'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, October 14th, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
October 14, 2012
Guests: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Jason Johnson, Bill Schneider, Gihan Perera, Jonathan Metzl, Danielle Belton
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, the politics of stigma and
Plus, the vicious brutality of the Taliban against a Pakistani team.
And this week in voter suppression goes to Florida.
But first, if you can`t believe you`re president, who can you believe?
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
We`re almost there, almost there. Debates are happening. Two down, two to
go. Tuesday, President Obama and governor Mitt Romney meet again and I
will be ready my phone in hand. Twitter abuzz as I have been during the
last two debates because that`s how we watch debates now.
Now maybe, you are still old fashion to get a few friends over for a debate
watching party to engage in a running commentary during the 90-minute bout.
And you may still go through the fact checking that comes out the next day
in something like the paper.
But really, it`s all real times now. You can scan the debates via twitter
through hash tag fact check and second by second, each statement uttered by
the candidates gets churned through the fact check mill. You can double
fact check the fact check believability of the source based on the hash tag
by the fact check. But some folks just find this all a lot of noise. And
a lot of noise to cover the very real fact that we have accepted that our
elected leaders will and do lie constantly.
Gone is Patrick Moynihan and his adage of you`re entitled to your own
opinion but not your own facts because in the age of post truth politics,
we no longer share a baseline of what counts as a fact. And that was
clearly on display this week at the one and only vice presidential debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He will keep saying
this $5 trillion plan I suppose. It`s been discredited by six other
studies and their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged it wasn`t
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only way to find $5
trillion in loopholes is cut the mortgage from middle class people, cut the
health care deduction for middle class people, take away their ability to
get a tax break to send their kids to college. That`s why --
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS REPORTER: Is he wrong approximate that?
RYAN: He is wrong about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, certainly it`s at fact that the vice president found
the congressman to be hilarious. But the fact is that politics has always
been an appeasement of extremes, often flying in the face of what many
experience as reality. The only difference now is that the extremes seem
to be all that exists. We no longer share the facts upon which our
opinions are based. Because when multiple polls with scientifically
accurate sample sizes all give the same numbers and are still questioned
for accuracy or even when the bipartisan independent bureau of labor
statistics which is firewalled from both the White House and the labor
department is accused of lying and padding its numbers out of political
partisanship or when the citizenship of the current president of the United
States of America is still questioned despite the hard-and-fast evidence of
his long form birth certificate, then we know we are engaging in post truth
Even when we fact check one another, we still do not believe the evidence.
Not that we shall not be beholden to fact checkers reigns supreme. Robust
debate is reduced to discussion about what counts as real, credible or
verifiable. Vice president Biden delivered it directly on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this? A
man who introduced a bill to raise it $6400 a year knowing it and passing
it and Romney saying he signed it or me and the president?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, that is what it boils down to. Not whose policies are
best, but who do you think is telling the truth?
Now, after the first presidential debate last week, many fact checkers
worked overtime trying to untangle many of Governor Romney`s statements.
But perhaps the efforts were in vein as conservative king maker, Karl Rove
pointed out alleging that Romney is a serial deceiver as the president and
top advisers are doing, is a hard sell. Mr. Romney came across last week
as practical, thoughtful, authentic and a straight shooter.
In fact, Romney is betting on voters not being outraged by lies. He`s
making the sure bet that the electorate takes a bit of dishonesty with
their election like sugar with your medicine. That might explain the
explosion of fact checking sites.
For one, the Pulitzer Prize winning Polotifact.com. of the independent
newspaper, The "Tampa Bay Times," has adapted fact checking to these times
creating the truth o meter because yes, even truth is on the spectrum.
But, the top of the list of mostly true, half true and mostly false on
their meter is a hard-and-fast definition of political truth. A true
statement is true if it`s accurate and there`s nothing significant missing.
Now, while I rely on this work, I lament the loss of the shared
understanding of knowledge. We need the collective belief that meeting
point of communication. Language has served that purpose. That shared
thread stitching us together. We have agreed that there is a definition to
match each word and now you string those words together and how you
interpret what is said, yes, that`s up to the holder.
But I can`t say that yes means no and that no means yes. In a democracy,
we need shared standards. Without them, consequences are severe. Given
our history of hand recounts and fears of ballot stuffing, I worry we might
get to an election night and still not know who the next president will be.
If we completely reject facts and institutions as bankrupt, we`re halfway
down the road to election trutherism. Richard Hasen of slate.com asked
this week if the election is close, will we believe the outcome? Because
as he writes, if my guy won, the election is fair and square, but if your
guy one, there must have been some chicanery. Trutherism is a concept has
began to scramble our basic Democratic processes and we may yet end up
fulfilling the Orwellian truth in time on universal deceit telling the
truth is a revolutionary act.
With me now, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the conservative think
tank Manhattan Institute and former chief of staff of President George W.
Bush`s council of economic advisers, also author of regulating to disaster.
Jason Johnson is a political science professor and an editor of
politic365.com and the "Source` magazine, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid of the
grio.com and Bill Schneider, political analyst of the moderate think tank
It is so nice to have you all here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great to have you here.
HARRIS-PERRY: No. Don`t you - I think like many sort of lefties who were
watching the first presidential debate had this great desire for the
president to fact check, you know, Governor Romney while it was happening.
Based on what I`ve said, would that have been strategic or useful as a
position for him to take in that?
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`m so glad you`re talking about
this. Because we reached a point, we`ve got your president, my president
kind of dialog going on where Republicans only accept the legitimacy of
Republican president and Democrats, because of Bush v. Gore and some
legitimate issues with how George Bush came into office, you know, really
questioned his legitimacy too in his first term. But, I think we got
beyond just doing that and having a sort of, you know, team mentality of
the presidency to literally each side has its own truth and its own fact.
And I think particularly with conservatives, they have opted out of the
general fact universe. They have decided that --
HARRIS-PERRY: The general fact --
REID: They have opted out of it. They said Barack Obama was-elected
because ACORN engineered all of these, you know, the false voters at the
poll. So, we have to legislate against it because there`s no way Democrats
could really win the White House. There`s no way that could happen. They
decided that polls showing Obama had a rigged, that there was a conspiracy
against him. And I think it`s partly because of conservative media that
has sort of promoted this victim mentality on the right that everything is
a lie. All science, all data is against you.
REID: I want to listen to Mrs. Romney, Ann Romney when she was -- in
response to some of kind of the fact checking that happened after the
debate and her language about sort of what that`s like. Let`s listen to
Mrs. Romney here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What do you think about the charges that he
laid? The other side said, you know, oh, well he lied his way through that
whole debate. How do you feel about that?
ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: I can`t - I mean, lied about what? This
is something that he`s been saying all along, this is what he believes.
This is his policy, these are his statements. I mean, it`s sort of like
someone that, you know, in the sand box that like lost the game and they
are just going to kick sand in someone`s face and say you liar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Diana, I saw you shaking your head pretty vigorously as
Joy was talking about the notion that Republicans are outside of the fact
DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH, SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Well, I don`t
think that most conservatives would say that Barack Obama won the
presidency because of some vote rigging. The margin of his win was so much
that you cannot put it down to anything. It`s not like Bush and Gore for
example in 2000. But, I think one thing that is really extreme is for
President Obama to say continually that Mitt Romney has proposed a $5
trillion tax cut when his own campaign (INAUDIBLE) of this own campaign
said we can get $3.8 trillion from deductions. So, that would only make it
a $1.2 trillion tax cut and that could made up with economic growth. But
President Obama continues to say it is $5 trillion even thought, his
spokeswoman has said no, it`s not a $5 trillion tax cut.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is interesting, Diana, I think. And Bill, I think she
brings up an interesting sort of distinction between on the one hand sort
of birtherism which as you point out, I think that`s accurate. That
certainly you don`t have a majority of American services are not birthers,
but there`s enough of it infecting the sort of the American discourse right
now that it becomes a legitimate talking point conversational aspects.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: It`s not being talked about now, though. These birthers
are not on the front page of the newspapers. It is just a fringe and you
can`t judge people by these fringe groups.
HARRIS-PERRY: But, I think I got to say, when you have presidential
candidates -- I`m going to give you that it`s a fringe. I`m going to give
you that. For example, that Mitt Romney is himself not a birther. But,
there does still seem to be a distinction between for example those kinds
of aspects or questions of truth versus, as Diana brings up, sort of a
debate about whether or not the Romney tax plan constitutes a $5 trillion
So in other words, are we -- which aspects are different opinions of the
facts and what are really sort of things we can say that`s just not true?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SENIOR FELLOW, THIRD WAY: There is a legitimate debate
here. Diana mentioned the figures about the tax cut. If you have a 20
percent across the board tax cut, can you make it up, even most of it with
by curbing deductions? That`s a debatable issue. Can you actually do
that? You can`t take Mitt Romney`s word pour it that we`ll make up 3.8
trillion of the tax cut or a trillion dollars of the tax cut by curving
deductions. What deductions? How much do they end up to? You have to
debate those issues because they are all based on suppositions and how much
economic growth is going to be generated by a tax cut? That is all based
on assumptions and projections and suppositions. Those are debatable of
malicious, they are not facts.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And those are debatable. And that feels to me
really quite different than the issue of was the president of the United
States born in the United States. Is he in fact a citizen? And I think
even sort of Mr. Romney, do you or do you not support Roe V. Wade and a
woman`s right to choose.
Jason, you and I are both college professors. And you know, obviously
there`s a lot of debate about truth within what we do.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, HIRAM COLLEGE: Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: But, I`m deeply concerned about the idea that we don`t even
in the political world know what count as evidence as the argument for the
JOHNSON: Well, I think sometimes we don`t even have discussions about the
evidence. I think right now we have more face checking than fact checking.
I mean, if you want to talk about body language, they want to talk about
levels of aggression, they want to talk about did Obama seem bored. Was he
thinking about his anniversary? Before anyone talked about whether or not
the man said the truth. And I think that`s the problem. We have too much
discussion of the pageantry of it and not whether or not the men were
saying the truth or whether or not their truth will be applicable if they
get to office.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jason, I love that face checking instead of fact checking.
I`m going to come back, Diana, Bill, to the issue you raised around taxes
as soon we get back because these are, it feels to me, that -- I just want
to figure out what are the facts here. So, who is going to raise them or
who is going to cut them? What is the truth behind the tax plans? That`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s revisit Thursday night`s vice presidential debate
again. Here`s moderator Martha Raddatz asking Paul Ryan about the tax
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: What we`re saying is here`s our framework, lower tax rates 20
percent. We raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forgo $1.2
trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so, what we are saying is deny
those loopholes and deductions to higher income tax payers, so more of the
income is taxed which has a broader base of taxation to lower tax rates
across the board.
BIDEN: Can I translate?
RYAN: So, we can lower tax rate across the board. Now, here`s why I`m
saying this. What we are saying is --
BIDEN: I hope I get time to respond.
RADDATZ: You will get your turn.
RYAN: We want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this. That
means successful. What we`re saying is lower tax rates 20 percent, start
with the wealthy, work with Congress do it.
RADDATZ: Can you guarantee this math will add up in?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: How do we know if the math does or does not add up if we
don`t know the specifics of the plan?
SCHNEIDER: We don`t. We do not know. It`s all based on assumptions and
economic models that are complicated. We don`t know if these things are
going to add up. We don`t have to. But he`s asking us to take his word
for it. And Joe Biden is disputing that.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: The academic literature does show that when tax rates go
down, we have more growth. In fact, President Obama`s first chairwoman of
the council at economic adviser, Christina Roma, had a lengthy study that
showed that higher taxes reduced GDP. Lower taxes result in more GDP
growth. When you have more GDP growth, you have more tax revenue. That
reduces the deficit.
HARRIS-PERRY: Go ahead.
I was going to say, actually, the reports by folks like Larry Bartels who
is in Princeton University, pretty regularly demonstrate that when we have
higher tax rates effective tax rates that we actually have both higher GDPs
as well as higher household incomes relative to inflation.
So - now, they don`t make a causal plane. They don`t say raising taxes
causes economic growth. Nor I think even if one could demonstrate that
there was a correlation between, for example, lower tax rates and GDP, one
also can`t make a claim unless you can demonstrate that there`s a rate of
change difference that causes the growth. You can`t make those causal
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Actually, economists do make those calls or arguments.
And it works like this. That if the government takes less of your money,
you are going to work harder. And if you are an investor, you want to take
risks, if you have a 15 percent capital gains tax rate, then you are going
to gain more from that investment than if you have a 50 percent capital
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s be clear. When you say economists say this. Then you
begin to talk about the psychology of it. That, you know, one of the
things that economists are actually debate quite bad at is making those -
you know, they tend to actually sort of set out at the beginning before
they are even doing their models what their assumptions about how people
maximize their utility, maximize their sense of self.
So, those claims again are about internal workings. And they are as much,
I think as Bill said it a moment ago, you have to take their word for it.
They are sort of faith claims. They are not evidentiary claims per se.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Economists have evidentiary claims. That`s Christina
Roma, President Obama`s first chairwoman of the council economic advisers.
There is Edward Prescott, a Nobel Prize winner who looked at different
HARRIS-PERRY: My --
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Theory and evidentiary.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I will say that`s probably part of why the president has
been reluctant to end the Bush era tax cuts on the middle class.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: That`s what he said in 2010. He said we don`t want to
raise tax when is we had GDP growth. And it was higher than it is now.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet, if you are also going to have anxiety about the
deficit which I think you can`t have both of these things. You can`t both
deficit hawk and make a claim about taxes.
Joy, let me let you in on this.
REID: Right. No, and first of people on the other side of it because Mark
Zandi who was known Liberal, he writes from Moody`s analytic looked at the
numbers as well and said that the Romney plan, the arithmetic does not add
up. Because if you lower marginal tax rates across the board and then say
you are going to make it up with unnamed deductions, well, the biggest
deductions available to you are things like the mortgage interest
deduction, things that have a lot of capital behind them. People want
them. Deductions for health care costs, deductions for educational write
off. That`s where the biggest pot of money is.
But since the Romney team won`t say that`s where they`re going, we are left
with the big question mark. And the second quick thing I will say is, when
you talk about historic tax reduction, you can`t compare the deep
reductions from the Kennedy era which when we had high, I mean, it was like
96 percent marginal tax rates and dropping those significantly. And in the
Reagan era where you also had a significant steep cut in the marginal tax
rate, then you compare that with the Clinton era where we actually
increased marginal tax rates and had the longest sustained period of
accelerated economic growth in our recent history. So, you really can`t
JOHNSON: As interesting as all this is. This went over the head of 60
percent of the public out there. OK, because they would need an economics
class to understand what`s going on. And this go goes to the core point
about what the truth is. Because if you don`t understand basic economics,
then this doesn`t make any sense to you and you are not going to learn this
from a debate. That`s where the challenge is from.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to look it -- so, my favorite wonk on taking things
that I don`t understand and making them clear as Ezra Klein. And so, on
the blog fact check he talks about this $5 trillion question and the fact
that it`s controversial and says what we do know that the Romney/Ryan plan
will not work for without raising taxes on people making under $200,000 a
year. None of the responses of the studies have disproven that.
And I think the key here is we don`t know exactly what the loopholes are if
it`s about, for example, the mortgage interest deduction. You know, a
deduction which I could argue vigorously against its existence, but only
against putting it into existence. Once it exists to take it would have a
devastating effect on the Americans housing market.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Nobody is talking about getting rid of the mortgage
deduction. They`re talking about limiting it.
SCHNEIDER: Won`t specify what they are.
REID: And usual when reporting, conservatives say broaden the tax base,
what`s that a euphemism for is raising taxes on lower income people because
they feel it is a more hazard that certain people don`t pay federal income
tax. The more what we think to your point, to make it really simple, if
you have a million dollars and I give you an additional $20,000, you don`t
have to spend that additional $20,000 because you`ve got a million dollars.
If you have $20,000 and I give you $500. You`re spending every dime
because you have to.
REID: And so, that`s why lowering taxes on lower income people boosts the
economy because they go to Wal-Mart with that money. A rich person doesn`t
go to Wal-Mart with their extra money.
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, Joy-Ann Reid, if I had a Nerdland sticker, I would give
it to you right now. Because yes, that is the break it down, make it plain
point. The less money you have, the more that even just a little bit more
goes right back into the economy.
But, I do have one question on exactly that issue. It`s a question that`s
deeply stimulating and that`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking about truth in politics in light of how
partisanship seems to obscure our ability to land on anything empirically
factual and undeniable anymore. Now, behind me, there is one fact that I
think we can all agree on. That is it in 22 days, 18 hours, 33 minutes and
14.1312 seconds that in fact the first polls will open in the United States
of America for the election of the American president.
But here`s what we know -- suspect the economy is going to be an important
part of the decision that is made 22 days from now. The big issue, did the
REID: No it did not work.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have three yes and a no. Let`s hear it.
SCHNEIDER: No. I believe it worked but it wasn`t big enough because they
underestimated the depth of the financial crisis. Financial crisis in the
financial sector always cause a much deeper recession. It kept us out a
deep depression, but it didn`t turn the entire economy around. And Diana
is right about one thing, people do not believe it worked because the
economy has not completely recovered to where it used to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, this is so important, let`s look at the CBO study,
the congressional budget office analysis of the stimulus which does here
have sort of this a demonstration of it working going from 1.6 million up
to 4.6 million real GDP growth unemployment heads down. That should be 7.8
not 1.8. That would be pretty extraordinary if it was in fact 1.8.
So, on the one hand, you see that moving down. That said, let`s just point
this out. So much of our economy rests on what we think about what is
going on which is not quite a fact, right in the bureau of labor statistics
number, you were there, Diana, are factual but the robustness of our
economy isn`t part of our emotions about.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Right. Well, the bureau of labor statistics number, the
employment survey when they count jobs created, we get one number one month
and then it`s revised a couple of months and then its benchmark a year
later. So, a year later, we have the real number. And the unemployment
rate is a survey of 60,000 households. And that jumps around and there`s a
big margin of error.
But, the stimulus did, I would say, did not work. We have a 1.3 percent
GDP growth rate. We have 23 million Americans unemployed or looking for
work or discourage. If anyone had said in January of 2009 that we were
going to spend a trillion dollars and end up four years later with a 1.3
percent GDP growth rate, a high unemployment rate, labor force
participation rate that is equal to September 1981, Congress would not --
SCHNEIDER: The economy was not good. What would those figures have been
without the stimulus?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, this is a question of a floor, right? I mean,
this is a -- if you`re falling and I catch you, right? And I put a floor
under you, is that working even if I don`t bring it all the way up. I
mean, it think that`s - again, that`s a debatable question.
REID: A third of what --
JOHNSON: Sorry. How bad would this have been if I hadn`t done it? I
mean, that`s essential what Barack Obama has been trying to say for years
and no one can really understand what that`s going to be. I look at it
from the standpoint of the teachers that would have been lost or the
firemen would have been lost, of all the pension plans on state levels that
would have absolutely been destroyed or disappeared or been completely cut
if the stimulus money was not put in.
Could have things been better? Yes. They could have miraculously been
better. But, the reality is it could have been significantly worse without
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: If we spent more it could --
SCHNEIDER: You know what? It is very hard to run for re-election if
you`re the president on the argument, you know what folks? It could have
been worse platform.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That is a tough sell.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: We have deficits of $1 trillion for the fourth year in a
row. And you`re saying, we need to borrow more money? I mean, that`s
incredible. You look at two countries that are different. I mean, you say
what could have been done differently. Canada, Germany, they have higher
GDP growth rates.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think we take a look at the Eurozone, there would be
strong claim that austerity measures do not provide --
REID: The countries that did austerity are growing slower than the United
States. The bottom line is for one thing, we spent a trillion dollars
which a third was tax cuts which you said before as supposed to be
stimulative and we wasted, I think, a lot of that money doing tax cutting.
We should have spent the whole trillion.
The bottom line, we have a spending driven economy. And when you have
consumer withdraw their spending partly out of terror, they`re losing value
on their homes, when you have banks withdrawing lending. So, you basically
sucked all of that money and all of that spending out of the economy,
someone has to replace it.
We have always had the government step in and replace that spending. We
did it with FDR, even George W. Bush did it. He hired a lot of government
workers during the recession.
HARRIS-PERRY: Post 9/11, we don`t think of the TSA as like a big
government jobs program, but that`s what it is.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: When I was in the Bush administration, we didn`t have
four years of $1 trillion deficits.
HARRIS-PERRY: No. You created them. You made them.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: No, we did not.
SCHNEIDER: It was not a spending caused deficit. It was a war caused and
tax cut caused deficit.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: It was not such a high deficit as we have now.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: And also, the tax cuts under Obama were not cuts in
marginal tax rates. They were giving back money to people in terms of
programs and EITC increases --
JOHNSON: Look, everyone knew that we were in a recession, everyone knew it
was terrible. Everybody knew that why part of why Barack Obama got
elected. And it didn`t matter how much money they were getting back and
tested. People were still scared. People were just not going to spend
their money. And again, you can`t just blame that on a president and say
look he was the boogeyman, no. People are going to hold on to their money
tight for the first, two or three years of this administration until we
felt nominally --.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely. And in fact, we see in our new -- the new
numbers out of the consumer confidence is that consumer confidence is up.
We may finally be in a place where we are starting to move out of it. We
have got the consumer confidence index moving up.
Now, there`s another big truth fight going on all week. What really
happened in Libya? I want to talk a bit about that next.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s been more than a month since the U.S. consulate in
Benghazi was attacked. It`s clear that the first interpretation of what
happened on that day was not correct. The day after the attack on
September 12th, the state department linked the Benghazi attacks to the
pro-tests in Cairo saying that both are quote "a response to the
inflammatory materials posted on the Internet.
We now know that what happened in Libya on that day was a planned attack
and no protesters were present. Here was secretary of state Hillary
Clinton explaining the discrepancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I do know this. There is nobody in
the administration motivated by anything other than trying to understand
what happened. To this day, we do not have a complete picture. We do not
have all the answers. No one in this administration has ever claimed
otherwise. Every one of us has made clear that we are providing the best
information we have at that time. And that information continues to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So while we do know that the first explanation provided by
Obama administration regarding the attack in Benghazi was not correct.
What we are still to learn is if it was intentionally dishonest. Due in
part to the political stakes that surround this case, the facts do matter.
So, back to my panel. Jason, let me ask. It feels like there`s a
difference between and a meaningful one and one that I care about as a
citizen, whether or not the White House and the state department misled us
about Benghazi or had one set of fact that changed? How do we adjudicate
JOHNSON: Yes. But, here`s the difficulty. The reason we lost so many
people is not just because of the attacks in Libya but because of
bureaucracy. And that is really what`s going on. I don`t know and I don`t
think anyone can honestly say that Barack Obama found out that they were
requesting more security. No, we`re going to let them suffer and figure it
out because those decisions don`t necessarily hit the White House. There`s
probably not a council or an embassy anywhere in the world that doesn`t
want more security on 9/11. The question is, how many people did this
decision go through and when did the White House find out? And I don`t
think that`s something we can find out.
Well, and there`s a lot of reason to think that whatever requests were
made, a, that congressional appropriations were the key to whether or not
they could happen rather than what was go going on in the White House.
Burt also, second, that Benghazi might not have been the site of where
additional security would have happened. And third, if the additional
security was requested had been there, given that this was a planned
attack, I mean, I guess part of it for me is like our sober minded
understanding of this has to leave room for the fact that in a circumstance
like what we`re facing in Benghazi and Libya, you cannot take risks to
HARRIS-PERRY: And that demanding you takes risk to zero is self-
REID: I mean, just feel wrong for this to become a political football. I
think it`s sort of refreshing I think it was refreshing to have an
administration say you know what, we got our information wrong. And I feel
like sort of an honest --
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Yes, two weeks later.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bit, two weeks later very different than ten years after
they enter the war in Iraq and spend billions of dollars in a war where we
were actively misled into the war. Two weeks is not bad in policy.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Misleading us right from day one.
JOHNSON: How would they know that? How would they know that information
on the ground? I mean, that`s the question. You know, --
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: We knew the ambassador had asked for security.
JOHNSON: People were happy he had got Moammar Gadhafi. People actually
liked the ambassador there. So, it is probably a lot of reason for people
thought, look, of all the places that we are worried about, this is we`re
not concerned with.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Can I --
JOHNSON: Yes, you can.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: So, they - I mean, not only did they bungle it by not
having security from our ambassador. They knew that Steven didn`t even
security. Plus, they didn`t even secure the embassy site afterwards. It
was CNN that found the ambassador as diary four days later and found his
clothes. I mean, what would they think if they would take it seriously?
There at least --
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Diana, Diana. Wait, wait. I want to be clear here.
Are you saying that the current administration does not take seriously the
death of our diplomats and American lives in Benghazi? Are you saying they
did not take it seriously?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: I`m saying that they put a misleading story out to hide
their own incompetence which included by the way, not going and sealing off
the site afterwards and collecting the papers. They knew it was not the
video right away.
HARRIS-PERRY: I guess I would say on the question of truth, that is
possible but that you simply do not have the security clearance to know
whether or not that is true with a capital T. So, I can`t --
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: Because they admitted two weeks later.
HARRIS-PERRY: They certainly did not admit that.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: They admitted it was Al Qaeda two weeks later.
HARRIS-PERRY: What they said is -- what they said is and I think the
secretary of state said it. We have one set of -- we had a set of
information on the day it happened. We reported at quickly as possible the
information that we had. In the two weeks since, we have come to
understand that the circumstances are different. We are now reporting
JOHNSON: There were people right away, like Michael Levine`s foundation
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael Levine.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: He said what it was. It turned out to be Al Qaeda.
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael Levine is an idea log who probably still thinks that
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I completely discount
everything he says, number one.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: He was right.
REID: Number two, --
REID: When you start saying what the administration knew and you clearly
have no read in to the White House of what they knew, I think h that`s
unfair. Number two, you have to remember what was happening at the time.
At the time you had the interruptions of protests over this ridiculous
trailer that were happening in Egypt, and when the concurrent and the same
thing were happening in various other places, the logical conclusion that
they were made in the beginning, and clearly these terrorists took
advantage of that situation to mount an attack.
FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: But, I think it`s unfair to read into what other people -
SCHNEIDER: Are you going to start with Mitt Romney came out with a
statement immediately after the incident and that statement turned out to
be completely wrong.
HARRIS-PERRY: It was both absolutely wrong and I think it was appalling
because he was not even aware at the time that there had been the loss of
American lives at that point. That said, Diana, thank you for being here
today. The rest of you are sticking around.
And up next, speaking of the loss of - no, we already planned for you to
leave at this point.
But up next, really it`s a heartbreaking story and one that is enraging.
The story of a teenager targeted and shot because she wanted to get an
education. That when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Her name is Malala Yousafzai. She is 14, still a child.
But because she advocated for girls to get an education in Pakistan, the
Taliban declared her a threat.
On Tuesday, the Taliban hunted her down and she and her fellow classmates
were on their way home from school. A gunman approached their school bus
and according to eyewitness accounts he asked which of the school girl was
Malala. And then screamed, she is propagating against the soldiers of
Allah, the Taliban, she must be punished. Then he shot her at point-blank
The bullet hit Malala in her head and lodged in her shoulder near her neck.
Two other girls were also wounded in the attack. Her condition is critical
but has stabilized. Arrests have been made but this senseless shooting
implores me to ask how can a 14-year-old child be considered such a threat
that grown men fear her enough that feel the need to extinguish her voice?
Why, because despite the Taliban`s efforts to keep girls ignorant and out
of sight, Malala pressed on.
Even after the Taliban closed her school in 2009, Malala was still
determined to get an education. But don`t take my word for how remarkable
she is. See for yourselves in an interview from 2009 recorded by
NewYorktimes.com video journalist Adam Elic (ph), the day after Malala`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALALA YOUSAFZAI, EDUCATION ACTIVIST: They cannot stop me. I will get my
education, if it is in home, school or anyplace. This is our request for
the world, save our school, save our world, save our Pakistan, save our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Malala was 11 in that video. Let me repeat that. She was
11. She began to appear on TV and publicly advocate for female education.
And because of her efforts, she was awarded the national peace award by
Pakistan last year. She also chronicled her experiences on a blog for the
BBC`s Web site after the area where she lived in Swat was overrun by
For some, her profile may have been too high, her cause too radical for a
female let alone a child. But I say this directly to the Taliban who
carried out this shameless act. You may have harmed Malala physically but
you have not harmed her cause. You`ve helped it. Your cowardly actions
will now serve as a rallying cry for other young girls and women seeking
empowerment and a better life through education. Your gutless terrorist
actions have created a thousand Malalas who will hopefully find the courage
to say with amplified voice, no. No, you will not terrify us from having
an education. No, you will not terrify us from having a voice. No, you
will not terrify us from having a future.
Rest and get well Malala. The world needs your voice. The world is
praying for you.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back talking about the cowardly shooting of a 14-year-
old. Malala Yousafzai who in Pakistan, who was shot by the Taliban. The
Taliban sought to silence Malala an education advocate for girls. The
latest update is that her condition has stabilized. However, she and her
father continue to face death threats.
Joining us now is Rula Jebreal, an MSNBC contributor and foreign policy
analyst for Newsweek.
Talk to me first about what the message -- this is an act certainly against
Malala, but it is the act of terrorism against girls in general. What is
the message the Taliban was attempting to send here?
RULA JEBREAL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The message is clear. Don`t dare to
shape society, to change the society through education, because this is
what Malala was doing. And this is what the women in Pakistan and
Afghanistan start accessing to education after September 11th. They start
to go back to school. Then when you go back to school you`re a free
thinker, you are actually critical thinker. You might not vote for them.
You might not accept their view of the world. They want to impose on these
girls to stay ignorant. Then, they can control their brain and their
bodies. This is their only way that - the Taliban are not only losing
today the battle, they are losing the argument. And what I`m angry here
about is not that they only did it, the fact that Pakistani army is as
responsible for this as much as the Taliban.
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me about that. Because it does feel like there`s a
level of complicity here. On the one hand, I have rage about the
individuals involved in this. But there is a political system that is fed
actually by Washington, D.C. in a way, because we give the army, we give
them $20 billion in ten years and we didn`t pretend from anything except
OK, try to handle the Talibans or try to give us information where they
What they have been doing actually is disarming, they have been funding,
they have been sharing logistic information with the Talibans and they have
been actually allowing them to operate in safe havens.
This episode actually and the fact first we discovered that bin Laden was
living there ten years. He was protected by them. Then, this episode
actually is showing how ineffective they are and how coward they are as
much as the Taliban.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to point this out in case people haven`t been
following this story.
We`re not fear rising that the Taliban is responsible. They took
responsibility. They put out a statement saying with pride that they did
this and suggesting that they are going to continue to come after this
teenager if she recovers, that they will attempt again to kill her.
JEBREAL: It`s clear that not only are they responsible, they would
continue to doing that. Unless, the army, the Pakistani army sets clear
that we will intervene, we`ll arrest some people. It`s time for action.
It`s time for them to cut that cord with Jihadist group and with extremist
group. It`s time for them actually to allow civil society to develop.
Because this is the only way we can have a democratization of Pakistan.
This is the only we can have a durable peace. If regular people have now
access to education, how can we think that Pakistan in the future, that
actually have the atomic bomb, can be a peaceful country that can relate to
its neighbor Pakistan or India in a different way or even to us.
Look, Washington is closing up the army for years, what we`re building up
is a well spring of poison within society that one day will erupt. When
Victor (INAUDIBLE) used to say, you open up a school, you close a jail.
What he said is very simple. You are building civil society. You shape a
country by allowing girls, especially women to education.
And so, we have seen as you talk about civil society and this idea that
education is this space where durable peace is possible, we have seen girls
wearing publicly I am Malala, right? Because part of what is so --
JEBREAL: And that`s the first time.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is extraordinary. Is this the act that actually brings
them down by -- I mean, this statement that I am her.
Look, if you think of the Arab spring, how did it started? It was started
with one man in Tunisia protesting against a regime. He actually burned
himself because he was fed up with the abuse. This episode will change the
Pakistani dynamic. This is the beginning of a bigger revolution that`s a
revolution of mind, a peaceful one and a revolution of women that says, you
will not control my brain anymore or my body.
But I want to say, Melissa, something. When there are public and party
talks about abortion and the way they see things, how can we think that in
the future they will go to these countries if they will win the election,
go to the countries and say OK, we want civil society that is strong and
separation between state and faith.
JEBREAL: They will actually look back and then say, what are you talking
about? You are the one that actually not allowing women to have abortion
and question and contraception and other things. We need that understand
that whatever we say, whatever we promote as policy will affect other
countries and our foreign policies.
HARRIS-PERRY: Our choices right now, in terms of our foreign policy, our
electoral choices make a difference.
JEBREAL: Make a difference to Malala and to the many people that are
fighting daily against extremists from all sides that wants to control
their bodies and their brain.
HARRIS-PERRY: I so appreciate you being here today.
JEBREAL: Thank you very much.
HARRIS-PERRY: You and I are both the mothers of daughters. And we know
that whatever good comes from this, it never reduces the horror that is
this act and just to put that here.
So, thank you for coming.
JEBREAL: Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up next, back to domestic politics and down to the
sunshine state. It`s time for this week in voter suppression.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
When I think about Florida, I like to think about palm trees, sunshine,
oranges, Disney World -- scenes that make you want to put on your mouse
ears and toss back a mojito.
But let`s face it, when it`s three weeks until Election Day and any of us
think about Florida, we think about this guy. Yes, the infamous hanging
chads of the 2000 Bush/Gore election which earned Florida a place in voting
But the suppressive efforts taking place in 2012 could make 2000 seem
quaint, which brings me to -- "This Week in Voter Suppression".
Now, this isn`t the first time that we visited the Sunshine State in this
series and not just because it has 29 electoral votes and the election
could once again come down to Florida, Florida, Florida. We`ve covered it
because that state`s Republican governor, Rick Scott, has been purging the
voter rolls of allegedly ineligible voters and was enabled by new court
ruling this month to keep doing just that.
All while until recently a firm call Strategic Allied Consulting was being
paid by the Republican National Committee to register voters and get out
Now, this isn`t their Web site anymore. It`s been replaced by a statement
of innocence, because the same firm that was fired by the RNC late last
month after a Florida elections official referred more than 100 potentially
fraudulent voter registrations to investigators, that same, quote-unquote,
"fired" GOP consultant who ran Strategic Allied Consulting, Romney campaign
consultant, Nathan Sproul, is now hiring workers for a voter canvassing
operation this fall in as many as 30 states, according to a Friday report
of "The Los Angeles Times".
No, not through Strategic Allied Consulting, Sproul is using a similarly
generic sounding company called Issues Advocacy Partners, whose Web site
just might look familiar to you. Not so much? Maybe a little bit? OK.
It`s not just state lawmakers and supposedly disgraced GOP operatives who
appear to be out to unbalance the electoral scale in Florida. It`s also
groups like Tampa`s Vote Fair and True the Vote, which aside from awkward
sentences for names, are in search for solutions of voter fraud, a problem
that doesn`t exist.
My panel is back.
Hiram College`s Jason Johnson, Vanderbilt University`s Jonathan Metzl, "The
Grio`s" Joy Reid, and the Third Way`s Bill Schneider.
Before we come to the panel, first, I want to take you to Florida where our
guest, Gihan Perera, is in Miami. And he`s the executive director of
Florida`s New Majority Education Fund and the Miami Workers Center.
Gihan, nice to have you here.
GIHAN PERERA, FLORIDA NEW MAJORITY EDUCATION FUND: Hi. Melissa, great to
be on. Welcome to Florida.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know, right. It`s cold up here. I`d totally be there
But, listen, first, I want to read you this lead from an "A.P." article out
this past Thursday. And it`s headline, "At polls, fears of voter
suppression and intimidation. Kimberly Kelley of Tampa has provided
Florida election officials with thousands of names of people she thinks
maybe ineligible to vote and should be removed from the polls."
Now, Kelley is not an election official. She`s part of Tampa Vote Fair.
What -- please tell us about this group.
PERERA: Well, that group and True the Vote that are operating mostly in
Tampa. Essentially, they`re electoral vigilante groups. And they exist
now to come out and test people, challenge people`s votes. But what they
really come out of it is a whole history, particularly here in Florida as
you know under Rick Scott and an extremist Florida legislature that took
over in 2010 who part of their vow was to put down the unprecedented
electoral uprising of minorities, black, Latino, Caribbean and young people
that came out in 2008.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Gihan, when you say electoral uprising, you mean
PERERA: Voting, meaning unprecedented numbers. Yes, unprecedented numbers
of people -- of the new, expanding, rising American electoral. Women
voters, young people, black voters, Latinos came out in 2008. It was an
electoral uprising, a beautiful one.
And when the extremists came to power in 2010, part of their vow was to put
down that electoral uprising. You know, they have a view that politicians
should decide their electorate. Not an expanding electorate deciding their
So, they went to all sorts --
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Gihan, at this point is such a critical one, because
what we`re looking at here, we`re talking about an individual private
citizen, not elected, who is making lists of people that she believes are
ineligible voters. I was sort of teasing and saying should I just make a
list of like all my friends and family who I happen to know are likely to
vote different than me and send it in as they are likely voters going to
commit voter fraud.
This -- you used the language of vigilantism. Isn`t this sort of thing
illegal? It`s one thing to change the laws as we were seeing in Ohio and
Pennsylvania. But isn`t this kind of voter intimidation against the 1965
Voting Rights Act?
PERERA: Well, whatever it is, it`s a complete waste of resources and it`s
creating a complete boogeyman. What they`re trying to do is they are
wasting the resources, the time of the supervisor of elections and the
Department of State to spend time even dealing with this, and not dealing
with the fact that we have a huge election coming up that really needs to
be run well.
And they`re creating hysteria amongst the press, amongst the state over
something that really doesn`t exist. There is as much chance of finding
intentional voter fraud as there is a chance of getting struck by
lightning. But they are creating this hysteria basically as well on a
racial basis. They`re stirring things up, saying that ex felons and
illegal aliens will be voting when there is really no proof of that
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes --
PERERA: And if they wanted to spend --
HARRIS-PERRY: I wanted to bring Joy-Ann Reid in here.
Joy-Ann, I know you spent a lot of time in Florida. I wondered if there
was something in particular around this that you wanted to respond to Gihan
REID: Absolutely. It`s good to see my good friend Gihan who I knew for a
long time in Miami.
PERERA: Hi, Joy-Ann.
REID: How are you?
PERERA: I`m good.
REID: The question I have is with the Sproul and Associate situation.
They were caught -- although they`re not called Sproul and Associates
anymore. They call themselves Lincoln, you know, academic. They changed
all their names a lot.
HARRIS-PERRY: ABC Consulting.
REID: ABC Consulting, Acme consulting.
And one of the things that they were caught doing was submitting these
false names all over the state, in several counties, of people who were not
real people. And the question I have is the majority looking at the
possibility that absentee ballots could be submitted in the names of the
Because in Florida, you don`t obviously need an ID to vote absentee and
we`ve already had a scandal in Miami surrounding the mayor`s race of
potentially fraudulent absentee ballots. Are you guys looking into that?
And what do you think the chances of that happening might be?
PERERA: Well, we`re looking into it. I mean, as you know, the places
where resources are going through voter fraud in terms of the places where
they`re currently looking isn`t where most of the fraud is happening. As
you know, most of that fraud is happening in absentee ballot situations
because it`s almost wholly unregulated.
We`re in a number of people are looking into it. It`s on the front page of
the "New Times" this week. But there`s very little chance with this
administration, it looks like, at this point that that will be looked into.
I think it`s what we need to be -- if we want to talk about really trying
to figure out where potential fraud is, we really need to look at and
regulate the absentee ballot market across the state, because that is where
the biggest loopholes are.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me bring in Bill Schneider here, because I`ve been
worried about exactly this issue that in part, the left has now back
ourselves into a corner by saying there isn`t voter fraud, which is
accurate, as you`ve been point out. The point is that there`s no voter
fraud that would be addressed by the kinds of policies that we see
Republicans, state legislators doing and yet, we`re now open, right, to
this other kind of fraud?
SCHNEIDER: Right. What is happening is these protective measures,
they`re a solution for which there is no known problem. But there could be
a problem because something like 40 percent of Americans are eligible to
vote early by absentee vote without any reason before the election.
Many people are worried about those absentee voters. What`s going to
protect the secrecy of the ballot? How do you prevent a father or husband
or mother from telling their son or wife or daughter how to vote and
demanding that I see the ballot before you send it in? And make sure
people don`t unduly influence that vote.
I know in a lot of absentee vote situations, people send in their ballot
early, something happens in the campaign and they want their ballot back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and you can`t. That`s not how it works.
SCHNEIDER: That bothers me.
JOHNSON: Yes. I mean, this speaks to a general problem that I have with
all these voter ID laws. This is something that every single Republican
needs to be really honest about and even some Democrats.
You know, the right to vote is like freedom of speech. We don`t have 50
different freedom of speech laws in the United States.
There should be a general rule, this is how you vote, this is the
individual right that you`re supposed to have.
And the real concern that Americans need to have, of all person and all
stripes is, if we have a Romney presidency, he will do nothing to stop
these sorts of laws from being encapsulated in every single state. It will
be the end of voting for young people and poor people and minority.
And this is not hyperbole. This is what many Republican administrations
are trying to do. In his presidency, he would not send the attorney
general to stop this. This is a major problem.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes. I think at this point, it`s not even that he would
introduce this sort of legislation --
JOHNSON: Right, exactly.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- but rather the role of the DOJ. In fact, it`s one of the
things that I think the Obama administration has not been as upfront about
in terms of a real victory that they could be, which is how aggressive this
Department of Justice has been in an attempt at least where it has coverage
under 1965 preclearance to try to stop these kinds of measures.
Jonathan, let me let you in here.
JONATHAN METZL, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. I would add to
everything said, that the tremendous irony of this round of voter
suppression in Florida is that the 2011 law that started this bad snowball
from rolling down the hill is inciting voter fraud as a threat to public
health, that`s the terminology they used.
The irony here, as we just heard in the report, that actually what`s
happening here is that this is producing ill health, because it`s
engendering all of this anxiety, all of this concern, all of feeling of the
liminality of system. People are feeling very, very disconnected as a
result of this as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting. We`re going to stay on this.
But I want to Gihan from down there in Miami, I want to give you just sort
of one last word on this. What -- if this is vigilantism to keep people
away from the polls, what can your organization and others who are
concerned about this do to protect their right to cast a vote?
PERERA: Well, the result of this, the worst result of all of this is that
voters who should and would vote are confused. The biggest thing that
we`re doing is in the streets, in the churches, on doors, we`re educating
and telling our people exactly that their voting rights are still intact,
how to vote, educating that they can vote in early ballots, how to vote
absentee, the day of.
We`re getting early voting marches and rallies going starting next
Saturday. So that there`s really a momentum that the roadblocks that have
been put in front of us actually don`t stop our people from coming out to
vote. We`re doing a tele-town hall that`s going to have 30,000 people on
it talking them through exactly what their rights and rules are.
We`re also going to be doing door knocking, "Souls to the Polls" and making
a lot of noise and fun to really make the democratic voting experience what
it should be -- a right for every citizen here to participate in the
process. And that they can`t take away from us.
And we`re doing that with partnerships across the state and people in the
state, from the NAACP, to the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights that`s
doing election protection, to National Council of La Raza, Florida
Immigrant Coalition -- all of the organizations are working in a much more
coordinated way more than anyway before, educating our folks, taking calm
from confusion and really saying that we won`t be intimidated.
We`ll have people at the polls trained, we`ll have lawyers, and we will be
in the streets and on the airwaves and in the pulpits getting our folks out
this election season.
HARRIS-PERRY: Gihan Perera in Miami -- I appreciate your reminding us that
just the act of voting is in and of itself a kind of uprising that`s very
useful for us as we continue to move towards Election Day.
Everybody stay right there, because when we come back, we`ll explain what`s
at play with the psychology of voter suppression. More "This Week in Voter
Suppression", when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back with "This Week in Voter Suppression", Florida
Talking about voter intimidation and purging and alleged Republican voter
fraud in the Sunshine State. Oh, that was hard to say. How do the
factors play into the election in one of the swingiest of the swing state?
Jon, you were making a point before we left about kind of the psychology of
this. These efforts are intimidation efforts that we`re now looking at.
What is the psychology of that?
METZL: Well, I would make several points of that. Let me just say to
start, I`m incredibly sorry to be talking about this issue in 2012 in the
United States. It`s almost beyond belief.
There`s a long history in the psychological and psychiatric and
sociological literature that talks about something called learned
helplessness. People feel disconnected from a system. They feel like
they`re being down. They feel like the system is not taking care of them.
And, ironically, in the psychology literature, that is a risk factor for
depression. So, people are trying to kind of treat and say, actually, we
want you to be more engaged. We want you to be more focused.
Here what we see is something like learned helplessness and what you might
call (INAUDIBLE), being used as a method in a way. They`re trying to
produce this sense in people that the government doesn`t care about them.
That the government doesn`t -- isn`t concerned about their issues and in a
way they`re focusing on people who I think have the most to lose in a way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sort of the most vulnerable people. When you say things
like we saw yesterday with Ohio, the felony language and you`ve got the
felony issues in communities of color -- those are the folks who most
likely feel intimidated by that.
METZL: It absolutely taps into and engenders a kind of anxiety for people
who have a lot of concerns about the system itself. And also, again the
people who are the most vulnerable -- so, the elderly, the people who are
lower socioeconomic status. So, it`s not just happenstance that they`re
using this language in this context.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think about the mass confusion aspect of this,
particularly with the elderly. That, you know, you see this in for example
the kind of marketing that will go to the elderly, that purposely is meant
to confuse and stress people out, particularly with new information coming
on a regular basis, so that people just end up opting out of the system
METZL: And a lot of elderly people are dependent on the very bureaucracy
that it feels like they`re being turned on them in a way. So, in a way, it
sends the subtle message that it increases the risk of this kind of anxiety
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Joy, it`s not -- I mean, on the one hand, there`s a
subtle and even insidious impact off the voter themselves on the
individual. But you were telling this amazing story that you have got to
tell on air, because it turns out it`s not at all subtle in terms of
METZL: Right. You know, we think of voter suppression as people who are
mean and just don`t want people who don`t like them to vote. But in a lot
of ways, Republicans are looking at the math. They`re looking an inability
to attract voters and so they`re looking at the way to sort of cheat those
voters they can`t attract their way.
And we were talking about the brief. I interviewed Jim Greer, who is the
former head of the Republican Party of Florida, who is now fighting a big
legal battle of his own. He was run out -- pushed out of party along with
former Governor Charlie Crist.
And what he told me is that after the 2008 election, Democrats were loving
Charlie Crist because one of the things he did was he kept polls open when
there were long lines wrap around the block, they didn`t close them
precisely at 7:00. If you were line at 7:00, you were allowed to go in and
This caused almost hysteria among his own party. Republicans blamed
Charlie Crist in a lot of ways for Barack Obama winning Florida and
according to Jim Greer, consultants for the Republican Party who consult on
legislation were in Charlie Crist`s office within months in that election,
demanding that a bill be crafted and push through the legislature that
would get rid of early voting or severely limit it so that wouldn`t happen
again, because those people in line were mostly Democrats and largely
African-American voting for Barack Obama. That law eventually did get
passed but Charlie Crist rejected it. And that`s one of the reasons
Charlie Crist is no longer --
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s why he`s at the DNC convention.
And, look, this early voting thing is not a joke. We just saw this morning
a new poll from "Reuters" saying that the president is leading Mitt Romney
59 percent to 31 percent among early voters.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. You called this or someone called this a voter uprising.
That`s exactly what it is. It was an uprising in 2008.
This election is the old America, Clint Eastwood, versus the new America,
Scarlett Johansson, who spoke at the Democratic Convention.
It`s an uprising because the Democratic coalition, the Obama voters, are
disproportionately young and newer immigrants. These people don`t have a
lot of voting experience. You want to discard people from voting, doesn`t
take a lot of effort.
You supply poll watchers, you put guards and policemen there and they feel
intimidated. You challenge their votes. They will stand at polling places
and they will audio or videotape the voters. They will warn them about
what happens if you aren`t a real citizen and you vote and there`s any
Well, a lot of people say, I`m not going to put up with this. They`re not
going to stand in line. They leave. They`re trying to suppress the new
America, which represents what Obama is appealing.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think what`s so key here is win or lose, right,
whether President Obama is re-elected or not, this is bad for democracy.
Like on the next day, whether the president is re-elected or not, and
whether the benefit to early voting the next time would go to the
Republican, like so what? If you`re standing in line at 7:00, you ought to
be allowed to cast your vote.
Early voting is good for democracy. Voting should happen on weekends, not
on Tuesdays, right? I think we have to be prepared at this moment never to
be those people who go into the party office and make a partisan claim
about this, right? This is about the fundamental quality of our democracy.
JOHNSON: And the thing is, and it`s also about we go back to the ideas of
truth and the Republican argument, we got illegal immigrants who are
voting. It`s what I call Scooby Doo logic --
JOHNSON: You`re supposed to make me believe that somebody snuck across the
border, came here to take care and the first thing they want to do is vote
for Obama? It makes no sense.
And even allowing them to make these arguments sort of poisons the dialogue
in this country about something that`s fundamental to democracy.
REID: And they know it isn`t true. That I think is so disingenuous, is
that Republicans throw out this idea of in-person voter fraud because they
want to pass legislation because they know the results.
People forget what happens at a polling place. It isn`t that you stand
quietly in line. There are people handing out handbills. There are
candidates out there jockeying for your vote. It`s a people-oriented
And if you have someone there videotaping you. And I`ve seen people
videotaping in the polls.
REID: It is tremendously intimidating. It`s psychologically sort of an
assault on you. You`re like who is that person?
We`ve even had in Florida, people say, make sure you bring your -- you paid
your latest child support before you go to the polls and --
HARRIS-PERRY: You don`t have to pay your child support to vote. You
should pay your child support. But you don`t have to, to vote.
Thank you, Bill Schneider. The rest are staying for more.
And up next, I`m going to talk a bit about the secret illness that`s
HARRIS-PERRY: For the last 22 years, this week has been set aside for the
recognition of a health condition that many live with every day. In 1990,
the U.S. Congress declared the first full week in October to be Mental
Illness Awareness Week.
The success of that awareness can be measured by our much more open
national dialogue around mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. But
shame and stigma continue to render us silent on others, like schizophrenia
or bipolar disorder.
Chances are, if you haven`t had a mental illness then someone you know or
love has, because one in four adults, that`s almost 57.7 million Americans
will experience a mental health disorder in a given year. Nearly one in 10
children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.
Seventy-nine billion is the economic cost of mental illness in the United
States, $63 billion of that cost is from loss of productivity.
Now, what with the proper treatment and support, 70 to 90 percent of people
living with mental illness can reduce the impact of their illness and
increase their quality of life. And getting a proper diagnosis and
treatment can save lives.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between 15 and
24. And more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide also had a
diagnosable mental disorder.
If you are a person in an institution for a mental illness, that
institution is far more likely to be a prison than a hospital. In fact,
the three largest inpatient facilities in this country are jails.
Currently, there are at least 350,000 people with mental illness in U.S.
prisons and jails. And the cost to house people with mental illness in
jails and prisons is $15 billion.
Seventy percent of those people are nonviolent offenders. And that`s
because there are fewer and fewer hospitals for those people to receive
treatment. Fifty years ago, 600,000 is how many state hospital beds for
people with mental illnesses there were in the U.S. And thanks to federal
and state funding cuts, today that number has decreased to 40,000.
Mental illness has no cure. There is no one magic pill to treat it. But
there is one powerful word that can make all the difference in how we treat
people living with it.
This statement from the National Alliance on Mental Illness explains it
best. "Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real treatable
health conditions. We have allowed stigma in a now unwarranted sense of
hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to
effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down."
Up next, my guests and I are doing our small part to make those barriers a
HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday, we learned that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is
the subject of a federal investigation involving alleged financial
Now, the news came four months after his last appearance after this last
appearance on this show, when he joined us to talk about his efforts to
raise the minimum wage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: The only group since 2007 that has
not experienced some form of pay increase have been those Americans that
are locked in the minimum wage. Why are they locked in the minimum wage?
Because the Congress of the United States has set the standard at $7.25.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Later on that same day, June 10th, Jackson vanished from the
public eye, when according to family members, he collapsed at their home in
Washington. Two months later, after an extended leave of absence from
Congress that left his constituents mystified about his disappearance,
doctors at the Mayo Clinic announced that Congressman Jackson was under
treatment for bipolar disorder. It`s a public declaration of an illness
that`s often shrouded in silence and secrecy.
And however voters judge Congressman Jackson on the allegations about his
finances, he should not have to bear the stigma about the reality of his
health, because as one of my guests today can attest from firsthand
experience, there`s no shame in living with mental illness.
Joining my panel is Danielle Belton, editor-at-large of "Clutch Magazine
Online" and also a writer for BET`s "Don`t Sleep." She`s also a person
living with bipolar disorder.
One of the guests back with is Jonathan Metzl. He is the author of "The
Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease." And, of
course, Joy Ann and Jason are also still here with us.
Danielle, wanted to come to you first. Talk to me about what it means to
be a person living with bipolar disorder and obviously highly successful,
professional. You know, I love and read your work all the time.
DANIELLE BELTON, EDITOR AT LARGE, CLUTCH MAGAZINE ONLINE: Well, I think
for me, it was -- I felt responsibility to come out and actually talk about
it. I struggled with it for so long. For most of my 20s, I lost my 20s to
bipolar disorder. It was very difficult. You know, don`t take anything
for granted -- lots of help from my family and from medical care-givers,
but came out on the other side.
I promised myself during a hospitalization in 2006 that if I got to a point
of stability again, that I would come out and talk about it, because the
hardest part of going through that. I kept saying, I don`t see anyone
who`s living with this disease.
The only people I`m seeing are people who are sick, people who are
struggling, who can`t barely get out of bed in the morning. And that`s
really bleak to think that`s your future. There was a point in my life
where I thought I was going to have to live with my parents forever, that I
was never going to be a fully functioned member of society.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s so interesting for you to use the language of coming
out to talk about it, because people only have to come out in circumstances
where the culture is going to shame and silence you for whatever that
identity or experience is. And, you know, typically, the advocates of
coming out of one kind or another are exactly about this point, that
otherwise, sort of the folks who get to define who and what that identity
is are almost entirely negative.
BELTON: Exactly. I mean, going through this and just coming out the other
side and see that I was still able to have a career, I am able to live on
my own. I was able to get normalcy back. Get my pride and identity back,
because I lost all of that during the time I was sick.
And I just kept thinking, you know, wow, if I had just seen that during
some of the darkest periods of my life, maybe they wouldn`t have been dark.
I felt like if I got to that point, I had to talk about it, because --
people try to get me talk about it when I was sick. I was very vocal, but
I try to explain to them.
When I`m sick, I`m focused on getting well.
BELTON: That`s my priority. It is tough to go out with that stigma and
say I`m a woman living with bipolar type two disorder and you have to deal
with whatever flack comes with that.
BELTON: Not everyone is going to be open-minded about it.
BELTON: So, it`s like I needed to be coming from a place of strength. I
needed that stability in order to speak out.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan, you know, Danielle is talking about the very sort
of personal aspect of it. But there`s a policy implication here. In part
because of the stigma and shame, we have not had parity in how for example
health insurance manages and covers the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
So, you know, if you have cancer or diabetes, that we feel like you should
have insurance that covers that. But if you`re managing bipolar, you get
your four visits and that`s it.
METZL: Absolutely. So, there`s been a stigma inherent in the mental
health system that privileges certain kinds of illness over others. And I
just want to add to what Danielle said that, in a way it`s straightforward.
Stigma is bad, why don`t we just treat stigma? But stigma is very
complicated and multi-factorial. There are many kinds of mental illness
stigma, just like there are many kinds of cancer.
METZL: So, Congressman Jackson, for example, is suffering from bipolar two
disorder, an illness that people look pretty much well when they`re in
what`s called the hypomanic phase. A lot of times they`re actually better
at their jobs. And then they collapse and have depression. They`re stuck
at home. Often, they`re suicidal.
And people will say, well, he was just at work doing a great job yesterday.
How was it?
And so, in a way, the stigmatization of bipolar 2 disorder is very
complicated because people function well. As you mentioned, in the outset,
there are other forms of illness like schizophrenia where the
stigmatization is very different, ties into different socioeconomics.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So we tend to believe that people who are
schizophrenic are violent, right? We have the sort of stigma around that,
is if you`re schizophrenic, you`re violent. In fact, almost always when we
hear about these mass shootings, the next thing you hear is, oh, I bet he
Part of what I heard in the political ether around Representative Jackson,
Congressman Jackson was s he`s lying, right? He`s trying to avoid federal
investigation so he`s not really sick. I think that`s part of what that
bipolar stigma is. If he was on our show that day, how could he have
collapsed later in the day?
METZL: Right. And it`s funny, the difference between the stigma and the
reality. Schizophrenia, for example, there are large aggregate studies
that show that actually as an aggregate group, people with schizophrenia
are far less violent than the general populace. But we build prisons and
reinforce that idea through a kind of structural violence that reinforces
the stigmatizations of illness. So, it`s structural.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And one of the structures that at least we can begin
to say is making some improvement is the Affordable Care Act, the great
domestic policy achievement of President Obama`s first term. He is moving
us towards parity with the ACA and particularly emphasizing integration and
coordination of physical and mental health services.
So, I mean, this strikes me on the one hand as a sort of critically
important contribution of ACA, but we don`t hear about it very much.
REID: We don`t hear a lot of details about if I would --
REID: Unfortunately, I think that`s one of the things the Obama
administration probably could have done better. But I think it`s
important, too. And I wonder if just -- you brought out exactly the point
that I was going to ask. Do you think that it`s complicated to now have
the discussion because in the way of Jesse Jackson Jr., and the fact that
his legal problems are sort of now associated with his coming out about his
mental health issues and whether or not that`s going to make it even harder
to have this discussion? Because as you said, people said he was saying
that because he was in trouble.
HARRIS-PERRY: But isn`t that -- let me over and over again (INAUDIBLE) so
called treating mental illnesses and disorders through the prison system
instead of through the medical system or is something else, I think there`s
always this notion of are these folks playing crazy? You know, making it
up in order to somehow shield themselves from responsibility? So we hear
that as a part of that discourse and stigma.
JOHNSON: Yes. It`s that old myth, the `70s mob movie where the head of
the mob is pretending that he`s feeble of mind so he can`t get prosecuted.
You know, but the reality is, that`s part of the stigma. That`s what makes
-- and I can speak about this from the college professor perspective. You
have young ambitious students who were never diagnosed because they were in
a more controlled environment at home.
But they get to that freshman year of college and they don`t understand why
they can`t get out of bed. They just think they`re lazy and even if
something wrongs, they have this fear that no one will believe them. And
that`s something that even colleges and high schools need to be much more
active in sort of addressing. The young people know that there are options
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, I don`t know what your experience in campus.
There`s also dramatic differences in which kind of bodies are most likely
to be believed when they present with certain kinds of symptoms.
We will stay on this topic as soon as we come back, because speaking of
different kind of bodies -- you know, being gay not so long ago was
actually categorized as being mentally ill. More on all of this when we
HARRIS-PERRY: We just celebrated National Coming Out Day last week on
October 11th. It`s a long way from the days when our nation`s official
lines on homosexuality said it was an illness instead of an identity,
because that`s how same sex, self-loving identified people were identified
by the book known as the bible of the American psychiatry, "The Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual", also known as DSM.
It draws a line between what is and is not mental illness. And up until
1973, homosexuality qualifies to a spot in its pages as an illness.
According to the current edition of the book being transgender still does.
It`s a reminder of how historically, although mental illness may be in the
brains of those with the disease, exactly who qualifies as mentally ill is
in the minds of those making the diagnosis.
I want to ask about this, Jonathan.
Do we -- should we move towards saying mental illness is like physical
illnesses like diabetes and cancer and therefore reduce the stigma, use
pharmaceuticals to address it. Or do we say what was crazy wasn`t being
gay, it was a culture that said being gay was a mental illness. Like in
other words, where should we be focusing our attention of treatment?
METZL: Absolutely. It`s a great question to start this part of the
conversation. What I argue in my book, it`s not enough to just take the
terminology out of the DSM. In the `70s, there was all kinds of crazy
stuff in the DSM 2 at the time. So, we had homosexuality as an illness.
There was a definition about schizophrenia that talked about anger and
hostility, that turned out to be over-diagnosed dramatically in African-
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to show this image. I love it from your book. This
was for physicians, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: If you see somebody who looks like this, maybe they need to
be medicated. When we look at that image, if we can see it from Jonathan`s
book, it basically looks like somebody in the middle of a protest in the
METZL: So, the thing is that there`s a long history of medicalizing what
later become known as kind of social issues or social conditions, protests.
What I argue is it`s not enough to take that out of the DSM, that in a way
the stigmatization is what happens after we take it out. It`s already
embedded in the cultural unconscious. And in a way, it`s difficult to then
work back against that. So, addressing stigma as we were talking about
before is in part looking at the afterlife, the remnant of the associations
that we`ve made.
And certainly, this will be a big issue as the DSM 5 comes out.
METZL: And it really gets to the heart of the question you`re talking
about, which is that people who are critiquing the text, we haven`t seen it
yet, are saying that there`s a broader definition of illness. And on one
hand, we can say that`s a good thing, more people will get treatment, more
people will get care.
But at the same time, there`s the worry that we`re going to overmedicalize
certain conditions and that opens the door for social issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And medicalizing isn`t part of the pharmaceuticals.
We finally have that image available. Like so here`s the guy who needs
Haldol. He`s basically James Brown, right?
METZL: Let me say that that`s an ad that I found in my research. It was
in the archives of general psychiatry, right in the aftermath of the
Detroit riots and the aftermath of the white riots and you can see that
this is a person with a clenched fist, sign of black power. It`s inverted.
It`s a dramatic example of many I found in the book in which psychiatric
illness has been used to pathologize political protests and particularly
racial political protest.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, Danielle, someone who is yourself managing, how do
you sort of manage the pharmaceutical intervention which on the one hand
can be critical ,but also mot wanting to sort of move to a level of
completely medicalizing a human experience?
BELTON: There has to be a balance. It sounds cliche to say that over and
over. It`s about finding the balance. It works the same with medication
versus talk therapy.
You need both to get well. The problem you run into trying to get
diagnosed is that you`re basically a guinea pig the first few years. They
don`t know what they`re treating. They`re trying to figure out what you
A lot of times unless you have the time or money or ability for a long-term
hospitalization so they can observe you, getting a diagnosis can be very
difficult. It took five years to be properly diagnosed.
I was misdiagnosed with everything. You can pick anything under the sun,
from PTSD to depression, to I think at one point dissociative disorder,
which I`m pretty sure I`m not more than one person. I was relieved when I
found out I had bipolar type 2.
And I was like oh my God, what does that mean? I was on 11 different
medications. I know I was overmedicated but it was hard to find a
psychiatrist that will listen to you longer than 15 minutes.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I have to say this, Danielle, as we move into our sort
of towards the end here, it`s just that if you did have to dissociative
disorder, W.E.B. Du Bois called the reality of the condition of blackness
in America, was having double consciousness. So, even this notion whether
or not that constitutes an illness or an adoptive strategy within the
context of American racism, it would be tough to say.
So, more in just a moment. But first, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS
WITH ALEX WITT."
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello, Michael -- well, I mean, Melissa, because
I`m talking about Michael Steele. You were with Michael the last time I
We were talking about Michael Steele and Howard Dean. They`re going to
join me for a strategy talk. You can join, too, if you want. We`re
talking for Tuesday`s town hall debate.
Plus, the Sunday talk show is lighting up with outrage over the Libya
attack, and now maybe turning into a political weapon in the campaign.
And another story that`s getting a lot of traction, the Florida Board of
Education has approved a new plan calling for different expectations for
different races. An example, 90 percent of Asian students need to be at or
above grade level in reading, as opposed to 74 percent of black students by
Also, should America abolish the Electoral College and adopt a direct
democracy, where the winner of the popular vote wins the election? I`m
talking to the author of that proposal.
Plus, "MORNING JOE" in office politics. You hear what Joe Scarborough has
to say about President Obama`s chances of reelection. It`s just might
surprise you, Melissa. So, back to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I am Melissa.
And don`t go away, because I`ve got some words of wisdom from our Nerdland
HARRIS-PERRY: Ashley is our MHP show intern this semester. Next month,
she will vote for the first time.
She`s also a student at the Hofstra University, that school that will host
the presidential town hall style debate on Tuesday night.
I asked Ashley what she hopes to see and hear from the candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEY FREEMAN, MHP INTERN: On Tuesday, I definitely want to hear about
women`s rights because that wasn`t discussed at all in the first debate and
not only reproductive rights but health care as well, because some people
think health care should be a privilege. But I believe that`s also a
And on top of that, all these debates are on college campuses, and in the
last debate, I remember the word student loans coming up three times. But
you`re on a college campus, so of course, this is something you need to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. On behalf of Nerdland interns Ashley and young voters
across the country, I`m asking the candidates to up their respective games
on Tuesday night.
As political commentators Margaret Hoover and John Avlon point out, quote,
"There will be 65 million millennials eligible to vote in November, and if
they turn out at the same rate that they voted in 2008, just over 50
percent, they could amount to almost one quarter of the electorate."
Now, young voters today are more diverse group than any in history. They
come of age in the shadow of 9/11, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina,
and our country has been at war most of their lives. They face significant
employment, rising health care cost, steep student loans and deep
uncertainty that they will enjoy the benefits of the social safety net.
President Obama, Mr. Romney talk to them. I`m not saying that just because
you`re on a college campus, you should only talk to young voters. But as a
teacher, I`m confident that prepping your responses as though you`re
talking to a classroom is good strategy if you can explain in clear, no
nonsense, honest terms precisely how your agenda and policies will approve
their lives, you will have communicated effectively to every potential
Young people can sniff out B.S. from a mile away. So, don`t plan double
talk or evasion, and if you lie, they`re going to fact check you online in
And don`t pander. Young people, like other voters, hate it when
politicians are patronizing. This is it -- town hall style debate -- a
chance to convince the final undecided voters and to motivate your base to
So on behalf of Ashley and her peers all across the country, bring your A
And that is our show for today. Thank you to Jason, Jonathan, Joy and
Danielle. Thank you to you at home for watching on this day, the
anniversary of the publication of Winnie the Pooh.
And I will see you again next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Coming up,
"WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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