April 27, 2014
Guest: Marcus Mabry; Jillian Melchior; Earl Catagnus Jr.; Michael Peppard;
Kathleen Cummings; Michael McFaul; Jamele Hill; Karen Bass
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question. What would you
do if you had tickets to today`s L.A. Clippers playoff game?
Plus, the potential for military conflict between Russia and Ukraine and
how inequality became a best selling topic.
But first major news overnight as two posts are now saints.
Good morning. I`m Jonathan Capehart in for Melissa Harris-Perry.
We begin with a historic moment at the Vatican. Just a few hours ago Pope
Francis presided over the first joint canonization of two former Popes.
Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were elevated to saint hood during a
special mass in St. Peter`s square. Half a million people gathered St.
Peter`s to watch the ceremony, and hundreds of thousands more watched on
jumbo screens across Rome. The two Popes, now saints, are both iconic
figures in the modern day Roman Catholic Church.
Pope John XXIII was named the good Pope for his sense of humor and common
touch. He`s celebrated by liberal Catholics for launching the second
Vatican council, a historic gathering of bishops in the 1960s that moved
the church to the modern age. And during his 26 year reign, the
charismatic conservative Pope John Paul II implemented Vatican two and
traveled the world, energizing a new generation of Catholics. He`s revered
for his fight against communism in Eastern Europe, especially his native
He did another historic moment, the former living Pope, Pope Ameritus
Benedict also joined in the mass at St. Peter`s today. For more on this
morning`s historic event, NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson joins us
from Vatican City.
Good morning, Anne. What was the mood there morning the people as these
two Popes became saints?
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan, it was very celebratory
and solemn at the same time. Joyous, yet respectful. And you spoke of
Pope Ameritus Benedict, and he came out on the altar about a half hour
before the mass started. And I was really struck by the warm reception he
received from the crowd here. He was, you know, audibly embraced by them.
A long sustained applause. And then when Pope Francis came out top begin
the celebration of the mass, he went over and hugged Pope Ameritus
Benedict, and he also did that at the end of the mass, a sign of unity.
And that`s what this ceremony was about. As you mentioned, these two Popes
sort of represent two factions, or have been embraced by two factions,
quite frankly, of the Catholic Church. And Pope Francis wanted to canonize
them together to say that this church is one. It is unified. And we will
go forward. And you could feel in the crown today.
I have to tell you that in this crowd it was predominantly polish. All
those young people that you spoke of, that John Paul II got excited about
their religion, well, a lot of them are polish and came here. I was
talking to one Polish-American woman who came from Chicago, and she said
when she woke up on the street this morning, because a lot of them slept
overnight to get a spot here. She said I didn`t know if I was in Poland or
in Italy. There were so many Polish flags, lots of red and white. It was
a spectacular day. At the end, Pope Francis made a tour in his pope Mobil,
took a very enthusiastic reception -- Jonathan.
CAPEHART: NBC News Anne Thompson in Vatican City, thanks so much.
Joining me now is Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of Cushwa center for
the study of American Catholicism and an associate professor at University
of Notre Dame and Michael Peppard, theology professor at Fordham University
and contributor to "Commonwealth" magazine.
Thank you to you both for coming in.
Kathleen, let me start with you and tell us what this means for Catholics
around the world and how might this affect the way they practice their
KATHLEEN SPROWS CUMMINGS, DIRECTOR OF CUSHWA CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF
AMERICAN CATHOLICISM: Canonization is always a momentous event, but it`s
hard to imagine one more momentous than this. Two Popes who, two different
popes who had different lives and have different afterlives and that`s how
we remembered very differently among Catholics and linked together by this.
Then you have two more Popes, Poe Francis and Pope Ameritus Benedict
embracing. It was truly a historic day of the papacy.
CAPEHART: And so Michael, what kind of message Pope Francis sending by
canonizing two predecessors with two very different visions of the church?
MICHAEL PEPPARD, THEOLOGY PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: That`s right. We
have the day of four popes here. With all the four of them present, it is
some way or another. It`s true one has been viewed as a liberal icon and
one is a conservative icon, and there`s no doubt about that. And this is
something the church can`t blame on the media. This is something that
church has done for itself or Catholics of what John Paul II and I`m sorry
conservatives, liberals tend to look to John XXIII.
So, I think there is the message of unity. But there are also other things
that unite these two particular Popes. One example of which is their good
humored nature and popularity. John XXIII was thought of as a very funny,
engaging figure. He frequently made joke one that I love is when asked how
many people work at the Vatican, his answer is about half of them which is
one of his classic jokes.
And you know, John Paul II is, of course, this world traveler who embraces
people, who meets them where they are, and in that sense becomes a kind of
populist leader. So they share some features that don`t often get talked
about and when we do this liberal conservative difference.
CAPEHART: Now, there`s been some discussion about the pace of the
canonization, some questions, some are questioning the faith and there are
others who are questioning the canonization of Pope John Paul II
particularly in the wake of the church`s sex abuse scandal.
Kathleen, do you think this will affect his place in history, Pope John
CUMMINGS: On the question of the pace of saint hood, by some measures this
took very long when you think about all the people at his funeral who were
calling for (INAUDIBLE) sainthood now, to declare him a saint
automatically. It`s true the process has gone rather fast, but it`s been
followed fairly (INAUDIBLE).
In terms of clergy sex abuse, on whether that cast of poll on his papacy.
Canonization, remember, affirms that a person is in heaven. It does not
say that they never sinned or made mistakes. And I think that in terms of
the sex abuse scandal, we`re a long way from understanding even the
magnitude of it. And this is something that historians will be grappling
with for a long time.
The extent of John Paul II`s complicity is something that we don`t know
yet. But I think that Pope Francis, in his homily at the canonization
mass, when he spoke about the wounds of Christ, he talked about sins of the
world too and wounds o f the church. And I wonder if that isn`t an
implicit reference to many of the things that the church has to heal from
and a tone for. And I think he sees the canonization of these two popes as
a way to move forward. It is a show that holiness transcend, holiness is
stronger than -- God`s love is stronger than our sins and it transcends to
vision from the church.
CAPEHART: So Pope Francis is someone who has railed against capitalism
and, you know, amorous. But here`s an interesting thing, today`s event had
corporate sponsorship, including banks and oil companies. Is the Vatican
sending mixed message messages?
PEPPARD: That`s a great question. I haven`t thought about the corporate
sponsorship and it go coming in to today. I would say that the critiques
of the capitalism and a style of capitalism that does not treat the dignity
of all human persons, that goes back 125 years. So, this is something that
is a long tradition in catholic social thought. John Paul II and Benedict
XVI and Pope Francis have all dealt with it.
It`s true though that Pope Francis` message is being heard differently than
the Pope before him, I think especially in the United States. Part of that
is that you build up this personal appeal that till the soil for people to
be able to hear the seeds of criticism, I think.
So as to the corporate sponsorships, I have to look into whether or not
that`s hypocrisy. I`m not really sure. But I think that message of
criticism is one that hits everyone. There`s no one who is really safe
from the criticisms of Francis.
CAPEHART: Kathleen Cummings and Michael Peppard, thank you very much for
Up next, more overnight news as President Obama still traveling on this
tour to Asia speaks out on simmering tensions with Russia. Are we headed
for armed conflict? That`s next.
CAPEHART: The crisis in Ukraine continues to overshadow President Obama`s
trip to Asia. While in Malaysia this morning, the president turned up the
heat on Russia, making it clear the international community is prepared to
act if Russia doesn`t deescalate tensions with Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Collectively, us and the
Europeans have said that so long as Russia continues down the path of
provocation rather than trying to resolve this issue peacefully and
deescalating, there are going to be consequences, and those consequences
will continue to grow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: U.S. secretary of state John Kerry expressed similar sentiments
on Thursday, while trying to leave the door open, if only a sliver, for a
possible change court on Russia`s part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The window to change course is closing.
President Putin and Russia faces a choice. If Russia chooses the path of
de-escalation, the international community, all of us, will welcome it. If
Russia does not, the world will make sure the costs for Russia will only
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: This new and more aggressive stance may be a direct result of
growing U.S. concern that Russian military forces are pulsing or testing
the border and making a run toward Ukraine in their training exercises,
according to U.S. officials.
While there`s no strong indication the Russian military is preparing to
invade, U.S. officials say Russian troops could launch a complex invasion
and be inside Ukraine in less than 12 hours. Additionally, the Pentagon
announced on Friday that Russian war planes had entered Ukrainian air space
several times within the previous 24 hours.
So with Russia`s increasing show of military might, what, if anything,
could additional sanctions do? Well, according to Ben Rhodes, the
president`s deputy national security advisor, the sanctions would target
individual who is have significant assets in the Russian economy and
influence within Russian leadership. Those sanctions could be levied as
early as tomorrow. And now the whole G7 is on board.
On Friday, the leaders of the group of seven which includes the United
States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan agreed to
swiftly impose new and targeted sanctions against Russia if Russia didn`t
heed an agreement to reduce tension in Ukraine.
Added to the fray, is the continued day-to-day escalation between Ukraine
and Russia, in addition to Russian military exercises, Ukraine mobilized
against pro Russian militants. According to Ukrainian officials up to five
people were killed on Thursday.
Russia condemned the actions. Pro-separatist groups such as the Donetsk
People`s Republic announced a mobilization of its forces and Ukrainian
officials say a group of military advisers from the organization of
security and corporation in Europe or OSCE, was taken hostage on Friday by
The detained observers appeared in public for the first time today and said
they were not mistreated but so far they were not released. And Ukraine`s
acting defense minister said on Saturday that if Russia sends in troops
under the pretense of a peace keeping operation, the Ukrainian military
will fight them.
The Obama organization has been focused on sanctions and coordination with
European partners. NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander is
traveling with the president in Russia and filed this report.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan, good Sunday
morning to you from what is a very steamy Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Just a short time ago, we heard from President Obama in a news conference
alongside the Malaysian prime minister Najib, President Obama, his first
comments publicly since the U.S. and G7 leaders indicated that there will
be further targeted sanctions against Russia. President Obama indicated
praising basically the Ukrainian leadership for their efforts to disarm, a
legal forces and militias in that region. But said of Russia, in his
language, that Russia has not lifted a finger to help. President Obama, in
fact, says there`s strong evidence to the contrary, that they`ve been
actually impeding efforts in the region.
The president was also pushed on the topic of sectoral sanctions, why the
U.S. wouldn`t be able more willing to go at it alone without European
allies by their side. President Obama indicated that the more united the
U.S. is with its European allies, the more effective those sanctions would
be. He said what would happen if we delivered some stronger sectorial
sanctions and then a European company came in to fill the void behind us.
It would defeat the purpose, but he didn`t say never. So, the potential
does exist that the U.S. could at some point go at it alone.
President Obama, again, wrapping up his trip here in Asia. Malaysia wraps
up tomorrow as he heads to the Philippines and then back to Washington on
Jonathan, that`s the latest from here. Back to you.
CAPEHART: That was NBC`s Peter Alexander, who is traveling with the
president in Asia.
Joining me now at the table Jillian Melchior, the Franklin Center Fellow
for "the National Review," recently back from reporting in Ukraine. Marcus
Mabry, editor at large "The New York Times," Earl Catagnus Jr., an
assistant professor of history and security studies at Valley Forge
Military College and an Iraq veteran and Rula Jebeal, MSNBC contributor and
foreign policy analyst for "Newsweek."
Thank you all for being here.
Earl, I`m going to start with you because of all the rhetoric, we are
seeing an escalation with Russian military exercises as well as the
Ukrainian military going after militants and the actions at pro-Russian
separatists. So, is this a potential powder keg about to go off?
EARL CATAGNUS JR., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, VALLEY FORGE MILITARY COLLEGE:
Well Russia, even if they had 80,000 troops on the border or even 100,000,
if you look at Ukraine, it is one of the largest nation states in Europe,
there`s no way that they could make an end run right to Kiev and occupy the
capitol. But the chances of them actually doing that are pretty slim
because of the potential for insurgency to develop. And Ukrainians will
fight an insurgency.
So I think find it doubtful there will be a Russian invasion of Ukraine. I
think that there may be potential that there will some movement along the
border. Mainly because of that the pro-Russian forces and to keep actually
the world off balance and to keep us away from Crimea, which was his
Now, you have to understand Putin is inspired by the past. He`s not one
trying to replicate it. So, he doesn`t want to replicate this empire.
What he saw was is that the potential -- because NATO is moving closer and
closer on the borders, and he saw that Crimea, he was going to lose his
fleet port, so he made the move, and he did it very well, strategically,
how he shaped the strategic environment and continually shaping the
CAPEHART: Jillian, as I said before, you were on the ground there in
Ukraine. I want you to listen to the prime minister of that country on
"Meet the Press" last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARSENIY YATSENYUK, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: President Putin has a dream
to restore the Soviet Union. And every day he goes further and further and
God knows where is the final destination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: When you were there in Ukraine, was this a similar sentiment
among the people you talked to there?
JILLIAN MELCHIOR, FRANKLIN CENTER FELLOW, THE NATIONAL REVIEW: It was
completely widespread. I was in Kiev. And I think lot of people were very
concerned that Putin is going to progress as far as he`s allowed. The
Russian economy is not doing well. His popularity is not high. He like a
lot dictators. His strategy is to gun up domestic support by acting very
aggressively internationally. So I think in Kiev, there was a lot of
concern that he was just going to keep progressing and the Ukrainian
military is really outnumbered.
By the same token and to your point, I think that Ukrainians are definitely
willing to fight (INAUDIBLE). He may be, you know, outmatching in the
military, there`s definitely going to be a lot of Ukrainians that are
willing to join the military or to compliment. And I mean, I spoke to a
girl who built Molotov cocktails during the revolution. She learned hard
combat skills that I think are very applicable in the situation. Some
other concern this (INAUDIBLE).
MARCUS MABRY, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think the great
danger is we don`t know what Putin`s end game is. I think further is the
fact that as the German chancellor Angela Merkel has said she thinks Putin
is divorced from reality. That`s a huge danger here. I don`t think he
would ever make an end run route for Kiev. However, NATO was told us that
he could invade and take over eastern Ukraine within three to five days.
The Ukrainians are not ready to take on the Russian military. We have a
piece (INAUDIBLE) about all the reasons that Putin should not want to go
into Ukraine, including the economic cause to Russia. The fact that the
insurgency will cost lives, absolutely. But that doesn`t mean Putin will
actually be dissuaded from invasion of eastern Ukraine for those reasons.
This is what we learn about Putin. He`s not a rational, logical guy. He`s
not thinking about the interests of his own people. He`s thinking about
the elite. His government, and him staying in power. This is how he`s
been reasoning. And if you read any of the books about even George W.
Bush, days of fire, and there`s a quote by George W. Bush himself who said,
you know, I don`t understand this guy. He seems like -- I thought that he
was a liberator. You know, he`s showing a side of him as if he is more and
more a dictator. If he takes eastern Ukraine, he`s taking from the
Ukrainians their economic capital somehow.
RULA JEBREAL, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So it is actually, this
is what we learned about Putin. I mean, he is not a rational logical guy.
And he is not thinking about his -- the interest of his own people. He is
thinking about the elite, his government, and him staying in power. This
is how he had been reasoning. And if you read any of the books about even
George W. Bush`s "Days of Fire (ph)," and there is this quotes by George W.
Bush himself who said, you know, I don`t understand this guy. He seems --
I felt that he was liberate, you know, he is showing a side of him as if he
is more and more dictator.
If he thinks eastern Ukraine is taking from the Ukrainians their economic
capital somehow and that would be a huge (INAUDIBLE).
CAPEHART: So then, is intervention key here?
JEBREAL: What do you mean by intervention? Like invasion?
MELCHIOR: I think it is absolutely critical and here`s why. So when he
was in Ukraine, I was speaking to a lot of people that were really upset
they gave up their nuclear weapons. And that was -- they gave them up with
the expectation that the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia would
protect them and protect their territory integrity. Now, you have Russia
chipping away at their fundamental territory, and the west has responded
weakly. I mean, sanctions do work to undermine Putin`s support with the
oligarchs. But we`re not giving them military. We are not even selling
them the weapons that they need. So I think that is significant.
And everyone wants to jump in, but we have to take a break.
Everyone stay with me. Coming up, we are going to get to the comments
being attributed to L.A. Clippers` owner Donald Sterling.
But first, as tensions with Russia seem to reach new heights, when we come
back I`ll bring in the former ambassador to that country. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It`s important for us to make sure that we are part of an
international coalition sending that message, and that Russia is isolated
in its actions, rather than falling into the trap of interpreting this as
the United States is trying to pull Ukraine out of Russia`s orbit, circa
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: That was President Obama speaking this morning in Malaysia, and
explaining why the U.S. is not moving ahead unilaterally with sanctions
that could affect the Russian economy.
Joining me from Stanford, California, to discuss the diplomatic decisions
facing the U.S. and the rest of the G7 is Ambassador Michael McFaul, a
former ambassador of the United States to the Russian federation who is
also an MSNBC and NBC contributor.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you for being here. Let me ask you a question that I
asked the panel in the last segment. And that is, is intervention, western
intervention key here?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIAN: Well, it depends on how you
define intervention as you all discussed just a few minutes ago. If by
that you mean supporting Ukraine, absolutely. The Ukrainian state needs to
succeed. The Ukrainian economy needs to grow. And without that, that
creates more opportunities for Russia to do, you know, very negative things
Second, does the west need to support pressure on Putin to dissuade him
from going further militarily? Absolutely yes. That`s necessary, and I
applaud what the president said yesterday about upcoming sanctions.
CAPEHART: So, let`s take a look at what vice president Joe Biden had to
say on Tuesday while in Ukraine. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We call on Russia to stop
supporting men hiding behind masks and unmarked uniforms, and we have been
clear that war provocative behavior by Russia will lead to more costs and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Ambassador, does the appearance of vice president Biden and
strong words like we`ve been hearing from the president and secretary of
state help to change Putin`s course of direction at all?
MCFAUL: Well, so far it hasn`t. Let`s be clear. I mean, when foreign
minister Lavrov and Secretary Kerry and the European Ashton and the
Ukrainian foreign minister met in Geneva, there was an agreement for de-
escalation. And that by our -- the way we read that was that these armed
men in eastern Ukraine and southern Ukraine would put down their weapons
and go home. That obviously hasn`t happened.
Thereto hasn`t been a further escalation, however, either. And what you
have now is a stalemate. And I don`t think president Putin has decided
what he wants to do in terms of next steps inside Ukraine.
CAPEHART: Is this aggression by Russia towards Ukraine part of the
speculation that it is Putin`s desire to get back to the former greatness
of the Soviet Union by requiring all this land?
MCFAUL: Yes and no. I mean, Putin had a different strategy before this
crisis, let`s be clear. Yes, he lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He said that before. But he was trying to dominate the region through
economic institutions. And something called the Eurasian economic union,
he wanted Ukraine, all of Ukraine, not just Crimea and eastern Ukraine to
But when the government there fail, and President Yanukovych fled to
Russia, this was his plan "b." And as a result, I don`t think he`s thought
through where he wants to see this end, in the coming years or decades.
And that`s why you see more improvisation as opposed to a grand strategy to
recreate the Soviet Union.
CAPEHART: Ambassador, at this point, what can other world leaders do to
convince Putin to change or are we past the point of diplomatic
MCFAUL: I think it`s key what President Obama just said in the clip you
showed. The west and the world has to be united to say this is
illegitimate. And if Russia goes further, there will be economic cost.
And it that has to be unified, right? Because if it`s just the Americans
sanctioning these companies and individuals, that won`t be effective. It
has to this be the world community together.
CAPEHART: Thank you, Ambassador Michael McFaul in Stanford, California.
When we come back, we shift our focus to another region in the world where
the tension is reaching new levels. The Middle l East and the peace
process that now appears to be well, in pieces.
CAPEHART: While much of the world`s attention is focused on the escalating
conflict between Ukraine and Russia, another region reasserted itself back
onto the global stage in a big way this week, the Middle East. On
Thursday, Israel broke off peace talks with the Palestinians because of a
planned reconciliation deal and planned for unified government between
modern faction Fattah (ph) and the more radical Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled no punches with his
thoughts on Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas speaking on MSNBC
with Andrea Mitchell on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT: We have a choice. Peace with Israel
or pact with terrorist Hamas. And he choke the pact with Hamas. So,
that`s the blow for peace. And I hope he changes his mind. And until he
does so, I think it`s very important that we have clarity. As long as I`m
prime minister of Israel, I will never negotiate with the Palestinian
government back by terrorist organization, committed to our destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: The deadline for a peace deal between Israel and the
Palestinians was supposed to be April 29th, this Tuesday. But after a
nine-month push for a peace deal by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, the
latest actions by both sides may have ended any chances for that.
So, we are here at the table.
Rula, I`m going to come to you at this. The U.S. state department has
responded on Friday to the situation between Israel and the Palestinian
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: His view is this is a moment of
transition and part of the process. We`re in a holding period where
parties need to figure out what is next. We always thought there was a
point where we needed to pause and both side need to look at what is
possible and we are out clearly at that point now.
Now, the secretary agrees that the Israelis and the Palestinians have both
taken unhelpful steps throughout this process. It`s up to them to
determine if there`s a path forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So Rula, is there any chance at all that they`re going to get
back to the table to talk?
JEBREAL: I`m actually not as optimistic as everybody else simply because
the art of the history long, but always been toward justice somehow. We
know when the Prime Minister BB Netanyahu said I would never negotiate, he
doesn`t remember a year ago he negotiated and released a thousand prisoners
for (INAUDIBLE), the soldier that was imprisoned by Hamas for five years in
So, I mean, we need to be pragmatic. And I think the real question that
President Obama asked in an interview to the "New Yorker" Israel, what do
you want to be in the 21st century? Do you want to be a Jewish state or do
you want to be territorial? And you have no option.
And what scares me more than anything else that now Jerusalem is, you know,
just completely taken by the Israelis, and it is consider for the
Palestinians as their half capital because of the, you know, Muslim shrines
and other things.
And if you look at the landscape and these pictures that you`re showing
here, actually shows better than anything else. If you look at the
landscape and Israel will wake up one morning and we will see that 50
percent of the population that they control is Arabs. And their goal in
the beginning and inception (ph) of the state of Israel was to have a
So if you are aiming and what`s BB Netanyahu is doing is like looking at
the landscape where we will have one-state solution, that state will not be
a Jewish state. And if this is acceptable for them, I think this would be
a disaster for both sides. Because they will never -- Israel will never
give up the idea of having a Jewish state. And the Palestinian will never
give up the idea to live in a freedom sovereign country. So, they have to
think about the future and not the next election, the next generation.
This is what they have to think about.
CAPEHART: Marcus, you want -- real quick.
MABRY: I think the demographic time bomb that Rula is talking about is so
real that it seems like Netanyahu is deliberately ignoring reality and that
shocking. But the most shocking thing that happened this week was when he
said he applied that Abbas actually reaching out to Fattah (ph) is what is
going to do what would have been peace talks. That tell the peace talks
were domed before.
MELCHIOR: They were domed before starting building settlements more and
CATAGNUS: I think this is a key opportunity for President Obama to do a
paradigm shifting in the administration. They have to be realistic in our
expectations, both in diplomatic situation in Russia and the diplomatic
situation in the Middle East in general.
And the two situations called for two very different approaches especially
in the Middle East. We need to have not this year that when are we going
to have peace in the Middle East? But let`s work on the small things. And
we continually makes small wins and engage the populations. The two
Israelis and Palestinians themselves and the elites, this is not going to
be solved by diplomats.
CAPEHART: Earl Catagnus Jr., Rula Jebreal, thank you very much for coming
in. Gillian and Marcus will be back in our next hour.
Up next, the comments reported to be by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling
are making news as far away as Malaysia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I don`t think I have to interpret those statements for you. They
kind of speak for themselves.
When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don`t really
have to do anything. You just let them talk. And that`s what happened
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: The Los Angeles Clippers will face the Golden State Warriors
this afternoon in game four of the NBA first round playoff series up two
games to one. The Clippers owner Donald Sterling is facing new scrutiny
after TMZ sports published audio on Saturday that claimed to present
Sterling arguing with his girlfriend for being seen in public with African-
Americans after she posted on her Instagram account a picture she took with
NBA hall of famer Irvin Magic Johnson. We`ll play some of the audio for
you now, but want to disclose that NBC News has not independently verified
its authenticity. Here now is a portion of what was posted by TMZ sports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People call you and tell you that I have black people
on my Instagram and it bothers you.
DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: Yes, it bothers me a lot if you want
to broadcast that you`re associating with black people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: The man alleged to be Sterling added more during the call,
including telling the woman on the line she could do a lot of things with
black people, except bring them to Clippers game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STERLING: How about your whole life, every day, you could do whatever you
want? You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever
you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on, and not to bring
it them to my games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: The Clippers released a statement on Saturday that questioned
both the authenticity of the audio and the credible of the woman heard. It
also said, quote, "Mr. Sterling is emphatic what was reflected On the
Recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or
feelings. It`s the (INAUDIBLE) of who he is, what he believes and how he
has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being
attributed to him and apologized to anyone who may have been hurt by them.
He`s also upset and apologizes from sentiments attributed to him about
Irvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has nothing but
the utmost respect and admiration for him, both in terms of who he is and
what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the audio in question Saturday
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Let me just add that all members of the NBA
family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present
their side of any controversy. Which is why I`m not yet prepared to
discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling. In the meantime,
Mr. Sterling has agreed that he will not attend his playoff game tomorrow
in Golden State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Joining me now is Jamele Hill, co-host of the ESPN show "Numbers
Never Lie" and the "his and hers podcast."
Thanks for being here.
JAMELE HILL, ESPN HOST, NUMBERS DON`T LIE: So you wrote about Sterling
back in 2009 in a column for ESPN.com and you didn`t hold back. Here`s the
first line. Donald Sterling makes Rush Limbaugh look like Martin Luther
King Jr. Educate us a little bit about that man who allegedly made the
remarks we just heard?
Yes, it was interesting in that Clippers statement that you read that they
pointed out how this is not consistent with who Donald Sterling is. I`ll
tell you who he is. 1996, sued for sexual harassment by a former employee.
2003, testified paying a former employee for sex. Sued for sexual
harassment and wrongful determination. Sued for discrimination by tenants
in a non-profit housing right center. 2006, sued in U.S. district court
for refusal to rent to non-Korean, African-Americans and to families with
children. Sued by by former GM (INAUDIBLE) -- oh, guess what, racial
So, as Dave Chappell (ph) might say, I don`t know if he`s a racist, but
he`s certainly wearing a racist uniform.
CAPEHART: And again, the recordings that we heard, you know, NBC News
hasn`t been able to independently verify. But one of the things you just
pointed out in the list of things is the lawsuit, the housing lawsuit. Let
me -- here`s a quote from the department of justice when the housing
settlement was announced.
Apartment owner Donald T. Sterling has agreed to pay $2.75 million to
settle allegations that he discriminated against African-Americans,
Hispanics and families with children at apartment buildings he controls in
Not exactly from this lawsuit, from the things that you just listed there.
Not exactly someone who, shall we say, is --
HILL: Representing the NBA in a manner that that they -- the manner in
which they would want. And that`s why on some level, although this is
clearly a water shed moment for Adam Silver, you know, new commissioner,
just have been on the job a few months. This is not a new problem. Just
like when major league baseball eventually got Mark Shaun (ph) out of the
game, it wasn`t a new problem either. It was career pattern of racist
CAPEHART: But let me ask you, is there any consideration here of pushing
him out of the league? What exactly can the league do to him? He`s an
HILL: Yes. And that`s where the difficulties come from. If they took the
blueprint, that major league baseball use, it would -- she wasn`t even
allowed to be around her own team. And they eventually made things so
uncomfortable that owning the team, they forced her to sell it. And that`s
probably the only thing the NBA can do.
I would manage, once the commissioner is able to authenticate the
recording, assuming that he is, then a fine will come. Today, he won`t be
attending the playoff game and I have a feeling that he will probably face
some kind of suspension. They are going to try to make it -- they are
trying -- basically, going to try to do the same thing and force him to
perhaps sell the Clippers.
CAPEHART: And we`ve heard from basketball players. We`ve heard from
Lebron James. Have we heard from other players, perhaps on the Clippers or
not, reacting to the news?
HILL: Well, I thought it was interesting yesterday, DeAndre Jordan, the
center for the Clippers, he posted an Instagram that was completely blank.
And to me that was a message. Chris Paul, he is the president of the NBA
players association. And so, he also put out a statement saying they were
taking the matter very seriously.
Doc Rivers, a very proud man. He was clearly very upset and rattled by
some of these comments. We heard from Mark Jackson, the coach of the
Clippers. Just a number of people. And I think a more important part of
this is other owners. They have already made it known that they`re
standing with Commissioner Silver and investigate this thoroughly. Because
that is what it is going take. They can`t just -- the commissioner
essentially works for the other owners. The other owners have to be on
board with getting him out of the game.
CAPEHART: And n that note, thank you very much Jamele Hill. Thank you for
Coming up, Congressman Paul Ryan is set to meet this week with the
congressional black caucus. Congresswoman Karen Bass joins us for a
CAPEHART: That a congressman has a meeting scheduled with his colleagues
isn`t usually all that notable. But when that congressman is Republican
Paul Ryan and those colleagues are in the congressional black caucus, well,
The meeting, a CBC aide told NBC News is to talk about poverty, a topic
which Ryan was discussing with radio host Bill Bennett in March when he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We have got this tail
spin of culture in our inner cities in particular, of men not working,
generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value
and culture of work. So there`s a real culture problem here that has to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat of California and member of
the CBC condemned that as a quote "thinly veiled racial attack that cannot
Though Ryan later spoke to Lee by phone and admitted that he had been quote
"inarticulate" during the interview, he later told a Wisconsin town hall
his comments had quote "nothing to do with race."
Joining me now from Los Angeles is Congresswoman Karen Bass, a Democrat
representing California`s 37th district and a member of the congressional
Congresswoman, thanks for being here.
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me on.
CAPEHART: Now, before we get to the upcoming meeting, we have been talking
about the comments. And let me emphasize here, these are comments
attributed to L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and NBC News has not
independently verify that had they are Sterling. But I wanted to give you
a chance to weigh in here. If this reporting posted by TMZ`s sports turns
out to be authentic, what is your reaction?
BASS: Well, I just have to say that here in Los Angeles, Donald Sterling
has a long history, and people are very much aware of this. So I think
that whatever the NBA can do, they should do to its maximum.
I can only imagine how the players must feel. And we know they make a lot
of money. But can you imagine how that feels to know that the person who
owns the team views you in this manner? Especially Magic Johnson, who is
an absolute icon around the country. It was really sad to see this happen.
CAPEHART: All right. So let`s switch gears to the upcoming meeting the
CBC has with Congressman Ryan this week. Now you served on the budget
committee with Congressman Ryan when you first got to Congress. Do you
expect an explanation from him?
BASS: Well, you know, I hope that he just comes in and apologizes and just
confesses ignorance. Because if he comes in and attempts to say that there
-- this has nothing to do with race, this was all about poverty, I think
he`s really just going to make the situation worse.
But you know, the black caucus typically has speakers come in every
Wednesday. And sometimes they are coming in because the caucus has
differences with them. But the chairwoman always handles things in a very
professional manner. And in addition to his comments, people are going to
want to talk with him about his overall philosophy, especially in regards
to the budget and his view of poverty. So I think he has a lot to talk
about, a lot of explaining to do.
CAPEHART: Yes. Let me play this for you very quickly. Congressman
Emanuel Cleaver on with Tamera Hall this past Wednesday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: The problem, though, is that he was
quoting Charles Murray, who has been pouring racist sewage into open ears
for a couple generations now. He has been pushing his theories,
(INAUDIBLE) and white supremacy. And Ryan quote him as one of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Do you agree? Does Congressman Ryan`s citation of Arthur --
Charles Murray make his comments racial in nature?
BASS: Well, see. I think this is the problem because, you know, Paul is
really viewed as the intellectual hero of his caucus when it comes to all
matters related to the budget and poverty and those issue. So you can`t be
on one hand an intellectual and then quote somebody like Murray and say you
really didn`t know or you really didn`t what their viewpoints were.
I mean, Murray is the equivalent of the fake scientist that existed long
ago that tried to come up with scientific justifications for the
enslavement of people and for the inferiority of African-Americans. And
that`s exactly what part of Murray`s quote/unquote "research" attempts to
document is the inferiority. So, you can`t come in and say, you know, on
the one hand, you`re brilliant. On the other hand, you`re quoting
something you really didn`t know where they were coming from. That is a
bit of a contradiction.
CAPEHART: Now, the criticism of many of your fellow Democrats, have of
Ryan has as much to do with his budget as his rhetoric, perhaps even more
CAPEHART: So, what do you plan to share with him this week when you meet?
BASS: Well, you know, I mean, if I could ask him anything at all, it would
be I just don`t understand how you think it makes life better when you want
to dismantle the affordable care act, when you want to cut Pell grants,
when you want to cut food stamps and you then say you want to address
poverty. When the very report that you wrote, a lot of researchers you
quote say that you misquoted them, you didn`t use their research properly.
If you want to reduce people`s reliance on food stamps, then why don`t you
raise the minimum wage? Why don`t you have a comprehensive job program?
So I really want to understand what`s behind his thinking. How does he
think that makes life better?
CAPEHART: Congresswoman Karen Bass in Los Angeles. Thanks so much.
BASS: Thanks for having me.
CAPEHART: Coming up next, the state that could be on the verge of losing
its only abortion clinic and the one doctor stand in the way. He`ll join
More Nerdland at the top of the hour.
CAPEHART: Welcome back. I`m Jonathan Capehart in for Melissa Harris-
There`s only one abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi. The
Jackson Women`s Health Organization performs more than 2,000 abortions a
year. Anti-abortion protesters are outside every day. Whether it can
continue that work may be determined in a federal courtroom tomorrow.
Now let me back up. In 2012, the Mississippi legislature passed a law that
requires doctors at abortion clinics -- well, that is the one abortion
clinic -- to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Admitting
privileges allow a physician to treat a patient in the hospital.
The Jackson Women`s Health Organization has tried to get such privileges,
but every single hospital they asked refused. Some told the clinic that
they could not handle the political fallout of helping the clinic stay
And so the only abortion clinic in Mississippi is facing a shutdown by the
state. Women would have to travel out of state for abortion services.
So, a woman in Jackson would have to travel 170 miles south to the closest
city with an abortion clinic, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She would have to
drive 185 miles to New Orleans, to the north, 210 miles to Memphis or 240
miles east to Birmingham.
But the Jackson clinic is fighting the law in court. The clinic claims
that the law is an underhanded ploy to eliminate the constitutionally
protected right to an abortion.
For now, the state has been blocked from enforcing the law by a district
court judge, but the state is fighting back. Mississippi went to the
federal court of appeals for the 5th circuit and asked it to overturn the
lower court`s injunction. Tomorrow the court will hear oral arguments on
And what it decides -- whether it decides in the weeks or months ahead will
determine whether the women of Mississippi still have access to full
Joining me now, Dr. Willie Parker, one of the doctors who travels into
Mississippi to provide services at the Jackson clinic.
Chloe Angyal, senior editor at feministing.com.
Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights.
And joining us back at the table, Marcus Mabry, editor at large at "The New
Dr. Parker, you`re one of two doctors that provides care at the Jackson
What happens if the clinic is forced to close?
DR. WILLIE PARKER, THE JACKSON WOMEN`S HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, I hope
we don`t find out. But if the clinic closes, women will be left with
desperate measures for those women who can`t travel the distances that you
We know that when women, pregnant and they don`t want to be, I can tell you
right now, that there are already do-it-yourself instructions on the
Internet. There are already companies marketing drugs, whether they`re FDA
approved or not, to try to make that happen.
So women will be left with desperate measures. And those desperate
measures will increase the suffering and potential death of women that we
know occurs when abortion is not legally available.
CAPEHART: And the 5th Circuit claimed that it was not an undue burden for
a woman to travel 150 miles each way in Texas to get to a clinic. The 5th
Circuit judge, Judge Edith Jones, questioned whether a drive of that length
truly places an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.
Quote, "Do you know how long that takes in Texas at 75 miles an hour?" she
asked. "This is a peculiarly flat and not congested highway."
So, Dr. Parker, let me ask you, is a trip of hundreds of miles an undue
PARKER: Well, any rule that stands in between a woman and her
constitutionally guaranteed right to make the decision about whether or not
to continue a pregnancy in consultation with a health care provider is an
undue burden. Whether you`re talking about state or federal, these laws do
nothing to enhance the safety.
And so if a clinic -- already women are having to drive hours, and they`re
having challenges around for those women who can`t -- who don`t have a car
or who can`t arrange transportation, those women are condemned to continue
pregnancies that they don`t want or to incur the --
PARKER: -- the expense or more importantly, the complications associated
CAPEHART: I have the to ask you, Dr. Parker, why do this work?
Why fly from Chicago to Mississippi to provide these services?
PARKER: Well, because it`s the right thing to do. You can ask the
question about is it important, is it popular?
But like Dr. Teague (ph) said, there`s a point at which you have to ignore
all those things and decide what is the right thing to do?
I think the effort to make sure that women have access to the services is
the right thing to do.
CAPEHART: So Amanda, why is what happens at the 5th Circuit tomorrow so
AMANDA ALLEN, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, the question the court
is really asking is can the state constitutionally do indirectly and
underhandedly what it very clearly may not do directly, which is to
outright ban abortion. And so that is at its core the question that the
court is asking tomorrow.
But As Dr. Parker just said, you know, the real story here is about
Mississippi women and what will it mean for the women in Mississippi for
the first time since Roe versus Wade was decided over 40 years, women in
the state do not have access to a safe and legal abortion clinic.
And so the real story here is what is at stake is the lives and the health
and the dignity of the women in Mississippi.
CAPEHART: So what happens if the court ends the temporary stay?
Does the clinic just shut down immediately?
ALLEN: Well, we are absolutely pursuing every legal, every legal
opportunity that we have to make sure that clinic remains open. And so
there`s a possibility to appeal to the full 5th Circuit panel. Of course,
there`s a potential to appeal to the Supreme Court.
But if that court puts into effect the law that passed in 2012, that does
mean an immediate closure of that clinic.
CAPEHART: Chloe, I going to have you listen to Mississippi governor Phil
CAPEHART: -- the law in his state and the state of the state address this
year. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL BRYANT, GOVERNOR OF Mississippi: By strengthening the Child
Protection Act and by requiring that abortionists obtain admitting
privileges at local hospitals, we are protecting women`s health. But let
me be clear, on this unfortunate date of Roe v. Wade, my goal is to end
abortion in Mississippi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, Chloe, given what the governor just said, what does that tell you about
the state`s intention in passing this law?
CHLOE ANGYAL, EDITOR, FEMINISTING.COM: Well, he hasn`t made any bones
about it. Right? The stated goal of this particular policy is to protect
women`s health. And if that is actually the goal of this policy, this is a
terrible policy. Women are far more likely to die in childbirth than they
are during a safe, legal abortion.
And they are far more likely to die from an unsafe illegal abortion than
they are from a safe, legal one.
So if the goal here is to protect women`s health, this is a terrible
policy. And anyone who can look at the data and see what kind of an impact
this will have on women`s lives and women`s health has no business making
CAPEHART: This is a map that we have to show that these visiting
privileges, the thing is not an isolated situation. This map shows all the
states where admitting privileges laws are being considered or on the
Yellow states have passed and enacted their laws. The red states have
passed their laws, but they`ve been temporarily blocked, pending court
action. And in the orange states, legislatures are considering adding
these states to the books.
Dr. Parker, what do you make of this wide ranging assault?
PARKER: I think it`s an attempt to gut the provisions of federal policy,
Roe, that enshrines the right of a woman to have -- make the decision about
And since there`s been no success in overturning Roe, the goal is to make
the pursuit of abortion care practically impossible. So even if it remains
legal, all the barriers, whether you`re talking about entrap laws,
notification policies and the sort, they all sort of stand in the way of
blocking women from having abortion.
CAPEHART: Stay right there because this extreme crackdown on reproductive
rights extends far beyond Mississippi.
When we come back, a look at what happens when states use legal means to
restrict the rights of women.
But first, a look back to what first lady Betty Ford had to say about
abortion and the law one year after Roe v. Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETTY FORD, FORMER FIRST LADY: As far as the question on abortion, that is
a matter of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court made the ruling and the
Supreme Court is the law of our land. And as long as that is the law of
our land, I abide by the law of the land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Mississippi`s admitting privileges law is part of a nationwide
strategy. In Texas about one-third of the state`s abortion clinics were
forced to close when they could not gain privileges or comply with other
restrictions passed in 2013.
MSNBC`s Irin Carmon recently traveled to the Rio Grande Valley to see the
impact of the closures of the valley`s two reproductive health clinics.
She visited San Juan, where Planned Parenthood has set up a once-a-week
clinic to provide contraceptive and other care.
She writes of two women at the clinic, quote, "It had taken both of them
months of calling to get an appointment at the clinic. That Wednesday
morning, a four-hour wait past the schedule time to see the single nurse
practitioner wasn`t a surprise.
"The women patiently juggled each other`s babies on their laps. "Quiero
cuidarme," they said of their need for birth control, `I want to take care
"Much as they have tried, they haven`t always been able to do that. One
woman at the clinic has nine children. Both Claudia and Marlena want to
get their tubes tied, but neither can afford it. `I`ve been on the waiting
list for two years,` Marlena said."
Carmon also visited a flea market in Alamo, Texas, that allegedly once had
a thriving illegal pharmaceutical drug trade before it was raided by
sheriffs last year. Women health experts had expected that women would go
to the flea market for birth control as well as medication abortion pills
after the clinics closed.
She also took a trip across the border to the Mexican town of Nuevo
Progreso (ph). There pharmacies line the streets, selling drugs like
Viagra and the abortion pill Misoprostol over the counter. It`s a
destination for Texas residents looking for a cheaper, easier way to get
pharmaceuticals than they can get in the U.S. markets.
What do these reports tell us about what happened after these laws have
MARCUS MABRY, EDITOR AT LARGE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, these are
obviously deeply disturbing reports. To hear that American women have to
cross an international border to get what they feel like they can`t get
here is obviously deeply disturbing.
I think there are two national questions, politically, that are raised.
Well, the first may be more of a legal question, which is at what point
will the Supreme Court say the state impediments to a woman`s ability to
get an abortion actually represent illegal actions?
At what point will they say these restrictions are so much that you`re
actually stripping away a woman`s constitutionally given right to an
abortion? That`s one big question I think many of us are asking that`s of
The second question is politically it looks like we`re creating this kind
of divided United States, not unlike what we are doing with gay marriage
rights, in which there are rights you have in some states and rights you do
not have in others. And it`s not as simple as just Southern states,
because we saw on your map you pulled up earlier, these laws go all the way
up to the Canadian border in essence.
ANGYAL: What`s happening in Texas and Mississippi is, I think, a crystal
clear and really painful demonstration of the American reality, which is
that racism and sexism often go hand in hand. Whenever you see racism, if
you take a second look, you will also find sexism there. And whenever you
see sexism, you take a second look and you will also find white supremacy
And that is exactly what is happening here. These laws don`t just target
women. They target women of color. The laws in the Rio Grande Valley
target women who can`t go to a hospital when they have complications from
an illegal abortion. They can`t go to a hospital to get lifesaving
treatment because they`re afraid of being deported.
And the laws in Mississippi target women who don`t have the economic means
to just get up and go to a state 240 miles away, where abortion is
accessible. And those women are disproportionately likely to be African
So these laws don`t just target women. They target women of color. And
frankly the Republicans in the legislature in Mississippi and Texas ought
to be ashamed of themselves.
MABRY: But politically, in these states, these legislatures are allowed to
do this because politically they`re not being thrown out of office because
of these measures.
MABRY: -- they stand.
ANGYAL: That`s true. But they are making policy that represent the worst
and most corrosive elements of American culture in policy form.
CAPEHART: Well, Amanda, the same court that will rule on the Mississippi
law upheld the Texas admitting privileges law as constitutional.
And the judge said in part -- let me read this to you -- "If the admitting
privileges regulation burdens the abortion access by diminishing the number
of doctors who will perform abortions and requiring women to travel
farther, the burden does not fall on the vast majority of Texas women
Is that true? And if it is true, is that or should that be the standard?
ALLEN: Well, we obviously disagree with the court`s reasoning in that
decision. And I think what the reports really suggest and show is that
it`s time to call the bluff of the politicians that pushed H.B. 2, this
measure that is really leaving large, large blocks of Texas without access
to a safe and legal abortion provider. It`s time to call their bluff.
This measure is doing the exact opposite of what they said it would do.
It`s really putting women`s health at risk.
PARKER: Can I chime in on the evidence based regulations that should
improve the quality of services. The reality is, admitting privileges
don`t affect the quality of care for women, and that the majority of
abortions, well, abortion in general is extremely safe.
Less than 1 percent of abortions ever have a complication requiring
hospitalization. And even if it does. the algorithm of how emerging care
plays out is when an ambulance picks a patient up at an ambulatory setting,
they will go to the closest hospital on an emergent basis.
That`s irrelevant to whether or not the doctor has privileges there. So
again, there should be an evidence basis if we`re going to change the
regulations under the guise of safety, let`s have it linked to evidence.
There`s no evidence that these laws affect the quality of care for women.
CAPEHART: Dr. Parker, before we go, will we see a return to the pre-Roe
days are or we already there?
PARKER: Well, I don`t know. I know we`re there in terms of women have
always been willing to do what they need to do to make an abortion happen.
And so right now we`re not there in the way that the deaths went away when
abortion was legal. When abortion becomes illegal or practically for all
purposes illegal, women will continue to take desperate measures.
CAPEHART: You said that we`re already there. You agree?
MABRY: I hope not.
CAPEHART: Dr. Willie Parker, Chloe Angyal and Amanda Allen, thanks.
Marcus is sticking around.
Coming up, the subject so hot it`s already spawned three best sellers.
We`ll be right back.
CAPEHART: Do you love imdb.com the way I love imdb.com?
It`s one of those great websites you can get lost in, learning movie
trivia, finding out which goofy sitcom`s big stars used to be on or even
what upcoming movie your favorite director has coming next.
Every time I see "The Matrix" on basic cable, I find myself going to
imdb.com to find out what happened to Keanu Reeves and does he make movies
Because I like Keanu Reeves and his movies. I really do. Especially "My
Own Private Idaho." The 1991 Gus Van Sant classic is cinema brilliance
with amazing performances from both Reeves and the late River Phoenix.
And do you know who imdb.com lists as one of the writers on "My Own Private
Idaho"? William Shakespeare because aspects of the movie were based on a
modern day adaptation of Shakespeare`s "Henry IV." So there`s the Bard,
dead, 375 years and getting a writing credit on a big deal feature film.
It`s not like that was his only one.
Just have a look at the writing credits IMDB lists for William Shakespeare.
There are 997 of them. And take a look at the column on the right. Those
are the years for these productions of plays, films and TV specials.
The guy has 20 projects in the works this year alone. Apparently he
already has two projects lined up for 2015. I mean, who is William
Shakespeare`s agent? I mean, seriously, who`s his agent? And did he send
a birthday card? Because this week the Bard would have celebrated a big
one, the big 450. Yes, Shakespeare turned 450 this past Wednesday -- we
Apparently there`s some discrepancy, but that`s not the point. The point
is that even today William Shakespeare is huge. And as much as imdb.com
helps us realize just how huge Shakespeare still is 450 years after his
birth, this week for me, it was businessinsider.com that really said it
In fact, it was this woman, Christina Sterbenz, a reporter for Business
Insider and a graduate of Syracuse University who said it, and she said it
with a Listicle, a Listicle so good I have to share just part of it. Her
Listicle presents 13 everyday phrases that actually come from William
Shakespeare, phrases like "green-eyed monster," which has its roots in
And "The world is your oyster," which the world first heard a variation of
in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," and "It`s all Greek to me," which Sterbenz
writes in "Julius Caesar," when Cassius asks Casca what Cicero said, Casca
responds, "But for mine own part, it was Greek to me."
And of course, there`s more. If you want to read the rest of the list,
just Google Business Insider and Shakespeare. You should find the link
easily, though. Thank you, Christina, for putting together this great bit
of nerdy fun.
And to William Shakespeare, happy birthday. Yes, happy birthday.
When we come back, the other author and the one who is still alive, who is
all the hotness right now.
CAPEHART: Right now I`m holding the hottest new item people just can`t
stop talking about. It`s selling out so fast that even getting your hands
on it can be a challenge. You know what I`m talking about, Thomas
Piketty`s brand new 685 thriller, "Capital in the 21st Century," an
analysis of data from 20 countries that uncovers key economic patterns
It`s the number one best seller on amazon.com and so popular it`s currently
sold out. The book has already sold about 85,000 copies, including ebooks
and the Harvard University Press has orders on hand for another 90,000.
And everyone is talking about it: "The New York Times," "The Washington
Post," "Time" magazine and dozens of other news outlets. MSNBC`s Chris
Hayes sat down with Piketty for an extended interview.
This right here is seriously the talk of the town. And again, it`s 685
pages, heavy pages of economic history, which is not quite the usual
profile of a chart topping bestseller.
But maybe it shouldn`t seem so unusual. In fact, right now sharing the top
of the bestseller list on amazon.com are Elizabeth Warren`s biography, "A
Fighting Chance," and Michael Lewis` "Flash Boys," two books that also
focus on questions of inequality.
And economic inequality has been a buzz term for world leaders, from Pope
Francis to President Obama.
Which leads me to ask, is economic inequality the new hot topic in our
And is that shift coming at a time when we desperately need it to be at the
top of the agenda?
Joining me now, Jillian Melchior writes for the " National Review" as a
fellow for the Independent Women`s Forum.
Michael Peppard, theology professor at Fordham University and contributor
to "Common Weal" magazine.
Tamara Draut, vice president of policy and research at the think tank
And back with us again, Marcus Mabry, editor at large at "The New York
I know I messed up your last name.
TAMARA DRAUT, V.P., DEMOS: No, you got it.
CAPEHART: Got it right?
So is this shift towards a more widespread consciousness about economic
inequality? I`m going to start with you.
CAPEHART: Is it?
DRAUT: Yes, I mean, this is great, right? We have three top books. You
know what I think is this tells us is there is a real hunger in our nation
to explain something that we have felt deep in our bones for a while.
And what this does is it gives us a framework for understanding what is
happening. And I think that inequality really started being hot several
years ago with Occupy. We like to dismiss them, but we have to give them
real credit for introducing and popularizing the idea of the 1 percent and
the 99 percent.
And then we had Citizens United. We recently had McCutcheon, and I think
it`s becoming much more palpable to the everyday American that something is
seriously wrong, that our democracy and our economy clearly seem to be
benefitting the wealthy, while the rest of us are struggling to stay
CAPEHART: Marcus, do you agree, is there a shift towards a more widespread
consciousness about economic inequality?
MABRY: You know, Jonathan, I don`t know. Maybe I think is the best answer
we have right now. Or maybe this is actually just a phenomenon we`re
seeing amongst those who buy books on Amazon. That`s a lot of people, but
that ain`t the whole country.
And I think politically we`re really going to see something with the
midterm elections this year. The Democrats and Barack Obama really hope
that this will be the main topic of discussions, the questions on which
these midterms will be decided.
Because if it`s about inequality, if it`s about Americans being fatigued in
the guns in the middle class, then the Democrats have a much better chance
of, for instance, holding onto the United States Senate.
If it`s not about that, the Republicans have a much better chance of
recapturing the Senate. So I think really we`ll see how widespread, how
mass is this movement and this fatigue with income equality in America in
just a few months.
CAPEHART: So "The New York Times" recently published a pretty stunning
graphic. And it shows that American incomes are only leading the world
when you look at the top half of earners, and here you see the change in
median income over the period of 10 years, broken up by income percentile
with the poorest fifth on the left and the richest fifth on the right.
And the very top percentile of earners are seeing these dramatic income
increases over time. But when you look at the bottom half of earners,
we`re not only falling behind other countries but we`re also seeing slow or
negative growth of income.
Should we look at a graph like that and question the direction our country
MABRY: Well that`s from the upshot, which is a brand new large statistical
reporting based website that we just launched this week, and it really digs
down deep into the numbers to let you know exactly, as you were saying that
much of what you were in your gut and this impression that people are not
doing as well as they used to, social escalator in America is not working
as well as it once did, it really makes those realities come to life
through the numbers.
And I think most embarrassing for Americans -- and I think it is, I think,
embarrassing, is the fact that if you`re from any other Western country and
you`re really seriously middle class, not upper middle class or upper
class, but middle class or working class or working poor, you are actually
declining and losing the race as people in those same classes and other
Western countries continue to develop greater assets. You`re actually
CAPEHART: So Jillian, the fact that we`re having this conversation, we`re
talking about these books. Is it positive that questions about economic
inequality are in the public spotlight right now?
JILLIAN MELCHIOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I think it`s positive because
it`s pretty undisputable that there`s an economic issue going on. I think
seizing on the issue of economic inequality and equality is a winning
political issue because everybody wants to be told they deserve to make
The flip side of that is, though, what policies it`s going to result in.
And I`m concerned some of the policies that have been furthered are
actually going to end up hurting those at sort of the base of society that
are really struggling to get a leg up.
CAPEHART: Michael, the pope has made income inequality part of his papacy.
And I have to ask you, does the message that the pope has make a difference
in terms of our nation and the world`s awareness of and attention to
Does it make a difference?
MICHAEL PEPPARD, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: I think it does. I think we see that
difference that we talked about another time with President Obama quoting
Pope Francis and using Pope Francis` popularity around the world and his
speaking about inequality as a way for President Obama to almost get back
to his own message that he lost sight of for a couple of years there.
I think that when we look at the Catholic social teaching about capital,
about wealth, about inequality, it certainly encourages people to move
beyond the initial bottom line of profits to a second bottom line of
people, how does a corporation`s activities affect the people in the
corporation and the people outside of it.
But with Pope Francis, we`re going to get even a third one. He`s writing
in his cyclical about ecology, and the sustainability movement they talk
about the triple bottom line of profits, people and planet.
And you can see that there`s this overarching theory of how wealth ought to
be distributed in a way that goes toward human dignity, toward human
flourishing and also toward a sustainable attitude toward the environment.
CAPEHART: So we know that the topic is hot.
But what can we do about it? That`s next.
CAPEHART: Welcome back. We`ve been talking about how economic inequality
has gone from a scholarly and political view to becoming mainstream. In
part because of the rhetorical push the issue has been getting from none
other than the president. President Obama has been pushing for an increase
in the minimum wage to $10.10 and he`s been framing it like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It is time to give America a raise. Say yes. Give America a
It`s time for $10.10. It`s time to give America a raise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: And the president has commended companies that already pay more
than the federal minimum wage, like when he visited Costco and said you
could tell workers there feel good about their jobs and company.
And he`s publicly applauded companies that have bumped up their minimum
wage since his initiative began, like Gap, which raised it to $9 an hour
He even shouted out Minnesota Pizza Company owner John Serrano (ph) during
his State of the Union address, praising his company for raising its
employee minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Even though there hasn`t been traction in Congress on raising the minimum
wage, the president`s rhetoric seems to be making a difference. In his
weekly address yesterday, he told this story about one response to his
State of the Union address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from a small business owner
who watched that night.
Here`s what she wrote, "I was moved by John Serrano`s (ph) story. It got
me thinking about my full-time employees and their ability to survive on $8
an hour in New York City."
So a few weeks ago, Jasmine (ph) put in place a plan to lift wages for her
employees at both her restaurants to at least $10 an hour by the end of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So, can an elevated national dialogue about economic inequality
be a catalyst for change?
I throw that out to the table. Can it?
DRAUT: I think we`re already seeing it happen. We`re looking at minimum
wage fights really bubbling up in major cities across the country. The
president has made it a signature issue.
And so I think that we`re seeing a real sea change and real momentum that
$7.25 an hour, most Americans think that is insane and agree that we need
to significantly increase the federal minimum wage in the country.
And the other thing I`ll say is the reason why I think this is really
starting to get momentum is you have a really great mix of people. You
have the private sector. You have CEOs of companies saying it`s time we
do this. Gap, Costco, Whole Foods.
And then you have the religious community who`s also really shining a
spotlight on this. Couple that with the burgeoning protests we have seen
in the fast food sector and retail. And I think all of this together is
sort of the power of people and the power of ideas in the form of these
books, are coming together and I think that`s when we see real change
MELCHIOR: I think with issues like the minimum wage, you have to look at a
cost-benefit. And that`s like any policy. So the benefit is that some
people potentially get higher wage. But if we`re talking about income
inequality, Congressional Budget Office has predicted that raising the
minimum wage to $10.10 is going to cost about half a million jobs by 2016.
With it, it`s inevitably going to cost jobs. And that`s because if you
have minimum wage, I mean, why not raise it beyond $10.10? Why not $20?
Why not $30? At some point there`s a cost there. And I really think that
cost is going to hit some of the most vulnerable members of society.
I mean, if you look at every 10 percent increase there`s about a 1 percent
to 3 percent effect on jobs for teenagers. Black teenagers have the
highest rate of unemployment in the country. That`s really unfortunate.
So I think when we look at this, yes, we do want higher pay for a lot of
people. But we have to understand there`s a cost associated with that.
CAPEHART: But isn`t that an argument that happens every time there`s an
increase in the minimum wage or even talk of an increase in the minimum
wage? There`s always someone always who comes up and says but it`s going
to cost jobs.
DRAUT: Well, it hasn`t been borne out because we have real-life examples.
Washington State since 1998 has had the highest minimum wage, highest
statewide minimum wage. In fact, in the last 15 years the economy in
Washington State has grown faster than all other 49 states.
They`ve also seen job growth in the very sectors that we always hear are
going to lose jobs, in retail, in bars, in restaurants. So we have real
world examples. We can talk theory or we can talk what`s really happening.
San Francisco is thriving.
MELCHIOR: To that point, how high do you think is too high to go before it
starts costing jobs? They you need to agree that a $50 minimum wage is
going to cost jobs at some point. So where do you find that right line?
Where do you find the limit where it`s not going to cost jobs but benefit
PEPPARD: Can I jump in on this? Because one of the things that I think
this book and the related discussions have brought to light is focusing on
ratios more than absolute numbers. Ratios within companies, ratios within
societies in which you look at what the top wage earners are earning versus
what their median or lowest earners are earning, and those ratios are out
of control right now. So everyone agrees to that fact. And we`re talking
about 273:1 being -- if that`s the right number still, median CEOs to low
wage earners. And some companies get over 1,000:1 in terms of --
CAPEHART: (INAUDIBLE) Demos has a report about CEOs in the fast food
industry. It`s 1,200 times the earnings of the average fast food worker
that the fast food CEO, and the ratio remained above 1,000:1 in 2013.
And when I read this report, I wondered what on Earth can be done to close
Is there anything that can be done to change that?
DRAUT: Well, the minimum wage is one. That would be a great start.
But I also think the report has a lot of traction and will be doing a lot
of briefings with big institutional investors. When we released the
report, the comptroller of New York City, Scott Stringer, helped us release
the report because the reality is this is starting to impact shareholders.
This is bad for business. It has reached the point where it`s affecting --
if you look at performance in the fast food sector, wait times are up.
It`s taking larger through the drive-through, turnover is increasing. All
of that is really bad for business.
And McDonald`s itself in its SEC filing highlighted the fact that
inequality is a growing risk to their company.
MABRY: And that`s the hope. The great hope is that there will be this
convergence and there is this convergence happening between what the people
want, what the private sector wants and what government wants. It all says
this increase in inequality is a problem for us.
We actually -- it`s not sustainable for a capitalist society. What Thomas
Piketty`s book says though about capital is that in fact with the
aberration of World War II and the great middle class that it`s burned for
American society and therefore the world with that only exception, capital
and capitalism has actually created inequalities and grown inequalities
forever since it existed.
Now that`s a theory; we`ll see very soon, I think, if it`s borne out
because if change doesn`t happen, if there`s not a minimum wage that
happens nationally, then I think we`re going to see greater and greater
social dislocation and disruption.
CAPEHART: And that is going to have to be our last word. Thank you,
Marcus Mabry, Jillian Melchior, Tamara Draut, Marcus Mabry -- I said
everybody. I did say everybody.
Up next the epidemic affecting as many as one in 50 children. The
information every parent needs after the break.
CAPEHART: In 2000, autism affected about one in 150 U.S. children. Today,
one in 68 kids has an autism spectrum disorder according to the latest
report from the CDC. And the recent government survey indicates the
national rate of autism could be closer to one in 50.
These are rates described by advocates at the organization Autism Speaks,
as nothing short of an epidemic.
Sounding the alarm is a documentary highlighting the challenges families
face raising children with autism, especially as those children get older.
It shows their struggle with the insurmountable financial and emotional
burdens of providing care for their loved ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to give him the best chance at a normal
life. We want our child to say, I love you, we don`t want him to become a
Rhodes scholar at Harvard. And these things will help. These necessary
therapeutic services will help.
It`s $2,400 a month for three hours where he goes right now, which is on a
grant. That grant just got cut. So we would be looking at paying that
$2,400, which is well over my husband`s income right now. It`s just not
feasible. It`s not possible to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: The film screen during the Tribeca Film Festival here in New
York yesterday. And joining me now on set is Michael Rosen, executive vice
president of Autism Speaks.
MICHAEL ROSEN, EVP, AUTISM SPEAKS. Thanks, Jonathan. Great to be here.
CAPEHART: The film shows incredibly personal and private moments from
people`s lives, parents at their most vulnerable. And I`m curious about
people making the decision to share those moments. Because I`m wondering,
is that what it takes to get the attention that`s needed on this issue?
ROSEN: Completely. This is an issue that we hear about every single day.
So Bob and Suzanne Wright, who are the co-founders of Autism Speaks, felt
there was no better way to tell this than to tell it through this film.
Bob Wright, of course, was the head of NBC for 24 years. So he knows
media. And we need to raise awareness. People need to understand the
profound impact of this issue.
CAPEHART: I want to show another clip from the movie, featuring a
medically retired Marine, Hardy Mills, who has a child with autism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half of the working population has insurance coverage.
Through all the large corporations, like Apple, Walmart, GE, Exxon.
Plus the U.S. government, which is the largest single employer in the
country. And yet Congress has failed to act on the large corporations, and
on its own U.S. government employees, to bring autism insurance to those
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: OK. That was the wrong sound bite. We`ll get to the sound bite
that I wanted to ask you about.
But talk about that, about action in Congress on this issue.
ROSEN: This is incredible. We don`t want to discriminate against people
who have autism. It`s something that occurred, that parents have no
insurance coverage for.
Only 36 states which we have helped get insurance coverage for have autism
insurance coverage. The other 14 states we are working hard to get
Our families, this costs an average of $60,000 a year in expenses for the
therapies that they need for their families. That`s not just the cost to
our families, to the country, this is $137 billion a year. So both from a
personal and a financial cost to the country, this is imperative that we
CAPEHART: Now, let`s play that clip of the retired Marine, Hardy Mills,
who has a child with autism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARDY MILLS, USMC (RET.), PARENT OF AUTISTIC CHILD: But if I didn`t get
hurt and I was still active duty, Shane would be covered just like any
other active duty military family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We`re going to practice sitting and playing, OK?
MILLS: I`ve spent over $120,000 out of my pocket in the last two years for
Shane`s therapy. We`ve sold our home, we`ve had to move, we`ve had to sell
stuff around the house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Michael, what help is out there for people who have given up
ROSEN: That clip is so poignant. Hardy goes on to say, what should I do,
sell my medals next?
ROSEN: He had 17 operations in three different countries, and he`s a hero
for this nation in Fallujah. And then he comes home and he can`t get
insurance coverage for his autistic child because it`s not covered for
retired men and women in the military.
So we`re working hard with members of Congress and we`re getting some
support. We hope legislation will pass soon to get our military retirees
CAPEHART: I don`t know if we have time to play the clip from the movie --
we do have time to -- about aging out of the system, let`s play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, OK, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re her mom. You`ve been trying to care for Sochi
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like not to, but I know the state of New York has
put a moratorium on adult homes for children like her. So we`re just
managing from day to day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every year kids are turning 21, and they`re aging out
of the school setting, and the parents are expecting that their children
are going to have an opportunity to live in a group home or live
But they might have to wait for a very, very long time before all the stars
can line up and the planets can line up and that opportunity present for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Michael, what are some of the obstacles parents are facing to
find help and homes for their adult children with autism?
ROSEN: There`s just not enough homes. There`s 500,000 people over the
next 10 years who are aging out of their school support assistance.
Somebody turns 22, they lose their school support. Where are they to go?
There`s a waiting list of 300,000 for a group home. We need a national
plan from the government to help make autism a national priority.
CAPEHART: One of the things when you watch the documentary and people, I
think as you said, when they think of autism, they think of little
But that this documentary does is shows that this thing is life-long.
Michael, thank you very much for being here, Michael Rosen with Autism
That is our show for today, thanks to you at home for watching. Melissa
Harris-Perry will be back right here next Saturday at 10:00 am Eastern.
Now it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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