'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, July 27, 2012
Read the transcript to the Friday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Josh Rogin, Marquez Claxton
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, GUEST HOST: Thank you, you too.
And also, thanks to all of you at home for staying with us for the
Four years ago this week, presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama
was wrapping up a worldwide tour through Europe and the Middle East,
designed to amp up his foreign policy credentials. Here`s what that looked
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HARRIS-PERRY: As many as 200,000 people crowded their way into
Berlin`s Tear Garden Park to hear Senator Obama`s vision for the world in
July of 2008 and to cheer. And cheer, and cheer some more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The greatest danger of all
is to allow new walls to divide us from one another, the walls between old
allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the
countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls
between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims
and Jews cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Senator Obama was greeted abroad like a political rock
star. And not just by his tens of thousands of adoring fans. As Frank
Rich put it at the time, Senator Obama was treated like a, quote,
"president in waiting by foreign heads of state and the media, too."
Four years later, it`s election season again and there`s a new
candidate out to prove his foreign policy bona fides. And this week, it`s
Mitt Romney`s turn to tour the world and try to look presidential.
So Mr. Romney, you might have heard, is not having the same kind of
foreign policy trip that Barack Obama had four years ago.
Yesterday`s headlines were dominated with fallout from Mr. Romney`s
gaffe-filled first day abroad, including his total diss of London`s Olympic
hosting abilities. And today`s were all about his embarrassing walk back
of said gaffes.
Back here at home, the dynamic duo of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
and Virginia Governor Bob "ultrasound" McDonnell set about to try to turn
Mr. Romney`s bad press in Europe into good politics in America.
Governor Jindal telling a conference call today, quote, "We`re not
worried about overseas headlines, we`re worried about voters back here in
So, Governor Jindal making the calculation that Americans don`t care
about headlines in foreign papers. Look, he`s probably right. Americans
certainly are not basing their vote on British editorializing, but it seems
to me that we can learn a lot about a candidate by how they interact on the
Senator Obama`s world tour in 2008 as a presidential candidate wasn`t
just about how the kids loved him so bad in Berlin. He also visited Iraq,
where he met with the prime minister and top U.S. military commanders in
Baghdad. And he went to Afghanistan where he met with American NATO troops
and with Afghan President Karzai, and called for more troops, more focus on
the war in Afghanistan.
Now, for those of you keeping track at home, this is what President
George W. Bush`s exit from the international stage looked like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So what if the guy threw a
shoe at me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That happened during George W. Bush`s final trip to the
two war zones he led America into as president.
Make no mistake: I certainly do not condone shoe throwing or any other
kind of attempted assault or disrespect of a world leader for that matter.
But the shoe throwing incident was sort of emblematic of Bush era foreign
policy. George W. Bush did not play well with others on the international
stage. And by the time he left office, his foreign policy agenda was
deeply unpopular both overseas and at home.
And that`s where Mitt Romney`s foray into foreign policy leadership
comes in. With the modern disasters of his debut behind him, Mr. Romney
granted an interview with an Israeli newspaper ahead of his upcoming visit
there. The newspaper, incidentally, is part owned by billionaire
Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, so there`s that.
But what`s really important about the interview is that Mitt Romney,
what Mitt Romney had to say about foreign policy. When asked for his
thoughts on the U.S. response to the Arab Spring, here`s what Mr. Romney
had to say: quote, "The Arab Spring is not appropriately named. It has
become a development of more concern and it occurred in part because of the
reluctance in part of various dictators to provide more freedom to their
President George W. Bush urged deposed Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak to move toward a more democratic posture. But President Obama
abandoned the freedom agenda and we`re seeing a whirlwind of tumult in the
Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that
could have changed the course of their history in a more peaceful manner.
So to be clear: Mitt Romney is arguing in favor of the George W. Bush
foreign policy plan. He`s saying the Middle East is all messed up because
President Obama abandoned President Bush`s freedom agenda?
You see, in other words, day two of Romney`s foreign tour involved
telling a foreign newspaper owned by a right wing American billionaire
donor that he wants to get back to Bush-era foreign policy. He thinks
George W. Bush was doing it right.
And that`s where he wants to take the country and the world, back to
the George W. Bush way of doing things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The fact is simply this: that being the president of
the United States is not just a domestic management position that the
Romney campaign might wish it were. The president of the United States is
in fact important to the rest of the world.
In fact, for citizens in many countries, he may have more direct life
or death decision-making power over them than he does over Americans,
because he`s less fettered by Congress and federalism as his role in
commander in chief. And that means the world tour of an American candidate
for president is not just a beauty pageant. Very well might not matter in
terms of the vote count back home in November, but a president or
presidential candidate`s presence overseas is substantive.
And Mitt Romney`s decision to embrace the George W. Bush version of
American foreign policy might give America watchers pause. Not to mention
how it makes the American public feel.
Joining us now, Josh Rogin, who covers national security issues for
"Foreign Policy" magazine and writes their blog, "The Cable." His latest
article previews Mitt Romney`s upcoming remarks in Poland and detail`s the
campaign`s attacks on President Obama`s foreign policy.
Thanks for being here tonight, Josh.
JOSH ROGIN, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: Thanks so much for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, Mitt Romney has said the Obama
administration abandoned President Bush`s freedom agenda and the results
are these Islamist governments taking over after the Arab spring. I`m
sorry, has Romney said how he is going to implement this so-called freedom
ROGIN: Well, no. And there`s not a lot of substance behind the
criticisms, something that not only Democrats, but Republicans this week
have been pointing out. As Romney goes on the trip, everyone wonders, why
are all of the stories about his gaffes and missteps? Because the Romney
campaign hasn`t decided to put a very proactive, substantive, meaty policy
agenda for his foreign trip on the table, there aren`t a lot of specifics.
And that`s by design. You can argue whether or not that`s good or bad.
Now, as it regards to the Arab Spring, this is a problem that has
vexed the Republican Party since the get-go. On the one hand, they want to
be supportive of freedom and democracy and popular sovereignty and all of
these things. On the other hand, unlike previous revolutions, these are
Islamists and they don`t like America, and their ascendance means very
complicated things for American foreign policy that the Romney campaign
hasn`t even begun to get into.
So, bottom line is he`s trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He
wants to say that there`s a freedom agenda, that he`s going to promote, but
he doesn`t have a lot of specifics on what to do to implement that and he
doesn`t want to expend the blood and treasure that the Bush administration
expended in order to try to change the Arab world.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this core issue of what he`s calling the freedom
agenda -- I mean, if we were to take that, not at this sort of discursive
level but what is really supposed to mean, a freedom agenda, then these
were in fact free democratic elections in which the Islamists were chosen?
ROGIN: Right. So, do we support freedom when it means negative
things for U.S. interests? That`s a legitimate question that the
Republican Party is grappling with. I mean, on the one side, you have guys
like John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. They`re totally for
the Bush administration freedom agenda.
Let`s take Syria, for example. They want to bomb today. That`s their
stated public position. That`s putting your money where your mouth is,
Then you have another section of the Republican Party that says, no,
no, the public is war weary. There`s no way we`re going to go into another
entanglement in the Middle East. So, we support the freedom agenda, but
we`re not actually going to sacrifice American blood and treasure to make
Mitt Romney is trying to straddle the fence. He`s trying to have it
both ways. He doesn`t see a reason to alienate the hawks party or the
isolationist in the party. And he`s not being forced to really specify
what implementation the agenda means.
As we get closer and closer to the election, my hope, my belief is
he`s going to be compelled to tell us what he`s thinking, what he would do
if he were elected.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask you about the politics of this, because,
you know, this foreign policy question, particularly vis-a-vis George W.
Bush`s foreign policy, has really been a sweet spot for President Obama
politically. Obviously, part of how he beat Hillary Clinton in the
primaries is by being the candidate who was initially against George W.
Bush`s foreign policy, so-called dumb wars.
And obviously, his -- the death of Osama bin Laden under his
leadership is a key foreign policy element for him.
So now we`re hearing a Romney adviser that you quote saying that
President Obama doesn`t get it, he`s been a disappointment to our heritage,
that President Obama has a different vision of where America comes from.
Is that just politics or is there something more insidious in that
ROGIN: Right, right. So, there are legitimate criticisms that could
be made about the Obama administration`s tactics and actions and statements
on human rights, but that`s not what the Romney campaign is going for.
They`re not going for a nuanced discussion of America`s role on the
promotion of all of these values. They`re just going for a general, broad
theme that Obama doesn`t believe in American exceptionalism, that he
doesn`t believe that America should be outwardly and forwardly leading on
world affairs. That`s of course not true, but that`s the narrative that
they built. And it feeds into their overall campaign theme.
Again, this is not aimed at foreign policy professionals. It`s not
aimed to academics. It`s aimed at people who will think about foreign
policy in the election to a certain extent and to the extent they think
about it, the Romney campaign wants them to know that Romney`s stronger.
He`s more for our allies and he`s less willing to negotiate with our
And that`s about as team as they have gotten right now. That`s a very
calculated decision. We`ll have to see how that plays out.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, one last question for you. Is it possible that
Romney is purposely behaving badly overseas so that Jindal and others can
sort of -- you know, that it`s a dog whistle. You know what? I`m just
like all of you normal, regular Joe six-pack Americans who also would have
no idea how to behave overseas -- because obviously this is a cosmopolitan
He spent time on his mission overseas. He`s traveled overseas,
extensively. He apparently has bank accounts overseas. Like he knows how
Is he purposely making these gaffes?
ROGIN: I can`t believe that he`s intentionally driving the news
stories that hurt him while he`s on his overseas trip. Now, Romney is a
very experienced guy in certain things and he`s been around the world. But
he has been known to make gaffes, not just on foreign policy but a lot of
This is just the week we happened to be focused on foreign policy, so
the gaffes happen to be in the British press and Israeli press.
But no, this is not a plan by Romney. It`s not that clever. He`s
simply just making mistakes and getting nailed for it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, by the way, embracing George W. Bush`s foreign
policy. Thanks, Josh of "Foreign Policy" magazine. I appreciate you
spending time with us tonight.
ROGIN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: All those different voting blocs who banded together to
elect President Obama in `08, it`s for your class reunion time, and
President Obama is leading the pep club. That`s next.
And later, the best new thing in the world is so impossibly cute that
it`s just wrong.
HARRIS-PERRY: The Internet is the greatest time waster of all time.
Today, the greatest time waster of all time`s greatest time waster is
elevated to the best new thing in the world. It`s also heroic, dramatic
and impossibly adorable. And if I really work with your political
metaphor, I`ll work on it. Stay tuned.
HARRIS-PERRY: The dirty little secret about politics, the dirty
little secret about politics and elections specifically, is that as much as
we might like to think that elections are all about policy, as much as we
like to think that elections come down to a battle over which side has the
best solutions for the best problems and the worst problems that we face as
a country, really, what elections come down to from high school student
counsel all the way up to president of the United States, is turn out. How
many of your friends come out to vote versus how many of the other guy`s
friends come out. It`s all about turnout. And turnout is all about
At this point in 2008, four months before the presidential election,
here`s what enthusiasm looked like. Democrats held a 26-point edge, 61
percent of Democrats said they were enthusiastic, more than usual about
voting, and vote they did in huge numbers.
And this time around, here`s what the numbers look like. It`s
completely flipped. In the space of just four years, right now,
Republicans who hold the enthusiasm advantage. Just 39 percent of
Democrats say they`re enthusiastic to get out and vote.
And if you`re President Obama, that`s a real problem. There are now
signs that the president recognizes that`s a problem and is actively trying
to do something about it.
Over the course of the last three months, quietly but consistently, he
has been reaching out to key Democratic constituencies. And not just with
personal appearances or generic calls to get engaged, but rather with
concrete outreach on matters of policy. It started back in May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: At a certain point, I just concluded that for me personally,
it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples
should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: After President Obama came out in favor of same-sex
marriage, his fund-raising numbers went through the roof. According to
NPR, the president`s campaign committee, quote, "experienced a nearly
three-fold increase in donations over the 72 hours following his
The very next month, President Obama did it again. He began reaching
out to another group he`s going to rely heavily on come November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not
present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to
request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work
Now, let`s be clear. This is not amnesty. This is not immunity.
This is not a path to citizenship. It`s not a permanent fix. This is a
temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while
giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Heck, as you can hear, even the birds living in
Washington, D.C. were enthusiastic about that one. I mean, with
immigration reform hopelessly stalled in Congress, President Obama
announced his own set of actions to prevent undocumented young people, the
so-called dreamers from being deported.
While this affected all undocumented youth, it resonates most with
Hispanic communities who are targeted by the "papers please" profiling
laws. That and similar actions like it have helped give President Obama a
44-point lead over Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters.
And now, this month -- President Obama is reaching out to yet another
part of the Democratic base. Earlier this week, the president appeared at
the annual convention of the national urban league in New Orleans. In his
speech there, he announced a new initiative aimed directly at the African-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have made it our mission to make a higher education more
affordable for every American who wants to go to school. That`s why
tomorrow I`m establishing the first ever White House initiative on
educational excellence for African-Americans, so that every child, so that
every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from
the time they`re born all through the time they get a career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yesterday at the White House, with our very own
Reverend Al Sharpton at his side, President Obama signed an executive order
establishing the White House initiative on educational excellence for
African-Americans. It`s an initiative designed to give African-American
children better access to quality education, improve their education
outcomes, reduce the dropout rate, close the achievement gap that exists
between African Americans school children and white school children.
I know what you`re thinking. Kids can`t vote. What does this have to
do with rallying the base?
That`s true. Kids in school can`t actually vote. But you know who
can? African-American teachers and African-American parents.
Among the things that the new program aims to do is to improve the
recruitment and retention of African-American teachers and principals.
Teachers vote. And also decrease the disproportionate number of African-
American students who are being referred for special education.
Parents hate having their sons or daughters put out of school or
labeling them special needs. This sort of initiative has those parents in
mind. Parents vote.
This is President Obama speaking directly to his base, and not just
giving them lip service, but trying to make their lives better in some
If elections are about turnout and turnout is about enthusiasm,
President Obama seems to be going right down the line in terms of the group
that he needs to be most fired up come November.
Joining us is the former chairman of the Democratic Party, the former
governor of Pennsylvania who is NBC News political analyst, Ed Rendell.
Governor, thanks for being here.
ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we look at it that way, sort of the marriage
equality announcement in May, and then the soft DREAM Act in June, and now
the African-American education initiative -- how does a president take
these sorts of pieces and turn them into actual politics? How do you take
the policy and turn it into politics for the base for November?
RENDELL: I think these are all good initiatives. And I think the
most impactful was the immigration announcement. I think that added a
dramatic effect in not only widening the gap between he and Governor Romney
but certainly widening that enthusiasm gap.
But what the Obama for America forces have to do is make sure that
there`s registration, number one, there`s still plenty, as many new
registrations as were added in 2008, plenty new ones to be added between
now and the beginning of October.
Secondly, they`ve got to make sure that the turnout mechanisms are
Thirdly, the president has to spend some time going into the base in
the campaign and stoking the base, because nothing does it better than
people actually seeing and touching the president.
And then thirdly, have to do something about in key states the voter
ID laws. Assume for the moment that the voter ID laws are not going to be
thrown out by the court. The OFA people and the state committees and the
city committees, all of them have to be finding those voters without photo
ID and making sure they get the motor vehicle places and have the proper
identification and get their photos because that could be crucial. In
Pennsylvania, 9 percent of the electorate doesn`t have photo ID. My guess
is 80 percent to 85 percent of those 9 percent are Democratic Obama voters.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so this is such a key element of 2012. It`s not
just the president`s campaign doing the work of rallying that base, but
also making sure they have fair access to the polls. You know, I also want
wanted to ask, Governor Rendell, because it feels like part of what
happened here, you said earlier he opens up the distance between himself
and Mr. Romney. I was actually struck by the reaction of the right to the
education initiative. Like I`m thinking, who can be against an education
But we saw that rather than applauding the efforts, a gentleman named
Roger Clegg with the Center for Equal Opportunity actually went straight to
attacking African-American single moms, saying that they`re to blame for
the racial disparities in educational outcomes and saying, yes, the
president wants to do the work of making structural change, but really,
this is just the fault of unmarried parents.
Does this even just in saying this kind of help demonstrate how
different these candidates are?
RENDELL: Sure, and you know, in politics we have a saying that hate
is more important at turning out voters than love. And a statement like
that is so stupid, and some of the things that the far right have done have
been so stupid that that in and of itself helps to turn out the base. Take
Arab Americans and Michigan, as you know, of the battleground states,
Michigan is one of the big states where Governor Romney`s within striking
distance. And yet it`s got a very big Arab American population.
Michele Bachmann is worth tons in terms of not only persuading Arab
Americans there`s no place for them in the Republican Party but making sure
they`re angry enough to get out and vote.
So, the president is doing well on his own. OFA has to make sure that
the boots on the ground take advantage of what the president is doing, but
people like the guy you cited and Michele Bachmann -- they are helping us
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely. I`m wondering about one more thing,
that is even as the president is sort of making this overture, I think, in
part to parents and to teachers around this education initiative.
The other thing is he`s awfully good with kids, like just the visual,
the optics of running for president. And I`m remembering and thinking
about Mitt Romney`s attempt to do education right there in Pennsylvania in
his trip to a Philadelphia charter school, right, where he basically got
booed out of the school.
What do you make of in part, just the optics of the ability to Mitt
Romney to reach out to the groups that President Obama is now shoring up as
RENDELL: It`s difficult, and Mitt Romney bears the burden of having,
you know, people like the gentleman you cited making stupid statements like
that. He bears that burden, and to some extent, it`s unfair, but to some
extent, it`s the path they have chosen.
So, he`s got an uphill fight. What Mitt Romney has to do, though, is
booed or not, he`s still got to go into African-American areas, go into
Hispanic area, to show them he has a degree of caring, that it`s not a
disaster if he wins, that they`ll have someone who at least will
communicate with them. That can tamp down turnout in itself. It`s why I
think Mitt Romney went to the NAACP. I know there was a lot of feeling he
went just to get booed.
But I think he`s got at least stay in contact with parts of the
Democratic base because by having that contact, maybe he can tamp down
their desperation and make a few of them say, well, you know, he`s not that
bad a guy. So why am I going to get out to vote?
But right now, it looks like notwithstanding the polls, if I had to
bet, I think it`s going to be a terrific turn out of the Democratic base.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, classic politics 101: make your friends and also
make your enemies very clear.
Governor Ed Rendell, NBC News political analyst and former chairman of
the Democratic Party -- thanks for your time.
RENDELL: Have a good night.
Now, there are some hot button political issues that actually don`t
divide the country along political or ideological lines. The latest one is
a question of civil rights, and it found its way to the country`s most
progressive big city. That story is coming up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Barring unforeseen gaffes, scandals, quotes, "taken out
of context" or releases of tax returns, the next really big event in the
2012 campaign will be Mitt Romney announcing his running mate. And that
announcement will show up the most underrated event of the campaign season,
the vice presidential debate -- Vice President Biden versus a Republican to
be named soon.
If past is prologue, expect the debate to be memorable. Remember,
you`re no Jack Kennedy? Vice presidential debate.
Remember, who am I and what am I doing here? Vice presidential
Remember, Senator Biden?
The truly unforgettable debates are often vice presidential. But my
all-time favorite vice presidential moment is more of a deep cut, one less
celebrated or remembered. It was 2004 when Vice President Cheney and pre-
sleazy John Edwards faced off, and Gwen Ifill was the moderator.
And what Gwen Ifill stumped both men with a question that was not
meant to be a stumper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWEN IFILL, MODERATOR: I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not
about AIDS in China or Africa but AIDS right here in this country, where
black women between the age of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of
the disease than their counterparts. What should the government`s role be
in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Here in the United States,
we made significant progress. I have not heard those numbers with respect
to African-American women. I was not aware that it was that severe an
epidemic there, because we have made progress in terms of the overall rate
of AIDS infection.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The AIDS
epidemic in Africa which is killing millions and millions of people and is
a frightening thing, not just for the people of Africa, but also for the
rest of the world. That combined with the genocide that we`re now seeing
in Sudan, are two huge moral issues for the United States of America, which
John Kerry spoke about eloquently last Thursday night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: In fairness, both men did say things like we need to do
more about the problem. And Vice President Cheney had the courage to admit
he hadn`t heard the shocking statistic about AIDS in African-American
women. John Edwards was in full scramble mode. The AIDS crisis in Africa
was specifically not the question.
It`s an amazing thing about the AIDS crisis. It`s still going on. It
is still an American crisis. And where exactly in America it is a crisis
may shock you. That story is coming up.
HARRIS-PERRY: One week after the horrifying mass shooting in Aurora,
Colorado, we have seen a few calls for new restrictions on guns. A handful
of Democrats in the House are calling for a ban on outsized magazines --
more bullet control than gun control. Half a dozen Democrats in Senate are
pushing a similar measure for bullet control.
At a speech in New Orleans, President Obama mentioned gun control and
just mentioning it counted as a landmark moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national
heritage, but I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-
47s agree in the hands of soldiers not in the hands of criminals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Even if we can all agree on that idea in the abstract,
when it comes to policy, we can expect no new restrictions on guns or
bullets anytime soon.
But, hey, h a response to the massacre in Aurora a real could happen
actual policy put forward by a Democrat in the liberal Valhalla otherwise
known city of San Francisco. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had already been
calling for police to start a stop-and-frisk program. This week, he
decided he really, really wanted it -- now more than ever.
Mayor Lee telling reporters, quote, "I am as if not more committed and
especially in light of the massacre that occurred in Aurora."
If you`re not familiar with stop-and-frisk, it`s a good chance you
have never been stopped and frisked. It`s a policing technique where
officers pull up to whoever they choose and demand answers about why you`re
standing there and what`s in your pocket and so on.
One minute, you`re minding your own business and the next, the police
have you up against a wall. In theory, police are looking for guns and
drugs. In practice, stop-and-frisk is confrontational, almost by nature.
And because when it comes to police deciding who to confront, the burden of
being stop-and-risk tends to fall heavily on African-American and Latino
men. For them being called to account by armed police officers is an
ordinary part of going to school, to the store, or the park, or their
The numbers on this are astounding. In New York City, in the first
three months of the year, police stopped 200,000 people. Just over half
were black. A third were Latino. Only 9 percent were white. This, this
is what racial profiling looks like.
And with so many men of color having been searched, New York is now
the subject of a federal class action suit. A judge in the case said
police should never stop people without reasonable suspicion. She cited
the city`s, quote, "deeply troubling apathy toward New Yorker`s most
fundamental constitutional rights."
Last week, the city of Philadelphia reached an agreement about their
stop-and-frisk plan with fines and new court-appointed monitor. That
settlement could provide a model for eventual ruling about New York.
Meanwhile, the stopping and frisking keeps on. The rapper Jasiri X
and comedian Elon James White just wrote the 10-frisk amendment, advise to
live by in the current era of stop and frisk. Don`t carry a gun, they say,
don`t try to run, and then there`s this part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAPPER: Number ten, strong word called the Constitution, or does it
apply to only white men, as being black and brown probable cause hell no,
so why are we getting stopped rain, sleet, hail snow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. San Francisco`s Mayor Lee first proposed
bringing stop and frisk to his city last month. Since then, protesters
have turned out at city hall, calling out San Francisco`s first Chinese-
American mayor for pushing a policy that falls along racial lines.
The city`s board of supervisors then passed a unanimous resolution
against a New York-style program of stop and frisk. But that is exactly
what San Francisco`s mayor says he wants. And he wants it even more after
the mass shooting in Aurora, saying he is, if anything, more committed.
And not just after the massacre in aurora, but quote, "also the review of
what is happening in New York and Philadelphia" -- even though those
reviews have not gone so well.
Why is it that progressives will tip-toe only timidly in the direction
of gun control but they`re willing to throw black and Latino men against
the wall? This is not just any city we`re talking about. This is San
Francisco, for Pete`s sake.
There`s hardly a more blue locality in the planet. San Francisco is
so liberal you can`t get a plastic bag at the grocery store. They spent a
long time last year trying to decide under what conditions you can eat butt
naked in a restaurant. Sit on your napkin, that`s now the rule.
And yet the mayor of the same super blue, paper not plastic, dining
Fresco Fresco ultra liberal San Francisco is ready to start with the stop
If San Francisco will not stand up against stop and frisk, who will?
Joining us now is Marquez Claxton, director of the black law
enforcement alliance, also a former detective with the NYPD.
Mark, it`s really good to have you with us tonight.
MARQUEZ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE : Thanks for having
me on, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Mark, I`m interested because it feels like there`s
a real challenge here when you live particularly in communities of color.
Many of the communities in which we live are deeply impacted by violence on
the streets. We would like violence to stop.
On the other hand, we are citizens, we are -- people living in these
communities, we don`t want to have our civil rights violated. How do we
make a balance on that issue?
CLAXTON: Well, first off, let me just add an extra piece of data to
the information you supplied earlier in regards to the NYPD stops. In all
of the numbers you gave, 90 percent of the individuals who were stopped
were innocent, had committed no crime, no violation of law, et cetera.
What we have to really understand and be committed to is protecting
and defending those rights that people have lived and died for. And that
are ingrained in the Constitution and supported by Supreme Court decisions
such as Terry versus Ohio decision which deals specifically with the police
officers` ability and obligation to stop certain individuals who are
suspected of criminal conduct and based on reasonable suspicion.
We can`t allow police departments and police agencies across the
nation to dance away from that responsibility. Reasonable suspicion is
easy for a professional police officer and a professional police
HARRIS-PERRY: I think this is such a critically important point that
90 percent of those who were stopped were actually innocent of whatever it
was they were stopped for doing. And yet --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that is, and the idea that then another locality,
particularly one as liberal as San Francisco would say, oh, this looks like
an appropriate policy.
CLAXTON: Yes, well, I can assure you that Mayor Lee probably spoke to
Mayor Bloomberg in New York and they had their one-on-one conversation
without a real com comprehensive analytical approach to this. It`s
especially troubling giving Mayor Lee`s past and civil rights involvement.
Here we have a civil rights attorney who is actually considering a
policy that has been established, proven, shown by NYPD`s own documents and
data to be race-based and motivated. And it`s not effective.
I will argue with anyone about whether or not stop-and-frisk has any
relationship in getting guns off the street. It does not. It pads the
numbers for police departments.
Police officers already have the ability to stop individuals who are
suspected of criminal conduct or have engaged in criminal conduct as long
as it`s based on reasonable suspicion. Professional police officers have
been doing that for eons. There`s no need to circumvent or short change a
professional police officer`s responsibilities. It`s a mistake for any
municipality to even consider this kind of operation, if you will, stop and
We have the authority as police officers to stop criminals as it is
and we need to implement new strategies and new ideas.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Mark, talk to me about the new ideas, because I
have heard you say a couple of times here, professional police officers,
which sounds to me like there`s an aspect of policing you think that we are
actually missing when we encourage police officers to do this kind of stop
and frisk policy?
CLAXTON: You know, for years, there has been a struggle by many
police departments and police agencies across the nation to professionalize
their police department, to implement additional training, to have
knowledge-based programming and training and functions, et cetera -- those
things that make your department professional.
Listen, anyone can go out and say, go stop 20 people on a corner and
hopefully we`ll come up with something. It`s really a matter of fishing,
you know, when you throw the wide net out and pull it in and hopefully some
of the fish you want to keep will be in it. It takes a professional police
officer with the ability and the training and the knowledge and
understanding the Constitution and those things that restrict -- you know,
those things we can do as professional police officers, it takes a
professional to really apply the law effectively and still be effective in
We can`t allow police agencies, police departments regardless of their
intentions, I`m sure that Mayor Lee is as concerned as many areas of the
country are concerned about the level, the escalating level of violence.
But you can`t infringe upon people`s constitutional rights and to stop and
frisk program, whatever ridiculous thing that is, does exactly that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marquez Claxton, I always appreciate your perspective,
particularly given all of your years on the force. Marquez Claxton, the
director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance and also a former detective with
the NYPD -- I appreciate you joining me tonight.
CLAXTON: Thank you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Washington, D.C. is the nation`s capital in more ways
than one. I`ll explain what I mean, just ahead.
HARRIS-PERRY: A curiously fuzzy and proudly earth sign best new thing
in the world is getting ever closer. If there were an Olympics of
impossible cuteness, this would be the opening ceremony. Stay tuned.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good news/bad news. Here`s the good news first: For
the first time in more than 20 years, the United States is hosting an
International AIDS Conference. It`s called AIDS 2012.
And this week, it brought more than 20,000 people to Washington, D.C.
Speakers included Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human
services, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former First Lady Laura Bush,
and Elton John.
The International AIDS Conference brought together doctors and
activists and researchers and politicians and people living with HIV, just
about anyone and everyone you could imagine who wants to make real what
Hillary Clinton called an AIDS-free generation.
But wait. That, that`s not the good news. The good news is not just
that the conference was held but that it was held here. That it could be
held here in the United States.
See, that has not been true since 1987. A quarter century ago when
Jesse Helms got congress to make it so that no one with HIV or AIDS could
travel to the United States. Like at all. Not for business or vacation or
conferences about AIDS. And, of course, because it was Jesse Helms, the
travelling ban wasn`t based on science or evidence or health policy or even
partisan politics, only fear. Well done, Jesse Helms.
It would be a shame for you to be remembered only as the guy who
fought against civil rights with every fiber of his being. The prejudicial
fact-free ban on people with HIV lived for 22 very long years until
President Obama ended.
Toward the end of his first year in office when he was signing the
extension of the Ryan White Care Act to provide funding for AIDS treatment,
the president said that he was lifting the ban by executive order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than
fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country
for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of
this disease, yet we`ve treat aid visitor living with it as a threat. If
we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like
And that`s why on Monday, my administration will publish a final rule
that eliminates the travel ban.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So that`s the good news. The United States can now
host a conference about a global health problem because we no longer
discriminate against people with that global health problem. Yay!
The bad news in the bad news is that not only can we host the AIDS
conference in Washington, D.C., it also makes a lot of sense for us to host
the AIDS conference in Washington, D.C. Right now, the United States has
focused its AIDS funding on 15 foreign countries, countries in crisis where
AIDS is rampant and the rate of new infection is out of control.
Fifteen countries, Washington, D.C.`s HIV rate is higher than five of
those countries that we`ve decided are in crisis. At the conference this
week, there was lots to report on in terms of new drugs and treatment
procedures and effective policies. The phrase you kept hearing was turning
point. This is a turning point in the AIDS epidemic, a turning point in
people not dying from it.
Let`s hope that`s all true for the sake of those countries struggling
with HIV and AIDS -- Swaziland, Cambodia, Russia, Malawi, the United
HARRIS-PERRY: The best new thing in the world today is a story about
three bear cubs. No, not those famous friends of Goldilocks. This is
about three different bears. Bears trapped in a garbage dumpster in a
small town in New Mexico. The cubs have been trapped in the dumpster all
night and their mother was hovering nearby. So a pair of human neighbors
came to the rescue, doing something simple -- ingenious, probably
dangerous, probably exactly the kind of thing wildlife control authorities
would recommend the rest of us not do.
The man at the wheel of the pickup truck backs neatly up to the
dumpster and his wife in the back quickly lowers a ladder down inside.
Then they drive away to watch from a safe distance.
Remember, that the mama bear is hovering and as Sarah Palin likes to
remind us, you do not want to get between a mama bear and her cubs. Of
course, the little cuties pop right up the ladder, make it down safely.
Now, when we watch this in our office today, everybody remarked first
on how skilled the bears were at getting up the ladder, but also on how
cool and calm that woman is and how the couple carries out this rescue
mission with the precision of a SWAT team. Now, that`s most likely because
they have done this before. Twice before -- as the couple, Tom and Shirley
Shank told ABC News, these cubs have figured out how to pick the lock on
dumpster. In fact, the hanks say they keep the ladder at the ready in case
the bears need help again.
Now, on one level, I love this story because it`s got everything --
emotion, the element of danger, surprise and, of course, the cute factor.
Look at the little babies.
But it`s also to me an uplifting story of people coexisting with
nature. See, the humans here are not trying to run the bears off. They`re
not shooting the bears. They`re not calling animal control. They`ve just
figured out a quick fix that lets the bears do their thing while the humans
do their own.
It`s not a bad way to move through this world. And that lesson makes
it the best new thing in the world today.
That does it for us tonight. You`ll be happy to know, Rachel will be
back on Monday. Have a fantastic weekend.
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