PoliticsNation, Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Guests: Barbara Boxer, Alex Wagner, David Corn, Charles Rangel, Sarah
Pezzat, Michael Almy, Raphael Warnock
REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Republicans, is this the best you`ve got?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: I don`t believe that class
warfare is leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: As Republicans bring out their old class warfare charge,
team Obama gets a star player. Billionaire NBA owner Mark Cuban says go
ahead, get rich and pay your taxes.
Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Charlie Rangel on the
president`s get-tough approach.
Plus, promises kept, the end of "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell." After 18
years, everyone in the military is finally on equal footing.
And Troy Davis` clemency appeal is denied. His scheduled execution is
just 25 hours from now. Is there anything that can be done for justice?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to be absolutely certain. There are no
do-overs when you`re talking about taking a person`s life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton, live from
East Lansing, Michigan.
Tonight`s lead, Republicans have their new battle cry, class warfare.
Speaker John Boehner is very good at endlessly saying no new taxes, but
when it comes to helping those looking for work or rebuilding our nation,
well, he has a pretty shocking description.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: At a time when it`s spending that`s out of control, giving
the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict,
all right, more cocaine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Giving more cocaine to an addict? That`s how the
Republican House leader sees extending unemployment benefits?
That doesn`t seem like a winning message. Neither does rallying
against taxes, when you`re like GOP Congressman John Campbell, who is worth
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN CAMPBELL (R), CALIFORNIA: I don`t want to raise my taxes.
I don`t want to raise your taxes. I don`t want to raise Warren Buffett`s
taxes. I don`t want to raise anybody`s taxes.
Warren Buffett is saying he thinks he ought to pay more money. Well,
you know, there`s nothing stopping him from doing that right now. He can
pay more money to the federal government if he wants to, but don`t ask me
and a whole lot of other Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Well, Congressman Campbell, you might not like paying your
fair share of taxes, but the 46 million people living in poverty in this
country don`t like that either.
At the end of the day, this isn`t class warfare, it`s about getting
the 14 million unemployed back to work, and raising taxes helps do that.
President Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich and created 23 million new
jobs during his presidency. By contrast, George W. Bush cut taxes on the
wealthy during his time in office and he created just three million jobs.
As the president said, it`s not class warfare, it`s math.
Joining me now, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California.
Senator Boxer, thank you for coming on the show tonight.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s great to be on your show.
SHARPTON: Republicans called President Obama`s plan class warfare.
That`s their usual cry.
Will it work this time, Senator?
BOXER: Oh, absolutely not, if we`re smart enough to call them on it.
And I just came from the Senate floor where about a half hour ago, I just
said I think I`m going to send a box of Kleenex tissues to the Republican
leadership so they can have tissues when they cry for the millionaires and
The fact is it isn`t class warfare when you suggest that someone
earning $1 million or more pay the same effective tax rate as their
secretary or as a firefighter or a nurse. That is only fairness. It`s
actually, I think, moral. So I think we`re on high moral ground.
And Reverend, I have to compliment you. When you show the way that
Bill Clinton led this nation, he had a vision. His vision was this: that
we don`t spend on wasteful spending, we spend on important investments in
our people to build the middle class, and we ask everybody, including the
wealthiest, to pay their fair share.
And President Obama has taken a page out of that book, and well he
should, because it`s a winning page. We will balance the budget that way,
we`ll cut the deficit.
SHARPTON: Well, it won. We got 23.1 million jobs under Clinton and
only three million under Bush. We were a surplus under Clinton and a
deficit under Bush.
In fact, we had a mayor from Oklahoma that said this, that I thought
was extremely interesting. Let me show you his statement, Senator.
SHARPTON: He says that, "Mayors see up close the deferred maintenance
that`s going on in nation`s cities. It`s just a ticking time bomb. We
also know that it puts people to work. We need to be working on all of
these really big-picture items that are generational."
This is a Republican mayor from Oklahoma City, Mayor Mick Cornett.
SHARPTON: You are big on infrastructure and a lot of the things he`s
talking about which these funds can help us get to.
BOXER: Yes. And I`m the chairman of the committee funds the bridges
and the highways and the roadways. And I can tell you happily that I am
working with my Republican counterpart, Senator Inhofe, because he`s from
Oklahoma, and he tells the story of where a bridge actually started to fall
apart, and it fell on this young woman, a young mom, and killed her.
We have 70 percent of our bridges that are deficient. Now, if you
love this country -- and we all say we love this country -- then we have to
pay our fair share, because we -- you know, I`ve seen some of the
commercials from MSNBC when Rachel Maddow says you can`t ask the average
person in the street to rebuild a bridge or a highway. That`s what we do,
all of us, and we all give our fair share.
And that`s what it`s about. It`s not class warfare. If there is any
warfare, it`s on the middle class, brought to you by the Republicans --
SHARPTON: That`s exactly right.
BOXER: -- who are blocking the way to more jobs, who are saying that
they don`t even want to give tax breaks to the middle class. They are
fighting President Obama on his payroll tax cut that would help the middle
class, and they are just crying these tears for the richest of the rich.
It just makes no sense at all.
SHARPTON: Well, Senator, now, one of the things that I liked -- and
you know where I am on all of this -- is the president has come out
fighting. Yesterday he was feisty. I was so up, I was jumping up in my
office watching his speech, and the last couple of times out.
But the Republicans seemingly, who felt that his kindness was
weakness, now are saying oh, they would rather have the other kind of
President Obama who was trying to treat them like an adult, but it seemed
like no matter what he did they wanted to fight. I was reading this
morning David Brooks in "The New York Times," a conservative columnist.
Listen to what he says.
He says, "The White House has decided to wage the campaign of fighting
liberals. I guess I understand the choice, but I still believe in the
governing style Obama talked about in 2008. I may be the last one. I`m a
But it`s not about him being a sap. It`s about the president has to
stand up and fight for what the American people need. Fourteen million
people are unemployed, and it seems like no matter what he put on the
table, they wanted to fight it.
Is it not the right thing for the president to say this is where I go
to draw the line in the sand?
BOXER: Well, Reverend, I can`t tell you how happy I am to see this
president do what he has to do now. This is a battle for the working
class. This is a battle for middle America, middle class America.
This is a battle that`s way bigger than any one of us, because as you
look around this great country of ours, we see certain states that are
really taking after working people. And, you know, I`ll tell you, I have
kids who are quite grown, not to give away my age, but they are very old
now. They are in their 40s now.
When my son was going through college, he worked as a checkout clerk
at a grocery store. I`m telling you, Reverend, he earned the same amount
of money that is now currently going to these clerks. We have seen
BOXER: Stagnation. And people can`t do it.
You look at the top 400 families -- listen to this one. I think
you`ve heard this before. There`s two things I want to tell you, and you
should use this.
The top 400 earners in this country are worth more, OK, than half of
the American people. And since 1995, the top 400 wealthiest families have
seen their incomes go up 400 percent and their tax rates go down 40
This is a no-brainer, and I just am so proud to see this president get
it. Yes, he is one of the most patient people. I know him well, and I was
pulling my hair out of my head because I said to myself, Mr. President, I
want you to try, but you can see -- you don`t have anyone there to shake
So he has to take this fight to the American people. And by the way,
since he`s done that, I`ve seen a little more cooperation over here. Not
enough, but I`ve seen us extend the highway bill for six months. I`ve seen
us make a little progress on FAA.
BOXER: So it`s working already in small ways, but he has laid out a
deficit reduction plan for the long run. It`s very strong. He`s laid out
a jobs plan for the short run.
He`s taken a page out of history, Bill Clinton`s presidency that
worked so well. And now he will tell the American people the truth, and
the truth is this isn`t about class warfare. This is one nation under God,
all of us in this together, and we go nowhere if we lose our middle class.
SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right, and I appreciate you spending
time breaking that down for us. We cannot have shared sacrifice if you
only want my share on the table.
Senator Barbara Boxer, thank you very much for your time tonight.
BOXER: And by the way, it`s not such a big sacrifice for a
millionaire to pay a little more. OK?
SHARPTON: A little more. Just a little bit.
BOXER: Just a little more.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
Now I want to bring in Alex Wagner, MSNBC analyst and reporter for
"The Huffington Post," and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" and MSNBC political analyst.
Thanks to both of you for coming in tonight.
There is all kind of analysis going on, Alex, on the president coming
out strongly yesterday, but I think one of the things that was very
striking to me is another billionaire -- he named what he came out with,
the Buffett Rule.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANALYST: Right.
SHARPTON: But today he picked up -- Mark Cuban came out, a
billionaire, and Mark Cuban said this. He says, "We shouldn`t be trying to
shift the benefits of wealth behind some curtain. While some people might
find it distasteful to pay taxes, I don`t. I find it patriotic."
I think that that`s interesting, that now we`re starting to see
different people of that top one percent or two percent come out and say,
what are you all talking about? What`s wrong with this? And in fact,
Cuban says, Alex, it`s patriotic.
WAGNER: Yes. You have billionaires coming out of the woodwork
saying, take my money, please. And I think that that, you know, speaks to
a sense that we are sort of off the rails in terms of our tax policy.
And as Senator Boxer said, look, the top 0.1 percent of the country
makes 10 percent of the gross income. There`s something -- there is
something off kilter there.
But to your earlier point, Reverend, there is backlash to what the
president did on Monday, and I think in some parts, that`s inevitable. But
a lot of people understand why he`s doing it.
One is the sort of political strategy. I mean, the GOP has basically
dug in its heels on every level to the extent that they are balking at a
payroll tax cut.
Two is he has a campaign coming up. He`s really got to offer two
striking different visions of what he`s offering the country and what the
GOP is offering the country.
And three is, I think that there`s a lot of frustration. He has
played that centrist card for the last year, and it has not served him
well. And I think a lot of people think it`s high time he go and speak in
no uncertain terms about what he`s going to do and threaten to veto.
SHARPTON: Well, David, the problem is that you can play the centrist
card all you want, but if they keep moving the right boundary further and
further and further to the right, the center becomes not centrist anymore.
But then you get -- you`re getting different signals on the Democratic side
Let me show you what Mark Penn said about the president`s strategy.
Mark Penn, for those that don`t remember, was a strategist for the
He writes in "The Huffington Post," "Barack Obama is careening down
the wrong path toward re-election. He should be claiming the vital center,
not abandoning it. He should be holding down taxes rather than raising
them. He should be bringing the country together rather than dividing it
through class warfare."
But then another Clinton apostle, if I can use that term, Jim
Carville, says that Obama had a good start yesterday. He says, "I think he
fired his own negotiating philosophy, which was a pretty good start. The
White House is responding. "This was a good start yesterday, and I want
him to go through and make some other good starts."
Well, what do you think, David? Who is right?
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES": Well, if Mark Penn knew what the American
voters wanted, we`d be talking about President Hillary Clinton today. So -
- and, you know, can you say the same thing about James as well.
It shows a divide within the Democratic establishment, not the
Democratic Party. I think the Democratic Party is pretty much behind what
Barack Obama did.
I mean, listen, the Republicans complaining about class warfare is a
little bit like Bernie Madoff complaining about Wall Street. You know?
It`s the game that they play, but they try to throw it at the president.
The president, much to the chagrin of people within his own party,
spent a good part of this year -- I know, a lot longer than he had
anticipated at the beginning of the year -- trying to strike a deal in the
center with Republicans. And what he did was he moved to the right, he
moved more to the center to try to accommodate a Tea Party-driven
Republican Party and make it a little bit easier for John Boehner to cut a
At the end of the day, it was Boehner who walked away, and he could
have gotten a lot more in terms of entitlement reforms and maybe less
revenues with the grand bargain they were talking about a few months ago --
a few weeks ago. But yet, that was rejected.
And what did that do? That taught Barack Obama the lesson that you
can`t negotiate in the middle with the Republican Party because Boehner
can`t control his own caucus.
Thus, if you`re going to have an honest negotiation, you start off to
where you want to be, and then you see what they say, and then you see if
you can work to the middle. And if you can`t, then you create a clear
contrast, like Alex was talking about a moment ago.
The president, knowing that next year is an election year, knowing
that it would be very hard to legislate anything with this Republican
Congress this year, has looked to spend this year trying to set up that
contrast and having a big national discourse. He got stuck in the debt
ceiling tar pit, and now he`s climbing and crawling his way out of it, and
we`re finally having the sort of fundamental discussion that`s actually
good for the country, despite what David Brooks may think.
SHARPTON: Well, Alex, if you look at the polls in terms of the
reaction of the American people, people want to see not only the fight, but
they are leaning in a policy way toward what the president is talking
about. Support for raising taxes on the rich, 80 percent of moderates, 68
percent of Independents, 51 percent of Republicans.
So I think that what the Republican leadership has miscalculated is
the American people will rally around this given their feelings on the
WAGNER: Exactly, Reverend. I mean, I think you look at any poll,
there`s five or six that show the same overwhelming majorities of people
who want some combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.
Look, the president I think has calculated well in this, insofar as
he`s taking his case directly to the American people. Now it`s up to the
GOP, and really the next move is theirs. Are they going to play ball with
SHARPTON: Well, I think we`ve got to go, but thank you both, Alex
Wagner and David Corn. Thank you very much.
CORN: Sure thing.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
WAGNER: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Rick Perry is in New York fund-raising for his presidential
campaign, but I bet the last person he`d expect to see at one of his events
is a top-ranking congressional Democrat.
Congressman Charlie Rangel showed up at a restaurant in the middle of
his congressional district where Perry was dining with local leaders
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I guess I`m here for the same
reason all of you are here, figuring out why he`s here. Isn`t that so? I
kind of think he`s the best thing going for President Obama, but I`m a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Pay attention, Cry Baby Caucus and follow Charlie Rangel`s
lead. It`s time to take the fight to them. Step up and take the fight to
Joining me now is Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York.
So, Congressman, what did you and Rick Perry talked about?
RANGEL: We actually didn`t. I was in the car, and I heard over the
air that Rick Perry was visiting someone in my district.
It was a very small bar, and there wasn`t that many people, and there
was no dinner. There wasn`t even any hors d`oeuvres.
But after I got there and found out he wasn`t there, I took some
pictures and met with some people I didn`t know from Queens and outside the
district. And then he comes in, and of course it was a little awkward for
him. But I was very comfortable there.
But when it came time for him to give his speech, I welcomed him to
the district and told him that in no uncertain terms, the best thing that
ever happened for President Obama was his candidacy. And quite frankly
SHARPTON: Now, when you say that -- when you say that, why do you
feel the best thing that ever could happen to President Obama in his re-
election efforts would be Rick Perry?
RANGEL: Actually, I watched the debate that was taking place among
the Republican candidates, and I was embarrassed as an American that
foreigners would think that we have put our best team forward. No one
really discussed economic growth of our country. No one came up with a job
plan, the same way no Republicans down here.
No one made any sense except beating up on the president of the United
States at a time when we should be coming together and finding out how we
can negotiate a solution. But I think they made it abundantly clear that
the further they get to the right, the ones that`s the most popular in
terms of allowing sick people without insurance to die, or how many
executions you have and not lose any sleep over it, the best we can see
what could really happen to this country when they are more concerned about
their own feelings than they are about the great United States of America.
SHARPTON: But Congressman Rangel, you represent upper Manhattan. My
headquarters is in the middle of your district. There`s a lot of seniors
Don`t you feel that Perry will resonate telling them they are part of
a Ponzi scheme and following a lie? Don`t you think it will resonate with
them that he feels that we must protect the rich and that they are the ones
that have to bear the burden of this?
Wouldn`t that resonate in Harlem? Maybe that`s why he had such a huge
RANGEL: You have no sympathy. Reverend, you`re supposed to know when
someone has made such dumb statements, you don`t start digging yourself
further in the hole. You try to explain it.
Listening to his explanation of attacking Social Security is the
craziest thing I`ve ever heard of, but it is sad to see that so many
Americans could be listening to him. And that`s why I think the best thing
that President Obama has done is to take this argument of equity and
fairness to the American people.
And now we have to listen to the American people -- our ministers, our
rabbis, our Muslims, our Mormons. They have to recognize that we`re
talking about the vulnerable, the sick, the aged. If ever there was a time
for America to say those people that talk about cutting these programs are
not speaking for me -- because I am convinced that the Republicans have
decided that they hate the president of the United States more than they
want to save the economy of the great United States of America, and that is
SHARPTON: Now, when you talk about the president taking his plan to
the American people, you and other senior members of the Democratic Caucus
in Congress are going to have to fight, and this plan means a lot to a lot
Let me show the graph, what this American Jobs Act will mean. It will
mean creating 1.9 million jobs, reduce unemployment by a percent, boost the
economy two percent. And then you`re dealing with the support of the
American Jobs Act. Forty-five percent of Americans for, only 32 percent
My question to you, you are a senior member of the House, being
honored Thursday with your portrait being hung. How do we get this act
through the House without losing the real core of what we need to create
RANGEL: What a question. And the only way we can do it is for all of
us to be able to talk to the people.
People who are jobless and hopeless and lost their savings, they don`t
go to sleep at night thinking about who is winning Republicans and
Democrats. All they know, that in this country, that`s supposed to provide
so much hope, that we find people fighting the president of the United
States instead of working with him.
And so we can do all of these things. And one important thing that I
heard, and you mentioned it on your show, they keep talking about we`re
The Bush tax cut expired. Expiration means dead, it`s gone, that
you`d have to recreate a new bill in order to increase them. And we`re not
And so it`s just wrong for them to talk about increases in taxes when,
actually, at the end of this year, the Congress ends until the next two
years come up. So at the end of next year, I meant to say.
So, really, we can do this. We can win this if the American people
would only come together, find out who their member of Congress is, and to
recognize that we all have to make sacrifices.
But you can`t take the millions of people without jobs and ask them to
wait until they have a program. There hasn`t been one thing, not one thing
that the president has proposed that they have been willing to say, well,
that sounds like we can work together.
SHARPTON: That`s true. Well, thank you, Congressman.
RANGEL: Now, they did say -- thank you.
SHARPTON: Congratulations again. And I will see you at the dinner
Saturday, but I don`t wear cowboy boots. I hope you don`t mind.
Thanks for coming on the show tonight.
RANGEL: You`ve got a great show. Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
Ahead, Willard Mitt Romney hates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so much,
that he decided to make money off of them. Unbelievable hypocrisy.
And a historic day for justice in this country. The "Don`t Ask, Don`t
Tell" policy is officially dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m 31 years old, I`m a woman, I`m a United
States Marine, and I`m a lesbian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This emotional Marine Corps captain joins us live.
SHARPTON: As of 12:01 this morning, after 18 years of injustice,
"Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" is history. President Obama has delivered on
another campaign promise, and like President Harry Truman, he righted a
wrong in our military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be
asked to live a lie or look over their shoulders in order to serve the
country that they love. That`s why I believe this is the right thing to do
for our military. That`s why I believe it is the right thing to do period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s a change fueled by evolving public opinion. When the
law was passed in 1993, only 40 percent of Americans favored letting gays
and lesbians serve openly. By last year, 67 percent were in favor. This
policy was a waste of time and money for this country, and it was simply
unjust. More than 14,000 gay and lesbian service members were discharged
under "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell." Today those serving in secret finally came
out to celebrate this historic moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIRST LT. JOSH SEEFRIED, U.S. AIRFORCE: My name is first Lieutenant
Josh Seefried and I`m a gay first lieutenant of the United States Air
Force. It`s a huge burden lifted off of my shoulder. Every day when this
policy was in place, there is not a single day that this policy has not
consumes you. This conversation comes up constantly. You`re always in
fear that you`re going to lose the career you`ve loved.
CAPT. SARAH PEZZAT, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I`m 31 years old. I`m a
woman. I`m a United States marine, and I`m a lesbian. And, pardon me,
prior to today if I had said that, I could expect to be discharged from the
military. I feel like today is a great day for the Marine Corps, and I
feel like the Marine Corps only gets stronger today. Semper fi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Marine Corps reservist Captain Sarah
Pezzat and former Air Force Major Mike Almy. Mike was thrown out of the
Air Force after 13 years of service including overseeing a team of 200 men
and women after superiors searched his e-mail. Thank you both for joining
me on this historic day. Captain Pezzat, we just saw a tape of you coming
out today. Did you ever imagine this day would come?
PEZZAT: It certainly was a -- a long time in the making. In a lot of
ways it seemed like the 60 days itself was never going to end, but here it
is. It`s September 20th. "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" is gone.
SHARPTON: Major Almy, how do you feel today?
MAJOR MICHAEL ALMY, FORMER AIR FORCE OFFICER: It`s a tremendous day
for all of us, certainly for the LBGT community. It`s a huge step forward
towards equality for all LBGT citizens. Now, we can serve honestly and
openly without having to lie and sacrifice our integrity every day. I had
to lie for 13 years, every day that I served in the military, and despite
never once made a statement that violated "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell," I was
still thrown out. And yet for my friend Sarah who today had the courage
and the strength to stand up there to the public today, at the Congress and
say that not only is she a captain in the Marine Corps that she`s also a
lesbian, that just took tremendous strength and integrity on her part to do
that. What we need right now, now that "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" is finally
history, we need more people like her. We need gays and lesbians serving
as leaders and role models, officers and enlisted alike throughout our
armed services, showing the valuable contributions that we make every day
to our national security.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Major. Some politicians tried to deny
that people like you were facing this kind of intrusion and this kind of
bias. Let me show you an exchange with Senator John McCain as a case in
point in terms of some of the denial that we saw in Washington leading up
to this law being changed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Regulations are, we do not go out and
seek to find out if someone`s sexual orientation.
KERRY ELEVELD, EQUALITYMATTERS.ORG: Senator, that`s --
MCCAIN: We do not. That is the fact. That is the fact. Now, ma`am,
I know the military very well, and I know what`s being done, and what is
being done is that they are not seeking out people who are gay. And I
don`t care what you say. I know it`s a fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He says they were not seeking out people who were gay. You
were a major. You come from a family of military men. Your father went to
West Point, flew helicopters over Vietnam, Uncle celebrated, and they went
in your e-mails. You were -- had your privacy invaded, they were looking
for gaze, is that not true? Tell us your story.
ALMY: That`s absolutely true. I served for 13 years, did four
deployments in the Middle East. Never once during my time wearing the
uniform, never once did I make a statement to the military that violated
"Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell," and yet the Air Force went out of their way in
Iraq during the height of the insurgency to search my personal e-mails
looking for whatever potential evidence they could find that I had violated
"Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell," so the Air Force in essence asked or rather
demanded that I give them an explanation for these private e-mails and I
never told and yet I was still thrown out. I lived up to my end of this
bargain of "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell." It was the Air Force that had violated
it, and yet Senator McCain, and I know that exchange very well. I
testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last March, and
Senator McCain has heard my story.
He`s familiar with it, and yet he -- I don`t know if he had forgotten
my story or he just was out of touch with the reality of "Don`t Ask, Don`t
Tell." I would like to believe that Senator McCain is an honorable man,
and he`s certainly served his country well and faithfully and sacrificed
far more than many of us can ever imagine, but I think he is out of touch
or was out of touch with the American population on this issue. The
secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All of
the senior leadership for the military, as well as approximately 70 percent
of the men and women wearing the uniform today and the vast majority of the
American population think "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" is history -- had to
change. And thankfully that day is now a reality, thanks to President
Obama and the leadership that he has provided on this issue.
SHARPTON: Sarah, captain, Sarah, let me ask you. What about the
critics that say that this will hurt the military? You`re in the military.
How do you answer that?
PEZZAT: Well, here`s what I can tell you. We may be trained war
fighters, but we`re not robots. We all have different backgrounds,
different opinions on just about everything, and the fact is just because I
disagree with some characteristic of somebody or their opinion, I still
have to treat them with dignity and respect, and I have confidence that,
you know, the Marine Corps leadership and the leadership in all the
services is going to step out smartly and implement this repeal with my
only minor issues.
SHARPTON: Well, Major Mike Almy, and Captain Sarah Pezzat, thank you
both for your service to the country and for joining us this evening.
ALMY: Thank you for having us on this tremendous day.
PEZZAT: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, the secret investment Willard Mitt Romney
doesn`t want you to know about, and the ultimate injustice. Troy Davis
will be executed tomorrow. No gun, no DNA, no fingerprints. We`ll be
SHARPTON: Death row inmate Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed
tomorrow despite massive support claiming he is innocent. Is this justice
in America today? Many of us are headed to Atlanta, including me, to stand
and say this is wrong. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Like most Republicans Willard Mitt Romney is more than
happy to bash mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But most
Republicans don`t personally make a buck of the agencies. Earlier this
month in South Carolina, Willard said, he`d like to privatize Fannie and
Freddie and slammed the company`s behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: The failures of Fannie
Mae, Freddie Mac, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd are just so legion that we
already have to re-think about, how we`re going to support a growing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But apparently, what he thinks is a failure for America is
just great for his own personal bank account. The "Boston Globe" reports
Romney has up to $500,000 in mutual funds that invest in Fannie and
Freddie. Last year alone, Romney made up to $50,000 in interest from that
investment and Romney seems to be fully aware of this investment. The
"Globe" says, quote, unlike most of Romney`s financial holdings which are
held in a blind trust this, particular investment was among those he would
have been knowing -- known to him. Did Romney think we wouldn`t notice
that he`ll publicly attack agencies but privately profit from them? Nice
try, Willard, but we got you.
SHARPTON: The Georgia board of parole was the only thing standing
between death row inmate Troy Davis and his execution by lethal injection,
but this morning the board denied him clemency. He has run out of appeals.
He`s run out of time, and it`s a bleak day for anyone who cares about
justice in this country. Troy Davis was convicted in 1989 for the slaying
of police officer Mark MacPhail, but serious questions surround his guilt.
Our justice system is based on the rule that you`re innocent until proven
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Davis was convicted almost entirely on
unreliable eyewitness testimony, nothing else links him, no crime, to the
crime at all. No gun, no DNA. No fingerprints. Most of the witnesses
later recanted or changed their stories.
America`s justice system allows death row prisoners to file appeals
and to fight their senses, but because he had no money, Davis was forced to
rely on a pro-bono firm and when his funding was cut, the firm lost most of
its legal team, and they were unable to do important interviews and
investigations. Davis` appeals were rejected. The Supreme Court refused
to grant him a retrial because of procedural reasons. The doubt that
plagues his conviction led three jurors from his original trial, three
jurors, to urge the board not to execute Troy Davis, public figures, world
leaders and hundreds of thousands have demanded clemency, but the board has
made its decision to execute Troy Davis. He`s scheduled to die, die in a
little over 24 hours. He`s declined his special last meal. Many of us
will be there in prayer. I will join them tomorrow in Johnson, Georgia.
This is America`s justice system, but is it justice?
Joining me now, Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the
historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of Reverend Dr. Martin
Luther King. Reverend Warnock, you and I visited Troy on death row several
years ago. I remember we got within an hour of his execution that time,
and it was stopped. I stood there with his mother. This time he has run
out of where he can go, according to all that we know. Is there anything
that can block this execution tomorrow?
DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, that`s an
excellent question. Certainly we were hoping that the Board of Pardons and
Parole yesterday would have made a different decision, and even today they
do have the latitude to reverse their decision. They have the power to do
that, and we would urge them to do so. This Board of Pardons and Parole
said in 2007 that it would not allow an execution to occur in the state of
Georgia if there was any doubt, and yet they have made this decision, and
so I would like to know, those of us who have been advocating for Troy
Davis would like to know at what point and on what basis did the Board of
Pardons and Parole decide that there was no doubt, no doubt in a case based
purely on circumstantial evidence. You`ve had all of these witness
recantations, you literally have a man running around in Savannah, Georgia,
implicating himself and saying that he did it and yet, here we are. This
is a sad day.
SHARPTON: Reverend, you were in the room yesterday at the hearing.
WARNOCK: That`s right.
SHARPTON: You were sitting there with members of the family. You
heard three of the jurors that voted him guilty come before that board and
say, he should not be executed and that they did not have all the
information. Is that so?
WARNOCK: Well, actually, one of the jurors at least testified on
yesterday that I -- that I heard, and she said that if she knew then what
she knows now, she would not have voted the way she did. As a matter of
fact, the district attorney down in Savannah said that he trying this case
today, it would not be for him a death case, yet he went yesterday to argue
for Troy Davis` death. This is a tragic day for the Davis family, but it
is a scar.
SHARPTON: Wait, I want to get that right. Let me -- let me
interrupt you, Reverend. One of the jurors testified yesterday, three have
come forward, but one testified yesterday, and the D.A. that had said that
he would not have prosecuted this case reversed and went in yesterday and
argued for this execution.
WARNOCK: He shared with me and others at a meeting in June that this
would not be for him a death case. That`s not how he would try the case
today but somehow he parses those two things and sees them as different.
And that is not his task. And so, yes, he argued the case on yesterday,
and here we are. This is a tragic day in the history of Georgia.
SHARPTON: Now, let me say this. We know that the convictions was
based on eyewitnesses. We know that seven of the nine have recanted.
WARNOCK: That`s right.
SHARPTON: We also know that if you look at this graph, Reverend, 75
percent, 75 percent, three-quarters, of the cases that are overturned,
convictions that are overturned by DNA testing involved witness
misidentification which means that we`re looking at three quarters of the
cases that DNA cleared were also cases that witnesses misidentified people
for whatever reasons. With that kind of data, with the recanting, how can
anyone sit up and say, take this man`s life?
WARNOCK: Sure. People who study this issue know that eyewitness
testimony is incredibly unreliable. And here you have witnesses who stood
up and said that they were themselves the victims of police coercion and
intimidation. This is a civil rights issue. This is a human rights issue,
not only have Troy Davis` civil rights and human rights been violated, so
have the rights of many of these witnesses and yet with great courage they
stood up and signed the affidavits and said that they did not tell the
truth 22 years ago. They said what they were forced to say and they had no
reason to say this. And yet, here we are. This is a very, very dark day,
and yet we`re determined to fight. I know that there are many who say what
we weren`t as focused on Troy Davis as much as the effort of many to
overturn the death penalty itself. Well, there are people who are
proponents of the death penalty who were a part of this campaign, people
like William Sessions.
SHARPTON: That`s right. And I think that that is important to bring
up. Reverend, I`m going to run out of time.
WARNOCK: It is. Thank you.
SHARPTON: I want to thank you for being with us tonight. I`ll see
you in Atlanta tomorrow.
WARNOCK: See you tomorrow.
SHARPTON: Let me make it clear. People that are for the death
penalty, opposed, all of us will be standing there, why? Not because we
feel that our presence alone is the thing that matters, what matters is
that justice in America must work for everyone, and people should not lose
their life if there`s an inkling of doubt. Troy Davis is not the only one
violated tomorrow. The officer that was killed, if the wrong man pays for
it, we`re violating him. I understand his family. I understand their
feelings. They lost a loved one, and we all ought to feel for that family,
but it`s a violation of the victim if the wrong person pays. History
should say we stood up for what`s right, even if those in high places, for
whatever reason, would not take that stand.
Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" is next.
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