tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC January 28, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
swearing. the last time, the girls made about $12,000 by renting out the monastery to fans. they put the money into the community. we asked sister >> so last night talking to a guy in the men's room about balls. tonight a nun talking about balls. i don't want the super bowl to ever come, because i don't think i can live without this subject. >> i promise to find a way to bring it up next week. >> any help you need doing that i'll help. well, we're not going to
talk about that tonight on this program. rachel has done it for us. but tonight, my first guest, who was a real american sniper, has some very important things to say about the movie "american sniper" and the real iraq war. >> you got some sort of savior complex? >> i just want to get the bad guys. >> it is simplified. >> the film already the winner of several awards. >> along with the accolades came controversy, some criticizing it with a pro war agenda. >> this isn't propaganda, it's hollywood. >> this one is just american hero. >> he's a psychopath patriot and we love him. >> chris kyle is a hero, but he's a complicated hero. >> they say a lot of [ bleep ] in the middle of it.
>> this is not meant to be a political film. >> people went to iraq under false pretenses. >> there is no context of why the u.s. is in iraq. >> tiny little omission. >> i just have tremendous respect for what he did. >> i'm willing to meet my creator and answer for every shot i took. there's an article that will be posted under the title "i was an american sniper, and chris kyle's war was not my war. don't make the mistake thinking the movie captures the truth of the iraq conflict. i should know, i lived it. joining me now, former u.s. army sniper garrett reppenhagen. your reaction to the movie and the discussion it has provoked?
>> well, thanks for having me on the show. you know, i think the major thing that we have to put into context with this film is it's have a very particular point of view. whether it's the true story of chris kyle or not isn't really my main concern. it's the fact that the american public has a responsibility to take in as much information as possible about this conflict to understand it and understand the experiences of the people who lived it, like myself, and the veterans coming home that are going through a lot and not exactly what chris kyle went through. many of them are going through other things, as well. so there's a larger context and a lot more dynamics at play here. in the article, i mentioned it's like looking through that sniper scope. chris kyle says in the movie, or the character says, you've got to keep both eyes open to see the whole battlefield. that's the analogy i'm trying to
make for the american audience, just keep both eyes open and be aware of what's going on in the larger context. >> you make a point in your article, which i've made, which is it's just a movie. and we're constantly teach thing lesson, and i think every awards season we teach the difference between movies and history books, the difference between movies and the truth, and movies are pretty much the worst source of accuracy. there's always manipulation in these kinds of movies. i want to read another line where you say, my actions in combat would have been more acceptable to me if i could cloak myself in the belief that the whole mission was for a greater good. i just want to go to a spot in the movie where the bradley cooper character explains his motivation for this. let's listen to this.
>> do you want to die? is that what it is? >> no. >> then just tell me. tell me why you do it. i want to understand. >> babe, i do it for you, you know that. you do it to protect you. >> no, you don't. >> yes, i do. >> i'm here. your family is here. your children have no family. >> i have to serve my country. >> i'm your [ bleep ]. you don't know when to quit. you've did your part. you let somebody else go. >> let somebody else go? >> yeah. you find a way. you have to. >> garrett, in that scene, the screen writer jason hall and the film directed by clint eastwood allows the character's wife, and i don't like to call him chris kyle, because this is a fictional character, but allows the wife to say that's crap, the idea you're doing this to keep
us safe, to protect me. but the whole thrust of the rest of the screenplay is to -- is on the sniper's side in that argument. there's no real exploration of that question beyond what we just saw. >> well, yeah. i think, you know, when you're in iraq and afghanistan or any combat zone, you're sacrificing a lot. your physical health, your mental health, your sanity, your soul in some aspects. you're sacrificing so much. the why you're sacrificing becomes very important. you know, i think when you go to war with ambiguous causes like we did in iraq, for me it was personally difficult. as that unraveled, when we found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, that there were no ties to 9/11, we
basically opened the door for al qaeda to come to iraq and set up shop. the conduct of the war started diminishing with events like abu ghraib and other atrocities. i had a lot of friends, professional soldiers that i worked with every day that i respect the hell out of that have the same opinion that the character in the movie does. it's one of the ways we have to protect ourselves to go out there and leave the gate and do a mission is to believe you're doing the right thing. it's soul hurting and there's definitely moral injury involved when you start to lose that idea. i think that's the dangers of the american public not holding our decisionmakers accountable and making sure we don't send our soldiers to war when all peaceful solutions haven't been exhausted. >> in what you just described,
there's a really interesting character dynamic to explore in this film, which the writer or director might not have been able to do, which is how does he hold onto that rational for what he does in this war, as the information continues to pour in that the war was waged under what turned out to be untrue pretenses. without getting to the question of whether the administration was lying about it, there were no weapons of mass destruction, and the situation that was visited upon iraq as a result of the united states army going in there, has not ever turned out to be something you could clearly, easily describe as being better than what was going on in iraq before we went in there. >> many of the service members that i was there with, you know, despite the information that was coming in, it almost becomes
impossible to stop or impossible to believe, because you've committed so much to this effort, because so much has relied on it. you have to believe the big lie. the alternative is so destructive to your own personality and your own morals and values that you can't accept it. you have to move on every day, drink water, drive on, continue mission, and that's what a lot of guys are doing. so in a lot of aspects, the individual service members, you know, we're left with the oath that we gave and the loyalty to our country. it's very hard to back up on. in a lot of ways, we weren't necessarily the gun or the person holding the gun pointing. we were going to do whatever we had to do, and it's very tough to convince yourself otherwise and the detriment to yourself
after you come to that conclusion is very heavy. >> garrett, if you go back to vietnam where come bass forces were filled with draftees, including people that were opposed to the war before they went, when they were in vietnam, serving in vietnam, they all remained pretty vocal among each other about how, you know, this is bad, we shouldn't be here. i'm trying to think of nonprofane ways to describe the kinds of things i heard them talk about saying in their various camps that they were in, in vietnam. how much of that talk did you hear in iraq? >> you know, i think there's plenty. as soldiers, you know, we're prone to complain, because we don't have a lot of power over our personal lives or what we're doing beyond our orders and somewhat our mission is. there's certain aspects that we hate and disagree with. i probably talked to a hundred
different soldiers that had a hundred different point of views why we were deployed to iraq from oil to the holy war. there weren't really good reasons given by our country, so a lot of service members were kind of inventing why they were there, from what they were reading or hearing or what they felt. so it's, like i said, it was really ambiguous at the time i was there, especially as these things were destructing. we thought we were going to go home when saddam hussein was captured. that didn't happen. we didn't find weapons of mass destruction, that didn't happen. we gave false sovereignty over paul bremer, we thought we were going home, that didn't home. so we just started questioning why we were there, and our enemies started transforming while we were on mission. so it was a very changing place. you know, i can't compare my circumstance to anybody from vietnam or really many other people who served in iraq,
because nobody has a monopoly on the war narrative. it's going to be different on who you're serving with, and a million other different factors. so somebody might have a very different experience. i know truck drivers who got into way more combat than i did, because that's where the combat was, on the roads, where the ieds and ambushes were. so it's hard to say one individual soldier has the one perspective of what the war is like. >> garrett, a branch of my family is pretty much all military, including west point grads. they -- and one served in iraq, and some of the most negative analysis of what we were doing in iraq i have heard from them, and the most expert analysis of what we're doing in iraq. i've heard it from them. that's one of the things i was listening for in this movie, in the history of american movies
about wars gone bad, which include vietnam, this is the first one i've taken seriously as a movie, not the silly stallone movies, but this is an attempt at a really serious movie. completely ignoring the context of the war, and what turned out at a certain point to be the essential hopelessness of it, ever achieving the stated goal that president bush laid out in the first place, which we were going to have this jewel of european democracy right there in the middle east in iraq. to completely ignore that, and to completely ignore the endless mistakes that were being made by the administration, by commanders at different points was really very surprising to me. i expected to -- someone in this film at some point to get that voice this there. >> and they tease it out a couple of times, but they never really fully investigate it.
it's too bad. it would have been a much richer, fuller film if they did. it's been described as a character study on chris kyle. i don't know how you can make that character study without bringing in those dynamics which completely understand what his frame of mind was and what the environment was in iraq and the political environment here at home. >> i want to bring in zach beecham. zach, jason hall, the screen writer for this movie, it's not contribute eastwood's script, but he said when he pitched it to bradley cooper, he pitched it as a western. and this is the way people talk about movies when they're in development and putting them together. they don't talk about this is how true it is. this is how accurate it is. and it isn't really the inciting objective of making these kinds of movies.
so what we're talking about here is a movie, and because it's centered on this very controversial war, this debate is getting hotter and hotter about the accuracy of it. >> yeah. i think the problem is that it's a movie that if you watch it and pay close attention to the dialogue, is clearly obsessed with the morality of the war. the opening defining speech is chris kyle's father talking about what kinds of people there are in the world. there are sheep dogs that defend sheep. this major metaphor that defines the movie's moral code and then gives this entirely apolitical description of the iraq war, and the idea that you can have a discussion about the morality of war, specifically the morality of the iraq war, and do it in a black and white way which kyle is an unproblematic protector, is to miss the broader question, which is to say political questions. and so thinking about the movie as a -- a lot of westerns are, to go back to the original point
here, and to say that you can talk about that and depict that in an interesting way without totally assuming the main character's point of view is to make a huge mistake. >> the good guy in the western needs a motivation to get into this fight. then he needs a villain or villains to conquer in that fight. this movie -- and that's the essential glue of the western. this movie invents all of those things, garrett. it indicates that his motivation was seeing these terrorist attacks on the united states, when, in fact, he tried to join the military before that. he said he always intended to join the military. and then it creates these mythical opponents in this thing, the sniper that he's working against on the other side, who is, to his credit in the book that this is based on, chris kyle never made much of
that and never said that he was in this direct competition with this other sniper. but that's the kind of stuff a movie needs when people are trying to figure out how do we hold an audience in here to watch a movie set in a grim war that america has turned against. garrett, it's the kind of thing that you expect from movies, but i guess the stakes here for the public and the public discussion of it, the accuracy issue, is just loaded for everybody who is watch thing movie now. >> yeah, it's -- you know, it would be refreshing if somebody in hollywood made a less dramatized version of warfare, that really kind of shows what a service member goes through and the struggles that they encounter. but i don't think that's likely to happen. it's easier to digest for a
public to see a black and white world and not have to really make those reaches. that's why i really rather would watch documentaries about the conflicts and i get a more intimate and real perspective on what that conflict is like. >> i want to keep this discussion going, so if you guys can stay with us, we'll come right back. we'll be right back with a little bit more of this. . i felt so secure. you can do it, emmie! ecoboost is when you can take a four cylinder and make it feel like a six cylinder... i was really surprised... i drove the fusion... and i never went back. make the switch to america's favorite brand. check out special offers on ford fusion at ford.com or see your local ford dealer. ♪ ugh... ...heartburn. did someone say burn? try alka seltzer reliefchews. they work just as fast and taste better than tums smoothies assorted fruit. mmm... amazing.
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>> all right. >> we'll be right back with former real american sniper garrett reppenhagen. ♪♪ expected wait time: 55 minutes. your call is important to us. thank you for your patience. waiter! vo: in the nation, we know how it feels when you aren't treated like a priority. we do things differently. we'll take care of it. vo: we put members first... join the nation. thank you. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪
we're back with former u.s. army sniper garrett reppenhagen and zach beacham. garrett, in that clip we just showed during the break, the sniper character in the movie says, you want us to have to fight these people in san diego or new york instead of iraq. and he wins that argument in this movie, as if that's a reality, that the people you're fighting in iraq would somehow get themselves over to san diego
or new york if we weren't fighting them there. again, for that argument to end there, no room for two or three more lines from the other character in that scene, is one of those moment where is the movie makes a decision, this is the argument that wins here. >> yeah. i think obviously it's certainly one sided and we've had similar confidences like that while i was deployed in iraq. you know, a lot of ways it seems unrealistic for that to really happen. but with our overuse of military and the other kind of practices and policies that we have worldwide, it seems like we're becoming very good at creating enemies like isis and other terrorist groups that want to do just that. so it's almost, i guess, the
irony that the result of some of our combat in iraq was not eliminating these terrorists but creating more of them. >> zach, the screen writer jason hall has said that he pretty much fell in love with chris kyle and really liked the guy, really wanted to do a movie that chris kyle would like, that his family would like, his kids would like, his wife would like. the co-authors of chris kyle's book "the ghost writers," same thing, they really love the guy. i'm sure he was probably a great guy in that way and pretty easy to really like. but once the writers of this material, and by the way, it shows you how removed from this material chris kyle was. he didn't write the book, two people wrote it for him. so are those really his words, are those really his thoughts?
they've been adjusted by writers who were trying to sharpen them up to sell the book. same thing with the screenplay. but that kind of adoration of the central character is one of the things that leads to this kind of movie. >> yeah. i think that's the movie's central problem. it's not that you can't make an honest movie that depicts chris kyle's world view, but that's the problem, his view of the world is depicted as the actual world. that is to say, a world in which terrorists are coming for new york or san diego unless we fight them in iraq in 2004 seems to be actually the case in the universe of the movie. the movie does little to dispel that and uses cinematic tricks to make it look like that's the way things were. what it's trying to do is give a sense of what kyle believed and how he experienced the world, but it's a difficult line to trend. it's historically misremembered
as the iraq war by a large number of people, and you really need to point out the actual political context, the lack of the weapons of mass destruction, the invasion was one of the best things to have happened to al qaeda for a long period of time. these are things that need to be in the movie to give a real picture of what happened. >> again, this is a ghost written book, and it says this --
>> garrett, i have to get your reaction to that line in there, where he says, i know what it is to kill people. it's no big deal. >> yeah, it's certainly a big deal to me. you know, whenever you take another person's life, whether in combat or not, it has to be a really introspective thing. i question every day, you know, will i be going to heaven or hell. i've been working to repent ever since. one of the reasons i work so heavily to help other veterans to bring good back into the world because of the life i've taken away. it's something that's really affected me and my whole personality and how i've been ever since. so i think that's pretty crazy. i know as a sniper doing counter i.d., counter mortar, overwatch missions countless nights, 180 combat sniper missions, you know, i know that they were planting ieds to kill my
friends. but it's not always like i said, a black and white world. the real enemies aren't the ones that always die in combat. there's a lot of collateral damage and there's a lot of really getting your target identification wrong in killing innocent people. it's hard. i can't compare myself with chris kyle or any other military service member out there. but for me personally, it's a very difficult thing. >> garrett reppenhagen, thank you very much for joining us tonight, adding your invaluable perspective to this discussion. absolutely imperative reading. zach, thank you also for joining us. coming up, a member of congress who has just changed his mind about abortion will join me. and later, i finally agree with ted cruz about something.
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joining me, congressman tim ryan. how long a process has it been for you to move from that pro-life position that you look as a young state legislator in ohio to where you are now? >> i think it started once i got into congress. i jumped right in, i don't know exactly why, but i jumped straight into the abortion wars, thinking if we really wanted to reduce abortions in the united states, we had to address the issue of unintended pregnancies and how we should promote birth control and contraception and encourage a woman to bring the baby to term by making sure the mom and baby had health care,
access to good food, adoption tax credits, and really ran into stiff opposition from the pro-life community, who fought on contraception. that opened me up to thinking hey, i'm not so sure i'm agreeing with these folks on a lot of these positions, and then really went on a journey really trying to meet women who were in these difficult circumstances, and that happened, and then the health care debate obviously brought the issue to the forefront, and then i was removed from the democrats for life advisory board in 2008 or 2009. and that process continued and i kept having these meetings. it's been going on for five or ten years at this point. >> as i read your story, it's a familiar one to me. you brought up catholic, and how that helped form your early opinions about this, and your
evolution on it. one of the interesting things is you are now a parent, a father, a new father, and it seems that that has also helped you see why people should be allowed to plan parenthood. >> well, anyone who has been involved with a pregnancy, like my wife and i were over the past year, year and a half, you have those moments where you're sitting in a doctor's office. you have tests coming back. we're very lucky. our son is healthy. my wife had a very healthy pregnancy, we have a healthy baby. but you do have those moment where is these results are coming back and you don't know what's going to happen. i just feel like uncle sam should not be sitting in the doctor's office with parents and a doctor having any role in making those decisions. that should be left to the mother. the father, if they're involved, and the doctor and someone close to you with regard to your
religion, it shouldn't be the government involved. when we had brady and we were going through the process of having our son, brady, that became clear, that these are personal decisions. there's so many complicated scenarios that you just can't factor in, that one federal law or state law is going to be able to adequately apply to all these varied circumstances. and that became clear when i went through that with my wife and we were involved in that process. >> congressman tim ryan, i wish we had more time tonight. thank you very much for joining us. coming up next, why i agree with ted cruz, for once. time for our premiere episode of "i agree with ted huh, fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. everybody knows that. well, did you know you that
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frank sinatra. it's frank's world. we just live in it. if dean was working in tech or finance today, he might say the same thing about apple. in the spotlight tonight, it's apple's world, and we just live in it. yesterday, apple reported the largest quarterly profit of any public company in history. apple earned $74.6 billion in revenue last quarter, and $18 billion in profit. the company sold 74.5 million iphones, or an average of 34,000 iphones every hour of every day in the quarter. in total, apple sold over a billion devices in the past quarter alone. on a conference call yesterday, the ceo revealed that the apple watch would ship in april. about the watch, cook said, my expectations are very high. i'm using it every day and i
can't live without it. joining me now is tim lee. also joining us, the executive editor of the tech website we code, kara swisher. nbc universal holds a minor stake in recode, but i don't. so this is going to be a perfectly share discussion. karen, the numbers i just read are stunning. but there's something about saying them out loud. i thought when i was in the store last week getting the big giant iphone, they're so lucky to have me here as a customer. but this is incredible what's happening with this company. >> absolutely. this is a blowout quarter, especially when you compare it to every tech company reporting, these results are stunning. you know, tim cook, the new ceo, came after steve jobs. people were worried about him as a leader following the great steve jobs. but he seems to have proved he
can really deliver the numbers and the products. >> but tim, they will turn on him, the media certainly will, if the watch isn't a big success. >> no, no, no. these iphones have been a big success. i think this watch is an outlier. the apple watch, i think most people see this sector as a new area. so i think expectations are going to sell 10 to 30 million of them. they're going to be quite expensive. the question is, are we ready for these watches. we've seen a few. they come and go and it's hard to figure out whether people want those. but this one is probably going to be the ipod of these kind of watches. that's the hope.
>> tim lee, i am prepared to buy any apple product i think is going to make things better for me. but i've got my -- i believe this was the $40 timex right here on my wrist. i just don't understand yet what is in this apple watch that's going to make me want to trade in my $40 timex. >> yeah, i think it's a big question, whether there is applications for it that will get people excited. to some extent, it's just a convenience factor and hopefully affordable enough. it will start at $350. but i think ultimately, people will -- developers will work on applications for it and we'll have to see whether they come up with things to do with it that are compelling. >> here they have come out with this really big phone, which steve jobs said when he was still running thing was not a good idea.
and the watch, isn't the watch just a really tiny version -- beyond telling time, you're going to need a microscope to read what it's telling you. >> you pull it out of the pocket and you see the text you just got. one of the big applications is you can just turn your wrist and look at it. that's -- how much is that worth? some people are willing to pay for it. i'm skeptical it will be a big hit on the order of an iphone. but when you sell 70 million iphones a quarter -- >> let's listen to what steve jobs had to say. >> to the best of our knowledge, it's not possible to make a smartphone that doesn't have weak spots. you can make -- i think you can make a really big one, you know,
that wouldn't fit in your pocket. some of these guys are making hummers now, right? you can make a big hummer where you wouldn't even get your hand around it. but nobody would want to buy it. >> he was certainly speaking for me. i wouldn't buy it if it wouldn't fit in my pocket. >> they tested that, i'm sure they tested that. >> so steve jobs was right, it does need to fit in the pocket. >> one of the things they're doing at apple, not everything he said has to be the thing they follow for the rest of time. it's not like the bible of steve jobs here. he said to us on stage that he never wanted to do a phone many years ago. the next year he did. so this is a developing innovative company.
that's what is exciting about it. they've been able to deliver great products. >> thank you very much tonight. coming up, howard dean will join me to discuss the attorney general nominee loretta lynch and why democrats are quoting bill o'reilly in that hearing. the only razor with five contour blades and a flexiball. to contour to your tricky places, bones, bends and all. smooth and steady, going this way and that. bumps and grooves, curvy and flat. for skin as flawless as flawless can be. new venus swirl, try it and see. alright, so this tylenol arthritis lasts 8 hours, but aleve can last 12 hours... and aleve is proven to work better on pain than tylenol arthritis. so why am i still thinking about this? how are you? aleve, proven better on pain.
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we cite bill o'reilly from the podium, but he called her a hero and happy that he's the new attorney general. >> loretta lynch was introduced at her confirmation hearing for attorney general today by both new york senators, which is customary. but new york democratic senators have no power of persuasion over republican members of the judiciary committee. that's why democrats relied on another new yorker, whom republicans do listen to. >> she's going to be the new attorney general and i'm heartened by that. i mean, this woman didn't have to do this. she did it because she didn't like the injustice. so now -- and she'll get confirmed, right? >> joining me now is howard dean, former head of the democratic national convention. so howard dean, there you have the democratic senators introducing her in the judiciary committy. we know that means nothing to the republicans on the
committee. but what are they going to say to bill o'reilly? >> i think she is going to be confirmed easily. the hearings are going to be used as a hedge against eric holder. but some of the answers she gave today were really smart and well thought out. i don't think her confirmation is in doubt. >> she was actual hi asked by one of the republicans on the committee, literally are you eric holder, to which she said no? i'm not sure what he meant by that. are you everything we dislike about the obama administration i guess, something like that. >> what they don't like is holder doesn't put up with any crap from them. he stood up for voting rights where they've been busy trying to take voting rights away, and a number of other things. he certainly is a strong figure. i think they resent that. this is their only chance to get him on the way out the door. but her record is outstanding. bill o'reilly thinks she's "law
>> i think it's fairly minor problem. she's entitled to her interpretation of the law, which is shared by most legal experts. so this is over the classic republican, i don't like the laws, and i don't like the action. therefore, i'm going to declare that it's illegal or not factual or whatever. you know, again, i don't think it's going to look very good for the republican majority to have one of their first acts to be turning down a qualified person to be attorney general of the united states. i expect some no votes and i expect senator sessions to keep his word and vote no. but i think a majority will vote yes. >> the good news for the white house is more republican senators take bill o'reilly seriously than take jeff sessions seriously. >> there's another thing she has going for her. eric holder resigned as of the day of swearing in of his successor. so the longer they put off confirming loretta lynch, the longer they have to deal with eric holder. >> a vote against her is a vote for eric holder. thank you very much for joining
us tonight. chris hayes is up next. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. remember when supreme court justice potter stewart was asked about his standards on pornography and he said, i know it when i see it, i think a lot of us had reaction to netanyahu talking to congress. there's something wrong with this picture. was it done not only without his compliance, apparently, but