tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC December 22, 2013 9:00am-11:01am PST
what if? but what if the most important question is the one you're not asking? what if the underlying cause of your symptoms is damaging inflammation? for help getting the answers you need, talk to your doctor and visit crohnsandcolitisinfo.com to get your complimentary q&a book, with information from experts on your condition. a weather odyssey on the east coast. it is spring-like here, but in the midwest it's the first full day of winter and it's acting like it. a surprise response from some banks to the stolen credit and debit card numbers at target. so how might it affect you? they were among the most maligned group during the iraq war. black water security. there's now a new book about it. diving for gold. meet one woman who's going to great lengths and depths to follow her dream.
hello, everyone. high noon here in the east. 9:00 a.m. out west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." to politics. new today, we are less than 24 hours away from a major obama care deadline. tomorrow is the last chance for people to sign up for health insurance to take effect on january 1st. the deadline approaches at the same time the obama administration announced people whose insurance plans were canceled this year will temporarily be exempted from the laws of individual mandates. both sides weighed in on "meet the press." >> i think what most americans want us to do is not repeal obama care, which is what our republican colleagues are focused on, but fix it. the president is working to fix it. we are working in the senate to fix it. we urge our republican colleagues to join us in fixing it. >> the rollout and the ideas behind the fact that the federal government could manage appropriately one-sixth of the economy is proving itself
erroneous. >> also new today, the director of the international monetary fund is sharing her outlook on the economy for 2014. >> we see a lot more certainty for 2014. there has been good action taken by congress to eliminate the fear about the budget and to reduce the sequestration. we see the fed having taken some very well-communicated action concerning the tapering of the program. and those are good signs. >> nbc's peter alexander is in honolulu, hawaii. that's, of course, where the first family is spending the holidays. we remind ourselves peter is working. let's talk about tomorrow's deadline first of all concerning obama care. are you hearing anything at the last minute from the administration about this? >> reporter: well, we heard those last-minute changes late last week. at this point, we don't expect to hear anything from the president himself. they do anticipate the white house and health and human services officials anticipate
will there will be this last-minute spike that has the potential to put a strain on the enrollment process for a lot of americans trying to get in at that last minute. we heard from the centers for medicare and medicaid services. they say that they are increasing the number of people available to take calls at call centers in the last 24 to 48 hours for those people still looking to sign up. you should know the deadline will be midnight tomorrow night. but of course, one of the biggest concerns that's taken place, alex, as a result of these last-minute change, these sort of delays of provisions and the extension of deadlines is the consumers who have become more confused and the insurers who say it's created instability in the program itself. of course, this has political implications as well. take a listen to earlier this morning on the sunday shows. >> the bottom line is there are a lot of good things in obama care that people like, and the more people see that, the more positive it's going to be. and i would just say one other thing with all the focus on obamacare, david. the number one issue in the 2014
election is not going to be obamacare or the deficit. it is going to be who can get the middle class going again. >> okbamacare right now causes people to spend more money, have less choice, have a higher deductible, and have less freedom. the fact that they granted people an exemption, everybody who signed up that had a high deductible policy should go and cancel today. >> reporter: before flying here to hawaii, the president said more than 1 million americans have signed up for the affordable care act, but that's shy of the 3-plus million that the administration had hoped would sign up by this point. obviously, right now one of the biggest concerns that exists, alex, is a lot of those people who were most inclined, most motivated to sign up are those people with the greatest need, with pre-existing conditions. and what's more important, almost according to everybody who keeps a close eye on this, the total number of enrollments is the mix, the mix between
those older americans who may be sicker and need to spend more money on their health care, and those younger individuals that have critical to help balance things out. >> i was going to say use the word critical. thank you so much, peter alex alexand alexander. joining me now, democrat senator bob casey. always a pleasure. nice to have you. >> thanks, alex. good to be with you. >> is your colleague, senator schumer, correct that 2014 is not going to be about obamacare but about jobs? >> i think he is, alex. wherever i go in pennsylvania, that's still the number one issue that people come to talk to me about, jobs and the economy. they're seeing good numbers in terms of economic growth. over 4% growth for the third quarter was good news. and the monthly job numbers are getting better, but there's still a long way to go. we, for example, in pennsylvania just went below half a million people out of work about a month
or two ago, about 485,000, but that's still too high. i think the economy and jobs and the struggles and the real trauma that's been heaped upon the middle class not just recently but over a generation. i think that's going to be the number one issue. >> senator, let's together take a listen here to representative aaron shaw who gave the weekly address for the republicans yesterday. here's that. >> no matter how many actors and rappers and rock stars the president rolls out, the best sales pitch in the world can't sell a bad product. and this health care law is a bad product for young people. >> i'm sure you heard peter alexander and i at the very end of his report saying it's going to take a balance. what the congressman is saying, his main argument is this law puts too much of the burden on the young people to balance it out. what's your response? >> well, if you're a legislator, house, senate, democrat, republican, you got two choices. you either want to fix health care or you don't.
you're either in one of two places. there's no third option here. there's no question there have been terribly difficult problems with this. there's no question the administration made a ton of mistakes in implementing it. at the end of the day, what are we going to do about it? you're either going to make sure that we have a system where we can wrestle costs to the ground or at least begin that process, the affordable care act does that. 17 million children with pre-existing conditions would have no protection if the republicans got their way the last couple of years. i'm still waiting. i'm waiting on the republicans coming up with any plan, any plan that will protect children from pre-existing conditions. the abomination that resulted in kids not being covered. no help under their proposals for seniors for prescription drug coverage and the so-called donut hole, which is a nice way of saying people got to pay a lot of money. no proposal from the republicans over the last generation that
would in any way deal with the big problems. if republicans are really so concerned about young people or so concerned about health care, where is their proposal to cover at least 20 million people to make sure that kids with pre-existing conditions never, ever again have the problem with no coverage on pre-existing conditions. so go down the list of things that the affordable care act does. republicans need to have an answer, and they've got to tell us whether or not they're going to be part of fixing the problem or just whining about the issue and not doing anything about it. >> let's take a look at the calendar. as you are well aware by this time next week, over a million americans are going to stop receiving unemployment checks. you put a report out on thursday that found 73,000 of your constituents are going to be affected. are you still trying for some sort of 11th hour fix, or is this happening? >> well, it's not going to happen by the deadline, meaning the 28th. that's a failure. it's a failure of congress. no question about that. but early in january, and i'm
not talking the first couple weeks. i'm talking the first couple days of the month, we'll go back, for example, on january 6th. within days of being back in session, there's no reason why democrats and republicans can't come together to provide a measure of security for folks who have been out of work. we've got 4 million people, more than 4 million who have been out of work for a long term, meaning six months or longer. we should provide the protection of emergency unemployment compensation, that's what this is all about, so that more than 73,000 people in pennsylvania and millions across the country have protection as they get from a situation of unemployment to employment. alex, the other part about this is it helps the overall economy. there's a huge bang for the buck by having this program in place. if it was good enough for george bush at the end of his administration way back in 2008 when the unemployment rate was lower than it is now, it should
be continued for the next couple of -- at least for the next year. >> i think there's not a tremendous argument on that. certainly not from here. but i will say, senator, what is going to change in the next two weeks or so to get something done on this? i mean, what does this tell you about congress' prospects for getting things done overall in 2014? the tenor that does not allow unemployment to be dealt with some three days, you know, after christmas, people are going to run out of money. what's going to change that makes it viable? >> well, i think people in both parties have to do more to work together. there's no question about that. including myself in that. and there's no question that a lot of us had hoped that with a budget vehicle moving forward, we're glad we got the budget agreement done and got it passed to give two years of budget certainty, something we haven't had in years. but without a vehicle like that, that would pass and having unemployment insurance as part of it made it very difficult to get it done. but i really believe even some
republicans who have been resistant, when they're home now for the better part of two weeks around the holiday season and they do some of the calculation that i've done in our state, everywhere from the smallest county in our state like forest county, 20 people only, all the way to philadelphia where it's above almost 10,000 people and 73,000 across the state. when republicans begin to encounter those folks in many communities, i think there's a good chance they'll work with us to get this done. the other part about this is a job impact apart from the unemployed. if you take this emergency unemployment compensation program off the table, you have just destroyed by one estimate 200,000 jobs and by another estimate, 310,000 jobs. so it makes sense for our economy. i think that both parties should talk to people in their own communities or own districts, own states. >> senator, while we are discussing money here, may i ask
you about this target credit card data theft? because this is certainly a mass i security breach. now you've got chase and citibank. they're going to limit withdrawals to some 2 million customers, those that had done their shopping at target and whose cards were affected. do you think that's the right thing to do? also, what can be done to better protect consumers? >> well, i don't want to try to second-guess what companies are going to respond to this, but i will say this. whether it's a private sector company like target or any major company or whether it's the federal government or any level of government, we have to be ever more determined to put in place protections and mechanical strategies to make sure we're doing everything possible to protect people's -- their personal information, the information that consumers expect will be protected. because with the advent of wonderful technology that allows us to do things we never could
before, it also allows the bad guys, real predators, if i could call them that, consumer predators, to get information and to destroy people's lives. not through violence but through the marketplace. so we have to come together. there may be a legislative measure we could consider, but i think the main thing is tightening up existing protections for consumers. >> senator bob casey, i wish you a very happy holiday this week. thank you so much for your time with me here. >> thanks, alex. same to you. >> thank you. let's go to the weather and that deadly storm that's wreaking havoc all over the country. we have got snow, ice, and powerful thunderstorms. the severe weather is being blamed for two deaths already in mississippi. in arkansas, a tornado caused some accidents, damaging homes and injuring three people there. all this on the heels of one of the year's busiest travel weekends. let's go now to dr. greg postel. he's tracking this storm and has the latest forecast. what's going on?
>> thanks, alex. we're beginning to see the last edges of the storm pull away from the great lakes right now. if you look at the radar, there's still scattered snow showers across southern wisconsin, maybe even some snow flurries in, say, chicago, for example. but i don't anticipate airport delays being that much of a problem today as the storm begins to pull out. you can see some moderate snow showers moving across, say, door county there and northeastern wisconsin. but all in all, things are beginning to move out into canada. this is good news. but still tomorrow, there may be lingering effects on monday with some scattered snow showers all the way from about minneapolis, chicago, milwaukee, and even into detroit. but you know, we've had a significant ice storm across parts of northern new england out here. the good news there, looking at the radar, it looks like it, too, is beginning to wind down. we've seen accumulations over an inch of ice in northern new york state, vermont, new hampshire, and maine. that has led to lots of power outages and big-time travel problems up that way. and i do think that through
tonight we'll get a little bit more icing, maybe another tenth, perhaps as much as a quarter inch in some of those areas shaded in pink. overall, the storm is beginning to move away. i think that's great news. alex, back to you. >> definitely great news for those in the path. thanks, dr. greg postel. well, an apology for a tweet about a.i.d.s. that set off a fire storm around the world. plus, to the limit. the major bank saying you can only withdrawal so much from your account in the wake of the target security breach. clerk stumbled upon a cottage. [knock] no one was at home, but on the kitchen table sat three insurance policies. the first had lots of coverage. the second, only a little. but the third was... just right! bear: hi! yeah, we love visitors. that's why we moved to a secluded house in the middle of the wilderness. just the right coverage at just the right price. coverage checker from progressive.
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>> reporter: it's great. it's almost christmas, alex. all those people back east who had their snow washed away and melted yesterday and today, this is a guaranteed white christmas. we're about an hour north of milwaukee. we've had six inches of snow. temperatures now in the mid-20s. the snow has backed off, but it's going to do this, flake right on through probably until christmas morning. in fact, tuesday night and wednesday morning as santa comes to town we're going to get another burst of a couple inches of snow. let me head over here to beautiful fountain park. a pre-christmas scene out here with the fresh powder on the ground and more on the way. by the way, speaking of parks right now, alex, it is 70 degrees in central park in new york. that smashes the record for the 22nd of december. the record was 63. we've broken it by 7 degrees. and i think it's only the seventh or eighth time the park has hit 70 in december since the
1880s. in baltimore, it was their warmest night on record going back to the 1800s by 6 to 9 degrees above what they've seen before. overnight lows in the 65 to 70-degree range. that's a typical low in the summertime let alone here on the second day in the first full day of winter. so alex, this is where winter resides. it's going to stay cold. the snow will certainly be around for christmas eve and christmas day. back to you there in balmy new york. >> so balmy. i'm just going to leave you with this picture. i walked from my car to 30 rock today wearing flip-flops. people were looking at me rather strangely for any number of reasons, but that would be one of them. anyway, okay. >> reporter: okay, alex. thanks for rubbing it in. >> sorry. thanks, mike seidel. well, panning for gold at the bottom of the sea. the double life of an opera singer who's also trying to strike it rich under the thick ice off alaska. she's going to join me to tell her story next. [ male announcer ] 'tis the season of more.
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at night it's gotten down to 8 degrees. in the morning when i wake up, there's frost on my blankets. [ singing ] >> okay. we're going to explain that. that's from "bering sea gold." it's a hit show on discovery that takes us into deep-sea mining. joining me now with a look at the new third season is emily riedel. she has the honor of being the first and only female dredge owner. she also has a heck of a singing voice. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> i'm wondering how in the world you started mining for gold in alaska. >> well, i grew up in alaska.
after i got my degree, i wanted to return to make money in a short time to get my master's abroad. it seemed like a reasonable place to go gold mining. >> can you explain "bering sea gold" for people who aren't familiar with the show. what's behind it and what's a dredge? >> we're offshore miners. we take dredges out. often very not seaworthy vessels on to the bering sea to essentially -- we put a suction hose down and dredge the bottom of the bering sea looking for gold. we run pump engines 24 hours a day, as much time as we can to make as much money as we can. we're always hoping for those richer and richer deposits. >> okay. you're going up in the waters in alaska. that's got to be pretty cold. how cold does it get? >> when we are mining in the winter, the water temperatures are 27 degrees. in the summertime, they range from 45 to 55 if you're lucky.
so they're always pretty cold. we have to keep ourselves warm by running hot water into our suits from our pump engine. >> but you can go all year round in the waters? >> not all year round. we mine usually march into april. that's when the bering sea is frozen solid enough for us to drill into five feet of ice and put our equipment down and mine under the ice. otherwise, the ice is fluctuating constantly throughout the winter. >> the gold mining business, i'm going to guess it's dominated largely by men. so as a woman, do you ever get any push back? >> it is dominated by men. it's a real sausage fest up there. as a woman -- >> i don't want to know what that is. >> well, i'm sure you know what that's like working in television. >> sure. >> as a woman up there, i think at this point -- i mean, for a while it was up settling being one of the only females in the business. at this point, i'm so motivated to make a lot of gold and be strong and be a successful dredge owner that i don't even think about it.
i don't think hillary clinton wanders around thinking, i'm going to go work in a sausage fest today. no, we're women, we're strong, and we're here to get the job done. >> yeah. you know, you have these two passions. you do this mining, and you have a beautiful voice. you want to be an opera singer. you want to pay for your education by the money you're making from the show. how did those two things happen though? i mean, come on. >> i detest 9:00 to 5:00 jobs so much that i'll go to alaska and become a gold miner. i don't know. i don't fit in well with society. i wanted to do something different. i wanted to have control over my income. gold is the best way to have control. in an always changing, very shaky financial place, that is the usa right now. gold is a solid investment. i like the freedom that comes from being a gold miner. i love to be free. >> you are offering a fascinating self-description. you're a true artist, even if you're a gold miner in the water. emily, thank you so much for
sharing your story with us. >> thanks so much for having me. >> you can all watch "bering sea gold" friday nights at 10:00 eastern on the discovery channel. topping today's number ones, favorite christmas songs. white christmas, but not bing crosby's version, rather dean martin's. second is silent night, santa claus is coming to town, and rudolph. ♪ >> okay. with justin timberlake singing about his suit and tie in that song, it seems appropriate that "gq" has named him the most stylish man of the year. in second, pharrell williams. >> everybody's saying woody grant's a millionaire. >> it's no big deal. >> no big deal? >> and that's a scene from the movie "nebraska." "vanity fair's" richard lawson
calls it the best film of the year, offering a bittersweet theory on the meaning of life. >> how long before you're ready to date? >> what do you mean? >> i saw in your e-mails you'd gone through a breakup. >> you're kind of nosey. >> that's part of a scene from "her." christopher orr calls is the best of the year. why so much acclaim? that's in our next hour of "weekends with alex witt."
with alex witt." now headlines at the half. an apology from a former pr exec who sparked outrage over a tweet about a.i.d.s. in africa. she was fired saturday for that tweet. today she's apologized and said to the crisis, which does not discriminate. she went on to say, i am ashamed. an artificial heart that may give patients up to five years of extra life has been implanted in a 75-year-old fremplgmnchman. the heart is powered by batteries that can be worn
externally. and astronauts are gearing up for another space walk. yesterday, the two americans on the crew successfully pulled out an ammonia pump with a bad valve. jpmorgan chase is now limiting the amount of money you can spend or withdrawal for those customers who used their debit cards at starting stores during the recent security breach. affected debit card customers will be temporarily limited to $300 worth of purchases and $100 in cash withdrawals per day. a source tells cnbc citibank will also impose limits. of course, all this after target says computer hackers stole data from as many as 40 million credit and debit card shoppers from its stores between november 27th and december 15th. joining me now is paul lipman, the ceo at the security firm total defense. paul, welcome. >> nice to be here. >> so chase says it's taking this action as a precaution. you're looking at 2 million americans or accounts who will be affected.
this could not have come at a worse time. three days before christmas. talk about how unprecedented this is and if you think this is a reasonable plan of action. >> alex, this is really unprecedented. this is the second largest compromise we've seen in terms of credit cards and debit cards that have been stolen. if you have a credit card that's been stolen, you're largely protected. the credit card companies will reverse charges and your financial exposure is essentially zero. with a debit card, however, the risk is much higher. your account could be drained. as you rightly say it, the wrong time of year. it could take banks weeks to reverse those charges. i think they are taking the right course of action. ultimately, they need to go a step further and issue new cards. we really don't know the extent of the damage that's been done here. we won't know for some time, frankly, how many of these cards are being used in fraudulent transactions. issuing new cards is the prudent
step. >> i'm curious. you guys there at total defense are probably looking at this and scratching your heads. do we have any idea how this happened? >> you know, it's interesting. i think ultimately the right authority, the secret service and target and some of their consultants are looking into it right now. i think it will be some time before we truly know how it happened. the really surprising thing here is that the cvv code, which is the three-digit code on the back of the credit card, was compromised. tens of millions of cvv codes compromi compromised. cvv codes should be encrypted at all times. the credit card companies and the banks and organizations that take credit cards are subject to a form of self-regulation called pcidss, which is the payment card industry data security standards. under pci, cvv codes should be encrypted at all times. something happened here where there is an insider who had access to the systems, maybe a database of cvv codes that were unencrypted. maybe a piece of malware or
rogue software that was planted in those sales devices. one way or another, somebody's got hold of cvv codes that were unencrypted. i think there's a lot we can learn here. >> you know, it's interesting. you were quoted in a northern california paper saying that the reality of these incidents is only going to increase. it's a result of an increasing connectivity of everything we touch. how do we keep this from happening then? >> i think unfortunately, alex, we live in a world and a time where more of our vital infrastructure and systems than ever before are ultimately connected to the internet. also, at the same time, the cost of entry for these cyber criminals is only coming down. so i think we're going to see more of this kind of attack rather than less. i think really the watch word for consumers and anybody who's watching your show who shopped at target during that time period from the end of november to the middle of december, it's be vigilant. watch your account. watch your transactions. get online. if there's anything you see, let
your bank know. let your credit card company know so they can take care of it for you. >> and okay, you're saying all these things. in addition, check your credit report as well, which people don't think all that often necessarily. all those things for defensive shopping. yet, it still happens. is there anything else people can do? do you think there will be something implemented in the near future that you can say, okay, consumers, do this. >> i think ultimately, in this situation, there was nothing a consumer could do. this was an attack. this was a very sophisticated attack against a major retailer. as individuals, certainly there are things we can do to mitigate the risk. obviously, keeping an eye on your accounts, keeping an eye on transactions, running security software on your own pc to ensure that you're not a victim of a virus or piece of malware that's seeking to steal your information and steal your money. and ultimately always being
careful when you're shopping online, for example. that you're only shopping at known sites that support encryption and support safe practices. so it's really basic practices and basic security that individuals should be following. again, nothing that any one individual could have done to stop an attack of this magnitude. >> all right. ceo of the security firm total defense paul lipman. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> safe shopping. here's what we've been asking all of you. should banks be allowed to limit the cash withdrawals and debits from your checking account? here's some of your comments. on facebook, yes, if you need cash so bad, go to your physical bank and personally withdrawal some. good grief, people. louis perez comments, yes, there should be some control. unfortunately the laws that need to be created to keep the technology in check is not moving fast enough to keep pace. until that goal is reached, it's better to safeguard our personal funds with these transaction limits. and, certainly saved my backside, i guess, that one night. okay, four nights in vegas. that was a good tweet.
keep talking to me. my handle is @alexwitt. meantime, what are the best and worst gifts you received? i asked my colleagues that question in this week's office politics. first, a hilarious holiday start to "saturday night live" last night. jimmy fallon and justin timberlake started that show off in a skit which both were professional rappers. ♪ this is for you. ♪ [ male announcer ] bob's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today his doctor has him on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. where does the united states get most of its energy?
is it africa? the middle east? canada? or the u.s.? the answer is... the u.s. ♪ most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here. to help secure retirements and protect financial futures. to help communities recover and rebuild. for companies going from garage to global. on the ground, in the air, even into space. we repaid every dollar america lent us. and gave america back a profit. we're here to keep our promises.
to help you realize a better tomorrow. from the families of aig, happy holidays. so i can't afford to have germy surfaces. but a fresh sheet of bounty duratowel leaves this surface cleaner than a germy dishcloth. it's durable. and it's 3 times cleaner. so ditch your dishcloth and switch to bounty duratowel. does your mouth often feel dry? a dry mouth can be a side effect of many medications
but it can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath. that's why there's biotene. available as an oral rinse, toothpaste, spray or gel, biotene can provide soothing relief, and it helps keep your mouth healthy, too. remember, while your medication is doing you good, a dry mouth isn't. biotene -- for people who suffer from dry mouth. hi boys! i've made you campbell's chunky new england clam chowder. wow! this is incredible! i know. and now it has more clams! [ male announcer ] campbell's chunky soup. what? [ male announcer ] it fills you up right. taking a look at the week on wall street. some post offices are open today, offering a one-time sunday package pickup. some people who may have missed regular mail deliveries during the week. packages are available for pickup until 2:00 p.m.. a shorter trading day on tuesday
and all markets are closed wednesday for christmas with many traders taking the week off. and if you head to the movies on christmas, there will be plenty to choose from. there are eight knew films opening that day, including "the wolf of wall street" and "the secret life of walter mitty." in today's office politics, we're celebrating the holiday spirit. i asked my colleagues about the best gifts they've ever received. >> i have this red winter coat that i got when i was in college. my senior year of college, which wasn't that long ago, but it was still a good ways ago. i still love it and i still wear it and i still think it's beautiful. it still reminds me of getting it from my parents for christmas. >> it's really just being with my family. there's nothing that brings more joy than being around people that you love, especially now that i don't get to see them nearly as much as i would like to. it's just family time.
>> cash and money were pretty good. my dad got me tickets to a celtics game once when i was a kid. this was when the celtics were at the height. random celtics tickets. but it was the first time i ever got to go to the boston garden, the old boston garden. >> the most joy is to be, like -- when my son was younger especially, it's like i bought a gift that you would like more than any other gift than any other personal could give him. he's getting the gifts from everybody. oh, this is great. open daddy's last, and daddy knows what to get his son. i hit him with the truck or whatever. he's like, this is the one, i love this the best. it's like, yes. >> the best gift i've ever gotten is when my family took me -- we went on a trip to
israel. i go to the see a bunch of family members and travel around. i think experiences are almost always something you remember more than objects. >> first year we were married, we'd just moved from d.c. we were very much home sick. my wife had gotten the photographer that shot our wedding pictures to go to our old places and shoot -- like, just shoot our old places. she blew them up and did these black and whites. >> that's great. >> it was really thoughtful. i think i gave her a pair of earrin earrings. >> well, that's nice too. >> you didn't see the earrings. >> my mom when i was a kid was really great. she totally got into it. every year it was some new presentation of something, right. so one year she had gotten marionettes. she set the christmas tree up,
presents, the lights were just perfect. these marionettes, she had placed them in such a way that the light was hitting their face. it looked like a dream. i will never forget it. it was the most incredible thing. i was so enchanted because the whole experience basically. >> i think as a kid it was probably rock 'em sock 'em robots. i had seven older brothers. i was always wanting to be cool with them. it was probably that. as i've gotten older, the best gift -- you negotiation i've had this fantasy of having rock 'em sock 'em robots on the set of my show for when congress is going at it. anyway, i digress. >> as for me, my best holiday gift ever is my daughter who was born in december. next hour, our worst gifts and holiday wishes for our loved ones and for you, our viewers. a look inside a company that received a lot of criticism during the iraq war. i'm going to ask the man who started black water if he has any regrets, next. big meeting when we land,
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back water, the name evokes memories of the worst days of the iraq war. critics saw the contractor as soldiers of fortune with quick trigger fingers and no rules. while their clients stayed safe, they took heavy losses. the former ceo has written a memoir, arguing his side of the controversial story. joining me now is erik prince. thanks for joining me. >> thanks for having me. >> why did you write the book? >> i wrote it really to set the record straight. if half the stuff that's been alleged about us were true, i wouldn't like us either. i just wanted to lay out the facts, what it is, how we did things, why we operated the way we did, and to, you know, dissway the notion this is a new concept that battlefield contractors are some new invention. as i talk about in the book extensively, contractors
literally go back to the founding of the country. >> right. >> you know, i just encourage all the readers of this or the viewers of this network to be open minded, read the book, and let their assumptions be challenged and see a different set of facts. >> i'm going to have you -- i'm going to make an argument to you and have you come back at me. there are a lot of people who saw you as a bunch of cowboys making a lot of money there. you didn't have military restrictions. killing civilians. what is your argument against this perception? >> look, the company was operating under a competitive bid contract. a thousand-page, very detailed contract laid out by the state department that prescribed the exact rules of engagement, how the guys would conduct themselves, even down to the detailed briefing of the routes they would take, the vehicles they would drive, clearly what the rules of engagement were, the escalation of force requirements. so this idea that we were running amok and ungoverned is
just totally, 100% inaccurate. >> here's something, erik. you have defended blackwater by saying it was a protective force that saved a lot of lives. at the same time, you were a cia asset. you trained hit teams. you maintained armed drones, which complicates things, the definition a bit. would you agree blackwater was in part an offensive force? >> no, not at all. look, all the work that we were criticized for in iraq was purely defensive. you get hired, you take basically a robust temp capability because the military needed additional capability to do counterinsurgency support. in this case, they needed high-end security to move officials from one point to the next. they needed additional security support. so we took veterans -- i'm a veteran. we hired former special operations kind of people, gave them additional training, resources, put them to work for the u.s. government under their rules of the engagement, under the u.s. government's rules of
engagement daent ru engagement. that's being a protective shell around people trying to get something done in iraq. >> and i want to say, when you say you were a veteran, you were one of the most highly trained types of veterans. you were a navy s.e.a.l. where do you come down on the argument when people say, look, you weren't careful enough and killed civilians. >> look, 41 of our men were killed doing the missions. we did more than 100,000 protective missions between iraq and afghanistan. no one under our care was killed or injured fortunately. unfortunately, dangerous things happen in war zones. a lot of incoming rounds were received. i just want to draw a parallel even to october 3 here in washington, d.c. there was a 34-year-old woman driving her car, got into a bit of a traffic altercation outside of a federal building. the secret service opened fire on her. she moved to another location.
again they fired on her. at the third location she was finally gunned down and killed. when they went to her car, there was no weapons, no explosive material, nothing, just a fortunately uninjured baby sleeping in the backseat. although, the woman was killed. dangerous things happen. that was in washington, d.c. there was no shots fired, no car bombing, no war zone that day. yet, federal police officers opened fire and killed an unarmed, innocent woman. >> okay. let's talk about the concept of whether or not war should be a for-profit business. because blackwater made about $2 billion in government contracts. you made a lot of money personally. what do you think the argument is for that, people who say it shouldn't be? >> maybe the total revenue number of the total history of the company t didn't get anywhere close to $2 billion. a lot of people throw that number around. i didn't make that much money doing it. i put all the money the business made back into adding capability. we built to a capability of 73 aircraft that we put overseas on behalf of the u.s. government.
look, private contractors have been operating in support of national security since the first colonies came over and the country was founded. the idea of a people in the private sector operating next to their uniform counterparts in some kind of support mission literally goes back to the start of america. so people can say yes or no they don't like that, but the fact is they have existed and will always exist. i think it's very important to consider now in an era where we just spend way too much as a country. we spend too much on defense. we spend too much in social programs, everything. the private sector can serve really as a free market price check. you know, 20 years ago you couldn't measure what it was going to cost you to send a package overnight from l.a. to new york. because you only had the postal service. now you can do that with a number of private competitors. the same kind of training, logistics, aviation support. all of this kind of things done by the private sector can serve as a reality check.
the pentagon has -- >> can i ask you though, the question that needs to be asked, had you not done it, had the government done that which you did over in iraq, would that have cost more or less? >> well, that was extensively studied by the gao, the congressional budget office, all the rest, and they found the price we charged was significantly cheaper. i think it was about a third of what it would have cost the federal government, state department in this case, of doing that job or even if the military was assigned to do it. it would have taken soldiers away from doing an offensive mission and not just being, you know, defensive bodyguards. so there's -- i'm happy to have the cost-effective argument, the accountability argument, and the reliability argument. those are honest debates people should have and base them on facts, not on emotion. >> can i ask you, if you could turn back the hands of time, go back 10, 12 years, would you do anything differently? >> i would not have worked for the state department. flat out, no. the amount of hassle,
bureaucratic attack we went under, it was not worth it as a company. if i could send a message back in time, that's what i would say. >> how about the iraq war overall? do you think it was a mistake? >> well, you know, the sad thing at this point, iraq is lost. the last election cycle they had there, a good guy won the election, but from iranian influence managed to keep mawlaki in power and the u.s. never weighed in. all the struggle that american put in for all those years is kind of lost to the iranian influence. >> okay. erik prince, i was looking forward to this interview. thanks for taking the hard questions. i appreciate it. >> thanks. have a merry christmas. >> and to you. thanks. dennis rodman's return to north korea. new questions about his meeting with kim jong-un. ♪ [ male announcer ] bob's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today his doctor has him on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one.
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where will your holiday be ruined? he's a man on a mission in north korea. what is it dennis rodman is trying to do for his good old buddy kim jong-un? and at the holiday box office, it's a love story about a man's affection for a computer's voice and critics love it. hello, everyone. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." just a bit past 1:00 p.m. here in the east, 10:00 a.m. out west. here's what's happening right now. we go to front-page politics. new today, a looming deadline involving the affordable care act. tomorrow is the last day people can sign up for health insurance if they want it to take effect on january 1st. meantime, some republicans are criticizing the obama administration's recent decision to allow people whose insurance plans were canceled this year to temporarily be exempted from the law's individual mandate. democratic senator chuck schumer addressed critics, calling for a repeal of the individual mandate on today's "meet the press." >> let's not forget all the good things that are happening. if you have a child with cancer,
you couldn't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. what agony. now it is there. and if you repeal the individual mandate altogether, that would no longer exist. there have been a lot of glitches. there have been a lot of problems, but they're getting fixed. six months from now many more people are going to see the positives rather than the negatives. >> well, joining me now from hawaii, nbc's peter alexander, who's traveling with the first family, and lynn sweet from a decidedly less glamorous spot in washington, d.c. >> but it's warm here today. >> i know. but it's warm here in new york and it's warm where peter is. i guess we're all doing well. peter, there is that big obamacare deadline tomorrow. late this past week, the administration announced it was tweaking the individual mandate. so what's going on here? >> reporter: well, this was to try to accommodate the more than 3.5 million americans who had received those cancellation
letters. this went against the president's word that if you liked your plan, you could keep it. a lot of these individuals were the ones who said they wanted to keep their plan but were going to be unable to do that. so these folks who had not necessarily re-enrolled for plans were given an extense of sorts that they wouldn't have that tax penalty applied to them. they would not, in fact, have to sign up for one of these new plans. they could sign up for actually a catastrophic plan that was initially intended only for individuals under the age of 30 who had some form of an economic hardship. one of the concerns that insurance companies say this creates is a two-tier system. it changes up the formula. coming into this program, the insurance companies had a genuine sense of how many people to expect coming in. this creates a system where there are different rules for different individuals. they say it has the potential to make the system more unstable and really to undermine it altogether. >> you heard on friday, lynn, the president says more than a million people have selected a
health insurance plan. do you think the white house might see some of the criticism die down as the insurance benefits kick in? >> no, because you have two pools of people who are at issue here. the people who are getting something they never had before. they're the happy people. they're people with pre-existing conditions who couldn't get policies before. then there's this group of people who as an unanticipated consequence that the white house never saw coming, though they should have, who can't renew their policies. unless these people are able to sign up quickly, there's going to be ill will left. peter did a great job of explaining the situation. it's still confusing. people who are there listening, you will -- if your policy was not renewed, you have to some work to do to make sure you have shopped around and replaced it or taken advantage of some of these rule changes to see what you can do. that's why i think it's going to
be impossible in the short term to make everybody happy on this, even though the white house accentuates the positive. >> i want to make sure there's no confusion on what's going on here as well. tomorrow is the deadline to sign up if you want health insurance to kick in january 1st. you can sign up after that to have it kick in later. but let's make sure people aren't thinking, oh, my gosh, we have one more day to do this and that's going to be it. peter, let's listen to a bit more of senator schumer on "meet the press." here's that. >> the bottom line is there are a lot of good things in obamacare that people like. the more people see that, the more positive it's going to be. and i would just say one other thing with all the focus on obamacare, david. the number one issue in the 2014 election is not going to be obamacare or the deficit. it is going to be who can get the middle class going again. >> so peter, is this going to be the president's focus when he gets back to washington, the middle class? >> reporter: well, the focus for this president is certainly
going to be on the economy. he said in those remarks before the end of his time in washington, he said that the next year needs to be a year of action. there's a lot of stuff on the president's plate from immigration and the economic consequences the white house says are associated with reform on that front. gun control, another issue he wants to focus on. but the economy is the primary issue for the white house. while there's no genuine belief system that there's any reason for true bipartisanship to be anticipated in the year ahead despite that small budget agreement they've already come to terms with, republicans and democrats in washington, one of the next deadlines to keep an eye on, the treasury department saying it could be, as we've discussed before, déjà vu all over again with the debt ceiling crisis still looming at the end of february into march. the treasury department says it's at that time where the government basically will have to agree to raise the debt ceiling to pay the nation's bills. the president says that's something he won't negotiate on.
republicans still want something in return for that. we'll wait and see. >> joe manchin talked about the president's management style today. let's listen. >> everybody has a different style, as we've said. that's just not in the president's nature to pal around and the gregarious type of personality of bill clinton. two different people. it makes it more difficult. it's hard to say no to a friend. when you build that relationship and that friendship, you're looking for ways to try to work things out and find a compromise. that friendship means an awful lot. when you don't build those personal relationships, it's pretty easy for a person to say, well, let me think about it and not really go that extra effort. >> do you think, lynn, that's a fair characterization, or is this something that's gotten fuel from people as they're suggesting it? >> i agree that it is not fair, necessarily. it's a complex relationship that obama has with members of
congress. you know, when he was in the senate, they used him as a piggy bank to do fundraising for him. he wasn't there long enough to get any bills done and forge lasting relationships. you know, the manchins of the world are the most open to compromise with republicans. it's obama's style that is, i think, very much situational. because of that, it is not anything where he has invested in long-term relationships where the payoff may be down the line. sometimes that shows. it should have been remedied by now. it remains to be seen if in the three years left it goes down to the essential question. not so much relationships, but can he get something done with recalcitrant republicans mainly in the house. >> in terms of getting something done, peter, we've got an improving economy, a stronger gdp. we have unemployment being lowered. these are things that the president has accomplished, and yet he doesn't get a lot of
credit for that all the time. is there something the white house thinks they can do to recalibrate that and move forward and get the credit he deserves? >> reporter: well, their window is closing, and the white house recognizes that. i think most administrations realize the first year of the second term is about as much time as you get before the focus turns to the next midterm election. in this case, 2014. then ultimately to the next presidential election. as much focus as they want to place on their successes and they're going to try to get changes in terms of investment and infrastructure, refocus on gun control and immigration. they recognize the focus is very rapidly going to turn away from that conversation and be distracted by other issues. in the white house's case, that may be more challenges from republicans as they focus on 2014 and not on any desire to come to any terms with the president himself. >> you can weigh in on the same thing, lynn. >> i think the thing to watch for is listen to this phrase, which will be coming up a lot in the run up to the state of the union. it's income inequality. again, peter touched on that in
your question about the middle class. that is what you heard senator schumer talking about. that's where the shift is going to be. this whole package of minimum wage, unemployment benefits, which right now in congress went home without a deal for the long term extension of benefits. that's packaged under this catch phrase of income inequality. obama has worked on this for years. this is some place where they're either going to try to say we have made headway or clearly put blame on republicans to deflect some of the fallout from the botched obamacare rollout. >> okay. peter alexander and lynn sweet, thank you so much. peter, we've been enjoying the lull of the waves. it's been kind of really zen here in the studio thanks to you. >> reporter: it is nice. >> thanks, guys. good to see you. well, the deadly storm that's cutting its way across the country has brought a little bit of everything. heavy snow and ice and flooding, tornado warnings and record highs in some areas. heavy rain turned to hies, which
knocked down trees leading to power outages in oklahoma. then in arkansas, a tornado tore its way through this town. it was causing some accidents, damaging homes, injured three people as well. in kentucky, winds gusting up to 70 miles an hour downed power lines, setting fire to nine cars there. so what can we expect today, and who's going to get the worst of this wild weather? let's go to dr. greg postel tracking the storm for us. hi, greg. >> hey, alex. good news is things are winding down all across the country from this winter storm. let's look at the great lakes right now. places that were snowing hard earlier today in, for example, milwaukee, wisconsin, not snowing anymore. just flurries moving through. green bay a little bit of snow left over. likewise in parts of northern lower michigan and in the u.p. all in all, in the upper great lakes, the good news here is the snow is winding down today. tomorrow, monday, there will be snow showers scattered across the region. not too much accumulation. generally less than an inch across the region. the bigger story, in my opinion, was what happened last night in
northern new england with the big ice storm there. looking on the radar, you can see things there, too, are beginning to wind down. we're losing some of the reports of the freezing rain and sleet across that section of the country. this is excellent news there. still, there will be areas and pockets of scattered freezing rain across the region, which may accumulate at times in places up to, perhaps, a tenth of an inch of ice. but that's on top of some places that have gotten more than one inch of ice. so lots of damage, lots of power outages reported all across this region of new england and new york state. in northern maine, we did have some snow and we still expect a little bit more. that's where the snow has fallen in the northeast with this storm. elsewhere, it's just been too warm for that. instead, they got ice in northern new england. alex, back to you. >> they sure did in a big way. thank you, greg. appreciate it. well, new today, jpmorgan chase is notifying customers who used their debit cards at target during the recent data breach that they have new spending and withdrawal limits.
chase says debit card purchases on the affected accounts will temporarily be limited to $300 a day with cash withdrawals, capped at $100 a day. chase is extending branch hours in order to help customers get new cards, but three days before chris marx people are being a bit measure cautious. >> the consumer has to pay attention. it's very easy to just get your bill and pay it, but you have to pay attention to the bills that you're getting. >> in the past, i know my debit card's been good about protection. if they see anything, they'll call me right away. >> well, approximately 2 million chase customers are affected by the target data breach. representatives from other banks are saying they're also taking steps to protect accounts, but none has outlined changes as specifically as chase has. dennis rodman's latest visit to north korea so far hasn't included a meeting with kim jong-un, but the former basketball star is saying he doesn't feel snubbed. >> people need to understand
that it's not important for me to meet him every time i come over. he has a greater job to do for his country. i respect that. >> rodman is currently in the capital of pyongyang to train local basketball players for an exhibition game. nbc's annabell roberts has more on this from london. >> hi, alex. well, that's right. he's been there a couple of days so far. this is his third visit to the country. he describes the leader of north korea, kim jong-un, as a friend. he says he's not ashamed, not embarrassed to call him a friend and they're close, personal friends. as you said, he's trying to set up an exhibition match on january the 8th to mark what's part of the major celebrations for the 31st birthday of the north korean leader. he wants to get a team of nba veterans over to the country to play this exhibition match. he's there doing tryouts with the north korean team doing a bit of training with them.
apparently he's having a few problems convincing some of these nba veterans to make the journey over to north korea. given the background to this visit, perhaps it's not too surprising. you will remember that kim jong-un's uncle was removed from a party meeting and very swiftly executed last week. now, he was effectively, until then, the number two in the country. there are reports coming in from south korea that a number of people who are loyal to him, particularly people who were businessmen in china, have been rounded up, summoned back to north korea, and there's real talk there's some kind of purge going on in north korea at the moment as kim jong-un tries to shore up his leadership. so you can understand why perhaps there might be some hesitation. dennis rodman, however, says he's aware that some in america don't really back what he's trying to do, but he will carry on with this mission, and i think we can hear from him again
now. >> a lot of people in america don't approve of what i've been doing, but that's not my problem. all of the sudden i decide to do something like this and it's more of an entertainment factor. it's not political. it's not something like that. >> rodman's stressing that he will, of course, carry on with this match in january, even if he doesn't get to see the marshal, as he calls him, kim jong-un, on this visit. he'll be back in january for the match regardless. >> okay. more to come, no doubt. thank you so much. i will talk with the author of a new and provoktive article about whether companies are willing to let their employees go hungry. later, it's chris christie's strongest denial in the ongoing bridge brew that that. perfection is in the details. ♪ pillsbury cookie dough.
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there have been protests across the nation this year with minimum wage workers asking for a livable salary. now a new op-ed has been getting a lot of attention with a simple statement. it's not okay that your employees can't afford to eat. joining me now is the author, professor of management at the wharton school. peter, i'm awfully glad you're here because it's interesting what you wrote. here's the quote. a long-standing principle in all developed countries, including the u.s., is labor is not like a commodity where taking advantage of the market to squeeze down prices is a fact of life. employees have human rights that do not disappear when they enter the workplace. so peter, are those rights being met? >> well, you know, it's interesting. this article -- what i actually wrote was really just a question. i just asked when it became common inside companies to not worry about this issue. because a generation ago it used to be pretty common inside
companies to worry about questions of fairness. they spent a lot of time on compensation policies to make sure that, you know, people were paid adequately and appropriately. it seemed to disappear. so the question that i asked was really, when did this change, and why are these conversations not going on any longer? and what happened after that was a slew of comments. i think we've set some sort of record on the harvard business review website. comments back and forth arguing, you know -- i'd say actually a majority of people, maybe surprisingly, arguing it is violating people's rights to be paid this low. but of course, there are also a range of people arguing that this is not really a problem. you know, those arguments are maybe a little more interesting because they're kind of all over the place in terms of what people were saying. it seemed to be -- make a lot of people upset, which was interesting. >> peter, do you have a target number, or is there a general consensus from those people who are commenting on the hbs website or the like of what a
fair minimum wage is? >> well, i think the real story was about the level at which the government allows you to collect food stamps and other sorts of assistance. so the government is saying at that wage level, you are not paid enough to support yourself. so if you've got a family of four, that wage level is $15. if you make $15 or less, you can get food stamps, which is an indication you're not paid enough. so i don't know that i've got a particular wage in mind about the minimum wage, but i think what i was really trying to provoke are conversations inside the boardroom as to what the employer's responsibility should be in this rather than the public policy issue, which they're obviously related, but i would just be interested in what the companies internally are thinking about this. if they're not thinking about it, why. >> yeah, do human resources departments still advocate for
employees, or are they looking out more for the company? >> i think advocates for the employees got pushed out a while ago. it's an interesting question as to why. i think it has to do with other pressures and priorities. the reason it's an interesting question for the u.s. and for private companies is in the boardroom where they set the priorities and principles and values, they used to strike something of a balance between the interest of employees and shareholders and the customers and community. and that balance has really tilted in a big way recently. that is towards shareholders and away from everything else. the question really is, you know, how far does the tilt have to go? in this case, many employers are employeeing people and the government says you're not paying them enough to eat. is that far enough? is that tilt already over the line? and how did we get there? i think i would just like to see companies have this debate internally as to whether this is appropriate, whether this balance is the right one. >> so you're teaching the
nation's future business executives there at harvard. what do you say to them about employees and compensation and how to view it? >> i'm actually a professor at the wharton school, even though i published at the harvard business school. >> that's what i mean. you're among the nation's leaders there. >> so i think, you know, what we try to tell them is that, you know, you pay peanut, you get monkeys. to some extent, what you pay shapes what you're getting. even if you're just interested in lowering costs, the cheapest workers are not necessarily going to produce you the lowest cost, right. so these are questions that you have to decide. the idea that you should simply pay people as little as possible is almost surely going to be a mistake. even the companies that we're thinking about, they don't do this for their managers. they don't do it for their executives. they spend a lot of time worrying about wages that are appropriate. but yet, when it comes to production workers, we see so many companies willing to pay
absolutely as little as possible. >> peter, interesting conversation. thank you so much for sharing it with me. i appreciate it. >> thank you. they're lining up in cleveland to catch a glimpse of the legendary christmas house. that's next. if you suffer from a dry mouth then you'll know how uncomfortable it can be. [ crickets chirping ] but did you know that the lack of saliva can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath? [ exhales deeply ] [ male announcer ] well there is biotene. specially formulated with moisturizers and lubricants, biotene can provide soothing relief and it helps keep your mouth healthy, too. [ applause ] biotene -- for people who suffer from dry mouth. [ ding ] cheese plate? cheese plate. no, i made something better. you used the oven? boom. [ male announcer ] pillsbury crescents. make the holidays pop. ♪
i think we both are clean freaks. i used to scrub the floor on my knees. [ daughter ] i've mastered the art of foot cleaning. oh, boy. oh, boy. oh, boy. [ carmel ] that drives me nuts. it gives me anxiety just thinking about how crazy they get. [ doorbell rings ] [ daughter ] oh, wow. [ carmel ] swiffer wetjet. you guys should try this. it's so easy. oh, my. [ gasps ] i just washed this floor. if i didn't see it i wouldn't believe it. [ carmel ] it did my heart good to see you cleaning. [ regina ] yeah, your generation has all the good stuff. [ daughter ] oh, yeah.
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from capital one. unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere, every single day. now tell me, what's in your wallet? crowds are lining a neighborhood street in cleveland to visit the house in a classic christmas movie "a christmas story." crowds gather to see the house, which is now a museum. >> it captures the essence of what christmas is. the family chaos, the food, the presents. >> i was ralphie as a kid without the little brother. >> it cannot be christmas without "a christmas story." >> how many times you seen the film? >> probably 50, maybe. >> that's awesome. to mark the film's 30th anniversary, fans are holding a convention this year. should be fun. it's a 21st century love story that's redefining computer
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with alex witt." new jersey governor chris christie is now addressing the george washington bridge issue that has some state democrats accusing him of ordering lane closures for political retributi retribution. >> it's not that big a deal. just because press runs around and writes about it both here and nationally, i know why that is and so do you. let's not pretend that it's because of the gravity of the issue. it's because i am a national figure, and anything like this will be written about a lot now. >> joining me now is heather hadden, who's been covering this story for "the wall street journal." heather, based on what the governor has just said, is it not that big a deal? is it only a story because of his national prominence? >> no, i think it has become a big deal. state democrats show no sign they're going to let this go. we have subpoenas that have come into trenton now that we still have documents that will be
released. that will be coming up this week. i think the governor will still have a lot of heat on him. national democrats show no sign of letting up on this issue. so i think there's still going to be a lot of questions he has to answer. even though at this point i think he doesn't want to -- he's sick of this issue. >> can you give me the cliff notes version here for our viewers who aren't familiar with this situation? a little complicated here. >> and there's still a lot of mystery around it. so basically, there were lanes leading to the george washington bridge, which is the nation's busiest bridge, that were closed in september for four days. it caused huge amounts of traffic backup in the neighboring community of ft. lee. so the port authority, the appointees to the port authority from governor christie have alleged that this was due to a traffic study. they were analyzing if these local lanes, local access lanes were really necessary or not.
democrats, however, allege -- some democrats allege this was actually political pay back, that the mayor of ft. lee, it's a very democratic town right near new york. the mayor had refused to endorse governor christie for re-election. he racked up 60 endorsements from democrats. some say they wanted to add his name to it the list and he didn't. so this was quite a way to toy with the mayor. >> so it's a story right now here. how much do you think it is a national issue? does it have the legs to remain a national issue for a while? >> yeah, and certainly we saw this week that congress is getting involved. so senator rockefeller said he wants to investigate this. he has the power to do that. so, you know, nationally, you know, democratic organizations, pacs have gotten involved in this. it really does show a lot of staying power over what seems to be such a local issue. >> well, in fact, you quoted the new jersey state senate
president, who's a democrat, who said that, quote, no one can possibly imagine the governor ordered the closure. is there any indication that if he didn't order it, it was at least done on his behalf? >> you know, we really don't know. that's why these subpoenas are going to be so valuable. the first batch of information, what i've been told from the port authority, is hundreds of pages of documents that were sent to trenton on thursday. staffers are looking through them now. we have a deadline tomorrow on monday to comply with subpoenas. so i think those documents are really going to be where it's at to explain this. >> i'm curious. this is a blue state. and this is a governor who is, you know, wildly popular there. he was re-elected, and there's no doubt about the margin by which he was elected. so the relationship between the democrats and christie administration, is it so fractured it would pull a political stunt like this? >> it's complicated. you know, state democrats have
worked closely with governor christie to pass through bipartisan measures through trenton. they do have a complicated relationship. but governor christie's campaign was very aggressive. like i said, they courted democrats all over the state. and this was, you know, unprecedented that there would be so much crossing the aisle to support a republican governor. so we don't know. >> well, we don't know. we'll probably find out more. thanks so much. >> thanks so much. a bit more on the giant storm moving over the northern plains and the midwest bringing with it ice and heavy snow. severe storm warnings are in effect across the region now. let's get to the weather channel's mike seidel. he's in wisconsin about an hour north of milwaukee. hi, mike. >> reporter: hey, alex. how about this for christmas, huh? there's your white christmas out here. it's very nice out here. the snow has backed off. we've had about six inches here. up in green bay, packers and steelers later this afternoon. they'll have light snow at the
stadium. it's 21 with a windchill of 10. that's a spring day at lambeau field. other issues, at chicago's o'hare, they have canceled a number of flights. 90 departures and about 110 inbound. now, you think that's a lot of flights, nearly 200. that's about 7% of their whole schedule. more than likely, your connection to your flight in and out of o'hare is going to run. but there's going to be some delays certainly. and the temperatures here have now inched up just above freezing. we're going to have a little bit of light snow here in the upper midwe midwest, including green bay. another shot of snow tuesday night and wednesday morning. then plain old cold up here with don't see anything average or above probably until the first of next year as the pattern stays chilly up in this neck of the woods. meanwhile back east, 70 in central park right now. you've broken the record by 7 degrees. amazing. >> i'm sending some of it your way. thank you so much. in a seasonal rush of
big-budget film, one different type of love toir is capturing the attention of film critics. the film "her" stars joaquin phoenix and scarlett johanson. take a look. >> how long before you're ready to date? >> what do you mean? >> i saw in your e-mails you'd gone through a breakup. >> you're kind of nosey. >> join me now, "washington post" critic. what exactly is this movie about? >> this is a charming film from spike jones. it's set in the sort of near future. it's sort of ambiguous when it takes place. it's about a lonely guy who falls in love with his operating system, which, hey, it can happen. you know, in the age of siri and with these seductive voices on gps, it's taking that a few steps further. the operating system is voiced by scarlett johanson in a beguiling vocal performance. you never see her. it's an absolutely enchanting
performance from her. it's a thoughtful, sweet, funny, contemporary love story. >> well, enchanting and intriguing for sure. how about the one opening on christmas day, "lone survivor" from universal? let's take a look at a clip. >> we let him go, 20 more will die next week, 40 more the week after that. our job is to stop shaw. why do these men are the right to dictate how we do our job? >> rules of engagement says we cannot touch them. >> okay. this takes from a real-life instance that happened in afghanistan. pretty extraordinary story, but what was your take on the film? >> extraordinary story about marcus luttrell, who with his navy s.e.a.l. colleagues went on a reconnaissance mission in afghanistan and underwent a horrific attack. it is extremely well told. mark wahlberg stars. it's one of these immersive movies that puts you boots on the ground. something similar to "the hurt
locker." there's this new wave of war pictures coming out that are really from the soldiers' point of view. they don't get lost in the weeds of debates. it's really just bringing viewers into that immediate experience. i think what it does is when we read these stories after this, we really do have a sense of the reality behind what can be sometimes abstract. so it's a really powerful film. >> i'm going to say there's no gratuitous violence. it's a tough film, but it's not gratuitous. i respected that. anyway, let's go to the next one, which is "inside davis." what's your overall impression of this one? >> this is the one i have the biggest crush on right now. it's among my favorites of the year. it's from the cohen brothers. break-out performance by a young actor named oscar isaac, in a movie that's propelled by music. in this case, folk music and
traditional music being performed in the early '60s in coffee houses. it's this poetic dream-like evocation of that place and time. it does have examples of their biting humor. it's a classic cohen brothers shaggy dog story. i found it to be very poignant and reflective of a guy who sees an era perhaps passing him by. i mean, he can sense a change coming. dylan is sort of hovering in the wing somewhere. he's aware that he may not be taking that ride for the whole gambit. it's just a very sweet and beautiful music, beautifully performed by oscar isaac and his co-stars. >> definitely a must see on my list. ann, thank you so much. we have a lot of good films to look forward to. >> thanks a lot. the mixed message to young people on obamacare, and "duck dynas dynasty" gains more steam.
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it's time for the big three. today's topics, shocking message, say what, and this week's must reads. let's bring in the big three panel. msnbc.com national reporter, msnbc contributor robert traynam, and professor of political science jason johnson. a big welcome to all of you. i'll start with you, robert. republican congressman eric shaw gave this week's address. here's part of it. >> no matter how many rappers and actors and rock stars the president rolls out, the best sales pitch in the world can't sell a bad product. and this health care law is a bad product for young people. >> robert, it's the law of the land. is this the wrong message to the gop? what's the alternative? >> well, the youngest member of congress talking on a college campus. college students and young people are the invincibles. they're healthy. they're young.
and let's face it, the obamacare machinery, if you will, needs young people to buy into the system. if not, it will certainly collapse. the question becomes, is it a gad deal for young people? we don't know yet because we're still having a lot of problems with people signing up. i think the jury is still out. the economy's a scale here. if young people do not sign up, it's not going to work. >> jason, your reaction? >> as somebody who deals with young people every day, it's great for most young people. trust me. i'm talking to kids who have just graduated. being able to stay on your parents' health care until you're 26 years old gives them opportunities to take on internships, travel, and do work they never had the opportunity to do before. there's plenty of problems with obamacare. for most young people, it's a much better deal than being out there and struggling before this bill. >> erin, how about the president's year-end news conference? he got a lot of tough questions. does he not get enough credit for lower unemployment, higher gdp, wall street at an all-time high? >> i think it's the role of the press to be adversarial.
occasionally the questions get a little shallow. it's absolutely the job of the press to hold the president accountable, whether it's on nsa surveillance or other national security issues. yes, it's not really the job of the press to give comfort or credit to the president for any of those things. >> okay. jason, your thoughts on that? >> look, obama has had a bad year. a very disappointing year. and we should be very critical of him for lots of different decisions that he's made. but i think what's most important is the president actually struck an optimistic tone. he said, look, we're going to try and do better things in 2014. i think he has to for political reality, but it's not anyone's job to say the president's doing well. we got to keep his feet to the fire for everything he hasn't done so far. >> okay. robert, got to go to "duck dynasty." this controversy is nowhere near dying down. more republicans coming to phil robertson's defense after the comments he made about gay people and african-americans. if your mind, did he cross the line, and where is that line? >> that's the million-dollar question. did he cross the line? absolutely. look, as an african-american, first and foremost, and also as a gay american, he offended me
through and through. but also, as a conservative libertarian individual, i don't agree with anything he said, but i appreciate his right to say it. it was idiotic. it was offense. it was backward leaning, but he does have a right to say it. the question becomes whether or not am&e will keep him on air. >> erin, i'm sure you've had the big uproar about the former executive who tweeted that offensive message about a.i.d.s. in africa. what's going on here? what's your reaction to all this? >> well, i think on the one hand, you know, she is a semi-public figure. her job is communications. turns out she's actually of south african descent. she, of all people, should realize that what you write on a public twitter account is public. you had this fascinating sort of online movement while she was on the plane with this hash tag. i think moments like this, while it's not any one person's
responsibility to sort of shoulder all racism, there are points at which we can talk about what are our values, what does it mean when somebody is so insensitive and sort of promulgating racism and a.i.d.s. and hiv. that can be a teaching moment. >> jason, your reaction to both of these? >> i don't think that phil robertson should have been fired at all. if you hire a country bigot, you should keep a country bigot. i wasn't the least bit offended. this guy's got his own opinions. he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about, but that's who you hired. same thing with "jersey shore." i'm not expecting snooki to say smart things either. i really think we need to be careful about how people say things and not accusing them for being ignorant, but if this is affecting your job, let them go. >> okay, must reads. erin, you're up first. >> an article in "think progress." ten women's health heroes of the year. important people who stood up for women's rights throughout the year, including
representative doug cox of oklahoma. >> robert? >> the clinton legacy continues in "new york times" is a great story on president clinton and his former staff running for public office in arkansas. the real question is, will they win. we'll see. >> jason, yours? >> the story of linda taylor, the woman behind the initial welfare queen mystery. you've got to read about this woman's life 37 it's catch me if i can imitation of life and bullwark all rolled in to one. >> awesome. thank you guys. appreciate it. worst gifts ever in office politics. [ female announcer ] think all pads are the same? don't.
>> when i was in college, my grand made would still send me cards. she would still send my like $5 as in college, but i still appreciate it. >> my husband who was my boyfriend in college gave me a coupon one year. and i married him and i'm still waiting to go to those proper wo broadway shows on the coupon. >> they don't ask you what you want and it's like they give you something that i would have wanted 15 years ago, but that's not what i'm about anymore. >> my brother got me an ice cream maker and i don't know if you've ever seen them, but they're huge. >> the gift was under the tree and i could tell by the shape it was a pound puppy. so i poked a hole in, and mom comes home and it turn this is into a huge ordeal. >> sometimes just the random
candles. >> she could think of no better christmas gift for her grandson than pope john paul ii christmas ornament collection. so the thought counts. >> fruitcake. >> oh, my god, me, too. >> i don't like fruitcake. >> me either. >> my worst different ever, they put their pennies together and gave me some kind of chocolate covered thing. >> i don't think i would have what i would call a bad gift. i didn't have to fake the face if that's what you're asking. >> i wish for people to be able to spend some time with the people that they love, friends, family, have a nice meal, eat too much and drink too much. that's what christmas is about, right? that's what jesus was for. >> my holiday wish and wishes for the new year, everybody be
healthy and happy and that health care work well and that democrats win in 2014. >> be healthy and happy. i think that's all you can wish for. >> i wish personally for, you know, good luck for me and my family and my friends. >> troops home from afghanistan is always in my heart. and i just would wish if you see a soldier, say thank you. >> just really lucky. i have a job i love, a family i love, great friends. and more of the same. more of the same. >> i hope that the next year is better than this one. >> i want a happy year in life for my friends and my family. >> so i wish everybody the gift of time this holiday season. >> so my worst gift, you heard it, fruitcake. and my holiday wishes for all of you us, good health and sharing the joy of this magical season with those you love. first up in the new year, the today's show kathie lee gifford, a fun way to kick off 2014, right? and that is a wrap of this sunday he had digedition of wee
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your worst cold symptoms, plus has a fast-acting decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose. [ inhales deeply ] alka seltzer plus. oh. what a relief it is. [ male announcer ] can't find theraflu, try alka seltzer plus for fast liquid cold and flu relief. from nbc news in washington, the world's longest running television program. this is "meet the press" with david gregory. >> and good sunday morning. a miserable holiday weekend for millions across the country as deadly tornadoes, snow, ice, freezing rain affect much of the u.s. this morning. a lot of people having a hard time getting together with their families for the holidays. here in washington, it's beginning to look a lot like a tropical depression. incredibly warm. temperatures around 70 degrees. that's it for the weather this morning. the top issues we're going to explore. obamacare and the crisis over