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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/16/12

Guests: Nancy Pelosi, John Stanton

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, man. Have a great weekend. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You, too. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday. What a week this has been. Whoever packs President Obama`s bags is busy, prepping for the president`s big trip that starts tomorrow. He`s going to Asia. No sitting U.S. president has ever visited the nation of Cambodia before, but President Obama is about to do so. No sitting president has visited Burma either. But President Obama is about to go there too. No president has ever done that. When he`s there, he`ll meet with the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, while he`s there. What interesting side note on President Obama making this historic trip to Burma, which is also called Myanmar -- in 2009, before the U.S. government decided that they were ready to send a sitting president to that country, we apparently first decided that we were ready to send a rock band to that country, specifically the band Ozomatli. The State Department under a brand new President Obama in 2009 authorized the great L.A., Latin fusion, hip hop, rock band Ozomatli to go tour Burma, a sort of ambassadors for U.S. culture in that notoriously close off authoritarian part of the world. Burma has only finally ended military rule there as of last year. After President Obama makes his visit there this weekend, we`ve just now learned now that we`re going to be sending another American musical act to follow up the president`s trip. This time it`s going to be singer songwriter Jason Mraz. They announced today that he is that`s how you say it, right? Mraz? Thank you. Cheers. That he is scheduled to play a gig December 16th in Rangoon. He`s going to be playing outdoors free of charge, only the second time after Ozomatli that any Western musical act has been there in decades. Even though we expect Democrats and Republicans to fight over everything these days, even right after the election, "The Associated Press" notes today that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has for a long time taken a special interest in Burma as a senator. And he has not held back in praising President Obama for taking this big historic trip to that once totally-closed country. President Obama on this trip is also due to meet with the Japanese prime minister and the Chinese premier, in the midst of those countries fighting over who controls some islands out of the East China Sea. And, of course, the whole trip to Asia comes in the midst of a flair up between Israel and Gaza. Now, we do not know exactly what started this most-recent round of fighting, but we do know that an Israeli strike killed the top commander of Hamas in Gaza on Wednesday, and we know then that was followed by rocket attacks aimed at southern Israel and then Tel Aviv, and even today, Jerusalem. Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes. The attacks appeared today to be rapidly escalating, including signs that Israel is preparing for a ground incursion into Gaza. "The New York Times" tonight citing reports of Israeli tanks massing on the border with Gaza. Amid-all of this in the world, today, Washington was consumed with two major issues. The first was the start of negotiations to head off a deliberate crisis that D.C. created for itself so they could come to a few new deal between the parties and between the president and Congress on spending and taxes and the deficit. That negotiation started today. The White House said that top level White House staffers will be continuing those negotiations that started today even while the president is off on this big historic trip to Asia. The other thing consuming Washington is the many tentacled congressional investigation into what happened in Libya back in September, when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack on a U.S. consulate there. In the midst of his own still unfolding sex scandal, the recently and suddenly resigned head of the CIA, David Petraeus, testified to Congress today about Libya behind closed doors. We will have more on that in a moment. But while all of this is unfolding in American politics, globally and in Washington, there`s a whole other level of things unfolding in American politics that`s happening a little further down the food chain. And what`s happening there, I think, is rather off the hook, in a way that might be good news for the country ultimately. But for right now, it`s mostly just worth seeing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Debate is firing up over a controversial seminar that`s being held at the state capital. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At that forum, Republican leaders warned the Obama administration is using mind control to manipulate all of us. CBS Atlanta (INAUDIBLE) shows us the forum was all caught on camera. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: How psyched was the guy at the CBS station in Atlanta, who was asked to make that graphic for that segment, right? OK. Luis, Mary, we`re going to need a graphic with President Obama on it. OK. And since he`s president, maybe throw in an American flag. OK. What`s the theme? It`s about mind control. So give us something with President Obama and a flag and the words "mind control" and then whatever other imagery might get the mind control idea at a glance. Amazing. The story was based on this video shot by the group Better Georgia inside a four-hour long seminar conducted by the Republican Caucus in the Georgia state senate. Republicans are the majority there and the state senate president convened this four-hour event for Republican senators to learn about how President Obama was using Cold War era mind control techniques to trick Americans into turning ourselves over to the United Nations for, you know, one world government and enslavement. If you want some historical perspective. It`s simple, there`s Stalin, death toll, 7 million, there`s Mao, death toll, 17 million to 40 million, and then there`s President Obama. The results see at the bottom there, TBD. This was one of the slides from the presentation at the Georgia state capitol for Republican state senators. Back for more to CBS Atlanta. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SETH CLARK, BETTER GEORGIA: It`s a four-hour meeting about how the United Nations is using a mind control technique developed during the Cold War to secretly steal away American freedoms. REPORTER: Seth Clark of the political watch dog group Better Georgia videotaped part of the briefing before he was tossed out. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually when you got somebody that`s talking about mind control and about all these problems with the United Nations, that person is wearing a tinfoil hat. I think the thing that concerns us is the person wearing the tinfoil hat appears to be our Senate majority leader. REPORTER: The head of Georgia`s Democratic Party says he has no idea why Republican Senate Majority Chip Rogers sponsored the Agenda 21 seminar. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Republican Senate majority leader did convene that meeting of Georgia Republican senators to talk about President Obama`s mind control plot to take over America. And then Better Georgia shot video of it and that ended up on the local news with the amazing graphics. Then it ended up in the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" and other Georgia newspapers. And then it started to get national press and "Mother Jones" and "Huffington Post" and elsewhere. And then interestingly, it was the end of that Republican majority leader in the Georgia state senate. Yes, he stepped down. The guy who inspired headlines about the lunacy infiltrating state leaders, he`s gone after this, because even though this guy was apparently OK before, he was the longest-serving Senate majority leader in Georgia history, now, now -- now, apparently, that kind of nonsense means you have to go. It`s interesting, right? Same deal, seemingly, with the lunacy this week out of the Maine Republican Party, totally different part of the country, slightly different type of lunacy, but here`s how it manifests. This is the chairman of the Maine Republican Party. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: You still think we have a system that`s full of fraud? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. Yes, yes. I`m going to do a mailing right off. In some parts of the state, there were -- for example, in some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens -- dozens of black people who came in and voted Election Day. Everybody has a right to vote. But nobody in town knows anybody who`s black. How did it happen? I don`t know. We`re going to find out. I think it`s a problem. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Do we need to litigate how nuts that is? Can we just agree how nuts that is? OK. That is the head of the Republican Party in Maine who initially defended his dozens of black people comments by saying he could not possibly be racist or have meant that in a racist way because he plays basketball with a black man regularly. Seriously, that was his explanation. That was he told "Talking Points Memo". There`s nothing about me that would be discriminatory. I play basketball every Sunday with a black guy." I repeat. State Republican Party chairman, ultimately, this week after I know a black man who plays basketball claim miraculously did not tamp down the furor over his comments, Maine`s Republican Party chairman apologized and took it back. But here again, it is less than important that someone is, right, and super out there in something like this. What`s important is not that somebody thinks that stuff or says that stuff or does that stuff. What`s important here is that it is starting to not be OK anymore. The Republican who just ran the U.S. Senate campaign in Maine in this election responded to what happened with the main chairman by saying on Twitter, oh, my God, this guy has to go. The last Republican candidate for governor in the state is also now saying publicly, oh my God, this guy has got to go. This is not Democrats and liberals criticizing the guy. This is the Republican saying this guy cannot be our chairman. And he`s going to be going. What it feels like from the Maine press and political observers in the state that the only reason they are not throwing that chairman out is because he is going voluntarily, essentially right now. He`s leaving as chair of the party on December 1st. But this phenomenon out in the proverbial provinces, right, out in the Georgia state senate, out in party in Maine, is sort of what`s going on in Republican politics right now. You can see it at the national level, too, at the Republican Governors Association meeting, in the Senate right now, Republicans who have ambitions for their futures are falling all over themselves right now to distance themselves from and criticize the arguably crazy comments from the party`s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. The comments he made when he attributed his presidential election loss to some complicated bribery scheme involving green cards and contraception and the Democratic Party buying votes with those things. Were it not for that, he would have won, everything else went perfectly. It is less important that Mr. Romney said those things this week than it is that the party has reacted the way it has, that the party is policing him, in effect, for saying it. In trying to figure out who the Republican Party is going to be next, how they are going to bounce back from this loss, all across the country, in their politics at the national level and below that. Republicans are starting to try to disassociate themselves from the crazy. Some Republicans are. More than used to. I don`t want to say it`s a hard and fast rule. It can very easily be disproven, but I think it`s happening more than it used to happen. And given that, now, here`s my question. Is that dynamic at work in the Republican Party in the country at large right now also translating to a shutdown of that party`s Benghazi conspiracy theory nonsense? Is it translating to that too or are we going to keep on keeping on with that. Joining us now is the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES." He`s the author of "Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy." Mr. Chris Hayes, it`s lovely to have you here. CHRIS HAYES, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": Can I say the Ozomatli/Burma details is quintessential RACHEL MADDOW SHOW detail. That is amazing in so many ways. MADDOW: I can`t tell you how much time I spent worrying about the adjectives about like -- how would Ozomatli like to be described? (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE) Is that OK? Would they like rock to be there? I bet they`re kind of a rock band, but -- yes, I get distracted. Tell me how this plays out, Chris. Tell me if I have rose-colored glasses on looking at this Republican dynamic right now of seeing them trying to resist the crazy. Am I cherry-picking here? Or is this really happening? HAYES: I think -- I think it`s a combination of both. I think it`s aspirational. I think actually the question is -- to use a conservative notion, right? People respond to incentives. And the question is now who are those incentives acting upon? And I think it`s particularly important question at the national level with the kind of entrenched senate aristocracy of Republicans which is who are they worried about beating them? MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: I think someone like John McCain isn`t that worried and is a little bit off the reservation and he has been the most vocal voice pushing this in certain ways. And it`s hard to see whether those are going to rein him in. The question is do other people who care about their political future and have national aspirations, if they are more likely to likely to walk away from this conspiracy mongering that`s happening around Benghazi. MADDOW: We saw Harry Reid today essentially shut down the idea of there being a Senate select committee, essentially a mega investigation along the lines of Watergate on this. We also saw resistance to that idea from Richard Burr, from Susan Collins, from Joe Lieberman, from Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. I felt like that all isolated John McCain a lot. But you know, maybe he sort of stands alone in terms of his influence on foreign policy matters. HAYES: I think he does. But I do think -- I think you`re right. I mean, I think there`s sort of distance emerging between him and where everyone else is. And partly, I think we should remember that this was very -- this was wielded as a cudgel in the run-up to the election partly because there was this hope -- and you would see it all over the conservative blogs. I mean, my Twitter is extreme, right? That this was the thing that was going to turn around the election and the mainstream media because they wanted to get Barack Obama elected were ignoring the facts of the matter. After the election, I think because they basically used it incredibly cynical fashion, there`s a little less energy behind the kind of conspiracy mongering except for John McCain who is just in it until the end, I think. MADDOW: But then today, the reason this was an important question today, today the talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice after the Benghazi attack, those talking points were published. HAYES: Yes. MADDOW: And if those talking points are what she was given to say, she hued essentially exactly to what she was briefed to say by the intelligence agency. So on the matter of her and whether she`s the architect of the great cover-up and can`t be secretary of state and all these other things, I thought today that settled it. HAYES: I absolutely think it settled it factually, but I also think -- I guess I was to distinguish between two different trends that`s happened in the modern Republican Party. There is this kind of conspiracy mongering and this believing your own ridiculousness that I think happens. You know, Dick Morris was calling into that Agenda 21 briefing down in Georgia. I mean, Dick Morris -- I mean, the guy -- that`s a fairly prominent person in the American right these days. MADDOW: He`s making me herding us into the cities point. HAYES: Yes, exactly. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: So there`s that at one hand. Then there`s the implacable, almost nihilistic obstruction, right? And the war on Susan Rice seems to be more in that latter category. Whatever theories that they are picking up that happen to be by their side so they can wound her are much more about this kind of implacable project of political destruction and obstruction that has been a defining feature of Republicans, particularly in Congress, have conducted themselves in the Obama era than it is the kind of association with the crazy fringe. MADDOW: And I got Nancy Pelosi on the record on that subject yesterday, in a clip that we have not played from that interview, but we`re going to play in just a second. Her reaction to that -- her diagnosis of that on the Republican side and how she says it has been different in the past and she thinks it`s going to be different going ahead is fascinating, and that`s coming up. HAYES: I`m going to want to watch that. MADDOW: And it`s apparently Mraz. It`s Mraz. HAYES: Can I just say, every day, I get into my show and there`s nine names that I forget to check the pronunciation of? I`m like -- MADDOW: I said it was Mraz. I`m sorry, Mr. Mraz. I`ll never do it again. Chris Hayes of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES", weekend mornings at 8:00 here on MSNBC -- I`m going to call it yupa. I hope you don`t mind. (LAUGHTER) HAYES: Perfect. MADDOW: All right. Thanks, man. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The scariest sentence in the English language is this one. Elizabeth Warren will be the next U.S. senator from the state of Massachusetts. Now that that very scary sentence has come true, it`s playing out in a really interesting and very specific way. And that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So what do you think Elizabeth Warren is going to be like in the Senate? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in profits. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. And Wall Street CEOs, the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them. Does anyone here have a problem with that? Well, I do too. I do too. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If that`s how you got elected and if everybody in the country, not just everybody in the little old Massachusetts, but everybody in the country knows that is who you are and that`s how you got elected, then you heading up to the United States Senate is a story of national significance. It is nationally significant enough to remind those of who are used to thinking of "The New York Times" as a liberal paper, that "The New York Times" is also the hometown paper of Wall Street. And when Wall Street`s hometown paper writes about Elizabeth Warren going to Washington, it`s possible you`re going to get the word "fear" into that headline. During the campaign, Elizabeth Warren did not try to disabuse anybody of the notion that she intends to be a senator of consequence. She told "New York" magazine before she was elected, quote, "If the notion on this is we`re going to elect somebody to the United States Senate so they can be the 100th least senior person in there and be polite and somewhere in their fourth or fifth year do some bipartisan bill that nobody is going to care about, then don`t vote for me." In other words, I`m planning on getting stuff done, yo, from the get-go. And now -- now, news, we know what Elizabeth Warren wants to do first. Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren this week planted her first flag in terms of what she wants to do with her new job. It`s direct and it is to the point. Check this out. On the first day that the Senate is in session and only on that day, there`s something really important that can happen. The Senate that day decides its rules. Right now, if any one senator wants to block legislation, they can basically just say they want to block it, and presto, it`s blocked. Instant filibuster -- which then means you need a majority, but a 60-vote super majority to get anything passed through the body. It was not supposed to be like that, right? The Constitution established super majorities for some things, but for rare things like amending the Constitution or ratifying treaties. And, yes, minorities of senators could hold stuff up in that body. But the filibuster was rarely used. That`s not it was. That is not how it is anymore. Now, the Republican minority in the Senate uses it for everything, for just generic, run-of-the-mill routine business, they have made a 60-vote threshold, a super majority threshold the new normal for anything. But the rule that has let that become the new normal, the rule that`s let the Republican minority do that so easily, fundamentally change the way our democracy works, that rule can be changed, specifically it can be changed on that one day, on day one of the new Senate by a simple up or down majority vote . And Elizabeth Warren, the rising senator from Massachusetts, says, let`s do it. In an article titled "The First Week of January", which is when the new Senate could do this, soon to be Senator Elizabeth Warren says, quote, "Senate Republicans have used the filibuster 380 times since the Democrats took over the majority in `06. We`ve seen filibusters to block judicial nominations, jobs bills, political transparency, ending big oil subsidies, you name it, there has been a filibuster. We`ve seen filibusters of bills and nominations that ultimately passed with 90 or more votes. Why filibuster something that has that kind of support, just to slow down the process and keep the Senate from working." "On the first day of the new session," she says, "in January, the senators will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a majority vote. I`m joining Senator Jeff Merkley and six other newly elected senators to pledge to lead this reform on day one." And, procedurally speaking, she is right. It can be done. Veteran Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Tom Harkin of Iowa have long advocated for at least that kind of reform -- at least the kind of reform where senators have to work for a filibuster. They have to stand up there and talk for as long as they want to hold something up. They can`t just do it easily by saying so. Those senators have been building support for tweaking the rules for the new session that starts after the New York. And almost all of the rest of the newly-elected Democrats senators are standing with those reformers and with Elizabeth Warren on this. And remember, they only need a majority. Elizabeth Warren was a national figure before she ever ran for the Senate, which means she`s poised to be the most-watched freshman in Washington as of January. In her campaign, she made it clear she was going to be a different kind of senator. She said she was not going to go to Washington to build a, quote. "long illustrious career in the Senate". She wanted to go and make some changes. So now for the most-watched newbie in the country, we know what day one is going to be about: fixing that stupid filibuster. That`s day one. Then there`s the next six years after that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Everybody wants to meet a president and unless you are a swing voter in Iowa or Ohio, there`s no guarantee you ever will meet an American president. But that doesn`t mean you might not ever meet a life- size cutout of the president. Or you might meet a first lady, even of you yourself are the president. And it`s not just presidents from this century. Do you need a fourth? Abe Lincoln, apparently, very handy with the short iron. All this evidence of people not meeting a president but making due with the next best thing and enjoying themselves in the process, this evidence has everything to do with tonight`s best new thing in the world. It`s coming up at the end of the show. And it is worth the wait. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: One of the things we saw this year, even in a year when it did not come down to a recount in Florida or anything like that, we did see seven and eight-hour long lines in some places. We saw enormously contested rules, some say, partisan-contested rules around early voting and the availability of voting machines, how long it was going to take people to vote. Is there -- as you have championed the idea of reforming the role of money in politics -- is there also sort of energy right now for the idea of election reform -- there being federal standards, federal advancement for the states to get their acts together? REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: As you know, the electoral system is a state function. But in a federal election, we should be able to pass legislation that said that people should be able to vote in one hour or two hours, and the rest of these long lines are an obstacle. They are a form of voter suppression. So, whether it`s money suffocating the air out of the air waves with endless money, whether it`s suppressing the vote through some regulation or state laws, or it is just telling people that this is poisoning the debate so that people throw up my hands, I don`t want to vote. All of it is really an obstacle to full participation. So, I do believe and that is why I`m pursuing this and colleagues, that there should be a national law for federal elections that says that people should be able to vote in a reasonable amount of time, that these long lines are designed to suppress the vote. MADDOW: Is that -- one of the things I have been trying to understand since the election is what in Congress is now politically doable that wasn`t politically doable before? And some of the ideas are the same, but the prospects of passage seem different now that we have gone through this election process. Would you put election reform in the realm of politically doable? And what else do you think has crossed over the line because of the election results? PELOSI: Well, the electoral reform will be, I`d always say, that the president really can do (ph), public sentiment is everything. And I think the public sentiment is there for saying enough already with all the money and all the commercials and the length of time these campaigns take place so we can exploit that opportunity to make change. It`s a great organizing tool throughout the country -- not even in a political, partisan way, but in a democratic way. And I think that sufficient activism -- as I always say -- don`t agonize, organize. Sufficient activism on the outside, mobilization there helps us maneuver to get something done in that regard. I would certainly hope that the budget issues would -- that that has changed with the election. The president was clear about the wealthy paying their fair share in the election. The public supports that overwhelmingly in all the polls. Even if they didn`t vote for President Obama, they support the wealthy paying their fair share. So, hopefully, the need and the ability of Republicans to vote for that has been improved, all of it. I don`t know -- well, it remains to be seen. The president says he`s going to send immigration. I would certainly hope that the participation of so many people in the electoral process sends a clear message that we have to think in a different way about the value of immigration to our country and not in the way that it has been presented by those who oppose comprehensive immigration reform, just to name a few. MADDOW: When you look ahead to the next Congress, the rights of the minority in the House are one (ph), compared with the rights of the majority in the House. PELOSI: Yes. MADDOW: But you saw a decision to make about how your caucus and how you personally are going to work with John Boehner and his caucus in the House. Do you see it as working out any differently in the next Congress than it did in this last one? PELOSI: Well, it just depends on what level of cooperation and respect is extended to the president of the United States. When I was speaker and President Bush was president, we worked together. We passed an energy bill. We passed a tax rebate bill that was refundable to poor people. As minority and in the minority, I worked with him for the biggest global AIDS initiative ever. So we were able to do things working together. More than that even, TARP -- more so we probably ever have to take. So the idea that a Congress would come in and say to the president, never does never work for you, even when he was extending the hand of friendship to say, how can we work together, to the Republicans for their priorities, it was something quite different than any of us had ever seen before. But, sure, I mean, I worked with President Bush. I stand always ready to work in a bipartisan fashion here. That`s what we came here to do. The last two years is a different phenomenon. As much as people like to think, it`s been going on for a long time. It reared its head in the `90s when Republicans impeached President Clinton, we did impeach President Clinton, but we offered cooperation to a Republican president. I hope they will offer cooperation to President Obama. We stand ready to work in a bipartisan way with Speaker Boehner, with the Republicans in Congress. We have regional concerns that are not partisan. We have issues of human rights in the world that are not partisan, where we have come together in a bipartisan way, and sometimes in disagreement with our own leadership or our own White House in the past. So I think the American people expect and deserve a bipartisanship to take place. Let`s hope that it`s there because then we`ll get our most sustainable solutions. We come here to find common ground. If we can`t find it, we have to stand our ground. But we have a responsibility to try. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Before heading into today`s so-called fiscal cliff negotiations with the White House and Republicans in Congress, you heard there the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, telling me in an exclusive interview, her first after announcing she would stand again to be leader, that the Republican attitude towards President Obama these past two years is an aberrant thing. It should not be seen as normal. She says when she was speaker and George Bush was president, they were able to get a reasonable amount of stuff done together despite their obvious and giant differences. She said she expects John Boehner will have to start thinking about governing in much the same way. Joining us is John Stanton. He`s Washington bureau chief at "BuzzFeed" and he`s one of my favorite people to talk about Capitol Hill. All right. John, thanks for being here. JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: It`s good to be here. MADDOW: What do you think seems newly possible now? Election reform? Filibuster reform in the Senate? Anything on immigration? Does any of that seem viable to you? STANTON: I hate to be a wet blanket, but I -- you know, I think immigration reform, yes. There`s certainly a possibility that immigration reform in some manner could be done. The problem there, though, frankly is that, you know, John Boehner has come out and said, look, I want to do this. We sort of learned a lesson from the election. And a lot of Republicans seem to feel like they need to do something on it. The problem is when you start to dig into what they are saying if you look at what John Boehner said earlier this week, instance, he said, well, first a step by step approach. We want to do border. We want to do then something on H1B visas. We want to then do some other things. And that`s very much what Republicans have been saying for the last several years, which is they don`t want to do a comprehensive deal. They want to do piecemeal, sort of what they call around here rifle shot legislation. And, you know, advocates of immigration reform are very opposed to that. They understand if you don`t keep them all together, you`re not going to get the coalition of people to get a bill through the House particularly. So, you know, that may be the best shot. I think election reform is going to be difficult unless it`s sort of top line stuff on, you know, donations and things like that -- transparency kinds of things. And filibuster reform is something that everyone has always talked about. If you`re in the majority, you really want it. If you`re in the minority, you don`t. And if you`re in the majority, you start of behind the scenes, you realize, eventually, you`re going to be the minority and you`re not going to want it. So I don`t know. I hate to say it, but I think we`re going to have two more years of similar kind of situation. MADDOW: You`re not being a wet blanket, but you`re being damp in this case. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: But let me follow up on that idea of rifle-shot legislation, about very narrowly targeted stuff. That doesn`t take on any of our big problems, but does pry off some of the stuff that we can get people to agree on. On the very big issue of the Bush tax cuts, President Obama wants those expiring tax rates broken into two parts: extend the Bush tax rates for income under a quarter million dollars and then hold a separate debate, break it off, in terms of what happens on income higher than that. Could that happen? STANTON: It actually could. You know, there`s been an interesting thing going on within the Republican Party in the House the last couple days, particularly the last week since the election. You know, there are a lot of members that are now saying, you know, we may be open to this, especially if you get a high above $1 million. We might be willing to accept that, which is definitely a change. There were members of the Republican Party willing to do that a few years ago, they sort of became less so after 2010 with the Tea Party election. They are now starting to come back towards that. The big problem there, though, was going to be John Boehner. He has been very explicit about his position on this. He says we`re not going to raise tax rates. We can increase revenues by getting rid of some of the loopholes and deduction and things like that, but he doesn`t want to see that, because that is very much an explicit tax increase, whereas these other things are sort of tax increases. But you can fudge in how you talk about it and how you score it and that kind of thing. So it could, if enough pressure comes on leadership and if they feel like they get a majority, the Republicans, to go for it -- they might be able to pull that off. MADDOW: I think the key there is the faster that it happens, the more likely it is to happen and the longer it drags on, the less likely it gets. But we shall see. John Stanton, Washington bureau chief at "BuzzFeed" -- John, thanks very much for being with us. Appreciate it. STANTON: Sure. MADDOW: All right. Best new thing in the world, flat earth edition in a good way, is straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CPL. AARON MANKIN, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET): I was a combat correspondent for the Marine Corps, a camera in one hand and a rifle in the other. And a storyteller`s worst nightmare is becoming the story. So, there I was, one fateful day in May when an improvised explosive device tore through a 26-ton vehicle filled with Marines, ammunition, throwing us 10 feet into the air. Six men to my right, some fathers, all sons, gave their lives. How I didn`t make seven God only knows. And I believed that it is for this purpose, so that I may share with you the things that I have witnessed so that you will know the things that you demand of us and we gladly provide. I get to share these stories with you, things that all of us should know. I`m blessed. There are things in my life now, blessings I can count that may have never existed. I can connect with fellow warriors in ways that others can`t because I understand what it means to transition home, how difficult it can be. But in all respects, my transition has been easy, because you see my scars. I wear my uniform everywhere I go. But there are those among us in our community, in our families who have scars that are never seen. And I hurt for them, as you should. It`s not easy. And that`s the burden we carry for our country. I didn`t do -- I almost cuss, that was close -- a darn thing. You see, the Marine Corps is a Department of the Navy, so I can cuss like a sailor. But I`m a Marine, I`m better than that. So -- (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) I didn`t do a darn thing in the military alone. Not once did I stand by myself. I can`t see a greater national travesty. Is it any worse -- ask yourself -- any worse to leave a wounded man in battle than to have him return home and struggle alone? (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Retired Marine Corporal Aaron Mankin speaking this week at a dinner for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. As we are still trying to figure out, often struggling to figure out, how to do right by the veterans who have been fighting our big, drawn out, hot wars for 11 years now -- barely noticed in Washington this week was the confirmation for the general who would take over the war that is still raging in Afghanistan. Even less noticed this week was the start of negotiations in Kabul for how long we are going to be staying after we`re supposedly ending that war at the end of 2014. Those negotiations started yesterday. Yesterday on this show, the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi told me in an exclusive interview, first one since she`s staying on as the top Democrat in Congress, she told me she would like to see the end of 2014 timeline for Afghanistan moved up. She said that she would like to see us draw down faster. Do you ever watch Chris Matthews` weekend show? He does "HARDBALL" during the week, but on Sundays, Chris does "THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW" on NBC. And on that show, he asks his guests for a prediction for the week ahead. And here, courtesy of Chris and his producers, is a reason you should go out of your way to watch this weekend`s "CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW" on NBC. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back, Dan. Tell me something I didn`t know. DAN RATHER, AXS TV: I got a call this week from a Republican congressman seeking to call attention to his efforts to move up the timeline for the removal of our troops from Afghanistan. Now, this may indicate that there`s more bipartisan support for that line of thinking than most people may realize. We`ve had bipartisanship on issue by issue, even in recent times, but not on the broad, general thing. But what this tells me and what people think about, that with this in mind, there may be things about which Congress can reach some bipartisanship issue by issue as we go along. MATTHEWS: Yes, I think a true conservative view can be, we can only do so much, a true conservative understands limit. How long can we stay in that country? RATHER: Exactly. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Beltway common wisdom is that nobody can be bothered to care about the war we`re still in. I think that Beltway common wisdom is getting old and worn out right now. At the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America dinner this week, which was their big fundraiser for the year, from which we played that clip at the top of the show, IAVA`s main honoree for that dinner was supposed to be General Davis Petraeus. For obvious reasons, that did not happen. General Petraeus resigned on Friday because of his sex scandal. But, you know, if one 1/10th of his attention to his career and its end carries over into attention the war he last led, that could be enough. His sex scandal has affected the career path now for the man who is now the commanding general for the war in Afghanistan. This week was the confirmation for the commander of the war in Afghanistan. This week, the negotiations started for how long we should stay in Afghanistan and under what circumstances. This week, the main Capitol Hill proponent for staying in Afghanistan forever humiliated himself in misplaced conspiratorial grandstanding and got called out for it on live television by a very confident president who just walloped the next guy from the Republican Party who has went up against him after he trounced poor, old Senator John McCain who is having a bad time of it right now. This week, the president and the two sides on Capitol Hill sat down to talk with some urgency about our fiscal future and finding some places where maybe the spending isn`t absolutely necessary or maybe isn`t justified. At a time when we have 68,000 Americans in Afghanistan at the cost of $1 million per soldier per year for two more years? At least? Everybody is saying it is impossible that the politics can change the course of the war there. That people just don`t care. I think that people care. I think that Democrats and Republicans, even some of them in Congress care. I think this is a door that will open if anyone pushes on it in Washington. And now might be the time. Or at least now might be the time to find that out. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today. When you are an American diplomat stationed abroad, one of the biggest events in your diplomatic life is, of course, a visit from the president of the United States. The nation of Thailand is about to get its very first visit ever from a president this weekend, President Obama. So the American embassy in Bangkok is understandably very excited right now. But they`re also a little disappointed and they`re having a hard time disguising it. They`re disappointed because President Obama will be visiting Thailand but he will not be staying very long. It`s three countries in less than three days. He`s not staying long anywhere. But because they can`t schedule a whole bunch of official stops for the president to go see all of Thailand`s most famous sites, the U.S. embassy in Thailand came up with another idea. We call it President faux Obama. A cardboard cut out, life size, of President Obama, which the embassy has photographed in front of what appears to be a famous Siamese temple near some lovely serpents. They have done 10 of these photos in all. Flat President Obama posed at famous Thai landmarks. And even though we initially thought they toted cardboard Obama around the country to do this, the State Department tells that actually these are theme park replicas of major landmarks across Thailand. So it`s faux Obama visiting faux Thailand, which is perfect. The American embassy in Bangkok on their Facebook page takes a heartwarmingly aggressive approach to courting goodwill from the locals. In addition to the cardboard president at the famous sites of Thailand feature, they have lots of pictures of dogs, which they use to explain dog- related American idioms that might not make sense in translation. So this one is accompanied by an explanation of the phrase, "dog-eared". This one explains what "dog tired" means, although that dog doesn`t look very tired. This one explains what "sick as a dog" means. So we wish the fine folks at the U.S. embassy in Bangkok congratulations on their presidential visit and their effort to leverage this visit into maximum online visual effects with a cardboard replica of the president. That is the best new diplomatic thing in the world today. Have a great weekend. Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END