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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  December 23, 2012 9:00am-11:00am PST

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hello, everyone. it is high noon in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west, welcome to "weekends with alex witt." here are some of the first five stories trending at this hour. new prospects of cliff diving into the new year. trying to get back to normal for sandy hook students. the nra won't back down on its gun stance. the royal couple missing christmas with the queen. santa tracker gets competition. details on all those stories throughout the hour. but first -- new today, after refusing to let anyone ask him
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anything during a public statement friday, the ceo of nra is facing challenging questions today. this is from "meet the press." >> there is no new gun regulation -- >> this is what would work. >> if every -- >> i'm asking you a direct question. is there any new gun regulation you'd be willing to support? >> i'm giving you the answer. >> you're saying you should prosecute more criminals. >> i'm asking you if there's a new gun regulation after the debates of the '90s and so forth today, could we make the assault weapons ban better, any more effective? >> you want one more law on top of 20,000 laws. most of the federal gun laws we don't even adhere to. >> the other big story in washington, nine days until the fiscal cliff and no deal in sight with the president and congress home for the holidays, today key senators from both sides weigh in on the prospects of ayn greem before new year's. >> you know, if you look at the final positions last monday of both the president and speaker boehner, they were this close. they were this close to a
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solution. >> if he were to say and the president were to say we're going to pass a bill, with a majority of democrats and majority of republicans in the house and senate, we could get a mainstream bill. >> if you want leaders, you have to lead. the president's been a pathetic fiscal leader. he's produced three budgets and can't get one vote for any of them. boehner will be tip o'neill, obama needs to be reagan. i would vote for revenues including tax rate hikes, even though i don't like them, to stave country from becoming greece. >> today, despite the president being in hawaii, the fiscal cliff is still on the agenda. kristen welker is with the president in honolulu. good day to you, kristen. what are you hearing there? >> reporter: alex, good morning to you. white house officials say this is very much a working vacation, no word if president obama has actually spoke on the congressional leaders at this point. i can tell you that conversations are going on at the staff level. but the reality is that the hard work, the final touches probably
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won't be put on these bills or this bill, rather, that they're hoping to get until lawmakers, the president, return to washington. and of course that won't happen until after the christmas holiday. this has a lot of people worried, alex, because as you say there's not a lot of time left to get a deal done. president obama, house speaker john boehner, were very close to getting a deal. president obama had given a little on entitlement reform, house speaker john boehner had given a lit until terms of agreeing to increase taxes. but they just couldn't get to the finish line. ultimately, everything sort of fell apart. i've been speaking to aides at the white house who say president obama doesn't feel as though he needs to give in a whole lot more because he won the election and he ran on a platform of increasing taxes on those making $250,000 or more. chuck schumer addressed this issue earlier today. take a listen. >> on taxes, i know it's hard for the republicans, but the president ran on that platform, $250,000. no tax increases to people below but taxes for people above. he won 60% of the voters said
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they were for it in the exit polls including some republicans. >> reporter: so again there is senator chuck schumer. so certainly still big topic of conversation despite the fact that everyone is now on recess. alex, yesterday we spoke to some folks who said this is really weighing on them as they enter the holiday season, as they do their christmas shopping, the uncertainty in washington kind of passing a cloud over their holiday. as for president obama, this is a working vacation, but he's clearly also relaxing quite a bit as well. he played a game of golf yesterday, went to dinner with the first lady and some friends. today, alex, partisan bickering will be put aside when many members of congress, the president, and the first lady attend a memorial service for the late senator daniel inoue held here. >> thank you so much. joining me now, national political reporter for politico david cant niece and associate editor for "roll call," david drucker.
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good to see you both. >> good morning. >> hey, alex. >> we heard on "meet the press" lindsey graham, the senator, call the president, a, quote, pathetic fiscal leader but said he would vote for tax hikes to save the u.s. from becoming greece. is that anything new? >> not really. i mean, lindsey graham has been at the forefront of many of the republican battles, some of them which he won, the susan rice battle. the important thing to remember is senator graham is up for re-election in 2014, expects a primary challenge for the right. so every time and minute he can spend on national television looking tough against the president is smart. politically for him. the interesting thing to see is whether the fiscal cliff debate will move towards the senate now. we've seen speaker boehner and the president at the center of this for weeks. doesn't look like they can come together. can mitch mcconnell or anyone on the republican sidestep forward
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in these last nine days remains to be seen. >> david drucker, to you. we had senator chuck schumer saying we were this close to getting a deal done. how close is "this close" now? and what did that entail? >> well, you know, i think it depends on what you think is "this close." from what we can tell, it looked as though speaker boehner and president obama were getting towards a formula of spending cuts and entitlement reform in exchange for tax increases in terms of rates going up on some level of higher income earners, and there's evidence that the president was willing to move from his $250,000 position to somewhere up around $400,000. of course the speaker was always looking to cap it at a million. but clearly they didn't feel they were getting somewhere, which is why the speaker was then running his plan b, which ultimately failed. look, i think that there is a deal that could get enough republican votes in a majority of republican votes in the house to raise income tax rates on
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higher earners. but in order to get republicans to take that risk and politically for them it is a huge risk, especially for house members, you need to see enough locked in, guaranteed spending cuts and entitlement reform to make it worth their while and to make it worth their risk if you look at this from their point of view. and if and until they see that, you're not going to see a broad deal that's going to include income tax rates on higher earners that go up, notwithstanding president's position. >> yeah. here's some insight behi behind-the-scenes stuff here, david catanese. new article in "the wall street journal," how does this look, the fiscal cliff talks with the president and speaker boehner. "the president repeatedly reminded mr. boehner of the election results -- you're asking me to accept mitt romney's tax plan. why would i do that? at another point, the speaker noted his gop majority would also return next year." that doesn't exactly sound like the basis for a deal.
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your interpretation? >> no, but this is why the president is not moving. but i completely agree with david when he says that the president, in order for these republicans to step out on the ledge -- remember, it's not only tea party republicans. it's been framed, but there are republicans in the house that have been there for 20 years who are against raising taxes. this is the republican dogma. it's been in place for 30-some years since the reagan era. they're against any tax hikes on anyone in any circumstance. so to really bring those republicans over that could stomach it, they need to see real concrete cuts on that side and also some entitlement reform, because that's where the spending has to really change in order to deal with the deficit. but remember, the president has his pressure points, too. you have members on the left in the house, progressives that believe, you know, medicare should not be touched, social security should not be touched. so the president -- you know, and he's got to deal with that
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part of his base who came out and made him a two-term president. >> so, david drucker, then, do you think the gop, that they want to go over the fiscal cliff because then when they come back in january and there's any talk about changing things up, it's going to be to reduce the taxes? they can go on record, well, we reduced taxes. is there any reason for the president and congress to come back to work in washington the day after christmas? >> you know, well, they have to try or they have to at least show that they're trying. i think that both democrats and republicans in congress agree on at least one thing, and that's that a bad deal is better than no deal. of course both sides have different versions of what a bad deal would mean. some republicans think let's go over the cliff because the president is going to get all the blame. i don't think most republicans believe that, but a lot of the conservatives believe that. and there are liberals, democrats who believe let's go over the cliff because the republicans will get all the blame, then we'll have more leverage to get the kind of deal we want. i think in the short term republicans will get the blame, and it's only if we end up in a
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double-dip recession months down the line that people will start to look at the president and blame him. i think in the immediate there's a lot of motivation to try and get something done, but politically, you have to understand it this way, alex -- as much political trouble as the republicans are in right now nationally, they'd be in worse trouble if they took the deal the president wanted just to avoid going over the cliff because they'd have so many internal problems within their party, it would put them -- they'd still be at risk with the public at large, that the public is not going to change their opinion, then they'd have internal problems. >> okay. david cantonese, david drucker, thanks so much. appreciate it. in our next hour, my guest will be kay bailey hutchison. we'll talk about the fiscal cliff with her and the comments tuld by wayne lapierre as well as her last days in the senate. it is coming up at 1:30 eastern. now we check on the weather misery index. it is on the rise apparently in parts of this country because right now there's a system dumping more snow and rain out west, and then it's going to
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move across the country. who's going to see a mite whyte christmas? let's go to nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer with the forecast. hi. >> good afternoon. go figure, the places we'll see the snow, oklahoma and arkansas. arkansas hasn't seen a white christmas since 1926. where is that storm right now? well, it's affecting the west coast. that's where we're seeing more heavy rain, more heavy snow, another 1 to 2 feet snow possible in the mountains out that way. that's going to slowly spread eastward and then dive down towards texas and into oklahoma and arkansas. so it is still several days away. but it will get there in time to give about an inch or so to areas across arkansas for christmas. so that will be nice for the kids waking up christmas morning. we're also looking at some lake-effect snow coming in off lake ontario, although it is much lighter than it was yesterday. the cold is sittinging up into the dakotas. minneapolis at 14 degrees right now, noog too warm across the northern half of the country. the warm is down in southeastern
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texas where today we'll top out in the 70s. 60s in orlando. the east coast is quiet today for anyone traveling, for anyone shopping, getting that last-minute shopping done. but the west coast is still dealing with the rain and the snow. and for christmas eve we're still looking for some of the snow out west especially from billings, montana, right into denver, and the east coast will be quiet for christmas eve but it does look like that storm will get closer by the time we go into next week. so it does look like we'll see snow in oklahoma and arkansas for christmas day, but then it turns into another big rainstorm for the east coast as we head into the middle of next week. alex? >> dylan, happy holidays. thank you. >> you, too. west coast headlines are next with one writer's experience buying a semiautomatic weapon at a gun show this weekend. also, lessons learned from 1968 and the law passed by president lbj. if you are one of the millions of men
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some headlines out of the west coast, the yakima herald republic in washington state has the front-page story on the fiscal cliff called "tax hikes may not hit paychecks right away." it's about how it's already too late for employers to accurately withhold income taxes from january paychecks. and the reno sunday gazette journal has an article entitled "first person: buying a weapon at the reno gun show." the writer chronicles how he went to a gun show and bought a semiautomatic rifle in less than 30 minutes for under $600. the background check took 15 minutes. one gun seller told the reporter
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rifles similar to the one used in newtown were expected to double in price in the next 90 days. i just finished reading that article. pretty unbelievable. a democratic president at a time of political upheaval passes a major gun-control act in the wake of several shooting tragedies. that may sound like president obama's plan for the next term, but it actually happened 44 years ago. >> today we begin to disarm the criminals and the careless and the insane. and all of our people who are deeply concerned in this country about law and order should hail this day. and in our democracy, crime control is a community problem, and we would not have it any other way, for the other way would be the police state and all of its tragic consequences. >> joining me now is the director of the lbj presidential library. mark, welcome. glad to have you. >> nice to be here.
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>> let's talk about president johnson and what led him to pass the gun control act. >> well, there were a number of tragic circumstances throughout the year 1968, among which were the assassinations of martin luther king and bobby kennedy. and he exploited those tragedies in order to get laws through that he wouldn't have been able to pass otherwise, including some gun-control legislation. >> and so what was included in that final piece of legislation? >> it regulated the interstate commerce of weapons, restricted the sale of weapons to convicted felons and to mentally ill. it didn't go as far as johnson wanted the bill to go. he wanted there to be licensing and registration for anyone purchasing a firearm. but he said that the law did more good than harm even if it didn't go as far as he wanted it to. >> and how did the country react to it? >> well, there was great support, including support from folks like charlton heston, who later became the president of the nra and was very opposed to anything relating to gun
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control. but at the time, he was very much in support of the legislation that went through and wrote president johnson a letter to that effect. >> it's kind of interesting when you think about 1968, because you could at that point mail order a gun, minors could buy the guns. there are some critics of the bill, legal scholars, as well as gun rights advocates, that say that it was actually motivated by racist fears, that this bill was meant to keep african-americans from purchasing guns. what's your take on that? >> well, i don't think there's any proof to that end. if you look at the way the bill was written, it was really about keeping guns away from convicted felons and those who are mentally handicapped. it wasn't meant to keep guns away from anyone of a particular race. in fact -- sorry. >> no. you go ahead. >> i was going to say lbj was a master at figuring out how to
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get legislation through. one of the things he did again with the assassination of robert kennedy was find a way to get gun control through that wouldn't have been able to pass otherwise. he did the same thing with the assassination of john f. kennedy by using it to pass the civil rights act of 1964 and used the assassination of martin luther king to pass the civil rights act of 1968 better known as the fair housing act. >> so it seems like today, if you're looking at the assassination of bobby kennedy as being a tipping point for lbj, it seems like we have something similar on an emotional level here in the u.s. with regard to newtown and what's happened there. so if president obama wanted to take a lesson from 1968, what do you think he could learn from how lbj got the votes for the bill? >> well, again, lbj used the emotional tipping point, as you suggested, alex, to get this through. one of the things he did very effectively is he worked with
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great speed, with great swiftness in order to get things done. before the mood of the country turned to something else. it's interesting. if you look at 1968, mrs. johnson, lady bird johnson, wrote in her diary, there are so many people across this country who are asking what is happening to us. president johnson felt that as well, and that's when he moved on gun control. and i think, again, that if president obama wanted to use this moment he must do so i think with great swiftness. >> can i just ask you about the lbj library, which i understand opened yesterday, reopened after a big old renovation? what do you guys have there? >> well, we have a $10 million redesign of our core exhibit on president johnson. one of the wonderful things about the exhibit is we use the telephone recordings that were done throughout the course of president johnson's administration to help tell the story of this very consequential and important president. >> well, i think that's great. i also understand you have historians doris kerns good win and mark besh losh, michael
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beschlo beschloss, who are good friends of this show. we love to come and hear them. good to speak with you, mark updegrove. >> thanks for having me. number five of our first five web stories, competing for tracking santa claus on christmas eve. since 1955, norad has been following santa and his reindeer, but google earth is also tracking him. so you have a choice now. google or norad. which is using bing maps this year. we're not sure what maps santa uses. maybe we'll find out one of these days. we put a week's worth of bad odors in a home. some aerosols may just mix with them. can febreze really remove them? we asked real people what they thought. take a deep breath for me. describe the smell. it's very pleasant. fresh. some kind of flower maybe? remove the blindfold... awww, oh yuck! i didn't smell any of that! febreze air effects doesn't mix,
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call 1-888-xarelto or visit for more information including cost support options, try running four.ning a restaurant is hard, fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores. rewards we put right back into our business. this is the only thing we've ever wanted to do and ink helps us do it. make your mark with ink from chase. you're not alone today. in fact, there are millions of you shopping, that is. one popular pick today, gift certificates. shoppers will be buying a record $29 billion in gift cards this year. nbc's michelle franzen may be
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picking up one herself. she's in the manhattan mall here in midtown, new york city. how busy has it been today there? >> you know, it's building. it is building as the -- every hour goes on, everything gets a little more crowded. the stores are full, but so are people's hands with bags when they walk out of here. today of course is a day where people are coming in, they have that list, they need to get things done nap's because time is running out. not your typical sunday stroll at the mall today nap's because many are getting an early start because they got a late start to the shopping season. with just two days left to go before christmas, the mad dash is on for holiday shoppers. >> got three boys and wife to finish shopping for, and nine in-laws coming. so it's going to be tense, you know, last couple of days, i'm sure. >> reporter: a mysterious mix of shoppers wrapping up or done. >> i'm not a last-minute shopper at all. i probably have been ready since before thanksgiving. >> reporter: and others -- >> i haven't started yet.
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>>. >> reporter: -- who are just beginning. >> i'm very last minute. my wife does all the shopping. >> reporter: procrastinators are in good company. a poll released this week by "consumer reports" found 132 million people hadn't finished their holiday shopping. 26 million had yet to start. 17 million said they planned to be shopping on christmas eve. uncertainty over the fiscal cliff is affecting how much consumers are spending. still, retail analysts say holiday sales are on track to rise 4.1% to $586 billion, the most optimistic forecast since the recession. now, a lot of those products, the most popular topping the list this year, alex, all the apple products, of course clothing, toys, luxury items on the list. finding them may be a little bit difficult, but certainly stores say they're still refreshing that inventory even now. >> okay. michelle franzen, enjoy. happy shopping. i know you're doing some out there. no worries. >> reporter: oh, no, no.
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>> yeah. online shopping leads our list of number ones. last week cybershoppers spent more than $7 billion, the most ever shelled out in one week. investors in us airways say it's been a very good year. cnn money named us airways the stock of the year. that share price is up 165% year to date. you may have heard the price of milk could soon double. that's if congress does not agree on extending current dairy subsidies. that could have the biggest impact on farmers in california. did you know the golden state is the top dairy producing state? it provides more than 21% of the nation's dairy. meanwhile, the so-called dairy state of wisconsin is second, producing 13%, new york state provides about half that to rank third. talking pig skin now, texas tops forb"forbes" magazine's lif the most valuable football programs. michigan is second. notre dame third worth just over $100 million. and the legendary material
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girl wins "billboard" magazine's mvp award. madonna also tops this year's concert money-makers list with ticket sales of almost $230 million. that's a quick look at today's number ones on "weekends with alex witt." i always wait until the last minute.
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can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh...
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whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery. plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." headlines at the half, newtown, connecticut, is finding itself overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and gifts from around the world in the wake of the school shooting rampage. a social worker says some 60,000 teddy bears have been donated. in upstate new york, homeowners are cleaning up from the mess from fallen trees from the high winds on friday. one landed on the roof of a house. it required a crane, a bucket truck, and other heavy equipment to get it fixed in time for christmas. and a group of about 100 people at denver international
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airport wanted to say thanks to the troop who is protect your country so, they went to the airport and passed out stockings full of candy, gifts, and held up signs. pretty nice. to politics now, and new today senate republican policy chairman john barroso and kent conrad went head to head over who's actually working for a solution. >> are we going over the cliff? >> i believe we are and i believe the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes. he senses a victory at the bott bottom. >> we have nine days left here. when are we going to get serious about actual solutions? i would welcome john to tell me. he says he wants a solution. give us one. give us one, john. >> joining me now is former democratic congressman and budget committee member martin frost and former republican congressman and oversight and government reform committee chairman tom davis. hello, gentlemen. nice to have you back. >> good morning. >> representative frost, we heard senator barroso there. does president obama want to go
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over the cliff? >> no, i don't believe that at all, alex. i've talked to people at a high level of the white house. they are concerned the effect this could have on the stock market, on our economy generally as well as the world markets. they don't want to go over the cliff. they've made a reasonable offer. they've moved to $400,000 as a cutoff, let everybody under that amount have their tax cuts. i feel sorry for speaker boehner who couldn't deliver his own party. if he'd been able to do that, at least somebody would have headed over to the senate and there could have been action. senate has to originate something. up to mitch mcconnell and harry reid to figure out something, send it back to the republicans in the house and hope enough will join democrat and vote for it. >> given the reasons for which mr. boehner was unable to deliver his own caucus in the house, do you think anybody could? >> i don't know that anybody -- tom would be a better authority on that as having been in the republican leadership. but they had the majority.
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the speaker actually had a reasonable proposition from a republican stand point of a million-dollar cutoff. let everybody under a million dollars have a tax cut. i don't know why he couldn't deliver it, quite frankly. >> why do you think, representative, that he couldn't deliver the republican caucus? >> a number of members upwards of 50 said they wouldn't vote for a tax increase without accompanying decreases in revenue. they did not like the deal. over 95% of these caucus members come from districts that romney carried. most come with over 55% of the vote nape ear not threatened, but they feel that a bad deal is worse than no deal. >> so that means that they are deciding for political reasons about -- >> no. i think they have philosophical reasons that feel that putting taxes on small businesses at this point is bad for the country and bad for the economy. nobody wants to go over the cliff. the problem is the leaders haven't been able to craft something the other side will
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accept to avert it. >> so this group, you suggest they think going over the fiscal cliff is a better solution out there? >> well, i think the president's made that calculation, too, that a bad deal, because they haven't been able to come up and compromise enough to do it. both sides still have to move substantially. i don't think anybody purposely wants to go off, martin, but you're not going to take a bad deal. i think from the republican perspective without the accompanying spending cuts this was just not going to fly. >> tom is my friend, alex, but saying that a million dollars is not enough to protect small business really doesn't make a lot of sense, quite frankly. a million dollars was a pretty good deal from a republican standpoint. and i don't know why boehner couldn't deliver on that. >> because you didn't really have spending cuts. this wasn't real. this was basically plan b. the senate and the president weren't going to accept it. if this were the deal everybody agreed to and it was final, it might have been a different vote. but it was clear this was for show so you're voting for a tax increase basically for show. i think members didn't want to go in that direction.
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i think if this were the real deal it might have been different. >> do you think -- go ahead. >> it might have made a lot of sense for the republicans to pass this and toss it back over to the senate. i don't know why they couldn't do that. i thought y'all would have been in better shape passing something like this. >> we'll find out. i'm not sure how it plays in. >> do you think, given the tenure of thing, the nature of what's going on, do you think there's any reason for folks to come back on the 26th of december and try to work for something? will something get done or not? to both of you. >> you've got an ag bill hanging out there of dairy price supports -- >> we were just talking about that. >> you have alternative minimum tax that is going to hit people making as low as $40,000 a year with increased taxes. you have a dock fix on medicare that can jeopardize doctors. there are lot of things still hanging out there besides this. plus you've got the sequestering that's going to hit very, very hard a lot of contractors and services provided to people. so there's a lot of reasons to
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come back and get whatever you can get back and punt the rest and maybe get something with a new congress in january where they have a little breathing room. >> but, alex, they better be back here trying because if they don't bother to come back i think the public will be just fiably even more thangry than they are right now. they have to come back to town. if they can't get anything done so, be it. but they shouldn't be out on the slopes skiing or doing something else while this is going on. >> may i ask each of you the chances of getting something done, what you both think? representative davis, you first. give me a 1 in 10 chance. >> it depends what you mean. they're not going to get a big deal that will solve anything. whatever they do will probably add to the deficit. i think you have 50/50 of getting something done before the end of the year, but it won't be substantive. it will kick the major problems over until the next congress. >> you're saying they're kicking the can. >> yep. >> alex, i'm the eternal optimist, but i think the odds have dropped to 40%. >> 40%. okay. gentlemen, thank you very much. good to talk with you both.
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happy holidays. see you on the other side of the holidays. >> we've been asking all of you on twitter today how worried are you about the country going over the fiscal cliff. here are some tweets. not at all. thanks to the aoc, administrative office of the courts, california went over it last year. we remain broken and in a bloody heap in the sand. terry bradbury says i'm extremely worrieworried. the people are being held hostage over political egos who refuse to compromise. and it's time for the gop to realize the far-reaching effects of the bush years, going over the fiscal cliff is mild in comparison. and i'm not worried. i'm used to rising costs of everything. so sad. thanks for all your messages. follow me@alexwit to stay on top of the conversation. office politics is next with john meacham on president obama's legacy. plus why some thought the timing of thomas jefferson's death was a sign of divine benevolence.
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taking a look at wall street, a short week of trading due to christmas. and pending home sales for november. after surprisingly strong sales on thanksgiving, look for some mcdonald's restaurants to be open on christmas for the fist time ever. the company wants franchise owners to open their doors to boost december sales figures. my conversation with john meacham, best-selling author of "thomas jefferson: the art of power." we'll show you some of the great photographs in his office and discuss the role of religion in president everzone's life and death. but first president obama's legacy. >> i think as long as the language is spoke en in the corner of the globe, as churchill said, people will be
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writing about barack obama because of the historic achievement in a country as we've been talking about built on slavery, drif within racism. for a man named barack hussein obama to become president at, what was he 46 at the time, a remarkable achievement. and so that part of the story is done in a way. and the question for him now, which is totally fascinating, of course, is, okay, you're part of history. but what's the second paragraph? and right now the second paragraph is preventing great depression after financial crisis. that's not the kind of second paragraph presidents who live in history have. it's got to be more positive than that. it's got to be more active. >> health care? >> it depends. you know, i mean, if -- it's usually important, obviously, if
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it ultimately leads to a sustainable system where everyone has access to health care and it's seen as moral right, then, yes, he will be seen as the architect of that. >> thomas jefferson seemed to have changing opinions on god. both he, though, and john adams died on july 4th, 50 years to the day of the declaration of independence. >> well, it is coincidence, but john quincy adams, who was president at the time, thought it was a sign of divine benevolence, that somehow the fathers would be gathered up, the apotheosis of adams and jefferson on the 50th anniversary in 1826. and it is a little -- i mean, if you wrote that in a novel, you know, you'd kick it back and say a little too -- they're guilding the lily unquestionably. but i think it was also the beginning of our first moment of kind of founder chic that, you know, they died -- i think at
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that point there was only one remaining signer alive. there were very few. and so the fact that they were gone was a kind of mythological almost benediction to what they worked so hard for. and i think -- i wonder sometimes whether john adams would ultimately be pleased that he had to share the headline or think, you know, dammit, jefferson did it again, you know, he stepped on my story. bush 41, who is giving his wife rabbit ears. >> what is that? >> it was the rededication of the ford library. >> doing this. >> he's just loose. he's just loose and crazy. that picture also hangs in the dining room at kennebunkport. so the bushes are good sports about it. my favorite thing about it is you can tell carter is trying to figure out, you know, if i tried to do that, she'd kill me.
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>> barbara bush does have a great sense of humor. >> yes, she does. i don't cross mrs. bush as a rule. i think it's best not to. but -- and then reagan and gorbachev at geneva in '85, which was the beginning of the end of the cold war. another critical moment, actually. that's reagan in '76 in kansas city coming out -- if you look closely at the picture, you can see the whole history of the republican party in the modern era. bob dole, gerald ford, nelson rockefeller, and reagan has just lost the nomination, ford has just given his acceptance speech, and then made a critical mistake. i admire president ford enormously. but he gave reagan the last word. he summoned reagan down in kansas city, and reagan got up and stole the show. >> thinking he was being gracious, though, president ford. >> he was being gracious. >> absolutely. >> and president reagan -- dpof nor reagan probably knew exactly
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what he was doing. but what i love about it is that's the moment where it's clear that the transfer of power from moderate republicans to conservative republicans was happening. and that's what's fun about political photography, is sometimes you can capture the seemingly ineffable. >> next weekend, my interview with nbc's lester holt, a man who wears many hats here in the nbc news family. now to number four on our first five web stories. william and kate, the duke and duchess breaking with tradition. normally the entire royal family gathers at the queen's country estate, but this year because of kate's pregnancy, the royal couple will be celebrating with the middletons in her hometown. [ loud party sounds ] hi, i'm ensure clear... clear, huh? i'm not juice or fancy water. i've got nine grams of protein.
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now number two of the top
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trending stories. a new school is being prepared for the students that survived the shootings at sandy hook elementary school. after the holidays they'll go to school in monroe and parents, teachers, and administrators in both towns are making sure the school is as similar as possible to the one they left behind and will have the very same desks they used in sandy hook. schools and parents across the country are debating ways to keep classrooms safer in the wake of the shooting. in an exclusive interview today, nra ceo wayne lapierre sparred with "meet the press's" david gregory over putting armed guards at all schools. >> here's a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets. now, isn't it possible that if we gt got rid of these, if we replaced them and said you could only have a magazine that carries five or ten bullets, isn't it just possible that we could reduce the carnage in a situation like newtown? >> i don't believe that's going to make one difference. there are so many different ways to evade that even if you had
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that. you had that for ten years when dianne feinstein passed that ban in '94. it was on the books. columbine occurred right in the middle of it. it didn't make any difference. i know this town wants to argue about gun control. i don't think it's what will work. >> adam lanza may not have been able to shoot as many people if he didn't have such ammunition? >> i don't buy that argument. >> it's not possible? >> so many different ways he could have done it. endless amount of ways a monster can do it. >> joining me now is one mom who is taking on the nra, shannon watts, founder of one million moms for gun control. a big welcome to you. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> i know you've studied this issue in depth. so i knew you were listening there to wayne lapierre. what's your reaction to what he just said? >> well, i think a commonsense question is why are we asking someone who profits from the proliferation of guns and ammunition to give us advice on how we can be better protected
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from guns? it's just not common sense. it's a little bit like the fox guarding the henhouse. as mom, my job is to guard my family. and i think we need to get rid of the dialogue that is so polarized when we're talking about banning guns or giving everyone a gun. we've got to have some commonsense solutions and i really think moms are going to help bring that to the table. >> in terms of giving everyone a gun, there are lawmakers in at least ten state who is said they will consider laws allowing teachers and administrators to carry firearms. certainly that raises a lot of issues. i mean, how do you know what weapons the bad guy will have? where a what about the students becoming the victim of some horrible accident? >> i think that's right. you know, i think the question is where does it stop. the answer is not to give everyone a gun and to have to send our kids to school in bulletproof backpacks. it's a ridiculous solution that is only about profit for gun manufacturers and ammunition companies. we really have to bring back to
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the center this discussion where it's not polarized and where we can say we need to reinstate the assault weapons ban, we need to close gun show loopholes, we need to limit the amount of ammunition that one person can buy, and we need to talk about boundaries on concealed weapon laws across the country in different states. we don't need to bring weapons into churches and schools. >> well, in fact, on the heels of what mr. lapierre was saying, sandy hook appears to have done everything right on that day of the shooting. do you think one armed guard could have stopped a determined man who was wearing a bulletproof vest, bulletproof gear, and carrying an assault rifle? >> you know, at the end of the day, the facts yesterday at this so-called press conference weren't accurate. there were armed guards at columbine. and data has shown that that is not the way to prevent violence. the real commonsense solution to this is to put in place some gun
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laws, gun-control laws that we can work on right now when congress reconvenes on january 3rd and that we can stop this argument from being so polarized and not do anything. we didn't do anything after tuck. we didn't do anything after gabby giffords. and we didn't do anything after aurora. we can't sit by this time and just let inaction happen again. we are going to do something, and moms are going to drive this action. >> "nbc nightly news" did profile a school, shannon, in herald, texas. it is so small, it is so remote, it cannot afford a security guard. instead, teachers are being encouraged to carry concealed handguns. do you think there are any cases where arming teachers would be effective? >> no. again, you know, this is not the congress congo. we do not need to live in a militarized zone. we are commonsense people in a democracy, and the answer is not more guns. at some point we have to come to the middle and say what makes
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sense? we were able to do that with smoking. we were able to do that with drunk driving law laws. much like mothers against drunk driving brought solutions to the table in the 1980s, one million moms for gun control is going do the same on this issue. >> you've launched your campaign on facebook. it has turned into a nationwide movement of moms. how can you keep the momentum going for gun control? >> we have to. we've had thousands of members join in just seven days. we have more than 50 chapters across the country. they all want to do something. this has really touched a nerve. again, it's not about banning guns but it's certainly not about giving everyone a gun. and we are not going to stand by again and do nothing. otherwise we're all culpable. i ask everyone to please come join us at one million moms for gun control dot-org. be a member and help us make real change. >> shannon watts, i'm the mother of two kids. i will be joining your organization as soon as i get off the set. thank you very much. >> thank you. the end of an era and then some for "newsweek" magazine. this holiday, share everything.
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good day. welcome to all of you. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." the nra refused to take questions during a media statement last week, but today the ceo of the nra is responding to critics on "meet the press" after calling for armed police officers to be posted at every school in the u.s. >> there have been gass where armed guards have not prevented this kind of massacre and carna carnage. you would concede that point, wouldn't you? >> i would say if i'm a mom or dad dropping my child off at school i'd feel a whole lot safer with these great men and women on police forces -- >> you have to concede it may not work. >> nothing is perfect, david. >> joining me now andy sullivan and contributing editor for "newsweek" and the daily beast, eleanor clift. welcome to both of you. >> thank you.
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>> eleanor, you saw that exchange with the nra ceo wayne lapierre not conceding anything. how tough is this going to be for president obama to get gun-control legislation passed in congress and will that happen? >> it's going to be tough but it can happen. you know, it took ten years between the attempt on president reagan's life in 1980, more than ten years, for the brady bill to be passed and of course james brady was grievously injured in that shooting. so congress works very slowly. the opponents are strong. and the nra is apparently going to fight this till the bitter end. but they have lost a number of strong constituents, some of the democratic senators with "a" ratings have decided that they are willing to talk about a ban on assault weapons and perhaps some other measures. i think they can get through the
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senate. the house is the larger stumbling block. the chairman says he's not interested in any gun-control measures. i think they'll look to water down the bill with other measures about mental health, and all of that is welcome. but sometimes when you then are looking for federal funding and you broaden the bill to the point where it can sink of its own weight. so i think that may be one of the tactics of opposition. but i think for the president this should be a question of legacy for him. i think he needs to inject urgency. he needs to get personally involved. i think we'll hear about it. certainly he said we will in the state of the union. so i think a lot of this is up to the president as to how much pressure he can put on this congress. >> andy, you wouldn't imagine that in the wake of sandy hook it would be too tough to convince congress to act. i want to add i spoke with the director of the presidential library for lbj who said back in 1968 lbj acted very quickly on the emotional tipping point that happened with the death of bobby
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kennedy on the heels of martin luther king jr.'s assassination. do you think there are parallels to be drawn? what do you think? do you think congress are will say that's it, we're parents, sons, we're daughter, all of that first and we're going to act? >> no. i think 1968 was a generation ago. it was a very different political environment. i mean, as we saw last week, house republicans are not really inclined to compromise on their core principles, which are keeping taxes low and the second amendment. so i think eleanor's right. the only way you can maybe get something passed is to pair it with, you know, other options that they would agree to. they'd say, okay, we're going to get more, you know, mental health resources to prevent this from happening again. and okay maybe we'll agree to some limits on guns. you know, related to that, i would point out that the nra's latest proposal would cost $7 billion according to my back of the envelope calculations. >> you mean to put police officers in every school? >> yeah. you've got 100,000 public
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schools. right now you have about a third of them that have armed security guards of one kind or another. so that means you've got two-thirds, 70,000, costs about $100,000 to pay a salary and benefits for a police officer so, that comes out to $7 billion. to put that in perspective, the fbi's annual budget is $8 billion. now, i don't know where you get that money. do you raise local property taxes? do you fire 70,000 teachers? do you ask congress to kick in that money? then we're adding to the deficit. >> all right, guys. speaking of deficit, we'll turn to the fiscal cliff in just a moment. stand by. i want to bring in nbc's kristen welker with the president in honolulu. hello to you in paradise. president obama, is he as focused on the fiscal cliff today as everyone back here and on my remote live shots are? >> reporter: well, here's the answer, alex. today partisan bickering is going to be put aside, at least temporarily, with president obama and a number of members of congress and the first lady attending a memorial service that will be held for the late
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senator daniel inoue. that is set to get under way in about two hours. but behind the scenes i am told by white house officials that this is still very much a working vacation for president obama. i'm also told that conversations continue to go on at the staff level between staffers at the white house and on the hill. but of course the hard work probably won't get done until lawmakers return to washington. that is expected to happen after the christmas holiday. now, this was, of course, a big topic of conversation on all of the morning shows. here's what senator lindsey graham had to say on "meet the press" earlier. take a listen. >> to my republican colleagues, the ronald reagan model is if you get 80% of what you want, that's a pretty good day. we had the same objective of lowering taxes. i like simpson bowles, eliminate taxes, lower the rates, put money on the debt. >> senator graham calling for compromise there. an interesting factoid, alex. the last time members of congress worked between christmas and the new year's was
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1996, and that was of course during the government shutdown. it gives you a sense of just how rare and unique this situation is. of course there is a lot of pressure on congress, on the president to get something done, because if the country does go over the fiscal cliff, a lot of economists have warned that it could send the economy back into recession. but more immediately, we've been talking to americans who are out doing their christmas shopping, and they say the uncertainty in washington is really weighing over them as well as they do their christmas shopping. they don't know what it's going to mean for their taxes in the coming year. so really a lot of people hoping that they can get something done but not a lot of time left to do it. alex? >> okay. thank you very much, kristen. we'll talk with you again. appreciate that. let's bring back in andy sullivan and eleanor clift. andy, according to senator graham, they are voting to prevent a tax hike on 99% of americans is not a tax increase. is he the only republican who believes that? >> well, i think a lot of these other guys might be willing to go along with something if they get something in return. and if they're just being asked
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to effectively raise taxes on some americans without spending cults in return, they're not going to go for that. and you haven't seen the democrats willing to really talk about spending cults that need to be part of any broad deal at this point. you've seen a real fierce push from interest groups on the left saying don't touch benefits, don't touch social security. so they're not willing to give anything up at this point. i think they're a long ways off from anything comp hence frif that. >> eleanor, a new article in "the wall street journal" with an inside look at the fiscal cliff, talks between the president and speaker boehner. at one point, according to notes taken by a participant, mr. boehner told the president, i put $800 billion in tax lev new on the table. what do i get for that? you get nothing, the president said. i get that for free. the president won the election. doesn't he have a point there? >> i actually think he does, but apparently his tone is really infuriating to republicans. and you have to realize that we are -- we're witnessing the implosion of the republican
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party. they're getting cornered into being the party of millionaires and assault weapons. they're not responding to the broad public. they're responding to interest groups, the nra and its allies, and grover norquist and his pledge. and they haven't figured out how to move away from that. and the failure of the so-called fiscal b plan last week demonstrates that speaker boehner really can't produce a plan that will pass with a majority of republicans. and unless he's willing to allow democrats to play in the house -- and the house is a virtual dictatorship. if he doesn't want to bring up a bill, it stays stalled. so now the focus is shifting to the senate and we'll see if mitch mcconnell and harry reid, two back-room kind of legislators, can cobble something together. i think there's still hope. >> yeah. andy, by eleanor's description there, with the republican party imploding there, particularly relevant to the house, how can
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something ever get done? >> well, i mean, i think the best we can hope for at this point is a kick the can down the road type solution where you avoid the immediate disaster on january 1st and then maybe the dynamics change a little bit after the new year. january 3rd is when speaker boehner is up for re-election in the house to be house speaker. so maybe he'll be more willing to work with democrats once he's got that secured. but, you know, i think they're talking about a fundamental shift in a core principal and that's not going to happen overnight. it takes time for people to come to terms with that if they do at all. >> eleanor, i have to ask you about a major moment in the history of "newsweek." it's the last print issue this week. what are your thoughts now that we're no longer going to see a printed edition of your magazine? >> well, we're trying to describe it as an exciting new era where "newsweek" goes all digital, but people aren't really buying that. i think it's a sad moment. i think "newsweek" was one of
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the iconic publications of the last 80 years. and i think those of us who have worked at the magazine and loved the magazine really find it very disheartening that we can't support that any longer as a business proposition. i think "newsweek's" not going -- not the first magazine for this to happen to and it won't be the last. you know, we are just in a world where delivering a print product is too expensive. and i try to look at the positive side. we'll save a lot of trees. and so i'm a good environmentalist. so i think that's the one positive thing i can take away from it. and "newsweek" will continue digitally and in a new format. "newsweek" global. hats off to tina brown. she's willing to try something new, and we all hope it will succeed. >> that's tina for you. for what it's worth, another good thing, "newsweek" daily beast is one of my favorite news
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websites. excellent one. >> thank you. >> we read you there, as well, and will continue to do so. andy sullivan, eleanor lift, thank you so much. >> thank you. "consumer reports" said this week 132 million of us are not done shopping. oh, yeah. that cease so me. 26 million have not started. 17 million say they will shop on christmas eve. nbc's michelle franzen is at the manhattan mall in midtown manhattan. we checked in last hour. any pickup in the traffic since we saw you last? you went shopping. >> reporter: definitely a pick nextel cup the traffic and i had a few of my own last-minute purchases to get to but i'm wrapping it up. i'm in good company here at the manhattan mall in new york city, exactly where the crowds are building at this hour. also all around the country. as you mentioned, 17 million people will still be shopping between now and christmas eve. that's a pretty good chunk if you think about it. on average they're expected to spend around $750.
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we've talked to some shoppers along the way. some of they will said that the fiscal cliff is sort of on their minds. but they're taking it in stride today. a lot of people have a very relaxed atmosphere to be in. but tomorrow could be a different story. of course that really last-minute rush and crush, mad dash to pick up those gifts on that christmas eve. many of the stores are trying to accommodate those last-minute shoppers, those procrastinators we're talking about, including, you know, just the last-minute few people like myself that's just wrapping up a few gifts or the people that are just getting started. macy's, toys 'r' us, and a couple other stores are staying open around the clock between now and christmas eve. so, alex, there's plenty of time. most of the people we talked to are in good spirits still. could turn ugly later, though. >> i'm just frightened. i should have e-mailed you my list. oh, well. michelle franzen, thank you so much. straight ahead, a grave new
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report on north korea's potential to strike the u.s. mainland with a missile. how big a threat? general wesley clark joins me next. copd makes it hard to breathe, but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now i can be in the scene. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator working together to help improve your lung function all day. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms and should not be used more than twice a day. people with copd taking advair may have a higher chance of pneumonia. advair may increase your risk of osteoporosis
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with the nomination of john kerry as secretary of state, the changing of the guard at america's chief diplomatic post is under way. but the new year will bring a host of problems including iran, which today claims it has successfully sir come vented sanctions on the sale of its oil. iran's oil minister said the country had faced some difficulties over the summer but that is no longer an issue.
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joining me now, general wesley clark, the former commander of nato. welcome. we're glad to have you here. we'll get your take on john kerry in just a moment. but the anxiouses against iran there. what we might expect in terms of any military action. would that be at all possible in the coming year? >> i don't think you could take it off the table. the president said all options are on the table. there are efforts under way to discuss these things. the israelis publicly say time's running out. the intelligence community is always giving a prediction of when they're going to have it. so the military option has never been off the table, and my friends in washington say a lot of works going on down there. >> do you think iran is the biggest threat to our national security? are there other volatile hotspots around the globe? >> in terms of foreign policy, we have to get our economy going. that's the number-one thing we need for the united states of america. got to deal successfully with china as they grow. got to deal with the terrorists, and we've got to manage the
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circumstances in the middle east. so people in washington and the foreign affairs business are going to be very, very busy. iran, syria, israel, the palestinians, a new constitution in egypt, and all around the periphery of the middle east there are still terrorist elements. and there's a problem in north africa with terrorists. >> and i was also going to add to the conversation north korea. >> that's right. >> you heard the news today, they say they have a missile that could potentially reach the united states. of course it could be weaponized. what's your reaction to that? >> well, we've known this was coming for a long time and we have a missile defense program, a rudimentary program, but it's been in place, put it in place several years ago, and it's designed specifically to handle this. actually we're ahead on that. but they've been relentless bad boys. no matter how difficult their domestic situation is, they've always seemed to find the resources to military power and threatening neighbors and friends and trying to shift technology abroad. it's a rogue regime. it's difficult to deal with.
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and it adds a complicating factor into the dynamic equation in asia between china and japan and the south china sea and the united states. >> let's switch gears now and talk about senator kerry, who will likely be secretary of state coming up. and with regard to the israeli/palestinian situation, do you think he might have an approach that could come and get something palpable done over there? >> i think that's really a presidential call. when you're dealing with israeli/palestinian issue, it's the president of the united states who's going to make that call. and really in all foreign policy it is the president's prerogative. i think what you're going to see in senator kerry is a very, very effective secretary of state who's a great member of the team. he brings a lot of experience. he brings a lot of passion, a lot of personal knowledge, and background to these issues. so i think he'll be very, very helpful as an adviser to the president. i think he'll be a great spokesman for united states in his missions abroad and a great mediator in those particular
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issues. but he is a member of the president's team and the president's in charge. >> based on what you know about this president, they couple him up with secretary to be kerry. would we see a two-state solution any time within this presidential term? >> i think that the united states would stick like to see a two-state solution. you know, it's a very difficult balancing act to get everything right. i think the priority in the region right now is to make sure that the serious situation is manageable or being managed. i think secretary kerry, future secretary kerry, will have a lot to say about that. i think all of us want to see jordan remain as a real beacon of hope and opportunity in the region. we want to see the emergence of a democracy, not a dictatorship in an authoritarian state in egypt. so there's a lot of challenges around there. and in the middle of that, we've got to recognize that we've got
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to work with the palestinians. so there are still tunnels into gaza. i'm sure that the iranians have tried to rearm hezbollah and hamas, and so this is a dynamic, difficult region. unlike simpler times, i hate to say they were simpler back in the 1990s, but they were, the middle east is always difficult. but with the arrival of the arab spring and the change in those states and the loss of our traditional authoritarian friends and allies in some of them, in the region, it's made it even more challenging for us. >> outgoing secretary of state hillary clinton, who says that she's leaving, she wants to just rest, spend time with family and relax a bit, because she's been on quite the treadmill, is she resting up for a run in 2016? >> well, she's the only one who can make that decision. but i will tell you this, and i have known the clintons for a long time. i don't think there's anyone
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who's ever been as well prepared or better suited by temperament to be president of the united states than secretary clinton. if you think of her entire life, and she's a little bit younger than me, and she's had some great experiences. she was the first lady of arkansas, so she knows state and local politics. and she was a lawyer in a top-flight firm in arkansas, so she knows business law. and she knows the problems of business. first lady in the white house for eight years so she's seen all the domestic and foreign policy stuff from the inside. and then senator and she knows electoral politics, and she knows the country. and secretary of state, she traveled a lot as first lady but as secretary of state she had responsibilities, she delivered some tough missions, and she stood her ground. i think she's incredibly well prepared, and i think we'd be really, really lucky if she decides that she's going to continue public service. >> do you think there's anything about benghazi that would at all taint her? >> no, i don't. not a thing.
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no. i mean the benghazi thing, it was a mistake, a terrible thing. we don't have actually the whole story out because the other half of the story is what the cia was doing at the annex. and that part hasn't actually been released. this was an internal look at the state department. and as any good group of people do, look tough at yourself first before you look at the interconnections with the other agencies. someone else has to look at those interconnections because this panel is a panel that secretary clinton actually appointed, former joint chiefs of staff mike mullen, tom pickering, other people like this were on this panel. they looked intensively at the department. and of course you find things wrong when you look at that, and -- but the state department has been under tremendous budgetary pressure for years. and now the challenge -- and one challenge that secretary kerry is going to have is how do you measure the effectiveness of diplomacy versus the risk to
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your personal knell? you can't run diplomacy like drone attacks. you have to be there. you have to take the temperature. you have to see people. we went through a whole rebuilding program in american embassies in the 1990s after the embassies in tanzania and kenya were struck by osama bin laden in 1998. >> that's right. >> these embassies are really incredibly -- they're virtually impregnable now, but diplomats have to be out with the people and not just the ambassador but his staff. so this is going to be a continuing challenge. we've got to appreciate the fact that our diplomats under risk when they sign up, they've got to do it and we've got to be willing to let them take the risk they need to do their job. >> nice of you to stop by on your birthday, sir. >> thank you. near denver, there's a holiday twinkle shining brightly but not after too much longer. after 50 years of turning his home into a christmas light spectacular, the home owner has decided to end the tradition.
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>> 50 years i think is long enough for anybody. but, you know, all good things come to an end. >> well, he says he's ending the tradition because it takes so much work, what with some 150,000 bulbs, but it has been labor of love all this time. it's also been a fund-raiser for years and a top attraction for countless children. a really good run. customer erin swenson bought from us online today.
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so, i'm happy. sales go up... i'm happy. it went out today... i'm happy. what if she's not home? (together) she won't be happy. use ups! she can get a text alert, reroute... even reschedule her package. it's ups my choice. are you happy? i'm happy. i'm happy. i'm happy. i'm happy. i'm happy. happy. happy. happy. happy. (together) happy. i love logistics. tech watch now on "weekends with alex witt." facebook's poke is the number-one app at apple's store. it shot to the top after being released on friday. it knocks the new google map to second. the nra is pushing back following criticism of its public statement friday. today on "meet the press" the ceo defended his call for armed police officers in every u.s. school. >> i have people all over the
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country calling me saying, wayne, i went to bed safer last night because i have a firearm. don't let the media try to make this a gun issue. >> that's an argument, not fact. >> it is fact. >> a feeling is not fact. a feeling is a sense of reassurance. that's not evidence. >> joining me with her reaction to lapierre and her reaction to the fiscal cliff, senator kay bailey hutchison. nice to have you back. >> thank you, alex. >> what is your response to wayne lapierre? >> response to which thing? that he -- >> well, to what he's saying about putting an armed police officer in every school and basically never addressing the issue of assault weapons in that statement that he made on friday and his back and forth, the high capacity magazines, not addressing that issue at all. david came at him, if you saw that clip, elsewhere, but david had a magazine clip he showed him and said there could be 30 rounds out of this clip. wouldn't it be prudent to take the possibility of having that out there in society? i mean, you can replace for
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hundreds or anyone else a mag sooeb clip that holds five bullets. wouldn't do do anything to defuse the problem? >> well, i think that it's so important that we focus on the whole problem. and certainly i think we need to look at what people need to protect themselves in their homes and what they need to hunt. and then look at what is available and determine if it's too much or if we can come to some kind of reasonable conclusion about what an assault rifle can do or should be able to do for law-abiding citizens. i also think, though, alex, what we've got to talk about is the big picture. this is a much more violent society. it's a much more violent culture than when i was growing up, most certainly. and i think we have to look at the television, movies, we have to look at xbox 360 and wii. we have to look at certainly
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mental illness and the ability to determine if people are not quite right. so it's a lot. it's a lot. >> i agree with you there. there are a lot of issues relative to this issue in society from many different facets. but when we talk act what is reasonable, look at what's reasonable relative just to guns, what do you see as being reasonable? >> well, i think that we have to really talk to the whole population, not just people who are anti-gun but people who are pro gun and say, okay, so what is a second amendment right to keep and bear arms in a reasonable context? we don't want people with ak-ak-4 ak-47s, which we don't allow, but we don't want people with these big magazines if you can do a regular hunt in a sporting way with fewer. and i think that that is part of
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the equation. but i think a big part of the equation is also what do we do about our culture of having kids look at violence and kind of start thinking, well, maybe that's a norm? well, it's not a norm and we don't ever want it to be a norm. >> so i know that you won't be there on capitol hill, but your colleague, senator dianne feinstein of california, saying that she's going to put forward an assault weapons ban and everything to do with that once she returns from the holiday break in january. would you support that ban? >> we certainly have an automatic ban now. it's the semiautomatics that i think that she's talking about and which everyone should talk about. and i think we need to really have a lot of input on this before we make decisions about what is the mix. i don't think doing something just on guns and not on the
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violence that's in our culture and what we can do about it and mental illness is enough and it wouldn't be addressing the issues that we're really facing. >> let's talk about the fiscal cliff now as the negotiations stand right now. will the country go over the cliff? >> i don't think so, alex. i do think that it is time for the president to be hands on with congress. i think it's time for congress to say, okay, we can't get our way in 100% degrees. we can't do it. so where can we come to an agreement that does not make people get higher taxes at the end of this year, especially in the small business category and, you know, two college professors would be hit with a $250,000 level for another tax increase, and small business certainly would. so i think we need to not go off
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this fiscal cliff almost at all costs. >> but you talk about being hands on in terms of the president. i mean, how much more hands on can you be with face to face talks? he's been having those with house speaker john boehner. >> very few. very few. you know, i think he needs to sit down with john boehner, with other leaders in congress. i think he needs to be hands on, really constant, because his surrogates and then the speaker have not been able to come to terms, but i think the president -- this is going to be a blight on congress and the presidency. if we can't agree that there is too much debt, there is too much -- well, too much tax on most people, and we need to come to terms with how we can face the debt, cut spending, make sure that entitlements stay solid for 75 years, which will take some adjustments, and i
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think everybody realizes that who's looking at the real world, and go forward with a balanced plan. and if the president had stayed in town longer after the election, i think we would have been farther down the road. it's not to blame just the president. it's also to blame congress. but, you know, the senate hasn't even had a vote yet and it's time for us to step up to the plate with our leaders and see if we can pass something out of the senate with a bipartisan vote that would show to the house and to the president that we can come to an agreement on a bipartisan basis if it's all one-sided like the house vote was, that is not going to sell in the other house of congress because we have a different majority. so we've got to come together here. all three well two branchs of government.
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through diet and exercise, alli can help you lose one more by blocking some of the fat you eat. let's fight fat with alli. ♪ let's go to the world's busiest arab. gabe gutierrez is in atlanta for us. aren't most people gone for their holiday destinations or is it travel time today too? >> reporter: hey, alex pap lot of people are leaving right now. traffic is moving pretty well. the only reported delay or major delay throughout the country at airplanes right now is in san francisco because of some weather moving there. otherwise throughout the countritis looking pretty good. it's been pretty painless at major airports throughout the weekend. that is despite some high winds yesterday in the northeast which caused minor headaches over there. drivers across the country have been dealing with snow and ice
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in some parts of the country. but after thursday and friday, miserable weather there. prompted more than 1,600 cancellations throughout the country. this weekend has been a welcome relief for many of these travelers. what we'll need to watch is over the week ahead there will be a storm right now in the west coast and moving east. that will cause many disruptions across the country for many travelers and it's something they'll be watching. again right now, things are looking pretty good at the airport. back to you, alex. >> i'm sure that's music to many people's ears. thank you very much, gabe gutierrez. straight ahead, the big three on the fiscal fight. does house speaker boehner have any more negotiating room with the president? a restaurant is , try running four. fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores. rewards we put right back into our business. this is the only thing we've ever wanted to do
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share "not even close." share "you owe me..." share "just right." the share everything plan. shareable data across 10 devices with unlimited talk and text. hurry in for a droid razr m by motorola for $49.99. it's time for the big three and tonight's topic, cliff note, cliff diving and this week's must reads. erin mcpike, msnbc contributor and former bush-cheney senior adviser robert tranum and former national press secretary of the dcc, debra fornell.
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glad to have you here. >> good to be here. >> ladies first, erin. where do we stand with congress and the president away from washington for christmas holiday? is there any chance for a deal or is it just wishful thinking? >> well, it seems to be wishful thinking, but they do say that after christmas congress is going to come back and try to hammer things out, that somehow some kind of deal will get ironed out in the senate. any deal that gets done in the senate still has to pass the house and that looks very difficult. you know, before of course it can get to the president's desk it seems like we're closer than ever to going over the cliff and having some sort of patchwork deal be done after that, after the new year. >> okay. robber, "the wall street journal" has a new article dealing the negotiations between the president and speaker boehner. here's the quote. "mr. boehner said he wanted a deal along the lines of what the two men had negotiated in the summer of 2011 in a fight over raising the debt ceiling. you missed your opportunity on that, the president told him. do republicans have any
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bargaining chips? >> very little bargaining chips. there's no question about it that speaker boehner has come out of these negotiation talk, alex, very weakened, painly because he is the speaker and he is the leader of the republican party, but he doesn't have -- it doesn't appear he has a loot of followers behind him, especially from a very small, let me underscore that, a very, very small minority in the republican party that are holding the majority of the republicans hostage here. at the end of the day, the speaker is relevant here but no question that the they have the upper hand right now. >> the president says he's coming back to washington after christmas. he's out in hawaii but will try to hammer out a deal before new year's. what are those negotiations going to be like? do you think he's going to put more on the table in hopes of reaching some sort of compromise? >> he's already put a lot on the table. i mean, he's already signed into law a trillion dollars in cuts as part of the budget control act. five days ago when i they lot of people thought there would be a
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deal he reduced the amount of revenue he was looking for, he took extending the payroll tax holiday off the table. he went a little bit further in the republican direction on spending cuts. so the president is bending. he is compromising. you're seeing on the other side, though, an unwillingness to take yes for an answer. and i think that, you know, hopefully, you know, these members go home for five, six, seven days and maybe they start hearing from their constituents, business leaders may start chiming in and pushing republicans to make an agreement such as fix the debt. you know, maybe you have editorials that come into play. so that's what you have to hope for, because i think the president has made it clear all along that he's looking and eager for an agreement. >> doug, do you think republicans want to go over the fiscal cliff because then technically they won't have to vote to raise taxes, they won't have a record there? they'd only have a record on voting to cut taxes? don't worry, robert. i'll let you get in on this one, too. doug, what do you think?
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>> i don't know. i think the republicans are kind of going through their five stages of grief after the election. right now they're in denial and i think boehner is a little farther along. he's in the bargaining position. i think they're also looking at the next six to eight, ten months. robert and erin know this. i think there's some concern over potentially facing primary opponents. you had club for growth out there. i don't know if they necessarily want to. i think it makes their position harder. i think the president has more leverage if we go over the cliff. there are more senate democrats next year and more house democrats. i'm not sure what leverage they gain. >> you can't tell me some republicans don't mind if we go over the cliff, at least for a few days so they can say they never had to vote to raise taxes, right? doug's talking about these primary challenges for some in the gop, so you could point that way. >> well, sure. but let's put this in perspective. speaker baner was only 20 votes short in terms of this, quote,
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unquote, plan b option, which suggests to me that a majority or slim majority, if you will, of the republicans in the house, actually weren't comfortable with speaker boehner's plan. i take a little issue with your question because i just don't believe that republicans overall want the country to go over the fiscal cliff because obviously that's painful for not just republicans but for all americans out there. i just don't think that's a narrow-minded view out there that most republicans subscribe to. however, as i said before, there is a small minority group of republicans, maybe tea party folks, that from a philosophical standpoint cannot stomach a tax hike regardless of income level. i'm of the school of thought when i grew up in high school compromise was not a bad thing. when you're a national legislator, you have to bend over backwards and give up something, and sometimes that is a small principle thing you have to do for the best interests of the country. >> but erin, by robert's description, do you think speaker boehner's job is in trouble? what's the buzz on that? >> there has been some buzz on
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that, yes. i know that he is worried about his conference and the votes that he can get, but if we step back for a second and take a larger view of it, yes, it may be that republicans get more of the blame if we go over the cliff. but really it's going to be a bigger problem for washington at large, that they cannot compromise, can't get anything done, and so, sure, president obama can say this is really the republicans' fault because they couldn't come up with the votes. but this is going to look bad for the rest of the country going into all the legislative battles that we'll have next year. if they can't -- if we go over the cliff now and can't reach a compromise, it will be bad for everyone. >> must reads and our holiday greetings are next. [ loud party sounds ] hi, i'm ensure clear... clear, huh? i'm not juice or fancy water. i've got nine grams of protein. that's three times more than me!
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we are back to the big three for this week's must-reads. erin, what is your must-read. >> great story in "politico" about jerry brown who is in his
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second go around as california governor. >> that sounds interesting. robert, what is your must-read. >> all about speaker boehner and how lonely it is at the top and he has a lot of growing pains and seems to be weathering it pretty well internally. >> i would think that is an article written a few times. how about you, doug? >> there was a piece in the post on friday by john cohen and erin blake that looked at polling that showed republicans have a policy and message problem and not messenger problem. until they take a look at their policies they will have a hard time dealing with the next couple of years. >> sounds good. thank you for the reads and the chat. i appreciate that. have a good one. happy holidays. >> same to you. >> and happy holidays to all of you out there. that is a wrap of this sunday edition of "weekends with alex witt." up next "meet the press."
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before we go holiday greetings from everyone on my team. >> i want to wish happy holidays to my friends around the country and my family. to my aunt and uncle ed and shirley hecker in ohio who watch us every weekend thank you for watching and happy holidays. happy holidays. shout out georgia. love you. i just want to say happy holidays to my family back home in alabama especially my mom and my brother, michael, who just graduated college. i'm very proud of him. happy halloween! i mean happy holidays. merry christmas to my parents and sister and grandparen
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grandparents. merry christmas and happy holidays. merry christmas to mom and dad and my lovely boyfriend. merry christmas to my beautiful children. merry christmas to my boyfriend, my lovely dog and my family. merry christmas to my family and my kids. merry christmas everyone. i would like to say happy holidays to everyone including mom and dad. thanks for watching. happy holidays. to my lovely ladies at home who allow me to spend every weekend with alex witt and to all the viewers, happy holidays. happy holidays. happy holidays. >> happy holidays. >> i want to wish everyone at home a happy new year. i will see you at home real
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soon. >> happy holidays, everybody. >> merry christmas to my mom, my sister. >> merry christmas. can't wait to go home to indianapolis and see my family. >> i want to say merry christmas and happy holidays to everyone across america and the world. >> happy holidays to everyone at msnbc and to my son, a.j. i love you so much. >> to all the people i know happy holidays. yeah. hey sis, it's so great to see you. you, too! oh, cloudy glasses. you didn't have to come over! actually, honey, i think i did... oh? you did? whoa, ladies, easy. hi. cascade kitchen counselor. we can help avoid this with cascade complete pacs.
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