'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, June 8th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
June 8, 2013
Guests: Irving Joyner, Ari Berman, Judith Browne Dianis, Garland Pierce, Carol Teal, Ezra Klein, Maria Teresa Kumar, Anthea Butler, Edwina Rogers
MELISSA HARRIS PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, what can we
learn from the first lady`s response to a heckler? Plus, the growing
social movement in North Carolina. My report from the ground.
And the 11-year-old speaking truth to power and winning.
But first, did you notice a little something different about the president
this week? We call it swagger.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Mark the date now because it will
be the most important day remaining in the Obama presidency. November 4th,
2014. It is the last chance Democrats have to retake the House with
President Obama still in office. The last chance President Obama has to
get his legislative partner, Nancy Pelosi back in charge on the hill to
move forward his agenda. Too soon you say? 17 months away? Well, don`t
tell that to President Obama because this week he made it clear, game on.
Republicans want to block judicial nominations here is three for you, all
at once. For this second most powerful court in the country. That was
Tuesday. Back from me (inaudible), you know, my choice for the secretary
of state. How about some in your face choices for a national security
adviser and U.N ambassador in the form of Susan Rice and Samantha Power.
That was Wednesday. Vote to repeal my signature piece of domestic
legislation 37 times? Well, on Friday President Obama went to California
to tell everyone that his law is already working and Republicans just have
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And my suggestion
to them has been let`s stop refighting the old battles and start working
with people like the leaders who are on stage here today, and to make this
law work the way it`s supposed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, we`re going to come back to the Affordable Care Act in
just a moment. But first, let`s talk about the president in the midterm.
Because I know what you are thinking, presidents don`t gain seats in
midterm elections, they lose them. Well, that may be the conventional
wisdom, but it`s not quite all right. You see, the model to look at here
is not just midterm elections, but second-term midterm elections. And
elections have consequences. And in fact, they`re supposed to give the
voters what they want. In 2012 voters wanted more President Obama. They
even wanted more Democrats on the hill, but partisan redistricting
prevented them from getting it. So, what they got instead was dysfunction,
obstruction, and obsession. Obsession over so-called scandals. Scandals
so remote and feeling like they were manufactured that most voters would
rather just tune out than listen to the meaningless partisan bickering
coming from people who are supposed to be doing the country`s business.
Now, if this sounds familiar it might be because it happened before. Back
in 1998 in President Clinton`s second term, when Republicans wholly
rejected governing in favor of scandal promotion worthy of the supermarket
tabloids. And that strategy of all scandal all the time cost them dearly
in the midterms. In 1998 Democrats with a Democratic president gained
seats in the House. Now granted. Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald
Reagan lost seats in their second term, midterms. But all this tells at
least a recent history. It`s not so much of the president if party loses
seats, but that the Republicans` party tends to lose seats. So, make no
mistake about what happened this week. The president threw down the
strategic gauntlet. To Republicans and Democrats alike, he essentially
said my name may not be on the ballot, but my policies will be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Well, it turns out we`re actually seeing that in the states that
have committed themselves to implementing this law correctly, we`re seeing
some good news. Competition and choice are pushing down costs in the
individual market just like the law was designed to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It may sound like measured policy talk, but it is pure
electoral defiance. This week`s NBC News "Wall Street Journal" poll shows
the president signature accomplishment remains unpopular. Check that.
Wildly unpopular. It means 49 percent of Americans believe the Affordable
Care Act is a bad idea. Only 37 percent polled say the plan is a good
idea. Those are the worst numbers the ACA has received since polling on
this issue began back in 2009. Worst than during the Republicans height
death panel distortions about what the ACA even really was. Worse than
when the Tea Party wave of 2010 brought Republicans into power in the House
in the president`s first term mid-term election. So no doubt Republicans
have been winning the messaging fight on this one. Maybe you remember the
ad showing the elderly couple who were denied life saving care and the ACA
spending on attack ads on the ACA, has in fact been five to one versus ads
defending the law. So, what is the president up to here? What politician
goes out of his way to make the piece of legislation at this all time most
unpopular point, the centerpiece of his party`s strategy? What is this
strategy of Democrats owning Obama care? What if -- what if it turns out
that President Obama knows something that a lot of Americans don`t? Like
his point that in California insurance companies will return 45 million
dollars to small businesses and their employees because of Obama care.
That the average planned premium is now expected to cost $1600 less than
the Congressional Budget Office forecast in 2009. The Republican governors
once opposed at their very core to ACA are now scrambling to get their
states on board with the Medicaid expansion plan. What if President Obama
with the open enrollment in the market place exchanges part of the
Affordable Care Act, now less than four months away, what if he knows that
the law will work?
But he doesn`t know it will work. He can`t. Because until we get to full
implementation and probably a few years after that, no one can know for
sure. And yet, here he is, President Obama, betting everything that it
will work. And that he can convince Americans to make the same bet. From
there is one word for that kind of audacious, swagger.
Joining me this morning, editor of the "Washington Post" Wonkblog Ezra
Klein. He`s also an MSNBC policy analyst, Anthea Butler, professor of
religious studies and graduate chair of religion at the University of
Pennsylvania. Maria Teresa Kumar, the CEO and president of Voto Latino and
Edwina Rogers, the executive director of the Secular Coalition for America.
And former economic advisor to President George W. Bush. Thank you all for
being here this morning.
EZRA KLEIN: Thank you.
Everybody, what do you make of this? Is this the president really - a
policy move? When he says OK, the only way that ACA is going to work is if
we get everybody signed up?
Or is that the natural political move. I`m going straight in your face
with my Obamacare. Bring it.
KLEIN: Here`s what I make of it. I`m ecstatic, we get to argue about the
Affordable Care Act.
KLEIN: I`ve been waiting for years to get back to this point. I thought
that something the president said in those remarks is really the thing to
focus on. He said, in the states they are trying to implement this
correctly we`re seeing it work. And that is true. Oregon, Washington,
California, Maryland, we`re seeing really good things there. What is going
to be, I think the foundational point, I think about in the ACA over the
next year, and coming into the midterm, we tend to think of policies either
working or not working, right? Either we do it and it`s good or we do it
and it`s bad. It`s just. That is not how the Affordable Care Act is going
to go. Every state sets up its own exchange. Either because they do it or
the Feds do it on their behalf. And every state can fail or succeed on its
own, and so you can have a situation where state like California - where
Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in fact, was the first governor in the
entire nation to begin setting up these exchanges. Huge outreach program,
they are getting people in, they`re getting the word out. They`re seeing
premiums come down. It could work really well in California. And then
over in Texas.
KLEIN: Rick Perry ...
KLEIN: ... had to stop it.
KLEIN: The Medicaid expansion isn`t going to go into effect at all. And
it`s the big, I think, question about the Affordable Care Act going into
2014. If it works, great, in the states that are trying to make it work,
great. And it is a disaster in the states that are trying to make it a
disaster. Does the fact that Governor Perry`s destroyed his state health
care system despite Obama ...
KLEIN: Does that make Barack Obama look bad or does that make Republicans
in Texas look bad?
KLEIN: And in particular Hispanics in Texas want to get the Medicaid
expansion. They can get it, they just got Perry in the couple Republicans
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, who gets held accountable here?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Well, no one is going to be held an
accountable. But it`s also very political. The reason he needs to go to
California is that they have so many Latinos that they are getting ready to
beat lined up. The Affordable Care Act, in order for it to work, needs at
least 2.7 million young people ...
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right.
KUMAR: in its rolls.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right.
KUMAR: Latino population is 14 years younger than the average American.
But then there is another strategic position there. There are two
Republicans seats in the central value that are up for grabs. You know who
is eligible voters now? That weren`t even four years ago? Latinos.
HARRIS-PERRY: In particularly, young Latinos.
KUMAR: Young Latinos. So, he is definitely going to try to tout the
Affordable Care Act, because it`s purely political. He needs to start
getting congressional members stacked in as fast as possible. And he knows
that California, the central valley that no one ever pays attention to
because there`s (inaudible) Republicans is there. Now he needs to go to
Texas. Because Texas has the largest population of eligible Latino folks
and he goes toe-to-toe with Rick Perry ...
KUMAR: And at the minimum, he`s able to tell them, look, I care about you.
You guys need insurance. You guys are young and you`re going to basically
help to carry this forward.
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of what is fascinating about this to me, is that we see
this notion that people are against the Affordable Care, against Obamacare.
It really breaking down, it turns out, some people are against it, because
they think it`s too liberal. But there`s also a whole group of people who
are against it because they think that it`s actually not liberal enough,
that is not progressive enough. In a lot of ways if we were to start doing
what Ezra says, and we start breaking down the Affordable Care Act, this is
a set of policies that were initially put forward by Republican lawmakers,
some of whom now are the ones voting against, 37 times against the ACA.
EDWINA ROGERS, SECULAR COALITION FOR AMERICA: I agree. I worked in the
Senate years ago in 2003 and 2004 for Senator Sessions on the Health
Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under Bill Frist. And I would say
80 percent of what is in the Affordable Care Act, to be Republicans in the
Senate wanted. The Medicaid expansion was a little bit uneasy, the
individual mandate, everybody knew that it was required to make it work.
And so, I`ve been close to healthcare policy for more than ten years, and I
know that it`s a step in the right direction. But it`s so confusing. It`s
so hard to understand and comprehend for the average American. But I know
that the president is doing the right thing. And he`s got to get out and
educate people. And I think he`s just had it - had it. He`s worked so
hard. He finally delivered what the country needed. And so there`s not
this gratitude out there and people don`t really understand it. But they
will in the end.
HARRIS-PERRY: And almost, you know, a lack of celebration. I think part
of what is so surprising to me is this idea that now it`s passed. Now it`s
been upheld by the Supreme Court. It certainly has its limitations. But
we were in fact as a country working for some multiple decades to get some
sort of health care reform. And now the president almost has to go and say
hey, hey, for 30 years you said you wanted this. We`ve got it. Come on.
Get on my side on this.
ANTHEA BUTLER, PROF., UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA: Exactly. And this is now the
resell of the Affordable Care Act. It`s the same way - I`m going to get up
front the president. And now say, look, this is going to be good for
everyone. And I think especially, yeah, you brought Texas and Rick Perry,
I think that this is a moment to drive the state through all these states
that don`t want to do this and have gutted their health care systems. In
Texas, you don`t have birth control. Planned Parenthood has been gutted.
All this funding has been gutted. And these are the same people who are
going to need health care. They need it desperately. And one of the
things I`m personally worried about right now, especially with young people
is that it`s been a lot of this talk and backlash about , how much money
it`s going to be and we should just pay the fines instead of getting health
care insurance. But I think this is a moment to really promote the plan
and say you really need to try to buy into this. Because this is going to
help you in the long term, it`s also going to help the plan. And that`s
the important piece.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to take a break, but when we come back I want to
ask you about rational self interest. Both at the individual level, but
also at the level of governors and the choices that they are making.
Because up next, some of the president`s most surprising allies. You are
really not going to believe who is supporting the Affordable Care Act right
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. We`ve been talking about the president`s
swagger on display this week, and the Democratic Party`s risky political
calculation to make the president`s health care law a centerpiece of next
year`s midterm election. But Democrats underestimated the intensity of
opposition to the law before. Look at the Medicaid provision. Who would
have expected states to refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care
Act when after all, it`s such a good deal for them? The federal government
splits the costs of Medicaid with each state. Usually, the Feds pick up
between 50 and 85 percent of the bill. But the ACA expansion is different.
The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for the expanded
population for the first three years, and after that no less than 90
percent. So it`s a great deal for the states. They get billions of
federal dollars for a program that consistently takes up a big, and often
the biggest chunk of state budgets. And yet many Republican state
lawmakers are refusing to expand Medicaid because it is part of the hated
ACA. I`m looking at you, Bobby Jindal. 15 governors say they will flat
out refuse to expand Medicaid. That`s the states in red. Other states are
weighing their options. Those are in yellow, and then the rest in green,
the governors support expanding Medicaid. But some Republican governors
just can`t say no to the money and are - get this - aggressively supporting
a Medicaid expansion. And that led to some serious infighting among
Republicans in Arizona. I can`t believe I have to tell you this. Governor
Jan Brewer, no fan of the ACA, has made good on her threat to veto any
legislation sent her way until the state house passes a budget, including a
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich has gone so far as to invoke the name of
Ronald Reagan. In a recent op-ed in the "USA Today", in Florida, Rick
Scott has asked his legislature to expand Medicaid. But they refused, and
the Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is begging his legislature to pass a bill
expanding Medicaid before they leave for the summer. Is this just rational
self interest? Or this is economic self-interest?
KLEIN: (inaudible). Here is a bag. We brought this giant bag, and behind
us a truck of free money for you, free money. Would you like any of it?
There was RAND study came out earlier this week, and they looked at the 14
Republican states that were looking to not do it. They calculated that
those states would lose $8 billion. And this is actually a really
important part of this. They would have to spend an extra billion dollars
above what they would normally do for uncompensated care. So, that is
going to really the healthcare - it`s not just they are saying no to free
money. They`re putting an extra burden on assistance because Medicaid is
paying for a lot of hospitals right now that treat the uninsured. And
they`re not going to get that payment anymore if they`re sending Medicaid
back or at least sending the expansion back. So, they`re going to have a
lot of these hospitals closing. Their system is going to get worse. 3.6
or 3.9 million more people will be uninsured. They are refusing - they are
not just refusing free money, they`re actively hurting their system. And
that`s why you see Jan Brewer and Rick Scott and others making such a
priority of this. Because they don`t want to deal with the consequences
HARRIS-PERRY: And not just the healthcare system, right? The economy,
right? So, (inaudible) dollars also are economy extensive. Right? They
are real dollars. They generate jobs.
KUMAR: Well, and also - in Florida, let`s not forget - they`re large
retirement communities. They`re voters. So when you start looking through
that lens, of course they are not going to want to upset their base. So I
think that`s on of the other reasons why they are so up and front, whereas
other states are kind of - again, they are not retirement communities.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what am I to make of this now? Internecine war. I mean
between Republican governors, some like mine, Bobby Jindal, who is taking
the hard no stance. We may be a poor state, we may have lots of people who
need this, Medicaid expansion, but no, hands off Obama care. Versus people
who do seem to be acting in the economic rational self-interest of their
ROGERS: Well, I think that most Republican governors will eventually be
coming around. And one towards the big retirement communities are, like in
Arizona and Florida, they majority of Medicaid dollars are for retires,
except for the elderly, mainly for assisted living and for long term care.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, is this the difference? Is it because - the elderly are
not - there`s not that same sense of problematic taking of government
dollars that we often see when we talk about poor people, African-American
communities, you know, Latinos - those dollars get sort of politicized in a
way that dollars for the elderly do not.
KLEIN: Go ahead.
KUMAR: I mean let`s not forget that when they were doing all these voter
suppression laws in Florida, they went actively - the Republican Party went
actively to assisted living facilities to register them. Because they
realized that let`s carve this out, but they are voters, and they are the
ones - they aren`t takers, they already basically have given back to the
system. And who is their base?
HARRIS-PERRY: And talk to me a little bit, Maria, about the connection
between ACA as a policy and the potential of Latino voters within the
midterms to help shifting. You talked a little bit about it in that
corridor in California. But is this in part also about not wanting to move
KUMAR: Absolutely. Well, one is - House reasons will be very interesting,
actually. In order for you to basically sign up to exchange, they also
provide you with the opportunity to sign up and register to vote.
California has now actually allowed you to go online, and from the safety
of your home, directly register and vote. And those individuals actually
get on, 80 percent of them get on the voter rules and they actually turn
out. So if they do that, and it`s the law of the land, it`s a new motor
voter law. And you facilitate it, but you also get individuals that may
not like to have been asked to register and participate.
HARRIS-PERRY: That - I got to say, when I`m looking at this pie chart and
we`ve asked you how people think their families are going to fair under
ACA, and 38 percent of them are saying, we think our family is going to be
worse off. 19 percent are saying better off. And 39 percent saying no
difference at all. When you look at that - why would you make that the
centerpiece of - I mean is it in a way to win a midterm election based on
KLEIN: Well - yeah, I don`t think anybody is going to win a midterm
election based through (inaudible) of the affordable care. But as a broad
point, one, the answers for most families, you`re not going to notice. For
a bunch of families, you will be better off, and then for a small minority
of families, maybe it`ll be the worse - If you`re rich you`re going to be
paying higher taxes under the Affordable care Act.. In order to pay for -
one point I want to make on the issue of Hispanic voters, though, is a
really interesting way in which Obama care is becoming tied in with
immigration reform. And that, in the House, what is blowing up the
bipartisan immigration bill there, is that House Republicans want to lock
anybody who`s moving from undocumented to trying to get onto the path to
citizenship out of any federal health care subsidies, particularly Obama
care. So let`s say that you are making 400 percent or 300 percent of the
poverty line, you are not eligible to get the subsidies that everybody else
in the country can get. I believe Marco Rubio came out either last night
or this morning, on one of these shows and said, yeah, he agrees with that.
And that could blow up the Senate bill, too. So now you have a possibility
where the way Republicans are actually blow up immigration is in addition
to blowing up immigration reform, the way they are going to blow it up is
to say that immigrants should not be able to get Affordable Care Act
subsidies. So, you`re going to have - it`s not just that you have this
happening in states with a particularly heavy Latino population, which is
particularly uninsured. It`s also going to be ...
HARRIS-PERRY: If they can, they back (inaudible)
KLEIN: Immigration reform.
That doesn`t seem like great long-term politics for the Republican Party.
BUTLER: No, it`s not - it`s just not long term - it`s not great long-term
policies. It`s because we need, actually, we need more people to pay in
than not, right? So, to keep Affordable Health Care going. But I also
think the thing that`s going to happen is, that is not, just the elderly
that is going to backfire - it`s going to backfire on people who are middle
age, 45 to 65, who are actually taking care of elderly parents. And they
won`t have this money, if, you know, in some of the states that don`t want,
you know, to help out. And all of this is going to really fall apart. And
so the squeeze is going to be - not just a population of 60 and over, but a
population that`s maybe 45 and older.
HARRIS-PERRY: The sandwich.
BUTLER: Yeah, the sandwich people. Yeah.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I also wonder about this decision that the
Republicans made at some point to label ACA as Obama care, with the sense
that Obama was going to be radio active. But when you look at his approval
numbers, despite all of these so called scandals, all the kind they have
going in the scandals, his approval numbers have remained pretty standard.
Sort of half and half. And in our polls over and over again, no matter
what is coming out. And it does feel like almost labeling it Obama care
might allow then his position, kind of going out there and rallying for it
to bring up the numbers of ACA. Any possibility of that?
KLEIN: I think in the end the popularity it will be built on how it all
works. And I think mainly what`s going to happen, is he`s going to come
in, most people aren`t going to notice. And then a few people are going to
be really hugely helped. But I think the big context for what they`re
doing, a lot of Democrats for a long time have said, why is the
administration not selling this law? Why are they not out there every day?
And the administration`s answer is what they looked into. When they looked
into this, what they found was to sell the law, to go out and tell people
about how it`s going to work. Before they can actually begin signing up.
It`s to waste your opportunity. Because then they get mad. They try to go
online. They try to send up - they can`t. They can`t get any subsidies.
So, this summer coming in to that, because they`re coming in the fall and
the exchanges activate in October, this is when this is all going to wrap
up. And I think to the administration, they really see - this will be a
popular law in good politics if it works. And in order for it to work,
people need to know about it. They need to sign up. And for that to
happen, they need to time the salesmanship right.
KLEIN: And this was really about this upcoming semi, because that is going
to be what drives - actually, have a law works in 2014.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love this. The other big judicial - I mean the other big
presidential play this week was a judicial play. And when you talk about
swagger, three, three all in one day. I loved it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back to our conversation about the president`s
second term swagger. We told you last week about the president`s plan to
nominate three judges to the D.C Circuit Court all at once. It`s a dare.
Daring Republicans to block them all. And he did indeed nominate three
judges this week. Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins. Take
a low look at this image. Do you notice anything? Yep, he`s not just
filling the court, he`s diversifying it, too. Swagger! All right. So I
am fascinated by this decision. This president has had a tough time
getting all of his judicial nominations through. So this time this
extremely important court, he puts three -- he puts forward three
nominations - I assume because then you can`t filibuster all three at the
BUTLER: Yeah, you can`t filibuster all three at the same time. First of
all, second, it gets away from all the arguments right now about you don`t
have enough women. You don`t have enough minorities. You don`t have
enough this, you don`t have that. So, it satisfies, you know, his base.
But it also puts it right in the face of Republicans to say, you know, do
this. Just come at me on this. And if you come at me, you are going to
get it, and you`re going to get it hard. And this is the first time, I
thought when he did the nominations, I was like, my gosh, yes!
BUTLER: I thought, finally. This is what I wanted you to say for the last
five years. I wanted you to get in their face and, you know, really
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s you say - because I wonder, if part of what
we have seen this week, because it was a tough week for the president in
certain ways, right? And I promise for everybody who`s irritated that I`m
not talking about all the, you know, the Verizon stuff. That`s tomorrow.
We got two day shows, right. So, we`re going to talk about what it`s
likely have been for the president in a lot of ways, but that`s been part
of what is so interesting about how aggressive he`s being. You know, to
put three names forward for the court, altogether like this, with the kind
of dare, and to have them all be nonwhite men - struck me as exactly what
much of the base has wanted, a kind of more aggressive president.
KUMAR: Well, and let`s now remember, the district court that chose with
DC, and these are individuals, basically, that feed a lot of the stuff
right before it goes into the Supreme Court. So it actually provides the
base for him to be legacy building in the long term. So I think that`s
incredibly important. But I think these are definitely - they good ones, in
terms that he needs them, but he needs bigger wins right now. and it`s not
of how do we actually start getting back on his agenda. So it can be true
legacy. We talk about Obama care. But he needs immigration reform, and he
needs gun control. He needs environment. And he needs to figure out
infrastructure. And that is only going to happen if he engages with the
Republican Party by doing exactly what he did. He is like - this is my
mandate. And going after them and making sure that, you know, he channels
a little bit of LBJ and then what he does so well. So, you know,
(inaudible) combat in Congress, but then going to their district and saying
- talking to the American people. So, he needs still a little bit of both.
KLEIN: But to make one point about this question a bigger wins, I mean one
thing I think you`re saying, I don`t agree with Mitch McConnell doesn`t
believe he can filibuster three judges at one time.
KLEIN: He`s going to filibuster ...
KLEIN: And he gets in time, so ...
HARRIS-PERRY: He`s like ...
KLEIN: I think he will be fine with it. What is really important ...
HARRIS-PERRY: McConnell sweater!
KLEIN: What is really important about the D.C circuit court, is it deals
with all regular - is it deals with the bulk of regulatory action. And one
thing that Congress and Obama can`t work with that effectively, because
Republicans will filibuster or vote down what he does, is it he does turn
to some good regulatory action. And the big places he`s going to do this
year, is climate change.
KLEIN: The EPA is going to come out with a series of rules regulating
power plants, possibly regulating coal. There is going to be some really
big aggressive efforts have been previewed for a long time now, and one of
the big questions is do they make it through the courts?
Now, if you put three Democratic Obama appointees on the courts, that makes
it much likely that you can get through. Obviously, Obama isn`t on the
ballot again. The Democrats are on 2014, but he is not, so in terms of
wins, it`s not just about popular ones. It`s about actually affecting,
say, the heating of the Earth over time.
And so, one thing about the D.C. circuit court here ...
HARRIS-PERRY: Wow. I want to pause on that. You`re like, there`s
politics and then there`s impacting the heating of the earth.
KLEIN: There`s (inaudible) of the planet, and one thing here in terms of
big wins what they are potentially trying to create a pathway for, is, he`s
actually doing something very big on climate change. And that would be if
they could get that done, a hugely, hugely important policy thing. Even if
it didn`t go directly through Congress.
ROGERS: I would just like to add that I think that Obama will come back
with a threat to get the Senate to change the filibuster rules if they do -
if they do go and filibuster all three of them, the Republicans and the
Senate. I would be surprised if they did. But, of course, they do need to
ROGERS: There have been mistakes in the past on the Republican side and
the Democratic side with judges that have been put forward that were not
appropriate and then issues came out and they withdrew. So they need to
have a close look at them. But I would be surprised that there would be a
move to try to filibuster all three of them.
ROGERS: And then risk having the rules changed on.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean - I mean - betting is appropriate. It`s
constitutional. It`s - but when we are starting to see the filibusters,
and when they are coming sort of across from low level administrative
appointees, all the way up to the federal bench, then we know something
else is going on also. My favorite, favorite swagger move in terms of
nominations this week is coming up. Two bold choices. I can`t believe
they`re back on the scene. Love it.
HARRIS-PERRY: My favorite presidential swagger moment of the week, this
press conference on Wednesday when President Obama nominated Susan Rice to
replace the departing Tom Donilon as national security adviser.
Republicans tried to make Rice radioactive after placing blame for bungling
the media response to Benghazi topics square on her doorstep. Watching
Rice accept the president`s NSA nomination was easy to think that in
removing herself from consideration for secretary of state, she actually
ended up exactly where she and the president always hoped she would be.
And just to up the ante of swagger on Wednesday, the president nominated
Samantha Power to the U.N ambassador position. Power is a Pulitzer Prize
winner, but may be better known for her comments on the interview in 2008.
When she was adviser to the Obama campaign. Yeah, you remember when she
called then senator Hillary Clinton a monster. Hankser (ph). The
president`s decision to embrace both Rice and Power was a serious in your
face defiance move. Clearly he`s refusing to let his political opponent
have final say over who is and is not serving in his administration. And
ladies, take note: this is yet another piece of evidence that demonstrates
good girls make friends, but fearless women make history.
All right, I can`t believe Samantha Power and Susan Rice are back. That
was - that was intense this week. Yes? No? Am I making it up? There was
KUMAR: I think - and the fact that they are both in such positions to
actually change the course of our human rights initiative and actually put
it on the top of the agenda, of the American agenda, I think is incredible.
And I think it goes back to, Ezra, what you were saying earlier, is that he
is planting long seed possibilities to his legacy, if not in the media
time, but n ten, 15 and 20 years from now. And that`s incredible about
what he`s been doing the last week or so.
HARRIS-PERRY: And also, doesn`t respond back, and to some - to your point
about there have been some critique. I mean there was one picture where
Valerie Jared`s leg was in the picture in ":The New York Times." When
there was no other - you know, female adviser around him. And he picked
not just women, but like bad ass women. Strong women.
BUTLER: Exactly. Strong women. I think that it really sends out a
message because part of what happened is when Susan Rice and the Benghazi
thing happened, they really tried to vilify her. But now by bringing her
back, and say, and put Powers for the U.N, what this is, I am not afraid of
strong women. I am not afraid to appoint them to this. And you all are
just going to have to deal with it. And I think the second thing is since
we are - a lot of people who are watching the administration now, said this
is the long term. We need more women in these higher level positions of
authority and power so that the tenor and tone of things can change. It
will be very different to have a woman as the NSH chief as opposed to
having a man. I think - I think that would be the case. Saying thing at
All of these kinds of changes that he`s making are making a different kind
of end road and a different kind of way to see this, and Republicans have
to step up to this, too. I mean it`s just - this is a fact. They really
don`t have that kind of depth on their side for women who are able to be
appointed to these kinds of positions.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I mean the first black women in NSA, of course was ...
HARRIS-PERRY: ... was the other rice. No relation. Right. But there is
something to be said - not that we want to acentralize women. I mean, you
know, Michele Bachmann is not Susan Rice, for example, right?
But on the other hand, we have seen Senator Gillibrand this week talking
about sexual assault. Was it indicative? Was it a reminder? I just want
to listen for a moment to another woman who really made her voice heard
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: While you are all so
dedicated and determined not all commanders are objective. Not every
single commander necessarily wants women in the force. Not every single
commander believes what a sexual assault is. Not every single commander
can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all
of these crimes together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So we`ve got, I mean, here on this question of military, of,
you know, chain of command, of sexual assault, all of the sudden you have a
woman`s voice like the senators and it reveals kind of what happens when
you don`t have a woman senator in that space.
ROGERS: I agree. I am very pleased to see women coming out, strong women.
And I`m very impressed by Power going to the U.N. And she has a strong
background on LGBT rights, on the women`s rights, on freedom of religion.
And also, we work in the U.N. And I think she (inaudible) at it very
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean one might argue that the monster comment is
indicative that she won`t make a good diplomat.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because it wasn`t a very diplomatic moment. But her
stepping down from the campaign at that time when she was such a skilled
and talented person was I think difficult for a lot of folks. And it was -
it was stunning to see him stand there, the president, with both of those
KLEIN: And one thing, I think, is interesting about - this is compare to
his national security and foreign policy team when he came into office. I
mean back then you had a set of things happened, right? First, the
Democratic sort of insecurity around national security and also the fact
that he didn`t feel - or his campaign folks didn`t feel that he was totally
credible on the issue. So in came Gates, right, they had a Bush holdover
there, they brought in Hillary Clinton for a team rival thing. You had a
set of folks there who were not necessarily Obama`s people. What is really
notable, I think, about the team he is assembling in the (inaudible) -
these are his people. Even the people that Republicans and maybe even some
of the Democrats don`t like that he has around him. But this is in a very,
very, very significant way his team. It`s Kerry was a very early endorser
for him back in 2008. It`s Hagel, of course, who was very close to him in
the Senate. It`s Rice. It`s Powers. I mean this is Obama creating the
Obama national security team.
HARRIS-PERRY: He is a little more settled into himself.
KLEIN: And he doesn`t feel that he needs to appoint people who are proving
anything about him. He is now appointing people who essentially he want to
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it is true, that of course, in "West Wing," in the
second term, Bartlett takes C.J. Craig. OK, sorry.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love "West Wing." But up next ...
KLEIN: Streaming on Netflix.
HARRIS-PERRY: Streaming on Netflix near you! That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, watch (ph) it on TV. Watch about (ph). The first lady
is next. She got a little swagger of her own.
HARRIS-PERRY: We couldn`t have any real conversation about swagger this
week without mentioning this. First lady Michelle Obama at a private fund-
raiser on Tuesday dealing with protester Ellen Sturtz from the LGBT
equality group "Gets Equal"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA: Right now, today, we have an obligation to stand up for
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I don`t care what you believe -- we don`t -- wait,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sent me a lawyer.
MICHELLE OBAMA: One of the things that I don`t do well is this.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MICHELLE OBAMA: One of the things ...
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if you don`t think that sounded too swaggerish on the
first lady`s part, consider that she`s then came down to speak with Mister
(ph), who was demanding that the president sign an executive order
prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.
Sturtz and get equal later said they were taken a back by the first lady`s
Anthea, you wrote about this this week. I want to start by saying, of
course I support and have said repeatedly that marriage is such a small
part of an LGBT agenda we must have this sort of law. But on the other
hand, I appreciate how my first lady managed the heckling.
BUTLER: Exactly. And I want to say the same thing too. I mean I support
and - but I don`t support heckling the first lady. Out of turn at a place
that it didn`t belong, in a private home, with two - a lesbian couple there
hosting. It`s just -was really as I like to call it, out of pocket and
And I think for me the moment where I realize it made a turn when she said
I was taken aback. And I`m like, you have sort of made the first lady as
though she`s not a real person. A real person who can feel, who has
feelings, who would, you know, come down to you and speak to you one on
one, and I think what she did was absolutely right. And - but the whole
thing that spilled out afterwards was that people, you know, all the
reactions on Twitter, I mean everybody just had a psychic meltdown.
BUTLER: Because we`re all like, you go, right.
You go, you do this. But at the same time, there were others who said, oh,
no, she was absolutely right to heckle.
HARRIS-PERRY: But this is the danger I think that has always been the
pleasure and the pushback of having an African-American first lady. It`s a
recognition of what the stereotypes are that exist for black women. Such
that at all moments we appreciate the way that she is navigating the space
of being first lady in this entirely unique body. But we also know that at
any moment she can be relabeled sapphire. She can be relabeled angry black
woman, and so we both want her to do what all of our mamas would do which
is to say, I know you did not interrupt me.
HARRIS-PERRY: We can talk, but not right now. But on the other hand, we
also know the risks for her and therefore, for all of us, but stand in that
moment - are quite different, I think than they are for any other first
KUMAR: I think what you`re saying is absolutely right. It`s, you know,
what is that perception. But I think the way that she handled it -- and
she always handles the stuff with grace. Every single time.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Yes.
KUMAR: And what did the heckler expect to happen?
KUMAR: I mean as you wanted her to continue talking while you were
heckling her? She provided the space that you were asking for, and then
you didn`t want to fill that vacuum. Well, then of course, you`re going to
be dressed out and embarrassed. You should have been in the first place
when you actually - and it`s not because she is African-American, but she`s
the first lady.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. I also want to say "Get Equal" dude, give us a
statement, when we told them that we were going to be talking about this.
And they said "Get Equal" has engaged President Obama and his
administration in many ways over several years about taking swift action to
help end LGBT workplace discrimination. An executive order, signed by the
president, will help low income LGBT people find jobs and provide for our
families in this recovering economy. I was promised this five years ago.
We deeply respect the first lady as a powerful political leader in our
country and came to her this week to ask for help.
Again, I am a huge supporter of this policy. But I`ll also say, that the
angst about building coalitions between racialized communities and LGBT
communities at a moment when many African-Americans did their part this
time, came out from the NAACP. The president coming out on marriage
equality did their part - it`s got to be a two weeks free on that
KUMAR: You know, it looks a little strange that this was a private setting
in a private home. So, the heckler actually had a chance, an opportunity
to have spoken to her.
KUMAR: ... without creating this chaos. And I think that`s what I think
a lot of folks don`t understand. Like you actually were in a private home
in a quiet setting that you could have actually corralled her, If you
ROGERS: I think the heckling happened out of desperation. There are a lot
of issues in that. LGBT community you know, they`ve gotten in. they are
trying to get past. This executive order would help them a little bit
moving in the right direction, of course, we`ve got Defense Against
Marriage Act.: that we are working on, and then we - they had some
successes early on in the Obama administration with don`t ask, don`t tell
being repealed. But also, I think, maybe the first lady is positioning
herself to run for office perhaps.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, see -that - I`m going to leave it on that. Because I
would eat that with a spoon and ice cream. I would love that.
HARRIS-PERRY: She has repeatedly said she is not interested. But maybe,
and that would be all kinds of swaggerific. Thank you to Ezra Klein, the
professor, Anthea Butler, And Edwina Rogers. I hope you all come back and
hang out with me again soon. Maria is staying for more.
Coming up, the man playing ostrich to the civil rights moment of our day.
My letter is up next. Coming, North Carolina.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking this hour about the swaggering committed
by President Obama in this week But the most defiant swing happening this
week, rest with the protesters in North Carolina. On Monday, flood
insurance may shock you -- including the fact that a preferred risk policy
starts as we`ve been talking this hour about the swagger exhibited by
president Obama this week. On Monday, 151 people were arrested as part of
the latest Moral Monday. An ongoing grassroots movement against a radical
right wing agenda in the state`s Republican-led General Assembly. Now we
are committing our entire next hour to talking about these courageous
individuals, but I thought we should start with a letter to one North
Carolina man who is not moved by their efforts.
Dear Governor Pat McCrory, it`s me, Melissa. I can only imagine that
running a state cannot be easy. And when you add pesky demonstrators to
the mix, your job becomes harder. Harder, because you have a growing group
of people not willing to stand by idly and watch the erosion of the hard
fought freedoms. Harder because you can`t be bothered with hearing their
grievances or even meeting with them. On Tuesday you told reporters "I am
very pleased it`s been non-violent. Say what governor? Really? Who did
you think would be posing a risk of violence? The clergy in their collars?
The disabled in their wheelchairs? The elderly who were just present to
observe? Or were you expecting them to pull out knives and shank somebody
just because they lead organizers are from the state chapter of the NAACP
and the advancement project. Because let me remind you, governor, that
your state has a long history of non-violent protests by black and brown
folks. Including one by one of the most famous civilized students at a
lunch counter in a place called Greensboro. Governor, if you would bother
to meet with your constituents, maybe you would learn why they are
gathering every week.
(BEGINV VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) and Vergo (ph) have decided to be Robin
Hood in reverse. That they have decided to be the George Wallaces of the
21st century. If George Wallace stood in the door of opportunity. They
are now standing in the door of opportunity and blocking voting rights and
blocking a health care opportunities and blocking jobs and whatnot. But it
was all done with the hope - that their marvel (ph) country We called
them, we said, come back to the Constitution you swore to uphold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, here`s the point. You may be a Republican governor, but
you represent all of the people of the great state of North Carolina, not
just the members of your party. Not just those who agree with you. When
you refuse to meet with concerned organized vocal citizens you show a
callous disregard for what democracy is supposed to be. The way I see it,
you have a choice of what kind of southern governor you want to be. You
can go down in history like Governor Terry Sanford who fought to expand
civil rights for all North Carolinians. Or you can go down in history like
Governor Orval Faubus, the man who ordered the Arkansas National Guard to
prevent the Little Rock nine from entering the school in 1957 because the
movement is growing, and if you thought you had your hands full with Moral
Mondays, get ready because witness Wednesdays are coming. You may want the
protesters just to go away, governor, but they are just getting started and
so are we, sincerely, Melissa.
When we come back at the top of the hour we`re going in on North Carolina.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And I want to take you inside the growing political protest now under way
in North Carolina -- one of the handful of battleground states with the
power to turn the tide on national elections, where in 2008 early voters
delivered the state to President Obama. For the first time, North Carolina
picked a Democratic president since 1976, and in so doing, transformed
North Carolina from a red state to a blue in national elections.
And then last year, the state went to Mitt Romney by the slimmest o f
margins, cementing North Carolina as a toss-up, where it`s anybody`s game
in 2016 and beyond, the state who`s devotion to democracy is enshrined in
its Constitution, which takes its inspiration not from our nation`s
constitution, but from Thomas Jefferson`s monument to the sanctity of
individual liberty, the Declaration of Independence.
Section 1 on the equality of rights and persons in the North Carolina
Constitution reads, "We hold it to be self evident that all persons are
created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of
the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness."
North Carolina has held true to its constitutional creed, but all of that
began to change in 2010 when for the first time since Reconstruction, a
Republican majority empowered by big money and gerrymandered districts
gained control of both houses of North Carolina`s state general assembly.
Along with that came an agenda that threatened to take the state in a sharp
radical right turn, pushing it from solidly purple moderate roots to deeply
red ultra conservatism.
All that stood between those policies and the people of North Carolina was
the person I called the "thin blue line": Democratic Governor Bev Purdue
and her veto stamp. That line is now broken.
Last year`s election of Governor Pat McCrory put Republicans in control of
the governorship and both houses of the North Carolina state legislature
for the first time in more than a century. When the flood gates opened,
they unleashed a torrent of laws aimed at radical information, rolling back
the Tar Heel State`s progressive policies on everything from education, to
voting rights, to taxes, and criminal justice.
Until one Monday in mid-April, a small but determined chorus of voices came
together on the grounds of the state legislative building in Raleigh. And
they started to speak out against the policies of the North Carolina`s
Republican leadership, calling out the immoralities of the laws that
undermined equality and basic human dignity.
Each week, those voices have grown louder and greater in the numbers until
the weekly protest known as Moral Mondays transformed into a movement, with
a peak this past Monday of more than 1,000 people.
And this week, I was right there with them. I travelled to North Carolina
to see firsthand the work of this remarkable group of people from North
Only hours before the protest began, I sat down with the man at the head
and the heart of this movement, North Carolina NAACP president, Reverend
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: (INAUDIBLE) We`re here to stay
forward together, not one step back!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: First up, we discussed the effort to restrict the right to
vote through a series of bill, including voter ID requirements, cutting
early voting days and doing away with same-day voter registration. And a
bill that would penalize parents of college students who vote where they
attend school -- a bill whose numerical name, SB-666, is not lost on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBER: The computer said I got to do it because you all are pushing these
buttons. But I`m going to put a label on it to at least, you know, say
this is just pure wrong and evil and immoral. And the bill said that if
your daughter or my daughter were to choose to go to school outside of
where we live, and they exercise their right to vote, which is the law, in
the city where they go to school, you would lose your $2,500 tax credit,
which in essence is a poll tax of $2,500.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Hacking away at the social safety net is also a foremost on
the Republican leadership`s agenda. In February, lawmakers decreased
weekly unemployment benefits and shortened the window of time during which
workers can receive them. This despite the fact that North Carolina has
the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBER: On July 1st in North Carolina, 165,000 people who lost their jobs
from no fault of their own, who have been engaged in long-term work will
lose their unemployment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Governor McCrory also added North Carolina to the list of a
15 states that have opted out of the Medicaid expansion allowed by the
Affordable Care Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBAR: In the first week, two weeks of the session, they denied 500,000
people on Medicaid. Not 500,000 black people. Not 500,000 white people,
but 500,000 poor people and disabled children.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was going to say mostly children.
BARBER: In a state with 1.6 million poor people and 600,000 of them are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, the Moral Monday protesters still have a lot more to
say about the policies of the North Carolina legislature. They`ll be back
at it again this Monday as the campaign moves into its seventh week.
Here with me to talk about an actual movement happening in America and the
policies that motivated it is: Irving Joyner, professor of law at North
Carolina Central University School of Law and legal counsel for the NAACP
North Carolina chapter.
Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO and president of Voto Latino, and an MSNBC
Ari Berman, contributing writer for "The Nation" magazine and author of
"Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape
And Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project which has
played an active role in organizing the protests.
Thank you all for being here.
Professor Joyner, being there on Monday is one of the most meaningful
things I`ve had the opportunity to do in a long time. Tell me what finally
moved this group of people to action.
IRVIING JOYNER, NCCU SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, it was a combination of things.
Looking at what the Republican majority was doing to poor people, to people
without a voice, and having absolutely no compassion about what they were
doing, at the same time that the governor is cutting people out of
Medicaid, cutting back on unemployment. The governor is raising the salary
of his closest advisers. He just hired someone this past week and gave
them a $38,000 raise and they cried poverty.
JOYNER: They`re talking about redoing the tax system, which shifts the
burden of paying tax from the rich to the poor. Making people pay for
taxes on services. If you`re a beautician, for instance, they would have
to collect tax when they do your hair.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, which means both that a working person like a
beautician is going to have to raise their prices and if you`re an ordinary
person paying that, right, then you`re in the circumstance of basically
paying a sales tax on that service.
Judith, I -- the number of things going on in North Carolina is part of
what is stunning. Like every time I talk to one of the organizers, like,
that was one I hadn`t even heard yet, right? What is happening --
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: They`re piling on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. In this purple state, long a purple state, where
sometimes they would have a Democratic governor but a Republican vote for
presidency. Or it`d have, you know, one of the houses but not the other.
And, suddenly, there`s a mandate to move this far to the right.
DIANIS: That`s right. I mean, this is total extremism because they see
the numbers. They see what`s happening, the changing demographics. We`ve
had more African-Americans moving back to North Carolina, retiring and
moving back to North Carolina. The Latino population is growing.
DIANIS: It has one of the highest rates of increases in Asian-Americans.
And so, when you see that coming, if you`re the folks in power who need to
keep power and are rich and you want to keep rich, then what you do is you
start to move as far to the right as you can. And so, we`re seeing this --
it really is piling on. Every day it`s something new they decided they
have to do that really hurts working families in North Carolina.
HARRIS-PERRY: And as much as it`s new, it is also from a standard
playbook. So, a lot of these policies are ALEC policies. We talk about
them in Wisconsin. It just -- they all seem to be coming at the same time.
And I think that`s part of what you see here is it doesn`t feel like an
indigenous North Carolina call from its people for these kinds of policies.
It feels important as a big right wing agenda.
ARI BERMAN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NATION: I think North Carolina is the
new Wisconsin, both in terms of what the legislature is trying to do here,
in terms of trying to take this right wing agenda that doesn`t really fit
the state and put it on it, but also in terms of the progressive
And North Carolina is not getting the coverage that Wisconsin got. So, I`m
really glad you were able to go down there. People should care about
what`s happening here because North Carolina is the future of the country.
North Carolina looks like what the rest of the country is gong to look like
and is increasingly look like in terms of demographics.
And it really is the forefront of being a new South state, they are
moderate progressive state that people don`t think of when they think of
the South, but it`s moving there. They are trying to move it back to the
old South. And that`s why you`re seeing so much resistance to these
HARRIS-PERRY: And I mean, when we say old South, part of the reason I
wanted to read that Constitution is that was the Constitution that was
written during Reconstruction. It`s not like, oh, they`re trying to turn
back to this the `50s. They`re trying to turn back to this the 19th
century at this point.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: And I think North Carolina -- Ari, I
think that you said is right, it`s not just North Carolina. They`re trying
to do the exact same thing in Arizona, in all the Southern states. And
that`s where the act -- when you actually start looking at the electoral
KUMAR: -- when a possibility of demographic shift, it`s all in the South.
KUMAR: So, that`s why they`re literally -- they recognize that they are in
power. They want to hold onto power. They want to -- at the same time by
piling on, they want to confuse the electorate of where they shouldn`t be
And at the end of the day, it goes back to the poll taxes. It goes back to
really depressing folks that are already depressed to make sure they are
The fact that Moral Mondays are such a diverse group of Americans, that
makes it exciting. This is like, you know what, it`s kind of like the
reelection of Barack Obama. The first time people were saying it`s an
accident. The second time is like, no, no, this is America.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
Professor Joyner, I love this point, Maria, that part of what happens when
you pile on is people confuse because really every day you`re like, how
could this be? So I guess it was Friday that was the law that allowed
death row inmates, the Racial Justice Act, was rolled back.
Tell us what that law was.
JOYNER: Well, the Racial Justice Act was in effort to help those people
who were on death row to challenge the sentencing that they received based
on prosecutorial misconduct, which occurred many times, or some
discrimination in the selection of jurors.
And it was a fair-minded deal that we worked on for years to achieve and we
finally got it. It began the implementation phase and cases were heard in
court where we were able to demonstrate that there had been widespread
prosecutorial conduct in North Carolina both in several cases there. There
had been discrimination in the selection of jurors. And those inmates who
were involved had their sentences reduced to life.
Now, that`s very important for us because we have known forever that this
has been going on. But with the Racial Justice Act we were able to
establish it as a matter of law in court.
HARRIS-PERRY: And now --
JOYNER: And now, what they want to do smash that bill so that you`re
unable to demonstrate that that has occurred.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with me. Everyone, stay with me, because like the
Moral Monday protesters in North Carolina, we are just getting started.
Reaction from the ground is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re depending on us to feel beat down, to just give
up, and just again and watch what`s coming on on TV and wake up and go to
work in the morning. But that will not suffice. We have to stand up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBER: It was time to engage in a moral strategy that will u shine a
light on this extreme, ideological, a regressive movement that is happening
in the general assembly, and just stop it before it spreads even worse
across the South, because North Carolina has been known kind of a
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes.
BARBER: So when New York goes backwards, it rains despair on the rest of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was North Carolina NAACP president, Reverend William
Barber, talking about the rollback of the state`s progressive policies by
its Republican led leadership, with the heart of North Carolina`s
progressivism and the crosshairs of the state`s legislature is public
This week, in "The America Prospect," Chris Kromm, executive director for
the Institute for Southern Studies, detailed a plan to undermine North
Carolina`s public education system, writing, quote, "Last session, cuts to
schools eliminated more than 4,300 teaching jobs. This time, one
Republican bill would ship $90 million of public school funding to private
schools through vouchers. Another would eliminate teacher tenure. A
proposal to shudder at least one UNC campus is on hold following a public
Joining us from Raleigh, North Carolina, is someone from the other side of
that legislative aisle, Representative Garland Pierce, a Democratic state
representative, and also, chairman of the North Carolina Legislative Black
Nice to have you.
ST. REP. GARLAND PIERCE (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Good morning. Glad to be
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Representative Pierce, do the Republicans have a mandate
for these kinds of cuts in education?
PIERCE: They are really working hard at ensuring that we take our state
backwards in terms of education and providing, as you said, vouchers for
those who are trying to go a different direction. And what they want to do
is bankrupt public education as we know it. So, we`re very disappointed
with the direction that they`re headed at the present time.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Representative Pierce, I want to ask you a tough
question, because I was there. You and I had a chance to meet one another
in the state house. We talked a bit.
Here`s the question I have for you. As I look at the battle lines, it
looks like a Republican Party that is, as Reverend Barber, raining down
despair, you`ve got this Moral Mondays movement, but then the Democrats in
the state house, I want to know what are you proposing? What are you guys
pushing forward? How are you resisting from the inside while the Moral
Mondays is resisting from the outside?
PIERCE: We`re making every attempt to keep our members on task to speak
when we have the opportunity. We are legislators and there are
opportunities -- there are times when we have opportunities on the floor to
continue to pound on them about the legislation going forward, the things
that they are trying to take out, to destroy the people of North Carolina.
We have opportunities to discuss it. I think we do a good job when we have
People talk about us not being in the majority. We only have a small
number. But I think we`ve been vocal and vigilant. And we continue to
speak out when we can to discuss those issues.
A lot of the public is not well aware of what is going on in Raleigh.
We`ve been doing our task. I mean, we stay focused. I miss taking it out
to the public. So, we`re trying to do that. Keep the public aware of
what`s going on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Judith, I want to bring you in here because the Advancement
Project has really been at the forefront. This is the local NAACP. But
the national arm, Judith, has really been the work that you all are doing
to support this local effort.
University of North Carolina, one of the oldest state systems in the
country, really high quality public education in the state, and then these
massive cuts. Is this where you end up with an interracial coalition that
says, hey, too far?
DIANIS: I think it`s all of if things that they`re trying to do. I mean,
this is like their agenda on steroids, right? It`s like, they had -- they
feel like they have to get it all done very quickly, right? Before another
presidential election comes up, right?
And so the idea is if they can get rid of all of the safety net for working
families, if they can get rid of educational opportunities, if they can
keep the money in their own pockets, then they`ve got nirvana, right?
But they have a problem. The people are speaking up. Ands the reason we
have multiracial coalition in this -- I mean, first of all, Reverend Barber
has been visionary about this movement. And the fact that you can get a
multiracial coalition is because people understand the message.
DIANIS: The message of using the moral frame work of both the Constitution
and the Bible coming together. We often don`t see these -- you know, white
folks, we say, sometimes, poor white folks vote against their economic
interests. They have decided to wake up and join in the party.
HARRISP-PERRY: Hold on with me for real quick, Representative Pierce and
Judith Browne Dianis for just one moment. We`re going to have much, much
more on Moral Mondays. But for a moment we need to go live to Newark, New
Jersey. There`s some developing news.
This week, Governor Chris Christie called for special elections after the
death of long time Senator Frank Lautenberg. And, right now, Democratic
mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, is making his long expected bid for
Lautenberg seat official.
Let`s take a listen.
MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NJ: It`s very important to me at the outset
that I acknowledge the service and the leadership of Senator Frank
Lautenberg. As a senator and as a citizen he has been one of the most
impactful New Jerseyans. He was truly a giant in the United States Senate.
He was a giant for our state and a giant for our nation. From a service in
World War II, to his assiduous work, we are blessed by his contributions,
and I say confidently the generations yet unborn will feel the impact of
his leadership and contributions.
But I`m here today to officially announce my candidacy to be New Jersey`s
next United States senator.
Many of you have heard me say a lot that democracy is not a spectator
sport. That now as much as in any time we must bring people together. We
must get actually into the complicated, difficult, messy arena and take on
the difficult challenges, work in uncommon ways with conviction and courage
to make our country, our state and our communities live up to our hopes,
dreams and aspirations. Not justify our cynicism, doubt and despair.
This has been what I have done with others here in Newark. We didn`t sit
back spouting ideology from the bleachers or cheer for our team or jeer at
others for the stands with passionate partisanship. No. We in Newark have
been doing things differently.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, there it is. The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory
Booker, who through frequent engagement with the media, and with his
biography, actually ends up with an unlikely national profile. Normally,
we wouldn`t break in to hear what the mayor of Newark is doing, but Cory
Booker has really become a bit of a national figure. He wants to go to
Washington, D.C. and be the next United States senator from the state of
New Jersey. And I`m sure we`re going to hear a lot more about it on
Twitter very soon.
So, we -- undoubtedly, the Cory Booker story will continue. But right now,
I want to continue with another local story, one that I think really does
have national implications. This is the story of what`s going on in North
Carolina. I`ve got with me Representative Pierce ahead of the
Congressional Legislative Caucus for African-Americans there in the state
of North Carolina.
And I want to ask you another question here. You know, part of what I was
watching and what we`ll talk about going forward is the fact that people
are being arrested. They`re being arrested for peaceful protest in the
state house. It seems to me because of state house rules.
Is there something that even as a minority party you all could do in order
to allow the people to have the right to be in their own general assembly
directing their own representatives without having to fear arrest?
PIERCE: Well, I think that coming back from what they call "Witness
Wednesday", and they will be in the halls of the general assembly in a
different format, not blocking doors or anything that would cause any
problems for them. So they`re going to flood the halls on Wednesday of
this week, calling it "Witness Wednesday".
They`re coming back Monday, as you know, for Moral Monday. But Wednesday,
the clergies are coming this weekend. I sent an appeal to Governor
McCrory, to ask him to at least meet with the faith leaders of North
Carolina who have to answer to their people about all of the things that
are going on in the state and, you know, unemployment and all the health
So, I just make a personal appeal. I sent a letter to him yesterday to
please, if nothing more, meet with the clergy of the state of North
Carolina who have a lot in this. The parishioners are going to them trying
to define answers to the questions they`re facing each and every day of
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it seems like a minimal thing than elected
representatives can do, right, is to meet with his constituents.
PIERCE: I would say so. He`s the governor of all the people of North
Carolina, so I would hope that he would act that way. You understand what
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to State Representative Garland Pierce in Raleigh,
North Carolina, and thank you for making the drive and being there to join
And now for those of you watching and are wondering just how much is at
stake here with what is happening in North Carolina, hear from the woman
who knows all too well that these issues are literally life and death
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Through the Obama election, we all really got
together. You can see that we turnout. But was it red and blue (ph)? You
know, we have these pockets, of course, where just like any other state,
but we`re a progressive North Carolina Southern state, and it just got
taken away from us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I was accompanied on my business visits to North Carolina by
my 11-year-old daughter Parker, who has had some questions of her own for
the protesters who chose to be arrested on Moral Monday. She was wondering
what motivated them to participate and posed the question to Carol Teal,
the executive director of Lillian`s List, a North Carolina organization
that works to get pro-choice Democratic women elected to public office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROL TEAL, EXEC. DIR., LILLIAN`S LIST OF NC: My son was very ill about a
year ago, and if he hadn`t had access to health care, you know, I don`t
know what would have happened to him. And I just think it`s morally wrong
to deny people access to health care. So I`m very upset about that.
Another thing that they did right off the bat in this general assembly was
to drastically reduce the unemployment benefits. I have a brother that was
unemployed for a very long time, and I just think it`s not what we should
be doing to -- for all the people who through no fault of their own are out
of work in this bad economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Carol now joins me from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Carol, thank you for being here this morning.
TEAL: Thank you for having me. It was great to meet you in Raleigh on
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
So you were arrested on Monday. I think I will never forget the visual
image of you all lining up two by two to walk in, the looks on your faces,
the courage there.
Ultimately, how do you feel now at the end of the week after having been
arrested on Monday?
TEAL: It was -- it was a wonderful experience for me. It gave me an
opportunity to see inside the Wake County detention center. The thing that
I was really impressed by, all of the staff that we encountered, the police
officers, at the general assembly, everyone at the detention center were
very professional and very kind.
So, it was a very profound experience for me. The experience of being
there with so many other people who had made this decision to be arrested
was also one that is very meaningful to me. To talk to people about what
was the thing that led you to be arrested? What was the tipping point for
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, the point you just made is one that Reverend
Barber pretty regularly makes each Monday, right? That the officers are
not the enemies. They`re doing their job in this case.
HARRIS-PERRY: It seemed like there`s a lot of -- generally respectful, but
the fact that you are being arrested in that case. So tell me, what takes
you to that place? When did you finally say, you know what? I am willing
to go down and be arrested?
TEAL: You know, I think I`ve been following a lot of the things the
general assembly has done. In you clip with your daughter, I talked about
a few of those things. And it was just the piling on and piling on.
My husband works for the North Carolina Justice Center. They`re very
involved in fighting for working people, too. And every day when we read
the newspaper, we can`t believe the additional things that they`re doing to
hurt working families in North Carolina.
And if I had to think of what the tipping point was for me because this has
been going on for a while now, was something -- the guns in parks. It was
just -- you know, This is my state and this is our state. And I don`t like
the direction they`re taking this in in so many levels.
There is kind of one thing that is a tipping point that you say, I`ve got
to do something other than just sit back and watch this train wreck.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Carol Teal in Raleigh, North Carolina. I know it
took real courage to go down there. I appreciate the work that you`re
TEAL: Thank you for having me on your show.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. Thank you.
The righteousness of arrest as a political strategy, we`re digging into
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is anyone who is intend upon engaging in civil
disobedience, would you take the center aisle?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Moral Monday protesters are joining a long tradition of
American civil disobedience. A key component of the strategy used to great
effect during the civil rights movement, is to create visibility and win
over supporters the righteousness of the cause, attracting media attention
and along with it the attention of the people throughout the state of North
Carolina. And here`s what they`re seeing -- their fellow citizens
handcuffed and arrested while peacefully dissenting against the policies
proposed by their government. I was there with the Moral Monday protesters
this money as they prepared to be placed under arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For those who will be arrested, typically they will
stand there. They will stay there while -- until the chief comes back,
makes his final announcement. Unlike the old days, they will not have the
metal handcuffs where they snap them around your wrist. I`m sorry for
those of you who are looking for -- looking for that experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Just two hours later, here`s what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICRE: We are asking you to disperse and leave the premises now. You
have five minutes or you will be arrested.
MAYOR MARK CHILTON (D), CARRBORO, NC: We are here to exercise our rights
under Article 1 Section 12 of the North Carolina state constitution. It
says, "The people have a right to assemble together."
HARRIS-PERRY: What are people being arrested for exactly?
JOYNER: Well, for exercising their constitutional rights. Mayor Chilton
was right on time. They had been charged with trespassing in their own
house that they pay for. They`re being charged with displaying a placard.
Typically 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper, and for violating the rules of, not
dispersing when they are directed to do so.
The constitution provides that every citizen has a right to be on public
property. This is public property, and to address and assemble, to direct
and destruct their legislators. And this is what these individuals are
So, in no way is this unlawful.
JOYNER: What is unlawful is what the general assembly is doing to people
and to those individuals who come there to protest.
But as Mayor Booker talks about, this is what democracy looks like.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, part of what I`ve really want to drive home to folks,
you know, we talk about the heckling incident earlier. Heckling is not a
strategy. This is a strategy. And I was there -- I mean, I was with you
guys eight, nine hours on Monday.
And there`s a table and people sign up. They wear green arm bands if
they`re going to be submitting to arrests. You have rules about who can,
who can`t, who should and shouldn`t be arrested.
And Advancement Project is providing a lot of the support kind of
What is it take to take these emotions and turn them into strategy, into a
DIANIS: Right. Well, I mean, there`s -- you know, there are a lot of
people who are the architect of this movement and Reverend Barber being key
to that. And really, I mean, this is a multifaceted movement, right,
because you start with organizing. You start with mobilizing. You get
people connected to the issues that they care about, that they will keep
coming out, right?
Then you use media to publicize it. You have people involved, but you also
have -- we have a litigation strategy waiting for the moment that some of
these bad things pass. And then we move onto voting, because at the end of
the day, we`re not going to let North Carolina move backward. We`re going
to vote these people out.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, we saw -- I don`t want anyone to miss that part of
what you saw there were prison buses, the jail buses moving out and the
ambulance, because they also arrest people in wheelchairs, people with
disabilities. They put them on the ambulance and take them to the jail.
Judith was saying the last piece is voting. But man, that`s the first part
they came for, right? Cutting a full week from the early voting period,
repealing same day voter registration, banning all early voting on Sunday,
prohibiting a child tax deduction if your kid votes in a town other than
yours, photo ID laws, enforcing a five-year waiting law, disqualifying the
mentally incompetent. I mean, they got real with it on the voting in North
BERMAN: They really unloaded the kitchen sink of voter suppression. And
they are going back to the days of poll taxes and character tests and
grandfather clauses. I mean, it`s shocking what is going on there.
And it`s important. The larger story here is that Section 5 of the Voting
Rights Act is before the Supreme Court right now. Forty out of 100
counties in North Carolina are subject to Section 5, meaning they have to
get your voting changes pre-cleared with the federal government. And North
Carolina is acting as if Section 5 is already been struck out.
So, I think what`s happening in North Carolina is a window into what a post
Section 5 world will look like, which is the South and all the rest of the
country, but particularly the South, will be emboldened to do as many voter
suppression tactics as possible and to do things that we haven`t seen since
the end of Reconstruction.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you wrote this week for "The Nation" about John Lewis
and about his lifetime of legacy and work on this question. And much of it
the same kind of direct action civil disobedience that draws attention to
BERMAN: Well, John Lewis was arrested 40 times. Most notably when he was
beaten severely in Selma, Alabama, which led to the passage of the Voting
Rights Act. And the fact that he had to be arrested so many times I think
just shows you the persistence of the civil rights movement. And now, the
fact that 48 years later, Lewis is fighting they are on the same battle.
BERMAN: Trying to say, listen, the Voting Rights Act freed and liberated
all of us.
BERMAN: And it`s still critically important. Look at what is happening in
North Carolina. And we need it as much today as in 1965.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. Maria, I`m going to ask about -- because the
president was also in North Carolina this week ands it`s because the
president knows how important North Carolina is to the whole national
picture. I want to address that when we come back, because even if you
live in one of the other 49 states, I`m telling you, you care about North
Carolina raising up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re talking working people. They`re talking
students and workers. And so, it`s crazy to see the huge amount of people
that are here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I wasn`t the only one who took a trip to North Carolina this
week. Thursday President Obama made his own visit to a school in the Tar
Heel State to announce a plan to connect students to high speed broadband
in the next five years. It`s the president`s second trip back to North
Carolina since he lost the state in last year`s election. But it will
likely not be his last, because come 2016, North Carolina will be a highly
contested political battleground in the race for the presidency. There`s a
reason this is happening in the Tar Heel State.
KUMAR: So, folks remember, in California 20 years ago, the progressive
agenda was highly tested in California and basically exported to the rest
of the country. That`s what`s happening right now in North Carolina.
North Carolina is going to be where the rest of the country is going to be
in the next 10 to 20 years, demographically speaking, when you`re talking
about Asians, when you`re talking about Latinos, when you`re talking about
African-Americans, the youth, and even single women. So, what they`re
doing is throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. And then
they`re going to export to the rest of the country.
And you know who is looking really closely at voter ID laws, not just
Arizona and Florida, but Texas. They`re also looking closely at Section 5
of the Voting Rights Act. Why? Because you have over 2.5 Latinos that are
unregistered that are young in that state alone.
And let`s take a step back -- 2012 was an experiment on voter ID laws.
HARRIS-PERRY: And everybody worked incredibly hard, we applauded for
everybody who came out and actually started -- went out and voted and said,
you know what, I`m voting in protest of these laws.
That was just the beginning. A lot of these are passing not just in the
eyes of the election season. And that`s what we have to keep paying
attention. And the Advancement Project is doing an incredible job of
making sure they are aware in off-years.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to point out, this isn`t just like some kind of
vague bad guys out there. We know who is behind this. Koch brothers
finance candidates onto the Wake County school board, took over the Wake
County school board, saw what stuck. Art Pope`s huge backer is part of how
Governor McCrory gets elected, and then he puts Pope in the government,
gives him one of the highest positions in North Carolina.
BERMAN: Yes. I mean, it was as if, if Mitt Romney would have been
elected, he would have put David or Charles Koch into -- to run the budget.
I mean, that`s essentially what`s happening in North Carolina right now.
And they want to create a society there, a right wing Koch-topia, you can
BERMAN: Where only, you know, white male property owners can vote. And
there is no public education and there is no public health care. And that
was exactly what Mitt Romney campaigned upon, and was repudiated.
So we saw in 2012 that there`s this amazing repudiation of conservatives
across the board nationally. But on the states, if you look closely, a lot
of the stuff is still going on. And that`s where conservatives are
focusing their attention. It`s really moved to states like North Carolina.
And if some of these states can be defeated or challenged in court, it will
make harder then to export to other states.
DIANIS: And that is the case that in money and politics.
DIANIS: If you didn`t understand it before, go to North Carolina and
understand how you can have enough money to buy a state legislature, to buy
a governor`s mansion, to buy a school board, and really that we have to
fight this issue, because these folks are greedy. So, they own it an they
now they get to carry out every single --
HARRIS-PERRY: They have tried to buy a state. But I appreciate you all
are not letting the sale go through without contestation. In North
Carolina on Moral Mondays, they say, forward together, not one step back.
Thank you to Irving, to Maria, to Ari and to Judith. We are going to go
one state over to Tennessee to an 11-year-old who galvanized his own
protest for change and won.
Our foot soldier is next.
Thank you, everybody.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking this hour about the power of protest.
Notably in North Carolina, where a grassroots movement has thousands
fighting the oppressive legislative efforts.
But our foot soldier this week, one state over in Tennessee, shows that
even one person`s protest can affect change. Eleven-year-old Marcel
Neergaard is openly gay and says he was bullied mercilessly in the fifth
grade, to the point where his parents took him of school and home schooled
But just because he left school does not mean that Marcel`s left his
community. In fact, he was determined to change it by speaking truth to
power. You see, in Tennessee, over the past few years, state legislatures
have introduced several anti-gay bills like the Classroom Protection Act
more commonly known as the "Don`t Say Gay Bill" which was sponsored by
State Representative John Reagan.
Now, this odious, homophobic bill was rejected in 2012 but Reagan brought
it back in an even uglier version this year. In addition to banning school
teachers and staff from discussing sexual activity that is not related to,
quote, "natural human reproduction," Reagan`s bill required school
officials to out students they suspected to be gay to their parents.
Thankfully, the legislation failed again.
But despite all of this, despite his clear hostility to young gay and
lesbian students, State Representative Reagan was selected as the 2012
reformer of the year by a nonprofit organization, Students First.
This is where our foot soldier Marcel comes in. You see, the 11-year-old
wrote an essay. He made a YouTube video, and he started a petition on
MoveOn.org to get students first to rescind the award given to the state
legislature. The petition went live last weekend and by Wednesday, it had
reached 50,000 signatures.
And it was the plea of that young man and the support he garnered that led
Students First to issue a statement that they stand with Marcel and against
the bigotry of the Classroom Protection Act.
Students First stripped State Representative Reagan of his award and while
Marcel is happy that the honor was rescinded, he is not stopping there.
After one year of being home schooled, he is returning to public school in
the fall and he is keeping up the fight.
Marcel told us his goal is to make sure no one else goes through the type
of bullying he did, and he is calling for legislation that actually does
put students first and prevents bullying instead of codifying it.
For fighting homophobia, for taking a powerful bully and saying, no, sir,
no, you will not be rewarded for those actions, and for being an 11-year-
old who helped adults right their wrongs, Marcel Neergaard is our
(INAUDIBLE) foot soldier of the week.
And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I
will see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`re going to break
apart the myths on drugs in America and have a very Nerdland style look at
summer movies. Black folks are coming to the big screen near you.
Now it is time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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