Morning Joe | January 31, 2013
>>> your business a more sustainable choice to sell to --
>> i think it is sustainable. what is not sustainable about it?
>> you had an opportunity to make a statement, probably, about your principles, and some people would feel -- and for me as well -- i thought it was an odd move. not because of some of the other things, but because it is backed by fossil fuel money.
>> i get it. i get it. i get it. but it was an easy choice after doing the diligence on the network itself. they do an excellent job.
>> can you see at home how people might think --
>> he's asking me in my life to make choices about light bulbs and a cost benefit analysis for the purpose of sustainability when i just want to see my book.
>> that was a different approach than we took yesterday. welcome, everyone, to " morning joe ." good morning. it's thursday, january 31st . with us on set, we have msnbc contributor mike barnicle . msnbc political analyst and visiting professor at nyu, former democratic congressman, harold ford jr .
>> good morning.
>> professor, wow.
>> and in washington , nbc news capitol hill correspondent, kelly o'donnell. willie , good morning.
>> good morning, mika.
>> how you doing?
>> i'm doing great.
>> that made me a little uncomfortable.
>> jon stewart was being awfully tough on al gore .
>> oh, really? i don't think so. i think he gave him a pass.
>> you asked him a couple of questions.
>> we asked him the same question. i didn't really get an answer. he kind of went all over the place. it was like major big-picture analysis to the point where you almost find him in the clouds.
>> there's not really an answer to that, is there?
>> took money from oil to get money for his book.
>> i don't mean to say this -- well, i guess i'm just going to say it. it's kind of like jim baker . jim and tammy faye bakker . you know, that sexual morality was at the center of everything he did, and then he gets busted with jessica hahn . i can't believe i remember her name.
>> wow, there's so many disturbing thoughts there.
>> i used to watch larry king in the '80s. al gore -- i mean, he has been a missionary for climate change , preaching against fossil fuels , and he got 100 million -- what was it, $100 million?
>> that's the report.
>> $100 million of oil money. it wasn't media money. it's not like they're making money at al jazeera . he got $100 million in oil money.
>> so his argument is their coverage of climate change is extremely good, but you know what? i am sure somebody else would have bought his book. so it really -- i have to tell you, it doesn't look good.
>> could have bought the network, but $100 million.
>> could have bought his own book. i don't know. yeah, i didn't get an answer. i'm not sure it's fair. maybe he's doing something productive with the money.
>> i hope so. i hope so. hey, did you see that clown show?
>> which one?
>> the gun show .
>> the hearings. the gun hearings. did you see the clown showdown in washington , d.c.? all of these people, all these images of these, you know, little mama with a baby. needs an assault weapon to defend her little babies . and if we don't give them a clip with 30 --
>> these not going to be safe.
>> high-capacity magazine, she's not going to be safe. she can't lock and load .
>> do you think it would be good if i had a high-capacity magazine?
>> no. especially not on 'roids.
>> i have a rifle. okay.
>> the suggestion, though, that a mom needs a bushmaster to protect her children and her house, we don't give her that with a high-capacity magazine, that somehow we're -- come on.
>> we need to show that.
>> you're talking about senator lindsey graham . he showed the chart.
>> this lady.
>> the woman had a gun. she had a .38, six shots in it. he said an intruder comes in, she's in the closet protecting her children, she gets off six shots, five strike the guy, but it wasn't enough to kill him. so that if she had the ar-15 or a semiautomatic weapon, she would have been able to kill him. he fled, she killed, but he's saying she would have been able to kill him, not just strike him down.
>> this is just a sick conversation.
>> but it's part of -- there's a similar thread to all of this, and it's fear. you listen to wayne lapierre yesterday, it's fear. gun sales are driven by fear. his opposition to background checks is driven by trying to inject fear into the culture. it's all fear based.
>> and --
>> i thought mark kelly was the best of all.
>> we're going to show all this because there was such powerful testimony on capitol hill .
>> did you see it?
>> it was great. i got a big laugh out of wayne lapierre . he actually trotted out the survivalist argument.
>> i know. i saw it. we're going to show it.
>> we might have a hurricane, and then it's going to be like stephen king , zombies. you know, you get three shots into a zombie, seriously. did anybody read "the road"? did anybody read "the road"? has nobody seen "the book of eli "? has nobody seen "the book of eli ," really? that gary oldman character, he's scary. and if you just have a glock --
>> you won't see a bible.
>> no, you are cooked. a street sweeper.
>> i need my bushmaster because the zombies are coming after me. there's going to be a tornado. the power grid 's going down. locusts are going to descend from heaven. is glenn beck still selling survival seats, willie geist ?
>> i didn't get the subscription when he went to the new network. he did have those ads on fox but i haven't seen them lately.
>> i need survival seats now.
>> i'm going to get you some for your birthday.
>> i think with every bushmaster that is sold, the nra ought to give coupons to "the book of eli " and get "the road," which is a great book. of course, zombies, people eating people, end of the world -type stuff.
>> okay. so we will get to this ridiculous testimony on capitol hill as well as some of the powerful testimony in just a moment. i want to do these other stories first. you have to stay with me here. come on, now.
>> they had a bushmaster. they tried to eat them, lock and load .
>> what do i do?
>> he almost died in the driveway. he almost -- denzel almost died, if he had a bushmaster or anyone -- a rocket launcher --
>> come here, now. it's all right.
>> have you seen "the book of eli "?
>> i have. it's a great underrated movie.
>> you know what else i saw? i just saw it. denzel, man, "flight."
>> that's good. that's good. flying upside down.
>> there are good movies this year.
>> flying upside down.
>> including --
>> you know --
>> the stewardess had a bushmaster, she could have shot him before he got on the plane.
>> now i'm going to do the top story. cut his mike. today the white house is facing a new set of challenges after the commerce department reported yesterday that the nation's economy shrank for the first time since the great recession.
>> how did that happen?
>> well, government data shows the gross domestic product contracted at a .1% rate in the fourth quarter of 2012 . it was the first decline since 2009 . it put the white house on the defensive after months of touting steady job growth .
>> there's more work to do, and our economy is facing a major headwind which goes to your point, and that's republicans in congress. talk about letting the sequester kick in, as though that were an acceptable thing belies where republicans were on this issue not that long ago, and it makes clear, again, that this is political brinksmanship of the kind that results in one primary victim, and that's american taxpayers, the american middle class .
>> okay. what do you think is going on there, joe?
>> i think what's going on is that we have spent more money as a government over the past four years than we have in the history of the republic . added $6 trillion in debt. and we have just been on a keynesian spending spree, and the economy's contracting. the idea is, the federal government put some money in, and that's going to create larger job growth across america. it just hasn't happened. so the question is how long do we make this bet?
>> robert reich writes about consumer confidence in "the huffington post ." "the stock market is bullish because corporate profits are up, costs are down, the fiscal cliff agreement has locked in low taxes for most of the upper- middle class and wealthy, and there's no sign of inflation as far as the eye can see. but corporate profits can't stay high when american consumers whose spending is 70% of the u.s. economy are this pessimistic about the future. they're just not going to spend. american companies won't be able to make up the difference in forward markets. europe is careening into a recession. japan is still in deep trouble. china's growth has slowed. profits are the highest share of the u.s. economy on record. wages are the lowest. but this imbalance can't and won't last.
>> can't and won't. and look what's happening on wall street . they're doing better, willie , than ever before.
>> ever before. for the past four years, wall street has exploded over the past four years. real income has dropped for middle-class americans . the poverty rate 's gone up. one in four americans are on food stamps . you talk about two americas. john edwards is right.
>> over the past four years, and it's certainly not the president's fault alone, it's washington 's fault, in general. but over the past four years, you just look at the numbers. the rich are getting richer. the poor are getting poorer. wall street 's doing great. main street 's suffering.
>> dow jones hovering still around 14,000, which is a huge number.
>> if you read reaction to this number that came out yesterday, from economists left and right, by the way, they say don't read too much into it because of what you're talking about, that business investment is on the rise. consumer spending is doing okay. housing is coming back a little bit. so this feels like it's more related to a lack of government spending , cuts in defense spending than it is about some of the important consumer things that we look for in the economy.
>> hopefully it acts as a catalyst for congress and the senate to understand that if they get some deal around the fiscal cliff and around spending cuts, sequestration are to come, and two, we invest in things that are growing jobs, particularly energy. i'm just saying this should be a sign to those in politics, don't play with this. there's so many good things. there's a lot of corporate money overseas waiting to come back. profits are up. it's just waiting for that last one or two levers to be pushed. and hopefully we as a country and the congress can do it.
>> we want to get kelly o'donnell in on the testimony. for that we go to the testimony that took place on capitol hill yesterday. former congresswoman gabrielle giffords who survived a mass shooting in arizona two years ago made an unexpected appearance before the senate judiciary committee , reading off a page of handwritten prepared remarks. she urged congress to act now on gun reform.
>> too many children are dying. too many children. we must do something. it will be hard. but the time is now. you must act. be bold. be courageous. americans are counting on you. thank you.
>> that says it all. giffords' husband, mark kelly , says expanding background checks for gun buyers should be a top priority , but the nra 's chief executive yesterday, even after that, refused to give any ground.
>> we know from what happened in tucson that if there was an effective background check , which includes having the mental health data and the person's drug use , in the case of the tucson shooter, into the system, and if, in fact, there was no gun show loophole, i would contend that he would have had a very difficult time getting a gun. if background checks are good enough for somebody who's a federal firearms licensed dealer like walmart, for instance, where i just purchased a gun a couple months ago, a hunting rifle , and i had to go through a background check , why isn't that good for other sales?
>> my problem with background checks is you're never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks . i mean, all the law-abiding people create an enormous federal bureaucracy. we aren't going to prosecute any of the bad guys if they do catch one, and none of it makes any sense in the real world .
>> i don't get that.
>> senator lindsey graham and others at the hearing made the case for higher capacity magazines.
>> would i be a reasonable american to want my family to have the 15-round magazine and a semiautomatic weapon to make sure if there's two intruders shouldn't run out of bullets. am i an unreasonable person for saying that in that situation, the 15-round magazine makes sense? there can be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of something we do here. six bullets in the hands of a woman trying to defend her children may not be enough.
>> an assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon. and the peace of mind that a woman has as she's facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary looking gun gives her more courage when she's fighting hardened violent criminals.
>> and therein --
>> -- lies the problem with having to defend assault weapons . because if you go out and try to defend assault weapons , then you end up looking like a jackass. seriously --
>> i'm sorry, but that's true.
>> willie -- willie --
>> that was gail trotter, a gun advocate for the independent women 's forum.
>> and before that, lindsey graham who said, i am unreasonable to think that a woman needs a high-capacity magazine? rambo in the house. to defend -- come on. seriously? this is so stupid. and wayne lapierre saying, you know, the criminals out there, the criminals out there that aren't going to abide by background checks , so we should just have no background checks . well, why do we -- willie , why do we have any laws on the books? there are terrorists that are going to end up --
>> just let it be the wild west .
>> -- in the united states of america . why do we even try to stop al qaeda , right? they say they're going to attack us again. so why don't we let down all of our defenses and just give up?
>> one of the problems or the problem, i think, with the story they told over and over again about the georgia woman with the two infants is that she did defend herself. she shot the guy five times, and he left the home. she had a gun with six rounds in it. she was able to defend herself.
>> she didn't kill him.
>> on your other point about lapierre on the universal background checks , cbs poll shows 92% of americans favor them including 89% of republicans and 93% of gun households, people with guns. 93%.
>> willie , these people are such -- wayne lapierre is from the survivalist wing of the nra . and if you're lindsey graham or other republicans that are going to march off the cliff with wayne lapierre , you're a fool. you're going to get what you deserve. and more republicans are going to lose. nobody listened to me. nobody listen to me. and colin powell and other republicans warning about how this extremism is going to cost us in 2012 . it's going to cost us in 2014 . it's going to cost us in 2016 . they can decide. they want to start winning elections again or not? it's stupidity.
>> kelly o'donnell, you were on capitol hill yesterday. do you think what we saw in that room over the course of a long day will have impact now legislatively, on the outcome of this whole gun debate?
>> well, i think one of the things that's so important about watching that is when you distill it down, you see the theater and extreme points of view, but it's what congress has to work through because these issues are not easy. you can come up with a scenario to give an argument for why an individual -- and i notice that they tended to only speak of women who needed to defend themselves, which, you know, is perhaps an effective argument -- you can find those scenarios. you can do the survivalist thing like after katrina or after the riots in l.a. where there are pockets of anarchy that might exist for a period of a few days in the united states where people might say, i've got to have a weapon. then you've got the heartfelt, emotional testimony of gabrielle giffords and her husband. it's so important to remember, gabrielle giffords is partially blind. she is partially paralyzed. here's somebody who i used to talk to in the hallways, and now you can see her struggle to get those carefully chosen words out. that's a very real example of what can happen. you're also seeing lawmakers who are trying to figure out, okay, if they do something, will it be effective? so part of what you're going to find in the debate is they're going to kind of work through all of these extremes and scenarios to see if they can settle on something that people can agree on, having worked through it. you heard graham say, you know, if we do something, might we end up having yet again a mother who can't defend herself? so part of what you're watching is the sausage making of policy. it's not always pretty.
>> working through it, talking about it to try to get to some answers. it's not going to be easy.
>> you know, it's not going to be easy also, harold ford , not just for republicans but for democrats in the senate. you know, we, every night, we tweet out questions to ask, you know, what are your ideas? last night after doing gabby giffords speech, he's from tennessee, i'm a huge fan of his.
>> glen reynolds.
>> glen reynolds said ask the question about the courage that gabby giffords is asking to be shown. glen said ask that question of democrats in red states that are running in 2014 ? are they going to have a political courage to do what gabby giffords thinks is the right thing on background checks , on high-capacity magazines, on assault weapons ?
>> i think it is unlikely that the congress will pass a ban on assault weapons .
>> what about these democrats ? how hard is it for the moderate democrats ?
>> speaking specifically of those democrats . i think they will have a hard time voting for a ban on assault weapons . i think willie 's point about the background checks and the almost universal support makes it a much easier argument to pass. and two --
>> what about the high-capacity magazines?
>> then on these big magazines, i think there's an agreement, a compromise, to be made for those who want to shoot and use those magazines at shooting clubs and while some may hunt with that, keep them there. and if you want to take them out, you have to register in a more serious and comprehensive way than you would checking out a book. i use the library analogy only as a metaphor. it would obviously have to be more stringent. on moderate democrats , put aside for re-election or not, moderate democrats particularly those up for re-election in states where gun culture is pervasive are going to find it easy to support it. in fact, the magazines concern me more than the guns because without the magazines, you can't use the guns the way that some people including myself fear they could be used.
>> listening yesterday, i thought mark kelly was the best. it would be great if at some point we could have the ceo of walmart come before the committee. he laid out specifically what they sold at walmart. and walmart sales have not been impacted. lapierre warned of a bureaucracy being created. it would be good to hear from retailers who make money off this and take care of their customers to answer these questions as well.
>> they like making the money. i mean, they made so much money since newtown.
>> oh, it's unbelievable.
>> so much money since those little children were lined up and shot down.
>> including the gun shows.
>> so sick. coming up --
>> retailers. it's why wayne lapierre is taking an extremist stand.
>> captain mark kelly , as you mentioned, will be joining us to discuss his testimony yesterday on capitol hill . also, senator claire mccaskill will join us. and later, legendary music producer tommy mottola and then "the politico playbook" with jim vandehei . first bill karins with the forecast. good job on "way too early."
>> not bad, right?
>> pretty great.
>> you're coming along just fine.
>> what part of me did you like the best?
>> oh, good god. oh.
>> i know which part.
>> oh, my lord.
>> no, no. damn it! why does he always do that?
>> always one step too far.
>> at least one step.
>> good morning, everyone. new england, we got rocked last night. 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts in boston . actually gusted to 60 miles per hour even at laguardia airport last night. these are the wind gusts, not the temperatures. providence at 47. boston at 51. we're actually watching the winds dying off a little bit now in connecticut. the only really dangerous winds still left, rhode island , providence, boston out to the cape. give it another hour and we'll be done with the wind danger threat. there's snow showers and a lot of cold air over the great lakes. all that white back in pittsburgh and buffalo, you could drive into some blinding snow bands today in ohio, western pa, western new york and areas of michigan. as far as the forecast goes today, again, the rain will be ending in new england. then it will be windy, and temperatures will fall. it will feel like winter by tonight. and look at these temperatures in minneapolis today. that's your high today. it's going to go up to one degree. chicago, only 15. this is days after hitting 60 degrees in chicago. kansas city at 20. and i want to show you these windchills because they have schools that are canceled in many areas of north dakota , south dakota and minnesota this morning. it is negative 39 right now windchill in bismarck. and a place called rolla, north dakota , the lowest windchill i could find, it feels like minus 50 if you step outside on your bare skin. that is extreme weather . days after we get done with marchlike temperatures. so the roller-coaster winter continues across the country on this last day of january. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. this happy couple