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updated 1/19/2011 12:33:28 PM ET 2011-01-19T17:33:28

Guests: Howard Fineman, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Chellie Pingree, Rep. Debbie Wasserman

Schultz, Dr. Peter Rhee, Dr. Michael Lemole, Brian Levin, David Corn, Judson Phillips, Melinda Hennenberger

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The trouble in Tucson.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington, with this special edition of HARDBALL.  This country has a history of political violence.  Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley shot and killed in office, Teddy Roosevelt shot in the chest in 1912 while campaigning for the presidency, Franklin Roosevelt shot at a month before his inauguration.  The bullet killed the mayor of Chicago.

In 1950, assassins carried out a plot to kill Harry Truman, killing one of the president‘s bodyguards, Jack Kennedy killed by an assassin, Gerald Ford shot at twice in separate assassination attempts, Ronald Reagan nearly killed by an assassin, saved only by the quick thinking of a Secret Service agent who gets him to the hospital in three minutes.  Huey Long, George Lincoln Rockwell, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Allard Lowenstein, Malcolm X all killed by gunmen.

We‘ve grown up with this stuff, knowing this stuff.  We‘re not like other countries, not in Europe, not in Africa, not in Asia, not in South America, not in Canada or in Mexico.  It‘s only here that political assassination has worked its way into the history books and won‘t get out.

Given this, why would anyone bring a gun to a political event in this country?  Why would anyone want to?  Why would any political leader think it‘s just fine to do so?  For one reason, I can only suppose, to say that guns can be a solution to a political difference.

What does it mean when a possible presidential candidate paints targets, crosshairs over members of Congress she disagrees with, or when a Senate candidate says she supports “2nd Amendment remedies” to political differences with the Congress?  How can a person who has any sense of our country‘s history talk like that?

John Wilkes Booth didn‘t like which way the Civil War went.  Lee Harvey Oswald was infatuated politically with Fidel Castro and didn‘t like what Kennedy had said about him.  Sirhan Sirhan didn‘t like Bobby Kennedy‘s strong support for Israel.  Assassins often have recognized political motives, left and right, to go out and kill a politician.  They don‘t like what a leader says, they go kill them.

The matter here is what you believe about gun violence and politics.  Do we think guns are a proper reference point in political debate?  If not, why are guns even mentioned in our political discussions?  Why are they carried to political events?  Is there any other interpretation than this, that some people believe guns, the threat of using them, are a political solution to this country‘s debate?

Can we, out of this horror in Arizona, simply agree on this one thing?  Don‘t bring guns to political events.  Don‘t talk about guns in a political argument.  Let‘s stop it right here.  Gun violence against politicians is not a metaphor.  It‘s not about the Old West.  It‘s not cowboy talk.  It‘s not about the Founding Fathers and the British army.  When you talk about using guns or threatening to use them against policies or politicians you don‘t like, it‘s for real.  When you bring a gun to a political event, you are the problem.  And leaders who refuse to say just this are themselves part of the problem.

Let‘s begin with three members of Congress who are all close friends with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords—U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona.  He represents another part of Tucson.  Also with us, U.S.  Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine.

Thank you all for joining us.  I want to start with my friend, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and talk about this development tonight, and that is that Michael Bennet, the senator from Colorado, has just had someone threaten his life.  That person has been arrested.  This goes on.  Your thoughts.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA:  Well, my thoughts, just to follow up on your introduction to the show or that—you‘re absolutely right, Chris.  We have to tone down the rhetoric.  We have to really look inside ourselves.  I think members of Congress need to lead by example.  And then, hopefully, by removing and checking ourselves on the violent rhetoric that far too many people sometimes use in the political arena, that we‘ll be able to lead by example and push the outside world, the shock jocks and the—and other political leaders, to take a page from our book.

It‘s absolutely critical because there‘s fragile people who are mentally unstable that, you know, we just don‘t know when they‘re going to take those—that language literally.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Grijalva, your thoughts about this, coming so close to where you live and your friend?

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA:  Yes, it‘s been devastating for all of us.  We‘re happy with some of the prognostics that‘s happening about Gabby, but generally, it‘s a level of shock.  That‘s all I can say.  And you know, this whole political discourse that we‘ve had for the last four or five years in this country, we‘re not—I‘m not saying that this has led to this, but there is a contributing factor that all of us in political life that use rhetoric that is incendiary, that creates demons out of other people—we need to be very careful and we need to tone that whole thing down.

MATTHEWS:  And Congresswoman Pingree from Maine.  Thank you for joining us, as well.

REP. CHELLIE PINGREE (D), MAINE:  Absolutely.  Well, our thoughts and prayers are with Gabby and the families of all the victims of this senseless crime.  And it was a deranged person, but the fact is, it gives us an opportunity to talk about political speech, to remember that words do matter, that as Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, people are influenced by these words.

And you know, honestly, it happens on the left and the right.  There was a left-wing blogger, when Debbie didn‘t vote for Nancy Pelosi, said, Gabby Giffords, you‘re dead.  In my state, there‘s a right-wing group that has a slogan on its Web site that said, If you‘re willing to fight for your country, are you willing to kill for your country?  We can‘t use language like this and expect that it won‘t have some effect on civil discourse, which is critical to our political system.

MATTHEWS:  Well, as you all remember, this is something the Nevada Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, said on the radio in an interview last year.  Let‘s listen to this because Congressman Clyburn, one of the leaders of the House, has had a comment on it himself.  Let‘s listen to the original comment that is so disturbing here.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SHARRON ANGLE (R-NV), SENATE CANDIDATE:  So our Founding Fathers, they put that 2nd Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government.  In fact, you know, Thomas Jefferson said it‘s good for a county to have a revolution every 20 years.  I hope that‘s not where we‘re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those 2nd Amendment remedies and saying, My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?  And I‘ll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you make of that, when somebody says that people are looking towards 2nd Amendment remedies when they don‘t like the direction Congress is going in?  Well today, late today, assistant Democratic leader of the House, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said that he believes that heated political rhetoric led to the shooting over the weekend.

In a reference to Sharron Angle‘s comments particularly, he told the “Post and Courier” newspaper what he thought happened with the shooter.  Quote, “He saw a 2nd Amendment remedy, and that‘s what occurred here.  And there is no way not to make that connection.”

Your thoughts on that, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz?

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think it‘s important to point out Gabby Giffords is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment and a supporter of the right to bear arms.  But there‘s no way that she would advocate, and I think she‘d clearly agree with all of us because she‘s been a leader in selecting language carefully, in setting a moderate tone, in trying to make sure that we can promote more civil discourse.  You know, Chris, you know, there are countless examples of Sharron Angle-like remarks.

You may remember, last year, you had me come on HARDBALL after an opponent of mine actually fired at a target at a Republican club event, at a gun range, with my initials on the target, on the head.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  I mean, so there‘s—those kinds of actions, words and statements can lead people who are unbalanced to potentially engage and carry out that violence.  It‘s out of line, and we‘ve got to dial it back.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s using gunplay in politics.  Let‘s look at—

Friday night, Congresswoman Giffords wrote an e-mail to her friend, Kentucky secretary of state Trey Grayson when he was named Harvard‘s director of the Institute of Politics up there.  In that e-mail, she wrote, quote—and this is from Friday night—“After you get settled, I would love to come talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation.  I‘m one of the only 12 Dems left in a GOP district, the only woman, and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down.”

I want to go back to Chellie Pingree on this.  Congresswoman, this question—I‘d like to narrow the discussion as much as possible because we‘ve watched over the past couple years something new in American politics, people carrying guns to political rallies.  Now, I‘m—you know, nobody‘s going to challenge the 2nd Amendment on this show.  It‘s part of our Constitution.  It‘s there.  But bringing guns into politics, talking about “2nd Amendment remedies,” putting targets over people and crosshairs over their districts and using guns not as a metaphor, but in some strange new way, using the threat of gunplay in politics.

It‘s new, it‘s scary and it‘s real.  It is not a metaphor when people talk about lock and loading, they‘re talking about, God, reloading, like Palin does.  They constantly talk about the use of guns as some kind of political solution.  And then, of course, this haywire solution develops.  Your thoughts.

PINGREE:  Well, you‘re absolutely right.  We have to tone down the rhetoric.  I come from Maine...

MATTHEWS:  Gun rhetoric about politics...

PINGREE:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  ... not, I don‘t like that guy, not, He‘s a bad man, or that kind of nonsense...

PINGREE:  Right.  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... but saying guns are a solution to what you don‘t like in politics.

PINGREE:  And I agree.  I come from a hunting state.  It‘s the state of Maine.  People enjoy owning firearms.  They like to go hunting.  That‘s one thing.  But to combine it with politics, to allow people to bring guns into events—you know, I got asked a question today by a newspaper, whether members of Congress should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.  Well, it‘s bizarre, A, if we were going to carry a concealed weapon, we ought to get a permit like everybody else.  But even the notion that we should now carry weapons, heighten the level of violence...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

PINGREE:  ... and somehow protect ourselves in that way, it just plays into this whole idea that disputes have been to be settled with a gun.

MATTHEWS:  I want Congressman Grijalva to listen to this debate.  It‘s me against a guy named Kostric on this show.  You‘ll hear both sides of it.  Here‘s a guy that brings guns to Tea Party rallies.  His name is William Kostric.  Last year, he brought a gun to a rally, and I kept asking him, Why would you bring a gun to a political event?  We just saw what happened with one of that over the weekend.  Why do you bring guns into political debates?  Let‘s listen to that debate because I think it‘s really hot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Why did you bring a gun to a meeting with the president of the United States, given the violent history of this country with regard to presidents and assassinations?  Why did you bring a gun to a public event with the president?

WILLIAM KOSTRIC, CARRIED GUN TO OBAMA TOWN HALL:  I do know history, and the history is that our forefathers fought for the right to keep and bear arms and they believed...

MATTHEWS:  I know all that.

KOSTRIC:  ... that every person should be armed.

MATTHEWS:  Everybody knows that.

KOSTRIC:  OK, well, then...

MATTHEWS:  But why did you bring a gun to a presidential event today?

KOSTRIC:  That‘s not even a relevant question.  The question is why don‘t people bear arms these days anymore?

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s ask...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Congressman Grijalva, this is the idiot conversation we‘re having right now in this country.  I don‘t know where in Europe or Africa or Asia they go to political events carrying guns.  I don‘t know—and Mexico.  I don‘t see their leaders getting knocked off every couple of years.  I don‘t see it in Canada.  This country has a particular historic problem with assassination of public officials, and I just wonder how we can countenance this in public life.

GRIJALVA:  Well, you know, in the state of Arizona right now, there‘s legislation that‘s going to be pending to allow students at universities and faculty to carry concealed weapons.  It‘s that crazy.  And so when you feed the environment of a tolerance and an impunity for guns, and particularly in a public event, dealing with people coming to deal with issues that are important to them, it‘s unbelievable and creates an atmosphere not only of fear.

Right after (ph) the aftermath of this tragedy, somebody posted—someone who is famous for their anti-immigrant and gun issues posted a comment, said it‘s too bad that it wasn‘t Grijalva.  And so you...

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re right to (INAUDIBLE)

GRIJALVA:  ... feed that ugliness.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for coming on.  take care of yourself, people.  And thank you so much for coming on.  I know you‘ve—you‘ve got a real friend in trouble here, a friend of the country, as well.  Thank you for coming on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... Mr. Grijalva and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as always.  And thank you, Chellie Pingree, for joining us, as well.

Coming up, we‘re going to get the very latest on her condition, Gabrielle Giffords‘s condition, from the two doctors who are treating her.  We couldn‘t get more important news than we‘re going to get in about a minute.

You‘re watching here on HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords has raised questions about security for all members of Congress when they‘re in their home districts, and at least two U.S. members of Congress have now said they will carry firearms when they meet with their own constituents.  Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz and North Carolina Democrat Heath Shuler say they‘re going to carry guns for their own personal protection.  Both hold conceal and carry permits, but they say they won‘t carry their weapons while here in Washington.  Congressman Chaffetz, by the way, joins us tomorrow on HARDBALL.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was whisked into neurosurgery 38 minutes after her arrival at the University Medical Center in Tucson.  She remains in critical condition, with her doctors cautiously optimistic about her survival.  She continues to respond to simple voice commands, and her brain shows no progression in swelling, which is very important news, I understand.

Well, joining me right now are two of her doctors, Dr. Michael Lemole, who‘s chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tucson, and Dr.  Peter Rhee‘s the medical director for the hospital‘s trauma and critical care.

Well, thank you, gentlemen, for your service to our country and to your patients, and also to the nurses out there at the center.  It‘s just amazing to watch good people do their jobs in crisis.

Which one of you wants to answer the question, just gave the general prognosis on the congresswoman right now?

DR. MICHAEL LEMOLE, UNIV. MEDICAL CENTER, CHIEF OF NEUROSURGERY:  I

think we can stick to what we‘ve been saying thus far, which is we‘re cautiously optimistic that she‘s going to continue to improve.  And right now, she‘s holding her own.  So no change is good.

MATTHEWS:  Dr. Rhee, in a case where you‘re shot in the brain, is there any really good prognosis?  I mean, is it possible to return back to your previous state?

DR. PETER RHEE, DIR., UMC TRAUMA CENTER:  Well, I think that it is rare.  And obviously, I think in most situations, it‘s not a good prognosis.  But if you‘re going to have a good prognosis, this is about as good as it‘s going to get.  So we‘re happy with where we are at this time.

MATTHEWS:  I keep thinking of the great Jim Brady, who took a bullet for President Reagan, obviously unintentionally, but took it, and his condition after that.  Is that something you can consider as a possible outcome here, Dr. Lemole?

LEMOLE:  I think that is a possible outcome.  Another example in the media is Jim Woodruff (ph), who made a phenomenal recovery after a severe head injury.  So I think the examples are out there for very functional recoveries and everything in between.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about—about the nature of the—your treatment.  How important was it that people—the medics got her to the hospital in just 38 minutes?

RHEE:  Well, they took around that time period.  The 38-minute time period is what it took from us—from the patient hitting the hospital‘s door to the operating room table.  But in trauma, in comparison to many other medical illnesses and conditions, the most essential thing is that the patient be transported to the trauma center as quickly as possible and minimal intervention be done in the field.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the gun quality, the caliber of the bullet.  How important is that in this situation, Dr. Lemole?

LEMOLE:  The caliber of the bullet is one of many factors.  With any kind of energy transfer from a bullet, it has to do with the speed of the bullet, the speed when it hits the skull, the weight of the bullet, the path it takes.  So there are so many factors there that for any one situation, maybe that‘s not the most important factor.  What we end up having to deal with is what we‘re faced when we see the patient.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re looking at a graph now, a diagram showing the bullet

passing through the left side of the far head on a diagonal—rather, it‘s

slicing it off a bit there, like a portion of the skull.  Is that portion -

can you live without that, Congressman—I mean, Mr. Rhee, Dr. Rhee? 

RHEE:  Well, actually, you can live without a lot of the part of the brain and the body can compensate. 

Without me looking at your diagram, I can‘t say for sure how important that portion is, but the brain is miraculous.  And Dr. Lemole, who is a neurosurgeon here, can comment a little bit more on it.  And he‘s the expert on that. 

LEMOLE:  So, we expect the brain to recover two ways. 

Number one, as swelling comes down, some of those nerves, some of those circuit that were offline come back.  And the other way that the brain recovers is that it has plasticity.  It has the ability to either relocate those functions to other parts of the brain or repair itself to some degree.  The older you are, the less you‘re able to do that, but, nonetheless, for a young adult, that is still possible to some degree. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Dr. Rhee, finally, what is the time frame here for knowing the prognosis fully? 

RHEE:  Well, in neurosurgery, they sometimes talk about the rule of twos, a couple of hours, a couple of days, a couple of weeks and so on like that.  So, we have gone past the two-day mark and things are still as we had hoped so far, so we‘re happy with our current situation for the congresswoman at this time. 

And I say, you know, that rule is still good.  In about two weeks, we will be able to tell a lot more about what is going to go on. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, gentlemen, again for your service to the country and, God, to your patients.  They‘re lucky to have you guys.  Thank you, Dr. Peter Rhee and Dr. Michael Lemole and to all the nurses out there at the center.  What a great job you folks do.

Up next:  Jared Lee Loughner has been charged with the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, among other charges.  There he is.  More of what we know about Loughner and what motivated him, if we can get that out of the history—when we return.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, a bad night here, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Alleged Tucson gunman Jared Loughner, age 22, made his first court appearance in Phoenix late today.  He‘s facing five federal charges, including murder and attempted assassination of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Was Loughner a disturbed individual or was he influenced by right-wing rhetoric or any kind of rhetoric? 

We‘re joined right now by “Mother Jones” bureau chief David Corn and Brian Levin, the director of the Center for Hate and Extremism at Cal State, San Bernardino.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on a bad night.  And it is a bad night.  I don‘t think there are any winners in this discussion, but there may be losers.  And the question here is, what drove this man?  Was there, beside his derangement, besides his psychotic condition, perhaps, were there any other factors, and that‘s what I think we have to figure out, in his motivation?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”:  Well, we at “Mother Jones” interviewed a close friend of his this weekend, a fellow named Bryce Tierney, who has been good friends with him since high school, knew him before that, hadn‘t heard much from him since last March. 

They used to hang out and as he says party together.  And he describes a man to us who was becoming in the past few years more and more disassociated from reality.  It‘s not a guy who sat around listening to cable news, even listening to right-wing talk radio.  Maybe he did, but this friend of his, Bryce Tierney, described him as being more concerned with semantics, with dreaming.  He was obsessed with the notion that he could and control his own dreams. 

And he started sleeping a lot and a lot. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What about his anger at the congresswoman about not answering his I would argue deranged question, which was, what is government if words have no meaning?  And she didn‘t give an answer to that because she probably didn‘t understand him.

CORN:  Yes.  He told Bryce about this.  It stands out.  It happened several years ago. 

But he said it made him enraged.  He thought that she was a phony.  Now, he believes that the government controls people through semantics and the use of words and grammar.  So, when he asked a question like this, it was very clear in his mind what he was getting at.  She probably thought he was a wacko, which of course he was to a degree.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he believes in this guy named David Wynn Miller, who believes that there‘s some sort of mathematical way you can decode the bad information you‘re getting from government, grammatical manipulation or some crazy thing.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  He talks in a lot of terms that David Wynn Miller, who is a welder from Milwaukee, who is liked in right-wing circles, has talked about and has put on his Web site. 

So, there was overlap there, but we don‘t know yet if he was influenced by this.  But he had a fierce passion against the government for being an authoritarian institution.  But there‘s yet no sign that he was a partisan or had ideological inclinations. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

I guess I want to talk to Brian Levin about—Brian, I want to make sure I‘m being—I really want to be careful tonight in these early couple weeks as we try to find out what is going on here in motivation and the combination of motivation with a person who‘s clearly disturbed, very seriously disturbed.

And I sometimes think that, if you are disturbed, you look for companionship, like, you look for places you can go.  Like, people go to churches who are deranged.  People go to train stations and bus stations.  They find their way to them.  You see them talking to nobody.  You see them at convenience stores. 

There are certain places that people go to feel comfortable when they‘re alienated.  And my question is, do they go to perhaps listening to right-wing crazy talk or left-wing crazy talk in different circumstances, or is that those things lead them to be crazy?  In other words, what are the factors, the causalities here, if you‘re trying to get to the trouble, Brian?

BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM AT

CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN BERNARDINO:  Well, you know, it‘s hard for someone who doesn‘t have a medical degree and doesn‘t know the guy to diagnose him.

But, as a behaviorist, let me just tell you s .  I think that the ideology is the gift wrapping on the pathology.  And what I mean is, is that this individual exhibits all the kinds of classic symptoms of someone who is undergoing severe paranoid, isolationist mental distress. 

And what you will often find in the fringe sections of various type of extreme communities, including on the left—Kaczynski, many people on the extreme left environmental movement regard as a hero, for instance. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LEVIN:  Nevertheless, what I‘m saying to you is I think ideology is merely the gift wrap on someone whose catapulting to violence really had its genesis in this pathology. 

Now, to some extent, may an ideology sculpt and amp somebody a little bit?  Yes.  But, in this case, this is a classic example of the psychologically dangerous extremist.  We have three types, ideologically motivated, psychologically dangerous, and somebody seeking personal benefit or revenge.

And there‘s usually a predominant one.  And this one appears here to

be the psychologically dangerous.  And what I would be loathe to do is to

put an ideological type of spin on it, because I think he‘s someone, had it

he was catapulting towards aggression anyway.  He might have been a school shooter if someone at school, he had found to be against him. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can you go and be as pointed as to say, no matter whether his party—his congressperson was a Democrat, a liberal, a conservative, instead of a moderate Democratic, as she was, or is, would you say that they would go equal-opportunity targeting?  Or is that too broad?  Or is there some reason to believe that he would go after a Democrat? 

LEVIN:  I think he would have gone after a Democrat or Republican who he had found was not being part of his belief system. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LEVIN:  You have an emotional component to this.  You have a belief system, but what I‘m saying to you is, it is the pathology first.

The ideology, whatever it may have been—and it was an amalgam—it was a weird amalgam of anti-authoritative ramblings—it was the pathology first.  And that‘s what catapulted him to aggression. 

That being said, the kind of discourse that is out there isn‘t helpful.  But, in this case, I think it is a bad rap to put his violence at the feet of those who are in the right-wing end of the spectrum. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LEVIN:  That being said, he did identify in many of his ramblings, these kind of fringe conspiratorial theories that are out there. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s what I want to get at.  And I want to get at David, and then I will be back to you.

It seems to me that everything—there‘s no reason not to discount everything that Brian said and makes—I have read everything today, like we all have this weekend, and it all fits.  It is a psychological problem.  The guy‘s a psychotic. 

But at some point, you decide between right and wrong.  And, at some point, you need that moral license.  And you go, OK, everybody says she‘s bad.  I‘m OK here.  You know what I‘m saying?  Everybody says she‘s bad.  It happened in the environment, all these kind of environments.  Once you get that final moral, OK, oh, they‘re bad, so my psychosis fits in with appropriate targeting here.

CORN:  I think that‘s true in some cases.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you what my problem tonight is.  And that is people who say it‘s OK to be bringing guns into politics, whether a person‘s psychologically damaged or they just are fanatics.  And there are a lot of fanatics out there.  A lot of our assassins, by the way, have been simple political fanatics.

CORN:  I think when you look at the violence that‘s happened against abortion doctors...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, that‘s fanaticism.

CORN:  That‘s fanaticism.  But I think you hit the nail on the head there.  These are people, some of them are driven, and then they find the morality to sort of enclose their pathology, so they feel they‘re doing the moral thing by committing these acts of murder.

I think, in the case of Jared Loughner now, we still are missing a few pieces.  It does seem that it was—the pathology, he was disassociating.  He was withdrawing from his friends, withdrawing from society.  He had a sort of schizophrenic view of all authority, regardless of ideology, out to control people, that we were sheep. 

It was like he had watched “The Matrix” too many times.  I don‘t want to be glib about this.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, no, I know exactly...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because he wanted to go into dream world, rather than real world.  He wanted to live in that virtual world.

CORN:  He thought, if he could, he could control himself and have more power.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I have got to go back to Brian for one last thought.

Brian, your last thought. 

LEVIN:  My last thought is this.

Look, what we often have are people who have a pathology.  And they are rambling through the fringe world.  They can take bits and pieces from elsewhere.  He could easily have been a left-wing extremist.  He could easily have been a jihadist or anything else.

It just happened that his paranoid views of things found some kind of gift wrap in some of the very fringe ideology of the far right.  But he was a pathological personality first, not an ideologue.

MATTHEWS:  Well, wait until we get this to trial.  We will find out whether people think he‘s sane or not and whether he could tell right from wrong.  And we‘re going to get into some, but it‘s going to take a while, because it looks like he‘s taking the Fifth right now.  He‘s not talking. 

Anyway, thank you, David.

CORN:  Thank you.   

MATTHEWS:  And thank you, Brian.  You really helped us tonight, Brian.

Thank you for you...

LEVIN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I like your restraint.  I think restraint is a good position to take tonight in terms of understanding the real elements in this case. 

We just want to get—we want to show you right now, we have a new mug shot, by the way, of the alleged killer.  Here he is, Jared Lee Loughner.  Well, that doesn‘t make you want to sleep better tonight.  There he is. 

You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks easing off some early losses to end the day mixed, the Dow Jones industrials sliding 37 points, the S&P 500 falling 1.75, while the Nasdaq added 4.5 points. 

Light volume today as investors awaited the start of the fourth-quarter earnings season.  Aluminum giant Alcoa doing the honors just after the closing bell, delivering better-than-expected profits and an upbeat forecast, despite signs of slowing growth in China. 

Apple getting a boost from expectations that Verizon is about to announce it will start selling the iPhone, breaking AT&T‘s exclusive access to those customers. 

The Federal Reserve reporting record earnings on its now massive securities portfolio.  It earned about $81 billion in 2010, turning most of it over to the Treasury Department. 

And some late-breaking news from chipmakers.  Intel has just agreed to pay rival Nvidia $1.5 billion to settle a patent dispute.  Meanwhile, rival AMD CEO Dirk Meyer is resigning in mutual agreement with the board. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to

HARDBALL. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”) 

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  If people on the right and Sarah Palin and so forth are reasonable for all of this and this vitriol and rhetoric is so pitched, how come this isn‘t happening every day?  Why is it the vast exception to the rule? 

There‘s no logic in any of the assertions that they‘re making, none. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was Rush Limbaugh this afternoon responding to the Giffords shooting and the overheated rhetoric swirling around the country right now.  It certainly is.

How does the Tea Party fall into the angry political discourse around the country? 

We have joining us now Judson Phillips.  He‘s founder of the Tea Party Nation.

Sir, thank you for joining us.

When you first heard about this incident over the weekend, what was your reaction? 

JUDSON PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, TEA PARTY NATION:  Well, I was stunned.  It is just absolutely unbelievable that a member of Congress would be shot in America.  That happens in Third World countries.  It doesn‘t happen in America. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you mean it doesn‘t happen in America?

PHILLIPS:  When the last time we had a member of Congress shot? 

It‘s a tradition in America—we have open and easy access to our leaders.  We go to meetings with them all the time.  They have town hall meetings.  Nothing ever happens to them.  I was stunned that a member of Congress was shot. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we have had—we have certainly grown up, as you have and I have in this country, with—no country in the world has had so many leaders assassinated. 

And, certainly, we have had a—a long history, going through a terrible period in our history, especially in the 1960s, where people were getting killed all over the place, people—Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, George Lincoln Rockwell, Malcolm X.

People like Allard Lowenstein—we had Ronald Reagan almost killed, except he got to the hospital within three minutes.  Jerry Ford shot at twice.  Harry Truman almost killed by Puerto Rican nationalists.  FDR shot and the mayor of Chicago got hit.  Teddy Roosevelt shot in the chest, three-inch bullet into him.

Why—this is the history of violence in this country.  I don‘t know how you haven‘t noticed it.

JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY NATION:  Well, you think about it.  In this generation that we live in—

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I‘ve been thinking about it.  Look at my list. 

Neither a country in the world with a list like that, Mexico, Canada. 

There‘s not a country in any continent in the world that‘s had this kind of

history of assassination like we‘ve had, at the highest level.  Huey Long -

I mean, make a list.

      

PHILLIPS:  Well, I disagree.  And, you know—

MATTHEWS:  You disagree with what part of what I said?  Just tell me the part you disagree with.

PHILLIPS:  I disagree that‘s there not another country in the world that‘s had violence as we‘ve had.

MATTHEWS:  Well, name one.  No, assassination of its leaders.

PHILLIPS:  Give me a chance to go take a look.  I mean, this is a pop quiz kind of question here.  But, you know, if you think about it—within the last what I would call generation, Ronald Reagan was the last president that there was a serious assassination attempt on and John F.  Kennedy was a last president who was assassinated.  That was 50 years ago.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but we had Jerry Ford shot.  Twice they tried to kill Truman.  They tried to kill both Roosevelts.  I mean, Garfield, McKinley, all the guys killed in the ‘60s.  George Wallace would have been killed except he got medical attention.  I mean, there‘s a lot of violence, Huey Long—I mean, we have a record of this.

But let‘s get to the current cases.  Are you disturbed when people bring guns to political rallies?  Bring guns, not talk about them, bring them.

PHILLIPS:  Well, you know, at the political rallies I‘ve been at, I haven‘t seen any of them.  Not probably have been—

MATTHEWS:  These guys on the show, they flaunt them.  They have them in holsters.  They stand there to come on our show and defend them.  I mean, it seems to be Sarah Palin using gun play language.  What—she‘s talking about crosshairs and reloading.  And Sharron Angle talking about Second Amendment remedies and Bachmann out there with her kind of talk.

I mean, it seems like the way people talk now has gotten more ballistic.  It‘s gotten to do with guns, when it has nothing to do with Second Amendment issues.  I understand the right to bear arms.  It‘s in our Constitution.  It‘s protected in our Bill of Rights.  I understand it.

But people bring it up, totally irregardless of the topic they bring up guns.  Why are guns talked about so much especially on the right?  Why?

PHILLIPS:  Well, guns are talked about on both sides of the political spectrum.

MATTHEWS:  They are?

PHILLIPS:  Yes, they are.  Liberals talk about it all the time, usually in terms of taking the right to bear arms away from us.

MATTHEWS:  But why bring it up when it‘s not about the right to bear arms?  Why bring it up into normal political discourse?

PHILLIPS:  Well, again, it‘s brought up on both sides.  You talked about—

MATTHEWS:  It is?

PHILLIPS:  It is.  You talked about—

MATTHEWS:  When has a liberal brought up the discussion using guns against their political opponents?

PHILLIPS:  You talked about—let me explain, you talked about Sarah Palin and there‘s the famous crosshairs diagram.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS:  -- the same thing.  So, it‘s—you know, I don‘t think Sarah Palin has ever talked about taking a gun and shooting a political opponent.  I don‘t think—I don‘t know any conservative leader that has talked about taking a gun out and going to go shoot their political opponent.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s go to Sharron Angle who just lost the race in Nevada.  You probably supported her.  Sharron Angle talked about Second Amendment remedies when Congress does things that people don‘t like.  What is a Second Amendment remedy?

PHILLIPS:  You know, I don‘t know the answer to that question.

MATTHEWS:  Well, tell me, you keep throwing your hands in the air and saying you don‘t know the history of our country‘s violence and all these assassinations we‘ve had.  You act like you are—you don‘t even—you question the history I‘ve given to you, say there must be some other country with more assassinations.  You can‘t—I‘ll give you three years you won‘t come up with one.

And you just say, “I don‘t know this stuff,” and throwing your hand here, and I‘m asking you—are you concerned that people bring guns to political rallies?  Yes or no?

PHILLIPS:  No, I‘m not.

MATTHEWS:  Bringing guns to—why would a person bring a gun to a political rally?

PHILLIPS:  Because they have the right to.  I was in Arizona in a political rally—

MATTHEWS:  Because they have the right to?

PHILLIPS:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Give me the reason why you‘d bring a gun to a political rally.  Give me the reason why you do it.

PHILLIPS:  You‘d carry a gun for safety, just like you do for any other thing.  I was at a political rally in Arizona a few months ago.  People open carry out there.  I felt perfectly safe.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, they bring these guns to make a political statement.  They have told us that on the air.  They don‘t just bring it to protect themselves from hoodlums.  They bring to make a statement against the political people in this country they don‘t like and they use it as a threat.  They basically say, we‘ve got our Second Amendment privileges, rights.  Of course, they‘re rights.

But why would you bring it in a political discussion?  That‘s all I‘m asking.  Do you think it would be better if people didn‘t bring guns to political events?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Would we be better off if we didn‘t bring guns into the political argument?

PHILLIPS:  I would rather people not carry guns in occasions where you might get tempers flaring.  I think that‘s probably prudent.  But as far as just a general political rally, I don‘t have a problem with it.  I‘ve been to political rallies.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, we disagree.  We disagree because—

PHILLIPS:  We do.

MATTHEWS:  -- I think it‘s part of the problem.  And I think if you think through it, you‘ll recognize the fact that gun play doesn‘t fit with politics in this country, and I don‘t where it should fit.  That‘s my view.  You disagree.  Thank you.

PHILLIPS:  We disagree.  Hey, Chris.  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for coming on.  Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation.

Up next, often in the wake of great tragedy, great leaders do

emerge.  Let‘s look at the challenges facing this president, Barack Obama -

next.

      

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Like Congresswoman Giffords, Chris Carney, the former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania who was beaten in the midterms, was also on Palin‘s target list.  The same crosshairs logo was on his district on that map, we‘re looking at it right now, that Palin put out.  Of Palin, Carney said, quote, “It would be very useful if she came out and, if not apologize, say that she was wrong in putting that sort of log on people‘s districts.”

More reaction to Palin‘s map ahead in our special edition of

HARDBALL

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BELL TOLLING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there you saw it, of course, the president and first lady leading the country in a national moment of silence.  It was 11:00 Eastern.

Joining me right now is Howard Fineman of “The Huffington Post,” and Melinda Hennenberger of “Politics Daily.”  Howard, of course, is our senior political analyst here.

This unusual and perhaps not extraordinary but becoming increasingly common role for a president, almost leading the national grief after a domestic horror, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, leading the national grief and being a symbol of unity and stability and civility.  And I think that‘s what a president needs to do at this time—drained of politics, drained of all politics, and just carrying up on the ceremonial functions of unifying the country and being a symbol for everybody to take comfort from.  It‘s what Bill Clinton did after Oklahoma City.  It‘s what Barack Obama is doing.

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s leadership.  And can he lead the center-left, his political faction, in not pointing fingers now in the next couple days?  And would he?

MELINDA HENNENBERGER, POLITICSDAILY.COM:  And this is the moment that he was born for.  He has campaigned on and talked all along about the need for taking the toxicity out the discourse, about how we have to be able to talk to each other without questioning one another‘s motivations.  So, I think this could really be Obama‘s moment when he can really do as he puts in bringing people together.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s easier for people like me, analysts like me, our commentators like me, as well as journalists, too, who live within the 40 yard line lines to be moderate, because we‘re basically not haters.  But it‘s harder for people on the far left or the far right who really dislike the other side to act like they don‘t.  Isn‘t that harder?

FINEMAN:  I agree with Melinda here, in that, Barack Obama has always presented himself as somebody who stands for civility, as somebody who stands for reaching out, as somebody who doesn‘t let hatred figure into any of his computations of politics.  That‘s how he ran.  That was the symbol of hope that he offered.

And this really is a unique opportunity.  If he and the people around him have the discipline to take it—

MATTHEWS:  But do they believe it?

HENNENBERGER:  Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Do they believe that people on the—who are across the spectrum from them are not bad people?

FINEMAN:  No, no, I think—

MATTHEWS:  Do they believe that they‘re bad people?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think he does.

MATTHEWS:  He does.

FINEMAN:  I think he does.  I think he does.

HENNENBERGER:  Obama absolutely believes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- that people on the right are bad people.

HENNENBERGER:  I think he thinks that they are two things.  One is your view, and another is your tone.  And that whatever your view, you should be able to take the tone, he does, which is very cool, dispassionate.

MATTHEWS:  You mean, they are not people who disagree with him, there are people who are bad.

HENNENBERGER:  No, no, no.

MATTHEWS:  Now, that‘s a big distinction.  I‘m asking what it is.

HENNENBERGER:  He means that we can all adopt to civil tone, whatever our issues.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  There are people on the left who I know who think that people on the right who think bad people.

HENNENBERGER:  And vice versa.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Who think they are bad people, not just have disagreements, they have a different attitude about the role of government or the role of the United States in the world, which is what we debate in this country, those two things.  But they think because they take those two different views, they are evil.  I hear it all of the time.

(CROSSTALK)

HENNENBERGER:  That‘s what Obama has been against since the very beginning.  He does not believe that.

FINEMAN:  I think from having interviewed him a lot on this topic and listened to him talk about the Republicans and the conservatives who oppose him, he doesn‘t think they‘re evil.  He thinks they‘re—some of them are ignorant.  That they don‘t know enough, that they haven‘t had sufficiently had the world explained to by somebody like him.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why church‘s view and other religions.  It is, quite seriously.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  He doesn‘t think—he‘s a guy who believes in education -

-

      

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  -- who believes in rational discourse, who believes if you had the time to talk to them one by one it would be different.  But he does think that are there people who are ignorant, I‘ll go that far.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s pretty demanding, pretty damning.

HENNENBERGER:  That‘s pretty—I don‘t hear that condescension.

MATTHEWS:  I like the Churchill view which people just disagree.  It comes with our brain soup.

Anyway, Howard Fineman and Melinda Hennenberger staying with us, believe it or not.  We never do that.  We‘re doing it tonight.

Up next: the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords.  With that temper, the red hot vitriol we‘re getting from both sides and the things are going to be heard from, let‘s talk about Sarah Palin.  She is definitely a focus tonight.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We‘re back with Howard Fineman of “The Huffington Post” and Melinda Hennenberger with “Daily Politics” or daily politics rather.  I think it‘s “Politics Daily.”

HENNENBERGER:  “Politics Daily.”

MATTHEWS:  This map appeared, by the way, of Palin‘s—Sarah Palin‘s Facebook page to mark the Democrats, her political action committee Sarah PAC, that‘s a nice name, wanted to defeat.

Well, in March of last year, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot this week and reacted to Palin‘s map.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), ARIZONA:  We‘re on Sarah Palin‘s targeted list.  But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district.  When people do that they‘ve got to realize there‘s consequences to that action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there are consequences.  Here‘s part of Palin‘s e-mail to Glenn Beck which he read on his radio show, quote, “I hate violence.  I hate war.  Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence.”

Well, that sounds horribly defensive, Howard, and too broad in its defense to mean anything.

FINEMAN:  Yes, I—having seen her play with the gun analogy, I‘m not going to cut her that much slack here.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  I saw her last spring in New Orleans, and she did the—in front of her Republican audience, of grassroots, hard-core people saying, “We‘re not going to retreat, we‘re going to reload.”

MATTHEWS:  Yes, what‘s that mean?

FINEMAN:  OK.  Now, I know she said, hey, that doesn‘t mean anything.  To those people—that was dog whistle politics to those people and it involves Second Amendment rights.  It involves the whole mythology and reality of guns.  She knew exactly what she was playing with here.

That doesn‘t mean she‘s in any way responsible for this.  To underscore that, OK?  But that‘s the thing that she‘s playing around with here, and she darn not well knows what she‘s doing.

MATTHEWS:  You know, her wannabe like, Michele Bachmann, who imitates her as much as she can, talked about, she wants the people of Minnesota to be armed and dangerous.  She‘s also talking constantly about this Second Amendment thing, guns.

It is an obsession with these people.  And it‘s my main focus tonight, bringing guns—not Second Amendment right to bear arms, that‘s in our Constitution—but to keep talking about how you‘re going to use this right in politics.

HENNENBERGER:  Well, back to what you said about when she said, “Don‘t retreat, reload,” specifically, she wasn‘t speaking about gun rights in that moment.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

HENNENBERGER:  You know, she was—she was actually defending Laura Schlessinger‘s right to make unfortunate racial remarks in that instance.

FINEMAN:  No, I‘m sorry.  No.

HENNENBERGER:  But I think that this is a moment when the only person we should be blaming and looking at is ourself.  I really think—

MATTHEWS:  No, not me.  We‘re not all guilty.  I‘ve never accepted that.  That‘s an old liberal solution.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Howard Fineman, Melinda Hennenberger, we‘re not all guilty.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

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