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updated 1/14/2013 11:56:15 AM ET 2013-01-14T16:56:15

HARDBALL
January 11, 2013

Guests: Paul Helmke, Wes Moore, Jim Moran

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: We`re going into nut country.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Paranoid America is climbing out of its
bunker. The near possibility -- the mere possibility -- that the Obama
administration might stop the easy sale of the scariest guns to the
scariest people has aroused the slippery slope crowd.

These cousins of the grassy knoll folks believe that any limit on the wide-
open market for guns and ammo threatens their own hardware. Any reasonable
action by the American people to stop the carnage is, to these paranoids,
the first unfaltering step toward mass confiscation of everything from
shotguns to daisy rifles.

Well, tonight, we let you hear from the craziest of the crazies. My
question. Are the regular gun owners of this country, the people who go
out and hunt in hunting season, the people who shoot skeet or simply like
to pack their own bullets, regular gun enthusiasts -- are they going to
listen to these nut cases, or to Joe Biden when he offers proposals next
week on background checks and high-capacity magazines?

Who are the people that are going to decide this issue -- I mean the gun
owners -- going to go with, the wild bunch or the town posse?

David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and Joy Reid is
managing editor of TheGrio. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Joy, your bet. Who do the regular gun owners, the reasonable guys,
Pennsylvania-type guys, in many cases, who go out and shoot when they`re
supposed to shoot, practice shooting and get good at it with a couple shots
-- that`s all you get with a deer -- are they going to go with the nuts?

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know what, Chris? I mean --
I mean, I grew up in Colorado. I grew up around people who were military,
who were ex-military, people who hunted. You know, Colorado is a big
hunting state.

And I don`t think anyone that I`ve met that is a responsible gun owner can
side with these -- you know, for lack of a better word, these loony tunes
who are out here, because they`re doing something different. They`re
stockpiling. They`re getting assault rivals. These are not normal gun
owners.

What you`re doing -- what you`re hearing from now is the absolute fringe,
and unfortunately, they`re being allowed to speak for the pro-2nd Amendment
crowd.

MATTHEWS: David, we`re going to show the worst of the worst in a minute,
but first your thoughts.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They`re...

MATTHEWS: Will they go with the -- the regular gun owners, the people that
are in the NRA in Pennsylvania -- and they vote, Democrat or Republican...

CORN: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: Are they going to go with the crazies like James Yeager? We`re
going to show him and Alex Jones again.

CORN: You know what`s crucial to this is what Clinton did back in `94.
Remember, he got an assault weapons ban through Congress over the NRA
opposition and opposition of many Republicans and some Democrats. And the
way he got it was by bringing the cops, the police...

MATTHEWS: I know, but how many seats did he lose over that?

CORN: Well, he lost a lot of seats, so you got to keep the fight going
after you win.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: So the way to get people to side with responsible gun control, gun
violence prevention, is to make this a wide coalition to show them that,
Hey, you`re with people who like to shoot, you`re with people who care,
like cops. It`s not just liberal Dems...

MATTHEWS: I agree.

CORN: ... who are -- so that`s the key here as we go forward.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, the RawStory Web site got ahold of this threatening
video from this fellow I mentioned, James Yeager. He`s CEO of a group
called Tactical Response, and he`s pledging actual violence as a result of
the White House action on gun safety. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES YEAGER, TACTICAL RESPONSE: I`m telling you that if that happens,
it`s going to spark a civil war, and I`ll be glad to fire the first shot.
I`m not putting up with it. You shouldn`t put up with it.

And I need all you patriots to start think about what you`re going to do,
load your damn mags, make sure your rifle`s clean, pack a backpack with
some food in it and get ready to fight. I`m not (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
putting up with this! I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator.
I`m not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I`m
going to start killing people!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you got that. And the paranoid on the fringe right, it
all comes down to being anti-tyranny. Here was Alex Jones talking to Piers
Morgan earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX JONES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So we did it to point out that this is
globalism, and the mega-banks that control the planet and brag that they`ve
taken over in Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, you name it -- brag that they`re
going to get our guns, as well. They`ve taken everybody`s guns but the
Swiss and the American people.

And when they get our guns, they can have their world tyranny while the
government buys 1.6 billion bullets, armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters,
Predator drones armed now in U.S. skies being used to arrest people in
North Dakota.

The 2nd Amendment isn`t there for duck hunting, it`s there to protect us
from tyrannical government and street thugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So what do you make of that, Joy?

REID: I mean, this is crazy, Chris. I watched that video last night, the
Yeager video, the first one. And I watched the Alex Jones interview this
past week. These are not normal pro-2nd Amendment people. This is
insanity. These are people who are essentially arming themselves and
stockpiling arms -- they may have more than 50 arms in their house --
against some sort of tyrannical government invasion of their personal home.

This is basically the paranoiacs in American society being brought forward
and made to speak for ordinary gun owners. It`s up to gun owners
themselves to distance themselves from this craziness.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s keep listening to this. I want to look -- here`s
one from the -- and I want to get all these in here tonight. Ted Nugent to
WorldNetDaily -- let`s take a look at this one. Here`s what he said.
"There will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun
owners of America will be the Rosa Parks, and we will sit down in the front
of the bus, case closed."

And this morning on CNN, the chairman or chair of the "Gun Appreciation
Day" suggested slavery wouldn`t have occurred if guns had been available to
everyone in America at the time. Let`s listen to this malarkey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY WARD, "GUN APPRECIATION DAY": I think Martin Luther King would agree
with me, if he were alive today, that if African-Americans had been given
the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country`s founding,
perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What a dumb, dumb nut! Joy, you got to start on this. This is
not only a nut but a dumb nut. Slaves didn`t come to America as citizens.
They came in shackles...

REID: As property!

MATTHEWS: ... in the bottom of a ship somewhere, if they`re lucky to be
alive, they got here.

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: The idea that they would be armed by anyone -- the -- well, you
take it on.

REID: This is...

MATTHEWS: I mean, he`s obviously paternalizing here -- or patronizing,
trying to act like he cares about the fate of black people. That`s some
sort of number he`s playing here. Who would believe this malarkey?

REID: Yes, and Chris, why is it that every time the far right decides to
make an argument that is insane, they jump on the Civil Rights movement or
slavery and try to latch their argument onto the history of African-
Americans...

MATTHEWS: As if they give a damn! As if they would have been up at the
front for the fight! I mean...

REID: Exactly.

CORN: You don`t -- you don`t remember Ted Nugent standing in front of
everyone in the Civil Rights marches?

MATTHEWS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: No, I remember him refusing to go to Vietnam. I remember him
getting out of going to Vietnam and being afraid to carry a gun. When his
country asked him to carry a gun in Vietnam, he was a coward.

CORN: You know, this is...

REID: And these guys always jump on slavery and the Civil Rights movement.
You know what? It`s offensive. Yes, if slaves hadn`t been owned by other
people, there wouldn`t have been slavery, either.

CORN: This -- this is -- what`s happening now is something we`ve been
talking about for five years, and that is the extreme right -- let`s call
it what it is -- has gone on about Barack Obama as a socialist, as --
conspiracy theories about secret plans to take guns and dominate the
country. And now because Biden comes out and talks about high-capacity
magazines, they say, Finally! We finally have something...

MATTHEWS: Nailed `em.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: ... and they`re just running out of...

MATTHEWS: OK, I don`t want to make fun of these people because they`re
about 1 percent of the country, 5 or 10 percent.

CORN: But it`s -- but they`re also -- they`re dangerous because they`re
armed!

REID: Right.

CORN: I mean, these are real...

MATTHEWS: That is a problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Remember where I got that phrase from, We`re going to nut
country? That`s what Jack Kennedy said the day he died, to Jackie.

Anyway, yesterday, Rush Limbaugh said the president cannot be stopped when
it comes to getting what he wants. You don`t think this is going to the
mainstream of the right? Here`s Rush. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, Obama will try anything and
has, and nobody stops him, by the way! He has trumped the Constitution`s
1st Amendment and religious liberty. He has trumped the Constitution on
immigration. He has essentially granted amnesty to a million kids without
benefit of legislation.

He`ll do anything that nobody tries to stop him from doing. Of course, an
executive order legally doesn`t trump the Constitution. But if he issues
an executive order to try to confiscate guns or something along those lines
and nobody stops him, does he not get away with it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the point. Rush has a brain. He`s a smart guy.
He`s a marketer. He knows what he`s doing. In many ways, he`s a showman.
But how can he honestly believe that a president could issue an executive
order confiscating guns?

CORN: To be extreme in reaction to this extremism, I can hear less smart
people -- I can imagine them listening to this and thinking there is only
one way to stop this guy. You know, this is like -- you know, it`s calling
for John Wilkes Booth! He`s a tyrant...

MATTHEWS: Well, be careful.

CORN: ... he`s going to take over...

MATTHEWS: I know.

CORN: ... and this is just feeding the worst paranoia. And there are
mentally deranged people out there who will listen to this stuff, and
they`re going to say, Hey, I know how to stop this.

MATTHEWS: Well, it does have the incendiary quality of some of that stuff
in Hollywood -- Rwanda -- what was it called, "Hotel Rwanda," when you got
people actually out there instigating almost armed warfare.

CORN: Obama...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... has a piece of that.

REID: You know what? I think that, also, on a less volatile scale, I
think the other thing it does -- I mean, I remember talking to Republican
voters during this last presidential campaign, and they had an actual
genuine fear that there was going to be gun confiscation because they
listen to somebody like Rush, and they think they`re listening to the news.
So they think that this is real.

And so you have a lot of Republican politicians who might otherwise be
swayed by the same people. They`re worried constantly about their right
flank, about someone running against them and saying that they were soft on
gun confiscation.

So that`s why I am so dubious, unfortunately, and cynical as to whether you
can get actual legislation because the politicians think the fringe rules
their base, and they`re worried about their jobs.

MATTHEWS: You`ve just done something very frightening, Joy. You have just
tied together paranoia with gullibility. In other words, they believe
Rush, and they`re afraid of everything else. Anyway...

REID: And these weren`t crazy people. These are people who sounded
perfectly normal and rational, but they think Rush is the news.

CORN: And they`re being exploited by Rush...

REID: They are.

CORN: ... and the NRA, who are playing on their fears.

MATTHEWS: And selling guns. Anyway, as the White House reviews potential
gun control policies, lawmakers in Wyoming are already at the ready to not
follow new policies and arrest any government official who tries to enforce
them. So we`re talking nullification here? I think Jeff Davis would be
proud.

Anyway, this one seems like it`s yanked right from the days when people
debated nullification back in the 1880s. The bill reads in part, "Any
official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or
attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the
United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or
ammunition shall be guilty of a felony."

The bill calls for punishment of up to five years in prison for it or a
hefty fine for anyone who enforces federal gun laws, laws that don`t even
yet exist.

Joy, you`re talking nullification here, all the elements of the bad old
days before the Civil War, the idea that somebody in a state can absolutely
just arrest government -- this is Fort Sumpter? I mean, it`s really
something here.

And you know what? We`re not making this up, ladies and gentlemen, and
we`re not fishing for it. These people are out there shouting from the
rooftops about this nonsense.

REID: They`re out there, and what`s sad is that, you know, the NRA used to
actually support gun control. And the irony is -- and we covered this on
TheGrio today -- that back in the `60s, in the late `60s, when the Black
Panthers were the ones saying that there was an individual right to bear
arms because they wanted to do armed patrols, watching police officers in
Los Angeles -- it was people like Governor Ronald Reagan who pushed for gun
control, who signed the Mumford Act, which essentially made it illegal to
carry guns in public, illegal to carry guns in a car.

The NRA was all for that because at that time, it was couched in the idea
of stopping what they thought was a frightening Black Panther movement or a
black civil rights movement.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it interesting?

REID: They`ve completely changed their minds about this issue.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And you know, another way, and certainly in a more
beneficial way, back when we identified machine guns or automatic weapons
with Machine Gun Kelly...

REID: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... and Baby Face Nelson and those guys in Chicago, the country
was quick to outlaw automatic weapons.

REID: Indeed.

CORN: You know, a couple of years ago, Barack Obama got into trouble when
he said some Americans cling to their guns. What we`re seeing now is that
he was right. Maybe he didn`t say it the right way, but we are. There is
-- you know, whether it`s 5, 10, 15 percent, 20 percent, they cling to
their guns. They buy the fear-mongering. And the NRA, Rush Limbaugh, more
importantly, the gun manufacturers are all preying on these people and
trying to get them all whipped up...

MATTHEWS: The safest bet in America life...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The safest bet in American life, more safe than I have to tell
you than savings bonds or T bonds -- the safest bet is that we will have as
many guns or more 20 or 30 years from now as we have now. That is the
safest, surest bet in American life, and it`s sad. And anybody who bets
against that is wasting our time and should go see a doctor.

CORN: Well, this...

MATTHEWS: Anyway...

CORN: This a moment where there`s a chance. There is a greater chance now
than there has been in the last 10 years, maybe in the next...

MATTHEWS: Well, the magazine capacities will be limited.

REID: Maybe.

CORN: Yes. Maybe.

REID: But Chris, even increasing the social opprobrium against sort of
mass gun ownership -- that just drives these people further to the fringe.
It drives them underground.

MATTHEWS: I know.

REID: It drives the sales on line and off the books. And I think -- I am
actually genuinely frightened by the sort of rage and sort of almost
paranoiac sort of incitement that you`re seeing on the right. And it`s
been done by people like Rush, who know better.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. And I think we might have trouble, really bad
trouble some day in the near future by this. Anyway, we can tell you that
the NBC station in Nashville is now reporting that the state of Tennessee
has suspended the handgun carry permit of James Yeager. That was the first
guy we quoted tonight, the real nut.

Anyway, David Corn, Joy Reid, thank you for joining us. Have a nice
weekend.

REID: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And coming up, reality check. Gun control advocates say this is
the moment to pass new legislation. Well, the pro-gun crowd says there`s
no way they`ll accept an assault weapons ban. Who`s going to win this
fight?

Also, exit strategy. President Obama made it clear today the United States
is accelerating its withdrawal from Afghanistan and plans to leave very few
troops there after next year. This much is clear. Gone is the goal of
nation building.

And U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey apparently felt that two so-called rape
candidates in the Republican Party, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, wasn`t
enough. He`s just come out defending Akin`s "legitimate rape" comments.
Once again, Republicans just keep it up.

And finally, the city that`s the star of Oscar-nominated films this year
isn`t New York or LA or Rome or Paris, it`s D.C., right here in Washington.
"Lincoln," "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" -- the nation`s capital ready for its
close-up.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Mark your calendars. We have a date now for President Obama`s
State of the Union address. House Speaker John Boehner invited the
president to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, February 12th,
a date the White House has accepted.

In his invitation, Boehner says the country has immense challenges and will
require a willingness to seek common ground. And that`s a message Boehner
might want to pass on to his own party, as well, I`d say.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. As Vice President Biden wraps up his
week of meetings with stakeholders in the gun debate, outlines of Biden`s
task force proposals are beginning to take shape -- universal background
checks for gun purchasers, limits on ammunition, stronger mental health
checks for gun buyers, and even a report in today`s "Washington Post" that
Senator Barbara Boxer presented a plan to the vice president to make
federal funds available for schools that do want to hire police officers.

Next it will be President Obama`s turn to act on the recommendations of
Biden`s task force. Is the time now for big change, including a
reinstatement of the assault weapons ban?

Well, joining me now is Paul Helmke -- he`s former president of the Brady
Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence -- and Eugene Robinson, of course,
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC
contributor.

Paul, you devote your time and life to this story. Which way do you see it
going in terms of how far the vice president`s task force will go next
Tuesday, and then how far the president will go, and then how far the
Congress will go in terms of gun control and gun safety?

PAUL HELMKE, FMR. PRES., BRADY CAMPAIGN: Well, I doubt if they`re going to
go as far as I`d like. I personally think they should present a
comprehensive plan, deal with background checks, deal with military-style
weapons, deal with trafficking, deal with the special protections that the
gun industry gets now -- put old of -- the old trigger locks -- put all
those things into a comprehensive bill.

It`s going to be tough to get through. Butt the problem with doing just a
single bill by single bill is everyone says Well, that wouldn`t have
stopped that shooting. That wouldn`t stop this shooting.

Do a comprehensive bill. And then if you`ve got to negotiate to perhaps
just keep the high-capacity ammunition magazines and give up some of the
military-style weapons, then you`ve got trade-offs you can make. But put
everything on the table. I think Biden needs to -- Vice President Biden
needs to do that. I think the president needs to do the same thing.

The NRA and their folks are going to fight everything tooth and nail, so
let`s put the whole program out there, if we can.

MATTHEWS: Do you think we could get something out of a more liberal
Judiciary Committee? Or -- I mean, I just don`t know which Republican-
dominated committee in the House is going to do this. I mean, I hate to
get particular.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Gene Robinson.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I`m not sure which
committee is going to pass this out of the House either.

That`s -- I mean, that`s a problem. I -- you know, you can look at it from
the other side. I understand the point about a comprehensive bill, but you
might actually be able to get bills with this piece or that piece out of
committee, and maybe that would be easier than a...

MATTHEWS: Well, who is going to ramrod it for you, Paul, the pro-gun
safety or gun control people? Who is going to ramrod it in the House or --
you got to get particular here with me. I want to know who is going to
stand up.

John Dingell won`t be there.

HELMKE: No.

MATTHEWS: A lot of guys in the Congress are not anti-gun in any way.

Bobby Casey is not going to be there. I don`t think Joe rMDNM_Manchin is
going to be there, despite his conversations. Is Schumer going to do it?
And if it`s a big city guy, you can kill the idea right up front. Who is
going to be the country boy or country woman who is going to come out and
say, no, this is reasonable, let`s do this thing, let`s get a majority vote
for it? Who is going to do that?

HELMKE: I -- you`re right.

I think the crucial thing, particularly in the Senate, is we need some
Republicans or some -- none of the traditional characters. Schumer and
Feinstein, Boxer, you know, those folks are going to be there. We need
Mark Kirk in Illinois to make this an issue.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HELMKE: He voted for closing the gun show loophole when he was in the
House. We need Dan Coats back in the Senate from Indiana. He voted for
some of these things in the early` 90s.

If we can get a few of those Republicans to stand up and to say, hey, this
isn`t taking your guns away, this isn`t a Second Amendment issue, this is a
public safety issue, a law and order issue, this will help our communities,
then I think we can get it done. But it`s going to take folks in
Illinois...

MATTHEWS: Will you get any votes in the South?

HELMKE: ... and Indiana pushing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Any votes in the South, any votes in the Rocky Mountain states,
any votes out there in conservative country, Utah, Montana, Idaho?

HELMKE: I think we can get some -- yes. We can get some in the Rocky
Mountain rMD-BO_states. I think we can get some of the folks in Colorado,
we can get some of the folks in -- we can get Bennett. We can get Udall
perhaps. Those are folks that in the past have been supportive.

You know, the one I would really like to see is Mark Begich out of Alaska.
As mayor of Anchorage, he was one of the signatories to Mayors Against
Illegal Guns. He hasn`t talked that way since he`s been in the Senate, but
I think those are people that because of what they have done in the past
they might be responsive now.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you talk.

Anyway, Gene, earlier on "The Today Show" today, NRA president David Keene
predicted Congress could -- would not back the gun group and pass an
assault weapons ban. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")

DAVID KEENE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: We have a profound
disagreement with this administration, first of all, on what would make a
difference.

We don`t think that a ban on so-called assault weapons, which hasn`t worked
in the past, is going to work this time.

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": Do you have the support in Congress
to block any federal ban on assault weapons in the coming year?

KEENE: I do not think that there`s going to be a ban on so-called assault
weapons passed by the Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Gene, can we go that far? We did it back in the `90s.

ROBINSON: That`s -- that`s obviously the highest hurdle. That`s the
toughest thing to get through.

And my concern from the point of view of someone who would like to see
legislation passed is that if that is the centerpiece of a big piece of
legislation, it becomes easier to kill, basically.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: And perhaps if you have got background checks and -- and big
magazines, which, you know, is a red flag for some people, but not for --
perhaps not for everybody, and also you could vote on the assault weapons
ban. That goes down, maybe some of the other stuff gets...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How do you do this, Paul? You seem to know how to do this.

And I want to know tactically. People out there who want to see some gun
safety, some reasonable gun control right now, they are looking at the
magazines, these 30-round things. They are looking at the fact that people
who are dangerous, they may have a criminal record, they may be -- mental,
emotional problems. Is there a background check system?

Let`s start with something that I think most people would agree with, keep
guns away from scary people, criminals and people with mental and emotional
problems that are severe.

HELMKE: Right.

MATTHEWS: How do you get those lists? Is there such a list of people?
Well, maybe there`s criminal lists. Is there a list -- yes, police
officers have access to those when they stop you.

But what about the mental and -- and emotional problems of people that lead
to these spree shootings in most cases?

HELMKE: There`s three basic things we need to do to strengthen the
background check system.

One is to look at the definitions. We need stronger definitions of drug
abusers. We need a better definition of who is mentally dangerous, and I
don`t think that should be that hard to do. A lot of folks have worked on
that issue before. Work on those definitions and...

MATTHEWS: Would the ACLU permit that? Would the liberal groups, the right
-- the civil liberties people, let you get a list out there?

HELMKE: I think they would -- I think they would if you draw it the right
way.

Right now, with regard to the mentally dangerous, it`s based on a court
finding that someone is a danger to themselves or others. I think perhaps
there`s some other things they could add to that if there are some
protections built in.

So, get those good lists. And, number two, make sure that the states are
getting those records into the federal system. That was the problem at
Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter had been found to be a danger to
himself or others. Virginia had not sent the record in.

We got a bill passed after Virginia Tech that George W. Bush signed. We
need to strengthen that bill to make sure we`re getting more records in the
system. And the third is the crucial thing. Do a background check on
every sale. If we have agreed that felons shouldn`t get guns, that
dangerously mentally ill shouldn`t get guns, if we have got those records,
they`re in the system, if we don`t do a background check on 40 percent of
the sales, then you`re leaving the system wide open.

So, I think everyone can agree with that. That`s been the cornerstone
for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, sounds good. You know your stuff.

HELMKE: That`s going to work. And...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: One thing.

MATTHEWS: Quickly.

ROBINSON: Point out one thing. A very wise man, Vernon Jordan, once told
me, you don`t ask for nothing, you don`t get nothing. Right?

So, I think this is not the point where we start pulling back and saying,
well, we can`t get this, we can`t get that. This is still the point where
I think people who want to see sensible gun laws should be making the case
for sensible gun laws.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, this is where the Republican leadership has got to get
aboard.

Anyway, thank you, Paul Helmke. You`re a good guy to come on this show.
Please come back. Call me up if you learn something.

Eugene Robinson, as always...

HELMKE: OK. Happy to be on.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: Republicans can`t get out of their own way.
Well, Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey, the guy who had to apologize to
Rush Limbaugh, remember that, is defending Todd Akin`s "legitimate rape"
comments. Wait until you see this one coming up.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the "Sideshow."

Is another Republican really wading into Todd Akin "legitimate rape"
territory? Believe it. Enter Phil Gingrey of Georgia. At an event
yesterday, he provided some delayed backup for Todd Akin.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: What he meant by "legitimate rape" was
this. Look, someone can say, "I was raped."

A scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend,
and then has to tell her parents, you know, that`s pretty tough, and might
on some occasion say, hey, I was raped. That`s what he meant when he said
legitimate rape vs. non-legitimate rape.

I don`t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said
that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman`s body has a way
of shutting down, so that pregnancy wouldn`t occur. He`s partly right on
that. I`m an OB-GYN doctor. I have been an OB-GYN doctor for a long time,
since 1975. And I have delivered lots of babies, and I know about these
things.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, remember when Alec Baldwin said that you know your party
is in trouble when people ask, "Did the rape guy win?" and you have to ask,
"Which one?"

We`re going to add Gingrey to the list of possibilities.

Finally, the late-night comedians weigh in on Jack Lew getting nominated
for secretary of the treasury -- well, mostly his signature.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": There are big problems with
this guy.

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC WRITER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Many
Republicans really just don`t get along with this guy. They don`t agree
with his philosophy. They think he`s really hard to deal with in
negotiations.

COLBERT: No, no, no. Jimmy, no, no, not that, none of that. No, Jimmy,
no.

No, we`re talking about the big problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is Jack Lew`s signature. We could have a
pretty ugly signature on our dollar bill.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Our money should have nothing ridiculous on it, just old men in
wigs and pyramids with eyes.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: I mean, is this even a signature, or did he start drawing Charlie
Brown and give up after the hair?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Hey, Lew, here is a
tip. Stop signing all your checks on the tea cup ride at Disney World.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: The only way that you`re allowed to have that as your signature
is if your name is Boooooooiiiiing.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next: President Obama meets with Afghan President Hamid
Karzai at the White House. And one thing is clear. We`re getting out of
Afghanistan, and we`re getting out sooner, rather than later.

And you`re watching it, HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Stocks mixed on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones up 17 points, the S&P down
just under a point, the Nasdaq gaining three points.

U.S. trade deficit jumped to a seven-month high in November, driven by a
spike in American imports. The gap grew 16 percent to $48.7 billion.

And Best Buy with a reversal of fortune on holiday sales results, shares
surging 16 percent.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The war in Afghanistan, which we have been fighting now for over 11 years,
has taken a huge toll. More than 2,000 Americans have been killed,
thousands more seriously wounded, severely wounded. It`s cost us more than
$500 billion so far.

Well, today, after meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the White
House, President Obama made it clear the war is ending, the American war.
And it`s ending sooner than was previously planned. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But let me say it as plainly
as I can. Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission:
training, advising, assisting Afghan forces.

Make no mistake. Our path is clear and we are moving forward. Every day,
more Afghans are stepping up and taking responsibility for their own
security, and, as they do, our troops will come home. And next year, this
long war will come to a responsible end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, no doubt it`s still a messy path on that end. And if
Afghanistan is ready to take over its own security, that`s the question.

What role will the Taliban play in the future of that country? And perhaps
the most charged question of all today, what role will the United States
play after we end our combat mission? How many troops will we keep behind
in Afghanistan to keep that country secure, if we can?

Jim Moran is a Democratic congressman from Virginia. And Wes Moore is a
retired Army captain and author of "The Other Wes Moore."

Well, thank you, gentlemen, for joining us.

And I guess the question comes down to numbers, 66,000 troops in country
right now. What should be it be five years from now?

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: Well, I think we`re going to initially
withdraw to about 6,000 troops, Chris, in 2014.

I think a lot of work is going to be done by contractors, not U.S. troops,
but we can`t afford to continue spending the kind of money we`re spending.
You know, we have spent $557 billion up to today, half-a-trillion dollars,
and what have we gotten for it?

Burma, Somalia, and Afghanistan are the three most corrupt nations in the
world. And now almost 90 percent of that corruption is coming from
American taxpayers` money. You would be shocked at the amount of American
taxpayers` money that`s being spent over in Dubai because it came in to
Afghanistan.

This is a nation that`s -- and government that`s corrupt to its core.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about what we can get done in the year-and-a-
half we`re leaving now.

Wes, the question I always ask is -- and it`s why I`m generally against
intervention, because you have to eventually leave, and the question is,
when you leave, how is it any different than when you came? Do you really
change -- I think of all the powers that could influence another country in
history. The English were able to turn, wonderfully, the Indian people
into real democrats.

They believe in democracy. There`s so few other examples where a country
like ours can influence another country`s culture positively. Usually,
you`re just hated and kicked out eventually.

CAPT. WES MOORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: And, actually, I would even answer that
question and come back to the first question.

I actually would disagree that this is about numbers. This is not about
numbers. This is about strategy. And what exactly are our goals and what
exactly is our intent for not just the short term, but for the long term in
Afghanistan? You look at the situation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is not necessarily a military or kinetic issue that we`re
dealing with right now. It really -- the question of Afghanistan is not
security. The question of Afghanistan is uncertainty. The fact is we have
hit every single number that we need to hit as of right now in terms of
Afghan forces that we are training, in terms of Afghans that are going to
be on the ground securing their own prosperity.

The biggest questions they have is, what does Afghanistan look like in a
post-Karzai time? What does Afghanistan look like when they convert from a
construction economy, from a consultant economy, to a larger economy?

MATTHEWS: Well, my question to you, Wes -- and you`re a fighting man --
and Congressman Moran after that -- will the Karzai army that we have built
over there, the Afghan army, will they, when we pull out, fight?

Will they fight that terrific force of Taliban people coming out there who
are cutting people`s heads off, are ruthless, are ferocious? Will they
stand and fight in remote areas against these people?

MOORE: Honestly, Chris, that becomes the biggest challenge because we do
not know. There will probably be around 25 people who will run for the
presidency of Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: But will they fight?

MOORE: They`ll fight. The question is: who will they fight for? And what
would that long-term strategic situation --

MATTHEWS: I`m only worried about the Taliban coming back in. The Taliban
bringing al Qaeda back in.

MOORE: And also, whether or not us having 10,000, 5,000, or 3,000 troops
is going to make any difference --

MATTHEWS: That`s my question to you, Congressman -- 6,000 troops. What
can we do? Can we prevent the remote areas of Afghanistan being taken over
by the Taliban, they start beheading women, outlawing movies? Whatever
they have to do? The more modest stuff to the outrageous stuff. Can we
stop that?

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: Well, here`s the raw numbers -- 354,000
Afghan national army people roughly, but the problem are the Taliban, the
Taliban are Pashtun. Do you know what percent of that Afghan national army
are Pashtun? Two percent.

MOORE: That`s right.

MORAN: This army, they`re basically seen as northern invaders from other
tribes. They`re Tajiks, they`re Hazaras, who for the first time in their
lives have not been treated as a servant class. They make up the army.

But they`re not going to be allowed in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
That`s Pashtunistan. It extends --

MATTHEWS: So, we`re going to have a divided country like Lebanon all these
years, something like that?

MORAN: You`re absolutely right.

MOORE: In Harlem, we have to enact that -- is old --

MATTHEWS: So, the American people are going to be watching it on
television and reading in the newspaper about beheadings and awful
treatment of women in those areas controlled by the Pashtuns, right?

MOORE: Yes, they will, but the bigger question is what contingency of U.S.
troops will actually force to stop that? What contingency of U.S. troops?
And so, that becomes our question.

MATTHEWS: I love that question. In other words, if we`re not staying in
there big time, 100,000 troops basically, we might as well get out because
we can`t control the future of the country.

MOORE: And convert it to the operation that the president talked about,
where we`re going security and training and we`re doing counterinsurgency -
-

MATTHEWS: So, it raises the old question when you go in 11, 12 years ago,
you knew you had to leave. Are we leaving the country any different than
we came in?

MORAN: A little better in the cities. Certainly, Kabul is a little
better. Some of the women have been empowered.

But, you know, one of the principal reasons we`re going to have to leave,
Chris, is the same as in Iraq. We want immunity for our soldiers in the
allied forces. The Iraqi parliament wouldn`t accept that. And when Karzai
runs again, he`s going to have to agree with the parliament they will not -
-

MATTHEWS: Explain that issue.

MORAN: Well -- OK, it means that any crimes that American soldiers or
Americans in Afghanistan or allied forces commit, they can`t be prosecuted.
They`re immune from prosecution.

MATTHEWS: And why is it important for us to fight for that principle?
It`s logical. You don`t want some court over there to decide whether
American guy is guilty for reckless driving or something like that.

MORAN: Well, that`s right, and they`re going to make American scapegoats
quite likely. And when you have collateral damage with drone attacks,
they`re going to grab American soldiers, prosecute them. They`re going to
make show trials.

We can`t allow that. But I don`t think Karzai can any longer defend that -
-

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A wrinkle that causes us to leave.

MOORE: And I say, in tantamount to that, there`s no country in the world
we do not have that policy with, and Afghanistan will not be the first.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, gentlemen. You know the military, you know it,
too. Thank you very much, Wes Moore and Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia.

Up next, the big star of the Oscars that year, believe it or not, the city
I`m in right now. Washington. So many stories about Washington that were
Oscar nominated films. Anyway, finally, this city is ready for its close
up.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: A long-time Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia says he`s
going to retire when his term ends next year. And that gives Republicans a
good chance, a great chance, to pick up a Senate seat. Rockefeller is one
of the most senior Senate Democrats serving since 1984. In that time, his
state has shifted from deep blue to deep red.

Consider this: West Virginia was reliably Democratic in presidential
elections voting for Carter over Reagan in 1980 and Mike Dukakis in `88.
But since 2000, it`s been solidly Republican and President Obama lost the
state by 26 points.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

On the front page of today`s "Washington Post", film critic Ann Hornaday
pointed out the Oscar nominations have showcased an "Unlikely Hero:
Bureaucratic Washington." Three films with multiple nominations dramatized
the bureaucratic struggle to get something done here, anything. First,
there`s Lincoln in which we see President Lincoln getting down into the
dirt it use all the power to push through the 13th Amendment outlawing
slavery.

Here`s his secretary of state discouraging him from taking on Congress.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll win the war, sir. It`s inevitable, isn`t it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it ain`t won yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ll begin your second term with a semi-divine
statute. Imagine the possibilities peace will bring. Why tarnish your
invaluable luster with a battle in the house. It`s a rat`s nest this
there, the same gang of talentless hicks and hacks who rejected the
amendment 10 months ago. We`ll lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like our chances now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. In "Argo", Ben Affleck plays a CIA operative Tony Mendez,
who came up with and executed the plan to rescue six American hostages over
in Iran. This clip shows the meeting where Mendez and his colleagues
pitched ideas that saved them. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll wait until the weather clears up then deliver the
six, provide them with maps to the Turkish border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have intelligence they can ride bicycles or we`re
prepared to send in somebody to teach them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or you could just send in training wheels and meet them
at the border with Gatorade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty", we see the hours of
research, meetings and computer work that the CIA officer played by Jessica
Chastain put in to track down Osama bin Laden.

Joining me right now Ann Hornaday herself, "The Washington Post" film
critic, and "New York magazine`s" film critic David Edelstein.

You know, one of you I always agree with to, I sometimes I agree with. But
thank you for joining us, you know who you are. Anyway, thanks for joining
us.

This -- I love the idea, Ann, because I first noted its tendency in movies
like recount about the Florida fight where you actually had a guy like Ron
Klain (ph) celebrated, played by Kevin Spacey. All of a sudden, a middle
level guy or a person is celebrated as a central figure and I thought
somebody has finally figured out Washington. And it is the COOs, it is the
staff directors, it is the campaign guys who really run this place.

ANN HORNADAY, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s true. It`s like here`s the
talentless hacks, you know.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HORNADAY: They`re finally getting their day in the sun.

But, you know, it`s funny, we did have precursors to this, when you think
about it. And I agree, you know, it is some sort of critical mass. But it
sort of harks back to that documentary from several days ago, "The War
Room," that introduced to future stars, James Carville and Paul Begala.

DAVID EDELSTEIN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, let`s not forget something else
that was inspired by it was "The West Wing" --

HORNADAY: Of course.

EDELSTEIN: -- which also lays the groundwork for this.

HORNADAY: And then you`ve got Soderbergh`s late and lamented series, "K
Street", which I think sort of softened the ground for these. But it is a
fascinating confluence --

MATTHEWS: David, let`s broaden this beyond the hereditary of this town --
David, is this something like the celebration of the squares? The people
that are not driven by camera. They don`t race to the cameras. They do
their jobs.

You don`t know who they are, but they do their jobs. I was thinking about
the movie "The Astronauts." And what it stakes, a movie called --

EDELSTEIN: "The Right Stuff".

MATTHEWS: "The Right Stuff." And I was thinking, there was the movie that
celebrated squares, if you will -- the people that show to work, and work
regular hours and get the job done.

EDELSTEIN: I`m not sure about that, Chris. But I do want to say first
that I`m sure Ann will agree with me that, if film critics were allowed to
carry guns, we wouldn`t have had all of these Rob Schneider movies and
these "Twilight" pieces of crap, OK? So I just want to establish that
right now. Now, to your point --

MATTHEWS: Alex Jones speaks again. Go ahead.

EDELSTEIN: Now, to your point about this, I think there`s an element of
showbiz and politics, because let`s face it, you know, it`s not just
private interactions. It`s private interactions in how they`re going to
play with the public at large. I think we`ve picked up gradually on this
showbiz aspect.

I think we`ve become more aware of this sort of political minutia and these
negotiations. I think many of us have become obsessed with blogs. There`s
been Stewart and Colbert. There`s you and Rachel and, Ed, I`m sure you
don`t like compliments.

But, you know, we have to credit you with showing us that inside baseball
can be fun and not only fun, but meaningful.

And, finally, Hollywood, which is also obsessed with stuff has gotten the
message and it`s sexy.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`ve changed my mind on that one. I agree with you
completely, David.

Let me go back to Ann Hornaday, who knows this city very well. You live
here. You write for "The Post." And I was thinking, the people here.
Let`s go through these movies. "Lincoln", this movie is not about winning
the big battles or fighting it out in Antidum, or winning some of the big
wars, the battle of Vicksburg that made the difference in the war.

It`s about sitting and buying members of Congress. It`s about trading
jobs, intimidating people. I mean, it`s so down and dirty, I kept thinking
where did Spielberg think this was such a movie?

HORNADAY: Well, yes, I was expecting, you know, especially Spielberg,
who`s such a myth maker, I thought I was going in to see the monument and I
came out having seen the advising consent of the 19th century.

EDELSTEIN: Exactly. That is exactly true.

HORNADAY: You know, which was wonderful and gratifying. I think a lot of
the choice goes to Tony Kuschner, who grabbled with this material for a
very long time, wrestled with it, wrote several drafts, several very long
drafts, until he found that nugget of that period of time of that fight.

And I agree with David. I think this is just this cultural, you know,
information is sexy process.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s great about politics because I keep telling
people, if you don`t like politicians, think about the alternative. If you
don`t have people to have a little bit of pizzazz, a little bit of moon
shine, a little bit of, you know, cleverness in connecting with people --

HORNADAY: Moxy.

MATTHEWS: Moxy, you don`t have a democracy. You don`t have a democracy,
David. You can`t just have dictatorial power in the hands of the old
mighty, always right people.

EDELSTEIN: Exactly. This is how things work in a democracy. But also,
remember, that we`ve become obsessed with winners, OK? "American Idol" and
Oscars, and, you know, by taking politics and turning it into a series of
Machiavellian maneuvers, it`s either going to win you something or lose you
something big. Then, you know, they`re able to engage with Americans, you
know, in their competitive spirit.

There`s another movie that I think was very influential, called "In The
Loop" and the sort of travesty of the U.N. resolution endorsing force
against Iraq. That was very influential, very funny, very raunchy, very
sexy. And I think, you know, all of these things, and maybe one other
thing, too. Reality shows even like "Survivor" and things like that -- and
the reality based shows --

MATTHEWS: OK.

EDELSTEIN: -- have shown us politics in everyday life, backstabbing,
bribing, cajoling.

MATTHEWS: OK. I love it. By the way, James Gandolfini playing Colin
Powell, that was a great impersonation.

HORNADAY: Isn`t that beautiful?

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you very much, Ann Hornaday. That was "In the
Loop". Thank you, Ann Hornaday. Thank you, David Edelstein.

EDELSTEIN: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. Washington, D.C., the city
where I am now, is a strange place, as you know. If you looked at it from
above from a satellite, for example, you would see hardly a single factory
and, certainly, no smoke billowing up from manufacturing.

No, the only thing made here in the nation`s capitol are deals. It`s a
place created for one thing -- for elected people across this country to
come and meet, get to know each other and find a way to direct the country.
The working principle is that we, the American people, can send people here
who can do the job, to make things work, to make government of, by, and for
the people, be just that.

The movie "Lincoln", especially the second half of the movie, the part
about winning congressional passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to outlaw
slavery is about Washington doing its job. People get squeezed, they get
paid off with jobs -- in short, they get worked.

Go see "Lincoln" or go back and watch "Recount" and get a good look at how
politics works on the inside.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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