'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, July 7, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guests: Ed Pawlowski, Eleanor Clift, Dan Dicker, Peter Welch, Tristan Taormino, Zephyr Teachout, Jaclyn Friedman, Stephen Mufson
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, look up in the sky,
is it a tax or is it a penalty? Who cares, it is health care. Plus, why
cities shouldn`t have to burn before we address the budget crises around
the nation. And sex on camera for money. Yes, today "Nerdland" is talking
porn in our own nerdy, sex positive way. But first, promises without
plans. And Mitt Romney`s solution to everything.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Zero, zip, zilch, nada.
Yesterday we learned that there was no change in the unemployment rate for
May through June. Absolutely nothing. That`s kind of how I feel when I`m
dieting and I step on the scale to learn that I have lost nothing.
Granted, it is not as bad as when I gain weight, but it is still pretty
annoying if I`ve been trying really hard to lose. So 8.2 percent seems to
be the unemployment rate that sticking around for now. And although the
unemployment rate has gone down during President Obama`s tenure, it has yet
to dip below eight percent. We`re going to do the 7.9 dance, right? So
adding fuel to the lack of instant gratification fire on the economy, the
month of June saw only a net gain of 80,000 jobs. A number that from
President Obama`s perspective show that the road to economic recovery is a
marathon, not a sprint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And that
overall means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the
past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs. That`s a step in
the right direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So the president may have put a positive spin on the
jobs report. Shock of all shocks, his presumptive challenger, Mitt Romney,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning. We have seen
the jobs report this morning. And it is another kick in the gut to middle
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, Mitt Romney isn`t winning over many in the
Republican Party with the way that his campaign has narrowly focused on the
economy. William Kristol, the conservative commentator and veteran of the
Reagan and first Bush administration had this to say. Quote, "The economy
is, of course, important, but voters want to hear what Romney is going to
do about the economy. He can speak about how bad the economy is all he
wants, though Americans are already aware of the economy`s problems. But
doesn`t the content of what Romney has to say matter?" Well, Mr. Kristol,
Mitt Romney doesn`t care what you or any other critic has to say because he
has a plan and he told reporters as much when he took questions on Friday.
For the first time in more than a month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I don`t say much to critics. I put out 59 steps for how I`d
get the economy going. And I don`t think I have seen any from the
president that -- to show what he`s planning on doing. I have laid out my
59 steps and take a look at them. I think you will find them very
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Mitt Romney, he does have a plan, see? He has a big old
plan. It does contain 59 points, but it`s not true that President Obama
doesn`t have a plan. As "The Washington Post" Ezra Klein noted yesterday
on my colleague Martin Bashir show, both President Obama and Mitt Romney
have plans, but there`s a big difference between the two.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST: The interesting thing about these two
plans is you could actually implement them both simultaneously without any
real fear of contradiction on either side. Obama`s is short-term, get jobs
moving now. Mitt Romney`s long term, about the long term tax budgetary and
regulatory environment, in which jobs will be created in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s very interesting that Mitt Romney`s plan or rather
his promises to improve the economy are seen as long-term, kind of far out
there, long-term horizon. Especially when noted in May after that the jobs
numbers released, that the current economic progress just was not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Well, we should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created
for a month. This is way, way, way off from what should happen in a normal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: 500,000, really? Per month? Uh-huh. The monthly job
growth rate has only exceeded 500,000 jobs 16 times since 1939. So, Mitt
Romney is a little off in his math. And if he is off in his math, could he
possibly be setting unrealistic goals for what he`s promising to do for the
American economy? Because if the economy is the focus of Romney`s campaign,
the American voters post recession are going to need something more than
just promises. They are going to need a realistic leader with achievable
goals for the recovery and eventual return of prosperity. With me at the
table, our author and CNBC contributor Dan Dicker, Zephyr Teachout,
associate professor of law in Fordham University, Eleanor Clift, the
contributor editor with "Newsweek" and a "Daily Beast", and Michael Eric
Dyson, an MSNBC contributor and Georgetown University law professor.
Thanks to all of you for joining me this morning.
All right. Promises, promises, promises. He does have a plan, it
would be wrong to say he does not have a plan. Here`s the plan. Dan, is
this plan realistic?
DAN DICKER, AUTHOR, "OIL`S ENDLESS BID": I mean this is the plan. I
mean when I read it, it is incredible. First, he`s going to take on China.
And I have, you know, a couple of words to say.
HARRIS-PERRY: My favorite part.
DICKER: Good luck with that. I mean, they control all of the
American debt, they are going to try -- he`s going to get the Chinese in
line. That`s number one. That`s going to be terrific. He`s going to kick
start the energy program with Keystone. I mean I don`t understand this one
either. This one is -- we`ve had -- we`ve got $115 oil without Keystone,
we now have $85 without Keystone. I don`t understand, you know, what`s
love got to do with this? You know, I have no idea. And then the third
thing, of course, is regulation ...
DICKER: ... which is really, really scary. Basically what he`s
talking about is tossing out whatever small measures have been put in place
with Dodd Frank, financial regulation ...
DICKER: What we have seen with this Barclays thing that this is
something that we should not go backwards on. This is something we need to
go forwards on. Everything that he puts out like Ezra says, very long-term
and in my view, really unattainable. I mean there were short-term things
that the president`s put out that are obtainable.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And even if they were obtainable, right, the
notion of rolling back regulations on things like clean air and clean
water, I mean I hope that`s unattainable, right? I hope there`s still
enough of an American political system that we would put the brakes on
that. Michael, I feel sometimes like challengers make promises ...
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, SOCIOLOGY PROF., GEORGETOWN UNIV.: Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: ... and incumbents have records. Is this a kind of
asymmetry? That -- that just is true, that, of course, he can promise --
you know, I will take on China, for example, as he pointed out.
DYSON: Right. No, it`s a very good point, except in this case, I
think , that the record he does have as governor speaks so saliently and
directly to some of the issues he is talking about. It`s different if
you`re a governor and you`re dealing on the local level with stuff that the
president hasn`t -- doesn`t have to deal with, but he`s talking about
health care. We know that`s his real Achilles heel here because he did the
same thing Obama did or tried to do in regard to health care. In regard to
China, look, your Bain Capital stuff, you`re a sitting duck for the
president to say, really, is that what you`re going to do to China? Because
you said you want to, you know, get rid of China stronghold on the economy.
You didn`t do so. In fact, you exported jobs over there, offshore
accounts, foreign economies then allow you to escape taxes. It`s a really
tough thing there, but I think challengers do make a whole bunch of
DYSON: That they don`t ultimately have to keep. And then Obama`s
record I think comes into play here in a way that makes him vulnerable in a
couple of these.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And in fact, this promise gap is exactly what
they`re trying -- what the Romney campaign is trying to use. So I want to
come to you, Eleanor on this. But let`s take a moment and actually listen
to this new campaign video from Romney where they are trying to claim
there`s a promise gap for the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Barack Obama ran for president. He made a
lot of promises.
OBAMA: I`m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the
end of my first term in office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But after four years of empty promises ...
OBAMA: Cut the costs of health care by up to $2500 per family. And
we are going to do it by the end of my first term as president of the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama has left us with middle class
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so how does the president with a real record
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK: Well, in a way President Obama`s real
competitor is the Obama of 2008. And the expectations that he set. Some
deliberately and some that were foisted upon him. And if you listen to a
focus group as I did a couple of weeks ago, people see the economy getting
better. But they thought that this president would make it get better much
faster. And so, he is, I think that`s his issue, is to try to convince
people that the economy is getting better while not enthusing about how
wonderful it is.
CLIFT: But getting ...
HARRIS-PERRY: And that`s the challenge. He has to talk about what
he`s done without saying it`s all perfect ...
CLIFT: Right. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: ... because then folks think he`s out of touch.
CLIFT: Because there`s psychology here.
CLIFT: If you don`t get people believing in what he represents in his
programs, and frankly I think he`s been doing better, but it is a little
half-hearted. And I don`t think most people ...
HARRIS-PERRY: You mean in terms of the communication strategy.
CLIFT: In communication and also in terms of what he`s doing. We all
know he sent a jobs program up. Congress isn`t doing anything about it.
So, hit the Congress harder, send up another piece of legislation.
CLIFT: What is he going to do? What is his second term agenda? I
don`t think it is clear.
DICKER: There`s a spin gloat cycle, that`s what I call it. Whenever
one of these jobs numbers comes out. So, the side that`s perceived to have
done well starts to gloat about it. And the side that`s done well starts
to spin the numbers.
DICKER: But the point really is that he`s made so tremendous strides
considering what kind of crisis we were coming out of, but he can`t say
DICKER: Nobody wants to buy that kind of idea. So every time you get
a good job ...
HARRIS-PERRY: You know how bad it could be, folks?
DICKER: Right. Right. This doesn`t work, it doesn`t -- nobody buys
it. I understand that. But when you get 225,000 jobs, like you got in
January, and you average 150,000 jobs, a terrific number for the first
quarter, you can`t go and say, it is all good now, folks. You can`t ...
DICKER: You have to say, we need to do better. And so, he doesn`t
get the kind of gloat cycle that he should get when the numbers are good,
but he sure gets a lot of trouble trying to spin it when the numbers are
DYSON: But on the hand, you`ve got the investment of the Republicans
in his very failure. So, the obstructionism of the Congress ...
DICKER: No question about it.
DYSON: You know is right there. And then it seems that Mitt Romney
is invested in the poor economy to make his own campaign.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Like he is -- I mean the very fact that
the gloat cycle for him is, oh, great, there`s a whole bunch of people ...
DICKER: Right, things are bad. Isn`t that great? That`s not really
ZEPHYR TEACHOUT, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: ... who`s out of work. I mean
whose jobs are getting lost. Like when you see these numbers, I think our
response should be where are they coming from and what can we do about it?
Actually, sort of be compassionate members of the community.
TEACHOUT: Instead of this kind of gloating ...
HARRIS-PERRY: And where -- that`s right -- and -- right. And not
just compassionate, but they are coming from the public sector, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean the very fact that it is not the private sector,
we`re going to talk a little bit more about how to parse through these
promises on job creation and talking about the public sector. Later, we`re
also going to talk about why our cities are going broke and whether or not
they could even provide the most basic services. And in our next hour, why
pornography has a place in our national conversation about women`s health.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I have a plan. My plan calls for action that will get
America working again and create good jobs, both near term and long term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So that was candidate Mitt Romney yesterday in New
Hampshire once again promising that he has the answer to our economic woes.
He is the man with the master 59-point plan. But does he really have the
answers? Does anybody? Here to help me find out that the economic promises
of President Obama or Mitt Romney can be achieved, there are Dan Dicker,
Zephyr Teachout, Eleanor Clift and Michael Eric Dyson. All right. Let`s
be as fair as we can possibly be to this document, right? So we have got
the 59-point plan that begins with believing in America because apparently
Democrats don`t in fact believe in America, I don`t know if we believe in
China or something. And, you know, I was just -- you know, we were kind of
going through it. Let`s just start with tax policy, right? So let`s just
start with what this document tells us about Mitt Romney`s decisions around
tax policy. So we know he wants to bring down or maintain marginal rates
on our current tax policy. He wants to eliminate the so-called death tax.
And here is the big one, to lower corporate income tax rate to 25 percent.
What does this do, does this create jobs, Dan? Tomorrow we have more jobs?
DICKER: Well, it is more of the same as the same trickle-down kind of
theories that I thought we repudiated more than ten years ago, but they
keep on coming back, it`s sort of like the phantom from the graveyard that
kind of comes back from the dead. And they keep on talking about --
there`s no economists left in the world besides one or two that I could
name that really agree with this trickle-down idea of continuing to cut
corporate tax rates to try and boost growth, and yet it keeps on making an
appearance. Romney keeps on coming back. By the way, I mean if we are
talking about real programs put on or we are talking about President
Obama`s Job Act of 2011, which was immediately blocked by the Republicans,
but that did contain -- half of that bill was tax breaks for small
DICKER: ... and corporations trying to get the Republicans on board.
But it clearly, you know, was not enough. So, there`s some motion at least
inside the White House to understand, OK, this is something you really
want, we`ll give you a piece of it. Still not good enough to get something
CLIFT: No, the president wants to cut corporate taxes, too.
CLIFT: But the tax plan that Romney is putting forward is another big
tax cut and it`s very reminiscent of what Republicans did during the George
W. Bush year.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which generated the deficit.
CLIFT: It was actually negative job growth.
CLIFT: But he gets to just sort of toss this out there. And in our
fast-paced media environment, very few of us challenge it point by point.
And he puts himself forward as this successful businessman with a magical
CLIFT: ... which is why the Obama campaign is so aggressive now in
trying to get the Bain Capital stuff out there, the outsourcing, the
CLIFT: Because in this period of time, it`s a race to frame Romney in
the eyes of the American people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. Because part of this is about defining
what we mean when we say successful businessman. Look, I have an
appreciation for small business people. You know, I was thinking about,
you know, black community folks who, you know, have owned funeral homes and
barbershops and beauty salons. Folks sometime start with very little
capital and actually make something. I have an enormous respect for that
and feel like we can learn a lot from folks on that. That is not what Bain
is and that`s not what the businessman story of Mitt Romney is.
TEACHOUT: No, this tells you what his vision is. And his vision on
economy is sort of the oligarchic vision. Let`s have a bunch of really
powerful, really concentrated companies that are then the job creators that
sort of give out jobs when they feel like it.
HARRIS-PERRY: As though they are doing something for us.
TEACHOUT: Yeah. And I think it is really important to separate
business from Romney`s plan. I mean, we all believe that a really
functioning, decentralized entrepreneurial economy is going to be the best
for jobs in the long term.
CLIFT: He`s catering to the Tea Party contingency. Basically, let`s
get the jackboot of government off the neck of business. But I don`t know
if that`s ...
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not on the neck of business.
CLIFT: I don`t think it has, but they are very successful in pushing
DYSON: But look at the fact ...
CLIFT: It is not enough for some of the Republican establishment.
They want more specifics and they are pushing it (inaudible).
DYSON: Well, what I mean I hate to keep coming back to his record,
like empirical verification of what he did, the data, but the reality is
that he promised in Massachusetts, look, I`m going to lower taxes, I`m
going to reduce the debt and I`m going to make the government smaller.
Guess what? None of that happened. You know, he went from like 37th to
47th in terms of what their status was of the 50 states in regard to the
economy. Unemployment dipped a bit, but then it rose significantly. And
he didn`t reduce the government. I mean, you know, 260 -- some, you know,
$26 billion dollars or something.
HARRIS-PERRY: He`s not running on that.
DICKER: What I`m saying that, if his record as governor is a
predictor of what he`s done when he had the chance to do something locally,
what do we expect, you know, to do nationally if you can`t even fix it at
the local level?
HARRIS-PERRY: And all the same, again, one of the things that he had
in Massachusetts, that if he wins the American presidency, he is unlikely
to have, was he had a Democratic legislator that he had to contend with.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think that`s the part of the Obama story that
keeps getting lost. Is, you know, what happened in those initial days, in
the 111th Congress when Nancy Pelosi was speaker of the House. When we had
the razor-thin thing that sort of looked like a majority in the U.S.
Senate. Legislation was passed as one of the most active congresses of all
time, and then the minute that the Tea Party revolution occurred and the
President Obama ended up with a Republican majority in the U.S. House it
was stop-gap. And this like I will do all this on day one. Excuse me, you
still will have a U.S. Congress.
DYSON: Yeah, right, well.
CLIFT: Yeah, but he might have a Republican U.S. Congress. And if
they do things under budget authority, they might not need 60 votes in the
Senate. I mean there`s a pretty scary scenario out there where Romney,
whatever moderate bones he may have left in his body, will be moving
entirely to the right. I mean just the way he caved on the whole tax
versus mandate issue. I mean deep down this man is weak. I mean he will -
- he will capitulate the minute he gets pushed by his party--
DYSON: Right. They hit Obama for saying, you know, the point you
just made about having that the razor-thin majority. Well, even when he
had that, the reason he couldn`t get a whole bunch done is that you have
these blue dog Democrats out here nipping at his heels as well. So, he
never really enjoyed the, if you will, unrestrained ecstasy that could come
from, look, I get the House and the Senate and I got the White House and
let me do something.
HARRIS-PERRY: He is not having LBJ or ...
HARRIS-PERRY: No, that was nothing like ...
DYSON: It was Lebron James, not the LBJ.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to look real quickly, because we`re talking a
little bit about red and blue. But the other issue is green. And so,
let`s just look at what the 59-point plan tells us about regulatory policy.
So, we have Mitt Romney saying that he wants to repeal and replace Dodd
Frank and Obamacare. If you look into this plan, it also talks about
eliminating the Obama-era regulations. And at one point he says that being
Obama means that it ain`t so easy being green. And he claims as though
we`re somehow by like -- by attempting to address issues of environmental
concern, long-term health of the country and our citizens, that we are in
fact killing jobs. Is that a reasonable physician to have on regulatory
CLIFT: Well, in some states like West Virginia, which used to be a
Democratic state, I mean they are now so anti-Obama that they voted for a
fill-in as opposed felon in jail ...
CLIFT: ... as opposed to supporting the president. And there`s a
jingle that goes in West Virginia that Barack Hussein Obama, Hussein stands
for -- is Arabic for "I don`t like coal miners." I mean they ...
CLIFT: And, you know, what`s going on really ...
CLIFT: Right. There`s a titanic struggle between the fossil fuel
industry and the emerging fuel industry.
CLIFT: And Romney is standing with, you know, big oil and big coal.
CLIFT: And Obama is on the other side. And the big money is on the
coal and oil. So the money is pouring into the presidential race.
DICKER: I`m in the energy business, so I can give you a little bit of
perspective on this. People`s memories are short. We have forgotten when
BP tried to poison the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
HARRIS-PERRY: I live in New Orleans, I didn`t forget.
DICKER: So, you didn`t forget.
DICKER: OK, so, and there was an understandable slowdown of
permitting by, you know, the Interior Department. And this made a lot of
sense. You don`t want something like this to happen again. Despite all
the whining about the slowdown of permitting, by the end of 2011 we had the
largest production we`d ever had in the Gulf of Mexico. That was in spite
of permitting slowdowns. In the Bakken, we have enormous amounts, we have
close to three and a half million barrels of domestic production that`s
coming out a day in Eagle Fort. We`re having incredible amounts of
production. This is why keystone is a big issue, because oil has to move
somewhere they are making so much of it. So, if there was a problem with
regulation, if there`s a real problem with the regulation, nobody in the
oil industry seems to see it because they are making more of it than they
ever had in their lives.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you brought us exactly what we`re going to come up
next, which is the question of whether or not keystone is a pipe dream or
is it really a space to create jobs. Literally, it`s a pipe, is it
actually also literally a dream? We`re going to go to Oklahoma along the
pipe`s length and try to assess this out as a job creator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I can guarantee you if I`m president on day one we`re going
to get the approval from that pipeline from Canada. And if I have to build
it myself to get it here, I`ll get that oil in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: (laughs). That`s quite a promise from candidate Mitt
HARRIS-PERRY: Right? Not only is he going to get the approval for the
pipeline, but he`s going to build it himself. But of course if he builds
it himself, won`t he be much of a job creator, right? So. Look, President
Obama rejected the immediate expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline in
January and it`s become a central part of the agenda for Republicans and
for Romney. But will one pipeline be enough to jumpstart the economy or is
it just a pipe dream? The thing, it will jumpstart Romney`s campaign? At
the table, Dan Dicker, Zephyr Teachout, Eleanor Clift, and Michael Eric
Dyson, and joining us via Skype from Stillwater, Oklahoma, Steven Mufson
who is the energy reporter for "The Washington Post" who is traveling the
length of the Keystone pipeline. Nice to see you, Stephen.
STEVEN MUFSON, ENERGY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to see you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask you this, I mean Keystone really has
become a bit of a symbol in the -- kind of American discourse around jobs
and energy policy right now, but what`s the reality of it, for example, for
folks who are in Oklahoma right now. For the path that we`ll actually
travel through the Americas, what do folks for whom this will be in their
backyard, what are they telling you about it?
MUFSON: Well, I think the -- for people in the back -- for whom it`s
in the backyard, it depends. You know, some of the ranchers are very upset
about it, you have a lot of opposition in some parts of the line. In other
parts of the line, it`s -- it`s a shrug. You know, they have got other
pipelines here and it is not a big problem. And on the jobs issue, it`s --
the numbers are all over the place. And the reality is there will be jobs
created by the construction of pipeline, that just won`t be quite as many
as the numbers you usually hear, which are -- some of which are, you know,
wildly exaggerated, I think.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, you know, obviously I`m looking at, as you
were talking, we were actually looking at images of the pipeline. Now, I
think for some Americans they believe that President Obama said you cannot
build this and therefore it is not being built. I`m looking at folks in
hard hats, it looks like they are folks working and on the job right now.
Just, you know, in a few seconds, tell the American folks more clearly,
what part of the pipeline is built, is being built, what part of it was put
on hold by the president.
MUFSON: I think it`s helpful to think of it in four sections. There
is sections in Canada, they have all the permits in Canada and that`s what
you are seeing on those photographs. They are already busy building part
of the pipeline in Canada on the assumption that they will get these
permits in the end. As the TransCanada chief executive puts it, I believe
that logic will prevail in the end. Then there`s the controversial section
that runs basically from the Montana border through Steel City, Nebraska.
Nebraska was the focal point of the controversy because part of the
pipeline went through the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region in
Nebraska. And there was a lot of opposition from some ranchers there. And
that was why Obama said he was going to wait and needed to -- needed more
information. There`s a smaller section that runs from Nebraska to here,
which is already built. And then there`s the southern section, which the
president has embraced, that would run from Cushing where there`s a huge
bottleneck, a huge glut of oil here, that would run down to the Texas Gulf
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so let me read this back out to you, Dan. Because
you mentioned the BP oil spill. And, you know, this is very real, very
personal for me as a New Orleanean. So I watched that, I looked at that,
and I hear the jobs narrative and I hear the energy policy narrative, and I
also think the cost, the ecological, personal, national cost of an accident
along that really strikes terror in my heart.
DICKER: Are you talking about the Keystone pipeline?
DICKER: Well, this one is -- there was real reason to take your time
in terms of building something like this. Personally, I would like to see
at least a little time taken in terms of which way the pipeline is being
run and staying away from some of the (inaudible). But I will say this,
I`m on the side of the position in terms of whether it will be built or
not, I believe 100 percent it will be built I think that the president of
TransCanada is actually correct, the president has, in fact, in some ways
kind of walked back a little bit off his problems with the pipeline. And I
believe it will be approved after the next election is over.
HARRIS-PERRY: Regardless of who becomes president.
DICKER: Regardless of who becomes president. And in many ways, this
is not -- it has become like you say, a very strong issue for people to
focus on, but there are literally dozens of pipelines. These kinds of
pipes running through the country. And this one has only become a major
issue because it is dealing with the Canadian tar sands, which are
ecologically disastrous. And to me, if you have a problem with what the
Canadians are doing in the tar sands in Alberta, what you should be doing
is talking to the Canadian government a lot more than you should be talking
to the MMC about where they are running the pipeline. Because I`m very,
very sure that that oil from Canada is coming out of the ground whether we
pipe it through the United States or not.
DICKER: And that`s the sad truth of it.
DYSON: But isn`t it that -- if you`re talking about tar sands and
fossil using you get messed up from Alberta, Canada through the Great
Plains, down to Texas and the southern states. The reality is that the
global warming question is what`s being brought to bare here, and people
are talking about, I guess this has become symbolic of the ecological
balance between, you know, exploitation of fossil fuels for the production
of energy and looking for alternative sources.
DYSON: And there`s no discourse about what are the alternative
sources where the green -- you know, the gas submissions and all that. I
mean it`s the erratic of the economy. They just wants to tap that gas, but
they don`t want to talk about, you know, what happens more broadly.
HARRIS-PERRY: That judgment is later.
DYSON: You know, we`re talking about it broadly. What happens to the
environment and global warming. It`s not a one-to-one correlation between
the heat we are feeling now and global warming, but it is a big question
that this pipeline brings to the discussion.
CLIFT: Environmentalists do not like the tar sands, but the president
has already caved on that.
DYSON: That`s right.
CLIFT: This is going to be built, probably the OK is going to come
before the election.
DICKER: But let`s look on the other side ...
CLIFT: But that oil is not going to deliver us from dependence on
Saudi Arabia ...
CLIFT: It is going right to Asia.
HARRIS-PERRY: And when we come back, I want to talk about all of the
other job creating programs that many Republicans have actually said no to.
Thank you so much, Steven Mufson in Oklahoma. I appreciate you giving us
on the ground view of what`s happening out there.
Up next ,why several of Mitt Romney`s political pals have a plan to
leave 4 Americans in the dark and what the presidential candidate might
have to do about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mitt Romney isn`t the only person making promises about
what he`ll do with to health care reform if he is elected president. At
least eight governors are leaning towards not participating in Medicaid`s
expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act. The more generous
eligibility rules, which the Supreme Court says the states can opt out of
while another seven governors from states like Florida, South Carolina, and
my adopted state of Louisiana have flat out said no to Medicaid expansion.
But while these governors are taking what many see as a political stance
against the Affordable Care Act, it`s the neediest of their constituents
that may be left out of having access to health care. At the table, Dan
Dicker, Zephyr Teachout, Eleanor Clift and Michael Eric Dyson. So I want
to come to you in part of this, Zephyr, but let`s actually listen to my
governor, Bobby Jindal, on "Meet the Press" last week saying, no, no, we
are not going to expand Medicaid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA.: Every governor`s got two critical decisions
to make. One is do we set up these exchanges and secondly, do we expand
Medicaid? And no, in Louisiana we are not doing either one of those things.
I don`t think it makes sense to do those. I think it makes more sense to
do everything we can to elect Mitt Romney to repeal Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, because in Louisiana was one of the highest
poverty rates in the nation and where actually our economy would be
fundamentally improved by increasing access to health care. We should
definitely not do that just like we should definitely not take the stimulus
money that Bobby Jindal didn`t take, in order to build light rails, so
that, you know, if there was another hurricane, you know, like there used
to be like pretty recently, people could get out of town. I mean, it is
making me nuts. How is it possible that a governor of a state can stand
there, sit there on "Meet the Press" and say we are not taking federal
money to provide health care for our citizens?
TEACHOUT: No, I mean what you see out there, I don`t take these
governors seriously right now. This is politics. We can win this fight in
the states. You go to the states and you talk about a teacher, we`re
talking about the jobs that were lost last segment.
TEACHOUT: The teachers, public schoolteacher can`t get a job, single,
doesn`t have kids, we don`t care about them if they are sick?
HARRIS-PERRY: We don`t. I mean, right, isn`t it what we decided, we
decided that we don`t care about teachers, right? The teachers are somehow
the enemy of students, particularly if they are in unions, so we should
break their unions so they won`t have health care provided on the job. And
now we should make it, so, if they are making basically poverty wages
because they don`t have the unions, they also now can`t get health care.
TEACHOUT: No, I mean look, there`s a bunch of different issues here.
I actually -- and I`m a bit of a left federalist, I want to have these
fights in the state.
TEACHOUT: I want to be talking about financial reform in the state.
I think we are going to get better usury laws in the states. And I think
if you actually go and talk to the population and say, don`t talk about it
in terms of, you know, this, we are having this technical conversation at
the national level. And I want to have a moral conversation at the state
DYSON: Let me ask you, Zephyr, a question.
TEACHOUT: All right.
DYSON: As a left federalist. How do you regulate however the kind of
explosive tendency towards states rights that end up undermining poor
people, women and African-Americans and other minorities? How do you
balance it out? Because historically, when we hear that, you are kind of
really skeptical about that.
TEACHOUT: No, I mean I think there`s a really interesting history
here, which has made the left scared of the states, because they are --
because they behave badly.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because they behave badly.
TEACHOUT: But -- so, you know, I`m not yet talking about like
breaking up into the state levels, but I will say on the Dodd Frank fight,
the biggest thing the banks wanted is to make sure the states didn`t have
rights to actually, you know, to do any state level regulation. The state
attorney`s general is where there`s real populist power. And I just think
the left should be using a lot more energy.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ll make you -- I`ll make you lefty federalist
argument. The -- and I will go back historically to do it. So, the
Fugitive Slave Act ...
HARRIS-PERRY: ... was actually a states right act, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Fugitive Slave Act was, the other side right,
actually saying, you know what, you free states no longer get to have your
right to allow people to be on free soil. We are going to intervene, we`re
going to come up and take formerly enslaved persons who gotten into freedom
back. In that case where you actually want state rights because you want
free states to be able to protect.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think similarly the marriage equality narrative
HARRIS-PERRY: ... is one where you want those states. So, I think
that -- I mean there is a question of whether or not you can use it for
good, but I`m nervous that like we necessarily care about poor folks at the
local level, because it does ...
DYSON: Yeah. Because ...
CLIFT: Well, if you could write them off ...
DYSON: Because they get lost in the south ...
DYSON: ... because you want to have the P.R. machinery to keep you -
- let`s take it up, the marriage equality had a heck of a PR machine behind
it with a bunch of dough. I don`t think that back in the day what in terms
of the slaves returning home, I think about their descendants, are the ones
who are more vulnerable now, who have no protection.
TEACHOUT: Well, when I listen to these governors, I think of the
governors who stood in the schoolhouse doors ...
CLIFT: ... on the steps in the `60s. It was massive resistance and
it ended -- it ended. First of all, in the Affordable Care Act. If the
state refuses to set up exchange, the federal governor does it for him.
So, Bobby Jindal, you know, you can`t get away with that.
CLIFT: And then, on the Medicaid money, it is free money for two
years and then it is 90 percent.
CLIFT: And the hospitals in his state are going to complain -- they
do not want to provide free care to people and not get paid for it ...
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, that`s right.
CLIFT: So he`s going to get lots of pressures inside the state. So,
they are not ...
HARRIS-PERRY: What you actually believe in the power the lobby, at
this -- I mean ...
HARRIS-PERRY: So go powerful lobbyists on the health care machine
because you guys are going to go want your money.
TEACHOUT: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, you know, and I hear you, but the very fact he
says very clearly, look, I don`t really care if this -- this is your point
about Keystone, Dan, look, President Obama is likely going to green light
it after 2012 as if there were ever going to be a President Romney. Maybe
similarly -- all right, Bob Jindal is going to set this up, but he is going
to do massive resistance in order to get -- well, ...
CLIFT: The Republicans want the country to hold their breath and wait
and see what happens in November. No job creation ...
CLIFT: No setting up the Affordable Care Act ...
CLIFT: But the pressures are on the other side. And you can bet, and
every Democrat is putting a statute in place for the Affordable Care Act.
So, it`s very hard to repeal, even if there is ..
DYSON: What about their resistance with some of the TARP money, what
about when they said ...
DICKER: They are going to turn right around and took the money,
because it is very hard to get re-elected if you say no to free money.
TEACHOUT: Yeah. And, of course, Bobby Jindal is determined to.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, coming up -- you say tax, I say penalty. But
instead of calling the whole thing up, let`s try to understand the
difference. That`s next. Is it a tax? Or is it a penalty? What is it?
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s been a lot of talk lately about a dirty word.
There is a three-letter word that ends with "X" The mere munching of which
gets us all hot and bothered. It can be messy and complicated. We have
all had experience with it even though we don`t always talk about it. And
scandals around it have been the downfall of many powerful people. You
know the word I`m talking about. T-a-x. The Supreme Court`s decision to
uphold the Affordable Care Act`s individual mandate under Congress`s taxing
power has divided supporters and opponents of the law into two sides --
team tax and team penalty. Is the individual mandate a tax -- well, I
guess what the -- that really depends on what the meaning of the word is.
So, let`s go back to 2009 to a much-sited editorial Mitt Romney penned for
"USA Today." Of his own Massachusetts health care legislation, Governor
Romney wrote, quote, "First we establish incentives for those who were
uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties as we did or tax credits
as others have proposed encourages free riders to take responsibility for
themselves rather than pass their medical costs onto others." So, later
that same year President Obama weighed in sounding a lot actually like Mitt
Romney with one notable exception.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For us to say that you`ve got to take a responsibility to get
health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it`s saying is
that we are not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so let me keep tally. Mitt Romney, it`s a tax.
President Obama, not a tax. But it turns out that position was the
president`s plan "A." Luckily for him, the Affordable Care Act and he had a
plan B. Here`s what Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli argued before
the court when he made the president`s case for the law in March. "Not
only is it fair to read this as an exercise of the tax power, but this
court has got an obligation to construe it as an exercise of the tax power,
if it can be upheld on that basis." That alternative argument presented by
the solicitor general was exactly what Chief Justice John Roberts needed in
order to sign with the court`s majority. And affirm the constitutionality
of the law. And Republicans were all too willing to agree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OHIO), HOUSE SPEAKER: It is now a tax since the
court said it was a tax.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Well, it`s a middle
class tax cut, a tax increase.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now they were willing to agree that is until they
didn`t, or at least that`s the impression that Romney`s senior adviser Eric
Fehrnstrom gave when he suggested to our Chuck Todd that the 2012 version
of Mitt Romney disagreed with the 2009 version of Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY SENIOR ADVISOR: The governor believes that we
put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty, and he disagrees with the
court`s ruling that the mandate was a tax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so just two days later the 2009 version of Mitt
Romney who did indeed believe the mandate was a tax, he reemerged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: But it`s a tax and it`s constitutional, that`s the final
word, that`s what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So what`s the final tally? Is it or isn`t
it a tax? Allow me to answer that question with a question. Who cares?
Let`s be clear. In this context the word tax is a semantic weapon in a
game of political one-upsmanship. It`s a political bogeyman being used to
shake up voters. But it is not the thing we should care about when it
comes to health care.
Health care is the thing we should care about. This is -- this is a
bill for open heart surgery. The price tag is $469,120.90. It arrived in
the mail at the home of Susan Gardner, who is the executive editor at "The
Daily Kos." She`s also the mother of a 22-year-old daughter who has a
chronic heart condition who needed that surgery to save her life. Thanks
to the young adult provision in the Affordable Care Act, Gardner was able
to add her daughter to her own health insurance plan. And get her the life
saving surgery that she so desperately needed. And that bill -- it was
only a copy of a bill that was sent to her insurer, not one sent to her
daughter, who would have had to declare medical bankruptcy in order to pay.
So we asked Susan what she thought about this tax debate and here`s
what she told us. She said, "The tax versus penalty argument is ridiculous
and only people with the luxury of sitting around inside the beltway
arguing about semantics could take it seriously. Out here in the real
world where people are living and dying by what medical coverage they can
cobble together, the point is that we all fare better when we all pay into
the health care systems that cover us all. No one who is living with a
real chronic condition cares whether it`s called a fee, a premium, a tax or
a penalty." So while we are all choosing sides and the choice to label the
individual mandate as a tax or penalty, let`s not lose sight what kind of
choice would be available without the Affordable Care Act. 49 million
people living without insurance. The choices that they would have to make,
that is the choice between life and death.
So coming up, why calling 911 doesn`t always mean someone can help you
on the other end of the line. How many cities are finding that out the
hard way? And especially in this season of heat waves and deadly storms,
cities are going broke. That`s up next.
HARRIS-PERRY: A large part of the country is still suffering through
a heat wave that threatens to stretch throughout the weekend. Now, I live
in New Orleans and even I`m complaining about the heat here in New York
City where the temperature is going to be nearly 100 degrees today. In
Washington, D.C., today will be the tenth straight day of temperatures at
or above 95 degrees. Already a new record in Baltimore. Temperatures are
forecast to reach up to 108 degrees today. Yes, 108 and possibly higher.
Folks in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia aren`t just suffering from the heat,
they are also still recovering from damage caused by last Friday`s surprise
storm, which was made even worse by the steamy weather. As of this
morning, a total of 12 people have died in Maryland from causes related to
both the storms and the heat. In Baltimore alone, more than 675,000 power
outages were reported at the peak impact of the storm. And several
thousand outages still remain more than a week later. So how does the city
deal with that kind of emergency? Who do you call? Even if nothing is
burning, a lot of people would say call the fire department and thanks to
the storm and the heat some Baltimore residents still have a firehouse in
their neighborhood to take the call.
Due to the severe weather, Baltimore held off on the scheduled closing
of three fire companies on July 1st as part of the cuts proposed by
Baltimore`s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to sew up a $48 million hole in
the city`s budget. So we spoke with Chief Kevin Cartright, spokesman for
the Baltimore Fire Department, and he told us that the firefighters in
these companies would be reassigned elsewhere and that the cuts would save
the city $2.2 million over the next fiscal year. The weather ironically
has given the three-lame duck fire companies new life. They have been open
since the storm and they will get to stay open a little longer. Two, until
Monday and one until October 1st. But with more inclement weather possible
this weekend, who`s to say what will happen? Who is to say what this city
will need? Baltimore Firefighters Union President Rick Hoffman, I thought
said it perfectly this week in this quote. "The fire department is nothing
short of an insurance company. You cannot predict when things are going to
happen." So Baltimore isn`t the only city that`s had to make big public
sector sacrifices like this to stay afloat in the economy.
Up next, what is it going to mean for us this summer with so many
cities are going broke just when we really need their help.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST: Welcome back.
If you just saw, we just outlined the conflict in the city of
Baltimore between the ongoing budget problems and the dilemma of the
current persistent heat wave. And for now, the heat wave is winning. For
the time being, the city is holding off on closing three fire companies
that when the weather cools will close due to budget cuts.
Baltimore is not alone in this. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing`s office
announced $23 million in cuts from his city`s fire department early last
week. Demotions within the department are already taking effect.
Ultimately, the cuts will cost 164 firefighters their jobs by the end of
Save for one hope, a federal grant that could if Detroit gets it
bring back 65 percent of those jobs. Or the city could go the zombie route
-- I`m serious -- the zombie route.
One imaginative entrepreneur wants to take dilapidated sections of
Detroit and turn them into a post-apocalyptic theme park where you can go
and fight off fake zombies. Think big or actually -- think dead.
And all that pales in comparison to what`s happening in debt-ridden
Stockton, California, which last week became the largest city in the U.S.
history to file for bankruptcy.
When cities are dependent on federal aid, and like Stockton need to
seek court protection from creditors, what`s left for urban leadership with
small and dwindling resources? How do they innovate in order to thrive
Joining us now to examine this question is the mayor of Allentown,
Pennsylvania, who brought donuts, Ed Pawlowski; Dan Dicker, CNBC
contributor; Eleanor Cliff, contributor to "Newsweek" and "The Daily
Beast"; also Professor Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University; and
Pete Welch, the Baltimore City councilman who tried to generate money for
his city`s fire department by selling ad space on the side of fire trucks.
City Councilman Welch, nice to have you this morning.
PETE WELCH, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: Good morning. Thank you.
Good to be here.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, tell me just a little bit about what the city of
Baltimore is facing. You know, I`d just been reading about the possibility
of the fire stations closing down and then, you know, here in the heat
wave, Baltimore needed those fire stations.
WELCH: Yes. Unfortunately, we have a heat wave, but thank God for
it. We moved our deadline to Monday for most companies, but as you said,
company 10, which is in my district, has a reprieve until October 1st.
But what we are doing is two bills. One, it allows the sponsorship
of fire trucks to place ads. The second bill actually sets up a committee,
which will be controlled by the fire department to determine the size,
shape, rate, everything related to what is actually placed on their trucks
and how it is actually affix to the trucks.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, I love the idea of innovating, trying to
figure out whatever we can do to save particularly something that is as
important as the first responders in fire stations. But how is it that
Baltimore ends up in a place where you have to basically turn your fire
trucks into NASCAR? I mean, what is it that occurred that makes the city
this revenue scarce at this moment?
WELCH: As you said, this is happening with scarce revenues all over
the country with major cities. And what we are trying to do is to create a
sponsorship because it doesn`t cost the taxpayer anything. We are trying
to grow Baltimore and we don`t want increased taxes or fees. And this is
one way we can actually keep our level of activity at the same level and
possibly grow it with this type of sponsorship.
And it`s really not a NASCAR-type of sponsorship. I think the fire
department will handle it quite tastefully. I`m sure the sponsorship will
be local branding as opposed to ads.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. All right. I like that. That`s a fair push-
Mayor, I want to come to you a bit here because it does feel like to
me, on the one hand, this kind of scarcity means local municipalities can
innovate -- I know that you all in Allentown right now are trading guns for
gift cards, right, that actually happening today in your town.
MAYOR ED PAWLOWSKI (D), ALLENTOWN, PA: Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: But it also feels like to me this could be a level of
innovation that`s too hard, like there ought to be federal and state level
help to keep cities afloat.
PAWLOWSKI: Well, you know, it`s difficult for cities. I mean, when
you look at the economy, because we are so dependent on revenue that`s
generated by the economy, whether it is business income revenue, whether
it`s housing sales, we are always the first to feel the effects of the
recession and the last to come out of it as cities.
And so, this has been a difficult time for urban areas across the
board. So we have had to really look at ways to innovate. I mean, we are
looking at some of the same ideas they are doing in Baltimore.
PAWLOWSKI: How can we generate more ad revenue from some of our
assets? How can we sell our assets? How can we, you know, look at new and
innovative ways to create revenue streams we didn`t have before.
And it`s been a very, very difficult process for us. We have seen a
huge decline in our reserves. We have not been able to make it through the
recession, but -- you know, most cities have not been that fortunate.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. I like the idea of the public-private
partnership as a way of generating some revenue.
But, Michael, I`m also nervous particularly when I hear the mayor say
selling some of the assets, because some things that governments do, that
we do as collectivity, I don`t want privatized. I have a lot of anxiety
for example about privatizing prisons and jails.
So, talk to me about how we ought to be thinking as -- I mean, here
we are in the middle of the federalism conversation, send power back to the
states and here we have cities going broke in the process.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I mean -- you know, it`s upon
them to figure out innovative and creative ways to try to come up with the
budget shortfall so we don`t fault them for that, but you`re absolutely
right. I`m nervous very about the privatization of industries that benefit
from the demise of their fellow citizens, so that there`s an extraordinary
investment in the downfall of certain communities.
So you start figuring out in the third grade, hey, you`re messed up.
You`re living in a neighborhood where it`s more likely that you`ll commit a
crime, so I`m going to build more jail cells predicated upon your third
grade activity. That is not citizenship, that is the investment in the
failure of the other.
And what`s also interesting, Melissa, in Stockton, where you talked
about it, they promised the firemen and other public employees health care
right into their retirement. And I think that -- I`m not trying to avoid
your question -- I`m just stunned by the fact that the people who suffer
the most, whether it is in the jobs with the teachers or here it`s public
So, I think we need to generate some capital from the federal level
to target these communities that doesn`t allow governors to road block them
but allows local municipalities to take advantage of black funds and grants
we generated in the `60s and `70s where we turned against CEDA (ph),
Neighborhood Youth Corps and those kinds of programs can generate enough
capital for young people, as well as for municipalities.
HARRIS-PERRY: City Councilman, I want to come back to you on this
Baltimore question. A lot of people learned to love Baltimore through the
kind of popular culture, around the wire and that kind of thing. And we
begin to see sort of the underground economy that existed in a city like
So here we have Professor Dyson saying how do you make sure that even
as you`re trying to generate revenue without raising taxes and fees, how do
we make sure we are also taking care of the most vulnerable members of the
city like Baltimore?
WELCH: We have a situation with our recreation centers as well. And
what we are doing is we are reaching out to major corporations to partner
with us in Baltimore city. So, you know, I think that`s what the trend is
going to be going forward.
As federal and state funds decline, we are looking for more
partnerships with industry and with businesses to come in and share some of
the burdens that the cities are undergoing.
HARRIS-PERRY: City Councilman Welch, I greatly appreciate you joining
us today. And all of us are thinking about the folks right there on the
ground in Baltimore dealing with this heat wave. So, thank you for your
leadership in a difficult time in your city.
WELCH: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Later this hour, we`re going to talk about
pornography. We are. I promise we are going to do it politically. We`re
going to talk about the kind of public discourse around women`s
But up next, I want to stay on the question of our cities and how
we`re going to save our cities.
I want to talk more with the mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania. When
we come back, I`m going to give you the answer to this question, but think
about it over the break. How many cities filed for bankruptcy last year?
The answer after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break I asked you how many cities filed for
bankruptcy last year? The answer to that is 13 -- the most in any year
We welcome back our guests to talk about cities and their fiscal
health: Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Dan Dicker, Eleanor Cliff, and
Michael Eric Dyson.
You know, normally, here on THE MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW, we have
very healthy fruit and a little sweet on the side. But as mayor of
Allentown, we have these beautiful Allentown donuts, which have created lot
DYSON: They are excellent. I feel it is my citizen duty to eat
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They melt in your mouth.
DYSON: They are amazing.
HARRIS-PERRY: I asked you in part about it because it seems to me
like part of what cities are up to is trying to harness whatever their
comparative advantage is, whatever the little thing that makes them unique
or different and then trying to market that so they end up with either
tourism -- or as Allentown is doing, movie industry.
Talk to me about how a city -- and particularly you as a local leader
-- how do you do the work of trying to figure out as a city what we can
sell or we can put onto the marketplace.
PAWLOWSKI: It`s every mayor`s job to obviously promote their city.
So, you have to look at your assets.
For us, we have seen some tremendous growth over the course of the
last several years because of our proximity to New York and New Jersey, to
you folks here, we have actually a lot of folks that actually move to
Pennsylvania because we are right on that border. And, you know, our taxes
our lower, car insurance is lower, it`s an easy commute.
Not easy commute, I`m always amazed at the people going back and
forth to Manhattan for an hour and a half each day.
HARRIS-PERRY: I commute from New Orleans to Manhattan.
PAWLOWSKI: We are growing. We were the fastest growing city in the
state of Pennsylvania. If it wasn`t for a little township that was to the
west of us that grew by 15 more people, I keep beating up on my staff like
you wouldn`t find 15 more people to register for the Census? We would have
been the fastest growing municipality in the whole state.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet you guys are facing real fiscal challenges,
and it feels to me like an awful lot of that -- you know, so here you are
growing. Here you are -- you have all these great incentives to kind of
bring people into your city, you`re obviously a great spokesman for your
city, but the other piece is we are all meant to be living in the country
together. And so, you have federal block grants that end up going to
states. Oftentimes state legislatures are full of legislators who are not
living in cities, who are not representing cities.
How hard is it for a city like Allentown to get resources from your
state level and from your federal level?
PAWLOWSKI: Well, it`s very difficult. And we have been arguing on a
national level at the U.S. Conference of Mayors for years that the money
should go directly to the urban municipalities, because by the time it gets
to the states -- let`s take education funding, we had a huge amount of
money through the stimulus program that went to education. Most of those
states, in fact, I would say the vast majority, filled in their own gaps
within their education budget. So it never actually reached the urban
And we saw a decrease of over a billion dollars in the state of
Pennsylvania -- a billion dollars to education. You know, for us in urban
areas, we got hit sometimes 10 times harder in cuts than some of the rural
parts of the state. And so, it has a detrimental effect on block grants as
you talked about.
Of all the programs that Congress wants to cut, they want to cut the
CDBG program? I mean, it was started by a Republican, you know? I mean,
it`s worked well for almost 40 years.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Dan, here we have a president who is from a city.
I mean, you know, even beyond the fact that he`s the first African-American
president, he`s the first president from a city in a really long time. Why
not make the case for federal funds going straight to urban areas?
DAN DICKER, CNBC: I think they should. In the jobs bill of 2011,
there was a lot of money that was solicited for public sector increases in
fire departments and teachers and so forth.
We talked about this on the break. I mean, you go through some of
these urban areas where it`s 105 degrees and all of the urban pools are
empty. They are dry.
Where are these kids going to cool off? Every one of them are dry,
everyone is running out of money. We`ve got 10-year --
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I want to be really clear, this is a huge one to
me on this pool thing living in New Orleans. It is not just about kids
need recreation. When pools are open, kids are not on the streets engaging
in violence and drugs. When pools are open, other kids serve as
lifeguards, which is summer jobs for teenagers.
When pools are open, there`s -- I mean, like this is a real thing,
and yet of course as mayor, do you keep the fire department open or do you
open the pools? Why should they have to make those choices --
DICKER: There`s a great case to be made that we have great treasury
rates, 10-year treasure rates that are a 1.5 percent. If you had access to
funds at 1.5 percent, you would borrow them because it is basically close
to free money. That`s basically what we are looking at near the federal
But, again, at the federal level, they can`t get past the Republicans
in order to borrow some money to get it down to the states, which would
increase the tax base, which would add revenue.
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK AND THE DAILY BEAST : It`s mistrust of the
cities. I mean, I live in Washington, D.C. We are still under sort of a
receivership. We don`t do anything without the blessing of Congress.
DYSON: That`s not disconnected from the rise of black mayors in the
cities and the demonization of urban music -- I mean, urban culture and
urban children. It`s a whole mindset and stereotyping that also dovetails
into these other issues the mayor is speaking about.
PAWLOWSKI: I want to give the Obama administration credit. I mean,
it wasn`t them that put the restrictions to go the state. It was Congress
on the Recovery Act funds.
But in their latest education bill, they directed a large portion of
the money directly to urban school districts that could apply directly to
the Department of Education.
That`s great move in a right direction. We need a lot more of that
to happen on the federal level.
CLIFT: When you say you`re considering selling off assets, what sort
PAWLOWSKI: Let me clarify that. I mean -- no, we have sold off a
lot of excess property. We had property we didn`t need. We sold that. We
have done everything.
I mean, when I came into office we had a $10 million deficit. OK?
We built that up to a $14 million surplus two years later. We cut costs.
We have a population that`s increasing but we have the lowest staff level
that we`ve had in 30 years. We have an increasing demand for services but
less staff to actually provide those services.
So we`ve tried to use taxpayer money as wisely as we possibly can.
And that surplus helped us over the course of the last several years as the
economy has declined.
HARRIS-PERRY: You have just made me a fan of Allentown,
Pennsylvania. I think I`m going to come and bring you some donuts.
PAWLOWSKI: I`ll give you donuts back anytime. Invite me back to
your show, I`ll bring you more donuts.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Have more donuts.
Thank you to Mayor Pawlowski and Dan Dicker and Eleanor Clift, I
appreciate you all being here.
Mike Eric Dyson is hanging out with me longer.
But next. The coming out story that made a huge splash this week. I
am not talking about Anderson Cooper. More when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week, television journalist Anderson Cooper
included these words in an email to "Daily Beast" writer Andrew Sullivan,
"I`m gay." That Cooper statement was met mostly with a collective shrug,
is I think evidence of progress that it`s a sign that we`ve reached a point
where highly visible television personalities are publicly stating their
sexual orientation is almost unremarkable, almost.
But the admission of another man more followers to hip-hop culture
that he once loved a person of a same sex made a bigger slash. Frank
Ocean, a gifted songwriter and member of the popular Odd Future hip-hop
collective, wrote on his blog the story of his first love who happened to
be a man. Now homophobia has long been as much a part of hip-hop as beats
and rhymes, and this is the culture where the slightest suggestion of
affinity for a person of the same sex is quickly qualified with the phrase,
And so in speaking his truth so boldly and honestly, Frank Ocean
didn`t just display his courage, but he also challenged hip-hop culture
finally to face some of its demons.
Joining me at the table is MSNBC contributor and Georgetown
University Professor, Michael Eric Dyson.
So they`ve got Frank Ocean this morning on the cover of the arts and
leisure section that will come out on Sunday in "The New York Times."
President Obama says "I support marriage equality," next thing you know,
the hip-hop community falls in line, Jay-Z, I support marriage equality.
But Jay-Z does it from a position of such unquestioned hetero -- I mean,
he`s married to the finest woman in the game. Here comes Frank Ocean with
a different kind of vulnerability.
What happens to hip-hop after this moment?
DYSON: Oh, it`s a significant moment. It`s a sea change,
potentially, and the kind of earthquake within that genre, because it`s one
thing to identify with the president because you love the president.
DYSON: So, hey, I`m down for gay marriage.
It`s another thing for an artist within hip-hop itself to say, hey,
I`m a same-sex, same, gender loving-man. That begins to challenge the code
of hetero normal relativity of gender identity, of masculinity of what`s
it`s built. It`s up distance for Obama to be embraced. It`s up-close when
you talk about Frank Ocean with such a beautiful voice and powerful
presence within hip-hop itself.
I think it will challenge the hip-hop stars to say, OK, you came out
for Obama, can you come out for a man who came out for his own freedom to
identify one of the men? And guess what, Melissa, we all know this there,
there are a lot more gay people who are famous and rap stars in the game
who are operating in closets of secrecy and deception.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and part of what you just said there, Mike, was
this notion of like challenging our notion of masculinity or challenging
even our notion of masculinity. He didn`t say, I`m gay.
HARRIS-PERRY: He said, you know, I loved -- I loved a man. That
gives us a far more complicated idea.
DYSON: A continuum.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. It feels there`s always been a lot of queer in
hip-hop, different wares of -- is it because we didn`t talk about it that
as soon as we label those queer or label them somehow associated with the
homoerotic of all my boys together, me and all my boys. Like there`s no
woman in the room, right?
There`s a way in which all of those things have already existed.
Does it exist because we can just label it as somehow heterosexual and now
it falls apart?
DYSON: Yes, that`s a great point, because the iconography of homo
social reality of same identification is always there. Look, wearing your
pants down to see your BVDs, excuse me an attempt within jail culture to
signify who and whom cannot be touched.
So in one sense, it`s a transfer from gay culture without the
acknowledgment and without the copyright and without the footnote, but also
I think it`s the real challenge of hip-hop culture -- to figure out a way
to speak about masculinity and to include all of those different molds and
expressions of masculinity. So, yes, in one sense, it`s always been there
right before our eyes.
And look, the church and hip-hop have a lot in common.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes.
DYSON: A guy who says, I`m going out with 12 guys, Jesus and his 12
guys, my disciples over women, now this is my boys over women. Y`all got
in common. Your both homophobic, but before you are examples of men who
love men without your permission, now when you name it, it becomes more
complicated. It is a real challenge to the colds of masculinity and the
colds of definition within hip-hop.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you and I, of course, both love hip-hop and
loved politics and love the way they engage with each other. So, maybe
we`ll brand this, like Mike and Melissa talking hip-hop and politics.
DYSON: That`s right. No homo.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Coming up, away from hip-hop and this time we`re
going to talk about women`s anatomies. Why? Because they have been all
the political rage this year.
Have you noticed transvaginal probes, aspirin between the legs the
word on the statehouse floor? Sex has been on the minds of our political
representatives. So, up next, a group of feminists talk about sex on our
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, Nerdland parents, I love hearing from you that you
watch the show with your kids. So let me warn you that we are about to
have a frank, adult conversation. And you may want to get the little ones
and their ears occupied with other activities for a while. Yet even as I
said or send the kids out of the room right now, I realize how much I need
to do that for basic political stories this year.
After all, as a nation, we took a collective trip to the gynecologist
this year, from transvaginal probes and aspirin between the knees, to
heated debates over the moment of conception, this year has been a banner
year for female anatomy. This year alone, we have seen the clock rolled
back on violence against women and reproductive rights in Congress, and
witnessed a record number of state laws restricting women`s health care.
Some of these discussions were deemed downright pornographic,
especially when taken up by female legislators. In fact, just a few weeks
ago, Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown was sanctioned for her speech
during a debate over an anti-choice law daring to refer to her vagina by
name -- not that she named it, she just called it a vagina.
Brown was barred from speaking on the floor afterwards. And in
response, the women of Michigan took to the steps to talk about sexuality
on their own terms with the reading of Eve Ensler`s "Vagina Monologues".
Now, through that performance, these women showed that while the
political arena permit in-depth discussion of female anatomy, a real
discussion of sex is lacking.
If we are already deconstructing sex on the statehouse floor, let`s
do deconstruct it for real.
Let`s talk about the forum where a large number of Americans
encounter sex, not the legislature, but pornography. Yes, the pornography
Let`s bring porn into this month-long national sex-ed class.
Here with me at the table is sex educator and feminist pornographer,
Tristan Taormino. She is also the host of the radio show, "Sex Out Loud"
and author of "The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure."
Zephyr Teachout returns. She`s associate professor of law at Fordham
Jaclyn Friedman, author of "What You Really, Really Want: The Smart
Girl`s Shame Free Guide to Sex and Safety."
And Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University,
who earlier said tap that gas about the Keystone Pipeline, apparently
foreshadowing the conversation.
So, let me back up to say, you know, it`s a little bit odd, probably,
to have a conversation about porn on a political show. And yet somehow it
doesn`t feel odd. Talk to me about why you think this is a conversation we
TRISTAN TAORMINO, SEX EDUCATOR: Well, for me as a feminist, I think
making porn is a political act. I don`t think other feminists all agree
about that, but I think for me, we need to embrace this cultural medium
that`s so powerful. And so I consider my porn political because I`m trying
to make a different kind of porn.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That is a tough sell, right? So if I`m sitting
at home right now in Wisconsin and I just sent my daughter out of the room
and you said, look, my political act for the day is pornography.
The fact is, you know, lots of feminists, right? In fact, there`s
been a bit of a brouhaha going right now on Twitter about this.
But lots of feminists say hey, porn is bad for women. If we are
having the conversation about rolling back violence against women and we`re
going to have this conversation about rolling back women`s reproductive
rights. If there`s something I`d like to roll back, it`s porn. Why
shouldn`t that be?
JACLYN FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR, "WHAT YOU REALLY, REALLY WANT": Well, can
we talk about Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke for a minute?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, please.
FRIEDMAN: Because I think it gets to the crux of the matter. When
Rush Limbaugh started his attack on Sandra Fluke, what he needed to up the
ante was, if we need to pay for your birth control, you need to make a sex
tape for us, right?
FRIEDMAN: And I think that what`s interesting about that is he
didn`t feel at all ashamed to say that he would like to watch such a sex
tape, but the implication was it would be degrading for her to perform in
And what that gets to is always the question of female sexual agency.
The question isn`t whether or not women should be sexual or not sexual, or
consume sexual images or not consume sexual images. The question is do we
as women, is our sexual agency taken as seriously as men. Can we say, I`m
a sexual creature publicly without having that considered different?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. First, you`re a shut for talking about birth
control and then he upped the ante with the sex tape thing.
All right. So, I`m a sex-positive feminist, like I really
fundamentally agree with this position that what we need to do is teach
people sex is not the worst. But then I wonder about the sexual agency
HARRIS-PERRY: Is pornography something that contributes to women`s
sense of sexual agency or pulls away from it?
ZEPHYR TEACHOUT, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I think you have to
separate out -- first of all, define porn.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know it when I see it.
DYSON: That`s a supreme judgment --
TEACHOUT: If porn is images designed to create some kind of sexual
arousal, we`ll use that as a baseline definition. That`s the traditional
definition that has a lot to do with maybe 1960s, 1970s magazines and idea
of what porn is.
Right now, people`s interaction with non-intimate sexual imagery or
conversation is across the board. You see it in video. You have it on
non-sexy Web sites. I think we want -- it`s a big part of people`s lives.
HARRIS-PERRY: My Fourth of July was almost completely ruined because
I told my mother and mother-in-law that we were going to do a segment on
porn and they began to talk about "50 Shades of Grey." And having to
listen to my 65-plus parental figures talk about a book that makes me blush
was stunning, but it`s exactly the point.
The notion of -- I mean, certainly, "50 Shades of Grey" would have
counted as porn at some point and now you read it on the airplane.
DYSON: But you know what`s fascinating for me, I mean, all of this -
- as the male feminist on the panel -- is thinking about being self-
critical about my own gender because it`s the male gays, right? So, Rush
Limbaugh is cool as long as sex serves him. It`s not cool when the sex
Janet Jackson can show a nanosecond of nipple on television so that
when that nipple is integrated into the fabric of male desire, it works.
But when it wants to work for itself to establish its own union and come
out so to speak, then she`s demonized.
Kim Kardashian is celebrated in a way that Janet Jackson has been
So, I think that the racial template is quite interesting to me
besides the male versus female and how that plays out in terms of whose
bodies female-wise are accepted as legitimate objects of porn and others
demonized within that.
FRIEDMAN: I think it`s really important that you brought up race
because if we look at sort of pop culture moments for women`s sexuality
recently, we talk about "50 Shades of Grey". Right now, "Magic Mike", also
"Girls", they are all white women. I have issues with all of them and
don`t think they are necessarily showing what a female sexual agency looks
like, even the examples that are supposedly, oh my God, women like sex,
it`s so exciting.
I mean, we can get into the details but I think it`s really important
that even when we`re talking about who can even experiment with putting
their toe over that line, it`s white women.
TAORMINO: Absolutely. And think for me as a feminist, making porn
that shows different kinds of bodies and different gender expressions, and
that`s part of the mission. I mean, I personally always include people of
color in my porn, because they are considered second-class citizens in
other porns. They are fetishized. They are sort of hyper sexualized.
They`re only put in these really stereotypical roles.
DYSON: Right. That`s interesting to me because if you talk about
the construction of the black male crotch as the significant center of
sexual desire, that which has been both denied and pursued, why is it that
Lexus Steel and Mr. Marcus -- Lexington Steel or Mr. Marcus are being
demonized but Peter North is celebrated. And some women will do scenes
with the white male stars and not the black stars. And it`s interesting to
And then also that women get paid more than men, and yet it`s a man`s
game. I mean, it`s very interesting.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I think this question about whether -- it`s
male`s game, I mean, one of the things we were looking at with the numbers
is just how many women consume pornography and the sense that -- and I want
to talk about this when we come back, the idea that desire is endogenous?
So, in other words, that it`s like where people has sexual preferences, but
that actually what we see, what we engage with can, in fact, impact what we
think we want, right? And what we think of as sexy and good and whether or
not, for example, we think condoms are hot, which we`re going to talk a bit
So up next, even pornography is not recession-proof. It turns out
that this multibillion industry, you know, the internet, is changing some
But also I want you to answer this trivia question. It`s my favorite
one of the day. Which state is the biggest consumer of online pornography?
The answer is after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is not a G-rated commercial break. But before
the break I asked you which state is the biggest consumer of online
pornography. And the answer is Utah. In fact, the top 10 porn-consuming
states, eight of them were red states in 2008, states that voted for John
And in 1964, the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote his
famous "I know it when I see it" phrase describing pornography deemed
obscene by the Supreme Court. And now, thanks to the Internet we can see
it all the time. Porn is, forgive me, huge.
It estimates place porn anywhere from a $5 billion to $12 billion
industry and it is, in fact, a business employing up to 20,000 in San
Fernando Valley in California alone. The number of people involved in the
production of films, magazines, entertainment clubs and accessories expands
the industry exponentially.
And even as the product proliferates product may actually be in
peril. Online piracy and adult entertainment start-ups are diversifying
and diluting the revenue of this multi-billion business.
Diane Duke of the industry`s trade group says revenue is down 50
percent since 2007.
So what does the business end of porn look like today?
Here with me at the table if feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino,
Fordham University associate professor Zephyr Teachout, author Jaclyn
Friedman and Professor Michael Eric Dyson.
So, it turns up there really is politics to pornography. We love the
fact that after President Bush won the election in 2004, red states saw a
jump in porn-related Internet searches. But after President Obama won in
`08, it was blue states that had the big surge. And apparently this was
because, when you win your testosterone goes up and so then you search more
porn online. Who knew?
FRIEDMAN: I didn`t know that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So sometimes it`s the blues, sometimes it`s the
reds, but, you know, I just said. OK, look, you know, the profits are --
the profits are being harmed. Again, if I`m a mom at home in Wisconsin,
why don`t I say, good, great, I`m glad that the porn industry is not making
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think ultimately, the question of whether porn is
good or bad for women is the wrong question. It`s like asking whether the
novel is good or bad for money, right? It`s a medium.
So the question is, what are we doing with the medium? Are there a
lot of mainstream pornographers, I would like to have their bottoms harmed
and have them eliminated? Absolutely.
But if the porn industry is hurting, just like any other industry,
who`s hurting first are the sort of marginal indie producers, like, for
TAORMINO: But I would disagree with that, actually.
TAORMINO: I think -- you know, there is lesbian-produced lesbian
porn, porn by for queer women, porn by transgender people, these porns --
but that`s actually doing really well because they offer a really unique
product to an underserved, underrepresented minority. So I think they are
actually faring pretty well in this war on the Internet.
So, big companies, including the one I work for, Vivid Entertainment,
are not faring well because all our stuff has been illegally uploaded and
pirated and put into these porn sites.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to talk about who profits from pornography for
a second. Because as we were planning this show, a feminist scholar and
author Gail Dines, who is very anti-pornography, very clear about her
position sent an e-mail to me, basically saying you must not understand how
bad the circumstances are, how bad violence is against women and that women
of color are degraded and that black men are degraded and humiliated,
right? And, for example, saying that white men porn, you know, wants to
look at black man having sex with white women and this kind of thing.
My sense was, OK, first of all, the idea that the only people
profiting from pornography are the filmmakers, the fact is that hotel
chains that show pornography are profiting from pornography. Mitt Romney
through the Marriott situation, but also, by the way, academics who write
about pornography and sell their books for profit are benefiting.
And so, if they are in fact, and we know for certain that there are
bad things happening in porn in terms of sex trafficking, and vulnerability
(ph) and all of that, some of that is happening in port, the fact that all
of us are complicit in it.
DYSON: That`s a great point. I mean, you talk about sex positive
feminism. You talk about the agency of women. You can talk about who owns
it. Even if women are ahead of corporations that are sensitive to women`s
respects, do men ultimately make their money, but then, you know, you throw
a little (INAUDIBLE) and say, well, power is distributed across the board
so that the hotel chains are making money, that the local niche porn is
making money is an extraordinary view of affirmative action penetrating
into the realm of pornography, so to speak.
TAORMINO: And what the Internet has done actually is make it
possible for anyone to be a pornographer, exactly. So, now, if you got a
camera, if you got a cell phone, you can make porn, you can control the
means of production and you can profit from it without going to a big
company. And that`s one of the benefits.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- agency.
TAORMINO: Yes. Because some of these porn stars, for example, they
make some movies and then they create their own Web site. They create the
content. They control the imagery. The money comes to them.
DYSON: You sign up through a monthly fee or something like that.
TAORMINO: Exactly. The money comes to them and they are in control
TEACHOUT: What the Internet does is change the industry so
substantially and separate out the concerns people have with pornography.
One concern is how people are treated. In my own sense is with yours, that
it actually gives a lot more agency to those who are creating porn.
Another question is how does the proliferation of non-intimate sexual
images affect and impact us.
And, you know, it`s not just the content of porn, it`s how much of it
there is. And I think it`s fair to -- I have some real concerns about as a
woman how sexualized the culture is.
FRIEDMAN: But I think we have to say, again, we need better stories
in our porn. I mean, if you look at mainstream porn, the stuff flooded
over the Internet, most of it tells a story about male pleasure, right?
The story ends when the male is done, right? Have you ever seen a
mainstream porn film where the male continues to pleasure his female lover?
TAORMINO: Yes! I make those movies.
FRIEDMAN: But my point is -- there at the moment, unfortunately, a
niche of what`s out there. And what that does is it tells us over and over
and over again sex is not for women, sex is not about women. Women are for
And what that does is makes women vulnerable not only on a personal
level to men who want to manipulate them because we internalize that belief
that sex is not for us, but also on a political level that like men get to
make decisions about our sexual bodies.
HARRIS-PERRY: And perhaps one of the hardest transitions I have had
to make, I am now going to say, by the way, now it is time for a preview of
"WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes, I`m going to help you out there
because I`m listening to the conversation and I`m like, wow, how low is my
blouse. I`m checking it all out. Whoo!
Anyway, let`s get to this, because this is dangerous heat, everyone.
Dangerous heat temperatures into the triple-digits again in large parts of
the country today. Is there any relief in sight?
Plus, the expanding drought could hit you in your wallet if the
situation doesn`t improve soon.
In politics, a new article out today asks, do campaigns really change
voters` minds? It`s a fascinating look at numbers that you really think
should have an impact.
In must see, must avoid, Katy Perry`s new film, does it go too far?
It is supposed to be a raw look at her life on the road and in her breakup
with Russell Brand. So, the question is, is it worth seeing? I don`t
know, we`ll see, won`t we?
OK, Melissa, back to you. Blouse straightened up.
HARRIS-PERRY: There we go. That`s right. Thank you, Alex.
Coming up, bring the kids back in, because we are talking about
fighting for representation and what`s considered beautiful. This is
definitely one that`s family-friendly. That`s our foot soldier, and it`s
HARRIS-PERRY: I like to cap off today`s show with an extraordinary
example of girl power. For this week`s foot soldier. We bring you the
story of Julia Bloom (ph), an eight grader from Waterville, Maine, who
identified a problem in the stark way that perhaps only a 14-year-old girl
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIA BLOOM, EIGHT GRADER: And realize, you know, when you`re
walking down the street, there are all kinds of different bodies. Some
people who are thin, some people who are bigger, and the confluence are
just one body type (ph). In magazines, we only see one body type.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The young blogger and ballet dancer was seeing the
affects first hand of seeing just one body type in magazines. Friends
complained that they were having fat days and they were constantly seeking
to fix themselves in order to look pretty. Pretty always meaning skinny
and free of blemishes like those girls in fashion magazines.
Julia worried about the comparisons, the potential for girls like her
to face excessive dieting and depression and eating disorders. Along with
an organization called SPARK which stands for Sexualation, Protest, Action,
Resistance, Knowledge, Julia launched a campaign.
And on April 19th, she started a petition on Change.org targeting
"Seventeen" magazine, the most popular, glossy among Julia and her friends.
In her petition, she asked simply, "Seventeen magazine to commit to
printing one unaltered -- real -- photo spread per month."
Also, she asks the 17 show "Regular girls that look like me that are
supposed to be for me."
Within days, the petition received 25,000 signatures. And then in
late April, "Seventeen`s" editor in chief, Ann Shoket, agreed to meet with
Julia, but no changes were made. So, Julia upped the ante, taking her
protest from the Internet to the street. And on May 2nd, Julia staged her
own photo shoot protest outside "Seventeen" headquarters in New York City.
As petition gained more signatures and Julia`s cause gained more
media attention, this week, nearly 85,000 signatures and Julia saw action.
"Seventeen`s" editor in chief made a public declaration entitled the Body
Peace Treaty. In the magazine`s August issue promising to never change
girls` body or face shapes, to always feature real girls and models who are
healthy and celebrate every of kind of beauty in our pages, all body types,
skin tones, heights and hair textures.
Now, it`s an interesting lesson in power. There was a time when with
girls like Julia had just a handful of magazines to choose from. Reading
"Seventeen" was a way to be part of a larger community. But Ann Shoket
clearly knows the times have changed, in the land of the Internet, she now
needs Julia and her friends more than they need "Seventeen" magazine.
So "Seventeen" bowed to the power of the petition rather than face
the power of the pocketbook. For applying the pressure, Julia Bloom is our
foot soldier of the week. That`s not all. Two New York City girls are
following in Julia`s footsteps and have created their own petition to ask
"Teen Vogue" to follow "Seventeen" magazine`s examples.
Memo to these images, these girls are watching. Better check
yourself before you wreck yourself.
Now, you can read our interview with foot soldier Julia Bloom on our
web site, MHPShow.com.
That`s our show for today. Thank you to Tristan Tarantino, Zephyr
Teachout, Jaclyn Friedman and Michael Eric Dyson -- I think I just made her
related to Quentin Tarantino -- for sticking around. And thanks to you at
home for watching.
I`ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern when
Congresswoman Barbara Lee and former Governor Ed Rendell joining me at the
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Thanks, everybody.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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