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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, July 15, 2012

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Guests: Bob Franken; Wade Henderson; Joy Reid; Lizz Winstead, Jamie Kilstein, Jessica Valenti, Elon James White

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, the anatomy of a rape
joke. Is there any humor within? Plus, the president is on a roll.
Democrats, it`s time to stand by your man.

And Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes, joins us in Nerdland.

But first, the politics of free stuff. Really, Mitt Romney?

Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

This week at the NAACP convention, Mitt Romney started off with the best
day he`s ever had in front of a black audience. OK, first of all, he
showed up. Now, even though he wasn`t likely to win any votes in that
room, his willingness to address the NAACP suggested an understanding that
he`s running to become president of all of the people, not just the ones
that like him. So, that gives him points. Then, he addressed the black
audience like actual human beings who speak English. Instead of walking
stereotype since 1990`s hip hop slang. That is a light years ahead of


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who let the dogs out? Who, who?


HARRIS-PERRY: And, of course, this.


ROMNEY: What`s happening? That`s Michael.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, speaking of outdated slang, he also gets credit for
keeping it real. I mean, there was no trace of Mitt Romney, the flip-
flopper, who switches positions when it`s politically convenient. He
didn`t say affordable care act in front of black people. He said Obama
care like he always does.

And isn`t it in soft pedal disposition that he is going to repeal it if he
becomes president. He also gets bonus points for name checking, Frederick
Douglas, Martin Luther King Junior, and his own father George Romney, who
marched for side blacks of white leaders to protest segregation, even when
it put him at odds with his own party.

So, yes, Mitt Romney got off to a great start. And contrary to media
reports of a hostile audience, the applause he received throughout the
speech indicated that his listeners thought so, too. But then this
happened --


ROMNEY: I`m going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can
find. That includes Obama care and I`m going to work to reform and save -




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he say that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know he did.


HARRIS-PERRY: This was the moments Romney got what he really came for, the
sound bite of the black audience booing his line about cutting the
government spending, and the affordable care act in particular.

You see, Mitt Romney didn`t come to the NAACP to break bread or extended
all of branch. He came here for a morsel of red meat to feed to his base.
And he sorts if up later that day when he spoke in front of a very
different audience of donors at a fund-raiser I Montana.

He told them, quote, "Your friends who like Obama care, you remind them of
this. If they want more stuff from the government, tell them to vote for
the other guy. More free stuff. But don`t forget, nothing is really

OK. Mitt Romney took an audience of Americans who is he running to serve
and turned them into a prop. Now, he goes without saying. But African-
Americans want to be treated like people, not props. We don`t want to be
the political equivalent of the character who dies first in the movies. We
want to be Tyrise (ph), the one black guy who managed not to get killed and
survived through all three "Transformer" films. Black people want to be
spoken to, not as a burden on our struggling economy, booing Obama care
because we free stuff, but as hardworking taxpayers who booed that repeal
of Obama care because don`t want to carry the $56 million cost of
uncompensated care for the uninsured.

Black people want to be spoken to as friends and family members who boo to
repeal the Obama care because they`d rather our loved ones choose between
medical bankruptcy or debt when they can`t afford their medical expenses.

Black people want to be spoken like members of an informed electorate who
understand this. Nothing about the affordable care act qualifies as free
stuff. The entire idea behind the individual mandate is that no one gets a
free pass. Everyone shares the burden together. In fact, Mitt Romney
knows as much because he said so during the debate four years ago.


ROMNEY: If people can afford to either buy the insurance or pay your own
way, don`t be free riders.


HARRIS-PERRY: Now, I`m glad to offer Mitt Romney that reminder of his own
ideas. But if there`s one thing he didn`t need to remind members of the
NAACP, it`s that nothing, not even freedom, is free.

The historical legacy of the organization is its legal fight to end
segregation and the economic argument against segregation was that black
people didn`t get or want anything for free. They wanted the same use of
the services for which they paid the same money, because they were
segregated but their dollars weren`t. Not the tax dollars that went to
schools they couldn`t attend or helped pay for public schools where they
were never allowed to swim or first-class fares on buses or trains for the
road like second class passengers.

So, no, the NAACP didn`t need any reminders about free stuff. But they may
have needed this one wake-up call. That the guy running against the
president thinks they are props, which is another thing that Romney did at
the NAACP on Wednesday. And it`s one President Obama should be thanking
him for. Because Romney just tossed a president`s space a sliced red meat,

Joining me today are syndicated columnist Bob Franken, Joy Reid, managing
editor of The Grio, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership
Conference on Civil and Human Rights and comedian Lynn Winstead, author of
"live free or die."

Thank you all for being here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.

HARRIS-PERRY: So Joy, who did you think he was talking to?

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, it is -- I have a piece about
this exact same thing you`ve taken the words right out of my mouth. I
mean, I think there were two audiences that Mitt Romney had in mind and
neither was NAACP, clearly.

One of them were independents, white independents, and he wants them to see
this visual, the optics of him going to NAACP makes him look inclusive.
But on the other hand, as he did his talk afterwards, as we just saw as he
said, that was his other big audience.

Mitt Romney has always had a problem with the conservative base of the GOP.
They really prefer the style of Newt Gingrich who said, I`m going to the
NAACP and tell them to stop black people to stop asking for the welfare.


REID: So Mitt Romney is like, you know what, I can do that, too. I will
go to NAACP and tell them exactly for the welfare. But I`m not going to do
it on TV. I`m going to do it afterwards. I think that`s what he is doing.

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I`m sure your analysis that he was
trying to fire up the base and using props, I think what he was trying to
say to the base, and this will be a bit provocative and you know I hate


FRANKEN: What he was saying to the base was, is that, he was talking to a
room full of Willy Horton, that that`s what he was trying to do in the same
way that this Will Horton industry was used, as you know, earlier in our
political history, our troubled political history, as evidenced by the fact
that his -- the immediate reaction from the grand dragon of where to go by
the women and Rush Limbaugh track that.


FRANKEN: I have used this line before, but he does speak for the people of
under conservatives who wish for a return to the good old days of Jim Crow.
That`s what he was doing and he was doing it, I think, in a very passive-
aggressive way.

little differently. I would say --

HARRIS-PERRY: But you are not saying dragon of radio?


HENDERSON: I would say this. I would say that Mitt Romney was calling for
a Sister Souljiah moment. This was the experienced that Bill Clinton had
when he went to Jesse Jackson`s campaign and criticized a young rapper,
Sister Souljah, for being provocative and using imagery that no one would
support. And I think Mitt Romney wanted to, as Joy said, appeal to two
audiences, certainly the independent, but the neo-cons. They were looking
to see that Mitt Romney would be tough when he needed to be tough. And
that was the venue that he chose to --

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me push back on the Sister Souljah a little bit because
I`ve heard this used before. What I want - I just want us to remember,
Bill Clinton was a Democrat who was pushing back the left of his own party.

So to me, in order for this to be a Sister Souljah moment, it would be
Romney kind of, you know calling, for example, Rush Limbaugh of kind of
dragon of radio, right? It would need to be him distancing himself from
the right of his party in order to establish a center position.

HENDERSON: Well, here`s what I would say. I think you`re right but I
think the symbolism that Mitt Romney was seeking to achieve at the NAACP
was comparable what Bill Clinton sought to accomplish at the Jesse Jackson
conference which was to say look, here is an African-American audience that
needs to hear truth to power.

Bill Clinton was speaking to a black, primarily black audience at the time,
and he was trying to challenge the prevailing view which is what Romney was
doing here. But it was terribly this agenda because first of all, the
NAACP is unfailingly polite.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, my God, yes.

HENDERSON: The boos that he got was because they felt he was profoundly


HENDERSON: And his hypocrisy was that he should have say that anything
Obama didn`t care.


HENDERSON: It was his own medical program that the affordable care act was

REID: Well, you know, I mean, just to push back of what (INAUDIBLE), but I
mean, I think the more comparable moment was Bill Clinton going to South
Carolina more than it was this was Sister Souljah moment.

FRANKEN: Well, maybe you are right about that.

REID: Because if you think that there`s a long history, the answer to the
what`s the matter with Kansas question right, of why lower middle class
whites vote for the Republican party which is the party of their boss, CEO,
is because there`s been this repeal and Rush Limbaugh has brilliantly
character as you would have made a career out of this right, of saying to
lower class whites, those people are taking your stuff. You are not a
free-rider on the system.


REID: Even if you are on welfare, you deserve it, you`ve worked hard. But
those people are taking your stuff. They are bad people. That`s the
Republican Party eager for 30 years.

LIZZ WINSTEAD, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: And when I watch the speech as it was
happening, the thing that I found so interesting and it sort of brings all
of your points together, which is, they do want that Newt Gingrich guy and
Mitt Romney didn`t go the distance for anybody. He wasn`t explosive enough
in front of that audience to say, look, I`m really going to tell these
people what they need to hear.


WINSTEAD: He inserted Obama care knowing that`s what he wanted out of it
but lamely in a way that it was like, well, that`s just kind of rude. And
ultimately, when he was 15, when you hear Joe Biden speak, the next fancy
right -- when you talk about a constituency that you are going to
represent, even if they are not going to vote for you, he never use the
word, when looking at our society and we`re seeing people in our society,
our brothers and sisters and kids, he never said "our." If you go back and
look at that speech, there was no "our." Even if you disagree with me --

HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to come back exactly that point so I let you all
fired up behind us here. We are going right back to this but we`re going
to talk about the difference between the Joe Biden speech and Romney

WINSTEAD: The lurch organ.



And also later, in the next hour, I`m going to have the Olympic gold
medalist Dominique Dawes here. But, you will see, we have a lot more to
say on this NAACP question, a lot.


HARRIS-PERRY: The NAACP has historically incited change not be working to
overturn American institution, but by working within them to seek justice
to the legislative and judicial systems. So Mitt Romney might have found a
sympathetic ear had had he really been looking for and trying to cultivate
one. Instead, it seems, he decided to stock the deck by bringing a few
friends of his won. Romney told FOX News that a group of secret supporters
met with him following his speech. But here`s what Hilary Shelton, head of
the NAACP Washington, D.C., office told our Ed Schultz earlier this week.


ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST: Hilary Shelton, I got to ask you. Do you know
about these secret meeting after the speeches today?

HILARY SHELTON, NAACP HEAD: Well, I`m not quite surprised. Quite frankly,
the campaign actually gave me a list of African-American V.I.P.s that they
brought in to NAACP meeting.


HARRIS-PERRY: They brought their own. Still with me are Bob Franken, Joy
Reid, Wade Henderson and Lizz Winstead.

WINSTEAD: I see a black automatically in V.I.P.


HARRIS-PERRY: OK. That is not a small point. The line is shorter. If
you are a political entrepreneur young elected official, potential elected
official, the fact that the line is shorter on the Republican side than it
is for Democrats.

REID: And I saw the list. I mean, every Republican star you could think
of was on Mia Love. They brought her. They brought in Niger Inis who have
always perennial favorite.


REID: The irony is, and I felt with Hilary Shelton about this as well,
very few of the marching numbers of the NAACP. So he brought people that
would normally not even be there. And there were people from the black
Texas Republican group that hated them. I mean, they brought in as many as
they could scoop up, including the lieutenant governor of Florida who then
of course had a six scan.

FRANKEN: But it`s allowed be between voice of moderation still again.


FRANKEN: It`s a little bit unfair, I believe, to dismiss black Republicans
because conservatism, the many, many aspects of conservatism are arguable
points. And I think just to say -- I`m not even going to use the term but
you know the term that they are being in there for reasons of catering to
the whites and all that, I believe is really --

HENDERSON: Yes, I don`t disagree, Bob. But I want to draw a distinction
between black Republicans who are rank and file supporters of the
Republicans both historic and contemporary, between those who exploit the
issue of their blackness within the context of the Republican Party for
purely political reasons. They represent no one and to suggest that they
speak for a constituency that is not there is simply to give them more

FRANKEN: Well, but I have to also say, forgive me. But I also have to say
that anyone who represents themselves is speaking for any constituents that
is a little bit of a fraud.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, if you`re an elected official --

If you`re an elected official and can be held accountable through regular,
free elections who don`t have voter suppressions, and then, you can`t blame
yourself to be a representative. If you are speaking just for an identity
group because you are a member of that identity group, it doesn`t have the
same impact.

But I really do appreciate this point that we can`t just sort of - we can`t
throw out racial authenticity. In fact, I think potentially the most
racial authentic person there was vice president Biden who it cracks me up
that VP Biden is now like Sherpa to blackness for the first African-
American president.

WINSTEAD: Joe Biden isn`t black?

HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen to Joe Biden for just for second because he
really, he was blacking it up that day.



It`s good to be home. Ladies and gentlemen, I`m a lifetime member of the
NAACP and I went through the battle with mouse. Mouse, are you out there?
Hey mouse, how you doing, man?


HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, my God. He was like -- hey, mouse. What`s going on
mouse? I was like, is this happening? I`m sorry. So you wanted an hour
from Romney? Boy, he was like, me and mouse.

REID: I`m sure Kenna Brown (ph) is going to put him on the cover --


WINSTEAD: The first black vice president.

HENDERSON: The shout outs were very authentic. And when you say that Joe
Biden has a deep history in the NAACP and the civil rights movement. He
doesn`t get ready for a lot of things that he has done. Obviously, people
know that he was behind the violence against women.

But, what people don`t know is that he helped ratify the convention on the
elimination of racial discrimination and international human right treaty
that would not have become law had it not been for Joe Biden`s strong
aggressive leadership. He`s done a lot more to advance the interest of
African-American through legislative gains that a lot of people recognized.
And so, that history is real, indeed.

WINSTEAD: Well, I just also think too, when you are someone like Joe
Biden, and this is not arguable, he lived in the world as a regular human

HENDERSON: Yes, he does.

WINSTEAD: Somebody who had --


WINSTEAD: You know, I mean. You know, Anthrop. And I think that, just
putting those two back to back like that, and you look at Mitt Romney who
seems to only know people of one class of wealth, he did not socialize and
then, no. He has not come up from a place and then no, it`s really
different. You get permission to talk amongst people because you have all
different friends in all different places.

FRANKEN: Well, that`s what I call was so remarkable about Biden`s speech
before the NAACP. Quite frankly, that could have been a speech delivered
anywhere outside of a country club.


FRANKEN: It could have been delivered to any demographic group. It is not
in the one tenth tough, one tenth of one percent because the issues that he
was talking about are the universal issues about the disparity that is
growing in this country. And I felt that in a paradox coy was a little bit
encouraging because maybe we can say we are all in this together. Now
we`ve got to unite to get rid of these.

REID: And he did say us. He talked about us.

WINSTEAD: Yes, that`s right.

REID: And, remember, this was the second time that Joe Biden was used that
sort of back surrogate in the Obama campaign. He went to the national
associates for black journalism and so, he was the one who gave that
speech. And it was the same thing. He speaks in terms of us and we.

HENDERSON: Yes. But I think also he can say things that the president
himself can`t say.

REID: Indeed.

HENDERSON: He can be very aggressive about policies and accomplishments
that the president has presumed, had achieved. And do also without making
it seems like an ego statement about what the president has been
accomplished and I think that`s an important contribution.

FRANKEN: And does anybody wondered about Barack Obama`s not being at the
convention and what does about?

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I do. My main response to that was both
(INAUDIBLE) and NAACP were within the same week, that the president made a
decision if he couldn`t go to both he wasn`t going to either and he`s going
to the urban convention next week in New Orleans. And then, like if you
had a choice between, you know, New Orleans and any other place on the
planet, of course you`d go to the conference that was in New Orleans.

Up next, Mitt Romney wasn`t the only one making heads turn the NAACP this
week, the unscripted moment that had said it all. That`s next.


HARRIS-PERRY: On Tuesday, the attorney general Eric Holder`s NAACP remarks
had all of us asking a question that ads on my staff. The staff that might
usually ask questions, did he just say that?

Holder started off by sticking to the script, talking about SB-14, Texas`
restricted voter ID law which he is now fighting in federal court. And he
stayed on that pointing out that travel and financial hardships of those
without identification face under the law. Then he twist out a little bit
with these five words.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We call those poll taxes.


HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That lightly talk called ad lib landed with heavy
historical meaning, poll taxes were one of the tactic used in the Jim Crow
style to deny African-Americans the right
To vote and they were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in
1937 and outlawed by the 24th amendment in 1964.

Still with me, Bob Franken, Joy Reid, Wade Henderson and Lizz Winstead.

Wade, is that right? Are these poll taxes?

HENDERSON: Eric was exactly right. This is a poll tax and it joins the
historic list of other abuses that were adopted during the Jim Crow style
to deny African-Americans the right to vote. This is an added burden on
those who should otherwise have unfettered access to the polls, people who
have voted historically with absolutely no problem.

To argue that there is now a voter fraud issue is to really use deceptive
tactics to justify these abuses intended to rig the outcome of the
election. Holder was right. And one of the reason is I think was
crucified in congress particularly in the House of representatives and held
in criminal contempt is in part because he was a surrogate, a proxy for
Barack Obama.

It was argument that he`s fighting to preserve the right to vote for all
Americans is real. And Joe Biden touched on that in his remarks. And
that`s why he got that strong residents from the NAACP membership. I`d
point out that Romney ignored it entirely. It`s a legitimate issue and
there needs to be examine on facts.

REID: And by the way, this particular poll crack at aimed much more at
Hispanic voters than African-Americans.

FRANKEN: Absolutely.

REID: And in Florida where the governor has sued, right, to try to make an
aces to this immigration database, make it very clear they are looking for
Hispanic surname this time. This is a very resonating issue and is about
Republicans need to maximize their share of the white votes and minimize
the turnout among minority voters.

FRANKEN: And this is the solution - this is in solution in surge of a


FRANKEN: In Texas, for instance, the number of the statistics we have all
heard, there have been 70 vote fraud cases since 2002, 39 million votes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Exactly. And more alien sightings.

FRANKEN: Makes us sometime, it could be hard to see.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That`s right.


HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. And I mean outer space aliens.

FRANKEN: I think it`s part of a larger issue that you had in Wisconsin
what can be construed as an effort to destroy the unions.


FRANKEN: Boy, isn`t this interested that we are talking about two
Democratic constituents that Republicans are trying to sabotage when it
comes to voting which is a sacred part of democracy.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely. Lizz, you want to jump in?

WINSTEAD: I was just going to say, after hearing these new stories
constantly, I was busy having a nervous breakdown because of this fact and
I started Googling other things. Like there`s more people that have had
the wrong limb amputated than have these problems. And it is in unending -
it`s like you said, the biggest problem is, every time you have anything
like this, that tiny, tiny percentage, when that becomes the way we talk
about the norm, it`s a problem.

HARRIS-PERRY: And part of it was also I think the sort of the NAACP
moment. It was, you know, one of my producers as we were working on this,
was just going absolutely nuts about how she felt that Mitt Romney had
talked down to a group of people who lived poll taxes, who lived the Jim
Crow voting restriction and that sounds like this isn`t some black and
white grainy film somewhere.

These are, you know, old black folks sitting in the room who suffered, who
made this different and to acknowledge it, to not say that the voter
suppression efforts are real, to not sort of make that, as you point out, a
legitimate point of contention, so, are Republican points legitimate? Of
course. So, come and make your case. But you can`t ignore these other

HENDERSON: But Mitt is not George Romney. George Romney knew and
understood these issues.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

HENDERSON: And yes, George Romney did march against discrimination in
Detroit. That was not Mitt Romney. But what Romney did was to come in,
use this backdrop of the NAACP, unscathed above the surface in a most final
and superficial way and then sort of wanted credit because he showed up.

Any legitimate candidate who wants to seek votes of all Americans has to
demonstrate that they are receptive to hearing the concerns and issues of
anyone from these constituents.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s such a great point, Wade. Because, you know, one thing
that Romney campaign is doing is selling his nostalgic t-shirts that has
George Romney on. You know, Dems have a great one that has on the back,
Mitt and George.


HARRIS-PERRY: Damn right. This is not your father`s Romney.

WINSTEAD: And Georgia got 30 percent of the black vote.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And earned it. Didn`t just get it. Earned
30 percent of the black vote.

FRANKEN: And this was ironic too about demonizing the NAACP, or like the
lawyers committing for civil rights. These are organizations that in the
past were criticized by many people who advocated for the black cause
because they were too polite.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Too polite.

HENDERSON: My son will remind you, that anything you want to affirmatively
a congress needs to votes in both parties and there was a time when the
Republican Party stood up the civil and human rights in the same way that
Democrats are doing now. Let`s hope they will come back.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

Coming up, we`re getting into something a little different. Rape jokes.
Yes, comedian jokes about rape. Are they off limits? That`s our question


HARRIS-PERRY: Imagine this, it`s a weekend. You manage to get a baby
sitter, round up your friends for the evening and you all head out to the
comedy club to blow off steam and have a few laughs. It`s grown up comedy,
you prepare for a little off colored humor, maybe some profanity, something
that might even you blushed.

What you`re not ready for is the comedian to start a routine about rape and
about how rape jokes are always funny. You`re feeling uncomfortable when
another patron yells out what you are thinking. Actually, rape jokes are
never funny.

The comedian, the one up on the stage, who is the one with the mic,
responds by asking the audience to think of something even funnier,
something the comedian deems downright hilarious, the idea of the heckler
being forcibly gang raped.

Now, think about how that makes you feel, the pit in your stomach. Now,
imagine the audience number was a man. Impossible right? Because who
thinks that the rape of a man is funny? Well, the scene I just described

Last Friday at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, a woman changed comedy
central Daniel Tosh, host of Tosh point O, and received his gang rape joke
in response. Her friend`s blog response to Tosh`s joke was as now
provoked, he did conversation and commentary about comedy, politics and who
bears the brunt of being the brunt of our jokes. One of the most
compelling responses was pin by my guest, Jessica Valenti, a fellow
columnist at "the Nation" who joins me from Boston.

Hi, Jessica.


HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you know, I`m fascinated by this conversation that is
occurring because on the one hand there`s the feminist part of me that
wants to scream, rape is never funny. And then there`s a part of me that,
you know, you know listen to obscene humor. Tell me about the argument
that you made in your piece.

VALENTI: You know, I think that we can joke about rape, we can talk about
rape in comedy, we often use comedy to talk about tragedy. And -- but I
think it depends on how you do it. I think a good joke about rape is one
that is subversive, not one that is terrifying. You know, you look at
comics like Wanda Sykes and George Carlin, who I mentioned in the article
and they have funny jokes about rape. But what made them good is they
point out what is awful and absurd and horrifying about rape. What they
don`t belittle it or make a light of the rape itself which is what Daniel
Tosh did.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And you know, it feels to me just like sometimes --
and I`m sure you hear this also from young women. I hear a lot on
campuses. You know, feminists are buss killed, right? We just think
nothing is funny. You know, we just go around the world kind a politically
correcting everyone. But it taught me like in your article you weren`t
saying that. You were saying, actually no, the Wanda Sykes joke, where
she, you know, talks about how free she would feel if she could leave her
lady parts at home and therefore not have to worry about it. Is that what
you mean by subversive? I kind play that out a little bit?

VALENTI: Yes, that is what I mean by subversive and that`s a great cliff.
And you know, I think it`s a matter of mocking rape culture, not supporting
rape culture. I really think that humor is vast when it`s a tool used by
the powerless to attack the powerful, not a tool used but its power to kind
of register their power and that`s what happened in this case.

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, a lot of the outcry has been the idea that someone
like you and someone I should not be talking about this because we are not
comics. And so, you know, what right do we have to tell a person who is
creative how to be creative. How do you respond to that?

VALENTI: You know, I think freedom of speech is not the same thing as
freedom from criticism. You know, if you can`t heat get off the stage.
You know, just as the same the way, Tosh is free to make as many awful, you
know disgusting rape jokes as he wants, his audience is free to respond in
turn and what is happening here is a lot of his audience is horrified.
Some people are boycotting and some people are calling for comedy central
to take his show off the air and that`s free speech as well.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so, let`s say that they did and it doesn`t look like
there`s any move to do that. But would that constitute censorship. Is
that the sort of thing that go to normal progressive feminist world you
would in fact, not want to happen?

VALENTI: I mean, I don`t think it`s the best idea in the world. I don`t
think it`s going to change anything, but I still think that`s the way that
free speech works, right. You boycott something and sometimes people get
taken off the air. It`s just par for the course.

HARRIS-PERRY: Now, let me ask you this on the kind of like, can rape jokes
be funny because it seems to me part of the point is, that even when they
are told and exactly the way you suggest is problematic, in other words
reinforcing rape culture, that they are funny to a lot of folks, that
plenty of folks in fact find it provocative and enjoyable to imagine a
woman n, in particular, being raped.

VALENTI: Right. And that`s a conversation on its own, right. Why do
people still find kind of traditional awful rape jokes so funny? And in
fact, I think it`s because it allows them to have these really kind of
antiquated traditional sexist ideas about women but feel like they are edgy
and controversial for having those views.

But I think a lot of us know, you know, joking about a woman who speaks her
mind being attacked is not edgy or original or new. Any woman who any
spent time in a comment section has been told a variation of that joke a
million times over. So it`s a little bit, you know, cliche.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, in that sense, it`s bad because there`s nothing
edgy about it.

Jessica, I really appreciate you joining me from Boston. At some point,
you got to come on down here to Nerdland in New York.

VALENTI: Absolutely. Thanks.

HARRIS-PERRY: And also, folks should check out Jessica Valenti`s upcoming
new book, "Why Have Kids, a new mom explores the truth about parenting and
happiness," it`s out in September.

Up next, on the question of questionable humor, I decided to get a table
full of comedians. We`re going to stay on this topic.



WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: Ladies, would you love this? Wouldn`t it be
wonderful if our (beep) were detachable?


SYKES: Just think of the freedom you would have. You get home from work,
it`s getting dark outside, I would like to go for a jog but it`s getting
too dark. I`ll just leave it at home.


SYKES: And you`re out jogging. Yes, it could be pitch black. You`re
still out there jogging, enjoying yourself. Then, some crazy guy jumps out
of the Bushes and you`re like -- I left it at home.



HARRIS-PERRY: That`s comedian Wanda Sykes showing us how you can make a
rape joke funny. And as we look at rape culture in our popular
entertainment, as it relates to the controversy surrounding comedy central
host, Daniel Tosh`s recent rape joke at a Los Angeles comedy club. I
thought it might be best to add some comics in the conversation.

Joining me again are political Lizz Winstead, this week in blackness host,
Elon James White, citizen radio co-host Jamie Kilstein and the managing
editor of "the Grio," Joy Reid.

All right. Who here does rape jokes?

WINSTEAD: Well, I would say backing up completely, I would like to argue
the point that that wasn`t even a joke. He was making a statement. So,
you know, comedy folks you are making a statement. Its fair game for a
lobbyist brother to go, I disagree with the statement. Because there`s
been very report on this.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, of what happened.

WINSTEAD: Of what happened. And then there`s some women who were in the
club who issue a statement and I find this very interesting especially when
talking about the comic blend and he said that Daniel Tosh got on stage and
said, what would you guys like to talk about?

Now, that opens up a conversation with your audience and somebody yelled
rape. And I don`t know if this woman or someone else said no, rape jokes
are never funny. And then, all of a sudden, boom. That happened, then,
yes, you ask the audience who they thought and they said something. So --

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not the same point as being heckled.

WINSTEAD: of being able to (INAUDIBLE) joke you told. If there was a

REID: Wasn`t it like the equivalent of one guy in the room and wouldn`t it
be funny if everybody just lynched that guy right now? Because it is not
so much a joke as it is and attack on that person because he was so angry
of that person. So making sort of a veil, sort of a threat, and that`s, I
think, the way how it came across to the woman who heard it.

JAMIE KILSTEIN, CO-HOST, CITIZEN RADIO: But what is so sad about that, is
you know, that Michael Richards` --


KILSTEIN: -- and comics disowned him. I mean, they had -- remember
Letterman had to like sadly trapped Jerry Simon photo out, --


KILSTEIN: And it was horrible. And with this, what shocked me the most,
and we were all talking about it, emailing about it, texting with other
comic, is that every comic, all of these guy comics, liberal comics,
progressive comics that I admire came out and defended this guy and
defended rape culture.

And what`s so sad about that, this comics don`t agree on anything.
Everyone is talking about the comedy community. Who is the comedy
community? Are you friends with Elon? Yes. Well, Elon just got a

I hate Elon.


KILSTEIN: We don`t even have health insurance and suddenly we have to
defend a rap culture? And it`s like comedians assemble. It`s horrifying
that this is the sort we want to die on.

WINSTEAD: Well, I mean, it`s kind of funny, too, that the activism and all
of the -- it got so crazy because it`s something about them. You know, it
was like it`s the narcissism behind, let`s hold this torch up.

of a sudden it became about free speech. And that`s where this whole
argument became awry. Because like this, it had nothing to with free
speech. Because he can say it, no government entity was like, you are not
allowed to make rape jokes.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. That`s right.


WHITE: Many rape jokes is laugh. But that dude might blog about it and
you might just out of blog for it.

KILSTEIN: Why doesn`t this girl have freedom of speech? We know you have
freedom of speech. You have a microphone in front of you. This girl also
has freedom of speech. And you know, when talking about hecklers, that`s
the craziest thing. It`s the biggest argument I got, I`m sure you guys
did, is you`re a comic. People are literally saying, she heckle. She was
asking for it without seeming like --

HARRIS-PERRY: She probably heckled while wearing a short skirt and
therefore was really asking for it.

KILSTEIN: Exactly. And what was so sad about that was being left-wing
comedians, we have been heckled our entire career. You want to talk about
freedom of speech, I did a show in Texas, did something that going after
the war, had a marine charge the stage and say, if you say one more word
I`m going to beat the -- out of you. Right?

And I was like, I just came from a vehicle. I wished you got shot in Iraq.
I talked about how awkward the situation was especially because I had 10
seconds. But that was my last bit. So, I was like, dude, if you just
waited ten seconds. And I would be gone.


KILSTEIN: And we talked about -- I talked about how I`m very pro troop-
ture. I said, you know, actually wanting you to get - not to get shot is a
pro use stance. Then we had a conversation of the bar, about the war
afterwards. Like that`s how you handled it. People act like you had no
control of he was going to say because some girl talk. Comedians get
heckled since day one. He could have done without a violently threatening

HARRIS-PERRY: And this, I think, for me this is part of something that I`m
interesting in trying to figure out what we think we mean when we say free
speech or what we think we mean when we say we`re doing provocative comedy.

I mean, I really do like obscene - you know, every once in a while I like
something who doesn`t have pursing in it. But almost everything I like
makes fun of all of the equity groups I care about, right? So, they kind
of play with issues of gay culture, play with issues of race. I mean, I
miss Dave Chapel at the core of my being, right. But I mean, was the n
word used every 15 seconds, in fact it was.

So, what is the difference between at the consumption of that versus the
hey, I know what I like to talk about tonight, rape. See, I just feel like
it`s -

WINSTEAD: That is almost an impossible question. And so, I just feel
like, you go for what you are going to say. Go for it 110 percent. But
the second it passes your lips, it is everybody else`s to judge and if
you`re going to be weak and back down and apologize, I`m not going to
defend you because, why did you say it? That`s what I don`t get.

HARRIS-PERRY: As soon as we get back, there`s plenty more. Stay right.
We`re back after the break.



GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN: I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture
porky pig raping Elmer Fudd. See, hey, why do you think they call him
porky? I know what you are going to say, Elmer was asking for it. A lot
of men talk like that. A lot of men think that was. They think it`s the
woman`s fault. They like to blame the rape on the woman. Say, she had it
coming. She was wearing a short skirt.


HARRIS-PERRY: That, of course, was the great George Carlin and we`re
talking about comedy central host, Daniel Tosh`s controversial rape joke.
And the larger discussion about rape culture in pop cultured that it has

Joining me again are three veteran comics and one comedy here on her own
right, Lizz Winstead, Elon James White, Jamie Kilstein and Joy Reid.

Elon, is there something of being a political comic though that is
different? I mean, all three of you are comics but you also are
purposefully and highly politicized.

WHITE: Right. Which means basically that we walk into a room and we are
aware that we are about to catch flack, almost all (INAUDIBLE). When I
walk on to the stage, I`m like, all right I`m also the Negro comic. So, I
walk in --

HARRIS-PERRY: And you wear the hats.

WHITE: And I wear the hats. And I walk into places. It like even
political stuff and I go, so, white liberals and also everyone loses their
mind but the fact is, I`m prepared for all of it. Any flack I catch,
anyone coming at me, I`m like, all right, so, I knew that. OK, I I`m
prepared for you. This is how I`m going to respond.

In a situation in this thing here is that, the response was something that
was over the top. The boundaries that were around him that what is really
in his mind that this I can say this and it`s OK. And the culture decides
to jump around and protect that and I believe that`s the biggest, biggest
thing here, is like people that were comics, we run at me going, how can
you not defend him? He says that you are a comic. Comic just say stuff
are just say something. And I was like, I say stuff but I also don`t want
to be a douche. I have that, we are line of fan. Hey, you know what I`m
not going to do? Be a douche right now.


REID: But I mean, is that also the other issue. And you guys are all
doing this for a living. Sorry, I`m losing all my stuff. Part of what
you`re doing when you do comedy is that you are not doing it out of


REID: Right? There I nothing hostile. You played the George Carlin clip.
There was nothing angry in what he was saying. It`s funny because it`s a
slice of life. When Bill Cosme in front of the kids, you don`t think that
he hated his kids. You are not going to see what angry hostile towards his
kids, he was just making fun of them.

WINSTEAD: You know, I would respect a little bit on that because, again,
why people do comedy, is it Sanchez, that was very hostile, and very funny,
and put it out there. Controversial. Dice Clay.


WINSTEAD: Those people didn`t apologize. I am stuck on the fact that, why
are you saying it if you can`t defend it. Well, if you can`t defend it,
you are lazy, you apologize. I don`t -- it drives me insane.

KILSTEIN: To be fair, Dice Clay said it but he was the worse. He was an
awful man.

I don`t know. I sort of - I think I agree with you in the sense that I
really like what Jessica said earlier where she paraphrase the differently
but essentially, comedy is a subversive art. We probably became comedian
because we were pick on, because we were nerd. And you used this as a
defense mechanism to take down the bully, to take down the bigger guy. And
suddenly the bullies are invading our nerd space and they are using our

HARRIS-PERRY: Bullies in nerd land.

KILSTEIN: That`s right. They are using our tool instead of doing what
they usually do which is just being creepy towards women and better looking
than us. And so I think that - you know, because here`s the thing. When
you`re talking about rape, again rape culture, that is edgy and smart.
Carl want to move Wanda there.

But to me, it`s like who is sitting in an audience being like, you know,
who has it too good for too long, rape victims. I really wish someone
would get on stage and give them a piece of it. Like no one last a seat --
go after the dude -- why aren`t we going after the guy doing the raping?


KILSTEIN: Why are we going after, you know, the governments with their
sexist policies and with their rape and enabling culture and the police who
just ignore rape case after rape case can after rape case? There are so
many big targets to go after.

REID: I like the --

WINSTEAD: Why are you bringing up rape at all if you don`t have some
reason to bring it up?

HARRIS-PERRY: You need a subversive space to go to. And I`m now
officially man because the bullies in Nerdland is unacceptable.

Joy and Lizz are back for more in the next hour. Elon James White, hi hat
will endowed and will be back as well. Jamie Kilstein, thank you guys both
for being here today.

And heck out our blog at tomorrow where you can see more of our
favorite comedians on the issue of rape culture and comedy.


HARRIS-PERRY: Lately it seems like certain Democrats are following the
Forest Gump method in dealing with President Obama. Instead of standing by
their man, it is like someone is saying to them, run, Democrats, run. Like
run, forest run, OK.

But not so fast like their weather friends. Because the latest numbers may
have are you trading in your running shoes. That`s why it lead the
President Obama has over challenge Mitt Romney, that`s grown.

The latest Pew poll shows that President Obama is favored 50 percent to
Romney`s 43 percent among registered voters nationwide.

The Affordable Care Act, the defining piece of health care legislation
for President Obama`s first term in office, while it might not be gaining
in popularity among certain Republicans governors and congressional
members, it is gaining traction among voters. Back in April, only 39
percent of those polled supported the Affordable Care Act while 53 opposed
it. But following the Supreme Court`s ruling on the ACA, the numbers of
those in support of the law rose to 47 percent while the number against it
fell to 47 percent. It seems, as Americans are learning what the law does,
they like it more.

And if that`s not enough to quash your fears in certain timid
Democrats, I`ve got one more for you. While the economy might now be
roaring back, experts say it will improve slightly in the coming months
because of the lower oil prices, and up-ticks in the housing and automobile

See, Democrats --


-- there`s no reason to be afraid. You can stand by your president
the same way you would expect him to stand by you.

At the table, syndicated columnist, Bob Franken; Joy Reid, managing
editor of The Grio; Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership
Conference on Civil and Human Rights; and comedian, Lizz Winstead, author
of "Lizz Free or Die."

Who in their right mind does not want to run next to President Obama?

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, what I think we have right
now is the spectacle of a lot of Democrats trying to figure out a way for
the rats to get back on the ship.


I think that politics --


HARRIS-PERRY: You are full of them today.


FRANKEN: I know.


But one of the characteristics of politics, sadly, is expedience. And
I think that --


FRANKEN: -- to have jumped off, as some of them did, is going to come
back and bite them.

HENDERSON: Let`s be honest, the Democrats have done a dreadful job of
defending the Affordable Care Act. They have no articulated why they
supported it. They have done nothing to encourage the American people to
understand how beneficial this law will be in the long term for the
interest we all support. Part of what you`re seeing are members in close
elections who feel that their affiliation with President Obama will be used
against them in a subtle but unmistakably racial manner that will make more
difficult for them to win. When you look at Joe Manchin in West Virginia,
Claire McCaskill in Missouri, John Tester in Montana, you`re looking at
Senators saying, hey, I`m not sure that we really want to openly identify,
given where the public is and the public ruling.


HENDERSON: And I think that`s crazy.

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO: When you look at Democrats,
intimidation is sort of built in.



REID: Yes, this is where they are. Remember with Bill Clinton, they
were not rushing to his side. If you look at the way that the Republicans
respond when one of their own are in trouble, and the way Democrats do,
Democrats tend to run the other way. It`s part of the Democratic DNA.

But I think with this particular president, there was always a fear.
Becoming a majority party meant getting in the John Testers, bringing in
the Claire McCaskills. That`s why Democrats are a majority party. It
doesn`t mean in your character you don`t stand by your leader. Look at
George W. Bush. Come what may, that side was proposing Medicare Part D and
they were like, we love Medicare.



REID: No, you don`t.


HARRIS-PERRY: Well, they are getting down with Mitt Romney, who they
don`t like.


HARRIS-PERRY: They do not like Mitt Romney. They are like, yes, Mitt
Romney is our guy.

also say, too, in my business of getting on stage and talking about these
big issues to folks, having to tamp it down to a place where it`s
digestible, I think the one thing that Democrats don`t do in their plans is
Barack Obama`s big health care reform. The most massive, hardest thing to
explain ever, nobody took the second part of that plan and said, we need to
be able to sell this thing, go great guns and make it amazing until now.
They are finally doing it.

FRANKEN: Quite frankly, I think the Democrats should proudly call it


HARRIS-PERRY: Obama-cares, with the "S."



FRANKEN: But to use a sports analogy -- and I suspect that that you
get tired of sports analogies.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love them.

FRANKEN: One of my favorite baseball games ever was in 2003 when the
Red Sox were playing the Yankees and the pitchers were Roger Clemons and
Pedro Martinez. And they spent the whole game throwing bean balls at each
other, which are against the rules. But they were just throwing each
other`s to try to hit (ph). If that had been the Democrats verses the
Republicans, the Republicans would be throwing bean balls and the Democrats
would be whining about it.


And complaining to the umpire. The simple fact of the matter is, as
Chris Matthews` "Hardball" comes from the description of politics and
sometimes the Democrats have to realize that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you about that because it does feel like
part of how President Obama ran, was as this sort of I`m going to be a new
sort of politician, which -- the hopey and changey thing, it`s the thing
that gets turned over against him. There was a sense like, look, folks,
I`m a process Democrat. I should believe in building bridges. I think
there are folks that -- so when it does go "Hardball," as he occasionally
does, even as he`s doing it effectively, he`s then getting criticized for
not being somehow magically above the fray.


HENDERSON: You`re right. But this nonsense that we were in a post-
partisan period in America where a president could appeal to both parties
in a way that elevated him above politics was naive at the outset. And
when the leaders in the Senate and the House Republican party stood up and
said, look, our main job is to make sure that is he not re-elected, we will
institute a series of policies of obstruction, and we will be effective at
blocking him at every turn. And that`s what has happened. These are the
laws of the political universe that operate.

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait, a live naivety can be good for changing the way
the -- you`re a civil rights leader, right? The idea of, OK, me and my 12
friends and some little children and some old people, we`re going to go
beat Bull Conner. That takes a little bit of, yes-we-can naivety.

HENDERSON: It takes yes-we-can, but I`m not sure that I`d say it`s
naivety because it`s based on organizing and structure. Rosa Parks didn`t
just stand up as a spontaneous reaction --


-- to discrimination. She was part of an organized movement that had
discussed and established a tragedy that she helped pursue. Look, these
are my laws of the political universe. Republicans fall in line.
Democrats fall in love. And progressives multiply through division.


That`s just the way it is.


REID: The truth of the matter is, I think people have oversold this
idea that President Obama is a soft hopey, changey guy. Look at how
Chicago is fighting Mitt Romney. That`s how you climb through the ranks of
Chicago politics and get all the way to the White House. They are not
playing -- and it`s the Democrats that want to go soft. They are like,
please, don`t attack Bain Capital. There`s nothing wrong with Wall Street.


HENDERSON: Nancy Pelosi is my kind of Democrat.


HARRIS-PERRY: There`s is nothing soft about Leader Pelosi.


HENDERSON: She says it like it is. You`re not going to bust her on
not knowing the facts because she knows them. But she`s prepared to speak
in a truthful unvarnished way that makes clear where she stands. I find
unfortunately, Democrats who not just equivocate on these issues but fail
to prepare a strategy to back up the main objective of what they are trying
to accomplish.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is this because some folks are blue dogs? I think
about my two Senators. And of them is David Vitter and the other is Mary
Landrieu. Is Mary Landrieu the great progressive champion? No. But she`s
managing to be a Democrat, elected to statewide office in Louisiana.

HENDERSON: She is. She is.

FRANKEN: When you talk about progressivism, I think you have to talk
about them in terms of degrees, like conservatives. There are progressives
and then there are -- for want of a better term -- the Mary Landrieus of
this world are realistic progressives -- where you know that you are you
cannot win in Louisiana unless you cater to the oil interests, for

HARRIS-PERRY: Precisely.

FRANKEN: So you can sit there and be a prophet without honor and be
marginalized or you can try to finesse these issues and all this kind of
thing. But quite frankly, you brought up the point a moment ago about
Mitch McConnell and the Republicans saying our single purpose is to defeat
Barack Obama.


FRANKEN: What the Democrats did not do is make their lives a living
hell. They made it a living heck perhaps but not a living hell.


And that is what I think politics is all about.


HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going staying right on this.


HARRIS-PERRY: I promise I`ll come back to you as soon as we`re back.
And we`re staying right on this. And I am going to get on the bus,
literally. You`ve got to see this. I got on the bus yesterday. It was



HARRIS-PERRY: One of the best parts of getting to bring you this show
each weekend is that we work right here in the heart of New York City at 30
Rockefeller Center. It`s the kind of building where you never know who you
might run into. On Friday, just as I was coming into work, I ran into
about a dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus. They were in the
city for a weekend retreat traveling around town on a bus. So I asked if
they minded if I came around for a ride and if I could ask a few questions.
And the members couldn`t have been nicer. I even pushed them a little,
asking if President Obama was out in Virginia in the rain, what were they
doing traipsing around New York.

Queensborough Congressman Gregory Meeks assured me there was nothing
to worry about.


HARRIS-PERRY: Why isn`t the bus in Virginia with the president right
now? He`s standing in the rain --


-- trying to get the votes. So talk to me about how does the CBC do
the work it has to do to support the president for re-election?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS, (D), NEW YORK: We will be all over this country.
This is a retreat. What we need to do, what we`re doing right now, what
the CBC Pac does is help raise money so we can get out into the African-
American community and other communities, to get that word out that we are
with the president, that we have the president`s back.


HARRIS-PERRY: I`m have much more on my ride on the bus later in the
show today as well as next weekend.

But for now, back with me are Bob Franken, Joy Reid, Wade Henderson,
and Lizz Winstead.

CBC says they are standing by their man, right? But what are the
carrots and sticks that the party itself has in order to draw other folks
in line?

REID: And that`s one of the issues that CBC members tend not to raise
money at the same level of other members. The top growth, the top
fundraiser around Congressional Black Caucus people is Allen West, the
Republican from Florida, who is --

HARRIS-PERRY: When I mention his name on the bus, that was -- it was


HARRIS-PERRY: -- fiery. It was good stuff.


REID: Exactly. And his district, he has about 5 percent African-
American. They don`t typically raise money.

And then what are the carrots? These guys tend to get re-elected
almost without opposition. So there isn`t really a lot the party can do to
push them. And the most high-profile thing the Congressional Black Caucus
has done in the last two years is go on a jobs tour in which they spent
much of the time attacking the White House for no saying the word "black"
enough, right? So there is an issue with cohesion among the Democrats.


REID: And with incentives.

HENDERSON: You`re really right on all points. I would say, because
they are in the minority in the House, their power is terribly restricted
and limited. There`s really not as much as -- that they can do. There was
a time, the first two years of the Obama presidency, where he had five
chairmen, chairmen of important, powerful committees. It would have been
helpful -- and they`ve done a number of positive things. Let`s not
minimize that. It would have been helpful however if we could have focused
the lens on job creation at that point when they had the power to deliver.
Now they can`t really --


HARRIS-PERRY: But this is the kind of -- elections have consequences.
These are folks who, if Dems do ride the president`s coat tails into a
majority, almost no one stands to benefits more than the Congressional
Black Caucus.


FRANKEN: First, I want to say that a while ago, I spoke about
thoughtful black conservatives. Allen West is not one of them.



HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. There are -- there are --


FRANKEN: In some ways, it would be easier to confuse him with Joe
McCarthy. But to the point that was being made, what was frustrating is
that even when the Democrats had the House, they weren`t able to deliver
the blow. You know, this kind of thing. Quite frankly, when it comes to
public perception, the Republicans have just wildly clobbered the
Democrats. You brought up before Obama-care -- I choose to call it -- and
all this kind of thing. The polls are really interesting. It shows that
people agree with, by wide margins, with the characteristics of the bill,
but they are against it. How can that be?

WINSTEAD: I think it`s very easy to be the party that says, we are
going to stump constantly for the people who have the most money and the
people who have the most money are going to give us money, and we`re going
to have the message machine funded and paid for and we are done here. And
that is to put it simply.

I would say that, also, we have a process president in a microwave
society. You know, we have forgotten for many, many years, we have now
generations of people who have not experienced process, and through
technology and everything else, the way we live and the way we react and
even our emotions are not used to processing anymore. I don`t know how you
get back to that.

And that`s the part that -- if you can make an apple pie and show your
kids how you make the dough and you cut the apples and you put it in, and
people understand what happens at the end, you smell it, you -- but if you
can have a half-assed pie that you throw into a microwave for three
minutes, we settle for that. You take that as a metaphor for how we look
at things. I want to know how we figure out and convince people that the
process is --


HARRIS-PERRY: I particularly like your point about, it`s easy to be
the party that is representing interests of the wealthy, gets more money
from the wealthy. Even if we think about the Tea Party, which, if it`s an
actual grass roots movement, I can have a real appreciation for, right. I
don`t agree with them but I have an appreciation for those who use their
voice in a populist way. If the Tea Party isn`t an actual populist grass
roots movement, if it is mostly Astroturf being paid for by wealthy
interests, then you get why it`s so much harder to be Occupy than it is to
be the Tea Party. Occupy is literally a group of like kids in some tents
trying to make it happen with very little resources.

FRANKEN: But I think you made such an important point before, which
is the way I would put it, which isn`t as well put as you do it.

WINSTEAD: Of course, it won`t be, Bob.


FRANKEN: We live in a society, a detailed society, and all we hear is
sound bites. I`ve made lots of money doing sound bites. So the fact is,
however, in the process, we`ve destroyed anybody`s interests in thinking
issues out. All we have is the well-financed distortions that people buy
into because they are not willing to say, wait, what are the facts here?

HARRIS-PERRY: And even better financed now post-Citizens United.

HENDERSON: No, I think you`re absolutely right. But I want to go
back to a point that Lizz which was about the process. I want to give the
president a little more credit than I think sometimes we do. He is the
president that delivered a health care law.

HARRIS-PERRY: Hello, right.

HENDERSON: This is the first time that it has ever been done. Some
say it goes back to Teddy Roosevelt but it certainly back to Harry Truman.
And the fact is this is president, through whatever process involved,
ultimately delivered a law that would make significant change. My problem
is that we allow individuals who purport to discuss these issues, however,
to get away with not discussing some of the issues that are at the heart of
it. What the Supreme Court did to the Medicaid expansion has the potential
of pulling the string that unravels the law and its application across the


HARRIS-PERRY: You guys get more time. I promise.


Lizz, you`re heading out. Thank you so much for being here today.

WINSTEAD: You`re welcome.

HENDERSON: We`ll miss you.


HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.


WINSTEAD: I`ll miss you guys.


HARRIS-PERRY: Everybody else is back with a little more.

But in my section segment, I`m sending you all away because I`m going
to talk to one of my Olympic heroes, gold-medal winner, Dominique Dawes. I
want her all to myself --


-- so you guys have to wait and just wait and come back.




HARRIS-PERRY: We are less than two weeks away from the 2012 Olympics
in London where this year Team USA will have more female athletes than men.
My next guest is a three-time Olympian and the first African-American
female gymnast to win an individual medal. Dominique Dawes` performance in
the 1996 Olympic Games wowed the crowd with her brilliant floor exercise.
And many remember her as part of the Magnificent Seven who won the gold
that year.

I am so pleased to welcome three-time Olympian and gold-medal winner,
Dominique Dawes.

Thank you for being here.


HARRIS-PERRY: I was talking about the 1996 team which, you know, that
team looked like America. And do you know how much that meant to so many
of us? You are younger than I am but -- and yet you were so inspiring to

DAWES: Well, thank you. That was 16 years ago. And you`re right,
the diversity on that team was enormous. There was an African-American, an
Asian-American, a Romanian-American and a number of Americans on the team
that represented Team USA quite well in making history with all six of
those girls with a highlight from my athletic career.

HARRIS-PERRY: On that question of the way in which you served as a
role model, I was thinking very similarly, in watching Serena Williams win
her fifth Wimbledon title, is there something about being an African-
American woman in a sport that is thought of an elite sport, a sport that
sort of costs money to be part of, requires a lot of equipment. Is there
something about sort of you and Serena Williams and the not many others
like you that feels like a role model responsibility for you?

DAWES: I don`t think just being an African-American female made me
feel I was a role model. It was believing that I can make an impact in my
sport made me take the responsibility of being a role model quite
seriously. I knew that young white girls were looking up to me, young
minorities were looking up to me, and I wanted to make sure that they would
follow in footsteps that were worth paving the way to help them reach their
full potential. And I was there watching Serena Williams win her fifth
Wimbledon title. And was thinking of the number of young girls and even
young boys that were inspired by her breaking down barriers, opening doors
and reaching her full potential in her tennis career.

HARRIS-PERRY: It feels like lately a lot of the barriers that you`ve
been working on breaking down are related to your position as a co-chair on
the president`s physical fitness, and it`s you and our home town hero, Drew
Brees, who are in that role. Talk to me about what that work is.

DAWES: I`m excited to be co-chair of the Presidents Council on
Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, along with Drew Brees. He`s an amazing guy,
a great man of character, a husband, a father of two kids. We`ve been
making a positive impact. We`ve worked closely with the first lady to help
promote the Let`s Move Initiative that`s all about combating childhood

And since my career ended 12 years ago, my main focus has been on
empowering and inspiring people, focus on physical activity and nutrition,
which is why I`m so excited this year to team up with Hormel Natural Choice
to promote the Raising Champions little program. It`s all about giving
moms the motivation to recognize that they are positive role models for
their kids when it comes to cooking, when it comes to fueling their bodies
to live nutritious lifestyles. This has been a great partnership for me.
And I hope to do more after the Olympic Games.

HARRIS-PERRY: After talking about the Olympics, all of us here at 30
Rock are beside ourselves with excitement about the upcoming Olympics. But
those of us on the MSNBC side are also beside ourselves with excitement
about the fact that we`re in a presidential election year. And they always
can come at the same time.

DAWES: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: Every four years there`s the summer Olympics, every
four years, a presidential campaign. Do the Olympians themselves, as
representatives of their nation, are you aware of the politics, of world
politics that are also happening at the same time that you are training and
performing and competing?

DAWES: I think it depends on the individual athletes. Some I think
get involved in politics. They recognize that they can make an impact and
when it comes to particular causes that they`re passionate about. Many of
those are bipartisan issues, as I have, with health, fitness and wellness.
But I think it`s really is the athletes. I don`t tend to get involved in
politics but I do get involved in cause-related issues that are near and
dear to me. My younger brother has autism, so I`ve done work with Autism
Speaks and helping raise awareness with that disorder, as well, as I
mentioned earlier, physical activity and good nutrition for kids. That`s
why I do the work that I do, because a lot of people are going to listen to
what I have to say, mainly because of my achievements in the athletic
world. But I do know it`s a platform where I can make a positive
difference, and I do embrace that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Before we go, I want you to weigh in on this year`s
team. Gabby Douglas, I`m watching closely. I love all of the gymnasts.
What are you expecting from this year`s team?

DAWES: I must say this is the one of the most exciting times that
I`ve had preparing for Olympic Games, being a non-Olympian. I`m going to
be there in London doing work for And I`m very excited to
be there, doing work for media to really follow this Team USA. I think
they`re going to win gold. Gabby Douglas won the Olympic trials. And I
call her Doing It Douglas --


-- because that girl wows the crowd. I was sitting in the media
section and couldn`t stop clapping and I was jumping out of my seat. I
know I`m going to have that same reaction in London.

Also, Jordan Weeber, she`s been a solid competitor from the team. And
I think she`s going to lead the way as well.

But I do anticipate that these girls are going to win gold and they`re
going to do what my teammates and I did six years ago.

HARRIS-PERRY: Dominique, you`re feelings watching Gabby are the
feelings that I had and so many of the rest of us had watching you. And
it`s been a real thrill to have an opportunity to talk with you.

DAWES: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.


Up next, could it be that public transportation is not just an
economic issue but also a civil rights issue? That, when we come back.



REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I think it`s been sort
of a metaphor for a lot of things. And it`s kind of interesting, when I
fly into Washington every week, we go to remote parking and get on a bus to
go to the terminal. I invariably walk directly to the back of the bus and
I always sit on the last seat on the bus. And I do so intentionally. And
part of it is to sort of play with the people who watch me do it.


CLYBURN: And another part of it is to demonstrate that this is my


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South
Carolina, speaking with me last night on the bus right here in New York
City. His personal tale is a reminder of how intertwined transportation
and civil rights in America are. When we talk about achieving first-class
citizenship in this country, we usually refer to voting rights. But
history tells us that transportation is just as important a marker of full
citizenship. 1896, Plessey v. Ferguson, a transportation case before the
Supreme Court, establishes the definition of a first-class citizen,
upholding Jim Crow segregation as the law of the land. The 1930s, as part
of President Franklin D. Roosevelt`s New Deal to pull up the country out of
our economic depression, the Work`s Progress Administration poured federal
dollars into the nation`s transportation infrastructure to create and
promote employment, investing in the future of the first class citizen.
1956, the Federal Aid Highway Act establishes our national transportation
network, facilitating the growth of the middle class by linking workers in
affordable suburbs to job opportunities in the cities. That same year,
civil rights activists in Montgomery, Alabama, demanded first class
citizenship by refusing to ride in the back of the bus when paying the same
fare as the white folk up front.

And today, transportation is still at the heart of first class
citizenship. What stands between millions of poor, unemployed Americans
and the working world is not just access to job openings because as "Huff
Po`s" Peter Goodman wrote this week, getting a job and getting to a job are
two different things.

Data from the Brookings Institution find that 39 million working-age
adults now live in major American metro areas that lack public
transportation. Building transportation infrastructure is an economic
issue but transportation insecurity is a civil rights issue.

Back with me, columnist, Bob Franken; MSNBC contributor, Joy Reid;
civil rights activist, Wade Henderson; and joining the table is Maya Wiley,
civil rights attorney and the founding president of the Center for Social

Maya, how is transportation a civil rights issue today?

SOCIAL INCLUSION: Well, let`s start with the fact that today, in this
economy, the number-one issue is jobs. Jobs in this country are something
that we can actually build through transit. But the reality is that, there
was a time in this country when you would get up in the morning, get your
kids ready for school, give them breakfast, pack them off, send them,
they`d walk down to street to your school, and then would you walk to your


WILEY: Today, that is no longer the case. Most jobs have now gone to
suburbs as communities of color have remained in central cities by and
large. The jobs are now in places that they cannot reach by public
transit. The reality is, when we look at 15 percent unemployment rates in
the black community today, when the national rate is 8.2, far too high, far
too high for anybody, but 15 percent unemployment rate, the disconnect
between where the jobs are and where people of color are who need the jobs
is tremendous and we`re not investing --


HARRIS-PERRY: You also make a good point about schools. I`m also
thinking the death of public neighborhood schools and the charterization --
I like to say that, like somehow, charter schools trick southerners into
supporting busing because like --


-- you can now no longer walk to school, which I always did as a kid
was walk to school.

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO: I`m so glad you did this topic.
This is my favorite nerdy topics of all time.



REID: People forget, Dwight David Eisenhower, in my opinion, a great
president, a guy who got 40 percent of the black Americans, signed landmark
legislation. The interstate highway system that he put in place in many
ways bisected and dissected black communities. If you go to Miami, the
story over over-town, the story of over-town of Miami, of downtown, where
all of these black businesses were and this thriving community, they were
just devastated by these highways going through.


REID: I live in the Seventh Ward. They built -- what happened on
Claiborne, that beautiful oak trees, built a highway over it, and now we`ve
painted oak trees on the pillars on which the highway stands.


BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The interstate highway system was
built on a subterfuge, which was that it was part of a National Defense
Highway Act.


FRANKEN: That is to say that it was supposed to be a way that we
could escape in case of a nuclear attack. I covered the hurricane in
Houston where everybody got on the highways and was heading to Dallas. And
if you recall, they were stopped in place, which sort of put a lie to that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Which is why you`d think that Louisiana Governor Bobby
Jindal, when he got stimulus money from the president and the Congress in
2009 to build a light rail system, what do you know built it. Instead,
decides to stand in the school house door of transportation equity and not
build -- just yesterday, we decided we`re having a hash tag, hash tag FBJ,
"Forget Bobby Jindal."


Because like it`s exactly that sort of choice, right?

HUMAN RIGHTS: Look, this whole transportation issue is one of the sleeper
civil and human rights issues of the 21st century. I`m so glad that you
did the lead in that you did because it gives historical perspective of how
transportation policy and civil and human rights have advanced almost
together in our country since 1896.

But what we have is Congress moving away from that responsibility.
The transportation reauthorization that just went into effect, it`s a $100
billion bill. It`s obviously very important. It`s probably the only jobs
bill that Congress will enact this year. So that`s important. It also put
a cap, as you know, on the loans that students received. So it provided a
basis for trying to deal with student loan policy and to extended flood
insurance at the federal level. All of that is important. But what it
also did was to forget both inner city and urban transportation but also
rural transit. It didn`t connect policy to jobs, as Maya said.

And this isn`t an issue that`s even color coded --


HENDERSON: -- in a way that other civil rights issues sometimes are.
This is about black, white, diverse, Asian, Latino, persons with
disabilities who struggle. Over half a million individuals with
disabilities have no connection to our transportation system. So -- so --


WILEY: Wade makes a critical point here, as did Bob. If we connect
the policy to today and what this reauthorization act represents, it
represents a continued practice of spending 80 percent of our dollars on
highways, 20 percent on public transit. Between 1995 and 2009, we saw an
increase in public transit ridership of 31 percent.


WILEY: We have not matched our investments into public transit with

HARRIS-PERRY: So ridership goes up, we don`t get do the
infrastructure investments, we don`t get more trains on those tracks, we
don`t lay more tracks and so -- and we don`t link them to rural and
suburban communities --


FRANKEN: Public transit --getting a little history -- was, in effect,
sabotaged by what was called the highway lobby, which was the collection of
interests who profited from automobiles in the inner city, the car
manufacturers, the rubber manufactures, the --


FRANKEN: -- the automakers and all that. What is important about
this issue is that it is literally a manifestation of the big problem,
which is to say, the people in ghettoes are imprisoned in the ghettoes,
literally in this case, where they don`t get not only adequate
transportation, they don`t get adequate nutritional opportunities because
the Whole Foods of this world and the Safeways of this world won`t locate
down there. They have inferior public school systems because there`s no
impetus to build better ones, that kind of thing. This is the perfect
metaphor --


HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to stay right on transportation. Who knew?



HARRIS-PERRY: People getting revved up about trains and cars. We`ll
stay on this right when we come back.



HARRIS-PERRY: How are we going to bring down the national
unemployment rate, bringing it down lower than the 8.2 percent? Here`s one
idea. According to the Transportation Equity Network, if 20 metropolitan
areas shifted 50 percent of their highway funds to mass transit they would
generate 1.1 million new transit jobs over a five-year period. The net
gain of 180,000 jobs over five years. That is without a single dollar in
new spending. Transportation literally can be a vehicle of employment.

Still with me at the table, Bob Franken, Joy Reid, Wade Henderson and
Maya Wiley.

Maya, those were the statics you just talking about.


HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve got transportation money. We don`t have to put
them into highways. We can put them into public transportation.

WILEY: Yes, this is a critically important point. Wade mentioned the
reauthorization of transportation funding, and the best thing about that
bill is it is 27 months long because it`s really not a very good bill. In
fact, the Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles, other community-based groups,
where communities of color very disproportionately dependent on public
transit -- we haven`t said a little bit more about those numbers. We have
one in nine black people in this country dependent on public transit.
That`s nine -- that`s four million people. That`s 52 football stadiums
worth of people.


WILEY: 27 percent of the jobs in the 100 biggest metropolitan areas
in this country are actually not accessible.


Yes, yes, yes. 27 percent of working adults are without access. We
know that -- these are the top-five places where it`s worse. We can look
at the areas: Augusta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; Knoxville, Tennessee;
Greenville, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee. And it seems to be
part of what`s important about that is those are southern spaces, right,
that are growing in population. We are not in Detroit and building those
kinds of things anymore. We are coming to the south. And then you have
this transportation --


WILEY: Melissa, the thing that is so important, particularly about
your point about the south, one of the things -- it`s state law, too. So
30 states in the nation do not allow state tax -- state gas taxes, state
gas revenue to go to public transit. To draw down on federal
transportation dollars for state and local projects, you have to have a 20
percent match. Most cash-strapped states are not able to draw down their
match and local communities are not allowed to collect it based on gas

HENDERSON: Bob mentioned the power. Bob mentioned the power. The
highway lobby. I don`t think we should underestimate that.


HENDERSON: I think what we saw in this most recent reauthorization
was the power of that lobby asserting itself again. The construction
industry recognizing that infrastructure in an important part of the
Highway Bill and that jobs and construction are really important. I don`t
begrudge that. I think the issue however is that if you paint this as an
issue that benefits minorities, more or less exclusively, and fail to
acknowledge the other --


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s for everybody.

HENDERSON: Exactly. We`re dead. So I would only remind people --
and I think Maya is right. This is a 27-month bill. We have learned a lot
from how to move Congress on these issues. I remind you of the words of A.
Phillip Randolph, a great labor leader who was one of the founders of my
organization, look, there are no free seats, guys, at the table of life.
You get what you can take.


HENDERSON: You keep what you can hold and you can`t take it and you
can`t hold it unless you`re organized. And that`s what this lesson is all

FRANKEN: Here`s what is so interesting with what Maya was saying.
The rationale for denying the use of highway gasoline taxes, for anything
but constructing highways, is that, well, it`s created by the use of
highways, therefore, it should go back to that, which is comparable to
saying that the alcohol tax should only go back --



HARRIS-PERRY: Right. More liquor.


FRANKEN: That is the kind of distortion that has been successful.


REID: I`m sorry. I think we`re leading off the responsibility of the
governors here. We`re talking a lot about Congress, but you have several
governors, including in Florida, in New Jersey and others, who are
resisting the idea of building rail, resisting the idea of using money --


HARRIS-PERRY: Hash tag, FBJ, "Forget Bobby Jindal." I am just sick
of it.

REID: This is a huge issue.


I know, in Florida, rail would be hugely important. There are major
pockets of urban communities, of rural populations -- this is not a racial
issue -- who have no access to jobs, where jobs are because they don`t have
things like rail.


REID: And governors are saying, no, we don`t want that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Look, part of my railing -- my railing --


-- against Governor Jindal is, in part, as Bob was saying, yes, it`s
jobs and, yes, it`s access and equity, but it`s also -- we live in a place
where hurricanes sometimes show up. And they show up for communities that
don`t have access to private vehicles perhaps --


HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. So we got -- we`ve got to be able to
have reasonable ways also of talking about safety, public safety,

WILEY: I wanted to connect Wade`s point, which was so important,
about this is not just an issue for certain communities, it`s really about
everyone, with Bob`s point about history. The 30 states that I mentioned,
a number of those states passed those laws in the `50s in reaction --



WILEY: -- to efforts to desegregate. So when talk about how we
create jobs for everyone in this nation, race becomes still one of the
central factors that holds us back from creating jobs and helping everybody
get access to those jobs where they --


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s the story like the Montgomery bus because, you
think to yourself, what is the great Montgomery bus system now? The answer
is, once they had to integrate, they just disinvested.

FRANKEN: Right. Right. Here`s an idea. OK, Texas, the issue is
voting rights and getting proper I.D. And one of the issues is people who
can`t get to the I.D. are two counties away.



FRANKEN: Build a mass transit system that operates between where they
are and the voting registration line is. Solving the problem --


HARRIS-PERRY: I love it. I love it. Rick Perry, we need some light
rail to get people to their voter I.D. places.



HARRIS-PERRY: More, actually a bit on this topic in a moment, but,
first, it`s time for a preview of "Weekend with Alex Witt".

Hi, Alex.

ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST: Hello, Melissa.

Let`s get you updated. We`re going to have the latest on two
Americans kidnapped from their tour bus. They are being held in exchange
for a prisoner and now a swap may be in the works. We`ll get you updated
on that.

Plus, a new turn in Florida`s voter I.D. fight. It`s kind of an echo
of what`s going on there. The state is about to get some high-powered help
to check voter citizenship.

Also, where the Mormon Church spent its business. It`s good business.
Is it God`s business? That`s the question.

And coming up in "Office Politics, look at that. We`re going to show
the rest of our substantive interview with you, Melissa Harris-Perry.
We`re going to get your thoughts on how Mitt Romney did at the NAACP this
past week. I want to know, did you watch yourself on that link I sent you?

HARRIS-PERRY: I didn`t. I never watch myself --


WITT: You don`t want to?

HARRIS-PERRY: I never even watched the show. But every time you show
that, I`m looking around my office like, oh, why didn`t we clean up first?


WITT: It`s all good. All good.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Alex.


HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, we`re all going on a road trip.



HARRIS-PERRY: For today`s "Footnote," I`m reminiscing on a great
American summer tradition. Can you remember your favorite family road
trip? Did you play the license plate game or annoy your sister when your
mom wasn`t looking? Did you stop at a favorite roadside diner? Now, as
you passed famous landmark, did you ever sing this song at the top of your




HARRIS-PERRY: OK, I admit it, I sang it. I`m a bit of a nerd. But
these are the lyrics by American folk singer, Woody Guthrie, who was born
100 years ago this weekend. His music combined social critique and human
rights commentary and working class Americana. By declaring land belonged
to all of us, Guthrie was saying what should be true, not actually what was
true in the 1940s when he wrote those words.

In fact, this land was so restricted that when some American families
set out on summer road trips, they needed a guide to where they could stop
and eat and even relieve themselves without fear of violence. This need
inspired Harlem postal worker, Victor Green, to create "The Negro
Motorist`s Green Book." Published from 1936 to 1964, the Green Book
offered a state-by-state guide of listed businesses that served black
patrons, and indicated communities where it was safe for black road
trippers to stop for everything from gas to lunch to an overnight stay.

This week, Dr. Ansinga Burton (ph) explored the history of "The Negro
Motorist Green Book," for an article for

Now, I was born after the great legislative accomplishments of the
civil rights movement. But the racial restrictions of our country left a
residue over how I was taught to travel. Pack a meal, because there may be
no safe place to stop and eat. Traveling south, plan your trip so you
don`t have to be in Mississippi at night. Going west to Chicago, take a
Pennsylvania route so you don`t have to go through West Virginia. Never
get gas at a local station with a name you don`t recognize, and never get
off at an unmarked exit, even with a flat tire. You see, these are the
lessons so many black travelers were taught by our parents and grandparents
who needed Green`s guide book to safely navigate their own country on roads
their own taxes helped to build in cars often built by their own hands.

This history is part of what made me fall in love with the optics of
the first 2008 "Obama for America" campaign. You see, it is continuing to
inspire me the past four years. Watching, first, candidate and then
President Obama travel to Oregon and Iowa, Louisiana, Utah, West Virginia.
It was actually really powerful to watch him in his black body enter into
places where so many black Americans have long felt like trespassers
instead of citizens.

Honestly, it makes me hopeful that Guthrie has it right. This land is
your land and it is my land. It is the land that was made for you and me.
And it is still fun to pull your sister`s hair in the back seat.

That is our show for today. Thank you to Bob Franken, Joy Reid, Wade
Henderson and Maya Wiley. And thanks to you at home for watching. I will
see you next Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Our guest next week will be
model and activist, Alec Weck.

Coming up, "Weekends with Alex Witt."


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