closed. Attorney and best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi
makes the case that Lee Harvey Oswald and Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed
Finally, anchorman Ron Burgundy, AKA Will Ferrell, had fun last night
on Conan at Toronto mayor Rob Ford`s expense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: My dear, dear, dear friend, Mayor Rob Ford of
FERRELL: ... is running for reelection. And I hold him in the
highest regard. He is the best!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I watched that last night. It was so good, on Conan.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, a little travel note. I`ll be down south this
weekend at the great Miami Book Fair International. I`ll be presenting a
book that`s true to the season, of course. It`s about how great
politicians can compromise to get things done. "Tip and the Gipper: When
Politics Worked" is really the story of my political coming of age, and
therefore a great companion book for HARDBALL fans. Well, anyway,
tomorrow, I`ll be back in D.C., the downtown Barnes & Noble, a few blocks
from the White House, to sign books.
Back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The Republican Party`s now
engaging in an organized, relentless attack to destroy the Affordable Care
Act. We know that.
But now "The New York Times" has obtained the smoking gun to the
attack, an internal Republican memo that maps it all out. It highlights
things the Republicans will try to use to disperse into public discourse.
It urges Republicans to collect stories, quote, "about the impact of
insurance policy cancellations" from their constituents to paint a picture
that the law is hurting countless Americans.
Well, Politico reports today that House Republicans will also make
sure Congress focuses on pretty much nothing but health care. At least
eight different House committees are launching investigations. They will
subpoena administration officials. And Congressman Darrell Issa holds on -
- plans on holding hearings all around the country in the weeks ahead.
Nice way to celebrate Christmas.
Anyway, the Republican memo also lays out talking points to use, like
premiums are increasing, millions of Americans will lose the plan they
have, and "Obama care" is hurting job creation.
Well, how`s that been going? Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Every day, we hear
heart-wrenching stories from Americans who are getting letters about their
health care plans being canceled or the cost of their new plan has
skyrocketed or they can`t keep their doctor.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: They`re writing me about
cancellation notices of plans they wanted to keep, rising premiums so their
deductibles, some of them are doubling. They`re paying much more for
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Moms and dads are worried
that they`re going to lose their health care plan.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY WHIP: The final wave (ph) of the
principle (ph) of failure is going to be cost, the idea that this was going
to lower costs. They say it`s going to raise the cost.
CANTOR: Young adults are now witnessing the increase in health care
costs and are wondering whether they`re going to be able to afford even a
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIR: Millions of Americans have lost their
health insurance because of "Obama care" and others are paying more for the
insurance that they have. People are going to be losing their doctors.
Prices are going to skyrocket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, first of all, wrong again, Reince Priebus. A new
report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers showed that,
quote, "Health care spending has grown by 1.3 percent since 2010, the year
the health care law passed. That`s the lowest rate on record for any
three-year period" in health cost (sic) spending."
David Axelrod is a former senior adviser to President Obama, of
course, and an MSNBC senior political analyst, and Jonathan Capehart`s an
opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.
David, what -- how important is it to get ahold of the plan, the war
plan? I keep thinking of a bridge too far, when the Germans got the plans.
I mean, there you have -- it`s all laid out. There`s no spontaneity to
this. They`re going to ignore the fact that the people have been, I would
say, dismayed and angry about the fact that they didn`t get to keep the
health care plan they wanted -- a good complaint, I must say -- is six
tenths of 1 percent.
Where (ph) the Republicans are out there to deny, as they`ve done for
the last century, health care to 40 million people living -- surviving in
emergency rooms. That never gets mentioned in the mainstream press, that
the real fight`s over the 40 million, not the six tenths of 1 percent,
where there`s been this terrible kurfuffle.
DAVID AXELROD, FMR. OBAMA ADVISER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, not
just the -- not just the 40 million, Chris. Since the law was signed,
you`ve got 3.1 million young people under 26 who`ve gotten insurance, 17
million kids with preexisting conditions who can`t be barred from their
family`s policies anymore, just this year, 8.5 million Americans who got
rebate checks from their insurance companies because the insurance
companies overspent on administrative costs and executive salaries instead
of health care.
And everybody who has health care, 105 million Americans, now cannot -
- don`t face lifetime caps. So if you get seriously ill, your insurance
company can`t throw you off of insurance.
So I want to see the Republican Party write letters to all those
people and tell them they`re going to take that away from them, that they
think that`s a bad deal for them.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, congratulations to you, sir, in the role you played
in getting health care passed.
AXELROD: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I know you played a subsidiary role, but it`s an important
Anyway, if you listen to the unrelenting messaging campaign from
Republicans, you could almost think Americans are going to lose their
health insurance. Well, that is not the case.
A new study out from Families USA, a group that is supportive of
Affordable Care, looked at all those at risk. Their conclusion, quote,
"Only 0.6 percent of Americans" -- that`s six tenths of 1 percent -- "under
age 65 -- that`s about 1.6 million people -- will be at risk of losing
their current individual market plan and will not be income-eligible for
financial assistance. That will make their new insurance plan more
Jonathan, that`s the point here. There is going to be friction here.
It`s real. I have never denied it.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
MATTHEWS: But the question is, you`re trying something new here.
MATTHEWS: And you`re pushing in something that is going to have a
grand historic impact positively on people`s lives that wouldn`t have been
accomplished if the president hadn`t gotten his 60 votes in the Senate.
CAPEHART: Right. And it wouldn`t have been accomplished if the
president hadn`t tried it.
Remember, when Scott Brown won his election, the story was -- and even
the president gave an interview where he said, well, maybe we should think
about going incrementally. But they changed their mind and pushed full-
force to get it done. But, you know, Chris, this plan, which I have here
in my hand, it`s a P.R. document.
It has nothing in there -- I think you talked about the fact -- or,
no, it was David who talked about all the things that Affordable Care Act
is. A lot of people think that it`s just healthcare.gov. And that`s just
not the case. And what the Republicans refuse to -- refuse to talk about
and is not in here at all is, what happens if they do succeed in getting
rid of the Affordable Care Act or defunding it?
What do they do about all those kids on -- on their parents` health
insurance? What do they do about, you know, no lifetime caps? What do
they do about the millions of Americans who would suddenly find themselves
without health insurance?
Yes, the 0.6 percent of the American people who find themselves
getting cancellation notices and finding themselves in a very fearful
position, it`s heart-wrenching, it`s unfortunate. But we`re talking, as
you said, about a greater good here. Change is hard. And people -- and
people get hurt. And I don`t mean to sound callus, but there is a greater
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you David about the politics of this.
What do you think -- when you put your head in to their heads and
think about what their game is here, I know American politics is often
negative. I`m not naive to think you don`t win by voting against
something. I think I voted -- I certainly voted against the Iraq war in my
But how do you put a party together and basically -- even --
McConnell`s no fool. The minute this came up, the nuclear option thing,
the minute it came up they were going to put up with no more of these
filibusters on appointments, he immediately says they`re trying to distract
from health care.
Everything goes back to health care, unless you`re Lindsey Graham.
Then everything goes back to Benghazi. But a totally negative approach,
what do you make of that in politics terms?
AXELROD: Well, I thought one of most interesting things in the
"Times" story was an admission on the part of the Republicans that they
weren`t going to advocate any new policies. They just were going to engage
in oversight, which amounts to a search-and-destroy mission...
AXELROD: ... to try to scuttle health reform.
And this is one of the reasons, Chris, why their numbers are
historically low, Congress` number and the Republican Party`s number.
AXELROD: Because people recognize that they`re against everything and
they stand for nothing. They have no health care plan.
AXELROD: Challenge them and ask them how are they going to deal with
these problems that Jonathan and I have been talking about, and they have
no answer. And I think ultimately they`re going to pay a price for that.
MATTHEWS: And here we have a classic example, Ted Cruz of Texas.
And listen to these crocodile tears from him. Remember the fact that
Texas has the largest number of people with -- not just Hispanic people,
poor white people too, and working white people too, I`m sure. Don`t think
this is all about minorities -- don`t have any health insurance and would
not have ever -- get any under the Republicans, who never supported having
anything, including Cruz. He`s a total no guy when it comes to this.
But here he is complaining publicly about his heart-wrenching
experience meeting people that are having trouble dealing with this new
law. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: When I go back to Texas, I travel the state
and I see people all the time who come up to me, men and women across
Texas, and they grab me by the shoulder. And they`re afraid. They said --
they say, Ted, I just lost my health insurance. I have got a child with
diabetes. I need my health insurance. I`m scared. Please, stop this from
happening. Those are real facts.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what do you say to them, Senator?
I looked at the list of bills that you have sponsored. There`s not one
that offers a solution to the current problems with health care, except to
get rid of the existing law. Is that enough?
CRUZ: Well, that`s the only solution that will work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The only solution that will work, his answer to Chris Cuomo
and "Good Morning America" was do nothing.
Anyway, maybe Senator Cruz should be worried about the huge number of
people, as I said, in his state who have no insurance whatever, nada, and
would be helped by something at least like the new health care law. Well,
here`s the facts about good old Texas.
In addition to having the highest rate of people without health
insurance in the country, Texas also has the largest number of children
without health insurance and the highest rate of poor adults without health
insurance. More than 852,000 Texas children lacked health insurance in
Now, let me go to Jonathan on this.
The way the media`s been playing this, if you complain, you`re somehow
empathizing. And the media wants to do balance. I know all that. But,
sometimes, it`s appropriate and maybe necessary. But all they`re listening
to are people who have nothing in their pockets as an alternative, who have
spent their careers opposing getting anything done.
And they come out and complain. It`s not like they`re umpires.
They`re on the opposing team.
MATTHEWS: And they don`t believe in it.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
Well, I mean, we love conflict and we love the bad sides of stories.
I think what has to happen here is -- and the great thing about having this
-- this playbook, which is hardly, hardly shocking, is that the Democrats
and people who are supporters of the Affordable Care Act have to counter
CAPEHART: Every time Republicans and folks show up on FOX News saying
that they have been harmed by the Affordable Care Act, that -- that somehow
they have lost their health insurance, there should be someone else in
front of cameras on a show talking about how for the first time ever they
have gotten health insurance, for the first time, they haven`t been dropped
because of preexisting conditions.
I think this is a P.R. plan. The Democrats have to have a P.R. plan
to push back on this.
MATTHEWS: I wonder if this network, the other network you mentioned,
has ever done a discussion in its history about people lacking health
insurance and how they ought to be getting it.
David Axelrod, I mean it. You did a big role in getting this done.
Thank you, David, for coming on tonight. And thank you, Jonathan Capehart.
Up next, Ron Burgundy and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, what a match, made
for the "Sideshow."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Sad drug-related news
this week. And like most sad news, it comes from Washington -- Jim.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Republican Trey Radel of Florida today
pleaded guilty to cocaine possession.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Tea Party favorite Represents Florida`s 19th
COLBERT: Yes, this rising Tea Party star was caught in a coke bust.
Apparently, he forgot the part of the Tea Party story where you dump the
product in the harbor before the cops show up.
COLBERT: Folks, personally, I hate to lose a congressman so fiscally
conservative that I`m sure he snorted his blow through a $1 bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time now for the "Sideshow."
That was Steve Colbert, of course, on congressional -- Congressman
Trey Radel, the first member of Congress ever to plead guilty of charges to
cocaine possession while in office. I guess there`s a first for
But, as it turns out, Radel is also the first congressman to be known
as a hip-hop conservative, a title he bestowed upon himself in an article
he wrote for BuzzFeed back in July. In fact, he credits his love of hip-
hop and gangster rap for his more rebellious side and for his outlook on
politics. Take a look at this interview he gave last spring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a lyric or a song that explains how you
feel about the situation in Washington?
REP. TREY RADEL (R), FLORIDA: You know, the first one that -- that I
would have to refer to would be "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy.
This is a song that came out, really, if you really get down to it, in
many ways reflects the conservative message. I think, at the end of the
day -- and this is where I take my love of hip-hop music, of where you can
see where there have been issues and problems with heavy-handed either law
enforcement, like the Department of Justice that we have seen right now
with the AP, or heavy-handed government in itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Earlier today, Radel checked into rehab.
Anyway, speaking of drug use, embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford got an
unlikely tribute last night from Ron Burgundy of "Anchorman" fame.
Comedian Will Ferrell appeared on "Conan" and remained in character for the
whole interview. Here`s what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")
WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: My dear, dear, dear friend Mayor Rob Ford of
FERRELL: ... is running for reelection.
CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": OK.
FERRELL: And I -- I hold him in the highest regard. He is the best.
O`BRIEN: OK. So you have chosen to sing the campaign song for Mayor
FERRELL: Of course. Who wouldn`t?
(singing): Everybody`s working for the weekend.
FERRELL (singing): That`s right, Rob.
Everybody wants a new romance. Everybody`s going off the deep end.
Don`t do anything stupid, Rob.
FERRELL (singing): Everybody needs a second chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We will have more -- we will have Will Ferrell on the show
next month, December 18. Mark your calendars.
Up next: Republicans want to make you show I.D. to exercise your
basic right to vote, but if you have got millions to fund for voter
suppression campaigns, for example, they`re happy to keep your identity
totally secret. That`s an interesting conflict.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De
La Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.
Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is free on bail set as $1.2 million,
this as he awaits a new trial in the 1957 killing of his neighbor Martha
A Senate panel has approved the nomination of Janet Yellen to head the
Federal Reserve. The full Senate is expected to give a final vote after
And a Boeing jumbo jet that mistakenly landed at a small airport in
Wichita, Kansas, took off smoothly today, despite the runway being
I`m Veronica De La Cruz. Let`s get you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The right wing is all for identification when it used -- it`s used to
suppress the votes of people who might vote Democratic. But when it comes
to making enormous anonymous contributions to elect right-wing candidates,
identification is the last thing they want.
"The Washington Post"`s Harold Meyerson brilliants points to this
whole question here about the hypocrisy in his latest column. It begins --
quote -- "Better bring some identification -- and not just any
identification, official though it may be -- if you plan to vote in
Republican-controlled states. However, if you contribute tens of millions
of dollars to sway an election on the Republicans` behalf, the party will
fight to keep your identity a dead secret."
Well, take a look at this tax return from Karl Rove`s secret money
Crossroads GPS. See that mammoth $18 million contribution? Who`s it from?
Person. That`s it, person. And that`s all the identification it gets, a
box checked person.
Meanwhile, if you want to vote in the state of Texas, something that
is your right, you had better be able to identify yourself by producing
driver`s licenses, passports, military I.D., even a concealed gun permit,
but not a student I.D., of course. And one in 10 registered voters in that
state lack acceptable I.D., according to The Advancement Project.
Well, Judith Browne-Dianis is co-director of The Advancement Project,
and Steve McMahon is a smart Democratic strategist.
I want to start with the overall notion here. Just to make it simple,
Steve, for everybody watching, why would the Republicans want to make it
hard to vote, but easy to give money secretly?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, if you make it hard to
vote for African-Americans and Hispanics, then, of course, Democrats get
fewer votes and Republicans might be able to win more elections.
And if you make it easy to hide the money, which the Republicans also
like to do, then you have wealthy Republican businessmen like the Koch
brothers and others who can -- who can contribute $18 million to slander a
Democrat, and no one ever knows who did it.
MATTHEWS: Why do those characters, the Koch brothers, why do they
want to remain secret like the Lone Rangers? Why -- don`t they -- most
people when they give money to hospitals, for example, they want their name
on the door. Why do they want to keep it secret?
MCMAHON: Well, in polite company, it`s not considered appropriate to
engage in this kind of skullduggery and character assassination.
So, I presume it has more to do with the cocktail circuit than it has
to do with anything else. Normally, you`re right. The ego generally wants
to be recognized with a lot of these folks. But, in this case, they want
to hide. And they`re doing a pretty good job hiding under rocks and hiding
behind anonymous campaign filing reports.
MATTHEWS: Judith, again, let`s go back to a topic you and I have
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Right.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think everybody who is a Republican is a racist,
but I do think they think that blacks will tend to vote Democrat. And the
fewer blacks that vote, the better off their chances of winning an
BROWNE-DIANIS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: It`s just sheer naked political advantage they achieve by
denying people their constitutional rights.
BROWNE-DIANIS: That`s right. That`s right, Chris.
I mean, these laws were surgically crafted in ways to hit African-
Americans, Latino voters, and young voters. We have -- Advancement Project
has lawsuits in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, where know
that the effect of these voters I.D. laws and the other voter suppression
tools really are to hit the folks that they don`t want to vote. Right?
And so, in places like Texas, this is like called the Texas two-step,
right? You have, first, let`s buy an election and make sure that we can
get the right people in the seat. And then let`s make sure that we silence
the people that we don`t want to vote, so that we get the right outcomes in
terms of elections.
And they don`t want to put their names out there because they know
that it`s undemocratic and it`s un-American.
MATTHEWS: So some guy like Ted Cruz would look at this as a survival
kit. Not only does he deny the chance of him getting defeated. He denies
any chance of somebody getting in there that might support health care,
thereby denying health care to over a million people, including kids.
He gets to be a senator and well-fed, and he gets health care, but he
makes sure a million people in Texas don`t.
MATTHEWS: I mean, that`s just a fact.
BROWNE-DIANIS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: You don`t have to argue this politically. Those are the
facts. He gets it. They don`t. They don`t get to vote. They don`t get
health care. He gets the voting power in the Senate, and he gets health
care. And he wins as long as you can suppress the vote.
BROWNE DIANIS: And they`ve done their calculations. They know
America is changing, the changing demographics and the rising electorate
leaves them with having to sway women and people of color. And they`re not
ready to do that. They`re not ready to make sure that their policies meet
the needs of all Americans. And we are diversifying but they`re not ready
to make that move.
MCMAHON: Chris --
BROWNE DIANIS: So, instead, they would prefer to silence voters.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Steve.
MCMAHON: There`s one other thing going on here, of course. And that
is, you know, with the Voting Rights Act being gutted by the United States
Supreme Court, it`s easier to do these things than it was before. There
used to be an Article Section Five of the Voting Rights Act required
preclearance of anything that was going to suppress or depress the minority
vote. And states had to actually apply to the Justice Department to change
their laws. They don`t have to do that anymore.
And so, now, what you`re seeing is moving throughout the South. But
it`s also moving into states like Wisconsin and other places where there
are Republican governors who now see an opportunity to depress the vote
among minorities, among young people and among those who are mostly likely
to vote Democratic.
MATTHEWS: What`s Karl Rove`s GPS Crossroads or Crossroads GPS?
That`s a 501c4. How is that different than any other PAC, Steve?
MCMAHON: Well, it`s different. First of all, it`s different from a
PAC because it can take unlimited amounts of money. The PAC can only take
$5,000 and give $5,000 contribution.
MATTHEWS: And it`s also anonymous.
MCMAHON: It`s anonymous. So people can run money through there in
any amount. What you get on the finance disclosure? Actually, you get
nothing. And what you get in the tax disclosure, which is what you were
referring to earlier, is anonymous donor, person, $18 million. Well, you
know, Democrats actually have some persons like that. There just respect
as many persons like that in the Democratic Party giving money.
And when they do, they`re guys like George Soros who`s not afraid to
say he`s going to provide money for the media fund or some other thing.
He, in fact, says, I`m putting it in.
So, that`s what everybody ought to do.
MATTHEWS: You know what? In the old days, Judith, before you were
born, the old commies out in the rest of the world and some here in this
country, the few that were here all said this country is run by the
BROWNE DIANIS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: It pretends to be a democracy. This crowd wants it to be
as bad as the commies said we were, which is really an awful indictment
about the worse one I can wage right now. They want it to be a country not
run by voters but run by millionaires.
Anyway, thank you, Judith Browne Dianis, and Steve McMahon.
BROWNE DIANIS: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Among the most vulnerable governors up to re-election next
year, Florida`s Rick Scott, and the new poll numbers should scare him.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Charlie Crist, the Republican-
turned-independent-turned-Democrat led Scott by seven points. Pretty
hefty. It`s Crist 47, Scott down to 40.
Scott, along with Pennsylvania`s Tom Corbett and Maine`s Paul LePage
are three Republican governors in tough re-election fights.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
No event in American history has inspired more speculation and
curiosity than the murder of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, 50 years ago
tomorrow. The Kennedy assassination has produced a bottomless pit of
theories for five decades now. But Vincent Bugliosi, the man who
successfully prosecuted Charles Manson, spent 21 years researching and
writing his book reclaiming history, driving a stake through the heart of
His 1,612-page book is what "The Washington Post" called a
prosecutor`s airtight brief that leaves no reasonable doubt that Lee Harvey
Oswald acted alone in killing Jack Kennedy. The deluge of ludicrous
arguments and beliefs over who killed the president range from Fidel
Castro, the KGB, the FBI, the CIA, even Vice President Lyndon Johnson. And
Bugliosi calls them all moon shine as he exposes every selective use of
evidence and flawed logic by the conspiracy theorists and industry I should
So, case closed.
Attorney and author Vincent Bugliosi joins us now to discuss his
conclusion of what "The L.A. Times" called a book for the ages.
It`s an honor to have you on. I`m totally with you, Vincent. I have
sat in movie theaters and watched Oliver Stone, a brilliant movie maker and
terrible historian, say LBJ had something to do with killing Kennedy.
Nixon knew all about it ahead of time. Some character told him about it
the night before. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.
Nixon left town that morning on a commercial airline scheduled at 9:00
in the morning, American Airlines. He didn`t as Oliver Stone said snuck
out on general aviation, looking at the sky to see what it looked like the
day Kennedy was killed. All of that is moon shine.
My question to you for the people that have doubts, what`s your
evidence that Oswald shot Kennedy and he alone shot Kennedy?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, AUTHOR, "RECLAIMING HISTORY": OK, you`ve asked two
separate questions. Let me say first, it`s always great to be back on your
In "Reclaiming History", I set forth 53 separate pieces of evidence
pointing irresistibly to Oswald`s guilt. And under those circumstances, it
wouldn`t be humanly possible for him to be innocent, because of the nature
of life or maybe one, two, or three things pointing towards guilty, even
though you`re completely innocent, but not 53 things.
Let me very briefly set forth just some of these pieces of evidence
against Oswald`s guilt.
Oswald`s rifle, a 6.5 millimeter, a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, was the
murder weapon. After the shooting in Dealey Plaza, Oswald was the only
worker at the book depository building who fled the building.
Forty-five minutes later, Oswald shot and killed Officer J.D. Tippit
of the Dallas Police Department, because Tippit stopped him on the street
and wanted to question him. Oswald killed him.
Thirty minutes later, at the Dallas -- not the Dallas, at the Texas
theater, a motion picture theater in Dallas, Oswald resisted arrest by
pulling his gun on the arresting officer. When he was interrogated for 12
hours over a three-day period, by the Dallas Police Department, Oswald told
one lie after another, one provable lie after another, all of which, of
course, showed an unmistakable consciences of guilt.
Chris, I`m not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of Oswald`s guilt,
I`m satisfied beyond all doubt.
Now, on a separate issue, you asked about acting alone. In my book,
"Reclaiming History," again, I set forth 32 separate pieces of evidence,
pointing in the direction, away from a conspiracy. Let me just mention
three of those points, if we have time.
MATTHEWS: Sure, we have time.
BUGLIOSI: We cannot disregard the fact, although the conspiracy
community would like us to do it, that the Warren Commission and the FBI
and the House Select Committee on Assassinations thoroughly, completely
investigated, extremely thoroughly, all of the theories and they all
concluded that there was no credible -- let`s underline that word
"credible" -- no credible evidence that the CIA or mob or any other group
was involved in the assassination. All they found was unsupported
allegations and naked speculation.
Now, before I get into my second point, let me very briefly touch on
this word, "credible" -- to show you how non-credible the conspiracy
theorists are. Over the last 50 years, at one time or another, one or more
conspiracy theorists have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins, and 214 people
being involved in the assassination.
Also, Chris, you know as well as I do, from your own personal
experience in life, from all of our experience, it`s almost impossible to
keep a secret. I told a jury once, you know, folks, three people can keep
a secret, but only if two are dead.
And here we have 50 years that have gone by, and not one credible word
or syllable has leaked out of a conspiracy. Why? Because there is no
conspiracy. It`s all nonsense.
Point number two --
MATTHEWS: My question, Vince, has always been to people I argue with.
I say, look, he had the job at the book depository way before. He had the
gun way before Kennedy was going to drive right by there.
There could have been no -- what, did they bring -- the conspiracy
theorists would have to argue, we brought the president to Lee Harvey
Oswald so he could shoot him. And then, Oliver Stone tells me, well, maybe
Johnson changed the route the day before, as if Johnson killed the
BUGLIOSI: I know. Well --
MATTHEWS: That`s crazy talk. Why would Johnson -- the idea that
Lyndon Johnson would tell somebody to kill Kennedy is unimaginable.
Go ahead, your thoughts.
BUGLIOSI: No, I agree. My whole orientation as a former prosecutor
and a writer of true crime books is to focus on the facts. All of the
facts show Oswald as guilty. There are no facts pointing towards a
MATTHEWS: What`s the grassy knoll?
BUGLIOSI: But I do want -- I do want to get into the second point
BUGLIOSI: -- on why I say there was no conspiracy.
Let`s assume that one of these groups decided to kill the president,
which I find prodigiously unlikely, but who knows? Anything is possible in
Oswald would have been one of the last people on the face of this
Earth, Chris, whom they would have gone to, to do their bidding for them.
Not an expert shot. He was a good shot, but not an expert shot, $12 mail
order rifle, notoriously unreliable, very unstable.
Here`s a guy, Chris, that defected to the Soviet Union pre-Gorbachev,
1959, even today, who in the world defects to Russia? He gets over,
desperately wants to become a Soviet citizen, he`s a devout Marxist. They
turn him down.
What does he do? He slashes his wrists, tries to commit suicide, just
the type of person that the CIA or the mob would want to rely upon --
BUGLIOSI: -- to commit the biggest murder in history.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Vincent Bugliosi.
BUGLIOSI: Point number three, let me mention point number three --
MATTHEWS: We`ve got to go -- quickly.
BUGLIOSI: OK, very quickly.
Assuming that one of these groups decided to kill Kennedy and they got
Oswald to do the killing for him, they wanted him to do the killing. Let`s
see where that takes us. After he left the school depository building, if
the CIA or mob were behind Kennedy, there would have been a car, if the CIA
or mob were behind this, there would have been a car waiting for him the
book depository building to drive him to his death. You know that would
BUGLIOSI: And yet we know that Oswald was out on the street with $13
in his pocket, trying to flag down buses and cabs.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
BUGLIOSI: That alone tells any reasonable person that Oswald acted
MATTHEWS: I`m with you 100 percent, Vincent.
Thank you, Vincent Bugliosi. Thanks for coming on.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
Every American knows this picture well. It`s the young John F.
Kennedy Jr. saluting his father`s casket in front of St. Matthew`s
A while back, in researching my book on Jack Kennedy, I came across
the scene of the Kennedys enjoying a weekend, just prior to that deadly
Friday in Dallas. At one point, I came across the young son playing in his
Army helmet and rifle, showing off that same smart military salute to his
mother, who returns it, just as smartly.
On the day of the funeral, you can see Jacqueline Kennedy encouraging
her son to do the same before the world. Well, as it says in the Bible,
you know not the day nor the hour. In returning your young boy`s salute
that fresh November weekend in Virginia, Jackie Kennedy had no idea she
would be asking him to repeat it again on a day and at hour at such
No one knows the future, that includes the small Kennedy family in
those last sweet days of November 1963. It`s for this reason that I prefer
to think of Jack Kennedy and his family as they knew life, grabbing every
bit of it, not for a second knowing what was to come as he turned that
corner at Dealey Plaza.
Well, tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of that tragedy. At 7:00 p.m.
Eastern, we will begin our coverage of what it all meant to those who lived
it and to those who must wonder what it was like and why it hit us so hard
and so permanently.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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