updated 12/16/2013 10:30:28 AM ET 2013-12-16T15:30:28

POLITICS NATION
December 13, 2013
Guest: James Cavanaugh


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Good evening Ed and thanks to you for tuning in.

Tonight`s Lead, breaking news. A school shooting in Colorado just miles
from the side of the horrific Columbine massacre. The shooting happened at
Arapahoe High School in Colorado. A student entered the school, apparently
looking for specific teacher, that student is now dead of self inflicted
gun wounds. Two other students are hurt, one of them seriously, a janitor
says, he saw the shooter enter the school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a kid running into the building on the north side
of the building. He was kind of running side to side, kind of military
style. When I saw that, I double looked to see if it was a gun. It was a
shotgun. So right away I got on the radio to alert everyone and the staff
to, hey -- when we went in, that`s when I just heard the shots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Police say the teacher ran from the school, attempting to draw
the shooter away from the other students.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The student that was armed with a shotgun, as he
entered the west high of Arapahoe high school immediately asked for the
location of the specific teacher and asked for the teach by name. As soon
as the teacher realized that, as I indicated in my initial comment, he
departed the school. That was a very wise tactical decision. He took
himself away from the school and with an effort to try to encourage the
shooter to go with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The janitor later caught up with that teacher who described
being shot at by the student.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was so shooken up, he felt the wind out of the
shotgun just blow his hair out but didn`t hit him. It was that scary for
him. He`s still shaken over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Students in the school were evacuated with their hands raised in
the air. Pictures that are so resonant of all -- to all of us after seeing
so many other school shootings, including the one at Sandy Hook elementary,
one year ago tomorrow.

Students today were checked for weapons to make sure this shooter was
acting alone. For the students, it was a terrifying experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard two very, very loud gunshots, and
immediately closed the door. She closed the door. We ran into the corner,
dove on top of each other, just tried to get behind the desks. I texted my
parents. Fortunately, I had my phone. But I sent the text I never wanted
to send to my parents that as saying that, you know, we heard gunshots but
that I was OK for now. Leaving the building, it was very troubling to see,
you know, blood stains on the floor and the carpet and, we got out of the
building.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Jim Cavanaugh, former ATF special agent who
led the investigations into the Atlanta Olympic bombing and former FBI
profiler, Clint Van Zandt.

Thank you, both, for coming on the show tonight.

Let me go to you, Clint, first. The shooter was apparently targeting a
specific teacher. What`s your analysis?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes, Al. This is some young man who
had a vendetta against one specific teacher. And as you know, we`ve
witnessed this over and over again. Of course, we had the shooting at
Columbine in 1999, we had the shooting at the Aurora, Colorado movie
theater, and now we have had this one that hold. These three are so close
together.

But again, Al, we have a young man with conflict resolution, anger
management issues who turns to a fire arm instead of what the schools have
advocated for years which is develop nonviolent conflict resolution skills.

SHARPTON: What does this say to you, James Cavanaugh? What is your
analysis?

JAMES CAVANAUGH, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I would say, Reverend,
the same thing that Clint says. It`s revenge, and it`s suicide. Both of
those things are working together. You see that in a lot of these mass
shootings. Probably going to be some mental illness coming into play.
And, you know, it`s a slow burn. I mean, the sheriff said he had a Molotov
cocktail in the school. So, he didn`t do it yesterday. I mean, it
probably took a while to get the festering revenge up to the teacher.

SHARPTON: But also they`re examining, Jim, a potential explosive device at
the scene. Describe what they`re doing now.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Well, they think they have a Molotov cocktail, which
would be, you know, a jar, plastic or glass probably loaded with a
flammable liquid, maybe a wick. He might have intended to throw that, you
know. Certainly, suicide was in the plan it looks like. And he quickly
went to it when he couldn`t kill his target, the teacher.

You know, Reverend Al, if it weren`t for the custodian, I think the
custodian really is the hero here. That for all the educators to think
about this, one of the weaknesses in our schools really despite all the
security we talk about is the perimeter. And we don`t have someone out in
the perimeter, an adult, a police officer is great, uniformed police
officer is perfect. But if you can`t have that, you might have some kind
of security person. If you don`t have a uniformed one, have a plain
clothed person. But you need some adults. Somebody needs to be out there.
Because all too often we see, here`s a guy running across the parking lot,
military style with a shotgun, long gun, a shotgun, dodging between the
cars.

The key in these school shootings to save lives is a quick 911 call. The
police arrive. They arrive three to five minutes away like they did in
Newtown. The quicker the notice to police, the quicker the school can be
locked. The quicker the students can move to safety. The quicker they can
barricade inside. Don`t wait until the guy is shooting in the door for
your first notice. So, the custodian, really by radioing in, by seeing
that, it was critical in this case and we probably averted a mass killing
because he had the same gun the Navy yard shooter had which is a shotgun.

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry.

Melissa, as a mother, what can you tell us when you see the pictures, and
one year later after Sandy Hook, another school, another scene which
students are walking out with their hands up. As a mother, and I know
you`re a teacher as well, but as a mother, what does this say a year later,
here we are again?

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW: So, you
know, I think part of it is what Jim was just saying, which is a reminder
for me that the heroes, that the person who might save your child`s life, I
just don`t want to miss this, the person might save your child`s life, may
be the custodian who is standing there who sees and calls into the school,
right, radios in, and tells people. Or the teacher who makes that decision
to exit -- not to barricade into the classroom, right? Let me be safe and
barricade in the classroom, but leave me here with these other students,
but let me get away from the scene.

SHARPTON: To lead him away.

HARRIS-PERRY: To lead them away. So if he`s coming for me, I`m going to
get away from these other young people. And I guess I`m reminded, you
know, we send our pressure little babies, we do all this work, you know, to
raise, we send them off the majority of their day at their schools and the
question of whether or not those teachers and those custodians and those
frontline workers who are seeing and being with our children every day, are
they well paid, are they working in circumstances where they have support?
It is just a reminder to me, when I see the folks at my daughter`s school
Monday, I`m going -- it`s a reminder, once again, to say thank you because
we`re not standing there with our children all the time and those folks in
those schools may save their lives.

SHARPTON: Now, we have another amazing scene, Clint, a student describing
what they did when they learned the shooter was in the building. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in class. We were actually doing a lab in
chemistry, and we had a substitute, but three or four teachers came in from
the office and then just said, get down. We don`t know what happened. We
heard some loud noises. We`re just going to treat it as a lockdown. They
had us get as far away from the doors and windows so that if someone were
to look in the door, they could not see, and turned off all the lights and
be as quiet as you can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Clint, did the students and the teachers apparently do the right
thing here?

VAN ZANDT: Well, they do, Al. And the sad thing is, we practice this and
we hear this over and over again. Realize, today, two different stories.
One is this terrible shooting that took place that the students, the
teachers, everybody else was prepared as best they could. Law enforcement
entered the school, went for the shooter. The shooter shot himself,
fortunately, in this case, before he killed anybody else.

A second story today is an individual who became radicalized on the
internet who thought he was dealing with co-conspirators, FBI undercover
agents, who was going to bomb the airport in Wichita, Kansas.

Two different stories, 15-years-old and 58-years-old. And, yet, Al, they
were both looking for a means to commit mass murder.

SHARPTON: Scary.

Melissa, we don`t know everything yet, and certainly I don`t want to
politicize it. But you can`t escape the fact that we`re a year later
tomorrow after Sandy Hook. And when you look at the fact that it`s been a
rough year for gun laws, for gun reform in this country, 52 percent of
Americans said in December 2013 that gun laws should be more strict, 56
percent said yes. So support has actually gone down since Newtown. I

s America really willing to just accept these school shootings as the new
normal?

HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I think you`re exactly right. We don`t know
everything about this story. And there`s always the dangerous of rushing
to legislation as the solution.

But that said, you asked me earlier as a mom how I think about this. And I
guess the one thing I would say is, this cannot possibly be a partisan
issue. Republicans want their children to be safe at school. Democrats
want their children to be safe at school. Every community leader from
every political party and ideology and race wants children to be safe in
their communities and at school. So we have got, whatever the challenges
are, we have got to get over those challenges and figure out real common
sense reasonable solutions to our children being safe.

SHARPTON: James Cavanaugh, Clint Van Zandt, and Melissa Harris-Perry,
thank you for your time this evening.

And be sure to catch Melissa Harris-Perry weekends at 10:00 a.m. right here
on MSNBC.

We also want to take a chance to remember other young lives lost to guns in
the last year. Michelle Richard Nix`s ongoing series on MSNBC.com called
"too young to die" does just that. Please go to MSNBC.com and read these
moving stories of young lives lost.

Coming up, over one million Americans are one day closer to losing
unemployment benefits. Where is Speaker Boehner today?

And can you be too rich to go to jail? This drunk teen got off after
killing four people in a crash. He claims he was too rich to understand
consequences. Amazing.

Plus, I`ll give you my take on the black Santa controversy that everyone is
talking about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s Friday the 13th. Karl Rove has another very scary on-air
meltdown moment. It involves Obama care and this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My critics get an attitude. I tell them to stop. I
tell them to stop. And if you need that new health care, sign up because
it`s hot. Sign up because it`s hot. I`m commander in chief and I`m too
terms strong plus I`ve got this health care --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Big show ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re one day closer to over a million long-term unemployed
Americans losing benefits. They`ll be hit three days after Christmas.
Democrats are calling for immediate action. Instead, Speaker Boehner and
the house Republicans adjourned today for a three-week holiday break. All
told, in the first half of next year, 3.1 million Americans stand and lose
jobless benefits. But rather than helping struggling Americans,
Republicans have been attacking them for months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Standing in line at a grocery store behind
people with a food stamp card. The food stamp card pulled out and
provided, he looks at the king crab legs and looks at his ground meat.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: He need to make sure our government
programs encourage work, not dependence. But our people want jobs. They
don`t want a safety net as a way of life.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Don`t want to turn
the safety net into a hammock that lulls able bodied people to lives of
complacency.

REP. BOB WOODALL (R), GEORGIA: We almost eliminated skin in the game for
most ordinary everyday Americans. You know, folks mocked Mitt Romney for
what he said about 47 percent, but he`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: These Republican attacks are ugly, but they`re not new.

Today, the "National Journal" reports on the return of the welfare queen,
the return of this talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She wanted a divorce
to get $80 raise. She`s eligible for $330 a month in the aid of children
program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who had
already done that very thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s a vicious old talking point and it`s back.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank.

Dana, the cover of this story shows a woman driving a fancy car and wearing
expensive clothes. Why is this demonization of the poor back?

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I`m not sure it
ever really left, Reverend. And I think, however, the Republicans have
left themselves in a very vulnerable position here. So, have given
themselves an extra long Christmas break and then three days after
Christmas, 1.3 million Americans will be turned off from their benefits and
the most vulnerable will be made further so. So, I think there`s always
been a strain within the Republican Party, whether it was the welfare
queens or whether it was the 47 percent.

The rhetoric is not necessarily the main issue here, but when it`s
accompanied by the sort of policy decision that the House Republicans made
this week in departing town with giving themselves a vacation without
looking out for the unemployed and what has been a historic amount of
joblessness, I think that is why the welfare queen rhetoric gets another
look.

SHARPTON: Yes, you know, the "National Journal" story caught my eye about
the rhetoric. Let me quote something out of the story. "The welfare
queen, she has risen to hear the rhetoric coming from Capitol Hill and the
campaign trail. Medicaid and food-stamp recipients are a bunch of
shiftless freeloaders living high on king crab legs and free health care,
all on the backs of hardworking Americans."

This is the rhetoric that we`re hearing.

MILBANK: Right. And I mean, you remember during the campaign we had Newt
Gingrich talking about this being the food stamp president.

SHARPTON: Right.

MILBANK: And with all the kind of connotations that had. Now, we actually
see some time later we actually are having policies that, you know, if this
farm bill the Republicans in the House have been working on, if they could
convince the Democrats in the Senate to go along with it, would throw many,
many more people off of food stamps and have already cut back in the women,
infants and children nutrition programs, head start, other programs.

So, it`s no longer the harmless sort of Newt Gingrich campaign rhetoric.
It`s accompanied by actual policy decisions that have had real-world impact
on people.

SHARPTON: But, Dana, what gets me is the demonizing. I mean, we just
played that tape of Ronald Reagan. More than just the policy is the need
to denigrate, to demonize, to in many ways make people that are already
suffering appear so outrageously exploitative and like they are some kind
of criminals almost, when they`re really, in most cases, in need.

MILBANK: Right, Reverend. And, in fact, if you look at those who are on
these programs, it`s, you know, the stereotype that the conservatives are
projecting, is this has a racial component, has an urban component. In
fact, it`s nothing of the sort and it`s widespread. A lot of the
constituents of Louie Gohmert who you just played there, these other
Republicans are people on food stamps and the WIC program and others like
this.

But, look, I mean, it`s the oldest story in politics. It makes it a lot
easier to make your case if you can have a villain, if you can have a
demon, and if you can demagogue it. And I think we don`t pay whole lot of
attention to the rhetoric when it`s just empty rhetoric. But when they`re
actually succeeding in cutting those very programs, then it takes on
additional significance.

SHARPTON: Well, but I think they succeed in cutting the programs when they
can convince people with the rhetoric that these people don`t really need
this and that they`re getting a lot more than they really are getting. And
the fact is, they hide that they`re really hurting some of the very voters
they need to win. Real people are going to take a big hit when the jobless
benefits expire.

Here are some voices from across the country. Listen to this, Dana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is week 28 of unemployment. She counts every week
because that number has never counted more. Her benefits could soon
disappear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need the benefits so that I can keep pushing
forward so that I won`t need the benefits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re coming up on the end of those benefits and it`s
really an emotional roller coaster for me. It`s supposed to be, you know,
a time of being thankful for what you have, which I am. I`m thankful for,
you know, having the loving and support of family that I do have, but it`s
hard because what I have looming in my future is just a hardship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And far from a lazy person. I hate being stuck home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If her benefits aren`t extended, she said she
won`t have enough money to go to a job interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re crippling people that are already crippled
emotionally and financially.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And that`s the point, Dana. These are people that go across
racial lines, geographic or regional lines and people that the Republicans
are going to need to win. Politically, they may be cutting off their nose
to spite their own face, politically.

I`m going to have to leave it there, though, Dana. Thanks for your time
tonight. Have a great weekend.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend. You, too.

SHARPTON: Ahead, can you be too rich to jail? This teen was. What it
says about our justice system.

Plus, Karl Rove is worried about a, quote, entitlement program and
concerned about this video. Why this rap video has many on the right
outraged. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Remember when Karl Rove had that on-air meltdown? He was on
live TV election night and didn`t believe the president won. Well, last
night, he was back on live TV, but this time he was very concerned about a
rap parody encouraging young people to get health care.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

SHARPTON: Gee, Mr. Rove, we thought you of all people would enjoy a little
rap music.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

SHARPTON: That is you, isn`t it, emcee Rove?

Coming up, why so many Americans are dancing their way to getting new
health care.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today`s Friday the 13th. A scary day. Bur for those on
the right, every day scary because they`re always finding new horror
stories about the health care law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A new report finds seven in ten physicians in
California are boycotting the state-run system. Does it surprise you that
physicians in great numbers, at least in California, are refusing to
participate in the ACA?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, it doesn`t surprise me at all.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There is a report out that an estimated seven out
of every ten physicians in California is opting not to participate. Why?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Why would seven out of ten physicians refuse to participate
in the law? They wouldn`t. An "L.A. Times" columnist looked into that
story and, quote, "It`s not true. In fact, according to covered
California, the only source with verifiable numbers, some 58,000 doctors,
or more than 80 percent of the state`s practicing physicians, will be
available to enrollees in the exchange`s health plans." The story was
baloney, but it wasn`t the only one. Remember the family that said they
couldn`t get their baby insured?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How is it possible that you go to look for an
insurance plan and baby Aaron is not covered? Can you walk us through
that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It was a nightmare. The family plan, quote, "came
back." We got 56 different quotes and they offered coverage for myself, my
wife, our six-year-old daughter, our five-year-old daughter, our three-
year-old son, but our one-and-a-half-year-old daughter was left off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sounded terrible. Speaker Boehner even tweeted about it.
Writing, "I couldn`t believe what I was being told." Said a dad who
learned ObamaCare wouldn`t cover his baby. But capital New York looked
into it and found it was just a mix-up. The problem, quote, "Appears to
have been rooted in the father`s application which originally listed only
three of his children even though he has four. When the clerical error was
discovered, it was corrected." Clerical error. Not a major flaw in the
law. But the right looks for any excuse to fear monger over health care
and I mean, any excuse. California`s exchange has made a rap parody
encouraging young people to get health care and it has got Karl Rove all
worked up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I worry about something seemed to aim at
glorification of the commander-in-chief of the president of the United
States, as supposed to simply advocating that young people who want to sign
up under this new health care program. This disturbingly gets too close to
the line, I think in fact, crosses it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is he serious? This crosses the line?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And if you need that new health care, sign up
because it`s hot, sign up because it`s hot, sign up because it`s hot. I`m
commander in chief and I`m two terms strong and I`ve got this health care
which has got it going on

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Come on, Karl, lighten up. Sign up. Because it`s hot.

Joining me now are Maria Teresa Kumar and Ryan Grim. Thank you both
for being here tonight.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRES. AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: Thank you, reverend.

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Pleasure, reverend.

SHARPTON: Maria, I know it`s Friday the 13th, but it`s Karl Rove
getting a little too jittery here.

KUMAR: Well, I think it`s actually funny that he doesn`t want folks
to glorify the office of the president of the United States. If anything,
good Americans are good patriots, that`s exactly what we should be doing,
making sure that the leader of the land has full support, paying attention
to the laws of the land. But let`s get this straight. This is covered
California. They have over 2.3 million Latinos that need to insured.

SHARPTON: Right.

KUMAR: .in order for the system to work. How are you going to grab
people`s attention unless you make sure that you get the young people`s
attention talking about this video, and making it go viral and talking
about the health care that they need in order for the system to work. So,
I think Karl Rove is sort of grumpy because he didn`t think of it, himself,
for the Republican Party.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, you know, we`ve talked about another phony
ObamaCare horror story here before. Sean Hannity featured the small
business owners earlier this year. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`ve also cut back on hiring full-time employees
because of the health care cost involved. Even though we`d love to do
that.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You`d like to hire full-time employees?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`d love to.

HANNITY: You`re going to keep them below 30 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`d have to keep them below 30 hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But Salon.com followed up with that couple and reminded
them the health care law only required businesses with at least 50
employees to provide insurance. Quote, Paul the owner "Revealed that he
has only four employees. Why the cut back on his workforce? And how, I
asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after
which he said, he`d call me back. He never did." Seems like the health
care law wasn`t a factor here, but how eager is the right to smear this
law, Ryan?

GRIM: Well, I mean, you know, this is their best weapon. You know,
they know that they wrote this in a bad economy into 2010 which is why they
still control the house. You know, they don`t want to present anything
alternative, so you know, why not seize on this? And what they have going
for them is that, you know, there`s been a trend over the last 10, 15 years
of employers dropping coverage and insurers driving up prices. So all they
have to do is try to connect ObamaCare to these trends that are already
happening.

You know, no real health policy expert thinks that, you know, the
reason that insurers -- that companies were dropping health care five years
ago had anything to do with ObamaCare which didn`t even exist at the time.
But now that it`s passed, they can say, well, look, all of these employers
are dropping health care, it must be because of ObamaCare.

SHARPTON: You know, even, Maria, one of the biggest critics of the
law, Senator Tom Coburn, admitted the insurance changes will work. Listen
to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: I`m not worried about the exchanges.
They`ll get that fixed. That`s just incompetency of management. They`ll
get it fixed. It will eventually work and work well. What won`t work is
the rest of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, he`s still trashing the law, but he`s turned the corner
on the exchanges, Maria?

KUMAR: Well, this is a complicated law, but let`s face it -- the
website over 1.2 million Americans have actually been able to get on the
exchanges. And one of the things that we have to remind ourselves is that
we`re just basically behind the scenes. This law hasn`t technically gone
into effect until January 1 when people can actually see their insurance
benefits. So, the more people pre-enrolled, the better we`ll be able to
see how the premiums can go down. Now, let`s recognize it`s not completely
fixed. There are still five million people out there that have lost their
insurance and right now, they`re trying to do a stop gap with the
administration, the insurance companies.

But it`s something that they`re finally addressing but it`s because
the system is working because you`re actually finally getting to see people
getting enrollment. And so for the Republican Party and for in this case,
Coburn, to basically scratch his head and say, shoot, this is working, they
don`t want it to work because they know that that was one of the few things
that they have coming into the 2014 election to really bring out their
base.

SHARPTON: And we know that it`s not perfect, but it`s getting better.
In fact, Ryan, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson told the "National Review,"
Republicans can`t just talk about repeal anymore." Quote, "We`ve got to
start talking about transitioning. How do you repeal? Yes, you, can get
rid of the law, but what do you do with what`s already there?" He also
said, "Am I opposed to state-based exchanges? No. Not opposed to the
exchanges." Have we turned the corner here, Ryan?

GRIM: I think so. And that`s what everyone had predicted, that once
this actually went into effect, then you`ve turned the corner. And the law
is extremely complicated but it`s also simple in one way. There are two
major portions of it. One is basically single payer expanding Medicaid.
And the other are these regulated marketplaces. These state-based
exchanges where, you know, the companies that participate in those, they
can`t kick people out for pre-existing conditions and there are certain
limits on how bad they can screw people. But that`s it. Those are the two
parts of it. Medicaid and the exchanges. And if you`re OK with the
exchanges and you`re a Republican and you`re basically OK with the entire
thing because you`re not getting rid of Medicaid.

SHARPTON: Now, you`ve got Maria and Ryan, singer Adam Levine is the
latest celebrity to top the law, he tweeted this week, "California is where
I call home. You can get covered if you`re a resident. So hurry."
Celebrity endorsements. A rap parody. How effective is this push going to
be, Maria?

KUMAR: Well, the reason they`re using celebrity voices, and I guess,
and Voto Latino is participating this, because we recognize realize how
difficult right now it is to reach young people. The media now that they
consume is mostly online. And so they need to hear from people that they
can trust that basically gets the word out.

SHARPTON: Right.

KUMAR: And there are really three states that are critical in order
for this to work where we have a concentration of young people. And that
is California, Texas and Florida. So the more active these -- and,
unfortunately, only California`s participating in their state exchange.
Both Florida and Texas, so far, are not participating. They`re doing the
federal exchange. So just makes a little bit tougher. But having the
celebrity endorsements, what it does is that you leverage them as a
distribution channel. And that`s what really important. It makes it easy,
accessible. And someone talking to them in frank language, saying, hey,
it`s smart to get health insurance.

SHARPTON: Maria Teresa Kumar and Ryan Grim, thank you both for your
time tonight.

KUMAR: Happy Friday, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the black Santa controversy that has everyone
weighing in.

But first, too rich for jail. The teenager who killed four in a crash
but avoids jail time. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Too rich to jail? It`s the story of a Texas teen that has
people all across the country scratching their head. Sixteen-year-old
Ethan Couch killed four people while driving drunk, but this week, he
escaped jail time, claiming he suffered from affluenza. He said he`s so
rich he didn`t know that his behavior had consequences. This comes as new
details emerge from that horrific night. Couch was driving with the blood
alcohol content three times the legal limit. He also had traces of valium
in his system and court notes reveal that the young man ran from the scene
despite the chaos captured in this 911 call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: Listen to me. Is it just one vehicle?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, there were four or five. There`s another
child in the ditch. They`re gone!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Come with me. Come here. Come here. Come here.
Come here.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Come here. I need you to sit here and I need you
guys to pray, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Couch will not serve a single day in jail. Instead, his
parents will pay for him to receive therapy at a $450,000-a-year
rehabilitation center.

Joining me now is Attorney Areva Martin, and criminal defense lawyer
Ken Padowitz. Ken, let me start with you. What do you make of this
affluenza defense?

KEN PADOWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Well, it`s despicable. I
mean, this is a horrible tragedy of four people killed by a drunk driver
and now not only is there an impaired driver, but there`s an impaired
justice system. Because this justice system has just compounded this
horrible tragedy by allowing a defense and actually having that effect the
court`s sentence that somebody is too rich to understand the ramifications
of what they`re doing and not have the responsibility of someone, let`s
say, who doesn`t have the same amount of money who can`t afford the pricey
type of rehabilitation that this defendant has been sentenced to?

It`s despicable. It`s outrageous. And it`s a breakdown in the
justice system. This sends a horrible message to every single individual
out there. It`s supposed to be the blind lady of justice, and it`s
supposed to be given evenly, not based on how much money that you have in
your pocket.

SHARPTON: You know, Areva, we also found out that Ethan Couch has had
a series of run-ins with law. Despite he`s only 16. It includes a history
of arrests including one where he pled no contest to possessing and
drinking alcohol. In another separate incident last year, police found him
passed out in a car with a naked 14-year-old girl.

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY AND AUTHOR: You know, it`s those kinds of
things, Reverend Al, that make this sentence even more reprehensible.
We`re not talking about a young man who`s had no brushes with the law.
We`re talking about a young man who has been, you know, perpetually
involved with the law and has never been forced to face consequences. I
also want to point out that some are talking about the purpose of the
juvenile justice system and that the purpose is to rehabilitate unlike the
adult prison system. But they don`t have to be mutually exclusive.

This young man could have been sentenced to a juvenile justice
detention center and receive rehabilitation at the same time. So the judge
did not have to send him to this California country club in lieu of
sentencing him for jail time for his, you know, criminal violations which
were multiple as you`ve already described.

SHARPTON: And, you know, Ken, according to an attorney for one of the
victims` families, Ethan Couch told a passenger in his truck, after the
accident, that he`d get them all out of trouble. Quote, "he could be heard
at the scene, yelling to one of his passengers, quote, I`m Ethan Couch,
I`ll get you out of this." Sounds like he does know there are some
consequences that are possible.

PADOWITZ: Though clearly he understands there are consequences. He
obviously was impaired that night. But here the judge at sentencing
instead accepting the expert`s testimony that this child was so rich that
he didn`t understand and wasn`t responsible for his actions. The judge
should have put a stop to that right there and could have had a balanced
sentence. One in which included incarceration and rehabilitation. That`s
not what occurred here and that`s where the breakdown in the system is.

SHARPTON: But Areva, this same judge, this same judge last year
sentenced a 14-year-old African-American to prison for killing one person
with a powerful punch to the ground. Same judge.

MARTIN: We should note, Reverend Al, it wasn`t just prison but a ten-
year sentence for this African-American teen. And that`s the problem with
this sentence.

SHARPTON: Ten years.

MARTIN: Ten years. I mean, it`s to the just about money, it`s about
the disparity in the criminal justice system based on race. We know
African-Americans, particularly African-American males receive harsher
sentences both at the state and federal level and this judge`s sentence
just reaffirms the dual justice system, one more blacks, one more whites,
one for rich, and one for poor. And that has to stop. It`s not OK for
young black men to do time for the same crime and a white affluent young
man to receive rehabilitation in club med in California. Just not
acceptable.

SHARPTON: And let`s be clear, we are not at all justifying young
blacks or young anybody punching people and it resulting two days later in
their death, but we`re talking about the law must work equally for all if
you`re talking about juveniles and rehabilitation. You know, Ken, the in-
patient rehabilitation facility that Couch is going to has a $450,000-a-
year price tag. It includes chef-prepared meals, therapy, martial arts
training, yoga, nature hikes. I mean, all kinds of stuff.

PADOWITZ: And this is where the breakdown happened when the judge
came to the sentencing determination. That should not be something on the
plate where a child is sent to a country club as far as rehabilitation
punishment for killing four people. It`s an outrage. It`s outrageous.
And that judge should seriously think about an early retirement.

SHARPTON: Areva Martin and Ken Padowitz. Thank you both for your
time this evening. Have nice weekend.

MARTIN: Thank you, Reverend Al.

PADOWITZ: Thank you, you, too.

SHARPTON: Ahead, is Santa Clause white, black, brown? Who cares?
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Is Santa Claus white, black, blue? A lot of people are
talking about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: In "Slate" they have a piece on .com, Santa Claus
should not be a white man anymore. And when I saw this headline, I kind of
laughed and I said, this is so ridiculous. And yet another person claiming
it`s racist to have a white Santa. You know? And by the way, for all you
kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is arguing that
maybe we should also have a black Santa. But you know, Santa is what he
is. Just so you know, we`re just debating this because someone wrote about
it, kids. Jesus was a white man, too. You know, it`s like we have -- he
was a historical figure, I mean, that`s a verifiable fact. As is Santa. I
want the kids watching to know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Those words made some people upset. They made Jon Stewart
funny. Very funny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: The real St Nicholas was from a part
of the world that`s now turkey. And according to forensic scientists who
studied research originally commissioned by the Vatican, he probably looked
something like this. Well, my guess is there`d be no Christmas if he
looked like that dude because he`s probably still on the no-fly list. I`ll
give you that Jesus was a historical figure, but you`re going to get a
little pushback on the white thing. You do know Jesus wasn`t born in
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Right?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Faith and religion shouldn`t be reduced to matters of race.
Faith is something that should unite all of us. No matter what we look
like. These people who invented the war on Christmas might do well to
remember that. I believe in Jesus, no matter what color he was. But don`t
change his color. And don`t change the situation for whatever reasons.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, celebrating the life of Nelson Madiba
Mandela. Nineteen years ago, thousands lined up to vote for Mandela.
Voting for the first time ever for the man who spent nearly three decades
in jail fighting for equality. And today, more than 300,000 lined up to
say good-bye. They waited hours. Many were turned away, but the chance to
see Madiba made the trip worth it for the most.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It was just chaos, just so many people around
Pretoria that want to see Madiba, and we`re not upset, we`re not sad.
We`re just glad that we came here. We sacrificed our time and didn`t get
to see him, but we`re glad we sacrificed our time. We just hope that the
funeral goes well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The man who meant so much to so many all over the world
will forever be remembered for his ideas, for his values, for his vision
for a brighter tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: A day, we`re entering
a new era for our country and its people. Today we celebrate not the
victory of apartheid, but victory for all the people of South Africa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

No doubt about it, Nelson Mandela was a great man, and the way to
mourn him is not by just remembering his greatness, but by remembering the
great lessons he taught us and try to live by those great lessons,
ourselves.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a great weekend. "HARDBALL"
starts right now.

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