'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, February 8th, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
February 8, 2013
Guests: Luis Gutierrez, Elijah Cummings
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, GUEST HOST: Thanks, Ed. I appreciate it.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet.
HARRIS-PERRY: And thanks to you at home for you staying with us for
the next hour. Rachel has the night off, but there is lots going on this
New data on just how little say the NRA has in the gun debate.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez joins us from Chicago, where mourners are paying
their last respects to Hadiya Pendleton.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus tries to diversify his part in the same
his predecessor did, yet another state legislature moves to take away a
constitutionally protective right.
All that is coming up -- plus, Beyonce, yes, Beyonce.
But when begin tonight with the massive storm that is battling the
northeastern region of the country. At this hour, a state of emergency has
been declared by the governor of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. Residents in all six of those
states are now facing what is shaping up to be a winter blizzard of
At this point, some of the heaviest snowfall is expected in the Boston
area, where forecasters are warning about the possibility of more than two
feet of snow. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick banned all traffic from
the roads after 4:00 p.m. today. That is the first travel ban of that kind
in more than three decades.
And some shoreline residents in Massachusetts have been asked to
In neighboring Connecticut, that state`s governor, Dan Malloy, has
also issued a ban on all non-emergency motor vehicle traffic. And that ban
took effect earlier this evening.
And Rhode Island`s Governor Lincoln Chafee has taken similar measures,
ordering cars off the roads in state off the road as well.
So, the storm has been blamed for this 19-car pileup in southern Maine
earlier today, which caused minor injuries and is causing travel problems
in the air as well. At this point, more than 4,000 flights in and out of
the Northeast have been canceled. New York City`s airports remain
officially open at this hour, but most flight activity has ended for the
Already just a few hours into this storm, more than 10,000 electrical
customers in the Northeast have been left without power. And tonight the
National Guard reports that more than a thousand national guardsmen have
been activated in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and in New York as this
region prepares for the worst.
Joining us now is NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins.
Bill, what is the latest at this hour?
BILL KARINS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Melissa, we are watching this
storm maturing, if we want to call it that. It started out earlier today.
It was growing into intensity. Now, it is becoming a full-fledged
In the last hour, about 50,000 people have lost power. And we`re
going to continue to add to that number to the hundreds of thousands
throughout the overnight. That`s the worst part of this. Losing power in
the middle of a winter storm when you don`t know how long it`s going to be
until the power crews can a, get through two or three feet of snow to turn
your power back on.
Let me show you a cool image of the storm. This is the imagery I show
you during hurricane season. It almost looks like a hurricane.
The spinning L is where the center of the storm is, now just south of
Massachusetts and Cape Cod. And the way it works is all of the warm air
gets sucked into the storm. And on the back side, all the cold air comes
in behind it. And that`s what we`re seeing now in areas where it`s
actually snowing down towards Philadelphia for the first time.
The white on the map shows you where it`s snowing. The blue is where
it`s snowing very hard. We`re talking 2 to 3 inches an hour. We`ve had
reports of thunder snow -- literally, it`s lightning and snowing at the
same time, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and some spots of Massachusetts.
Now, Long Island is just a mess. I`ve heard reports of six inches of
snow, and an inch of sleet on top of it. And now we have snow and rain and
sleet. Long Island is a miserable place right now, with the high winds and
the crazy mixture of winter precipitation.
And it`s not fun right now in Boston either. Winds are now up to 50
miles an hour. Same with Newport, Martha`s Vineyard, you know, Vineyard
Haven, all the same.
So, eastern Mass is where most of the power outages in Rhode Island
are going to occur. Already a foot of snow on the ground in many locations
of Rhode Island. We`re going to add another foot probably in the next six
to eight hours.
I think the one good thing when most of us wake up tomorrow morning,
it will be over with. Hopefully, the plow crews by about noon can get
things under control and move all of snow. We`re talking still the
potential, someone from Boston to Providence has a chance of 30 inches of
snow. And, Melissa, the highest they`ve ever had is 27.2 inches.
I mean, this is going to be top 10, top 5, who knows, maybe even
number one by the time it`s all said and done.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Bill, I know that, obviously, a lot of the
governors have been making the decision to get cars off the road. But what
is the primary danger other than the traffic danger that is faced for
residents in these areas?
KARINS: Unfortunately, there is always some knuckleheads that are
going to go out there on the roads when everyone has been told to stay off
of them. Now it`s snowing up to about three inches an hour. This is where
the cars get stuck. It snowed so hard, you know, the plows can`t keep up
And then you`re in the middle of some interstate, in the middle of
nowhere, and you have to call the rescuers to come get you and you`ll be
stuck for 12 hours. There will probably be hundreds of people that are
going to get stuck with that scenario tonight. They try to avoid. I`m
sure they minimized it, but it`s going to happen tonight.
So, the concerns are for the rescuers out there in the middle of the
night doing this and then the power outages. Tomorrow morning, the last
piece of this puzzle will be the coastal areas of Massachusetts at about
10:00 a.m. That`s the high tide cycle when we expect the storm surge to be
at its highest, the wave action to be at its highest. We could have waves
10 to 15 feet right near the coast where we have a storm surge of around
three to four feet.
It`s not going to be any sandy or anything like that that happened on
the Jersey Shore and Long Island, but we could see homes with water getting
in them or possibly weakening their foundations and falling to the sea.
So, we`ll watch that tomorrow morning at sunrise.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins, thank you very much
for that update.
And as you just heard, Bill mentioned that the area that is expected
to get hit hardest from this storm is in fact Boston, where there are some
models that are predicting nearly three feet of snow.
The Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore is live for us from Boston tonight.
Jim, what`s the latest?
JIM CANTORE, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: Yes, Melissa, we are snowing at two
inches an hour right now. Gusts of over 50 miles per hour at Logan
I mean, thank goodness the governor just made the call yesterday,
saying look, I want everybody off the roads at noon. I`m going to shut
down the T at 3:30. You don`t have a choice. That allowed the plows and
whatnot to get out there and get major headway on this storm.
Now, it`s very, very hard to keep up with. I mean, I was out here
earlier. And my footprints are right there. Now, they`re completely
covered up. So we`ve got 2 inches an hour coming down.
Obviously, we`re at the Boston Commons. So, folks are out here,
enjoying the snowfall. Let`s face it. This is just a beautiful sight out
in through here if you don`t have to be driving in it, which is exactly
what we don`t want people to do.
Now, because of the wind that is picking up as well, we`ve had
hurricane-force gusts on Nantucket Island, we are starting to see power
outages now in Massachusetts alone, up to 30,000 plus without power. We`re
afraid that`s going to continue to go up. We`ve got Long Island,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and probably parts
of Maine as well that are going to be dealing with these.
You know, national grid says about 100,000. I`m thinking about
250,000 before all is said and done. The problem is once those lines come
down, once those poles come down, you`re going to have to remove all this
snow before you can get in there and do some of the repairs. So it`s kind
of a twofold problem here. And, unfortunately, one that they`ve warned
people once you do lose power, especially if it`s a severe case, it`s going
to be probably a week before you get that power back on, even though there
are many crews on standby to get in there and help with the situation.
The problem again, though, is to get the snow out of the way first.
Then we can get in on some of these roads and obviously get these power
poles back up and the power lines back up as well.
We`ll see how that situation mounts tonight. The good news is here it
is at nightfall on a Friday night. Most people are off the roads. The
airports, even though they`re not closed, are literally shut down as well.
So, we got mostly everybody that we needed to get out of harm`s way.
And now, we just have to hunker down and ride this thing out. It`s going
to be a long night, and it`s going to get worse before better.
Snowfall possibly up to my waist at the Common before all is said and
done with the storm.
Melissa, back to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Jim. The Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore who
is there with folks in Boston who are making the best of it with snow
people and dogs. I kind of love that
So, thanks to you for reporting for us tonight.
And there is lots more to come, including the amazing, shrinking NRA.
Plus, the endangered awesomeness of the postal service.
And Beyonce versus the universe.
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve got lots to say about Beyonce. Entire show`s
worth of things to say about Beyonce, really. But tonight, we`ll just
stick to her Super Bowl performance and why those lights really went out.
That`s still ahead.
SCHULTZ: It`s now a political reality that the National Rifle
Association, the once poster child for how scary lobby groups can
intimidate politicians and keep them from supporting common-sense and
popular policies, that NRA is no longer very scary at all, or influential,
not in the way they would like us to think they are.
A PPP poll released earlier this week found that an NRA endorsement is
now more likely to cost votes than to gain votes for a political candidate.
We had hints of the NRA`s anemic influence during this past election when
they spent nearly $11 million trying to get pro-gun candidates elected and
got less than a 1 percent return on that $11 million.
It is becoming increasingly clear that no one listens much to the NRA
anymore. But for all of the out there, shocking, and just plain
ineffective talking points, the NRA screams from the roof tops, there is
one message, one message on which they sort of have a point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: I think without any doubt, if you look at why
our Founding Fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King
George, and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new
country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Wayne LaPierre is talking about the Second Amendment
to the Constitution there, and he is kind of correct. In this country, we
have a constitutional right to bear arms.
The Second Amendment is 27 words long, quote, "A well-regulated
militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the
people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
There is obviously a lot of debate about what kind of arms the Second
Amendment refers to and exactly what a well regulated militia is. But it
is clear that one of the things the Founders wanted people to be able to do
is to protect themselves from the government, government overreach.
And this is a fact of American life that the most liberal of liberals
or progressive of progressives simply can`t deny. The Constitution
protects this right.
Here is the deal -- for the past 48 hours, we`ve been watching a
horrifying story unfold in Los Angeles. A frightening case study in what
happens when someone decides to bastardize those rights and to use those
Second Amendment rights to create chaos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a blue alert broadcast on a 187 suspect,
former LAPD police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner. Suspect is armed and
TV ANCHOR: As we join you tonight, a madman is still on the loose.
Christopher Dorner has killed three people and wounded another. Every
police officer has become a target, and it has now moved to the mountains
of Big Bear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Christopher Dorner is a former police officer himself
with grievances against the LAPD. He has allegedly chosen to take out
those grievances by targeting and killing other Los Angeles police officers
and members of their families. He is trained in how to use weapons. Among
the weapons he may have in his possession a .50 caliber rifle which shoots
five-inch-long bullets that can pierce bulletproof vests and vehicles as
well as a shoulder-fired missile launcher. He is still at large this
Dorner left a detailed manifesto online that he addressed to America.
He called it last resort, and in it he listed the names of the people he
plans to target and kill. Buried within his rant, quote, "I am a man who
has lost complete faith in the system."
This is one individual who has decided that he believes the Los
Angeles Police Department has overstepped its bounds. He has decided to
use his Second Amendment rights in this horrifying way.
Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut,
in December, we have been asking ourselves how to balance those Second
Amendment rights with the moral imperative to keep innocent people,
especially children, safe. Since that day when 20 first graders were shot
and killed in their classrooms, there has been sustained attention on the
issue of gun violence and gun safety.
And it seems for the first time in a long time, it`s not just
political posturing. The presidential election is over, but elected
officials are actually continuing to talk about what kinds of policies we
might be able to enact, what we might be able to change, despite the
partisan divide that seemingly stifles any reasonable debate on any issue.
Today, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that
would make it easier for people to access mental health services at 2,000
federally qualified community centers across the country. The community
centers were offered 24-hour care, and they would be able to bill Medicaid
for their mental health services. The legislation is a move in response to
the Newtown massacre.
Another bipartisan group of senators, including Senator Joe Manchin of
West Virginia, who has long been a staunch gun rights advocate is working
on legislation that would make it mandatory to pass a background check for
everyone who wants to buy a gun. Currently, roughly, 40 percent of the
guns sold in this country are sold with no background check at all.
So, if that happens, that would be a stunning achievement, right?
Even just the bipartisan talks themselves pretty encouraging. It is all so
But we have to be careful not to pat ourselves on the back too much.
Tomorrow, First Lady Michelle Obama is returning to her hometown of
Chicago. She is returning to attend an event that should not even be
taking place. She is returning to attend the funeral of a child killed by
gun violence, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago
on January 29th.
She was huddled with a group of kids taking cover from a rainstorm
after school. When a gunman opened fire and shot Hadiya in the back and
Hadiya was an honor student. She was a majorette. And in fact, she
just performed at President Obama`s inauguration last month. And she was
killed about a mile from the president`s home on the South Side of Chicago.
Hadiya`s story reminds us again that while the mass murder of children
in Newtown was an unspeakable horror, it is thankfully rare. And while the
manhunt in Los Angeles is a terrifying spectacle, it too is rare.
What gun violence is in this country is Hadiya Pendleton, a teenaged
girl killed in her own neighborhood in Chicago. We have some political
will right now coalescing around gun violence in this country, right?
There are steps being taken that are encouraging, and maybe some of the
things our lawmakers are working on, maybe they can stop the next Newtown.
But is there enough political will to do what it would take to save the
next Hadiya Pendleton?
Hadiya was most likely killed with a handgun in a city that has been
reeling from gun violence, a city that is seeing its crime rate soar,
specifically homicide, a city where roughly 90 percent of the near record
number of homicides last year were gun-related, a city where local gun laws
are only as strong as national gun laws.
"The New York Times" broke this down recently. Of 50,000 guns traced
by Chicago police, more than half came from outside Illinois, mostly from
Indiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin.
The Second Amendment means we have a right to bear arms. Should it
also mean that there is no place in our political dialogue about the
factors that made Hadiya Pendleton`s murder possible? Is it impossible to
talk about removing handguns from our streets? Is that simply too extreme?
Our first lady is going to be in Chicago tomorrow attending the
funeral of a child killed by gun violence. Chances are while she is there,
another mother is going to get a call about another child whose life was
cut short by a gun.
Joining me now is Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.
Congressman, thank you for being here.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: A pleasure to be with you this
HARRIS-PERRY: So, clearly, Chicago has been receiving national
attention due to the high rate of gun violence. And there is a way in
which that`s a good story, because for a long time it was happening with no
light shining on it.
HARRIS-PERRY: But the other thing, it`s led us to recognize the city
actually has very tough gun laws.
HARRIS-PERRY: What needs to be done if you`ve already got the gun
laws in place and you still have this sort of murder rate?
GUTIERREZ: Well, the guns -- it`s so porous, right? The guns just
filter through to the city of Chicago. And, you know, the first thing I
supported back in 1993, 20 years ago when I first arrived in congress with
such fervor was the assault weapons ban. I remember when we extended it.
And that was good.
But, you know, Melissa, on Monday, I worked all day today thinking
than same question. So we`re going to have some faith-based leaders come
and meet with me on Monday. And we`re going get some victims, survivors of
gun violence. We`re going to meet with them, talk to them. And we`re
going to start also begin to focus on, as you said, handguns.
I went, and I was astonished there were 351 people murdered with guns
in 2011 in Chicago. Three hundred sixty-one of them -- I mean, 351, 361,
351 were handgun, 90 percent.
GUTIERREZ: It`s clear we need to look at handguns also. And I hope -
- for too long, I think you`ve heard many of us, Melissa, as we go into
national campaigns and we don`t want to be put in a corner as being against
the Second Amendment and against the rightful right to bear arms. And it
seems as though we articulate much too passionately and clearly and
eloquently how we`re going to defend people`s right to have guns during
campaigns, instead of talking about how we`re going to save children on our
HARRIS-PERRY: So --
GUTIERREZ: And lastly, if I could just, 10 of the kids, I read the
papers, 10 of those murdered were teenagers, 10. In the month of January.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you a little bit about this. I think
this is tough, right? And it`s tougher than just the laws.
Because the last time that a Democratic president, in this case it was
President Clinton, introduced powerful new federal laws, we ended up
incarcerating black kids, kids from the west and south side of Chicago,
kids from towns like New Orleans. There is just a little part of me that
keeps being concerned that on the one hand, yes, we must push for tougher
regulations. But how do we keep those regulations from falling on the
backs of the very kids we`re trying to protect?
GUTIERREZ: You know, here is the point. We need a holistic approach
to this. We can`t just look -- it`s true. I wouldn`t want to get on an
airport where four out of 10 people didn`t get checked, right?
GUTIERREZ: So four out of 10 people don`t get checked for handguns in
America. So that`s not the kind of way we should conduct ourselves.
Conversely, let`s face it. We have a responsibility to have economic
engines out there because -- I mean, the demand for drugs is so huge and
continues to spiral out of control in this country.
Let`s face it. There is a direct correlation that the largest --
GUTIERREZ: -- the propensity for drugs comes from the selling of
drugs and the protecting of those drug turfs, of which we are all involved
both in the city and outside of the city, right? The suburbanites come
into the city to buy drugs, and we consume drugs in the inner city. So the
scourge of drugs continues to have a huge impact on our community, killing
populations because of the use of drug and killing our population, our
I mean, just think of the contradiction of that young girl dying,
right? Honor student, wants to be a doctor. Just finished her final
examines. Doesn`t use drugs and killed.
GUTIERREZ: Probably because somebody was using and consuming drugs,
and somebody wanted to save the turf and protect the turf they were selling
HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman, I so appreciate you bringing us to that
point, because it does feel to me like this is exactly why it gets tough to
have this conversation, because it is holistic.
On the one hand we have the piece tough on guns, but the other piece
is addressing the drug war and what it has done in our communities. I so
appreciate you joining me tonight, Congressman Gutierrez.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And also, the work is going to continue. And those of
us who love Chicago and who know the scourge that this is in these
communities, thank you for the work that you`re trying to do there.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you for your time.
Now, having done the electoral math, Republicans are forced to wander
way outside their comfort zone. How is that whole rebranding thing working
out for you? Next.
HARRIS-PERRY: The Republican Party has a new campaign going. It`s
called growth and opportunity project. As part of this new GOP, Republican
Party Chairman Reince Priebus is visiting around the country. Yesterday,
Mr. Priebus held a, quote, "African-American engagement and listening
session in Atlanta" with African-American small business owners and
community leaders from across Georgia.
According to a black Republican blogger who`s at the meeting, this
means that Reince Priebus met with Georgia`s black Republicans. Mr.
Priebus told reporters afterward that the Republican Party has to change
its ways. He said the party has to spend more time in more communities
year-round, not just before an election.
But on the Republican chairman says Republicans are OK. Quote, "I
don`t think there is anything that we need to fix as far as our principles
and our policies." So on some level, it is clearly embarrassing to
Republicans that more than 90 percent of African-Americans vote against
them. It must be, or else they would not keep announcing every four years
that the Republican Party was wrong to use race for political advantage,
that the party was wrong to use race as a political wedge. It sounds nice,
The new Republican Party is going to reach out to you, you right where
you live. Kind of like when Mitt Romney went to the Martin Luther King Day
parade in Jacksonville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Wow, you want to do a
ROMNEY: Hey, I get to be up here. Come on. Whose got your camera,
though? Who let the dogs out, who, who? Thanks, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, who did let those dogs out? Or how about the time
that Newt Gingrich called Spanish the language of living in the ghetto and
then apologized in Spanish?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(NEWT GINGRICH SPEAKING SPANISH)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Or how about when the Republican Party elected an
African-American chairman, and he announced the dawn of the hip-hop
Republican with Republican principles in urban/suburban hip-hop settings.
How is that working out anyway?
Oh, right. If the Republican Party really wants to change, they might
start thinking about folks like these. Voters in an Ohio City forced to
wait in ridiculous lines because Republicans cut the time for early voting.
Republicans are still trying to make it harder for people in urban/suburban
hip-hop settings to vote with laws that require new forms of ID.
And they are still voting down bills that would expand early voting,
or just keep the lines reasonable at the polls.
And Republicans are still making plain old life harder for working
people. They`re still cutting taxes on the rich and snipping away the
safety net for the poor.
The day Republicans really go out into our communities and make a
priority of our priorities, well, then you`ll know that the real makeover
HARRIS-PERRY: A giant storm slammed into the east coast tonight,
dumping snow and rain and ice from New Jersey all the way up to Maine.
States of emergency have been declared in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, and Connecticut, and a limited state of emergency was declared in
In Connecticut, the governor banned all non-emergency vehicles from
In Massachusetts, all cars were ordered off the roads this afternoon.
The archdiocese of Boston urged people attending mass on Sunday to use
caution and prunes. And meteorologists expect this storm to leave behind
one to three feet of snow.
When you think of snow and rain and sleet and gloom of night, you
think of the Post Office, right? Or rather the Post Office creed.
Here in New York, you can see it there. See it? Just above the
colonnade at the famous James A. Farley Post Office. "Neither snow, nor
rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds."
And for the time being, mail delivery has not been interrupted in New
York state, although the postal service is asking people to help out their
mail people by clearing snow and ice from the driveways and porches.
But in New England where, the snow is heavier and driving conditions
are extremely dangerous, Post Offices closed early today. New Hampshire,
Maine, and Vermont all pulled their drivers off the road today. But
amazingly, the Post Office is expected to be back in full swing tomorrow.
On Saturday, mail delivery will be back. And it will be back for about
You see, this week the postmaster general announced that starting in
August, the Post Office will break with decades of tradition and will no
longer deliver mail on Saturdays.
The Post Office has been downsizing for a couple of years now,
shutting down locations that didn`t add enough to the bottom line. But
this is far and away the single most significant contraction of what the
Post Office does. The Post Office belongs to you.
It is a service you get from the government because the Constitution
says so. The United States Constitution proscribes the Post Office. It
was a cabinet-level position until the 1970s.
The Post Office is a really big deal. And its impact on America,
that`s been really big too. Not only does the Post Office handle 40
percent of all mail that`s physically delivered in the world, but it also
operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the country.
And because the government has been historically better at
implementing nondiscrimination policies for years the Post Office was a
critical pathway for African-Americans trying to break through to the
middle class. The Post Office not only paid a decent wage and was willing
to hire African-Americans, but it promoted them too.
By the end of the 20th century, a fifth of all postal workers were
African-American. Today the Post Office is still hugely important in terms
of jobs. It is the second largest employer in the country. Just after
Walmart. It`s Walmart, then the Post Office.
But what seems like a strength, the Post Office as a job creator, has
been turned into a weakness. The Post Office had to shrink and get smaller
because in the Bush era, the Republican-controlled Congress forced the Post
Office to do something that no other government agency has to do.
The Post Office has to fund itself impossibly far into the future.
And because of this impossible to meet funding mandate, the Post Office
seems broke. It is not broke there are people trying to break it, but it
is not broke.
The union that represents mail carriers estimates that if the Post
Office goes ahead with the plan to cut mail delivery from six to five days
a week, it will cost the country about 25,000 jobs. But hey, maybe
Joining us now is Congressman Elijah Cummings. He is a ranking member
of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and a member of
the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Congressman, it is good to have you here this evening.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me, Congressman Cummings. Do you have
concerns about these planned changes to the Postal Service? And
particularly the impact that it might have on black communities?
CUMMINGS: Oh, no doubt about it. You`re talking about just this
reduction from five days to -- from six days to five days will cut anywhere
from 25,000 to 30,000 employees. And with regard to Asian, African-
Americans, and Hispanics, they comprise about 40 percent of the postal
So it`s logical to believe if they were to lose that 30,000 jobs,
easily 40 percent of them would be African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian
Now, there is another thing, Melissa, that a lot of people don`t
realize. And that is over 40 percent of all postal employees are women.
CUMMINGS: So you have a lot of women, many of whom are single women -
- head of household, and they depend upon that decent wage, decent working
conditions and benefits to take care of their families. So, yes, it would
have a devastating effect in an economy that is already very, very fragile.
HARRIS-PERRY: I keep thinking that maybe the Post Office needs sort
of better marketing. So after I saw the Dodge`s "God made a former Super
Bowl commercial," I kept thinking we need a "God made a mailman" PSA, God
needed someone to keep a growing nation connected and God need someone to
keep an eye on your house when you`re traveling and God needed someone to
knock on the doors of the elderly. So, God made the mailman.
Like there is something mere needing to express just how critical the
work of the Post Office is.
CUMMINGS: Yes, I think a lot of people are confused as to why the
Post Office finds itself in the difficulty that they are. Keep in mind
that the Post Office produces about $65 billion a year, but 99.99 percent
of that comes from the sale of stamps and first class mail.
And what has happened over the years, Melissa, is that the people have
now moved more and more towards using the Internet. And so therefore since
2008, that income coming into the Post Office has been reduced by something
like about -- the volume, that is -- had been reduced by about 43 percent.
So, basically, we have now I think and pretty much everybody admits
this, we`re going to have to do some downsizing because it`s just not a
good fit right now. We have more employees than we actually need. But
there are all kinds of ways to achieve this without necessarily going
through drastic measures.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what do you think the Congress can do at this point
in order to kind of forestall the labor force decline that can happen as a
result of going from six days to five days a week?
CUMMINGS: You know, one of the things that happened last session,
Melissa, is that the Senate put together a pretty good bill. I didn`t
agree with everything in it. But it called for innovation.
In other words, opened the door so that the Post Office can do what
Post Offices do in other countries, enabling them to make additional money.
For example, having opportunities to sell cell phones and opportunities to
have all kinds of postal services that they would not normally have. In
other words, to expand and to do things that they don`t do now.
And so -- but what happened is in the Congress, the response has been
that any time they decided the Post Office wanted to do anything
innovative, Congress said no, we don`t want you to do that, because then
you`ll be competing against the private sector.
CUMMINGS: So their hands are kind of tied.
Basically, what the Congress needs to do is do a comprehensive bill
whereby we have what we call an innovation officer, which is my idea. And
that person would keep the Post Office as cutting edge of innovation and
bringing in new ways to of making money.
The other thing we`re going to have to do is we are going to have to
do some downsizing. But when we downsize, we have to downsize with
compassion. Keep in mind we have more than 100,000 people that are right
now eligible to retire. And what we have to do now is make sure that they
have a decent parachute to land. In other words, to give them some
incentive money so they can go ahead and retire, and so that we can right
size the Post Office.
Those are the things that we have to do. But keep in mind every time,
Melissa, that the Post Office tries to do something --
CUMMINGS: -- to correct itself or to make it possible to get new
revenue or whatever, the Congress comes in and says oh, no, you can`t do
that. They wanted to close down some Post Offices that are not being
CUMMINGS: Congress says no, that`s not -- you can`t do that in my
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right.
CUMMINGS: They want to close a plant down, a mailing plant -- no, you
can`t do that. So --
CUMMINGS: We got to have a kind of balance here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. They don`t let them innovate, they don`t let
them compete, and then they say you`re not innovative and you`re not
CUMMINGS: That`s right. That`s right. That`s the problem.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Congressman Elijah Cummings --
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- who is ranking member of the House Committee on
Overnight and Government Reform -- I appreciate you being here tonight.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much.
HARRIS-PERRY: And coming up, what the story of Beyonce and the Super
Bowl lights says about all the ladies, single or otherwise.
HARRIS-PERRY: Earlier this week, we learned that next Tuesday,
Florida Senator Marco Rubio would be delivering the official Republican
response to President Obama`s State of the Union address. Today, the Tea
Party announced its own post-speech presidential naysayer, Kentucky`s
Republican Senator Rand Paul.
This is the third such Tea Party state of the union response. Their
past two speakers were Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. Yep, that`s
happening on Tuesday.
Happy Mardi Gras, everybody.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Let`s say you`re a doctor, and a private physician
in any small to mid-sized city in the country. If any of your patients
comes to you with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, you as her doctor can
quickly and quietly provide her with a low-risk, outpatient procedure to
terminate the pregnancy. You can file a claim with her insurance company.
You can both go home to your families.
But let`s say you`re a doctor who has chosen to provide abortions to
the most vulnerable women, to women without insurance, teens or domestic
violence victims. If you`re a doctor trying to serve that population in,
say, Jackson, Mississippi, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or Little Rock,
Arkansas, or Fargo, North Dakota, you have a completely different
If you live in the community, you`ll have protesters at your home and
office. Your friends and neighbors will get flyers calling you a murder.
You might employee an armed security guard. You take a different route to
work every day. You might not even feel comfortable living in the
community where you work.
You might fly in from out of state and then fly back home when you`re
done each week. You might have to use an assumed name while you`re in
town. And if you don`t, you can expect to be followed to your hotel by
people who want to stop you from doing your work. Openly providing
abortion where every one has access to it is bordering on impossible in the
The one remaining clinic in the entire state of Mississippi, which is
served by doctors who fly in each week to serve the patients there, is
poised to be shut down by anti-abortion politicians who control state
government. And they have been very straightforward that their goal is to
close this one clinic by passing onerous, new regulations that they knew it
could not meet.
(BEGION VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: I know it`s historic. It`s a day
you see that first step in a movement, I believe, to do what we campaigned
on: to say we`re going to try to end abortion in Mississippi.
We`re going to continue to try and work to end abortion in
Mississippi. This is an historic day of beginning that process
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That process of shutting down this one clinic started
last spring. And the same process is starting right now in Fargo, North
Dakota -- another state with only one remaining abortion clinic being
targeted by the state legislature in exactly the same way.
The North Dakota Senate this week passed a bill with new regulations
targeting just that one remaining clinic. Alone, among all health care
providers in the state, with the exact same new regulations enacted in
Mississippi, rules that are not necessary for safety or health.
Just as this method of shutting down access to abortion seems to be
working in Mississippi, the folks in North Dakota are picking it up and
running with it. And if it works in North Dakota, if this new bill becomes
law and does shut down that one remaining clinic, it cuts off access for
women in a huge swath of the country.
This is Fargo. This is where the only abortion clinic in North Dakota
is. The next closest clinic is to the east. It`s almost four hours away
in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The next closest clinic to the south, about
four hours away in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To the west, you`re probably
looking at Billings, Montana, more than eight hours away.
As you can see, there`s already a very serious access problem in this
part of the country. So if you take away the one clinic in this region
that is served by so few clinics, you`re cutting off access for women in a
And that is the goal. With both of these laws, to harness the power
of state government to eliminate access to abortion, to eliminate the one
little building in the entire state where a woman with a few means and
tough choices to make knows she can go.
But let`s be clear: even if the state succeeds in shutting down this
clinic, they will not eliminate abortion in the state. Those with regular,
private, OB/GYNs will still be able to terminate pregnancies. What these
rules will do is to eliminate safe and legal abortion for the most
And there`s a very easy way to describe this world being created by
anti-abortion forces winnowing down the options for women. This is the
pre-Roe v. Wade reality. Just like before Roe was decided 40 years ago,
abortion is now affordable and accessible in some states and not in others.
This fundamental, constitutionally protected right, in practical terms,
depends on where you live.
Women shouldn`t have to live with that.
HARRIS-PERRY: A little news on a big story today. We`re a bit closer
to understanding what caused the more than half hour power outage in the
New Orleans Superdome last Sunday.
According to latest reports, the outage was caused by a relay,
electrical device which is supposed to prevent precisely these kinds of
outages. The relay manufacturer has asserted the problem wasn`t in the
device but in how the local power company, Entergy, installed it. The
But here`s one thing we can now reliably say about the power outage.
It was not caused by Beyonce. Yes, that was a theory being floated by
some. Oh, OK, by many.
At first, it was by fans who took to Twitter and said her utter
fierceness took down the power grid. Eventually, the Beyonce meme was
enough of a things that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell felt compelled
earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GODDELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: There`s no indication at all that
this was caused by the half-time show. Absolutely none. I know that`s
been out there to say that Beyonce`s half-time show had something to do
with it. That`s not case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So she didn`t blow the lights. That hasn`t
stopped an almost comically predictable criticism of Beyonce`s performance,
emerging full pledge from those who see danger around every corner when
women start flaunting their sexuality.
There was Katherine Jen Lopez (ph) declaring on the "National Review
Online" that Beyonce should, quote, "put a dress on it."
And Rachel Campos-Duffy on Mike Huckabee`s radio show suggesting that
half-time, quote, "looked like a stripper show." Listen to this exchange.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE: When you were seeing the half-time show -- you`re
sitting there with your kids -- what did you think as a mom and what were
you saying to them?
RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, the first thing I realized is that it
looked like -- it looked like a stripper show.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. I`m going to need everyone to take a
breath. Now, feel free to debate and disagree about the aesthetic, musical
or artistic value of Beyonce`s performance. But once you start blaming
electrical engineering failures or moral disintegration on a 31-year-old
married mom and businesswoman, with an envy (INAUDIBLE), you have entered
into mythological woman-blaming, you know, like the story of Pandora, a
woman who opens a box that unleashes sadness and misfortune onto the world,
or Eve, another woman who ate that apple and brought sins to all humanity.
Now, it`s Beyonce and her bootyliciousness that will make it unsafe
for American children to enjoy the brain-crushing performance of violence
of Sunday afternoon football punctuated by Go Daddy commercials. Right.
These are the stories we tell and they have consequences. Remember in
2010 when conservative candidates campaigned on improving the economy? As
far as I can tell, the main target of all that economy-improving
legislative energy was women`s uteruses, which were targeted with a record
number of new laws restricting abortion access.
It`s like they think women making their own reproductive choices not
Wall Street making bad bets crashed the economy. No, that is crazy as
thinking Beyonce blew the lights in the Superdome, right?
That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back on Monday. And I
will see you tomorrow morning Saturday and Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m.
It`s time for "THE LAST WORD".
Have a great night.
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