'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, June 23, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guests: L. Joy Williams, Ross Douthat, Michael Ian Black, Jose Antonio Vargas, Michael Isikoff, Hakeem Jeffries, Randell Strickland, Siva Vaidhyanathan
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes. Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was
convicted late last night on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 children ages
The convictions came after a seven-month ordeal beginning with
Sandusky`s arrest in November of last year that tarnished one of the
country`s most prestigious football programs and brought the downfall of
Penn State`s revered former football coach, Joe Paterno. Eight of
Sandusky`s victims testified against him in court. Here`s Pennsylvania
attorney general, Linda Kelly, after the verdict last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA KELLY, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: This defendant, a serial
child predator, who committed horrific acts upon his victims causing
lifelong and life-changing consequences for all of them has been held
accountable for his crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sandusky`s lawyer, Joseph Amendola, said Sandusky plans to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH AMENDOLA, SANDUSKY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He was disappointed by
the verdict, but obviously, he has to live with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Also last night, Monsignor William Lynn, a former cardinal`s
aide in the archdiocese of Philadelphia was convicted of endangering
children, becoming the first Roman Catholic Church official in the U.S.
convicted of covering up sexual abuse by priests under his supervision.
Right now, I want to bring in "New York Times" columnist, Ross
Douthat, also the author of "Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of
Heretics," L. Joy Williams, founder of the L.J.W Community Strategies
political consulting firm and co-host of the great syndicated radio show,
"This Week in Blackness," Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio
Vargas, also the founder of the immigrant advocacy group, "Define
American," and comedian, Michael Ian Black, co-author with Meghan McCain of
the soon-to-be Pulitzer Prize-winning "America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love To
I didn`t actually even check the standards -- allowed to say that, but
I just read whatever is on the prompter. So, we`ll find out soon in my ear
or e-mail whether that was unpronounceable.
Let`s talk about the news, the Sandusky conviction. My thoughts, and
I was -- it was really interesting, because in this morning`s "New York
Times," there`s these two articles. There`s the accounting of the Sandusky
conviction and Monsignor Lynn.
And my feeling reading these two articles next to each other having
spend some time reporting on the Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandal
in the church is that the kind of person we think about as a society are
the Sanduskies, are the predators, are the monsters, and the people we
don`t think about are the Monsignor Lynns, are the people who are
facilitating or allowing the predators to do what they`re doing.
And it seems to me that we have -- we`re all going to feel that
Sandusky`s getting what he deserved, that he -- this is just dessert and I
feel that way. Certainly, I mean, what he did was horrific. But it also
seems like it`s very easy for us to engage in a lot of cheap moralism at
these moments and not ask hard questions about how was it that he was able
to exist in Penn State for as long as he was.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, LJW STRATEGIEST: And that`s the real tragedy is that
while you -- like you said, you have Sandusky. You have these individuals
that commit these heinous crimes. There are still other adults who are
aware, who got notice, you know, or some kind of inclination that something
may be going on and did not take initiative to protect the virtue and the
physical body of children, you know?
And, I think this is a case where we can use this as a teachable
moment and as an opportunity to say that, as a society, we are not only
going to prosecute and hold accountable the individuals committing this act
but also the people that allow it to happen.
ROSS DOUTHAT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, and what`s remarkable is how
universal that pattern is, right? Because I think in the case of the
Catholic Church, I think we have over the last ten years, I think people
have become very aware of what you describe, right, the fact that it was a
case where often it was not just a cover-up but this sort of, you know,
allowing priests to remain in ministry, moving them from parish to parish.
I think we reached a point in the catholic sex abuse crisis where
people sort of understood, right, that the real villains weren`t just the
abusers and pedophiles, themselves, but were also priests and bishops and
so on. But then comes the Penn State scandal or -- you know, there was a
big story in my own "New York Times" magazine several weeks ago about
Horace Mann and sex abuse in a New York private school.
HAYES: An elite private.
DOUTHAT: An elite private school. And I think people sort of become
accustomed to this with the Catholic Church, but there continue to be
surprised by it in other contexts, right? Like, well, OK, we can accept
that, maybe, you know, catholic archbishops who are corrupt and how could
Joe Paterno be corrupt?
HAYES: That`s interesting an interesting point, because I think
having spent a lot of time thinking about the church myself in my book,
that it is true. It poses a little bit of a theoretical challenge to
people that have thought about the church abuse scandal as growing from the
nature of the church. And there`s, you know --
HAYES: You and I have engaged in these debates about the source of
that whether it`s the fact that it`s priestly celibacy or the fact that
it`s an all-male hierarchy or whatever it is, right? That, when you look
at Penn State or when you look at Horace Mann, it expands out, what you --
DOUTHAT: Well, it`s more of an institutional problem in general, I
think, than a catholic problem, in particular.
MICHAEL IAN BLACK, AUTHOR, AMERICA, YOU SEXY BITCH": It is a problem
-- is it financial-based? Is it that these organizations are so concerned
about being sued and being taken for everything that they have that there`s
kind of an institutional blindness as a way of protecting themselves? Is
that the main thing?
DOUTHAT: I think it`s that, but this is sort of a point you bring up
in the book, too. I think that`s sort of the overarching institutional
issue, but on the personal level, I think it`s also just that people have
close relationships with the abusers, usually, right?
DOUTHAT: And if you are a catholic bishop, right, you`re supposed to
see yourself not just as a shepherd of your flock but as kind of father-
figure to your brother priests. And I think you can see the same dynamic
that work in the football coaching staff of Penn State. How hard must it
have been for Joe Paterno to acknowledge to himself that, you know,
somebody he thought of as sort of co-hero was actually a horror show.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, JOURNALIST: I just feel like -- you know, the
word that we don`t talk about that clouds all of this is homophobia. The
fact that we have a church -- and I`m catholic. I was raised catholic and,
you know, confirmed and baptized and all that.
And, I think that`s such a -- you know, it`s interesting reading the
coverage (ph) of the past few months and kind of how the fact that we`re
unable to talk about this issue within the Catholic Church and also outside
of it. Like the context in which we`re talking about, right? I remember
when I first heard about McQueary. Is it Mike McQueary?
VARGAS: The question I was asking myself is, you know, it`s horrible
that this happened.
VARGAS: It`s just tragic. You ask yourself, if he had seen an older
man with a girl --
HAYES: Right. Yes.
VARGAS: Would it have been different?
BLACK: I question it. I mean, I think you`re right. I think there
is a bit of homophobia, but I think it has to do with the larger issue of
sexuality in the entire --
VARGAS: Absolutely, absolutely.
BLACK: And that we know these things are crimes. We know these
things should be reported. My kids are smart enough to know. If there`s a
fire, they call the fire department.
BLACK: Why aren`t we that smart when it comes to sexual crimes?
HAYES: I do think that the part of it is the taboo and the horrific
nature of how deep the taboo is. Taboo for a reason because it`s horrible,
but the way that that -- you know, when you read the account of McQueary,
it was clear that it`s some panic -- some shame and panic surged through
him that made it very difficult.
And shame, obviously, is when you talk to survivors of sex abusers.
Shame is obviously the thing that hangs over everyone like a lead cloak. I
mean, that is the thing that makes it very difficult.
DOUTHAT: But I think it`s also true that American culture has changed
on this issue over the past 30 or 40 years.
DOUTHAT: And if you go back --
HAYES: For the better.
DOUTHAT: For the better. No, absolutely. But if you go back and
look at sort of the cultural attitude surrounding these things, there was a
sense that, you know, this was less, I think, a big deal than people today
assumed rightly that it is.
And you can see this is in, you know, -- this is in a male/female case
like the Roman Polanski case in the early 1970s where you have, obviously,
this attitude still holds true in Europe where Roman Polanski is seen as
sort of a not a fugitive from justice but sort of an unjustly accused
But there is, I think there -- and there was, perhaps, more strongly
in the past a sense that like, well, kids will be OK, you know?
DOUTHAT: They shouldn`t make a big deal about it. It`s just, you
know, uncoal so-and-so with his bad habits.
HAYES: Exactly. And there -- right. And there was this weird
discourse, some subtext about --
HAYES: Stay away from so-and-so --
HAYES: -- as opposed to a more explicit conversation, but I also
think the other thing. I just want to make this point, because the other
thing that I think is really messed up with the way that we deal with this
issue now is what we see -- the easiest thing in the world is to be a state
senator and stand on the floor of the Florida House, for instance, or the
New York state house.
And if you watch state legislators, half of what they do is come up
with penalties for child predators. I mean, they`ll like -- because no one
ever got --
HAYES: You can`t -- you have to register. You have -- you can`t be
near a school. You can`t be near this, you can`t be near that, right, that
making (ph) all these things -- and it`s the easiest vote in the world to
take. It`s totally cheap to do it, even if it`s the right thing. I think,
in some ways, the policy has been counterproductive.
The hard thing to do, the really morally difficult thing to do is to
blow the whistle inside an institution.
And we`ve put all our emphasis and all our rhetoric is on this very --
this sanctimonious fervor that we have in the political conversation about
penalizing people that have already done it as opposed to having the
conversation about the much, much, much, much more difficult thing which is
to find the moral courage and to create the institutional incentives inside
an organization at the time this is happening to blow the whistle when it`s
WILLIAMS: And do you think, also, it also has to do with who the
victims are and believing the story of a child? You know, watching last
night and listening to them talk about people believing the victims`
stories, right? So, you then have children who are the victims of the --
sort of having to tell a story to an adult and sort of people believing or
not giving children the benefit of the doubt.
BLACK: In the Sandusky case -- I`m sorry. In the Sandusky case,
these were teenagers --
BLACK: These were functioning young adults.
HAYES: Although often, and this ties together with Father Geoghan,
one of the most notorious predators in the church and Sandusky, the victims
were selected because they were, in some ways, marginal, because they were
in, you know, broken homes --
HAYES: -- or they had a difficult social circumstance. Where`s the
investigation go from here? We`ll talk to NBC national investigative
correspondent, Michael Isikoff, right after this.
HAYES: I want to bring in NBC national investigative correspondent,
Michael Isikoff, who`s been covering this story since the beginning.
Michael, how are you doing this morning?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS: Very good, Chris. How are you?
HAYES: I`m good. I guess, you know, the trial -- I don`t think the
verdicts are surprising given the facts that you had been reporting from
the very beginning and given the testimony there was. I think the question
is, where does this go from here? I mean, Sandusky, we know what kind of
man Sandusky was and what kind of things he did.
And the question now, it seems to me is, how did -- how was Sandusky
allowed to go as long as he was?
ISIKOFF: Absolutely. And that`s why, in some ways, what`s yet to
come may be more significant than what`s happened, so far. Attorney
General Linda Kelly made clear last night that there is an ongoing
investigation. You know, at a minimum into other victims of Jerry
Sandusky. But there`s also into the investigation into his enablers.
Remember, we already have pending perjury trials -- charges against
two top former Penn State officials, the athletic director, Tim Curley, the
former vice president, Gary Schultz, both of whom were informed about that
McQueary shower incident allegation and failed to take any action about it.
What they testified to the grand jury is what is at issue in that case.
But, as we reported over a week ago now, Louis Freeh, the former FBI
director`s firm which has been hired to conduct an internal investigation
for Penn State, found e-mails, a cache of e-mails that took place after
that McQueary incident that is the focus of intensive investigation, and
one of those e-mail trails, as we reported, Schultz and Penn State former
president, Graham Spanier, agreed that it would, quote, "humane not to
report the McQueary -- humane to Sandusky not to report the shower incident
to local authorities.
And remember, this is after the 1998 Penn State police investigation
into Sandusky. So, how did that happen? How were senior officials, and
why? Why did senior officials at Penn State not crack down and try to stop
Jerry Sandusky when they had all allegations?
HAYES: Michael, that`s exactly the question. And you -- I think, my
-- the first time I read that humane quote in an e-mail was reporting that
you did, and it put me in mind. I just want to read this because it put me
in mind -- spending a lot of time thinking about the church and how the
church allowed this to happen.
The big thing you ask yourself is not that why were there pedophiles,
because there are pedophiles in the population, and not even why the
institution was so self-protective, right? Why it was trying to cover up
and protect themselves? It was why they didn`t just take the step of
removing the priest from interactions with children, and a lot of it had to
do with -- as Ross, you said these personal relationships.
I mean, to say it would be humane is thinking about your passion is
directed towards the predator as opposed to the prey. And this to me is a
window into that psychology. This is a letter that Cardinal Law of Boston
wrote to Father John Geoghan and this is upon John Geoghan`s retirement.
And this is when John Geoghan -- Cardinal Law knew that he had, like
Jerry Sandusky, had a record of serial abuse, of the worst kind of case.
He said, "Yours has been an effective life of ministry sadly impaired
by illness. On behalf of those you have served well and in my own name, I
would like to thank you. I understand yours is a painful situation. The
passion we share can, indeed, seem unbearable and unrelenting. We are our
best selves when we respond in honesty and trust. God bless you, Jack."
This is written from Cardinal Law to Father Geoghan after he knows
what Father Geoghan was doing. And it calls to mind another quote in which
-- this is a bishop in Belgium, talking, trying to convince a victim of
abuse not to press charges against his abuser priest. And the victim says,
why do you feel sorry for him and not me?
And that to me seems -- that seems to me, Michael, the question that
has to animate the investigation, particularly, given that very damning e-
mail that uses the word "humane" in that context.
ISIKOFF: Exactly. And there are certainly parallels there, but I
want to, you know, inject another element --
HAYES: Sure, please.
ISIKOFF: -- into the reaction or response to Penn State. And just
remember, this was about Penn State football. This was about something
that was central to this university, and its national reputation and also
was a huge revenue source for the school. $50 million a year, the college
football program brought in.
This was about Joe Paterno`s football team and football program. And
that -- you have to wonder to what degree did that influence the decision-
making process, the fear of being tainted, having Joe Paterno`s football
program being tainted by a scandal. It`s something that almost inevitably,
you would imagine, may have been a factor here.
And I think when you add that on top of the humane quote, that`s
another important dimension. One other part of the ongoing investigation,
that charity that Jerry Sandusky set up, the Second Mile for at risk kids,
a charity we know became -- was used by Sandusky to pick out his victims.
Every one of them came from Second Mile programs.
And he then groomed them and then subjected them to sexual abuse. Who
at the charity knew about what he was doing? How did they allow it to
happen? There`s certainly information that they may have been informed
about the 1998 police investigation and the McQueary shower incident in
2001, and yet, they allowed Jerry Sandusky to continue to work with that
And there were a lot of powerful business people who are on the board
of the charity. All of these are part of the ongoing inquiries, and we`re
going to be hearing more about it.
HAYES: NBC national investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff,
thanks so much for joining us this morning.
ISIKOFF: Thank you.
HAYES: House Republicans go after Obama`s attorney general right
HAYES: I want to turn now to my story of the week, post truth
politics. Given what we know about the Republican Party and the way the
House of Representatives conduct itself when run by Republicans and with
the Democrat in the White House, it shouldn`t really count as news when a
House committee finds the Democratic attorney general in contempt of
After all, the last time we had a GOP house and a Democratic attorney
general during the Clinton administration, the House Oversight Committee
voted a party line vote to find Janet Reno in contempt for failing to turn
over two memos regarding whether an independent prosecutor was needed to
investigate allegations regarding Democratic campaign financing.
So, this week`s news that the same committee voted again on a party
line vote to hold Eric Holder in contempt for refusal to turn over a trove
of documents shouldn`t really count as news. But alas, conservatives and
House Republicans are good at ginning up outrage, and their target is the
"Fast and Furious" program, an attempt (ph) the gun under the Bush
administration to track illegal guns as they made their way through the
hands of Mexican drug trafficker.
The tracking was not very well executed, and at least, one of the guns
that should have been monitored was used, instead, to shoot and kill border
patrol agent, Brian Terry. This horrible tragedy was one of about 30,000
people killed every year by guns. Somehow, we don`t see much outrage and
grief from Republicans about those.
Most importantly, in understanding the politics of this pseudo-
scandal, you have to know that the NRA scored the vote for contempt,
meaning that it will consider that vote when it gives lawmakers their NRA
grade for the election. And this reveals much of what the "Fast and
Furious" fracas is really about.
And it brings to mind a phrase -- I first heard of democratic
operative when I was conducting interviews from my book. The operative
told me we have to confront the fact that we`re living in the era of what
he called post-truth politics. And he had a very specific definition for
what this meant.
In a media environmental where conservative media has a monopoly on
the information its audience receives, you can no longer create viable
opportunities for political compromise by making substantive concessions.
What does that mean, I asked?
Well, at the time we were talking the negotiations over the Affordable
Care Act were heated and the White House worked (ph) like it was pretty
clearly going to sacrifice the public option in those negotiations.
At least part of the thinking was, if you get rid of the public
option, in other words, a substantive policy concession to the right,
you`ll gain some political ground because people could no longer attack the
Affordable Care Act as a government takeover healthcare. Except, as it
turned out after passage, well, wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MISSOURI: We want to get rid of this tremendously
expensive government takeover of the healthcare in American.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president`s attention,
it was elsewhere, like a government takeover of healthcare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It didn`t matter, my sources telling me, that the actual
policy details of the bill were. Of course, they were going to get
attacked for a government takeover of healthcare. The White House had yet
to understand this dynamic. It still believed it could gain political
traction by compromising on policy substance.
The same dynamic played out on immigration. After the president took
office, the Department of Homeland Security ramped up enforcement,
deporting more people each of the first three years Obama was in office
than George W. Bush ever had.
This was quite explicitly part of a political strategy on the part of
the White House to prove it was serious about enforcement, so that it could
have the credibility to make progress on the comprehensive immigration
reform. The president even said as much in the state of the union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe as strongly
as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That`s why my
administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That`s
why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.
The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on
comprehensive immigration reform right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But, of course, none of it mattered to Republicans,
conservatives, and immigration restrictionists who still pummeled the
president as being soft and weak and bent on drowning America in an ocean
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. Obama talked to La Raza and then he
went ahead and did go, in fact, usurped this document right here, the
constitution, and provide a backdoor amnesty for --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Which brings us to gun control. This president has done
basically nothing to restrict the use or sale of guns. He`s pushed no
major legislation, issued no major executive orders. And if anything, he`s
been good for business.
Heck, the Brady campaign, the premier gun control advocates have given
him a grade of "F," but that hasn`t earned him any credit with the right
and the NRA. They are still talking like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE NRA CEO: It`s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy
to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second
Amendment in our country.
ROMNEY: It`s time to elect a president who will defend the rights
President Obama ignores or minimizes. And I will protect the Second
Amendment rights of American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And so, that`s why promoting this implausible conspiracy
theory about a secret plot to make gun owners look bad by giving guns to
Mexican traffickers is so important to the right and the NRA. It`s why
they`ve been flogging "Fast and Furious" and why the NRA scored to vote on
Since there is no actual case the president wants to crush gun rights,
they have to make one, because this is post truth politics, because you
cannot make political gains with substantive concessions. They`re still
going to call you a gun-hating Kenyan socialist.
I think as evidenced by the White House`s announcement last week of
protections for Dream Act eligible youth, that the White House is finally
starting to wake up to that fact. I want to find out what my panelists
have to say about that right after this.
HAYES: All right. So, I just -- I just laid out a theory about the
way in which we live in an environment in which you can`t make substantive
compromises on policy where you say, ok, we`re going to get rid of the
public option because that, you know, we understand you have ideological
objections to that and when we get rid of the government option, then it`s
no longer a government takeover healthcare, but of course, it`s still going
to be called a government takeover of healthcare.
And, one of the places, I think, this has played out, this dynamic has
really played out, is in immigration. I think that the quote that I just
played of the president at the state of the union saying very explicitly,
we did more border enforcement and deportations explicitly as a way to
prove to our opponents that we care about illegal immigration and enforcing
our borders and enforcing the law.
And then, he said the opponents are out of excuses. But, the
opponents didn`t change in their opposition to the president, and I want
you, Jose, as someone who`s worked on this issue, to tell me how accurate
you think my theory about how the White House was thinking about this is?
VARGAS: I mean, you`re dead on under theory about it. I mean, I
think what the president and his staff probably underestimated is just no
one was willing in the Republican to extend whatever kind of branch. I
mean, I was just on Lou Dobbs last night talking about, you know, it`s
fascinating to me in the past week.
I`ve talked to Bill O`Reilly, Mike Huckabee, and Lou Dobbs, all of
whom have said to me as an undocumented person there should be a path for
citizenship like me.
VARGAS: And all blaming President Obama for not tackling immigration.
Wait a second. Like, it was 36 Republicans who voted against the Dream Act
in the Senate.
VARGAS: Right? So, what are we -- what are we -- and this was in
2010. Let`s not get political immediately here.
VARGAS: So, to me -- and it`s fascinating how Marco Rubio is speaking
the way that he`s speaking right now, talking about the -- you know,
humanization of this issue, and I actually think Marco Rubio within his
party is creating a space to talk about this. Space.
HAYES: So, Marco Rubio, though, would seem to be a rebuttal to my
theory, right? Because the ideal behind Marco Rubio is that he actually --
that there now is a conversation about substantive policy negotiation
saying, well, we`re not going to give them citizenship. We`re going to
give them work permits. So, that actually seems like a case of the process
working, but Ross as someone who represents --
HAYES: Someone who speaks for every conservative --
DOUTHAT: Where do you want me to start?
HAYES: The basic framework.
DOUTHAT: Let`s start -- well, it`s the basic framework. OK. So,
guys, let`s start with the basic framework. Yes, it`s certainly true that
there -- because there are sort of deep passionate disagreements about
issues in American life, that there is a limit to what you can achieve by
making substantive concessions to the opposition, but let`s take the case
of healthcare, for instance, right?
It was true that just by getting rid of the public option, that was
not going to change the fact that the large majority of Republicans were
still going to call it a government takeover of health care, which given
that it`s effectively turned the public -- turned private insurers into
kind of public utilities, it sort of was.
HAYES: I disagree, but continue.
DOUTHAT: Bracket that. So -- but so, what was the point of getting
rid of the public option? Well, in part it was to bring a few wavering
Democratic senators on board, right?
HAYES: Sure. Yes.
DOUTHAT: Well, why did they need to bring a few wavering Democratic
senators on board? Well, part of it was that the Democrats had succeeded
so well in the proceeding election or two that they had 60 votes in the
Senate which means that they had defeated precisely the kind of Republican
who would be inclined to compromise, and so they were effectively in a
position of compromising with themselves, right, with Joe Lieberman or Ben
But then look what happens? So, Scott Brown wins in Massachusetts.
Suddenly, in the Senate, you have the kind of Republican who feels the need
to make compromises. And when financial regulation rolls around, the White
House and Democrats make some concessions, and Scott Brown goes along with
So, I just think -- I think the deep dynamic is true, but I don`t know
if it`s -- I mean, it`s just a dynamic that reflects deep and on
Yes, it`s always going to be the case that, you know, there are lots
of Republicans and conservatives who aren`t going to be satisfied by Obama
saying, well, we`ve done border enforcement for four years, so now, let`s
have some kind of amnesty because they oppose and we can use a different
term if you want, but some kind of path to citizenship, because there are
lots of conservatives who just sure oppose that period, and that`s not
going to go away.
HAYES: Let`s talk about that for a second, because to me, it seems
the key issue -- and we`re talking about, for instance, deportation, right
-- is that the discussion we`re having about deportation isn`t grounded in
what is actually happening in the sense that like I don`t think your
typical Republican knows that the president deported more people, that he
ramped up that enforcement.
So, it`s like that`s my point. It`s breaking down even in this basic
level of people knowing that that`s the case. They can say, he`s doing
that and I still don`t trust the guy, or he`s doing that and I still don`t
want comprehensive immigration reform, but he is doing that. He is
actually ramping up enforcement or border control.
DOUTHAT: Where is the electrified fence?
HAYES: But that exactly ends up being the question, which is that --
if they don`t know that`s the case, right, which I think is largely -- it`s
true that they don`t, then how do you --
DOUTHAT: But do you think -- there was a poll yesterday, right,
recently on how many Americans had heard -- and this is not a substantive
issue, I confess.
DOUTHAT: But I`d heard about the president`s -- you know, the private
sector is doing fine comment, right, which was, you know, however you want
to defend it. Clearly, a pretty big gaffe. And half of the Americans had,
you know, heard of this statement. I just wonder -- I mean, yes, there`s
clearly more polarization in media consumption, perhaps, among viewers of
the show as well as Fox News --
DOUTHAT: Never. But you`re right. I`m here. I represent.
DOUTHAT: But, I guess just on immigration, right? I mean, so recent
-- President Obama has done something on immigration that he explicitly
denied that he had the authority to do last year, right?
DOUTHAT: And why did he do this? Well, one of the reasons,
potentially, is that he was a little bit worried that Marco Rubio was
working on his own version of the Dream Act and so on, which, again, it`s a
slightly more complicated picture.
HAYES: I agree it`s slightly more complicated. One quick response
which is that, I just want to say that in reporting this, I think, that two
things. I mean, I think the political pressure worked, but I think they
were also persuaded that they did have the authority.
I think there was a actually like -- there was a case made internally
by people that did think they had the legal authority that ended up winning
the internal argument.
DOUTHAT: It`s amazing how there`s always --
HAYES: L. Joy, I want you to respond to this right after we take a
HAYES: All right. Joy, I want you to respond to the conversation
we`re having here about this post-truth politics dynamic and whether you
can make concessions on policy that produced political benefit.
WILLIAMS: I don`t think -- I think we need to be clear in terms of
where we are, right, in terms of the atmosphere. We can`t have substantive
real conversations about policy about I can`t understand your side, I can`t
really sit down and talk across the table and discuss that when the other
side just doesn`t want him there, right
And so, everything is framed around we don`t want him as president, we
want him out, so we can`t even sit down and have the dialogue on what are
the real issues and can we come to some sort of compromise? You can`t get
that where the polarization that we have right now when the focus is just
getting him out of office as opposed to --
BLACK: It seems to me -- it seems like there`s competing sets of
facts, and as somebody who`s on the outside like myself, I look at people
with competing sets of facts and going, I don`t know what to believe. I
mean, I`m inclined to believe the Democrats because that`s what I am.
BLACK: But I can`t totally dismiss when Republicans hold up a
contrasting set of facts.
HAYES: Right. But I think the implacable opposition you mentioned, I
think, is the desire to see him gone as --
WILLIAMS: Outweighs the desire to do something substantial about
healthcare, to do something substantial about immigration reform. That
HAYES: If you think I will say, Ross, if you genuinely think that the
guy is destroying the country, that he`s inaugurating a new era in the
American project that is fundamentally -- no, seriously. Inaugurating a
new era in the America project that is fundamentally discarding our most
cherished inheritances of freedom.
HAYES: Then --
DOUTHAT: Which is how a lot of Democrats, as I recall, felt about
George W. Bush --
DOUTHAT: -- recall certain amount of shredding the constitution.
HAYES: Which I think on the substance was much more true of President
DOUTHAT: Of course --
HAYES: But I also think --
DOUTHAT: That`s why we`re actually currently living --
HAYES: That`s why, though, at the time, I think it was rational to
pursue essentially getting rid of Bush above all else and I think that that
wasn`t necessarily -- no, you`re shaking your head.
VARGAS: You cannot separate demographics from this. I mean, all the
polls right now that are getting really saying that Obama -- the split,
right, like us people of color versus the new, you know --
VARGAS: You have color. Everybody has color.
BLACK: I have terrible rosacea, does that count?
VARGAS: It all counts. So -- I mean, you look right now at the
polling in terms of, look, of course, Obama did this kind of your point
about, you know, he said that he did the authority to do this, what, in
September of last year or something like that, and now, he does this. I
mean it`s like saying that politicians are playing with politics.
It`s like saying LeBron James gets the basketball to play basketball.
Of course, they`re going to play politics.
VARGAS: Look, if Romney had the chance, he would have done the same
thing, but he can`t, right? Here`s the greater point that I really want to
make about this. I`m trying as hard as I possibly can to actually have
honest, uncomfortable conversations with people about this issue.
To me, as I`ve traveled around the country as somebody who`s
quote/unquote "illegal," whose undocumented, the question that I got asked
most, being an Iowa before the caucus, the question was, why won`t you just
make yourself legal?
VARGAS: And, of course, sometimes you get a little -- I`m a
masochist. This is so much more fun.
VARGAS: People don`t even understand that there is no process for
people like me to just come forward and get in the back of some line. That
doesn`t even exist. And the fact that I`m gay also brings the fact that I
can`t (INAUDIBLE) my way into this like in the proposal. It doesn`t work
that way, right? But these are facts that --
DOUTHAT: There`s technically the process that you could return to the
VARGAS: And accept the ten-year bar before I can get in some line.
I`ve been here since I was 12. I pay taxes. This is my home.
DOUTHAT: I know. I`m not -- I`m just --
VARGAS: No, no. I understand.
DOUTHAT: I guess, my question for you is --
DOUTHAT: And this is I think the challenge for liberals in general,
right, is how should the immigration system actually work, right, because
the general drift of Democratic policy making on this issue is that we
should have, you know, some form of work permits and maybe guest worker
programs, maybe not and so on.
But, basically, it seems like a kind of rolling amnesty, right? You
know, every ten years or so, we --
HAYES: The last one was Reagan.
DOUTHAT: Right. The last one was Reagan, but there`s obviously
people been agitating for the other one for a while. But -- so you have
sort of a system where lots of people come here illegally, and then, you
have either a sort of perpetual sort of program for legalization that
people can enter into or you have sort of, well, every 15 years we say, OK,
well, time to -- you know, time to just acknowledge this and so on. And
that seems like a -- not an optimal --
VARGAS: Oh, I agree with you. I completely agree with you.
HAYES: The current system is completely suboptimal, and I want you to
sketch out what the alternative is right after we take a break.
HAYES: Before we hit a break, Ross, you sketched out a story about
how broken and ad hoc, I would say, our current immigration policy is,
which is essentially --
HAYES: I think we all agree with that. I think that`s the one thing
that you ever hear if you report on immigration from both sides, current
system is broken. We have -- you know, a lot of people come across through
non-legal means. There are a lot of people here are not documented, and
then, we have to deal with it.
So, in 1986, there was amnesty. Now, there`s a discussion of how do
we bring those people out from underneath the, you know, out from the
shadows, et cetera. The question is, what is actually a working system
looks like going forward and that`s something you thought a lot about --
VARGAS: Well, I mean, let me give this context. So, the president`s
directive last Friday was the most significant step on immigrant rights and
reform since Reagan signed the amnesty in 1986. And by the way, that`s for
(INAUDIBLE). So, I`m 31. I missed it by four months.
But the point to make here is that if you think the tax code is
complicated, try making sense of the immigration code, right? For example,
a great percentage of the people who are here undocumented are actually
here, that came here with visas but overstayed. Forty percent are what
they call overstayers, right?
And for example, if you graduate right now in this country, there are
actually people who are graduating with engineering degrees that we need
who are being forced to leave instead of starting their businesses here.
So, reforming the visa system, right, which a lot of people don`t even
understand and coming up with some sort of employment -- there`s two ways
to get a green card, family unification and employment base visas, right?
Both those two things need serious look. Romney, actually, in his speech
talked about it the other day at NALEO but didn`t give any kind of
HAYES: And they also -- we should -- I just want to also bite the
bullet here as the liberal and make the honest case. So, we also need to
massively expand the number of those we give out. I mean, we should really
increase the legal route of immigration. I mean that --
VARGAS: This is what has made this country always so great is the
fact that -- what makes America exceptional is because everybody is in
America. We create a process that welcomes everybody to come here,
legally. So, instead of having smugglers, we should have more visas,
right? And how do we create that and not having to talk about
DOUTHAT: But that does sound a lot like Mitt Romney`s sketch of his
immigration reform. It`s just that Romney -- the Romney vision doesn`t
include a -- you know, it doesn`t --
VARGAS: A pass.
DOUTHAT: Only if they lived in Northern Mexico.
VARGAS: Or people with Mexican names. No, you know, I keep
explaining to people. But to me, it`s really hard, man, because you try to
get partisanship and politics out of this, and it just keeps going back.
HAYES: But, Jose, that contradicts the thing you just said about
politics being political is like LeBron playing basketball.
VARGAS: Of course, it`s political. What I`m saying is when you talk
about the facts and policy is what I`m talking about. That`s what I`m
VARGAS: It`s hard to get people to just look at the set of facts
without going to what you`re saying that, but I have these sets of facts.
DOUTHAT: Right. So, in the -- if in the example of the Romney
blueprint, right, which again is not detailed and so on but includes things
-- basically includes a potentially large expansion of illegal immigration,
right, and hopefully, reforms and streamlining and so on --
BLACK: But how can he plausibly even propose that when his entire
party has state the last decade of their existence on anti-immigration --
DOUTHAT: Because I think that a large -- so, there are a lot of
different elements at work in conservative opposition to immigration, but
part of the opposition is a focus on issues of law and order, right? And
there is a strong conservative sensibility that i think is not totally
DOUTHAT: Look, there are billions of people potentially around the
world who want to come to the United States. And yes, we should welcome
them and maybe we should welcome more of them, but, that doesn`t mean that
we should grant citizenship or legal status to people who broke our laws.
BLACK: And then there`s a disconnect between -- OK, we recognize that
people are here illegally, so what should we do and from where I`m sitting,
the Republicans seem to be saying -- it seems to halt the conversation
right there, because everybody`s going you can`t do massive deportations
(ph), and then, they kind of throw up --
HAYES: Exactly. That`s exactly where the conversation goes. You
can`t do mass deportations.
HAYES: So, you don`t do anything.
DOUTHAT: You don`t do anything about -- about people like you, and
that`s true. That is -- the Republican answer is, we fix the overall
structure of the system and maybe we do some variant on the Dream Act for
people in this particular position, but then, for people in your position,
yes, there`s a kind of benign neglect where you assume
HAYES: Because the point of that is that these are millions of
people. I think the intuition, the moral intuition I have, and again, I`m
a liberal, so this is not going to persuade anyone. But, the moral
intuition I have is that it`s profoundly inhumane, right?
That basically, these are actual human beings who are functioning --
who are bound up in our lives together who are actually functioning in the
way they live their lives, functioning as part of a social contract without
the provisions of that social contract. They are living within a social
contract, and they don`t have its protections.
BLACK: And more than that, they were basically asked to come here, at
least, in the case of Mexicans and in South Americans. They were basically
wink, wink, nudge, nudge, asked to come here over the last two decades, and
then when it becomes --
BLACK: -- political position, we turn our backs on them and say, oh,
we didn`t mean it.
DOUTHAT: But the problem is -- I think that`s exactly the problem the
conservatives see, right? There is this sort of wink, wink, nudge, nudge
attitude. But if every -- you know, if that wink, wink, nudge, nudge
attitude ends every cycle with another blanket amnesty --
VARGAS: Which is again visa reform, visa reform, figuring out how we
can -- figure out a system in a policy to put some sort of something at
play that says, all right, like, this is what we`re going do with these
types of people coming here in terms of whatever the economy needs.
HAYES: I want to talk about another part of the underground economy
that some Democratic lawmakers are trying to bring out from the shadows.
Two big names took a standard. A very controversial issue this week, and
that`s up next.
HAYES: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes here with
political strategist, L. Joy Williams of LJW Community Strategies, Ross
Douthat, the author of "Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics,"
Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic member of the New York State assembly who`s
running for Congress in a Democratic primary this Tuesday here in New York,
and Michael Ian Black, co-author "America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to
It`s a great title.
WILLIAMS: We made a note about that (ph).
HAYES: Yes, exactly. I went for it again
We`ve been talking knowing about President Obama`s new directive on
immigration. But that wasn`t the only issue that saw big Democratic
movement this week. Two big named Democratic politicians with national
ambitions came out backing bills that would reduce the penalty for
possessions of small amounts of marijuana in public view. In Chicago,
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his support for a bill that would change the
penalty for possessing less than 15 grams of marijuana from potential jail
time to a fine
Here`s Emanuel explaining his position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: I got comfortable with this because
I think this is the right to do for a number of reasons. It does not
undermine what we`re trying to do fighting crime. In fact, I think it more
focuses us on the hardcore elements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After New York Republicans said they would oppose a measure to
decriminalize possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana in an open
view, Governor Andrew Cuomo not only said he will continue to push for it,
but warned that Republicans would pay a price in the polls come November.
All this comes as states across the country debate bills that would
legalize marijuana for either recreational or medicinal purposes.
New poll this week in Washington in Colorado, for example, show that
voters in both states support measures on the ballot this November to
legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Hakeem, we wanted you to join the conversation. You`ve been a vocal
advocate for drug law reform in New York. And you`re someone who -- you`ve
been arguing this case on the merits for a while.
I`m curious as a politician, as someone who`s running for Congress --
you know, when I saw Rahm Emanuel and Andrew Cuomo are not gentlemen who
like to get too far out on a limb on a political issue, I think it`s safe
to say. These are people that are -- have very big national ambitions that
don`t want to take a stand that`s going to come back and bite them later
on. It said to me something really interesting about where the politics on
this issue are moving, that we`ve seen both of them come out last week. I
wonder if you -- how you feel about that?
HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK ASSEMBLYMAN: Well, you know, the
governor`s leadership has been tremendous and it`s clear to me and the
governor gets this that You want a rational criminal justice policy that
both promotes public safety but also is fair and equitable, and treats
people the same regardless of race or a variety of other issues.
On this particular issue, there were several things that were in play.
First, we saw that the legislator in 1977, in a bipartisan way, in fact,
decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana, less than 25
grams, if it wasn`t in plain view. In the year after that, occurred, 1978,
only a few hundred people were arrested in any given year. Subsequent to
that, we`ve seen an explosion in misdemeanor marijuana arrests. Last year,
more than 50,000 people arrested in the city of New York run through the
system as a result of the possession of small quantities of marijuana,
needlessly scarring the lives of tens of thousands of people.
HAYES: And if I`m not mistaken, I think the number is 94 percent of
those are black and Latino, of those 50,000 arrests. I think that`s the
WILLIAMS: Not only that. Then you have statistics that say -- you
have 94 percent of young men of color being arrested, stop and frisked.
You know, we just marched about that. Stop and frisk is used and they then
are arrested after they`re asked to empty their pockets and now it`s in
plain view. You know, so, it`s sort of that trick there.
But also that, you know, the number of government statistics say it`s
actually white males, young males that are actually more users than
African-American and Latinos, but they are still getting arrested.
HAYES: This strikes as the core injustice here and I think that we
have two conversations about decriminalization. There`s a conversation
around medical marijuana which happened I think largely out west, where
it`s had most of its successes and then there`s conversation about
decriminalizing. And I think it represents the fact that the experience of
marijuana use and whether you`re going to be busted for marijuana are very
different along these lines of race and class.
And, Michael, I want to ask you about this, because you mentioned in
the book that you just wrote with Meghan McCain, smoking pot, Meghan McCain
says she smoked pot, and she also favors decriminalization. And it strikes
me that this is exactly the point, right, which is that, you know, I know a
lot of white folks who smoked pot and never got arrested for misdemeanor
BLACK: I`m absolutely in favor of white folks not getting arrested.
BLACK: The truth of the matter is --
HAYES: You want to extend that.
BLACK: Just for anything.
We went to New Orleans. We did smoke pot. Neither Meghan nor I are
regular pot smokers. I`ve tried maybe handful times in my life. It`s
never done much for me. I think she`s similar.
But we both recognized, both what you`re saying, that people of color
get arrested far more than white people and that it`s -- you were talking
about, Hakeem, it`s not about a public safety issue. When you think about
marijuana, there`s no public safety component to it. Nobody is getting
hurt from smoking marijuana. They may gain some pounds from getting the
munchies, but nobody`s getting hurt.
You know, I think -- I think when we look at marijuana versus alcohol
versus prescription pills versus plenty of legal substances, it`s right
there in the middle.
HAYES: In fact, there`s a sort of amazing exchange on the hill this
week in which Congressman Jared Polis was -- had the D.A. administrator
Michele Leonhart who was testifying. He asked her, what are the negative
health consequences of marijuana and how do they stack up with other drugs?
And this is what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: Crack -- worse for a person than
MICHELE LEONHART, DEA ADMINISTRATOR: I believe all illegal drugs are
POLIS: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody`s health than marijuana?
LEONHART: I don`t think any illegal drugs is good --
POLIS: Is heroin worse for someone`s health than marijuana --
LEONHART: Again, all --
POLIS: I mean, either yes, no, or I don`t know. I mean, if you don`t
know, you can look this up. You should know this as the chief
administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency. I`m asking you a
straightforward question, is heroin worse for someone`s health than
LEONHART: All drugs are.
POLIS: Does this mean you don`t know? Is heroin more addictive than
LEONHART: I think generally the properties of heroin, yes, it`s more
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The fact that she would kind of continue this talking is
like this is simple basic question that you can -- like you can go off the
talking points and really just answer the question. Heroin is worse than
marijuana. And alcohol, you know, can be worse than marijuana in some
instances as well.
That`s a whole history lesson in terms of why marijuana is illegal in
the first place, right?
BLACK: Isn`t there a racial component to the actually --
WILLIAMS: There`s a racial component. There`s the tobacco industry
that was supportive of the racial connotation, because you can do a lot
with marijuana. Not only just smoke it. You can make things with it, you
know. That was in direct competition with tobacco during the time as well.
DOUTHAT: Like brownies.
JEFFRIES: I think the big problem we`re experiencing that we`re
trying to address in New York, that Emanuel is trying to address in
Chicago, is that there are real consequences to the prosecution and arrest
for possession of small quantities of marijuana. You have individuals
whose lives are scarred, unable to get jobs, unable to get funding for
college, unable to stay in public housing, even in some instances unable to
keep their children in a family court as a result of this very small
WILLIAMS: That`s the connection we were making terms of stop and
frisk, right? Because, you know, we`ve been marching and the stop and
frisk has become a national issue now. That is the target, you know, that
people -- and so they like to say, well, we need stop and frisk because we
go to where the guns are, we go to where the drugs are. But statistically,
there are more white people smoking marijuana, why are there no stop and
frisk where, you know, there are a lot of congregation event?
Same thing with prescription drugs. There was a study "Wall Street
Journal" did about the number of illegal prescription drugs that people in
Wall Street possessed. There`s never been stop and frisk bust on Wall
BLACK: That`s because we need to start shaking down seniors at
HAYES: No. But, Joy, this is I think a really important part, is
that part of what I think has brought this to a head, particularly in New
York is the combination of the marijuana laws and stop and frisk.
HAYES: Because -- like you said, we`ve had this explosion in it
because you`re asking people to empty their pockets, you`re going to get
people who are carrying and then you`re going to get a lot of arrests.
In Chicago, Mayor Emanuel estimated they have about 20,000 for this.
Twenty thousand arrest a year for small quantities in marijuana. He
estimated 45,000 police hours a year, 45,000 --
JEFFRIES: In New York, what we haven`t been able to figure out is
that we are spending $75 million a year on the arrest and prosecution of
marijuana that we would otherwise save and be able to redirect.
HAYES: I want to talk with someone who has worked with juveniles who
caught up in the system through this issue, right after we take a break.
HAYES: I want to bring in Randell Strickland, a former Cook County
juvenile probation offer who now sits on the Illinois Juvenile Commission,
serves as a consultant to the juvenile re-entry component of the governor`s
neighborhood recovery initiative.
Randell, you`ve worked with juveniles who get caught up in the system.
I want you to tell us what happens after the first marijuana arrest,
because I think that`s part of what people don`t get about -- how this
pushes people onto a path in one direction or another.
RANDELL STRICKLAND, ILLINOIS JUVENILE JUSTICE COMM.: Well, my concern
is -- as you indicated -- that after the first arrest, what happens is it
sort of creates a pattern or an orientation wherefore young people are more
likely to be arrested again, are more likely to have further involvement in
the juvenile justice system and are more likely then to have other -- other
negative outcomes. And, in fact, the arrest and the prosecution or
adjudication as we use the term of juveniles, in fact, increases their risk
factors for things like dropping out of high school and not completing high
school, for experiencing unemployment and other kinds of family, personals,
and community dislocation.
So, ultimately, it does have a sort of negative spiraling impact on
people. And we have research that suggests that for low levels of crime,
low levels of drug use, recreational drug use, that actually less handling
of young people ultimately produces better outcomes. In fact, they`re
better off if we handle them less.
HAYES: Handle them less, in the sense of the criminal justice system
and other ways, or just sort of look the other way?
STRICKLAND: No, I`m not suggesting that we look the other way. But,
for example, we expend huge amounts of resources as Mr. Jeffries indicated
on policing and pursuing young people, people of color, poor people, for
marijuana usage. We -- I think we could better use those resources --
apply those resources to say drug education, assessment treatment for
Why can`t we use or fine a ticket system to mandate that young people
show up and be tested and possibly assessed and treated for drug abuse. I
think that would be a much better use of our resources than just simply
either arresting people, holding them in custody days, weeks at a time, in
an already overcrowded adult system in particular. And rather than using
those resources in ways that will have a longer term payoff or benefit.
HAYES: I think the policy -- I mean, obviously I think the policy
case here is pretty airtight. That`s why we`re doing the segment.
But there is political opposition. I mean, I want to just -- a quick
quote from Dean Skelos, a Republican colleague of yours. This is how he
characterized Governor Cuomo`s proposal here in New York state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN SKELOS (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Being able to just walk
around with 10 joints in each ear and it only be a violation, I think --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Ten joints in each year that sounds --
WILLIAMS: Ten joints in each year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are big years.
HAYES: But there is political opposition. I think the national
conversation and issues have moved and it`s reflected in the polling. I
think conservative opposition has declined partly because we`re not in the
midst of the high amounts of crime that we saw during periods that produced
this kind of anti-drug backlash.
But there is, the political still exists, Hakeem, right?
JEFFRIES: First of all, I don`t think Dumbo could put 10 joints in
each ear. But, you know, it was an indication that there was no real
rational policy argument for the Senate majority to articulate, given the
fact that clearly you had the police commissioner, every single local
district attorney, all five in New York City, Dean Skelos` own Nassau
County district attorney came out with the governor, with the legislature
and the assembly, with the mayor saying this is an irrational policy and we
need to move in a different direction.
I should also point out that fundamentally in Chicago, in New York
City, all across the country, one of the reasons why this issue has gotten
a lot of attention is because of the racial dynamic. The recreational use
of marijuana is either a crime or it`s not, but it can`t be criminal
behavior for one group of people, socially acceptable people for another
group of people, when the dividing line is raised.
So, hopefully, we can bridge that gap moving forward here in New York
and all across the country.
DOUTHAT: I think part of the dynamic is -- I think -- I sort of
implies maybe by that assemblyman`s comments, I think there are a lot of
let`s call them white middle class parents for instance who like the idea
of marijuana being illegal but not necessarily enforced, you know, directly
HAYES: Their kids. Right. Exactly.
DOUTHAT: They want the presence of the law there as sort of a way of
HAYES: Expressing a social sanction --
DOUTHAT: Right. An expression of social sanction that might have
minor consequences but not significant --
BLACK: We got that already with alcohol use. I don`t know how well
it works or doesn`t. But nobody`s going to get arrested, I don`t think.
DOUTHAT: Right. But this is -- I think the issue there is that, you
know, you have people who say, well, we`ve already got a culture of
alcohol, do we need to add a similar culture --
HAYES: Let me also say that I think that would change real fast if
you saw the kind of enforcement in stop and frisk in those communities.
Randell Strickland from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission,
thank you for your time this morning.
And, Hakeem Jeffries, New York state assembly, thanks for joining us.
JEFFRIES: You`re welcome. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Good to have you.
JEFFRIES: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: What happens when the business class tries to buy off our
institutions? The crazy case of the University of Virginia scandal, up
HAYES: Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas is back
with us at the table now.
The ouster of the University of Virginia president, Teresa Sullivan,
elicit national outrage this week after internal email showed that a
handful of powerful and wealthy university donors orchestrated her
departure with out so much as a vote. Their beef with Sullivan,
apparently, was that they wanted cuts in departments like German and
classics, and focus on departments they see as raising revenue including
Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell has refused to take a
definitive position on the matter. Instead, last night, he sent a letter
to UVA`s board about the special meeting they`re holding on Tuesday to
consider Sullivan`s reinstatement, saying, quote, "Let me be absolutely
clear. I want final action by the board on Tuesday. If you fail to do so,
I will ask for the resignation of the entire board on Wednesday." So
unclear if Sullivan is now out. It`s possible the board on Tuesday is
going to vote her back in because there`s been such backlash to her ouster.
Bob McDonnell not taking a position on whether she should come back in
or not, but just that something should be done.
Tim Kaine, former Virginia governor and current Democratic Senate
candidate, expressed unequivocal support for Sullivan, saying to reinstate
her would be justice. Kaine joins 10 of the university`s 11 school deans,
as well as the faculty senate in demanding Sullivan`s reinstatement. What
makes this story so interesting to me is how perfectly it illustrates the
dynamics playing out at universities across the country as they`re forced
to rely on donors as an antidote to austerity and slashes the public sector
coming from state legislatures -- all this while trying to graduate more
and more students.
What it`s done is shift power away from the public to billionaire
donors with more and more financial control over our public universities.
The strange coup in Charlottesville is a glimpse of what it looks like to
be ruled by the whim of the donor class, which in this election season
should sound familiar.
I want to bring in to start this, Siva Vaidhyanathan. He`s chair of
UVA`s media studies department, author of "The Googlization of Everything
and Why We Should Worry." He`s been at the table here on the program.
Thanks for coming back, Siva.
SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN, DEPT. OF MEDIA STUDIES, UVA: Thanks, Chris. It`s
really good to be -- while here in Chicago, I wish I could be with you in
New York. But --
HAYES: So this --
VAIDHYANATHAN: They weren`t letting any more bodies into New York.
It`s too hot there, right?
HAYES: Yes. This is -- this scandal is -- it started out and I
thought this is kind of one of those academic politics can be brutal and
internal knife fights and there`s a coup, and the board of visitors, et
cetera. But to me, the stakes do seem really high, because it gets at
something fundamental and you wrote about this in your piece for "Slate,"
which is increasingly, the model for all our institutions and things that
provide public good is a business model, is a model of the private sector.
And increasingly we have donors coming in to make up the gap in funding.
Just so people get a sense here. This is the changes in the public
and private funding of UVA. In 1990, state appropriations made up 33
percent of the budget. By 2012 it`s down to 9.5 percent. The difference
is coming from fundraising.
And increasingly, we have the combination of a wealthy donor class
that is providing the funding for public institutions, with a vision of how
to run those institutions that comes from, understandably, their experience
at the private sector, and that produces the strange case we`re seeing in
VAIDHYANATHAN: Yes, there`s actually one more input that`s making up
for the severe disinvestment of the public dollars from higher education
and that is the costs are being shifted to the students in really painful
ways. That, of course, encourages students justifiably to think of
themselves all too often as consumers of higher education and this
contributes to the sort of market model and market fundamentalism that`s
putting incredible pressure on every element of higher education, to the
point where we have to constantly take our nose out of books, take our
heads out of the classroom and think about hustling, hustling for money,
making sure we can justify our behaviors, justify our subject matters, make
sure that they match some sort of market model.
And it`s really brutal and anti-intellectual and it`s creating a
tremendous amount of pressure. At the same time, job security in higher
education is going down. Real salaries for people that teach the classes
It`s a real crisis but it`s a crisis at its source is the lack of
funding for public higher education from states. They`ve been shifting the
burden to students and the federal government, and to the people who work
there and they`ve been benefiting even more and more from the growth in
higher education in their states.
HAYES: But I want to -- you just said, you know, we have to lift our
nose out of books to hustle. You know, as someone -- most Americans are
hustling, right? And I think Americans view the culture of the university
as cushy, as protected from the hustle that everybody -- the grind that
everybody is on, particularly in these hard times.
And, in fact, the lack of hustle -- the word you use -- seems to be at
the root of the ouster of Sullivan.
Here`s Peter Kiernan, he`s former chairman of the business school, a
big finance guy at Goldman Sachs, he said -- this is a leaked e-mail where
he says, "The decision of the board of visitors to move in another
direction stems from their concern that the governance of the university
was not sufficiently tuned to the dramatic changes we all face: funding,
Internet, technology advances, the new economic model. These are matters
for strategic dynamism rather than strategic planning."
So, apparently, the adjective was fine, but the noun of dynamism
versus planning was the reason that she was sacked.
But, Siva, I mean, the point here is -- I think people look at the
current model of the university, the model of university envisioned by
Thomas Jefferson a long time ago as a quiet place of contemplation and
studying of classics and they say it is out of sync with the needs of the
21st century economy and that universities have to hustle more.
And I want you to respond to that, that imperative right after we take
a quick break.
HAYES: All right. Siva Vaidhyanathan, representative of the slothful
and indolent Ivy League, Ivy tower, you know, cosseted academic elite with
your nose in your books while the rest of Americans are hustling, why
shouldn`t the universities change? Why shouldn`t 21st century mean that we
see big strategic dynamism?
VAIDHYANATHAN: Universities are changing, changing every day.
They`ve been changing pretty steadily since World War II and all for the
better. They`ve become more inclusive. They`ve become more efficient.
The problem right now is that we`re basically starved for resources.
Scientific research is grinding to a halt because we`re not funding
scientific research, to the extent that we use to.
We have a tremendous surplus labor force, teacher in the classrooms.
My sister teaches in south Florida, in a variety of settings including
junior colleges, community colleges. She`s hustling together, put together
a life, teaching adjunct classes and economics and math, things that we
need in America, and she`s barely able to make it because we have no public
support for higher education in this country anymore.
My father on the other way -- by the way, I`m in Chicago celebrating
his 50th anniversary of his PhD, taught at a public university all through
the `60s, `70s, `80s, and `90s, and was able to live a decent middle-class
And so, we`re in a really bad situation. If you approach higher
education from a market fundamentalist point of view, you only think about
the inputs and outputs. You think about the inputs of the student, the
output of the diploma.
But we`re not supposed to be printing diplomas. We`re supposed to be
forging new ideas, forging new technologies, imagining new ways of living.
We`re supposed to be actually countering the current dominant trends,
questioning the current dominant trends. We`re supposed to be pushing new
areas of thought that don`t have an immediate return in the next quarter.
And when you put pressure on a complex institution like a university
to try to focus on next quarter, on the bottom line, on the number of
diplomas produced, you`re going to miss a point and you`re going to miss
out on some tremendous knowledge.
There`s a reason that immigrants are trying to flood our universities.
It`s because we still have the best university in the entire world, the
envy world. It`s the one set of institutions in this country that works
better than anything else in the rest of the world.
We should be proud of it. We should be investing in it, instead of
running from it and creating cartoon caricatures of what it`s like to work
I wish that the people who lead the University of Virginia from the
top, the board of visitors, have made a few a calls, made a few visits,
hang out with us. We have a beautiful place at the University of Virginia.
You can ask professors what we actually do and they might have come
away with some really good ideas. They might have given us some really
But instead of engaging in real conversation about the future of
higher education and what goes on at the University of Virginia, they
chopped the head off at the institution and did it serious damage.
And I`m telling you, this is happening all over America. This
happened at Texas A&M last year. They`re trying to do it at the University
of Texas right now. Other universities have seen the heads of their
universities chopped off largely because they weren`t satisfying the whims
of people who work on Wall Street. And we all know how successful that
mentality has been for the rest of us.
This is a real tragedy and I really think we need to force it.
HAYES: Joy Williams has a question for you.
WILLIAMS: Yes, professor, I`m interested. You make mention of
students being seen as consumers and yet, you know, in this particular
case, we see a number of students either coming back to the campus to
Sort of are people listening to the students who are the consumers? I
mean, in the market, you listen to the consumers to determine what they
want in order for them to buy. Are students being listened to?
VAIDHYANATHAN: Well, you know, if it were all about market numbers,
the University of Virginia would be stronger than ever before. We get more
applications every year. They go up in huge spikes every year.
The government has been working with President Sullivan to increase
enrollment because so many parents in Virginia are frustrated that their
children can`t get into the University of Virginia and we`re all on board
with that kind of expansion. But that kind of expansion has to happen
rationally. You have to have the people who can serve those students, the
dorm rooms for them. You need to have the facilities for them. You need
to be able to give them a good experience in college instead of just
pumping up the numbers.
And where we`re looking at right now, just like in the wire, we`re
looking at the stats of every level of hire education.
But, yes, what we`ve seen in the last two weeks is that students by
the thousands come back to Charlottesville to make their anger known to the
governor and to the board of visitors. They`ve been in complete support of
the stand the faculty has taken. Alumnae from around the world have been
e-mailing the governor, calling the governor, trying to make it clear that
we need to continue on the path of greatness and innovation at the
University of Virginia.
We`re doing some incredible bold things in the classrooms, in the labs
and just dealing with our students every day. But we`re not given
sufficient credit for it largely because there`s this serious type out
there about what actually goes on in higher education.
DOUTHAT: Siva, Ross Douthat --
DOUTHAT: Just a quick question. Let me say I`m completely
sympathetic I think to President Sullivan`s case to the matter and I always
enjoy it as a conservative when I get to watch liberal academics beat
cultural conservatives and defend classics department, sort of, you know --
HAYES: Yes. Isn`t that the whole idea?
DOUTHAT: I think from the point of view of some Americans though, it
might -- you know, the question might be raised that over the last few
decades a couple of things have happened in higher education, right? Yes.
The ratio of private dollars to public dollars has gone way up but tuition
numbers have gone way up at a frankly pretty extraordinary pace that looks
to some people a little pit like a kind of higher education bubble even.
DOUTHAT: And so I think there is a sense and undoubtedly it was
expressed stupidly by members of the UVA board, but there is a sense that
when you talk about, well, we can`t expand the campus unless we make sure
that everyone at UVA is having a classic, you know, brick and mortar,
living in the dorm experience -- you know, in a country of 300 million
people where we`re not doing a very good job overall, and, yes, our
universities are the envy of the world, but we`re not doing a very good job
overall of moving larger and larger numbers of people through the system.
Is there sort of questions to be raised about whether, you know, just
saying, well, leave us alone, we`re doing great job, we`ve got our nose in
the books, and that`s how it should be, and by the way we can`t add more
students, you know, unless we build 16 new dorms? I mean, I think that
might strike a lot of parents in state like Virginia as a little strange.
HAYES: And I think this question of whether this is a market function
or not -- I mean, there is, I think, parents worrying, there is a consumer
aspect of this in terms of what value you are getting, right, and whether
the price and the value are matched. And I want you to respond to that.
VAIDHYANATHAN: Yes. Well, look, the value of the university and how
it works is much larger than a particular value gives to particular
student, first of all. Secondly, I was the one who raised the tuition
problem in the first place because that is directly caused by the rollback
of public support for higher education.
I went to the University of Texas. I`m entirely a university person,
raised at the public university where my father taught, city of Buffalo.
University of Texas for two degrees, I`ve taught at the University of
Wisconsin, University of Virginia.
Look, you know, when I went to the University of Texas it cost barely
anything to go because the state cared about making sure that it was access
for people of all classes go to the University of Texas. We no longer care
What we`ve got now is this model, again, imposed by people who aren`t
directly involved in any of these decisions, don`t read the scholarship
don`t do the studies, and don`t talk to the people who do this work,
figuring out that, you know what, if we can just put all this course
content online, we can make sure that other people`s children get a
severely degraded experience and we don`t have to worry about them. We
don`t have to do the real work, pay the real money.
It`s just another example of trying to get something for nothing in
this country, you know? If you`re going to have top level, higher
education for many more people, you got to pay for it. There`s no way we
should be shifting the burden to students, shifting the burden to debt,
shifting the burden to the people who are trying to work hard to get this
Education is not the same as the distribution of course content.
There`s a lot more to it and there`s a lot more to what we produce from
University of Virginia, by the way, is full of people who are setting
broken bones, curing cancer, training special ed teachers. I mean, that`s
where it really is.
HAYES: Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair of UVA`s media studies department --
thanks so much for joining us and congratulations to your dad.
VAIDHYANATHAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.
HAYES: We`ll be right back.
HAYES: I think that was fascinating talk to Siva about that because
there`s constantly tremendous consternation in Virginia about this flagship
institution and its future. I think the reason I want to talk about this
issue is two things.
One is the future of higher education in the country is something we
keep coming back to and it seems to more and more important precisely
because we have rising inequality in this country. We have declining
social mobility and people I think look to our university system and
community colleges as being the engine of mobility, the thing that`s going
to figure that out. And even though we have this weird situation in which
we do have universities that are the envy of the world, but also don`t seem
to be doing that function particularly well, which is moving people through
and getting -- being the engines of that social mobility that we want.
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, the larger point is that our education system
in its entirety needs to have some sort of reform, a lot of reform, both
from primary education all the way to higher education, right?
HAYES: Right, right.
WILLIAMS: So there`s that basic level as well. So, we`re just
providing patchwork in terms of education, right?
The second part in terms of higher education is this huge push in the
last couple of days in terms of the amount of money needed, you know, and
to look at students as consumers as opposed to imparting knowledge that
they can then put back into the economy, into the country and sort of that
The relationship is, you know, to give me money to get you credential
and we just continue to, you know, gin up the amount of money you have to
give me for that credential.
HAYES: And the empty credentialism is a huge problem as well. And I
think the other point that I want to raise here -- and I just want to play
this clip because reading these e-mails of these folks who are on the board
visitors, talking about, you know, what we should be doing, it reminded me
of this moment of Mark Zuckerberg on "Oprah" announcing a $100 million
grant to the New York schools. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: So, Mr. Zuckerberg, what role are you
playing? Are the rumors true? Will there be a check offered at some
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Yes. I committed to starting the
Start-Up Education Foundation whose first project will be a $100 million
WINFREY: One hundred million dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So this -- and obviously there`s nothing -- you know, give
$100 million to education is totally amazing thing, a generous thing, I
think -- I don`t think it`s anything that we criticize.
But we`re seeing in education the public to private --
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, JOURNALIST: The Bill Gates Foundation.
HAYES: The Bill Gates Foundation -- and that comes with -- that comes
with costs because it means that where the dependence of the institution
does shift, right? We`re not having public conversations about what it
should be it. It`s in the hands of increasingly small donors.
VARGAS: Again, they`re addressing something -- I profiled Zuckerberg
for "The New Yorker" two years ago.
HAYES: It was great profile.
VARGAS: Thank you.
That`s like the first, big philanthropic thing that he`s done, right?
And that`s really because I think -- I heard something like he sat next to
Cory Booker at some event. And education came up and before you know it,
here he is, $100 million.
But the thing, though, is, I think this is kind of at your point --
what are these colleges supposed to do? Where are they supposed -- I
graduated from San Francisco State University. Very proud. When I went
there, $800 a semester for me to go to school.
WILLIAMS: Oh my goodness.
VARGAS: Can you believe that? I love that school.
Now, it`s something like $2,000, $3,000 or something like that.
I mean, what are supposed -- where are they supposed to get that
HAYES: No, I mean, that`s understandable.
BLACK: I would like to announce right now I`m going to donate $100
million to San Francisco State University.
VARGAS: Do you have that money though?
BLACK: No, no.
WILLIAMS: The amount of money, you have institutions in both primary
education, high schools and charter schools, sort of -- you know, all of
those things, you see that in charter schools across urban areas where
there are hedge fund managers and other people in the financial industry,
sort of giving money to education and creating charter schools, creating --
we need a real conversation on what is government`s role in providing
education for students -- primary education, high school, you know, up to
higher education so that we`re not doing this patchwork of giving --
HAYES: And I should say, we`ve tried this model before. I mean,
actually, the first public education in this country was happened in
Massachusetts was privately funded almost in its entirety by business
leader who want -- so -- and in fact, the whole model of provisioning these
public goods in the late 19th century, in the gilded age, you know,
libraries, education, in fact, the big University of Stanford has the name
Stanford because it was a big railroad magnate who gave a lot of money.
So, we have done this before. I think the model we came up with
afterward in which we created a public social contract to provision to
these goods was of superior one.
DOUTHAT: But -- I mean, you have to recognize that some of this
private philanthropy is a reaction to public sector failure, right? I
mean, it is a case that there -- you know, especially during the recession,
there`s been declines in state funding to higher ed and so on.
But if you look at spending on primary education in the U.S. other the
last few decade, again, pre-Great Recession, goes up steadily without
producing any kind of notable improvement in test scores and all the things
that everybody focuses on. So the hedge fund people are -- I mean, you`re
right. They`re sort of patching holes, but there are holes in the -- you
know, precisely the public system.
HAYES: Which I think we should all fix together.
HAYES: So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers, after this.
HAYES: What we know now that we didn`t last week. But first, a quick
personal update. My book is on sale now and last week, it was a real blast
to meet Uppers in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Thank you for coming out.
Next week, I`ll be appearing at an event on Monday in Las Vegas with
the one and only Harry Shearer, Wednesday in Cambridge, Mass, and Thursday
in Montclair, New Jersey. Check out "The Twilight of the Elites" Facebook
page or UP website at Up.MSNBC.com for details and information about other
So, what do we know that we didn`t know last week?
Well, we know that Rhode Island`s governor signed his state`s first
increase in minimum wage since before the recession, raising it from $7.40
to $7.75. That`s good news. And we know the bad news is that there is no
state where a person making minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom unit at
fair market rent, working a standard 40-hour workweek.
We know that even though candidate Obama promised to raise the federal
minimum wage, it`s remained at $7.25 since he became president, which is
lower than what a minimum wage worker made in 1968, adjusted for inflation.
We know that more than 130 countries met at the United Nations
Sustainable Development Conference this week, 20 years after the first
Earth Summit, and the first time in a decade. And we know that the most
they could accomplish at this global tipping point moment for the climate
was a vague promise to drop, quote, "sustainable development goals" at some
point in the future.
We know if we`re going to get the future we want, which is the title
of this big document, we`re going to have to demand a lot more action from
We know the other species endanger of extinction is Democratic female
governors. Although there are four Republican women now serving as
governor, Democratic will have zero seats after Washington Governor
Christine Gregoire and North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue step down after
2012. We know that only New Hampshire has the potential to elect a
Democratic female governor this fall and that`s only if one of the female
candidates wins the primary there in September.
We know that Sam Bennett, president and CEO of the Women`s Campaign
Fund was right when he told the "Huffington Post", quote, "We might as well
turn the clock back 50 years because that`s the last time we were without a
sitting woman governor who supported reproductive choices and options and
that`s what we`re looking out again."
I want to find out what my guests now know they didn`t know this week.
Joy Williams, what do you now know?
WILLIAMS: I know there are people in New York City who are standing
up for children, 47,000 of them are facing budget cuts for a daycare and
afterschool programs. The Campaign for Children is standing up for them
and Councilwoman Tish James is suing the administration over that as well.
HAYES: Daycare is one of those places where the acts of austerity
will fall and I think is one of the worst places for that acts to fall.
Ross Douthat, what do you now know?
DOUTHAT: I now know that it may take several years, but every
presidential administration will eventually invoke executive privilege in
order to protect something it doesn`t want Congress to know.
HAYES: You`re referring of course to the president invoking executive
privilege in response to Darrell Issa`s question of Eric Holder to turn
over more documents in the Fast and Furious investigation. Bill Clinton
invoked 14 times, George W. Bush, six times. This is the first for this
Jose Antonio Vargas?
VARGAS: I know that Marco Rubio`s maternal grandfather got reported,
which was interesting to me. I mean, at least face application
proceedings. I`m reading this book, "The Rise of Marco Rubio." Marco
Rubio really fascinates me. So, I`m trying to get to know him as much as I
HAYES: You know, I was doing some reporting and talking immigration
advocates in -- around this issue. And they said that Rubio has played
this really important role in this, in an interesting way which is that
him, even though was a tentative proposal, his DREAM Act proposal, that did
create the space and it created the kind of policy bargaining that`s the
dynamic that I was talking about.
DOUTHAT: Which is why the president preempted it.
HAYES: Right. Exactly. But the point is that, whether that was the
reason or not, the point though is policy bargaining is what you want to
get to and it`s interesting to me that Rubio took that step and I think it
says something about the political vision Republicans have about their
long-term political viability.
VARGAS: In that conversation that needs to happen within the
HAYES: Michael Ian Black, aside from being $100 million down after
the two-hour appearance on our show, you are big, obviously, a big star.
What do you now know?
BLACK: I know that the first manmade object is about to travel as
far, Voyager I is about to leave the solar system, after 35 years. It`s
been traveling since it was launched in 1977, I believe. What I didn`t
know about that and I think a lot of people are aware of this, is that
NASA`s current budget represents 0.5 percent of our budget. I think we
could do better.
HAYES: More space exploration for Michael Ian Black. You will be
watching. That will be your second $100 million donation. Hedge funders
My thanks to political strategist L. Joy Williams, Ross Douthat, the
author of "Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics"; journalist
Jose Antonio Vargas; and Michael Ian Black, co-author of "America, You Sexy
Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom" -- thanks for getting UP.
Thank you for joining us today for UP. And join us tomorrow Sunday
morning at 8:00. We`ll get live reaction from Cairo to the presidential
Coming up next on "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY," Melissa has a secret to tell
you that there are things that very powerful people do not want you to
know. At this moment, a secret meeting of millionaires and billionaires
plotting to use their money and influence to expand their already political
power to take over the country.
And African-Americans are heading back to the South -- this is a
fascinating demographic change, inching closer to `60s present living below
the Mason-Dixon line. What will this reverse migration mean for the
political power of black communities? Can these new southerners change
solidly Republican states? We talked about that a little bit last week and
it`s just a fascinating shift in this country.
That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Of course, thanks for
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