tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC December 8, 2012 1:00am-2:00am PST
so there's a heavy judicial pile of precedent here from the lower courts. the only question remains is one of standing. but i think that it really is losing steam. the questions going to be holings worth and whether they leave this question to states like california. and that could be a really painful decision if it goes the wrong way. >> professor, great to have you with us. thanks so much. that's "the ed show." "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. ezra cline filling in for "the rachel maddow show" tonight. >> good evening. a dreary december day turned out to be full of news today including big news out of the supreme court. and one of the coolest pictures ever having a big revooufl. but we begin with important news out of washington. for all the squabbling politicians and the whining pundits, we can announce to you tonight, right here, right now,
there's a budget deal that's becoming clear. our long national nightmare might almost, and i repeat, it's washington, almost be over. this is kind of like one of those kids games where you have to look at a picture that looks like nonsense until your eyes filter out the garbage and you can finally see the sailboat. that's what's going on in washington. you have to filter out the garbage. take yesterday for example. i don't tune into c-span 2 for comedy, just because it's good television. but the senate was being hilarious about the debt ceiling, which is hard to be hilarious about. here's what happened. the white house has been pushing a plan to take control of the debt ceiling away from congress. that way congress couldn't blow up the world economy for no good reason. it's taking the sharp knife covered in explosives away from a kid who has a lot of temper tantrums. it's a good thing to do. the white house calls it the mcconnell plan because it's based on an idea that mitch
mcconnell proposed become in july 2011. but even though it is mitch mcconnell's idea, even though he came up with it, mitch mcconnell is not for it. mitch mcconnell at this point does not support the mcconnell plan at all. he didn't think democrats did either. and yesterday he wanted to call their bluff. now that is when c-span 2 suddenly became amazing television. yesterday afternoon mitch mcconnell asked the senate to move to an immediate vote on the mcconnell plan. vote on it now. you figured harry reid would back down. prove that even democrats don't like this idea. but reid did not back down. he doubled down. he said, yeah, let's vote on the plan. but let's move to an immediate up or down vote. no filibuster, no 60-vote requirement, let's see if it gets 51. if so, it's passed. at which point, mcconnell kind
of filibustered his own bill. he said, no, if we're not going to have a 60-vote threshold, there would be no vote at all. he got his wish and then e he launched a filibuster or a 60-vote challenge against a vote he asked for. claire mccaskill was senate president at the time. here was her reaction. >> is their objection to the original request? >> yeah. >> objection is heard. i got whiplash. >> i got whiplash. that is the world's greatest deliberative body in action. that is also the kind of thing people who don't know how to see the sailboat in washington. it's all games the two parties are playing to prove they are really committed to beating the other side. that's what they have to do. it's part of the whole dance. their base won't trust them. they won't buy the final deal if they don't think their party has fought as hard as they can.
if you watch these games closely, it's easy to get depressed. they are petty and sorrowful and vengeful. but behind all that, if you filter it out, if you look at the offers on the table and the counteroffers and in particular if you look at the red lines that are being proposed by john boehner and president obama, if you look at these very closely, a deal is beginning to take shape. watch this. you remember during the presidential campaign what president obama used to say over and over again about tax rates? about what his plan was for tax rates? president obama was crystal clear about what e he wanted. >> i have said that for incomes over $250,000 a year that we should go. back to the rates that we had when bill clinton was president. >> i want to reform the tax codes so that it's fair. the same rate we had when bill
clinton was president. >> we have to ask you and me and the wealthiest among us to go back to the clinton rates for income above $250,000. >> the clinton tax rates, we need to go back. that's not a generic policy idea. that's really specific. the clinton tax rate for high income earners was 39.6%. that's what president obama was calling for during the campaign. that's still what president obama is calling for now. but now when you ask him if that's the red line, if it you ask if he will accept anything else, he doesn't really answer. >> tax rates. are you -- is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2% aren't the clinton tax rates, period. no ifs, ands or buts on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff. >> with respect to the tax rates, i want to emphasize, i am open to new ideas.
i'm not going to slam the door in their face. i want to hear -- i want to hear ideas from everybody. >> that's not a no. here is the treasury secretary timothy geithner. >> there's no agreement that doesn't involve the rates going up on the top 2%. >> not necessarily going up to the clinton era rates. just going up. today at a press conference at the capital, bain got a question about this. listen carefully to how he responded or didn't respond. >> you did speak with the president earlier this week. can you characterize this call? and also we understand that he just is making clear that it's got to be increasing rates for the wealthy or no deal. are you willing to give a little bit? maybe just not all the way to 39.6? >> the phone call was pleasant, but just more of the same. the conversations that the staff had yesterday, just more of the same. it's time for the president, if east serious, to come back to us with a counteroffer. >> not a no on the rates going. up thing. john boehner didn't answer the tax part of the question at all. he talked about the phone call. it was pleasant. he didn't say we did not allow tax rates to go up at all. you see the deal that's taking place. a lot of the players i talked to
think something like this is going to happen. the final rates raise a bit giving democrats a win. giving republicans a win. maybe they will be 37%. maybe 38%. that won't raise enough revenue so it will be combined with policy to cap deductions for the rich. that won't take effect right away. it will be phased in. it will probably include an exemption for charitable contributions. the harder question is what republicans get on the spending >> that's not a no. here is the treasury secretary timothy geithner. >> there's no agreement that doesn't involve the rates going up on the top 2%. >> not necessarily going up to the clinton era rates. just going up. today at a press conference at the capital, bain got a question about this. listen carefully to how he responded or didn't respond. >> you did speak with the president earlier this week. can you characterize this call? and also we understand that he just is making clear that it's got to be increasing rates for the wealthy or no deal. are you willing to give a little bit? maybe just not all the way to 39.6?
exemption for charitable contributions. the harder question is what republicans get on the spending side of that deal. but even that doesn't seem to be such a mystery these days. a lot of nips and talks. a lot of cost sharing. there will be a unified deductible and increases in provider payments. and the concession is likely to be the medicare e eligibility age rises from 65 to 67. medicare eligibility age rises. democrats do not like that idea as nancy pelosi explained yesterday. >> first of all, show me the money. i don't even know why that is something that people think is going to produce money. what are we going to do with people between 65 and 67? show me the money there. but it's not even the right thing to do, first and foremost. but is it a trophy that the republicans want?
is that the trophy they want in order to do what is right to raise the rates for the wealthiest people in our country? >> let me say for the record i think pelosi is right. i don't think raising the age is the right idea. i'm going to show you the money later on. but what she did not do is not rule it out. if republicans end up getting it, it's something the obama administration told john boehner they were willing to trade away if republicans end up getting it, that will feel like a big win for them. enough to unlock the tax deal. i'm not saying the final negotiation here will be easy. one thing that's a tough sticking point in negotiations. we began tonight which the white house wants to get rid of forever. there's not been a lot of republican movement on the forever deal. i'm not saying the final negotiation here will be easy. one thing that's a tough sticking point in negotiations. we began tonight which the white house wants to get rid of forever. there's not been a lot of republican movement on the forever deal. i'm not saying they are not going to get to a deal before the deadline, but don't be fooled by the posturing.
there is a sailboat. it's coming clearer. joining us is the former budget director for the obama administration. vice chairman at citigroup, a veteran of these negotiations, thank you for being here on a friday night. >> good to be with you. >> peter, you have been in a lot of these negotiations. you have been in their rhythms and seen how they go. what's your take? >> i think as you pointed out, it's still early. it's december 7th. both sides would be complaining if there was an agreement in place. but you can see the pieces coming together on the fiscal cliff some increase in marginal tax rates coupled with some kind of cutting back on tax expenditures.
the real concern is shifting or will shift from the fiscal cliff to the debt limit. it's not clear that the republicans will agree to including a debt limit increase in that kind of package and if they don't, we may get past december 31st only to find ourselves with a big problem in february or march. >> the obama administration has been clear they will not sign anything. even to get past december 31st. so do you think they can hold firm on that if republicans offer them a package that doesn't include the debt ceiling? >> this is where i think the tension is now arising, which is even if you have some agreement
over the tax rates which will jam the republicans a bit, can you jam them on the debt limit also, the concern will be an administration overstepping or overream reaching and trying to jam in the kinds being discussed now. i'm all in favor of getting rid of the debt limit. it makes no sense from a technical perspective. but it's probably a bridge too far to attempt that right now. the question really will become without any more significant entitlement reform at the least the kind of medicare eligibility age increase you were discussing is a debt limit increase going to be part of the package. if not, will the administration win on tax rates only to find itself in a harder position in february with the debt limit still out there. >> the other side of this is the question of whether or not speaker boehner can deliver votes. the thing that a lot of people
worry about in private is him and obama will cut a deal in late december negotiations. but boehner has been making tough calls. when it comes down to it he's going to agree to something with the president and it is not going to be able to pass his own conference. do you have any sense of what you think he's able to do and not do at this point? >> we come back again to the entitlement question. it's going to be easier for the caucus to swallow some tax rate increase if they have something to show for it. and the irony here, on a whole variety of issue, the democrats should be in favor of certain kinds of entitlement reforms. it's not actually that big of a give. on social security, as an example, democrats have won for the time being on privatization being completely off the table. there's a strong argument for trying to lock that in now as oppose eed to waiting and having that potentially come back. in addition, one of the big concerns here is doing too much fiscal austerity too soon. the more you did in the form of social security chrks can be phased in gradually over time, the lighter the load imposed in 2013. that's a good thing despite the news from the unemployment release e. we face a labor market that's too weak.
>> do you think they get this done that is at least two years or more by christmas? >> i think that's less than a 50% at this point. >> peter, former director of the office and management and budget, thank you for your time. i wish your probability had been higher. >> so do i. just when we were starting to think it might be a slow news day, bam. the supreme court is going to take up same-sex marriage. history is on the docket twice, coming up. in 1967 supreme court ruled unanimously that race cannot be used as a basis to restrict
in 1967 supreme court ruled unanimously that race cannot be used as a basis to restrict marriage. this was a famous case. loving versus virginia. the amazingly named lovings were richard and mildred. in 1958 they travelled to washington, d.c. so they could get married. when they returned to virginia where interracial marriage was against the law, they were sentenced to a year in prison for getting married. when the judge in virginia sentenced them to prison he said "god created the races and placed them on separate continents. he did not intend for the races to mix." the lovings appealed that decision and won at the supreme court. but why did it take until 1967
for the supreme court to weigh in on interracial marriage? by 1954, the court had already ruled in cases involving race and discrimination. the most famous in brown v. board which the court held it was unconstitutional. so why wait until 1967 to hear the case about interracial marriage. here are all of the states that had laws on the books. banning interracial marriage. by 1967 only 16 states still had the laws on the books. in the decades between 1947 and 1967 the years the supreme court was staying mom on the issue, most states decided on their own. the court was following on their heels, following the heels of public opinion. this is a big debate in the legal world. the supreme court influenced by american public opinion? these are nine people who could
completely ignore the will of the people. they are appointed for life. they can totally ignore us if they choose. many legal experts say that's not how it works. they are swayed by what the people think about issues. they anoubsed they would hear two cases involving same-sex marriage. that's huge. they would hear the prop 8 case out of california. that's the california ballot proposition which amended the california constitution to define marriage between a man and a woman. the court will some time this year whether that amendment is unconstitutional. but the court also said it would hear a challenge to the defense of marriage act passed under president clinton that defined marriage between a man and woman for the purposes of federal law. the question is why now. why did the supreme court choose this moment? nine states and washington, d.c.
all recognize same-sex marriage now. that doesn't seem like many, but it's happening quickly. three of those states people voted to legal marriage in november. first time ever done so. there's a big public opinion trend here. since '04, polls have been asking people should it be legal or illegal for gay couples to get married. 59% of people said they thought it should be against the law. in 2012 it was almost the opposite. 53% favor making it legal. pew has been asking the question since 1996. when 65% of people were against same-sex marriage. by october of this year, 49% were for marriage equality while 40% opposed it. one more set of numbers. gallop released their polling this week. 53% of people polled support legalizing same-sex marriage. but look inside the poll. among young people 18 to 29-year-olds, 73% say they think same-sex marriage should be
recognized. 73%. here's the question. the court is choosing to rule now. are the justices looking at the trends and saying we need to use our power, our installation to public opinion to put a stop to it or are they looking at the trends and seeing a chance to join his ri. to become the court that says gay marriage is protected under the constitution. joining us is the chief justice professor at constitutional law at nyu. thank you for being here. that's a great title. my question is simple. why now? >> the court is a passive institution. it can't reach out and grab cases. but there's an additional layer. why didn't the court say we're not going to review this case? one of the cases that we didn't look at in your excellent introduction is a case right after brown v. board of education when they are handing out these orders extending the principle at public
accommodations. but it has a marriage case and gets rid of it and says this is too soon. and so it sits 11 years later to take it up. many of us thought this is exactly what's going to happen with the prop 8 case. the doma case is slightly different. but many of us thought the prop 8 case it's going to go back. it's going to be legal in california but nowhere else and the court is going to wait another ten years. >> so what are the implications -- the differing implications of how they could rule? what different parts of the gay marriage question e could they resolve? >> the doma case is a much more easy case. all it does is to return congress to its original position of following whatever states say the definition of marriage are. so it was crafted because it's a
movement. they tend to be pro-state's rights and the liberals are pro-gay so arguing towards the middle, these are justice kennedy's favorite things. that's clearly a fifth vote for this case. we assume. so i think everyone imagined everyone since appellate court struck it down, that it leads to the supreme court to review the case. everyone thought they would take the case. i think they are going to do the right thing and strike it down. the other case is much more complicated. the doma case doesn't affect any state decisions. where the perry case, the outcome -- >> that's the prop 8 case in california. >> exactly. thank you for helping me out there.
the case says there's this definition passed by a ballot initiative that says that marriage is between one man and one woman. if the the supreme court goes broad on that and says there's a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry, that could flip the remaining states to require them to have same sex marriage. i don't think that's going to happen. for example, the court could look at this and say there are a bunch of states that say we're going to give you the rights and benefits of marriage, but we're going to withhold the word marriage. the court can look and say you're worried about brand. we're going to strike that down. we're going to add those states to the ledger of the nine states that allow the marriage bring the total to 17. somewhere down the line, we'll
do the loving vs. virginia move. right now, it would be washing out 41 states. >> so very quickly before we go, today is a good day for supporters of gay marriage. that's the bottom line? >> i think it's a great day. i think it's a great day because in the perry case, there's no question it's a great in respect to doma. for the perry case, it's a great day even though there might be skeptics because in that case there's a beautiful record, there's a trial in this case. whenever there's a trial, the pro-gay side wins. it's almost a per se rule. in red states like arkansas and florida, the gay rights activists have won and blue states without a trial, we have lost. so because there was a trial and a 3,000-page record, the perry case is a sleeper winner e. >> interesting. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you for having me. if you are former bill clinton, you have a global
pushing the limits that even the "the rachel maddow show" staff of geeks will tolerate, the producers here get me to do it in two minutes or less. tonight's challenge comes in something i mentioned earlier. the medicare eligibility age. sexy topic right? try to control yourself, audience. despite the fact it's unpopular, republicans really want to make cuts in medicare and want to raise the age by two years from 65 to 67. that's also super unpopular. but the white house is open to it. they are open to it in 2011 in the boehner lsh obama talks. what's weird is it's always presented as the height of fiscal responsibility even though it's fiscally irresponsible. which brings us to the challenge. why raising the age does not save you very much money and is probably a bad policy idea in under two minutes. do we have the clock. let's do it. the argument for cutting 65 and
67-year-olds out of a deficit talk is simple. it saves money. the keizer family foundation estimates that when it's all said and done, the government could save $5.7 billion. but those 65 and 66-year-olds don't disappear. they are still going to be here and get sick sometimes which means the savings we'd see by kicking them off they pop back up elsewhere in the economy. it's not pure savings, it's a cost shift. you're going to see increased costs for seniors who will have to find another health insurer since it uses power to pay less by quite a bit. the seniors turning to private insurance will have to pay more from the same coverage. 3.7 billion more in the first year of the policy. for those who are eligible for medicaid, will move to the
states, we think. then there are the employers. many of the ineligible will turn to their employers. that will increase the health care costs of companies by $5.4 billion. some of the seniors will turn to the affordable care act in the insurance exchanges. those left in medicare will pay a higher premium because the average premiums go up for those older and sicker. that will cost $2.5 billion. in order to save the federal government $5.7 billion this plan to raise medicare eligibility would cost twice that much across the economy. done. stop the clock. so that is the explanation in under two minutes as promised. given all that, why are democrats even considering a policy so fiscally promised. the reason is doesn't save money is the same reason they are considering it. it won't hurt people all that
much compared to the alternatives on the table. this point was made at new york magazine. it has symbolic power and fiscal skulls. meager and inefficient though the savings may be, they pack a lot of punch. that's what np fp meant when she called it a trophy. republicans see this as a big win for them. big. and that's kind of the white house's quiet argument. it's a terrible policy, but because obama care and employers and others are there to catch a lot of these people, it might get more votes while doing less harm to seniors than the alternatives. you can prevent gas with beano meltaways,
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and could save you thousands a year in out-of-pocket costs. call now to request your free decision guide. and learn more about the kinds of plans that will be here for you now -- and down the road. i have a lifetime of experience. so i know how important that is. there is in life reality. reality is real. it's its key feature. it doesn't care whether or not you like it and if you go against it, you tend to lose. for instance, when your political party decides to ignore warnings about the changing demographics and you go with women voting in big numbers and you focus instead on
policies that la knee toes and african-americans find cruel because you hope they won't show up to the polls in big numbers, you end up with barack obama, two-term president. republicans tried to cross reality and reality won. the demographics of the country are changing. we're facing another set of realities. the federal government has taken in taxes that equals 18% of the overall economy. it's 17.8% to be exact. that's become something of a magic number in politics. you tell orrin hatch loves the 18%. if we keep all the bush tax cuts, we stick at that magic number. that means "taxes would still be high enough compared to recent history." across the political spectrum, consider warren buffett and higher taxes for the rich. he wrote "our government's goal should be to bring in 18.5% revenue. he doesn't say.
those are levels attained over extended periods in the past. permit me a decent from the or kl of omaha. the average of our past revenue is not sufficient to sustain our future. in fact, it wasn't even enough to support our past. only three times in the past 50 years has the 18% been enough to balance the budget. the only recent balancing came during the clinton era when growth was strong. from 19.5% of the overall economy to 20.6%. by bump. ing along with 18%, we have built the national debt that dominates the political discussion and it's going to get worse if we stay there. the future debt we're talking and worrying about is driven by two things. health care and old people. the coming years are going to have more of both. today the elderly make up 13% of the population. by 2050, they are expected to be 20%. that means you'll need to spend a lot more on social security and medicare. and we hope will keep happening and that will push the cost higher. the future turns out to be
expensive. that's simply the reality of it. and opposing tax increases doesn't change that reality. there's nothing in grover norquist's pledge that stops the ageing process. so there's no way the tax receipts of the 1960s will support the demographics of america in the 2030s. anyone who says otherwise is not taking the reality seriously. joining us is a man who always takes reality seriously. chris hayes. so one thing i always think is true in our political discussions is we don't like to face up to big changes. we like to use them as evidence for whatever policies are adapting. but the ageing of the society, i don't think we have come close to thinking about what that will mean for our economy or the government or any of it it. >> the only discussion we have is we're getting older so the entitlement programs will go bankruptcy. taking the reality seriously. joining us is a man who always takes reality seriously. chris hayes. so one thing i always think is true in our political discussions is we don't like to face up to big changes. we like to use them as evidence for whatever policies are
adapting. but the ageing of the society, i don't think we have come close to thinking about what that will mean for our economy or the government or any of it it. >> the only discussion we have is we're getting older so the entitlement programs will go bankruptcy. when you think about it, what does a mature society value and think about how you want to spend your marginal dollar. 25 maybe you want to buy an extra shot or get a video game system. >> i feel like you're making the 25-year-olds look a little trivial. >> if someone says you can spend a dollar to get an extra three months of life, people are going to buy that. and as we e mature as a society, as we get older, those choices are on a social level, we're just going to make more and it's going to be more expensive and we'll have to pay more. there's no way around that. >> the fundamental challenge of
an ageing society, you have more old people and fewer young working people. we do have a way to change it if we wanted to. we have immigration. a lot of people would like to come here but it's a same coalition that doesn't like increasing taxes to pay for your ageing society that also doesn't like letting anybody in to work for and pay for your ageing society. something is going to have to give in a big way. >> and the tension on the immigration side is going to give first. the hydraulics of this work out that the pressure is the least there. the bizarre thing about the modern republican party and you have written about this and i talked about this is the fact that it is essentially this kind of rear guard action to defend at all costs the social democratic state that older
americans that vote for republicans live in and worries ant any incursions from people out there. the fact is they are choosing between more immigration policy and cutting into those benefits. i think you can see people choose the um grags pathway. >> the other thing i worry about is the interaction of the pledging republicans and what will happen here. one thing that is true is that taxes will have to go up probably by more than president obama is talking about now and you can't -- it isn't a good idea to do that on the income tax code. at a certain level, it gets inefficient. but grover norquist is smart on this. even if it's more efficient, that makes it easier to raise taxes. a tax code that gets high enough it's hurting the country because they won't allow real tax reform to support it. >> i totally agree. you end up in a situation where we on the books have a progressive system. even compared to other countries. we pay much less in taxes overall and we have much stingier-defined public goods. the point is that the most
successful social welfare states are one where there's this universal pay in. the way we're going with this inequality is talking about means testing, which is a way from a model of universal pay in and benefit. that's sustainable. >> chris hayes, thank you for being here. oneover the coolest things human beings has ever seen celebrates a big birthday. it's sort of a best new moment of geek and it's coming up.
in 1997 the bur chief of hamas was considered by many including the united states to be a terrorist organization. at the time he was living in exile in jordan and from there he allegedly orchestrated a number of attacks on israel. israel's prime minister was benjamin netanyahu and that year in 1997 he green lit a plan for the intelligence agency to kill mr. mashal. it did not go well. >> as he arrived at work, two suspicious men approached him.
>> translator: i was just entering my office when i heard a sound. then i felt an electric shock throughout my body. >> his body guard chased the two men up the street, caught them and beat them. the two insisted they were canadian tourists out shopping. within hours, a leader was in the hospital vomiting, dizzy and on a respirator to him him breathe. the two men were hitman from israel's secret service. the mission was to poison the hamas leader in retaliation for suicide bombings inside the country. a humiliating blunder for israel
e. >> it was a disaster. it was as if it was part of a bad hollywood movie. >> jordan's king hu sane was outrage pd hep made two deals. he would return the two captured agents if first israel would provide an antidote for the poison and second israel had to free this man from jail. the sick but still powerful spiritual leader of hamas. today he got a hero's welcome in gaza. also free 22 hamas fighters. the incident has proved a disaster. >> the failed assassination was a disaster. poison and second, israel had to free this man from jail. sheikh ahmed yassin, the sick but still powerful spiritual leader of hamas. today he got a hero's welcome in gaza. also free, 22 hamas fighters. the incident has proved a disaster. the failed assassination was indeed a disaster for israel. the guy they were trying to kill did not dye die. israeli agents were captured.
israel had to provide the antidote to save the life of the guy they were trying to kill, and they had to release almost two dozen palestinians from jail. there is pressure on prime minister netanyahu to resign. 15 years later netanyahu is again the prime minister. and meshaal is the again the head of hamas. he has been in exile the hole time. he has never, ever been to gaza, which is where hamas is based until today. today the hamas leader visited gaza for the very first time in his entire life. he was there to celebrate the group's 25th anniversary. there will be a huge rally tomorrow. also on the agenda, a visit to the family of one of the men released from an israeli prison 15 years ago in the wake of that failed assassination attempt. that one released from prison by israel. he was successfully assassinated in 2004. khaled meshaal visited his family home today. but the most important thing to know here is how the head of hamas got into gaza. he was allowed to enter the
territory through egypt. egypt's former president hosni mubarak on the left never would have allowed it. he hated hamas. egypt's current president mohamed morsi does not. he is a member of the muslim brotherhood. so the head of hamas was allowed to travel to the gaza strip. that's one example of the titanic shift in politics in this part of the world going on right now. here is another. this is cairo. not during the revolution that brought morsi to power, but now, this is cairo right now. tens of thousands of protesters have been out there for about two weeks in the famed tahrir square and near the presidential palace. they're very upset that their newly elected democratic president morsi is doing things that they not so democratic. he is trying to make it so his decisions are not subject to judicial review. at least six civilians have been
you probably saw a really cool image. a nighttime view of the earth from space. nasa was able to show us this image, thanks to a new satellite equipped with something called visible infrared imaging radiometer suite. but this image of the globe from space is not what you might think it is. we do not have a camera far enough away from earth to get an image of the whole thing. it's a composite knitted together from data taken by the satellite as it made several passes around the earth. lots of the cool pictures you see like of hurricanes from earth are actually composites. anything close enough to the earth to be held by its gravitational pull is also too close to get a whole earth picture. for perspective, this is what the earth looks like from the international space station.
you can't really see the whole thing at once. only a couple dozen earthlings have ever been far enough from the earth to see the whole thing. like the crew of apollo 8, who took this picture commonly known as "earth rise" from the window of the craft as they orbited the moon in 1968. unfortunately, nearly half the earth was in shadow. an unmanned soviet spacecraft called zond 7 got this shot during a lunar fly-by. i guess you would call that a gibbous earth. fully lit by the sun. it is probably a shot you have seen so often you don't think how amazing it is. it was nicknamed the blue marble and it was taken by one of the astronauts on board, apollo 17. apollo 17 launched 40 years ago today, december 17, 1972. it was a night launch, aiming for the littoral valley.
gene cernan, harrison jack schmitt and ron evans aboard. apollo 17 launched at night, and when they landed three days later, the sun was behind them. and so that particular launch trajectory put a fully formed beautifully lit earth in the window of the command module at a time when the astronauts really should have been too busy to look at it. here is how al reinert, who co-wrote the movie "apollo 13" describes what happened. quote, at five hours and a few minutes into the flight of apollo 17, one of the crewmen looked out the window. what he saw inspired him to grab the only camera that wasn't stowed and snap a picture. but whoever did it said nothing on the radio or to their crewmates about it. it is possible they did it instinctively, hardly ever thinking about it because none of them thought to mention it for weeks. reinert doesn't say which of the three took the picture, partly because nasa gives all three credit for it, and partly because none of them were supposed to be taking pictures right then. today nbc veteran space correspondent jay barbree got gene cernan on the phone. they were passing the camera back and forth between the three of them. th m