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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  April 17, 2012 1:00am-2:00am EDT

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middle class. >> my campaign is focused on middle income americans. >> this is the problem with mitt romney. >> mitt romney, naked and unplugged, is kind of a scary thing. >> he was just throwing out ideas. >> ann romney and mitt romney were described as giddy over last week's hilary rosen flap. >> my career choice was to be a mother. we need to respect choices that women make. >> griddy over what it. >> that was really a defining moment and i loved it. >> that wasn't how it meant it. >> it was politically a gift. >> they were desperate for something, anything! >> she took it, she ran with it, it was a victory for her last week. >> my career choice was to be a mother. we need to respect choices that women make. >> even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. i want the individuals to have the dignity of work. >> dignity of working. >> it's the dignity of work if you haven't got any money. >> it doesn't do any good to be malleable with your principles, to be half measured with your principles. >> i placed your tip in this envelope. make sure you give it to your husband when you get home. he'll know best what to do with it.
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big surprise, the romney campaign was faking it last week when they pretended to be outraged over this. >> what you have is mitt romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when i listen to my wife, that's what i'm hearing. guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. she's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing. >> we now know that ann romney's secret reaction to that was, "i loved it." we know this because mr. and mrs. romney were caught on tape telling their rich republican friends things they would never tell voters. last night, the secret mitt romney spoke openly to a $50,000 per person fund-raiser at a palm beach estate in florida.
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the secret mitt romney made the mistake of speaking loud enough to be heard outside on a public sidewalk where nbc news garrett haake heard this. "i'm going to take a lot of departments in washington and agencies and combine them, some eliminate, but i'm probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go. things like housing and urban development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. the department of education, i will either consolidate with another agency or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. i'm not going to get rid of it entirely." on that same nbc news tape, the secret ann romney exposed how phony republican outrage was over hilary rosen's comment last week. "it was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining
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moment, and i loved it." the secret mitt romney told his very rich listeners, that the public mitt romney wouldn't be saying the things that they were hearing publicly because he learned a painful lesson about telling too much truth in his first political campaign against senator ted kennedy in 1994. >> mitt romney opposes increased aid to education, favors eliminating the department of education. romney, out of step with massachusetts. eliminate the department of education the public mitt romney has attacked president obama, repeatedly for actually saying some of those things. >> and he does that. it's a strange thing. the truth came out the other day, as he spoke with president medvedev of russia.
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he said, you know, wait until after the election. i can be more flexible then. he's clearly trying to hide from us what he intends to do. you don't say that to the head of russia without making it very clear to anyone listening that you have plans after your re-election that are different than those that you're willing to tell the american people. so he's going to hide. and it's my job to seek and our job to seek. it's going to be a hide and seek campaign and we're going to find out what he's going to do. >> ben la bolt, a spokesman for the obama election campaign released a statement saying, "apparently governor romney believes only high-dollar donors have a right to know which programs he will cut, education, housing, to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest americans." >> joining me now by phone, the nbc news campaign reporter who overheard mitt romney speaking last night, garrett haake. garrett, thanks for joining me tonight. >> thanks for having me, lawrence. >> garrett, how did you do it? you were actually out on a
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sidewalk and you were able to hear this? >> reporter: yeah, sometimes they say a big part of success is just showing up. i had been outside the fund-raiser, shooting some wide shots for nbc to use. they were having a fund-raiser in a tent in the backyard and as i was walking back towards my car, i could clearly hear the host of the fund-raiser saying, you know, people would please take their seats, off chance to hear from the next president of the united states. so i took the opportunity to take my own seat there on the sidewalk, just outside the area that the secret service had cordoned off. secret service told me and another reporter we were in a public area and fine to stay where we were, so we did and ran tape and listened to the entire conversation, which was just really a fascinating experience. >> so you were not the only reporter to hear this, but there were just two of you who heard it? >> that's right. yeah, just two folks. the fund-raisers that romney and really all the candidates in the primaries would hold are closed to the press, traditionally, they're not invited, they're not on a public schedule that the campaign releases, but we do the best we can to ferret out when
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and where they're going to be and try to have a presence, just to see what may or may not come down and occasionally get the opportunity to get lucky and hear a little something. i can't tell you how many times i've stood on sidewalks outside of hotels and things like that where you don't see anything. you might see or hear the candidate coming or going, but that's about it. >> garrett, was it a big enough event under that tent that they needed a microphone? >> reporter: it's hard to say. i couldn't see the entire crowd there, but romney took questions in sort of the same town hall format he might do with voters, back and forth from some of the folks who were in attendance, where you saw -- or heard, rather, the microphone being passed around between folks asking him and back and forth from him. but very clearly heard from the sidewalk a few blocks away. >> and to the ann romney quote, where she said that she just loved what was said last week about stay-at-home moms on cnn, was there a crowd reaction to that? did they share her delight in that? >> reporter: well, i will say
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this, lawrence, i think that part of this with ann romney may have been slightly overplayed today. i think ann was legitimately excited to have the chance to talk about her experience as a mom from her issues, but it did get spun in such a political way. later in the event, romney was asked a question, governor romney was asked a question about media strategy and he came back and again used the word "gift" to talk about the back and forth that happened between the romney campaign and democrats, particularly over the internet. he pointed out that this is the kind of thing that allows them to really create contrast with president obama and the kind of issues that you might see more of flaring up over the course of the campaign. >> all right, garrett haake of nbc news, garrett, i'm going to start following you on twitter right now. what is your twitter handle. >> i am @garrettnbcnews. >> all right, i'm following you, as of tonight. thanks for joining us tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. >> joining me right now, jonathan capehart and "the new yorker's" washington
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correspondent, ryan lizza. jonathan capehart, are you just shocked, shocked that mitt romney would say something and ann romney would say things to the $50,000 a person attendees at a palm beach fund-raiser, that they just might not say on tv? >> yeah, the thing that gets me, it's palm beach. and you know what it reminded me of, lawrence? remember when mitt romney did his interview with matt lauer a few months ago, talking about, matt asked him the question about income inequality and what he thought about that and taxes and things, and mitt romney's taxes and mitt romney said, well, these are the sorts of things you should talk about, you know, we talk about in quiet rooms. >> yes! >> well, you can't get anymore quiet and more exclusive than a palm beach estate, where you're going to tell the people, your people, your donors, your supporters, and particularly your very rich supporters, exactly what you're going to do.
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and so if you're going to talk about what you're going to do as president of the united states, with your very small group of rich supporters, why on earth shouldn't the rest of the american people expect you to share that information with them, before they go into the voting booth and vote for you or vote against you? >> ryan lizza, it turns out it wasn't a quiet enough room. garrett haake could hear him out on the street, on the sidewalk. >> great work by garrett. >> but these ideas of how he is actually going to abolish these things, of course, he can't do it. every single thing he said he was going to do, the congress would have to somehow overcome a democratic filibuster. it's all impossible talk. but he, obviously, believes it's what those people want to hear. >> well, that's what i was going to point out, lawrence.
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i think, look, the ship of anti-government conservatism crashes whenever it starts -- whenever conservatives gain power and start trying to end departments or agencies. they just have not -- conservatives have not been able to do it, despite the reagan revolution, despite the eight years of george w. bush. and now mitt romney, who is the presumptive nominee for the republican party, during one of the most conservative lurches in the republican party's recent history, and he can't even publicly say that he wants to get rid of hud and downsize the department of education. so in some ways, i think that he has to whisper this to a room full of donors is something of a defeat for conservatives. remember, ronald reagan in '80 campaigned on far more dramatic cuts to government than this. and like you said, lawrence, if he wins the presidency, he is not going to be able to get rid of hud. put aside whether it's a good idea or not, you know, a lot of people argue hud should be doing more, not less, even in the obama years, given the housing crisis.
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put that aside. it just doesn't get done in washington. there's not the push in congress for, you know, wholesale dismantling of the federal government. >> and jonathan, the one place where presidents should actually not say every single thing that's on their mind, publicly, is the foreign policy, is interactions with other governments. and so when president obama was caught in that whisper, to the russians about, you know, we've got an election and some of these things we're talking about are going to have to wait, that's actually the area where -- whether that's the instance it should be done or not, but that is the area where you can expect a certain amount of presidential secrecy. but to play the romney tape of him condemning that, when we also have this audiotape of what he was saying, like, i'm not going to say any of this stuff publicly, it is just the most -- i've said this before.
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the romney campaign is the most publicly cynical presidential campaign i have ever seen. >> and it's a campaign, a campaign and a candidate who has a unique and uncanny ability to stomp on whatever good news or good momentum they have going forward. so we were all talking about this, i'm speaking personally here, made-up mommy wars situation over what hilary rosen said, and sort of how the romney campaign got tupper hand in this conversation. today we're not talking about that anymore. today we're talking about how once again mitt romney has shown that he says one thing on the campaign trail, one thing publicly on the campaign trail, and then when he gets behind closed doors, or in this case behind a not-so-closed tent, among supporters, he's willing to talk about things and say things that he won't say publicly. and for him, you showed it at
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the top of this -- at the top of your show, his criticism of the president, which at the time, i thought was a pretty stinging rebuke of the president. but here we see him doing exactly the same thing, and he's not even president. so can you imagine, you know, someone at home wondering, what would he be like as president. and it's not the fault what president obama did, as you're saying, in the world of diplomacy and international relations, the president does have to have flexibility to be able to say things to another foreign leader that's out of, you know, out of earshot. but mitt romney, once again, is showing that he's willing to be on all sides of all things. >> ryan lizza, it seems that this is yet another example of how the romney campaign is its own worst enemy. here they were trying to get away with this charade of outrage over what was said last week, and it's the romney campaign itself that deflates all of its fake outrage. >> it's definitely a pattern. just as they seemed to be winning the mommy wars, we're now all talking about what mitt romney says in private. it puts mitt romney in a strange position.
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he's for the president of the united states disclosing private negotiations with a foreign power, but he's against telling you what agencies he might cut. that's a strange place to be as a candidate. >> ryan lizza and jonathan capehart, thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. coming up, it's time to file your tax return, but mitt romney got an extension on his and he's refusing to show us any more tax returns. we'll try to figure out what he's hiding in those tax returns and he's hiding a lot. that's next. and later, should the democrats drop the phrase "war on women." karen finney will answer that question for us. and in the rewrite, should we drop the war on drugs? finally, we have a president who thinks we should legalize marijuana. that's coming up. if you're one of those folks who gets heartburn
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last night ann romney inadvertently exposed just how fake republican outrage was last week in defense of stay-at-home moms, and michele bachmann actually said on "meet the press," with a straight face, that republicans are the real supporters of a woman's right to choose her health care options. that's coming up. we'll show you, also, how reasonable mitt romney was on both of those things, just 18 years ago when he was running for senate. and then, in the rewrite, reason number 204 why to vote for president this year, ending our war on drugs. a war that is actually more harmful than the drugs themselves. [ tires squeal, engine revs ]
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see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services. the deadline for revealing your income to the irs may be tomorrow at midnight, but mitt romney is going to get to keep his secrets for several more months after getting a time extension for filing his next $20 million tax return, assuming it's roughly the same size as his last tax return. and he is also keeping secret what he really wants to do to the tax code if he becomes president. another thing, the secret mitt romney was caught on tape talking about last night at that $50,000 per person fund-raiser in florida. he said, "the top rate i'm going to bring that to 28, but i'm going to limit deductions for second home mortgages, i'm going to probably eliminate for
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high-income people the second home mortgage deduction. probably limit or eliminate deductions for state income tax, state property tax, by virtue of doing that, we'll get the same tax revenue, but we'll have lower rates." a pro-obama super pac thinks the irs tax filing deadline is the perfect time to remind swing voters in the key battleground states of ohio, virginia, florida and iowa just how different mitt romney really is. >> mitt romney, he made millions off companies that went bankrupt while workers lost promised health and retirement benefits. his own tax return from last year reveals he made $21 million, yet paid a lower tax rate than many middle class families. now romney's proposing a huge new $150,000 tax cut for the wealthiest 1%, while cutting medicaid and education for us. mitt romney, if he wins, we lose. priorities usa action is responsible for the content of this advertising.
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>> senate republicans with the exception of maine's susan collins did their duty in the service to the super rich by blocking majority rule in the senate today and preventing a vote on what the democrats call the buffett rule, which would raise mitt romney's future taxes from 14% to a minimum of 30%, which would still be 3 percentage points lower than what i'm paying this year and a full 5 percentage points lower than the top federal tax rate, which really, virtually, no one actually pays. a new cnn opinion research poll released this afternoon shows just how wildly out of step congressional republicans are with voters. 72% of voters support the president obama-endorsed buffett rule. 69% of independent voters support it. and a full 53% of registered
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republican voters support increasing taxes on the super rich. joining me now, pulitzer prize-winning author, david cay johnston, a columnist for reuters and professor at syracuse law school. david, mitt romney's secret tax plan, where he's going to drop the top tax rate all the way down to 28, he's talking about some interesting limits on deductions, limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes, and then also limiting the mortgage deductibility for second homes. what do you make of the secret romney tax plan? >> well, he's going to try and invoke that he's ronald reagan. 28% is not very far from the buffett rule's 30% and i don't think voters will be swayed much by this. and there's not enough money to get where he wants to go with what we know of what he said. so i want to see the numbers and where the red ink is being dealt with.
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>> and on romney's tax returns, he has now said he's not going to release any of the past tax returns that people have been asking for. he had given, i think, over 20 of them to the mccain campaign four years ago when he was being vetted for vice president, but he's refusing to release anymore of the past returns. what are the things that we would find out if we could get those tax returns that we won't find out any other ways, especially on these so-called disclosure forms that he has to file as a candidate? >> well, lawrence, i think that's the question. i've been calling him to release his returns back to 1984 consistently, and i think we'll probably find out that he did some things offshore that will be uncomfortable. may be legal, but may be uncomfortable for him. we certainly won't learn anything other than he's a very rich man, which we knew beforehand. so why won't he come clean? he's clearly positioned himself by not being able to meet his father's own standard on disclosure, what has he got to hide?
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>> you have exposed a form of tax socialism, tax corporate socialism in this country that many people didn't know about and i certainly didn't know how widespread it was. and i believe you found that in this particular form of corporate tax socialism, the king of all the political socialists on this one is republican governor chris christie. >> well, new jersey is certainly the absolute king of this, which is hundreds of thousands of workers in 16 states, especially new jersey, are having the state income taxes withheld from their pay never go to the government. the money, instead, is kept by their employers. 2,700 companies do this. every big, brand name company you know. goldman sachs, general electric, procter & gamble. they are all doing this.
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and you want to know why your state government is in trouble, why your kid's education is in trouble? because of all these hidden programs, in this case, one that good jobs first dug out, that take money away from the tax system and do it in a way that workers don't even know that they've had their taxes diverted to their boss. they being taxed by their bosses. >> everyone has to read david cay johnston's about this. and you won your pulitzer prize for tax reporting at "the new york times" in 2001 and today "the new york times" has won its second pulitzer prize for tax reporting by david k.. >> i wanted to get that in. thanks very much for joining us tonight, david. >> thank you. coming up, our longest, most expensive, and most disastrous war. the war on drugs. decriminalizing marijuana could be reason number 204 to vote for president this year.
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charles m. blow joins me on war on drugs. and the war on women. should democrats drop that phrase? democratic strategist karen finney gives us the answer. wake up!
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it's complete luxury in easy label, right?mpromises. but that label can lead to prejudice and discrimination, and we don't want to go there. so let's try to see people for who they really are. you can help create a more united states. the more you know. last week's fake political war over stay-at-home moms did nothing to improve mitt romney's position with women voters. and some democrats now think they should drop the phrase "war on women."
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democratic strategist karen finney will tell us if that phrase helps or hurts with voters. that's next. and later, how president richard nixon's attempt to deflect attention away from the unwinnable war in vietnam gave us the unwinnable war on drugs. and how this president might rewrite it. that's coming up. [ banker ] mike and brenda found a house that they really wanted. it was in my sister's neighborhood. i told you it was perfect for you guys. literally across the street from her sister. [ banker ] but someone else bought it before they could get their offer together. we really missed a great opportunity -- dodged a bullet there. [ banker ] so we talked to them about the wells fargo priority buyer preapproval.
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available only with liberty mutual auto insurance, if your car's totaled, we give you the money for a car one model year newer. to learn more, visit us today. responsibility. what's your policy? well don't need anyone to tell them what to do on health care. we want women to have their own choices, their own money. that way they can make their own choices for their future on their own body. >> yeah, that's right. that was the relentless opponent of a woman's right to choose, congressman michele bachmann, lying on "meet the press" yesterday. new york senator kyrsten gillibrand, appearing with bachmann, chose to sidestep the abortion question that bachmann seemed to be raising, and instead focused on the most recent round of republicans interference with women's choices. >> what's insulting to women is that the republican party in the house of representatives made it part of their agenda that they want bosses to tell women what medicines they're eligible to
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take. nothing could be more insulting. >> as we reported a little earlier, ann romney told a private audience of rich republicans this weekend just how fake the war on republican moms was last week when she said, "it was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment. and i loved it." and then there is this acknowledgement of reality from mitt romney's 1994 failed senate campaign. >> this is a different world than it was in the 1960s, when i was growing up, when you used to be able to have mom at home and dod at work. now mom and dad both have to work, unless they want to or not, and they usually have to have two jobs. and if that's the case, we'll have to have good child care in the community. >> joining me now, karen finney, msnbc political analyst.
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michelle, why isn't that guy, romney, a united states senator? how could he have? i mean, what a reasonable thing to say about, you know, it's not the 1960s anymore and mom and dad both have to work. >> you know, the interest thing is that the reason that romney is not a united states senator is because he got killed among women in 1994, right? when he was running against ted kennedy -- >> saying those things? >> well, he was okay on the social issues, although there was some doubt, ted kennedy famously called him multiple choice, but he also, ted kennedy really hammered him on the economic impacts that his fiscal policies were going to have on women. and also on kind of how his record at bain had impacted women, both his kind of, the very few women that he had at the upper levels of bain and also the women who had been impacted when bain took over factories and kind of imposed draconian cuts or shut them down. >> and teddy had to go in that direction, because romney was basically trying to be identical to him on these other policies. let's listen to what mitt romney said back then about roe versus
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wade. >> as a nation, we recognize the right of all people to believe as they want and not to impose our beliefs on other people. i believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. i have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a u.s. senate candidate. i believe that since roe v. wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it, and i sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice. >> karen finney, it's a completely different person i'm watching there. he actually, and this is a hard thing to say about any politician, but he actually looks like he means what he's saying. which you don't ever get that feeling in this presidential campaign. >> well, i'm sure he practiced, lawrence! so that he would look like he meant what he was saying. you know what i love, is that women were not fooled in 1994, and so far they have not been fooled in this election. they can see right through it. whether it's his economic ideas or on the social issues.
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and on roe v. wade, frankly, women on all sides of this issue are going to have to ask themselves, do they trust him? because you don't really know where he is on the issue, at this point. >> so a new cnn poll shows that president obama still has a commanding lead over mitt romney with women. they show president obama at 55% with women voters, 39% choosing romney with women voters. michelle goldberg, you are now a war correspondent. you are covering the war on women. >> yes, i didn't mean for this to be my full-time job, but the republican party has kind of made it a full-time job. >> and are they going to -- do they think -- does the republican party think this is going well for them? >> well, it's interesting. they clearly know it's not going well in the poll numbers, but they don't seem to think that's a reason to change their policies, or they can't really change their policies, because this is the party they have. that's why they've adopted this tremendously cynical strategy of to try to change the subject instead and gin up this idea of
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a war on mothers. but they're not going to stop trying to restrict abortion rights, they're not going to stop trying to pass personhood amendments. there's going to be a number of personhood amendments on the ballot this fall. they're not going to stop going after equal pay rights. you know, wisconsin, under the leadership of scott walker, who romney praises to the skies, just repealed equal pay laws. equal pay laws that were working to close the kind of -- to close the gender gap in that country -- or in that state. and romney also won't even really come out and say that he supports the lilly ledbetter fair pay act. the best he'll say is he's not planning to try to change it. >> karen finney, you wrote a piece today saying that recently some democrats have backtracked on the phrase, "war on women." why have they backtracked and should they backtrack? >> you know, martin -- i mean, lawrence, so sorry. i'm not sure exactly why they're backtracking. i surmise in my piece for the hill that there's perhaps some polling that suggests that flaz is too harsh for voters in the
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same way that some thought that culture of corruption was too harsh at the time. they definitely shouldn't. and i think it's very important they pay close attention to the fact that this is how a lot of women feel, under siege and disrespected. and to the point that michelle was just making, it's not just because of the economic conversation that we've been having, it's because of these measures at the state level that are just very disrespectful. suggestions that women will use rape as a loophole in order to get abortion care. on and on and on. having men tell us what medicines we can take or whether or not we've been raped, despite our own personal experience. it's an erosion, a lot of women feel, of their rights and liberty in this country and we will pay attention to who's on our side in november. >> all right. we'll have to leave it there for tonight. karen finney and were correspondent michelle goldberg, thank you both very much for joining me tonight. coming up, reason number 204 to vote for president, the possible decriminalization of
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her doctor recommended aleve. it can relieve pain all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is lois... who chose two aleve and fewer pills for a day free of pain. and get the all day pain relief of aleve in liquid gels. the war on drugs has been a $1 trillion waste of money. charles m. blow will join me to discuss the human cost of that war on drugs and the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana in president obama's second term. with the spark cash card from capital one,
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here's your invoice. tonight, a president tries to rewrite a $1 trillion failed policy that has produced murder and mayhem here and abroad for over 40 years. when this guy, friend of the show, bill maher, and this guy, the dean of smart american conservatives, george will, agree on something, it's time to listen to at least one of them. most of you already know bill maher's thinking on america's longest war. no, not that one -- the war on drugs. richard nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971 while he was already in the process of losing the war in vietnam. nixon, of course, lost the war on drugs, as has every president since nixon, but no president has the courage to admit defeat in that 41-year war. george will is one conservative
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who knows the war on drugs is hopeless and in a recent column, he tried to turn conservative opinion against the war on drugs by showing, it is a big government program that costs too much money and doesn't work. george will writes, "imprisonening low-ranking street corner dealers is pointless. a $200 transaction can cost society $100,000 for a three-year sentence." will points out that keeping drugs illegal helps keep the price of drugs artificially high, and that amounts to, "a policy that gives hundreds of billions of dollars a year to violent organized crime." george will doesn't just bring a budget hawk's eye to the war on drugs, he also brings what his conservative friends might call a bleeding heart, when he says, "imprisoning large number of
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dealers produces an army of people who, emerging from prison with blighted employment prospects, can only deal drugs." this weekend at the summit of the americas in cartagena, colombia, when he wasn't answering questions about secret service agents behaving badly, president obama was being politely nudged by colombia's president, juan manuel santos to surrender to the reality on the war on drugs. >> colombia has suffered more than anyone in this war on drug trafficking. it was a war that was declared by president nixon in 1971, but that goes way back. and we've been fighting, we've been struggling. >> president santos wants the usa, the world's biggest consumer of illicit drugs, to move toward decriminalizing, if not fully legalizing, marijuana
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and possibly cocaine. this was president obama's response. >> in terms of legalization of drugs, i think that the battle, the war on drugs has been an utter failure. and i think that we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws. but i'm not somebody -- but i'm not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. what i do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars and i think that currently we are not doing a good job. >> yeah, you figured it out. that was the wrong tape. that was senate candidate barack obama back in january of 2004. and what he actually said this weekend in colombia really wasn't that different. >> i think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are
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doing more harm than good in certain places. i personally, and my administration's position, is that legalization is not the answer, that, in fact, if you think about how it would end up operating, the capacity of a large scale drug trade to dominate certain countries, if they were allowed to operate legally, without any constraint, could be just as corrupting, if not more corrupting, than the status quo. nevertheless, you know, i'm a big believer in looking at the evidence, having a debate. >> although president obama thinks it's entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether our drug laws are doing more harm than good, he, of course, has absolutely no
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intention of having that discussion the in the united states until after he is re-elected to a second term, which with exactly 204 days remaining until the election makes possibly ending the war on drugs the 204th reason to vote for president on november 6th. coming up, i'll discuss the failed war on drugs and possible decriminalization or legalization and what's the difference between decriminalization and legalization with charles m. blow of "the new york times" and one of the soldiers in the war on drugs. ♪ i'm michael bazinet, president of creative digital imaging of bangor, maine. we have customers all over the united states. we rely on the postal service for everything that we do. the eastern maine processing facility is vital to our operation and our success. if we lose this processing facility
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there's hillary clinton in cartagena, colombia, this weekend, enjoying her drug of choice, perfectly legally. while alcohol, which george will calls the animal addictive intoxicate currently available
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as a consumer good, continuing to wreak havoc in america, supported by a $6 billion a year alcohol industry advertising campaign, extolling the joy of inebriation, the far less harmful drug of marijuana remains illegal and continues to ruin people's lives, only if they are caught possessing it and convicted of that crime. "new york times" columnist charles m. blow noted in a column last year that despite the facts that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than african-americans, african-americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is ten times greater than that of whites. joining me now is charles m. blow, opinion writer for "the new york times." first of all, charles, would you like an -- >> i want to see onef these. >> that's hillary's beer. my confession is, i can't stomach -- i've never had a beer in my life.
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this is my darkest secret. i've never been drunk in my life. i've never been high in my life, so i am the least qualified person to talk about the effects of drugs and -- >> you're shifting the qualifications to me? >> no, i'm shifting the worry to the father of teenage boys. because that's really where the biggest worry is, is parents of teenagers. i'm the parent of a teenage daughter. and that's the center of worry in this country about legalization or decriminalization. simply saying, you won't go to jail for this. legalization would be, you can now have, you know, marijuana sold at 7-elevens. that's different from just decriminalizing. >> right, right, right. so what we have now is what you were mentioning for is a racialized weapon. the war on drug has become a racial weapon used against mostly black and hispanic young men, mostly for the possession, not the sale of marijuana. and that is not even, i don't think, the intent, the original
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intent of the war on drugs. and it is a real life ruiner for these kids. and so the question is not whether or not they will ruin their lives if they have a joint, the question is whether we as a society will ruin their lives if they have a joint. >> and they -- you know, youth in america has survived for quite a long time with exposure to a much more dangerous drug. i've had friends drink themselves to death as very young people. and there seems to be no ability to recognize how dangerous alcohol is, where we think that marijuana is the end of the world. >> and i don't think we even think that. i just think that it has become part of the culture that we have now embedded this idea that marijuana is a pathway to more illicit drug use. and so, you know, it's a stepping off point. so now we are incarcerating
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people at a staggering rate. since 1971, there have been 40 million drug arrests in america. that's just a staggering number of people. and that means that those people are now disenfranchised. if they had a kid, they can no longer support that child, so now that child is on the public dole, possibly, because the parent, the mother can't support the child by themselves. they are taking it out of the community, so people complain about, you know, too many young black women having children out of wedlock. well, they take out a lot of the guys that would be marriage material if they didn't get caught with one or two joints or something in their pocket, which isn't that big of a deal, if they were going to go to work or were working at the time. or what happened, you know, in under clinton was the signing of this law that basically said you couldn't get federal financial aid to go to college if you'd ever been arrested for a drug offense. so you had this kind of imbalance of people not being
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able to go to college and become marriage material. >> joining us now is neil franklin, executive director of l.e.a.p., law enforcement against prohibition. and he's a retired maryland state police major, where he also served as a narcotics agent. neil, what's your experience with this and where should we go from here? >> well, lawrence and charles, glad to be here with you guys. where should we go? well, you mentioned decriminalization. you talked about legalization, and the difference between the two. there's a lot of talk for decriminalization. i don't think that's the way to go. we need to go for legalization. we need to have regulation and control, and here's why. we, crime fighters, we in the law enforcement community, you know, we will figure out a new strategy for targeting young black and latino men for decriminalization, instead of arresting people for possession. we'll just figure out a strategy for charging them with intent to distribute and other things.
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so it's important that we go for legalization, regulation, and control. >> what was your experience that turned you against the war on drugs that you were a soldier in for so long? >> well, lawrence, it was the violence. i wear this badge here on my lapel and i usually wear a shroud over it, because i lost a dear friend, a comrade, to this craziness, to this senseless war on drugs. his name was ed totely in washington, d.c. he was working undercover with the fbi in 2000 and he was assassinated, making a mid-level drug buy. that woke me up. and many people are waking up today to this nonsense. unfortunately for me, it was that violence. >> charles, do you sense a possibility in president obama's second term on this front? you have george will in agreement with neill, a former narc, based on his experience out there in the field, and the president saying he's open to a discussion that the law is doing more harm than good?
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>> i hope that president obama moves in this direction. i think that the president has some making up to do on this front. that this law -- this war on drugs is financed on the local level, largely through grants. whatever george bush's reason, he almost starved that program to death. in the last year, it was $170 million. president obama campaigned on the promise that he would regain that money, and it went up to $2 billion, 12-fold increase. i want president obama to come back with a better approach to this issue. >> against prohibition. thanks both very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks, guys. >> secret servicing, lets play president obama "hardball".

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