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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guest: Val Demings, Eugene O`Donnell, Judith Rodin, Zeke Miller


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

My hero, Winston Churchill, knew just where he stood. "I refuse to be
impartial," he once said, "between the fire brigade and the fire." And all
these incidents of recent months in which police officers were involved and
blamed for misconduct or worse, I`ve tried to let the juries do the job.
I`ve acted as a reporter and observer, not as a judge, juror or prosecutor.
I just didn`t have enough facts to play those roles, not enough to have
anything to offer in the matter. These were, after all, particular events
involving particular facts that only a trial jury gets to hear, gets to
have challenged, gets their hands on to make a considered judgment.

This horror in New York this weekend is of a different kind. There`s no
dispute over what happened, no difference of perspective, no difference of
judgment or no argument, certainly, over the motive. Two innocent police
officers were executed by a career criminal -- 19 arrests, two years in
prison -- who had that day shot his ex-girlfriend. They were shot, based
on the clear-cut evidence of intent left by the killer himself, because
they were police officers, because of that and only that.

We`ve spent a lot of time of late speaking about incidents that have
involved accusations of police misconduct, and again, as I said, or worse.
The implication could have been drawn by someone watching from another
galaxy that these incidents are the big story, indeed the only story about
police in this country worthy of coverage. I know why that happens. In
our business, we cover traffic accidents, not calm nights on the highway.
We cover crime, not a peaceful night on the streets.

But the danger of late is that focusing on those big stories -- Ferguson,
Staten Island -- never gives due witness to the duty and the courage of the
average police officer, especially those assigned to the tougher precincts.
Police do battle day after day, night after night with murderers, brutal
wife beaters, drug dealers, gang bangers, muggers, all sorts of bad people.

That is a hell of a job, when you think about it. It calls for special
skills and strong character. Having dangerous men see you as the enemy
takes nerves, guts, and the best kind of courage.

I speak not as someone who had a brief experience in uniform as a U.S.
Capitol policeman, though that did give me a hint of what I know and
respect, but as a citizen who benefits every day from those who make our
streets safe for so many of us and risk the fate that this weekend befell
what we now know where two very good men.

Joining me now from Brooklyn, New York, is MSNBC`s Adam Reiss. Give us a
sense, an atmospheric, if you will, of what it`s like to be up in New York
right now.

ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, as you can see, the memorial
behind me, growing, of candles, cards, flowers, New Yorkers and police
officers from all over the city, firemen just arrived, coming to pay their
respects, grieve over their fallen comrades, a lot of tears, a lot of

At the same time, we`re learning this evening more about the shooter in the
hours leading up to the shooting here on this corner. We`ve learned that
police have found 119 photos on his Instagram account, mostly anti-police,
anti-government. They found a thousand photos on his phone, including one
video that he took at a rally, an anti-police rally on December 1st.

The mayor and the police commissioner this afternoon visited with the
families, the grieving families of Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, and we
know that Officer Ramos will be laid to rest on Saturday -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Adam Reiss, for giving us that report.

Joining me right now is former Orlando police chief Val Demings and former
member of the NYPD Eugene O`Donnell.

Moments ago, by the way, the wife of murdered police officer Wenjian Liu
gave an emotional statement to reporters. Let`s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the Liu family, would like to express our
gratitude and appreciation to the police department, our neighbors, the
entire New York City community, friends and co-workers for the help and
support they provide. We will also like to express our condolence to the
officer and his family. This is a difficult time for both of our families,
but we will stand together and get through this together.


MATTHEWS: Chief Demings, what a horrible story. There`s this -- probably
an immigrant. English is new to her. And here she is talking about the
loss of her husband in this new country of theirs.


VAL DEMINGS, FMR. ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: Chris, this is truly a sad time
for America. As a former police chief and as a 27-year veteran of the
Orlando Police Department, I`ve gone to more than I care to admit law
enforcement funerals. And my heart goes out to the Liu and the Ramos

These two police officers were executed. They were murdered, as you said
earlier, simply because of who they were. It cuts especially deep when
it`s a police officer. I think it`s important that everybody understands
this. When someone is bold enough to execute police officers who are
simply doing their job, then every citizen in this country becomes

It cuts especially deep because of what the police represent. They are the
only ones who stand between what`s good and evil in our society 24 hours a
day, seven days a week. And this is not a good time for our country.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Eugene O`Donnell. You`ve been there.

city in the world. It`s a great police department. And I would have bet a
million dollars that if it was any community -- and it`s (ph) many
communities, but you could put your money down that the people of Bedford-
Stuyvesant would honor these cops. You could put your money down on that
because having been a cop in Brooklyn and anybody who`s been a cop in this
city -- I guess we have a certain pride in Brooklyn, but there`s an
absolute bottomless wellspring of good will for the police in New York City

But I actually was talking to a police -- retired police captain the other
night, and he said, immediately after hearing the news, the people of
Bedford-Stuyvesant would rally around the police, no surprise here.

MATTHEWS: There`s a Menorah right there -- so many different backgrounds
of people showing respect.

Anyway, shortly before the police shooting, Brinsley put up his Instagram
post. Quote, "I`m putting wings on pigs today. They take one of ours.
Let`s take two of theirs." Then the hashtags -- hashtag #Riperivgardner
(sic) and #Ripmikebrown.

Brinsley had a long history of trouble. This is just part of it. He had
at least 19 arrests, as I said, and spent two years in prison for gun
possession. And the morning of the shooting, he also shot, I guess with
the intent to kill, his ex-girlfriend, who currently remains hospitalized.

And late today, his sister spoke out. Let`s listen to the sister of the


JALAA`I BRINSLEY, SISTER: He was an emotionally troubled young man. And
he was suicidal.

You have emotional issues, and you`re constantly going in and out of jail,
you know, prison, and clearly, something`s wrong. He should have been
offered help in the system, right, but he wasn`t.


MATTHEWS: Chief Demings, let me ask you about people that have had -- I
mean, I -- when I used to work in politics or government, I knew people
that had problems with the system. They couldn`t get payment for
disability or something, and they could never get over it. And these
things build. And this guy had been arrested for a lot of things, from --
some of these petty charges -- well, certain -- gun possession and things
like that. Two years in prison, 19 arrests.

Did he -- what do you think of this case, just looking at it? I had this
hunch the other day when I heard about this horror in New York, this isn`t
going to be a some regular person who was just upset with what had happened
in Ferguson or what happened in Staten Island with Eric Garner. This is
going to be somebody who`s been a problem all their life, and this would be
something to jump onto. That`s my personal speculation. Average people
don`t go out and shoot cops because they`re mad at some incident that they
don`t like the looks of.

So it was somebody that was in the system and had real problems with
American life, with life on this planet maybe, was going to be the person.
What do you do with a guy -- the sister seems like a wonderful person
(INAUDIBLE) sister saying somebody should have looked out for this guy.
But I don`t know who that person would be. Who would say, This guy is
going to go shoot cops someday?

DEMINGS: And you know, Chris, to listen to his sister and her very
emotional words there -- there are so many victims. He`s left a trail of
so many victims.

But what we do know, just learning about his background, is something went
wrong, way wrong with this young man, long before the incident this


DEMINGS: And it sounds like he obviously was in and out of different
facilities and was not able to get the right help that he needed. But
obviously, he was a career criminal. And I`ve heard many people ask the
question, how did this happen? How was he allowed to even be on the street
to do such a tragic act that he did this weekend?

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Eugene here, Eugene O`Donnell. You know, are you -
- do you come from a family of police officers, or are you the first?

O`DONNELL: No, well, my brother is a retired police captain.

MATTHEWS: OK. So you`re part of the culture.


MATTHEWS: What do you think politicians should do about police? I can`t -
- I was thinking back in New York, which -- which -- you know, Lindsay was
seen as anti-cop, I guess, because he was always for a police review board,
which sound likes outside judgment of something the police ought to be able
to handle themselves through central investigations, whatever.

This guy, de Blasio -- let me talk about him, or Giuliani. Do different
mayors get reputations pro or anti-police? Do they and should they? Or
should they just be somehow above that? I don`t know. It seems like the
new thing in New York, mayors with attitude toward cops.

O`DONNELL: Well, what we need to talk about is public service, and I can`t
think of a higher public service than police work. I can`t think of
anything that`s more honorable to do, anything that makes you prouder to be
around. If you saw those scenes at Woodall (ph) Hospital, just amazing
scenes. So I don`t want to dismiss political people, but remember, no
matter how high they`re rated, they`ll never be rated as high as the
police. Police are esteemed in...

MATTHEWS: Well, you know who knows that? My colleague, Ed Rendell, on
this network because, you know, that wonderful book by Buzz Bissinger (ph)
called "A Prayer For the City" -- you know what it`s about? It`s about a
mayor who cares enough to be at the hospital, always at the hospital when
there`s a police shooting, a cop getting shot.

O`DONNELL: And there`s a great mayor in Philly right now. So there`s
great mayors and great elected officials, which is another thing we
shouldn`t take lightly, either, when you dismiss people who put their lives
into public service.

But this is a unique public service, to see these people who are protecting
strangers in -- you know, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the
night, in communities, putting that kind of -- taking that kind of risk.
And so I think that there`s -- I mean, I actually think there`s a lot of
ground that we can actually bridge here...

MATTHEWS: By the way, your knowledge is wonderful. Mike Nutter -- Michael
Nutter was elected in Philly because he was pro-police. Thank you so much
for remember that for Michael, who`s a great guy. And so`s Charles Ramsey,
the police chief -- police commissioner in Philadelphia, both great public

Val Demings, former police commissioner down there in Orlando, thank you
for joining us, Eugene O`Donnell, former member of New York`s finest.

Coming up, Obama`s legacy. He gave himself a boost in the last six months
with -- six weeks with a historic immigration initiative, a big climate
deal with China and the news just last week he`s going to normalize
relations with Cuba. When we come back, Obama associate David Axelrod
weighs in on the president`s actions and what they say about the future. I
think the president`s got a winning streak going right now. Things are
happening. Good for him. I think he`s looking to the future.

Plus, should Dick Cheney -- pronounced "cheeney" -- be pronounced -- or
actually persecuted -- or prosecuted for torture? The ACLU and "The New
York Times" editorial board now, among others, are calling for Attorney
General Eric Holder to investigate the Bush-era torture program and bring
charges against anyone who committed a crime, including the man at the top,
Vice President Cheney himself.

And gas prices are the lowest since 2009. Good news for President Obama
and the country, bad news for Vladimir Putin, Venezuela and Iran. Talk
about a great set of circumstances!

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a reminder that there are some good-hearted people
in the world. In the wake of the tragic shooting of New York police
officer Rafael Ramos, Bowdoin College is paying for the remainder of his
son`s education. Ramos was also -- he also has a 13-year-old son, and the
New York Yankees have offered to pay for his college education when the
time comes, two acts of generosity and kindness for a family that has lost
so much. They`ve lost their dad.

And I`ll be right back.



than we have been in a very long time, and the future is ready to be
written. We`ve set the stage for this American moment, and I`m going to
spend every minute of my last two years making sure that we seize it. My
presidency is entering the fourth quarter. Interesting stuff happens in
the fourth quarter, and I`m looking forward to it.


MATTHEWS: Did you hear the way he said it, "Interesting stuff happens in
the fourth quarter"?

Well, welcome back to HARDBALL. Entering his fourth quarter as president,
Barack Obama`s actions of late, like the last six weeks, have also been
building his presidential legacy, let`s be honest, for decades to come, I`d
say. Just look at some of the major issues he`s tackled, he`s opened a
door to in these six weeks -- a big climate change (sic) with global
implications with China, an immigration issue (ph) that will allow millions
of illegal immigrants to stay here without threat of deportation, and last
week`s historic decision to normalize relations with Cuba, which has been a
bugaboo for years.

Here`s how the president summed it all up at his year-end press conference


OBAMA: We`re leading efforts to address climate change, including last
month`s joint announcement with China that`s already jump-starting new
progress in other countries. We`re writing a new chapter in our leadership
here in the Americas by turning a new page on our relationship with the
Cuban people. And in less than two weeks, after more than 13 years, our
combat mission in Afghanistan will be over.


MATTHEWS: David Axelrod`s a former senior adviser to President Obama and
an NBC News senior political analyst, as of now, and Jonathan Capehart is
an opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor, as

Anyway, in his end-of-year press conference -- I just mentioned that.
David, I want your thoughts. I had some smart person talk to me recently
who thinks in terms of these dramatic series of developments the president
has led the way on, that he`s really singing an overture. He`s saying,
This is who I am. This is the world I`m entering now. I may live 30 or 40
more years. I may be productive or not in 30-or-so years. And this is
what I want to work on.

I want to work on climate. I want to work on ethnic (ph) opportunity for
people who come to this country, perhaps illegally, but want to be full-
fledged Americans. I want to open the door to the left, in terms of Cuba,
and try to open the door for liberty there. I want to be doing big things
the rest of my professional life. This is my overture. Your thoughts.

DAVID AXELROD, NBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think this is who
he is. This is what he believes. The things that he`s doing now are
things he`s been talking about for a very long time. And I know that his
attitude is, I am not going to leave here in two years, looking myself in
the mirror and saying I didn`t do everything I can to deal with these big
generational issues on which I ran eight years ago.

And I can tell you, I thought that press conference he had the other day
was probably the best he`s had in years. His frame of mind is the best
it`s been in years because he`s broken loose from this pathological
straitjacket of Washington, and he`s doing big things, and that`s what
exhilarates him.

MATTHEWS: You know, the people that advised -- in fact, it was James Rowe
(ph) who advised Truman how to get elected in `48, when everybody said he
was going to lose. They said, Stop talking to Congress, start talking to
the people. And it seems like he`s saying to the people, Here I am, here -
- like Martin Luther, Here I stand.

initially said, you know, I`ve got my pad and my pen and I`m going to reach
out and work, and that didn`t -- that didn`t work...

MATTHEWS: That seemed small.

CAPEHART: So then he decided, You know what? Congress isn`t going to work
with me. Congress doesn`t like anything I want to do, even if they liked
it. So what am I going to do? I`m going to scour the law and look for
ways that I can get things done on my agenda without them. And then let
them figure out how to respond to me.


CAPEHART: And now, with Congress -- the 114th Congress is going to be
completely Republican, and what the president did on Cuba, what the
president did on climate, what the president has done on -- on...


MATTHEWS: What he did on Sony TV.


CAPEHART: On immigration.


CAPEHART: Republicans are angry about all of those things. They`re coming
into power next month. If they want to change what he`s done, they`re
going to have to deliver.

MATTHEWS: I want to ask you about it, David, because you have been a
friend and a supporter and an aide to the president all these years now,
since his years in the state Senate, I guess.

And what do you think is going on? It`s almost like there`s more oxygen
coming into his mind. He just seems so -- it`s an -- I use the word, it`s
a French word -- I`m not very fancy -- but I thought elan was the right


MATTHEWS: Now that swaggering hubris of W., which was ridiculous. He
would swagger sitting down. But this kind of elan, a comfort with life --
what`s going on with this guy?

AXELROD: Oh, yes.


MATTHEWS: What`s gotten into him?

AXELROD: Well, look, as I said before, he honestly sees public office as a
way of getting big things done.

That was the basis of his whole campaign. Let`s get beyond the politics of
Washington and get big things done. Well, he`s had a hard time dealing
with the politics of Washington the last four years. And some of those
years have been -- some of those moments have been very dispiriting.

And now it`s as if he feels free of all of that. And he has reminded us,
you know, the conventional wisdom the day after the election was, Obama`s
dead, the last two years are going to be dreary. And here we are six weeks
later, and we`re talking about resurgence.

And I think he feels it. He feels like, I have a shot to do some things
that are going to have lasting importance for the country, for the world,
for people. And I`m going to do it. And if Congress wants to help, that`s
great. If they don`t, we will do what we can without them.

MATTHEWS: You know, what I like about him is, even when I disagree on
first impulse, after a couple days, I say, you know, he`s probably right.

I thought the way he did immigration wasn`t exactly the usual way. It
wasn`t the legitimate -- the normal legitimate notion, you got to get
Congress to do it. And then I thought, you got to open the door some time.
You just got to, like we did with civil rights back in `64. We could have
waited. Johnson could have waited for the Constitution to be amended to
require public accommodations rights and an end to white only.

But he said, no, I`m going to use interstate commerce to get this damn
thing done. Sometimes, you got to be a little bit rough.


MATTHEWS: And he`s saying, I`m going to do this on Cuba, I`m going to do
it on everything. I`m going to do this because nothing`s moving without

CAPEHART: Right. Exactly. I`m going to do it on Cuba. I`m going to do
it on immigration. I`m going to do it on climate, on all these things.

And Congress can still act.

MATTHEWS: Causing fights every time.

CAPEHART: Right. But Congress hasn`t done anything.

Look, I agree with you that the president is laying out the road map for
his legacy, for what he`s going to do in the future, once he`s no longer
president. He`s going to be 50s, early 50s still...

MATTHEWS: Amazing.

CAPEHART: ... when he`s an ex-president.

MATTHEWS: It`s amazing.

CAPEHART: But I would tell all the HARDBALL watchers out there to do
themselves a favor and print out then state Senator Barack Obama`s 2004
Democratic Convention keynote for then Democratic nominee John Kerry. Read
that and then think about the last 10 years.


MATTHEWS: I will do that. That`s our assignment.

CAPEHART: There are a lot of things in that speech that were a template
for his presidency.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was the speech that basically won him the nomination,
I thought.

Let me go through the future with you, David Axelrod. We have you and I
want to exploit you.


MATTHEWS: The next steps, are they, in this order, Gitmo, finding some way
to close that thing down, Gitmo down there in Cuba?


Well, I think that`s definitely -- this was a -- he signed an order on the
first day to close it within a year. Congress has resisted. He clearly
still wants to get that done. It`s a horrific,negative symbol that`s
complicated our position in the world. It`s endangered our people
overseas. He wants to get that done.

I would -- and he -- they just transferred another several prisoners to, I
think, Afghanistan. I think you are going to just continue to see him
transferring prisoners until that facility is closed.

So, surely, that`s another thing. He`s got other things on the
environmental front that he can do.

MATTHEWS: On that front, will he -- will he veto? Will he be willing to
veto at least once? He will veto -- will he veto Keystone pipeline? It
sounds like that on Friday he was ready to do that.


And, you know, Mitch McConnell`s timing is terrible, because with the
plunging of the price of oil, there`s not even an economic rationale for
Keystone anymore. You talk about Obama`s legacy. One of the things he did
was invest early, ridiculed by the Republicans, in clean energy.

I was with a guy today who is working for a solar company that`s hired
8,000 people. And they think that is going to double in the next couple of
years. This Keystone project is at best going to produce a couple of
thousand jobs for construction and then a few hundred after that.

I just think the Republicans are way out of step on this issue...


AXELROD: ... that the whole oil thing has overtaken them.

And, certainly, so I think that`s probably going to happen. The one thing
I think he`s going to look to do with Congress that I hope they do get done
is something on infrastructure, maybe tie it to tax reform.


AXELROD: We have got these huge needs and that could create many, many
more jobs and really put jets behind the economy, which would be great.

MATTHEWS: But that gets back to the question you said earlier. The
problem with the Republicans now -- and it`s not that one party is always
right and the other one is always wrong -- but when you oppose things that
you agree with because the other guy recommended them -- I mean, building
highways, fixes bridges, as John Lindsay of New York said, there`s no
Republican way to collect the garbage.

There are certain things we ought to agree on.


MATTHEWS: You get on the highway, you don`t want a five-foot pothole in
front of you. This has nothing -- or you don`t want a bridge that is
shaky. Or you want to have state-of-the-art transportation.

This is what we have always done in this country. And the idea that
somehow all of that is a Democrat thing is ridiculous.

Thank you.


AXELROD: No, I agree with you.

And, Chris, let me just say one other thing about this. The Republicans in
Congress complain that this is executive overreach. I think most Americans
are relieved to see things happen. They want to see things get done.


AXELROD: They`re tired of the games in Washington.


AXELROD: So to have a president step forward and say, you know what, we`re
going to get some things done here, I`m not going to wait for these guys, I
think, sits well with a majority of the American people.


MATTHEWS: As David Garth, who just died, the great communications guy in
your business of communications, David...


MATTHEWS: ... who was probably the best ad man ever, he said replace the
smell of decay with the smell of construction. And we know what the smell
of construction is. It`s dirt being moved. It`s cement. We love that
smell in this country. We like to look through the portholes and watch
them put the buildings up.

Thank you, David Axelrod. And happy holidays and to also to you, Jonathan.


AXELROD: Same to you.

MATTHEWS: We have got two new developments tonight in the big Sony hacking
case. Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California, he`s out near
Hollywood, has sent a letter to Sony asking them to hold a special
screening of "The Interview" at the U.S. Capitol for members of Congress.
Do you believe it? By the way, I will believe that when I see it.

And North Korea is experiencing a major Internet outage right now that
analysts say it`s consistent with some type of attack by somebody. NBC
News is reporting that a U.S. official is strongly denying any U.S. role in
the outage. Well, wouldn`t he? Wouldn`t he deny it?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, more often these days, we live in a world defined by disruption and
crisis, like in New York right now, whether it`s fighting terrorism,
combating Ebola, preventing cyber-attacks, or coping with the tragedy we`re
seeing in New York City where two police officers were gunned down over the

Nothing is more important than rising each time we fall, of course, or, as
our next guest calls it, resiliency.

Dr. Judith Rodin, the first woman to choose as president of an Ivy League
college, the University of Pennsylvania, she`s been president now of the
Rockefeller Foundation since 2005. She`s the author of this great new book
called "The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go

Judith, thank you so much for joining us.

And I was reading your book. When you talk about the hell that Sandy,
Hurricane Sandy unleashed in places like Breezy Point and Staten Island and
the horror that people -- even though the media markets, New York, it
dominates media coverage, the true full horror that was only made known to
most of us later on. The South Jersey was nothing compared to what
happened to Northern Jersey and up in that area.

What is the importance of resilience and what can governments do to
basically get people ready to face really bad things?

WHERE THINGS GO WRONG": Well, hi, Chris. And thanks for having me on.

The truth is that we`re spending billions of dollars a year recovering from
disaster. And if crisis is the new normal, as you say, we can`t keep
spending the money and we can`t keep lurching from crisis to crisis.

So those who are going to do best, whether it`s a city or a business, or a
community, are those who prepare for any crisis. And then they`re better
in every crisis. In Sandy, we had generators that were in the basement and
flooded because, after 9/11, people moved their business -- their
generators to the basement.

So we can`t keep preparing for crisis by looking in the rear-view mirror.

MATTHEWS: What about the human factor? I have watched New York grow back
from 2001. My kids have lived up there, one`s went to school up there --
in fact, two were going to school up there at NYU, as you know, and
including Caroline, who went -- she was living up -- she`s living up there
now and she went to Penn (ph), of course.

And I tell you, there`s something about New York now that`s better than
ever. I know the horror of this weekend, but there`s something about the
resilience of that. Is it because it`s so diverse? It`s because people
are proud of diversity? Is there something about the people that go to New
York? What makes that city just come pounding back from everything?


RODIN: Diversity is one component of resilience.

So, diversity really matters. There`s also the fabric of community that
keeps getting rebuilt stronger and stronger. You talked about Breezy Point
and certain communities in the Rockaways. Although they were massively
hit, they`re rebounding more effectively because there`s so much community

MATTHEWS: I know..

RODIN: Often, the first-responders are the people who live next year, not
the police or the firemen, because, often, they can`t get there. And New
York seems to have so many communities where that fabric of the community
keeps getting re-knit stronger and stronger.

And the book talks about that resilience dividend. Think about New Orleans
after Katrina. That wasn`t just only a storm. That was also, that hit,
about poverty and race. And -- and New Orleans today has built back
stronger than ever.

And they are getting a resilience dividend, because they`re not trying to
rebuild the same. They completely transformed their education system.
They completely transformed their health care. "Inc." magazine rated them
the coolest city to have a start-up or be an entrepreneur.

Who would have thought that? So a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
They haven`t wasted it. But let`s not wait in the United States until we
have crises. Let`s plan and prepare now and yield that resilience

MATTHEWS: So amazing.

By the way, Judith, that so many young people in their late teens say, I
want to go to school in New Orleans.

RODIN: Yes. It`s great.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, it`s really had -- the applications down at the school
is amazing.

The book is called "The Resilience Dividend."

And thank you so much, Judith Rodin, for coming on HARDBALL.

RODIN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Former Vice President Dick Cheney is on trial. Well,
some people want to put him on trial. "The New York Times" wants the
federal government to investigate Cheney for his role, his top role in Bush
era torture. The ACLU is calling for the attorney general to appoint a
special prosecutor to go after everyone at the top.

And that would definitely include Mr. Cheney, who ran the intelligence-
gathering effort for W.

By the way, that`s one reason why he`s defending it. He ran it. He can
call it what he wants. Most people call it torture.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

The State Department is urging North Korea to exercise restraint and
refrain from any further threatening actions. Over the weekend, North
Korea said there would be grave consequences if the U.S. refused to agree
to a joint probe of the Sony hacking.

Congressman Michael Grimm is expected to plead guilty to one count of tax
fraud tomorrow in Brooklyn federal court.

And musician Joe Cocker, whose long career included 23 albums, has passed
away after a battle with lung cancer. He was 70 years old -- back to


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the mastermind of 9/11, who`s killed 3,000
Americans, he`s in our possession.

We know he`s the architect. And what are we supposed to do? Kiss him on
both cheeks and say, please, please, tell us what you know? Of course not.

We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch those who were
guilty on 9/11 and to prevent a further attack. And we were successful on
both parts.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: This report says it was not successful.


CHENEY: The report`s full of crap. Excuse me. I said hooey yesterday.
And let me use the real word.

I think that what needed to be done was done. I think we were perfectly
justified in doing it and I would do it again in a minute.


MATTHEWS: Well, that reaction to Bret Baier over at FOX was classic
Cheney. Dick Cheney may think the Senate torture report is, as he put it,
full of crap, but the ACLU and "The New York Times" editorial board see it
as reason to probe Cheney`s own role in this affair.

Today, the ACLU sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the
U.S. Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to go after
torturers and their bosses. They want Holder to -- quote -- "ask the
prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation of the conduct
described in the report, including about all acts authorizing or ordering
that conduct."

"The New York Times" editorial board is urging President Obama to take the
lead. It was the paper`s lead editorial today. They said, quote, "At the
very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal
investigation, any credible investigation, should include former Vice
President Dick Cheney."

The roundtable tonight to take up this tough one: "Mother Jones" Washington
bureau chief, David Corn, Bernard Center for Women President Michelle
Bernard, and "Time Magazine`s" political reporter, Zeke Miller.

New kid on the block, you start.


MATTHEWS: Is this going to go anywhere? The ACLU has some potency,
especially with a liberal administration. "The New York Times" speaks
often in the same language as liberal administrations. Will the president
get behind Eric Holder? Will Eric Holder move on this?

MILLER: Well, the Justice Department didn`t launch an investigation into
these practices and it ended in 2012. I don`t think that you`re going to
see the Obama administration restart that. The Justice Department said a
week and a half go when the report came out that they wouldn`t reopen that
investigation and it`s really not in the White House`s own interest. I
mean, they`re dealing with -- you know, they don`t want to re-open old
wounds, provoke a partisan response, any more than that report already did.

And they`re worried about their legacy when it comes to the use of drones
overseas as well. The president sort of reopening these types of
investigation --

MATTHEWS: You mean there`s a criminal potential there for the use of

MILLER: Potential, I mean --

MATTHEWS: Where did that come from? I`ve never heard that.

MILLER: They`re relying on the same sort of legal memos that were used to
justify the use of torture or enhanced interrogation techniques.

MATTHEWS: To me, it`s a different kettle of fish. But anyway, your

fish, but it doesn`t mean that it couldn`t happen. I hadn`t thought of
that. I actually think it`s a really good point, you know, they`re going
to be -- because Obama is thinking about his legacy.

I mean, my point on this is I`m really not impressed that the ACLU has
called on the president to pardon Mr. Cheney, as you say, and others --


MATTHEWS: You can question that until down, that`s how you pronounce his
name. Go ahead.

BERNARD: So, as I was saying, Mr. Matthews, I`m not impressed by it. I
understand this strong emotion people feel about this, but what good is
going it come of it --

MATTHEWS: I don`t think it`s emotion. I think American reaction to the
fact that we`re doing stuff we don`t feel proud of as Americans.

BERNARD: I understand that, but what good is going to come out of
relitigating this? We`re not engaged in these practices anymore. I think
most people would argue that after 9/11, there are a lot of people on the
right and the left who thought that we needed to do whatever --


MATTHEWS: We went after Iran Contra. We got 11 convictions. We went
after Watergate, got over 30.

So, the fact is we do get convictions, which makes a point. Society can`t
just say that, it`s yesterday, let`s move on. If we tortured, if that
meets the standard of criminal behavior, shouldn`t we deal with that?

BERNARD: We have dealt with it. The president has dealt with it. No one
has been tried, no one has been put in jail for doing that, but I don`t
think that it`s going to serve a greater good for the country. It is over.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: The argument the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and
"The New York Times" editorial board, which I think is compelling, is that
right now, we don`t torture because the president issued an executive
order. It`s not an act of Congress. It can be revoked by somebody else.

And while I do think the release of the report sets up a certain level of
deterrence for people doing this again in the future, it doesn`t mean that
it can`t happen again. I mean, if you respect the rule of law, you carry
it through.

Now, having said that, I spoke to someone who served in the administration
in the first couple of years, and there was a very active debate at the
White Houses and amongst certain cabinet members about what they should do
on this point. Should they prosecute people in the Bush-Cheney
administration for torture and other matters that they think might have
violated the law. And a lot of senior people in the administration wanted
to have a truth commission that could lead to possible --

MATTHEWS: They killed it.

CORN: One of the biggest voices against it, the president of the United
States, Barack Obama, constitutional scholar. I think at that point in
time, it was like Jerry Ford and Richard Nixon. He wanted to move on. We
weren`t yet doing the drones, but I think that`s a very good point to, one,
the president doesn`t want to set a precedent for being investigated down
the road. But I think at the time, he thought this was very emotional, had
a lot of divisiveness to it, and he didn`t want be --

MATTHEWS: Do you think, Zeke, as a journalist, Cheney in the last couple
of discussions made clear to say W. knew about this. So whatever he thinks
about it, he doesn`t want to be tagged with personal responsibility. He
wants to say, you guys got it wrong. W. did know about it.

MILLER: He certainly makes clear that everybody was well-briefed, which
disagrees what that report says. What I thought was interesting when he
saw the vice president go out and talk about it, when it came to sort of
the really gruesome practices, he said those exceeded what was authorized,
and he wouldn`t call those torture, but said they shouldn`t have happened.
And that was I thought was a surprising amount of regret even from the
former vice president.

MATTHEWS: But he has an excuse for everything. Rectal feeding was somehow
medically indicated. I mean, he was willing to say anything to cover it.

Michelle, if he`s proud of it, why does he keep coming up with ridiculous
examples? I mean, excuses?

BERNARD: Well, I mean, I don`t have any idea why he`s coming up with
excuses. I don`t have any idea why he said he would do it all over again.
What I do agree, nothing greater good can come to keep us safe by re-
litigating the issue. And quite frankly, nobody is going to want to hear

But on the domestic front, I wish that we were all carrying letters from
the ACLU and "The New York Times" asking for an investigation of the black
boys murdered in the United States over the last few of months. It`s just
as much of a crime as what we have seen happened in this torture report.

CORN: We do support investigations --

MATTHEWS: We have, Eric Holder is the attorney general --

BERNARD: Well, we do, and I don`t see anything in "The New York Times" or
the ACLU asking for an independent prosecutor or truth in reconciliation
commission or --

MATTHEWS: No, I think it`s a very good chance, not as a lawyer like
yourself, but I think there`s a very good of a federal case involving
Staten Island. I think it`s going to happen.

Anyway, the roundtable sticking around.

Right now, up next, the politics of dropping gas prices. It`s a big
economic break for every working family out there who has to fill up the
tank each week.

And it`s wreaking havoc with some of our biggest rivals like Vladimir
Putin, tough for him. And the Castros in Cuba. Not our Castros, their
Castros. And even Iran.

I`d say, boo hoo. We`re winning. You`re losing. Gas prices go down. We
win. You the sellers, lose.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve seen New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lose his temper on

Well, "The Washington Post" reports that activists now are actually being
sent to the governor`s events to get him to lose his temper in public. It
seems to be working. Take a look.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: After you graduate from law school,
you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to
get thrown in jail, idiot.

And you know what, and you know what, and you know? Let me tell you, let
me tell you this -- you know what? It`s people who raise their voices and
yell and scream like you that are dividing this country. We`re here to
bring this country together, not to divide it.

I`ve been here when the cameras aren`t here, buddy, and done the work.
I`ve been here when the cameras aren`t here, buddy, and did the work.

Damn, man, I`m governor, could you just shut up for a second, you know?

Sit down and shut up!

When they yell and scream at me, you know, some days I sit and listen it
take it and give a reasonable answer and response. If I`m in a cranky
mood, some days I yell back at them.


MATTHEWS: Whether they get a load of him, I mean, a load of him in Iowa.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

The slump of the price of oil, and that means gas prices here in America,
that means that the cost of gas is at its lowest price since 2009. Well,
according to AAA, the national average is down to just 2.39 a gallon.
That`s for a regular, of course. The sharp decline over the last six
months of this year.

And some U.S. cities have already seen the price of the pump fall below $2.
It`s welcome news for consumers in this country. But the implications are
dire for many of our geopolitical enemies that rely on oil exports. The
gas stations out there with armies, if you will.

From one, cheap oil is squeezing Russia`s faltering economy to its max, the
Russian ruble has dropped in value by 45 percent. The Russian government
is bailing out its first bank amid the crisis.

It also undercut Venezuela, a country that has subsidized Cuba`s economy,
since the fall of the Soviet Union. That pressure gave the United States
the leverage many think to normalize relations with Cuba just last week.

We`re back with our roundtable, David, Michelle and Zeke.

I want to start with Michelle this time.

Michelle, I do believe in luck. I`ve seen with people in their lives. I
go, how did that guy or woman did it again. They did it again. I`ve seen
people who are really good people having one tough challenge after another
in life.

And I`m looking at you now. You`ve had a mixed experience.



CORN: She`s getting married in Saturday.

MATTHEWS: So, I do believe that the president, an example of this, is the
gas price thing. He may have had nothing to do with it. But God has made
people feel a lot better about life in this country. They`re just happier
right now.

BERNARD: Let me -- absolutely. And, you know, David Axelrod was talking
about it earlier in the program. The president is on a winning streak.
He`s got luck coming his way.

What has happened in terms of oil prices at home and abroad is fantastic
news for the president and for the country. You love filling up your gas
tank now.

More importantly, or may believe more importantly, look what it does to
Russia. The interest rates are going up, what, 17 percent this week?
Vladimir Putin, we`re sort of breaking Russia`s economic back. And maybe
he`s going to have to do a little bit of negotiations in terms of what he`s
doing in Ukraine. His annexation of Crimea.

Maybe impact with impact, the economic impact on Venezuela is going to
lessen their influence.


MATTHEWS: It looks to me like, is this a springtime for Hitler in Germany,
winter for Brussels and Prague. Is this bad news for the Rs, the
Republicans, because it looks to me like Mitch McConnell is up against the
president who`s got wings on his feet?

CORN: Well, listen. You know, it`s great. Look, my dad used to say --

MATTHEWS: By the way, he`s in Hawaii right now.

CORN: It`s smarter to be lucky, than it`s lucky to be smart. But all of
those things that are breaking right for Obama, normalized relations of
Cuba, the China climate deal are things that he worked for a year or two or
more. Immigration, obviously, is something that was in the work --

MATTHEWS: Is he going to skate across Gitmo now and deal with --


CORN: This guy has great Decembers. After he lost in 2010, he came back,
got "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell", he had a tax deal, he had an arms talk --

MATTHEWS: Good Decembers. What`s his --

CORN: November is the off years.


MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Zeke Miller of "Time
Magazine", and, of course, Michelle Bernard, taking care over holidays. My
buddy, here, David Corn. I like you more all the time.


CORN: Thank you, Chris. I like you, too.

MATTHEWS: When we return -- I didn`t ask for that -- let me finish with
the benefits big and small of cheap -- I`m going to get into the details.
You know, it`s better to come home with some money at the end of the week.
The place for politics, we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a sense that history has turned a bit
in this country`s favor. Not for long, perhaps, but at least enough to
give us a breathing spell.

Cheap oil is good for us. It means the average working person can get to
work and have some money in their pocket at the end of the week. Money
that would have otherwise, gone to the op producers on the world market. A
drop in gas prices is what you think about it, even better than a tax cut.
It means the money stays in your pocket to begin with. Not in some refund
from the government. It`s yours. It stays yours.

Well, this can mean a lot for people living for paycheck to paycheck, which
is an awful lot of people in this country. It can mean being able to buy
things for the kids, for the family like shoes, like a night at out a local
restaurant or a trip to visit relatives now that the price is getting there
is much lower than it was.

If you want some big picture raises, it means that we Americans have been
given a little jump on those in the world who don`t exactly root for us.
It means Vladimir Putin, that old KGB boss, can no longer act like Mr. Big
Shot. When you`re running what John McCain calls a gas station with an
army, it`s not such a big deal when the price of gasoline is getting a

Size matters. It`s hard to act like Vlady in power when your nozzle looks
to the world a lot smaller than it once did.

Same with the Castro brothers, I`m not talking about ours, I`m talking
about Fidel and Raul, who now have to rely not on their fellow communists
in Russia or in Venezuela, on the kindness of strangers, otherwise known as
the United States of America.

Yes, cheaper gas makes for strange bedfellows. We might even get a better
deal out of Iran now that their number one source of wealth is not the big
dog it used to be.

So, this Christmas, let`s thank Santa for stuffing our stocking with
something we can use, a little spending money that would have otherwise
going to people who didn`t mind gouging us when they could, did they?

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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