THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 20, 2014
Guest: Allan Lichtman, David Nakamura, Darren Sands
ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night
off. Happy Friday.
Here`s how Congressman Paul Ryan spent his Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Being forthcoming --
JOHN KOSKINEN, IRS COMMISSIONER: Which we knew for one day --
RYAN: Being forthcoming is to say, you know what, investigators,
Congress is investigating --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you let him answer the question?
RYAN: I didn`t ask him a question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you did.
RYAN: Being forthcoming --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen. The gentleman from Wisconsin has --
RYAN: I control the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I realize that disrupting a hearing sort of --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the gentleman from Wisconsin --
RYAN: I am not yielding time. I control the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has the time.
RYAN: Here`s what being forthcoming is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Gosh. What has got Paul Ryan so exercised?
Well, for months, the House Ways & Means Committee has been
investigating claims that IRS official Lois Lerner and other IRS staff
targeted conservative and Tea Party affiliated groups before the 2012
Earlier this week, IRS officials told the committee because of the
computer crash, a batch of e-mails dating back to 2011 were lost. Now,
Republicans aren`t buying it. Committee Chairman Dave Camp and Republican
Charles Boustany wrote in a press release, quote, "Surprise, surprise. A
few computers crashed, plot lines in Hollywood are more believable than
what we`re getting from the White House and IRS." Which brings us back to
the House`s busy Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: You bury in a 27-page letter to the Senate asking for them to
conclude the investigation that you`ve lost Lois Lerner`s e-mails during
the time in question because of a hard drive crash. Monday, our
investigators asked your agency whether any other hard drives crashed and
we learned that six other hard drives of the people who were investigating
were involved, you didn`t tell us that.
KOSKINEN: We told you on Monday.
RYAN: On Monday.
KOSKINEN: And what did you do --
RYAN: Because you asked you, you told us on May, you were going to
give us all of Lois Lerner`s e-mails and you learned in February that this
KOSKINEN: I did not learn in February there was a crash and we told
you on Monday --
RYAN: You -- I`m no asking you a question. I`m making a statement.
KOSKINEN: My apologies.
RYAN: This is a pattern of abuse. A pattern of behavior that is not
giving us any confidence that says agency is being impartial. I don`t -- I
don`t believe you. This isn`t credible.
KOSKINEN: I have a long career. That`s the first time anybody has
said that they do not believe me. I am actually --
RYAN: I don`t believe you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, you can decide for yourself whether Paul Ryan there is
mad, mad, or if he`s happy mad. Lots of House Republicans seem to be very
happy any time they have a reason to be mad, some perceived slight or
glitch or failure or, yes, scandal in the executive branch.
Politically, they`re living off this stuff. The Republican House has
been raging at these allegations at the IRS. Why focus on the next
election when you can relive the past one? They`ve been voting to create
their Trey Gowdy-led special select committee on Benghazi, lashing out at
the administration for the way they negotiated for the release of prisoner
of war Bowe Bergdahl.
Because Congress seems unwilling to do any governing lately, the
estranged partner of Congress here, the president, has pretty much given up
on them entirely. But that doesn`t mean he`s given up. Instead he`s
pushing his own agenda without them, and inviting them along if they ever
have a change of heart on even a single issue.
Today, the administration extended marriage benefits, for example, for
same-sex families. That allows same-sex couples to take leave from their
jobs, to take care of a same-sex spouse, even if the state where they live
doesn`t recognize gay marriage.
That is news on its own and it`s exactly, of course, what the
president outlined for this year in his January State of the Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to be
just waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we`re providing
Americans the kind of health that they need. I`ve got a pen and I`ve got a
phone, and I could use that pen to sign executive orders, and take
executive actions, administrative actions that move the ball forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You saw him there in a cabinet meeting describing the message
of the State of the Union.
When we talk about the federal government, we often use the lens of
separation of powers. Congress legislates and appropriates. President
signs or vetoes. One political branch checks the other, when the system
But there`s a whole other way to look at this dynamic right now. As
long as the House Republicans are obsessed with oversight, which when
properly done is legitimate, but as long as they`re obsessed with that and
particularly the politicized oversight practice by Ryan, Issa, Boehner, and
Gowdy, as long as that`s their activity, they have committed themselves to
And that may slow down some parts of the White House, but it doesn`t
stop the president`s executive actions which are focused on the present and
the future, on governing and on action. When you think about that division
of labor, a present tense president and a past tense Congress, you can see
how Congress is falling down.
Take something Rachel was covering just this week. The reaction to
the important awesome no doubt about it good news that the United States
caught a suspected terrorist accused of killing Americans in Benghazi.
After House Republicans had spent all that time and effort drumming up the
select committee investigating Benghazi, looking backwards toward why the
attack mattered and according to some of their conspiracies, why they think
the White House was to blame, then the U.S. actually does something about
it, in the present tense and they can`t deal with it.
This is the ship this gentleman`s being held on. This is happening
right now. This is real. Congressional Republicans stuck in the past are
having a hard time catching up to the extent that they are, it`s with
interjections of "don`t read him his Miranda rights", which we`re not doing
during the sourcing of intelligence, or "send him to Gitmo", another past
The president has kept his word here moving the ball forward in other
ways, too, on policy. There`s a smart on crime initiative where President
Obama and Eric Holder have taken steps toward reforming mandatory minimum
laws without Congress. When House Republicans refuse to take up
legislation on the minimum wage, you may remember President Obama used
executive action to raise it at least for federal contractors which takes
some of the economy there.
Now, after House Republicans refused to bring the employment
nondiscrimination act or ENDA to the floor, President Obama says he will
sign an executive order doing the same, vis-a-vis federal contractors for
banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
President`s also made big moves on climate change, proposing new
restrictions on coal fired power plant to lower carbon emissions. The GOP
response: to do anything they can simply to block him on it or take funds
away from the EPA. Some even talk about another government shutdown to
Now, the president has done what he`s done thus far, given Congress`
utter intransience. And we`re seeing that in the legal world, thanks to
Congress` inability to confirm executive appointments as well, we`re going
to see soon a ruling from the Supreme Court which will decide whether
President Obama was legally allowed to jam appointments through while
Congress was out of session, i.e. not working.
And the president and Congress are so polar opposite right now, it`s
like they`re almost divorced. But not quite, because we know they can`t
get a divorce in our system. So, maybe it`s more like legally separated.
You do your thing, I`ll do mine kind of deal. Separate lives taking
separate paths, which has led to an almost awkward truce and commitment not
to work together.
Over at "Talking Points Memo", Josh Marshall put it like this, "Both
sides of the partisan divide are operating in their own political universe,
on their own political turfs. And the most striking thing is both seem
content to keep it that way."
You may remember during the Bush administration, there was a lot of
talk from Republicans operating under what some called a unitary executive
theory, an idea that President Bush or sometimes Vice President Cheney
could do anything they wanted. There were virtually no limits on their
unitary executive power.
And the sort of ironic, bitter sum result of what`s going on here of
Republicans` current legislative strategy is that it has fomented a great
deal of legal solo executive action that you could get out of President
Obama if only because that`s a logical response of any president who sees
that Congress is not going to pass just about anything.
Whether that`s a good thing or bad thing depends how you view it, and
whether it`s the ideal form of relationship that our Founders envisioned,
probably not. They wanted co-equal collaboration. But if you`re going to
be obstructionist about everything, you were basically daring the president
in this case, this President Obama, to do as much as he can with the power
he has. And what we`re seeing right now is him taking that dare.
Just yesterday , John Boehner went to the weekly press conference he
holds and he went on at length about the IRS scandal, V.A. scandal, what he
thinks is a Bergdahl scandal. And he was asked about what House
Republicans were planning in terms of policy, even, for example, funding
the Highway Trust Fund which is currently losing money or reforming the
Voting Rights Act. The speaker didn`t have answers for that.
Earlier this year, "The New York Times" asked a slew of Republican
congressmen what they saw in terms of substantial legislation for the year
ahead and their hopes were, in a word, low.
So, Republicans don`t really have a plan or an agenda. They often
aren`t pretending to. There are two problems with that. Substantively,
its deeply cynical, it`s an impoverished view of what you can do with your
job of what you were elected to do.
But, politically, it`s also a hard sell. If you look at how Eric
Cantor fared last week or how Republican incumbent Thad Cochran might fare
next week in that Mississippi runoff that he was forced into -- we`re going
to talk about that this hour -- you might that find running on empty
sometimes mean you don`t cross the finish line.
Joining me now is Allan Lichtman, presidential historian at American
Professor Lichtman, thank you very much for being here.
ALLAN LICHTMAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: My pleasure.
MELBER: Your thoughts on this divide and what the president`s trying
to do here from a historical perspective and perhaps compared to other
presidents in this predicament.
LICHTMAN: Yes, we`re seeing something almost unique here. Political
scientists measure political polarization and it`s about to go off their
charts. It`s at its absolute maximum.
And you`re absolutely right about the do-nothing Congress. You know,
Harry Truman campaigned against the do-nothing Congress in 1948. Well,
that Congress looks like the do-everything Congress compared to this one,
because absolutely nothing is happening. And nothing is going to happen as
you point out.
So, the president fills the vacuum. Politics hates a vacuum. And
there is plenty of historical precedent for doing very important things via
Few people know John Kennedy actually established the Peace Corps via
executive order before it was ever put into law by the Congress of the
In 1930, in the midst of the Great Depression, with America suffering
tremendous unemployment, Herbert Hoover, in one of the least known but
important executive orders, cut immigration to the U.S. by 90percent, by
tightening up visa requirements.
Franklin Roosevelt issued over 3,000 executive orders. By contrast,
President Obama isn`t even at 200 yet.
MELBER: Yes, and look at the politics of this as well, right? Which
is other presidents have struggled particularly as you get into the second
term with Congress` desire to really move on. And if they`re optimistic
hopefully get their own party back in the White House.
Take a listen to something President Clinton struggled with when it
got so bad impeachment being a piece of it that he was pressed on whether
the position of president was even relevant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: President Clinton, Republicans have dominated political
debate in this country since they took over Congress in January. And even
tonight, two of the major television networks declined to broadcast this
Do you worry about making sure that your voice is heard in the coming
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: No. I remind you, I had at least one
press conference during the previous two years when I had it at night, but
only one of the networks covered it as I remember. But the important thing
is for me to do these press conferences on a regular basis and every three,
four months, to do it at night so anyone who wants to cover it can.
The Constitution gives me relevance. The power of our ideas gives me
relevance. The record we have built up over the last two years and the
things we`re trying to do to implement it give it relevance. The president
is relevant here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, Professor, it`s almost a bit of a weird moment there of
him having to say it`s relevant. You have the interplay there of the
media`s role because he wasn`t getting the coverage he may have previously
But how do you contrast President Clinton`s approach here to what
we`re seeing in action from President Obama today?
LICHTMAN: Well, first of all, President Clinton proved he was very
relevant when he won re-election in 1996 after the Republican sweep in
1994. Also, he proved his relevancy by compromising with the Congress
getting a minimum wage bill on the one hand and giving Republicans welfare
There`s no compromising with this Congress, though, because they`re
not interested in compromise. And that`s why he`s got to step into the
breach with executive action like so many other presidents have done.
And the critical thing here is not the number of executive orders,
they`re not that great, but the substance of them. Taking action on
climate change, however modest. Perhaps the most important challenge that
humanity faces, perhaps opening up whole new areas of the Pacific as
preserves to keep the oceans pristine.
These are very important things. If Congress had done these things,
we`d consider them major milestones, but Obama doesn`t have that route to
MELBER: Allan Lichtman, political analyst and presidential historian
at American University -- thanks so much for sharing your insights tonight.
LICHTMAN: Any time.
MELBER: Now, what happened to Eric Cantor surprised a lot of people
who didn`t live in his district. The same kind of thing might actually
happen to an even more well-known lion of the House next week, but there is
a way not to be surprised. Just keep watching.
Stay with us.
MELBER: The future is here. Sadly, there are no flying cars or
decoder rings, but there is something pretty close. Stay tuned.
MELBER: You know who`s not a U.S. senator? This guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD AKIN: It seems to me first of all from what I understand from
doctors that`s really rare. If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has
ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Todd Akin, U.S. congressman from Missouri who challenged
Senator Claire McCaskill for her seat in 2012. And he might have won it
until that statement there about rape and female physiology pretty much put
his Senate bid down the river.
But his notorious wasn`t an outlier actually from Mr. Akin`s record on
women`s reproductive health. As a U.S. congressman, he spent time talking
about and legislating about rape. In 2011, he co-sponsored the, quote, "No
Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act", which tried to redefine rape to be
something called, quote, "forcible rape," a fairly invented term of dubious
legal significance which served to make him and his fellow 226 co-sponsors
seem as antiabortion as possible.
One of his co-sponsors who tried to define sexual assault for everyone
else was another Republican congressman from Colorado named Cory Gardner.
Mr. Gardner had a pretty low profile then. But now, he is the GOP
candidate running for Senate against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. So,
now, Cory Gardner`s record getting some real scrutiny.
Before he came to Washington, he was a state lawmaker in 2007. He co-
sponsored a near total ban on abortion with absolutely no exceptions in the
case of rape or incest. It was a bill that would have put doctors who
performed termination in prison for up to a dozen years.
That same year, he was one of only a handful of legislators who voted
against giving rape victims access to emergency contraception. During his
tenure in the Colorado Statehouse he supported not one but two of the so-
called personhood ballot measures that got voted down twice by voters in
the state by more than 40 points. He also bragged about going the extra
mile to try to get that bill passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: Thank you. I have signed the
personhood petition. I have taken the petitions to my church and
circulated them in my church and have a legislative record that backs up my
support for life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Mr. Gardner`s legislative record on the state level.
Song remained the same during his federal career as we mentioned. Along
with the Akin bill, he co-sponsored a bill that would have made you ask
your boss if you could take birth control.
He also supported a national personhood bill which would have made
criminal all abortions in all circumstances and also outlawed the birth
control bill. Gardner was a co-sponsor on that in 2012 and recently as
When he was running for Congress, he said he would personally sponsor
legislation to put an end to abortion.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
QUESTION: My question is do you believe that abortion is killing an
unborn child and if you are willing to carry legislation to end the
GARDNER: Yes, and I have a legislative background to back that up.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: A hat tip to the newspaper for holding on to that audio. If
his voting record weren`t consistent enough, you have the tape. And that`s
inconvenient for Mr. Gardner who`s seen with super radical antiabortion
voting records in public statements can do to U.S. Senate candidates in
hotly contested races in purple states.
So, after all this, sponsoring personhood amendments on the state and
federal level, Cory Gardner now says, hey, it was all a big mistake. He
didn`t really understand what the personhood bills were all about. He`s
sorry. He even wants to take it back. "I did not know what I was
sponsoring is not a position of strength."
But that is where the Colorado Senate campaign is right now. Chalk it
up as one sort of bright spot in the tension between anti-choice activism
and political ambition.
Senator Mark Udall surely knows who Todd Akin is and Mr. Udall has
already put out a few official campaign ads framing Cory Gardner on these
Here`s one example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Because this really matters, it`s
important you hear this directly from me. My opponent, Congressman
Gardner, led a crusade that would make birth control illegal and sponsored
a bill to make abortion a felony. Even in cases of rape and incest.
His record is beyond troubling. It`s wrong. We`re talking about your
rights as women, as families, as Coloradans.
I`m Mark Udall. You have the right to live life on your own terms, to
make your own choices. And that`s why I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This was a big political story and you hear it there in his
language, life -- the right that you have.
The Udall campaign wants to make sure this sticks. They want to make
sure everyone knows all about this important endorsement that Gardner got
from, yes, Rick Santorum, even if Gardner`s team didn`t want to put out a
Meanwhile, Gardner keeps saying he doesn`t know his staunch and
consistent support over many years for personhood measures meant he
supported outlawing hormonal forms of birth control which includes the
pill, something that eight in ten women in this country have used, as if
you didn`t know.
Because some politicians have no sense of irony, Cory Gardner but pen
to paper for "The Denver Post" op-ed page calling for the federal
government to OK over the counter birth control pills. That is something
from a person who tried to get the pill banned in the past two federal
It is amazing sometimes what the quest for higher office will do to a
politician. It`s pretty clear that personhood candidates can`t win
statewide, especially in states that have twice rejected personhood
amendments and by landslides as I mentioned. It`s enough to make a co-
sponsor of personhood legislation get downright anti-personhood -- if
that`s the right political term. Or at least try to despite the record and
despite the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARDNER: I have a legislative record that backs up my support for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The year 1960 brought with it a film that would revolutionize
the film industry. "Scent of Mystery", an action packed caper featuring
Peter Lorre with a tiny, uncredited cameo by Elizabeth Taylor. Most
critics panned the film. And that`s probably the real star of "Scent of
Mystery" was neither Peter Lorre nor Elizabeth Taylor. It was instead the
technological breakthrough known as smell-a-vision.
The "Scent of mystery" movies, talkies and now smellies. This is
real. Smell-o-vision was meant to enhance the movie-going experience
through a system of tubes and vials that unleashed a series of scents
throughout the theater. For example, in a scene where cast of wine tumbled
down the hill and come crashing to a halt, smell-o-vision released a grape
As a film critic from "New York Times" recounted, when this reviewer
saw and smelled the picture, the smell-o-vision squirters weren`t full
blast or his nasal apparatus was on the fritz.
There are occasions when the odor of pipe smoke drifts from the vents,
presumably giving clues to the murderer. But we do not advice the viewer
to depend upon these clues or the alleged clues from the perfume of his
victim. They are, shall we say, indistinct.
Smell-o-vision was a bust. The film associated with it was renamed
and re-released and everyone forgot about the whole thing entirely until
"Scent of Mystery" holds some new relevance because of science and
also consumerism. That story is ahead.
Stay with us.
MELBER: This was a very exciting week for America, soccer-wise. USA
played Ghana in the World Cup on Monday. And the game was a thrill from
the get-go. Americans scored within the first minute and then 80-plus
minutes of anxiety across the nation and at the end, USA beat Ghana in the
first match of the World Cup, 2-1.
And who better to help the team celebrate their victory than Vice
President Joe Biden?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congratulations.
After that first goal, see it on the monitor the night I won the election.
Congratulations. You guys were great. Spectacular.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to see you.
BIDEN: Are you kidding me? This is a kick, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Biden, Vice President, I want to show you I
still have the coin from last time.
BIDEN: I owe a drink.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You owe a drink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He was not just in town for soccer. It was a clearly fun
But it was part of a larger four-day mission to the region in Latin
America that ended in Guatemala, where the vice president addressed the
recent surge of minors coming from Central America across the southern
border of our country.
Biden met with presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador about the crisis,
and he spoke to the president of Honduras by phone, telling him the Obama
administration needs these leaders` help in doing something about these
crossings. People say spiking violence in poverty in those nations is one
of the causes of the increase in illegal immigration.
Today, the vice president stressed the dangers of crossing the border.
As well as the rumors that have been circulating around the U.S. granting
leniency to those who make it here. He reiterated that there are no
opportunities to come legally to the U.S.
Now, from October 2013 through last week, some 52,000 unaccompanied
children have been apprehended along the American border with Mexico,
double the number that had crossed in the same period of last year. And
today, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was in Texas at a border
patrol station that`s been overwhelmed.
He also today, the Obama administration announced that it`s opening
new temporary detention centers, along with exploring alternatives to
detentions such as the use of some kind of electronic bracelets that can
track those they release for court proceedings. The administration is also
deploying additional immigration judges, attorneys, and asylum officers to
speed up the whole process that these asylum seekers use.
Now, as the number of Central American children stuck alone in the
U.S. are far from home and as this number continues to grow, many on the
right have taken to blaming President Obama. The idea here is that the
influx is related to the much larger immigration reform issues. They blame
the president for that.
And as a policy matter, we should note the illegal flow of immigrant
minors right now is distinct from any plans for comprehensive immigration
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez spoke out about this yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: We`re here today to address a
humanitarian and refugee crisis in America -- the crisis on our southern
border and in Central America threatening tens of thousands of families and
thousands and thousands of children. And it`s simply unacceptable --
unacceptable here in America, unacceptable in our hemisphere.
Let me be very clear: from my perspective, this is not an immigration
crisis. It is a humanitarian and refugee crisis. There are no easy
answers, but one that I truly believe would be helpful to this is -- which
is a long-term answer, but has a short-term opportunity to become a
reality, is immigration reform. And convincing our Republican colleagues
in the House that if they continue to obstruct the Senate bill, and do
nothing, there will be continuing to be a reality of trouble on our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It was almost a year ago the Senate passed bipartisan
immigration reform, a bill that the House has as Senator Menendez said,
refused to bring up for any kind of vote.
Yesterday, House Republicans elected a new majority leader-elect,
Kevin McCarthy, to replace Eric Cantor. Earlier this year, McCarthy said
he was open to some kind of reform but as of late he`s backpedalled a bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think that immigration reform can happen this year?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER-ELECT: I think that`s
very difficult based upon what the president has done. The thing that has
to happen is our borders need to be secured, see what`s going forward and
now that should be the top priority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mr. McCarthy is a conservative. It`s important to note he`s
also from California. In his case, that means he represents a district
that`s almost 36 percent Hispanic. He replaced a Republican who according
to the new conservative conventional wisdom was hurt by flirting with
But, you know, whether that`s true or not, everyone does seem to agree
Eric Cantor did lose touch with his district. For Mr. McCarthy keeping an
open mind to some sort of immigration reform or at least some democracy on
the floor of the House on the issue of immigration may be as important as
any other part of his big new job.
Joining us now is David Nakamura, White House reporter for "The
Mr. Nakamura, thanks for being here.
DAVID NAKAMURA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Ari.
MELBER: Let`s start with the idea that Senator Menendez is putting
forth, that there`s a difference between a refugee crisis and an
NAKAMURA: Well, you know, this is interesting because the Democrats
look at what`s happening on the border right now with the unaccompanied
minors there in these holding cells, that`s crowded conditions. They`re
saying people are fleeing gang violence in Central American countries, what
the Obama administration is saying that`s driving this.
But I think the Republicans are saying is they`re saying, look, we
empathize with the kids. This is an unacceptable condition that they`re in
but the Obama administration has softened some policies over the years,
particularly for young people in 2012, deferring deportations for the
Dreamers. That`s created some confusion in these countries and allowed
smuggling groups, or other media to make the impression that once these
kids get here, they`re going to be protected.
And there`s some truth to that, that some of the kids are able to stay
for various reasons, maybe some for important reasons, because they do face
hostility and violence back home. But I think this is complicating the
current immigration debate. You`re seeing Republicans really pressure the
White House to take a tougher line which they did today, to try to stop
this current cry.
NAKAMURA: I think it could make the bigger question more difficult.
MELBER: Although, David, you mentioned the perception that they
somehow softened enforcement. Soften is a word people can argue over, but
the numbers reflect a very high amount after deportation by this
NAKAMURA: That`s their really confusing thing about this. You have
on the left liberals, immigration advocate groups are increasingly
frustrated by these numbers. They see numbers 400,000 immigrants a year
being deported and saying, look -- some have called the president the
deporter-in-chief which President Obama really took umbrage with.
But, you know, they`re saying, look, you`ve go to do more to stem the
flow of these that are breaking up families. A lot of these folks broke
the law to get here, but otherwise they`re law-abiding citizens and they
lived in the country more than a decade and so on. So they should be
protected. The president`s got to use executive authority.
He did that in 2012, though, for this Dreamer population. The young
folks who came with their parents which they didn`t have a say in and
American other than maybe birth. He said, look, we`re going to defer those
for two years and the program has protected 500,000 young people.
That`s what Republicans are saying we shouldn`t do that. The
president needs to show he`s going to be firm on the laws on the book. You
know, immigration enforcement agents are concerned they don`t have the
power to go after --
MELBER: Sure. David, let me jump in. You`re on the White House
beat. You talk to a lot of the folks on and off the record.
Valerie Jarrett here now saying she actually thinks Kevin McCarthy
could be someone who`s a better ally on this than Eric Cantor under the
right circumstances. Clearly, if part of his district wakes up, he might
have more pressure to at least as I say look open minded.
NAKAMURA: Certainly. Immigration advocates have targeted Kevin
McCarthy for the past year thinking he`s a perfect candidate. You pointed
out the district is 35percent Latino. California, a state that relies on
immigrant farm labor. Kevin McCarthy, himself, said he might be open to
some sort of legal status if not citizenship for these immigrants.
But he`s also been in leadership for a long time and now and was with
John Boehner, Eric Cantor when he released principles the Republicans might
pursue in February and in three days walked that back because the caucus in
an internal meeting was not ready to go forward.
And this upheaval in Eric Cantor`s district that allowed Kevin
McCarthy ascend to this position also makes it difficult for him, one of
his first things, move forward on this I think.
MELBER: Right, especially long that`s become the conservative CW,
whether it`s accurate or not. Lot of different types of beef with Eric
David Nakamura, White House reporter for "The Post" -- thanks for your
reporting and being here.
NAKAMURA: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: As Eric Cantor`s defeat proved, incumbents should feel extra
nervous this primary season. One very prominent incumbent may actually be
in some big extra trouble just next week, in the Tuesday primaries.
Stay tuned so you`ll be ready for Tuesday.
MELBER: We haven`t seen the future but we may have smelled it.
That`s straight ahead.
MELBER: Political junkies talk a lot about the Tea Party and their
key tactical weapon, primarying Republicans from the right. The Tea
Party`s biggest victories are when you think about it against Republicans,
not Democrats. Definitely not against President Obama whose re-election
was probably helped by the Tea Party`s rightward pressure on Mitt Romney.
It was another Tea Party primary as we`ve discussed that forced
Republicans into picking a new majority leader to replace Eric Cantor and
it`s a Tea Party primary this Tuesday that could topple 40 year Senate
incumbent Thad Cochran.
But did you know there`s a big Democratic primary this Tuesday as well
and it could topple one of the longest serving liberals in Congress? The
challenge is to one of the more fascinating figures in contemporary
politics, Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York. He`s been the
congressman since forever. Well, officially since 1971. And he represents
the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, a center of African-American
cultural and political clout.
Harlem is home to the Apollo Theater where you should go some time if
you ever have the chance. It`s home to the burying place of Ulysses S.
Grant. If you ever want to find out who`s in Grant`s tomb, go to Harlem.
And Harlem is also home to an Ivy League campus, Columbia University
right in the middle of metropolis. It`s an amazing place.
And to win that kind of singular seat in American politics, Charlie
Rangel beat another legendary figure you may have heard of, Adam Clayton
Powell. He got nod from Harlem as the Second World War was ending. Toward
the end of his time in office, Congressman Powell was weakened by an ethics
scandal and opened the door for a young Charlie Rangel.
Congressman Rangel became part of the first wave of civil rights
oriented African-American politicians who often represented
majority/minority districts and 4 became a countervailing force in
Washington. Mr. Rangel was a founding member of the Congressional Black
Caucus, and that new power base often practiced an old brand of politics,
the politics of who you know and how you helped them so they help you --
transactional, local, city politics.
Now, when the young Barack Obama came along as a senator, he followed
a different playbook. He cast himself as the leader of a new kind of
coalition politics. Proudly diverse and drawing on the successes of the
civil rights movement, including organizing and church relations, but also
promising to transcend some of the perceived limitations of constituency
and transactional politics.
Obama was a fairly low profile member of the Congressional Black
Caucus when he came to Washington where Rangel is dean. If you remember it
now, many of those caucus members declined to join Obama in his
For his part, Rangel endorsed Hillary. During the Obama era, the two
were not close. It can`t have helped a House committee found Mr. Rangel
was guilty of 11 ethics violations. The full House censured him for it.
All of that is leaving Mr. Rangel looking vulnerable in this primary on
Now, he does lead in one poll but he faces a strong challenge from
Adriano Espaillat who served as a New York state lawmaker since 1997 as a
state senator. The district has been changing as well, partly because of
gentrification and in part because the district map got redrawn to include
a lot more Latino voters.
Just as many Republican activists counted Eric Cantor`s Washington
power as a demerit, some of Rangel`s constituents now see his long tenure
as part of the problem.
Espaillat argues Rangel has all the baggage of incumbency and very few
of the perks since his ethics scandal forced Rangel to give up his
chairmanship of the Ways & Means Committee back when Democrats controlled
the House. Now, Rangel held on in a 2012 primary by about 1,086 votes.
And Mr. Espaillat believes momentum and the current mood may carry him over
the line this time in the Tuesday primary.
Charlie Rangel knows it. He knows he`s vulnerable. Next week, his
seat is on the line. And now, he`s trying to hang on to his political
The congressman who never curried much favor with the Obama
administration rediscovered an old and dear friendship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Bring the jobs into our community
and I met with the president at least three times this year after the State
of the Union where he clearly indicated that the creation of jobs has to be
through investment. We want to see the president succeed. Believe me, I
am not married to this job just to stay here until I drop dead. I really
think that it`s in the -- it`s in the best interest of our community to
take advantage -- to take advantage of these last two years.
STATE SEN. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: The congressman continues
to talk and talk about his relationships with the president and how he
wants to complete his term, when in fact the president asked him to step
down several years ago. And so --
RANGEL: I just would like the record to state that in the last few
months, I have been every month invited to the White House to deal with the
president and last week, those of you may have seen on TV, three of us that
were involved in the Affordable Care Act. The president pointed out as a
result of passing the 7 million mark.
And so, if he knows the president better, that`s a different story,
but I think -- I think the record is abundantly clear as to who can get the
best out of this administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Darren Sands, contributing writer for "The
New York Times", who spent a lot of time in this district for a new
article, "Betrayal in Charlie Rangel`s Harlem."
DARREN SANDS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Ari, it`s good to be with you.
MELBER: This is a fascinating race. It was hard to overstate Charlie
Rangel`s position and power in Harlem and for a long time in Democratic
politics. What`s going on here with the change Tuesday?
SANDS: Well, really, the congressman is fighting this battle on two
fronts, really. He`s obviously, as we heard the sound bite, with Senator
Espaillat who has a real political base in both Washington Heights and the
Bronx, where the congressional lines were redrawn in 2012.
So, he`s fighting the -- really the -- a growing amount of people who
want to see the senator win this election. And on the other front he`s
fighting against a pastor named Michael Warren. He`s the pastor of First
Corinthian Baptist Church. He has a particularly strong following in
So, he`s fight both this battle on the home front which is in Harlem,
in his own community against an African-American candidate, and also
against the senator who has, you know, gotten lots of strong endorsements
and he`s someone who lots of people in the political power structure want
to see elected.
MELBER: The fact that Congressman Rangel is in so much trouble here,
two successive primaries in a row, do you think that says anything about an
evolution about the type of politics he practices?
SANDS: I`m not sure how to answer that question, Ari. I know that
since the censorship in 2010, he`s past two bills and he`s really touted
this relationship with the president.
Lots of people think that the seniority that he brings to the House is
something that is going to help the president with immigration, help the
president accomplish some of these goals that he has going into his next
MELBER: And, yet, Darren, if you talk to people in Washington, in the
Democratic establishment, from the White House out to Pelosi, a lot of
skepticism against Congressman Rangel at this point.
SANDS: Well, yes. I mean, I still think that the congressman wants
to do this job. He`s probably having more fun than anyone. He`s resolute
in some of his assertions about what he can do in these last two years. He
had never publicly said that he was not going to run again in 2012, and
he`s doing that now.
And I do think that he feels really strongly. And again, I can`t
stress enough that he is probably having more fun than anyone doing this,
certainly it`s something to be said about given his age.
MELBER: And, Darren, just briefly, from your time in the district, do
you expect high turnout on Tuesday?
SANDS: Certainly possibly more than 2012. This race has lot of
intrigue, in Harlem, especially, also in the Washington Heights. Given
what happened in 2012, like you mentioned, Senator Espaillat coming within
1,000 votes of toppling one of the top congressman, we`ll see what happens
MELBER: We will be watching and covering it as you know will. Darren
Sands from "The New York Times" magazine -- thank you so much.
SANDS: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Now, your smartphone is awesome, Internet, video hookups,
music, the whole thing, but does it smell for you yet? Gadget freaks and
people with an adolescent sense of humor -- stay tuned.
MELBER: Just consider the olfactory bandwidth
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAUDE: Then I became infatuated with these, my odorifics. Give the
nose a treat, I thought, a kind of olfactory bandwidth. So I began first
with the easiest. Roast beef, old books, mown grass. And Mexican
farmyard. Here`s one you`ll like: Snowfall on 42nd Street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Of course, that`s Maude, from the movie "Harold and Maude",
showing young Harold her odorifics machine. We`re supposed to see this as
a miracle, an impossible dream, a recreation of a scent not there, so you
can smell snowfall in 42nd Street in New York when you are nowhere near
snow or New York.
Now, that was the fictional odorifics machine in 1971. But humans
really do love tinkering with olfactory bandwidth in real life. This is
the i-smell machine, sort of a sharp pen shape gizmo that could fit on top
of a stack of books by your bed. It was supposed to let you smell things
on the Internet, the way you can smell perfume ads in the magazine, because
everyone loves those magazine ads.
For about 15 minutes in 1999, the i-smell was going to large the next
revolution. They got $20 million in startup funding. And for that money,
they to the a spot in the Tech Fail Hall of Fame.
Then, there was AromaJet company, they made these cute little
prototype for smelling your video game. You can wear it around the neck
with the business end pointing to your nose. I think it`s called the
Pinoke, but it might be the Pinoke. When we wrote to the company
yesterday, the e-mail bounced.
In 2004, we got the scent dome. They came in red, blue and lime
green. The scent dome was supposed to let you e-mail a scent to someone.
Well, that went away.
In 2011, there was something called the scent scape with 20 different
smells, including Christmas tree. Also, the smell it, another one for
video games. According to this reviewer, you can order cartridges for the
smell naked body, smell undergrowth, and if you translate it right, good
I don`t know anyone who has any of these smell devices, maybe you do.
But I know humans love the future. And in the future, we apparently want
to be able to move smells around or simulate them. We can hear each other
on the phone, and depending on the connection, we can send pictures, we can
mail cookies, but we can`t just send the smell of the box of cookies, and
apparently we want to.
Which brings us to the next new thing, or the commercial for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Introducing oPhone. OPhone is like a phone for
aroma. It works with a mobile messaging app that lets you take a picture,
tag it, with over 300,000 possibilities and send as an O-note to friends.
When you receive an O-note, you play it on your oPhone like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You need that. Now, you may be thinking, because we all
think about the messages that will be sent by our delightful 12-year-olds
in our lives, making their own use of olfactory bandwidth, and I know we
just got done showing you several other times people tried this and met
with failure and derision and jokes about 12-year-olds. But that`s no
reason to say this can`t be done.
The oPhone really went on sale this week for 149 bucks, you can smell
the future date of delivery, sometime in 2015. The makers are trying to
raise $150,000 for the project, and they`re at least 7 percent of the way
Sure, you guys, laugh now. Laugh while you can. But this may be the
next generation`s favorite way to communicate for all we know, that could
have us all longing for the days of emoticons and panda emojis. You`ve
seen the panda emojis.
To the oPhone and to the human spirit, to keep trying, may it all keep
coming up roses, chemically coded and transmitted through dual smelling
stocks, all the way out to the one you love.
All right. A fitting place to end it on a Friday night. That does it
for us. Rachel will be back Monday.
And you can catch me, Crystal, Abby and Toure on "THE CYCLE," 3:00
p.m. weekdays here on MSNBC as well.
That is it. Now, you know what you`ve got to do. You`ve got to go to
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
WATCH 'THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW' WEEKDAYS AT 9:00 P.M. ON MSNBC.