tv The Last Word MSNBC June 13, 2012 1:00am-2:00am EDT
let's do it again. >> the least transparent president in a generation. >> the least transparent president in a generation. >> we're also going to be holding mitt romney accountable for his record. >> number 47 in job growth. >> a little history. >> ranks firstin debt. >> i was a severely conservative republican governor. >> the same bad ideas that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. >> all right, let's do it again. >> 47th place in my neighborhood is still 47th place. >> the president is really out of touch with what's happening across america. >> you play to win, as governor, and governor, you failed. >> he would dress up like a state trooper and go out pulling over cars. are you old enough to be a state trooper, son? mitt romney has a great new campaign idea for the obama campaign.
>> the president is really out of touch with what's happening across america. people are having hard times in this country and the president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fund-raisers. >> and, of course, a couple of hours after criticizing president obama for attending fund-raisers, mitt romney attended a fund-raiser at isleworth country club in suburban orlando, those in the crowd who donated at least $50,000 joined romney for a private lunch at an undisclosed home in osworth, a community of lakeside mansions, almost, almost as big as mitt romney's lakeside mention. today, the obama campaign released a new television ad that will air in nine swing states. >> when mitt romney was governor, massachusetts was number one, number one in state debt. $18 billion in debt, more debt per person than any other state in the country. >> president obama echoed the
deficit message today in baltimore. >> i love listening to these guys give us lectures about debt and deficits. we had a surplus, they turned it into a deficit, built in a structural deficit that extends for decades, and -- >> then they blamed you! >> isn't that something? it's like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, martini, all that stuff, and then just as you're sitting down, they leave. and accuse you of running up the tab! >> joining me now are msnbc's krystal ball and joy reid. krystal, it seems in that example right there, the president found the way to talk about what he inherited when he took over the white house.
>> yeah. i think that's a great example, because people understand it. and you know what, implicitly, people actually do understand that fact about the economy, as much as the republicans have been putting out there that the deficit is all the president's fault, the economy is all the president's fault, people have a more sophisticated understanding than i think that we give them credit for. but one thing we should be reminding voters more of is that republicans were actually the one who is got rid of the pay-go rules when they were in charge of congress back in 2002. so not only did they cut taxes, which of course lowered revenue and rack up huge bills and unfunded wars, et cetera, but they also got rid of the pay-go rules, which were a basic restraint on spending. >> joy reid, what i like about that message that the president came up with there is that it's so clearly understandable. that when the audience sees where he's going, they can
finish the idea for them. they can the -- like a church audience in a certain kind of way, chime in with comment as he's moving in the direction that they understand. it seems to me to be, you know, that, you know, ordering all that stuff for the table and the restaurant and then getting up and leaving just seems to me to have finally broken through as a very clear expression of what the president was up against. >> yeah, i mean, it's interesting. in 2010, the metaphor was they drove a car into a ditch and then asked for the keys back. >> that ditch thing, that ditch thing never worked for me! >> it never worked, because people don't drive your car into a ditch and then ask for the keys. it was a little bit more clumsy. but when people welch on bills in restaurants, everybody can relate to that. so it goes to show that the president can speak human. which is a problem for mitt romney, because when he tries to relate to people in that way, he can't quite do it, because these are not situations that ever happened to him. >> when he tries to relate, he says things like, i enjoy sport, which opportunity quite work. >> also while talking on fox and friends this morning, he tried to make some sense about
teachers and cops and trying to portray himself as a not the anti-cop candidate. let's listen to this exchange on "fox & friends" this morning. >> he says that you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don't understand what's going on in these communities. what do you say to that, governor? >> well, that's a very strange accusation. of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. the federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters, or policemen. so, obviously, that's completely absurd. >> krystal, i know that the romney campaign watches this show to take notes, to clarify, you know, to correct the candidate when he gets things wrong. >> of course, they're very responsible in that way. >> we all remember president clinton and the democrats passing a bill to hire 100,000 cops over time, which they did, effectively. federal government has been pay ing for teachers, paying for
firefighters, paying for cops directly and indirectly for decades now. do you think romney's going to be able to get away with that ignorance that the federal government has been funding these things? >> well, you know, there's two possibilities here. the one possibility is, as you put it, that he's ignorant or stupid, which i don't actually think that he is. i think that he is trying to willfully not answer the question and deceive people. because he can't be this stupid. i don't think that the people on "fox & friends" are this stupid -- >> oh, just a minute. hold it, hold it, hold it. >> no, no, we're with you on romney, romney's smarter than that. brian kilmeade, that's the best brian's got. he was playing at the top of his game. >> apologies. but in the stimulus act alone, it saved or created 325,000 jobs in education. so, you know, obviously, the federal government uses money to help states and municipalities hire teachers, hire firefighters, hire cops. i'm quite sure that mitt romney is aware of this fact. >> well, in addition to the fact
that he was a governor, right? >> right! >> so the people who are recipients of these type of block grants that the stimulus was. and the whole issue in the stimulus passed when a lot of republican governors say, no, no, we don't want that money, they know exactly what the federal government was earmarking and wanting that money for, it was to hire -- wait for it -- teachers, cops, and firefighters. that's always been what the block grant was for. romney was a governor, he should know that. >> and if i was the obama campaign, i would be organizing some lock firefighters on mitt romney's bus tour that he's on, they should be at every event asking with, why don't you think we should have firefighters in our town? why don't you want to put our colleagues back to work? >> the president said something today about mitt romney's success and his understanding about how other people make it in this economy. let's listen to what the president said.
>> he should be proud of the personal success he achieved as the head of a large financial firm, but i think he has drawn the wrong lessons from these experiences. he seems to believe that if ceos and wealthy investors like him are doing well, that the rest of us automatically do well. >> joy, i think that's another great line for the president, that he should be using over and over again. that romney thinks that if investors and ceos are doing well, then the rest of us are doing well. and everyone knows that's not true. >> yeah, absolutely. and i think every time that the president can, again, class romney's business experience as really being wall street experience. i mean, the closest that romney ever got to a worker was sort of numbering them as widgets that either help or take away from productivity and can deciding how many of them to fire, right? i mean, in the business that romney was in, which is a perfectly legal, legitimate business in the united states, what you're doing is looking at the productivity of companies. you're not looking at hiring and firing, that's not your purpose. your purpose is profit. and that is if you look at the focus groups that have been done by different democratic and other polling firms, that's the problem for romney.
people don't think he cares about people and jobs. >> joy reid and krystal ball, thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. coming up, how little we know about mitt romney and his money. we know less about his income taxes than any presidential candidate in a very long time. david kay johnson, tax expert, and karen finney will join me on the mysteries of romney's tax returns. and in the "rewrite" tonight, the vatican's crusade against this nun and against the book that she wrote and the vatican's official position on masturbation. and later, we will reveal the winner of our name the romney campaign bus contest and i'll read some of your tweets that came close to winning. that's coming up. what's in your energy drink? ♪ power surge, let it blow your mind. [ male announcer ] for fruits, veggies and natural green tea energy...
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we're still doing a last-minute review of the names that you've tweeted to me right here on my iphone for the romney's campaign bus. we want to name romney's campaign bus, and we are minutes away from selecting a winner. a lot of good ones have come in, including, "50 shades of greyhound," which is cute, but i just don't get the connection to the romney campaign bus. and there's a bus in tonight's "rewrite," nuns on a bus are in the "rewrite" tonight. stephen colbert thinks nuns on a bus will make a great movie. i'll leave it up to you to decide. that's coming up.
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the american public has legislation to determine that we need an extraordinary set of disclosure, of financial records, of people running for president. and i've complied with all that. and then, in addition, put out two more years of tax returns. but i understand that the democrats are going to try and do everything in their power to keep the selection from being about the failure of president obama to turn around our economy. >> that was mitt romney in april, explaining that he has no plans to release multiple years of tax returns, like president obama did, or even like mitt romney's own father did in 1967, when he ran for president. so far, romney has only released his 2010 tax return. in april, he filed for an extension for his 2011 tax return, but his spokeswoman promised that, "some time in the next six months and prior to the election, governor romney will
file and release the 2011 return when there is sufficient information to provide an accurate return." the ap reports the republican presidential candidate refuses to identify his biggest donors who bundle money for his campaign. he often declines to say who's meeting with with him or what he's doing for hours at a time. he puts limits on media access to his fund-raisers. joining me now, karen finney, former dnc communications director and msnbc political analyst and pulitzer prize-winning author, david kay johnson, a tax columnist for reuters and professor at syracuse law school. david, you've been dying to get your hands on those romney tax returns. i know you have. i know it's frustrating. talk to us about what we would want to find, what you'd be looking for in older tax returns, especially tax returns filed without the anticipation of a presidential campaign, if
romney ever filed one of those. >> well, if is a very important issue here, because i think there's good reason to think that he's been thinking about this since before bain, but since the founding of bain, i think what the american people deserve to learn about is, did you buy any illegal, gray-market tax shelters? were you audited in a way that the government found serious problems? did you make use of offshore vehicles in order to defer or not pay taxes? did you take advantage of things that were not caught in audits by the irs? i mean, either the irs didn't audit, for example, george bush's tax return the year he made almost all of his money from selling the rangers. so i don't understand why he is reluctant to release this. if his returns are clean, if there's nothing there to worry about, then why not just provide them and say, see, i've done everything? why this, well, i've complied with the law. by the way, as a mormon, one of
the things the church teaches is that he who must be commanded in all things is an unwise, slothful servant, and that you're not to do the minimum, you're to do the right, the teaching of the church is that you must choose the right in all cases. well, choosing the right in this case is being candid and forthright with the american people. >> karen finney, when you listen to david talk about the potential of what's in these tax returns, obviously, it's not the total size of the romney wealth that he's concerned about, because that won't even be shown in personal tax returns. there's all sorts of ways of holding that outside of the personal returns, so it won't reveal that he's rich guy. we know this. the only thing, politically, worth hiding in those tax returns are the kinds of embarrassments that david's talking about. >> well, that's exactly right. although, remember, mitt romney has already told us that he knows that there are things in there that the democrats, those evil democrats, will use against him, right?
which nobody's actually pressed the question to say, well, then, what is that, right? if you're that concerned about it. but there are a couple of things here, lawrence. as you know, it's complicated to try to communicate what is relevant, like the things that david is talking about, to a voter who is more worried about job creation. what the danger for romney is, is it plays into the narrative, and this is why i think it's so important that as the obama campaign goes on, they have to continue to put it to the narrative that this is a guy who plays by a different set of rules. he's able to play by the set of rules, that is how people accumulate wealth and keep wealth while the rest of us, you know, if we lose on an investment, we lose on an investment. we don't have tax shelters. we don't have other ways to, you know, shell games in ways to funnel our money around. so, again, i think the important thing is to connect back to the bigger narrative, because, you know, we'll all be fascinated with the details, but i think most voters, it goes to, is this guy honest and trustworthy? >> david, you began by just
rattling off, off the top of your head, a series of about five questions, which i'm going to go back to the tape and write down. because these are very important questions. and i think there is now a challenge to the media in the questions that you just outlined. it seems to me that there is no excuse for campaign reporters not to ask one or more of the questions that you just outlined, and going forward into presidential debates, there will be no excuse for presidential debate moderators to not ask at least one of the questions that you just identified. >> no, and i think the american people should hold journalists accountable for this. >> yes, yes. >> we have had a long time now of journalists not asking questions. the problem in this country isn't a lack of investigative reporting. a thousand of us are going to meet in boston this week. the problem is the beat reporting, the everyday day-to-day reporting. the failure to ask the tough question and keep pressing it, and then, why won't you answer the question?
what are the reasons that you're not willing to deal with this? and journalists should be just as tough on president obama or any other candidate, because this is a job where the only test is your judgment. and i would say here, and governor romney, we are not seeing good judgment in dealing with this issue. >> which, you know, lawrence, if i could just add to that, i think part of the issue here is clearly the romney campaign has made the political calculation that what's in there is more dangerous than a political risk of not releasing them. and that is really the crux of where journalists should be asking those questions. >> or they've certainly created the impression that that's the case -- >> true. >> and why would you do that? which tends to argue for what karen said. >> but, karen, the romney campaign has also clearly made the calculation, and i've seen campaigns make this calculation before, that the campaign press is so lazy, relatively, lazy and uninformed on particulars that they will not ask these questions and that they don't
know how to ask these questions. >> and that they don't really have time and the space in whatever their platform they're either writing for or reporting for to get into some of these issues, right? >> yeah, but they don't have time, because they waste their time on the idiotic games of what word did romney use yesterday or what word did obama use yesterday. this is all to the campaign press's own discredit. >> and i don't make an excuse for them, i'm just saying, these are the kinds of excuses that i think people, you know, use. but, you're right. i mean, there's no reason you could not press these questions. particularly, and this is clearly part of why the romney campaign keeps its distance from the reporters, is it's the kind of thing where somebody should be asking the question every single day. >> all right, reporters. rewind the tape, write down david's questions and get on this. karen finney and david kay johnston, thanks very much for joining me tonight. coming up, the decision to block anything and everything the president tried to do in
order to beat him in 2012 now has one good result. the voting public has figured out republicans are doing that. and next we will reveal the winner of our name the romney campaign bus contest. and the winner is not the ironed jeans express. dude you don't understand, this is my dad's car. look at the car! my dad's gonna kill me dude... [ male announcer ] the security of a 2012 iihs top safety pick. the volkswagen passat. that's the power of german engineering. right now lease the 2012 passat for $209 a month. visit vwdealer.com today. we asked total strangers to watch it for us. thank you so much, i appreciate it, i'll be right back.
campaign bus. we got a lot of good ones, including rolling blunder, the 1% express, the pander express. you know, some of you suggested phrases that weren't really names of the bus, but more like warning signs that would appear on the bus, like, "caution, this bus makes wide right turns -- again and again and again." and "this bus only drives in reverse." and now, the winner of the name the romney campaign bus contest, as judged not by a democratic vote of the last word staff, because i'm in los angeles and most of them are in new york and why consult with them anyway, judged by me alone, the winner is, the etch a sketch express, tweeted to me by doran b. coming up, what did john boehner and mitt romney talk about when they met? maybe, i don't know, blocking anything and everything
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i sent congress a detailed jobs plan, full of the kind of bipartisan ideas that would have put more americans back to work. it had broad support from the american people, it was fully paid for. if congress had passed it in full, we'd be on track to have a million more americans working this year. the unemployment rate would be lower. our economy would be stronger. people in this town should be focused on doing everything we can to keep our recovery going and keeping our country strong. and that requires some action on the part of congress. so i would urge them to take another look. >> a new public policy poll asked voters if they think congressional republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump-start the economy to ensure president obama doesn't win re-election. 49% said yes, 40% said no.
two important general election voting groups, moderates and independents, are even more convinced. 61% of moderates think the republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump-start the economy while 50% say of independents agree with that. mitt romney and house speaker john boehner will hold their first public event together in boehner's ohio district this sunday. yesterday, the two held their first face-to-face meeting since romney locked up the republican nomination for president. a boehner campaign aide told nbc news that romney and boehner discussed, quote, the best way forward for republicans in the 2012 election. joining me now are ana marie cox, a political correspondent for guardian u.s., and david corn, the washington bureau chief for "mother jones" magazine, and an msnbc political analyst. ana marie, i am very surprised that the speaker and the republican nominee for president
did not discuss, apparently, the governing of the united states of america. they simply discussed the republican campaign going forward. >> right. the best way forward for republicans, not the best way forward for, you know, america in general. >> yeah, for republicans, which is less than 40% of americans. yeah. >> exactly. and a lot of republicans don't trust republicans, apparently. >> right, yeah. >> i do wonder how that poll would have changed if, in fact, people were asked, do you think republicans are standing in the way of recovery, not intentionally trying to block it, even. that goes to motive and sometimes i think, do we wonder that republicans are actually malicious in the way they're trying to block the recovery, or are they just ignorant about how a recovery should proceed forward? i'm not sure what the american people think, and in the end, it doesn't matter, right? the problem is, we are not moving forward. the republican party may be on a bus for that matter. but it's the americans that matter, it's the voters that matter. and it will be interesting to
see if this dynamic continues. >> david corn, that poll is good news for president obama's re-election campaign, because those voters, those moderates, those independents are precisely who the campaign is trying to convince that progress has been blocked by congressional republicans. >> yes. but first off, i have to say, i'm surprised you didn't pick my name for the romney bus, lawrence, which was the flip me jitny, but nevertheless -- >> well, david, there you go, jitny is a fancy long island bus that goes out there -- >> what are we talking about here? >> it goes out there to oh -- but the trouble is, it's not an understood term in the 50 states. that it's just for the rich people going out to east hampton on long island. but i guess we could educate people about it. >> that was part of the charm. >> yeah. >> but to the more serious point here, i do think there may be a
problem for the president if he tries to run against congress, the republican congress. you note in his press conference on friday, he didn't attack republicans, he attacked congress, because congress actually polls lower, than even congress does. i mean, than the republicans do. and romney, i gather in the fall, will probably not spend a lot of time with his arms around john boehner or jon kyl or mitch mcconnell. he'll want to be the outsider who says, i can make things work. so the president has been setting up a dichotomy between him and the obstructionists. they have this crazy idea that the way to advance is by destroying government, which has nothing to do with the recession that we're just sort of crawling our way out of. and yet he's going to have to try to tag romney with that, who endorses all this stuff, but romney will be saying, hey, you know, look at the choice, between me and him, not eric cantor and obama.
it's a little bit of a complicated, i think, issue for the white house, although certainly, they are justified in their argument. >> let's listen to what the president said about the two parties being divided now. >> it's true that the parties are divided right now, but it's not because my administration hasn't constantly reached out to them. even my health care bill, which is something that has generated a lot of negative attention on the republican side, was modeled on the health care bill that was passed by their current republican nominee. so, obviously, it wasn't too far out. it was something that in the past would have been considered a fairly mainstream centrist bill. >> ana marie, it seems that the president has a better scorecard on reaching in the republicans' direction than they do in reaching in his direction. >> that's true. and i'm sure there are some democrats who are disappointed in that and there are some people who believe he might have done better had he not reached
out so far across the aisle to republicans. but it's true he can point to that if he wants to. i think david's totally right. it's a complicated kind of argument to make to the american people to run against congress. and the best thing that they can do is sort of saddle mitt romney with congress. it would be great if he ran with paul ryan, right? it would be great for the democrats if he did, if he pulled himself closer to congress. people are looking for change, and if you can make it the argument that mitt romney is not actually change, i think obama's chances improve even more. >> so david, that raises real dangers for mitt romney in selection of vice president, following ana marie's logic, if he were to go with a paul ryan or someone like that. you then are really running with congress. >> well, you know, i'd be quite surprised if he pics paul ryan, because then he's not just endorsing, he's tattooing on his forehead the ryan plan to end medicare as we know it.
so i'd be surprised if he does that. picking somebody like rob portman would be a safer choice. i hate all the speculation. but remember back in 2008, obama picked biden when he was running for change and biden, god bless him, but biden was part of the senate for about 4,700 years. so i don't think, you know -- you have to be pretty excessive in your choice of a vice president, i think, for the message component to trip you up. but, nevertheless -- ryan would be one of those choices that would trip mitt romney up. >> ana marie cox of "the guardian" and david corn, author of the book "showdown," thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you. coming up, the vatican issues its official position on masturbation and its official position on what it calls homosexual acts. and it attacks some nuns. just for fun, i guess. that's coming up in the "rewrite." and later, i've been away
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let's do what's best for our students-by investing in our teachers. let's solve this. those very demanding guys at the vatican think american nuns aren't doing their job. and by their job, the vatican means, fighting masturbation and fighting homosexual sex. that's next in tonight's "rewrite." and a school principal's choice of songs for a kindergarten graduation in new york city has exploded into headlines and earned the wrath of fox news, that's coming up. i'd like to thank eating right, whole grain, multigrain cheerios! mom, are those my jeans? [ female announcer ] people who choose more whole grain tend to weigh less than those who don't. multigrain cheerios
♪ power surge, let it blow your mind. [ male announcer ] for fruits, veggies and natural green tea energy... new v8 v-fusion plus energy. could've had a v8. in tonight's "rewrite," nuns on a bus. >> you got a bus tour coming up -- >> yes, we do. >> starting this thursday. okay, you guys, you and some other nuns, i'm guessing? >> correct. >> a bunch of nuns are getting on a bus. >> right. >> that's a movie right there. nuns on a bus. and you guys are going to go to nine different states. >> nine states. >> to different places where nuns are doing -- >> doing great work and we're going to lift up their work, but we're also stopping at congress offices, congressional offices, especially of congresspeople who voted for the house budget proposed by congressman ryan, and that budget undermines the
whole fabric of our society, and people don't know it. we want to educate people about what's going on in congress and make sure that they push back against hijacking our nation. >> well, now, you do realize -- >> the vatican is very worried about that woman, and most of her sister nuns in the united states, who the vatican regards as too liberal and too concerned with fulfilling jesus christ's stated mission to help the poor and not concerned enough with the republican party's and the catholic church's crusade against abortion, something jesus christ did not crusade against. there is no american nun that the vatican is more disappointed in than sister margaret a. farley, who the vatican recently turned into a best-selling author by condemning her book, "just love: a framework for christian sexual ethics." the book was published with
little notice in 2006, but since it got condemned last week by the vatican, it's now a huge best seller. i got my copy last week, thanks to the vatican bringing it to my attention. the vatican got the book as soon as it was published, but it took them six years to figure out just how much they hated it. the office in the vatican that spends its time deciding which books to hate is called the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. that office has had a lot of name changes over the years, kind of like when our department of war became the department of defense or when the department of health education and welfare became the department of health and human services. until 1965, that vatican office was called the supreme sacred congregation of the holy office. and it still had its original title right up until 1908. the supreme sacred congregation of the roman and universal
inquisition. you heard right! inquisition. who knew that the inquisition didn't stop until 1908, when they changed the name on the door of the office? the inquisition guys have decided that sister farley's book, quote, risks grave harm to the faithful, end quote. and it believes that most of that harm will come through masturbation. sister farley, you see, like every sane catholic and every sane member of the catholic clergy, and every sane human being, has no problem with masturbation. in her book, she writes that masturbation, quote, does not raise any moral questions at all. end quote. now, when you realize that the vatican had an office with the
word "inquisition" in its title right up until 1908, it should not surprise you that the guys working in that office today are as backward in the 21st century as the guy working in that office in the 16th century. and so the inquisition guys last week took the following position on masturbation. "masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." and the inquisition guys are also very upset that sister farley is cool with same-sex relationships. in her book, she says, "my own view is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities." in response, the inquisition guys said, homosexual acts are,
"acts of grave depravity." "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, they are contrary to the natural law, they close the sexual act to the gift of life. they do not proceed from a genuine affecttive and sexual complementarity." sister farley also has no problem with divorce. she writes, "my own position is that a marriage commitment is subject to release." the inquisition guy's response was, "the lord jesus insisted on the original intention of the creator who willed that marriage be in dissoluble." if that was the original intention of the creator, why does the original interpretation of the old testament, the jewish
interpretation, agree with sister farley's view of the moral legitimacy of divorce? well, what sister farley knows and what every highly educated catholic knows, and by highly educated, i only mean educated in catholicism, what they all know is that the most behaviorally contradicted rules of catholicism on masturbation, on homosexuality, on sex and marriage and procreation in general are all man-made rules and the men who made those rules are the men who gave you the inquisition, and those men didn't have the basic human decency to get the word "inquisition" out of the vatican until 1908. stephen colbert understands the weakness of man-made rules in a
church that went on a centuries-long rampage of torture and murder to enforce its rules. that's why colbert, who described himself as, quote, a good catholic, end quote, delights in making fun of the men in the world headquarters of his religion. colbert still loves his church, the way you can still love your country, even though you don't like your country's immigration policy or your country's health care system. the guys in the inquisition office can continue their war on american nuns like sister farley, but she and the nuns on a bus have already won, because the guys in the inquisition office lost the hearts and minds of good catholics a very, very long time ago. the inquisition guys aren't going to stop the nuns on a bus. and no, they're not going to
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than always going to the bathroom. so take charge of your symptoms by talking to your doctor and go to vesicare.com for a free trial offer. the fun starts tomorrow if all the things were gone, i'd worked for all my life and i had to start again with just my children and my life, i'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today. and the department of education spokeswoman agreed and said the lyrics are not age appropriate. >> well, baby, baby, girl quit playing. >> whatever happened to "pop goes the weasel." >> they're 5. >> the principal there thinks that is culturally insensitive. i say it's offensive to not sing it anymore. isn't this america? i mean, come on! >> from "the view" to the cover of the "new york post," the banning of a song at a kindergarten graduation has become a national hot topic. ps-90's principal greta hawkins
decided to ban lee greenwood's song "god bless the usa" from the graduation finale, because according to staffers, she thought the song was offensive to some cultures and religions. the department of education spokeswoman said the principal felt the lyrics were not age-appropriate. instead, principal hawkins approved justin bieber's "baby" be sung in its place. that choice set off a chain of negative reaction. >> i think that this principal at the school may have trouble with the second line of that song. >> which is? >> "i thank my lucky stars to be living here today, because the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away." i understand that her religion prevents her from saluting the flag. >> she's a jehovah's witness. >> it's confusing, because justin bieber's song is for teenage love, and that's worse than singing "god bless the usa."
>> michael grimm released this statement, "i have just one question for this principal -- who exactly are we offending?" the "new york post" is now reporting principal hawkins has had a change of heart and will not have the students sing the bieber song either. it is not known now what song will be sung for the finale at the june 20th graduation. joining me now is mark thompson, host of sirius xm's "make it plain" and more importantly, a proud new york city public school parent. mark. i leave town for a couple of weeks, i'm out here in l.a., the city is now out of control. >> that's why you can't leave. >> what is this?! i mean, this thing is something you'd expect to happen, i don't know, somewhere in the bible belt or something, the most cosmopolitan city in america and there's some problem over what the kids are going to sing in a kindergarten graduation? >> well, yeah, obviously, there is. and thank you for having me, as always, lawrence.
it's unfortunate that there's such a controversy. and it's effort that people would seize upon this to question patriotism and even to hurl racial epithets at the principal. i think that's very, very unfortunate. i spoke at my son's school's career day a couple of weeks ago. he's a new york public school student and i think i can somewhat empathize with the principal, pause when the kids learned i was on radio, worked in media and interviewed a lot of celebrities, all of them wanted to know, i had ever interviewed justin bieber. when i asked them if they had my job, who would they most like to interview and what would they ask? of course, the girls all said, we all would want to interview justin bieber and ask if we can be his girlfriend. so there is justin bieber fever definitely in the new york public schools and probably outside of here. so i can probably empathize somewhat with the principal. >> mark, i always wanted to talk to you about this, because you used to be a public schoolteacher yourself.
and you're aware of the cross-currents that hit. but these are the kinds of things where it's very, very hard for a principal or a teacher to see this coming, when you're making these day-to-day decisions about, well, let's sing this song, or maybe we shouldn't sing this song because of in reference in it. >> it is a very difficult decision. i would like to hear more about her reasoning, whether it's her faith, whether there are lines in there that might have been somewhat disrespectful to other cultures or, shall we say, other cultures wouldn't appreciate as much. but it's definitely caused a firestorm. and again, look, the irony is that the epithet's being hurled at her, lawrence, really almost negate the song. "i'm proud to know i'm free," yet she's been called some of the ugliest things we've ever heard of. so are people really free at this point, if you're going to be saying those kinds of things about people. >> yeah, to see an outpouring of hatred as your defense for why
your song should be sung -- >> it negates the song. >> yeah. >> how can you be proud -- how is there pride in calling a person of color the names that she's been called? and the song is about pride in america. so i think that does beg the question. and we also need to ask ourselves, this was a song that was popularized again in a reprise after 9/11, and you've got a republican nominee running around talking about, we don't need anymore first responders like police and firefighters. so there are a lot of ironies in this. but it is unfortunate that it's become such a big deal, you know, in a school system and it affects the students. >> okay, mark, check with your fourth grader. i'm sure he's mature enough to choose a song for a kindergarten graduation ceremony, and tweet us what your son thinks they should sing. >> i will. i will. >> mark thompson, host of "make it plain" on sirius xm satellite radio. thank you very much for joining me tonight, mark. >> thank you for having me, man. >> you can have the last word online at our blog.
you can follow my tweets @lawrence. up next, "hardball" with chris matthews. bushed. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews from washington. let me start tonight with this assault on the republican party. this time, it's coming from within. very within. jeb bush, the guy touted most as the party's number one future prospect, says it has gone far so right lately that neither he nor his father or even ronald reagan would fit anymore. he place some blame on the democrats. he said his refusal or this refusal to compromise, this insistence on rigid right-wing orthodoxy by the tea party types, creates a real problem for governing this country. with me are michael steele and ron reagan.