'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 22, 2014
Guest: Teresa Ghilarducci, Neera Tanden, Paul Sonn, Basil Smikle, Blake
Zeff, Bruce Allen Murphy, Dahlia Lithwick, L. Joy Williams, Brianna Scurry,
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Al Qaeda trained militants raked up four more
victories in their march across Iraq.
Good morning. And thank you for getting up with us on this, the first
official Sunday of summer. I am Krystal Ball in for Steve Kornacki who has
the day off. And it`s been another night of fast moving developments on
the ground in Iraq. And we want to get right to them. U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry arrived in the Middle East earlier this morning in Egypt
for meetings over the shaky state of the government there. Sham trials,
imprisoned journalists and a violent crackdown on political enemies.
Secretary Kerry plans to stay in Cairo for only a few hours before heading
onto Amman, Jordan, where he will meet with government leaders to discuss
the insurgency and the political crisis in neighboring Iraq. It looks this
morning like Sunni militants have seized yet another town in western Iraq.
That`s the fourth to fall. Two members of the al Qaeda offshoot ISIS since
Friday, residents of the town Rutba in Anbar Province are negotiating with
the militants for the right to leave because an Iraqi army unit outside of
town is threatening to start shelling there. In fact, families in towns
all across the west are trying right now to flee. The Iraqi military
released this video of its military aircraft patrolling the skies north of
Bagdad. But the advances that ISIS has made this weekend have dealt a
serious blow to the future of the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki. For more on everything that is going on in Iraq this morning,
we want to get to the latest from NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin in
Irbil. And Ayman, what is Secretary of State John Kerry hoping that he can
accomplish with this trip?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, there`s a regional and local, at
least, implications for his visit. No doubt about it that his major
concern when he comes to this part of the Middle East including Jordan and
Iraq is to try and shore up support for both U.S. military, engagement with
Iraq to try to shore up some support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and
create a political process on the ground that can try to bring in the Sunni
Arab community that has been so far marginalized and really now is kind of
in an open state of war with the central government in Iraq.
A lot of the Sunni Arab communities and tribes in the western part of Iraq
have tremendous amount of influence from neighboring countries like Saudi
Arabia, from Jordan and elsewhere. So, there`s no doubt that as he meets
with some of these officials in the region, he`s going to try and exert
leverage on them to get the Sunni Arab community to participate in a new
political process in Iraq and they`re going to be pushing back, they are
going to try to convince the United States that it`s time for Prime
Minister Maliki to go and that it`s time for the U.S. to try and let him
out, to try to bring in new leadership into the country. So, he certainly
has his work cut out for him. But at the same time you can imagine that
he`s going to get a lot of push back from some of the United States`
closest allies when it comes to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-
BALL: Absolutely, all right. Thanks, as always to NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin,
and we want to turn now to the fight in this country over whether American
workers should earn a higher minimum wage on Thursday. The Massachusetts
legislature voted to raise the state`s minimum wage to $11 by 2017. That`s
$3 increase will give Massachusetts the highest minimum wage of any state
in the entire country. But a very different story played out in
neighboring Rhode Island this week. Their Democratic Governor Lincoln
Chafee on Thursday signed legislation passed by the Democratic controlled
state legislature to block an effort in Providence that would raise that
city`s minimum wage to $15 an hour for workers at large hotels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a spirited effort by Providence hotel workers,
having gathered more than 1200 signatures at a petition to raise the
minimum wage at large hotels in the city to $15 an hour. They convinced
the Providence City Council. And last night it was approved to let voters
decide on a ballot question this November. But then the House of
Representatives put a measure in their version of the state budget
prohibiting cities and towns from setting their own minimum wages.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our elected officials decided to ignore our efforts to
try and create a livable wage for a large group of low-wage, low-income
workers in the city, basically in attempt for us to have a wage that we can
live on, that we can support our families on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Now, we have seen state legislatures blocking city efforts to raise
minimum wages before, but largely it`s been led by Republicans. That`s
been in states like Oklahoma, Texas and Florid. In Rhode Island, it`s the
Democrats who are against not only the proposed $15 minimum wage, but
leaving it up to voters to decide the issue. The question about what
Providence should do, was scheduled to be a referendum in the fall, and
ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage have a strong track record of
passing. This year campaigns are under way to put minimum wage on the
ballot in Alaska, South Dakota, Arkansas and Illinois as well as cities
including San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. These campaigns come at a
time when even those in the finance community are starting to call for
raising wages for the lowest paid workers.
And tomorrow the White House is hosting a summit on working families with
state and local leaders as well as business leaders to explore workplace
policies that can help women and families. In an interview with "Parade"
magazine that`s out this weekend, the Obamas said that they would like to
see their daughters work minimum wage jobs quoting the president "We are
looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting
a paycheck is not always fun. It`s not always stimulating. Not always
fair. But that`s what most folks go through every single day." Republicans
in Congress have blocked any increase in minimum wage this year.
But it is worth remembering that two of the last three minimum wage
increases were, in fact, signed into law by Republican Presidents George W.
Bush and his father. And the third was passed when Republicans controlled
both Houses of Congress. That was under President Clinton. So, can we
expect any action at the federal level or are cities and states now ground
zero for better wages and workers` rights? Here to discuss all of this, we
have Neera Tanden, she`s in Washington, and she`s the president, of course,
of the Center for American Progress. In Pittsburgh, we have Teresa
Ghilarducci, she`s a labor economist at the New School, and we also have
Paul Sand, program director and general counsel with the National
Employment Law Project.
And Neera, I want to start with you on this question. You know, it`s been
so hard to get anything done at the federal level. And yet it`s so
important that we have a high enough federal minimum wage floor, but should
Democrats and progressives really be focusing their energy at this point on
the state and the local level?
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think we have to have
a two-track conversation. But absolutely, we have been active, CAP has
been active and I know a lot of people who`s been active at the state and
local level, because we`re going to see real results there. But I do think
there`s a connection. The more we talk about these issues at the federal
level, the more the president fights for them, the more he`s talking about
them, Democrats are talking about them on the campaign trail. It builds
pressure at the state on local level. And that`s one of the reasons why
we`re having this working families` summit. CAP is co-sponsoring this
summit with the White House tomorrow. Because we want to build public
demand for change around workplace policies. 60 percent of women - 60
percent of minimum wage workers are women. There are many mothers on the
minimum wage. If we want to see real change, we have to ensure that we`re
pushing at the federal and the state level.
NC: Absolutely. And Paul, I mean what do you make of the fact that
minimum wage increase is so popular, right? It`s so popular with the
population, that`s why these ballot initiatives are so widely supported, so
widely successful. That`s why Republicans are afraid of them and passing
laws to keep laws in minimum wage increase off the ballot. Why is it so
hard to get anything done at the federal level when it is such a popular
PAUL SONN, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: It`s a great question. It`s a
break from the past. When minimum wage increases at Congress have been
bipartisan. When we had Republicans and Democrats coming together to enact
minimum wage increases. It`s really a sign of the gridlock in Washington.
But I think Neera is exactly right. There`s a really positive feedback
loop between federal action and calls for movement on the minimum wage and
state and city campaigns, both what the White House is doing is helping
local campaigns and the local campaigns create momentum for federal action.
And, you know, I think we`ve seen - on ballot initiatives we`ve seen real
illustrations just in the past few weeks of their power. The increased you
flagged in Massachusetts, the nation`s highest minimum wage was leveraged
because there was a threat that the public would go to - they go to the
ballot instead to raise the minimum wage. The same in Michigan where Tea
Party Republicans raised the minimum wage. In Seattle, the highest minimum
wage in the country, at the Seattle $15, was again the threat of people
taking it into their own hands and going to the ballot that allowed them to
win these very significant increases.
BALL: And Teresa, the argument that conservatives tend to make on the
minimum wage is that if you raise it too high - I mean in their opinion if
you raise it at all, it`s going to have negative employment effects.
They`re saying just wait to see what`s going to happen in Seattle and in
Sea-Tac, places where they`ve raised it to $15 over time. What level of
wage do you think is consistent with not seeing a major decline in
TERESA GHILARDUCCI, LABOR ECONOMIST: Well, we`ve never gotten to that
level where --
BALL: We are not even close basically.
GHILARDUCCI: Not even close.
GHILARDUCCI: 50 years of labor economics on this issue, and we`ve never
seen a minimum wage that caused any discernible loss in employment. In
fact, we see a boost in employment for adult workers when the minimum wage
increases. We actually see higher wages for families and we see that
employers adjust by and they`re pleasantly surprised because their
employees actually stop turning over as much.
GHILARDUCCI: So we haven`t seen the minimum wage that causes job loss yet.
BALL: Teresa I spoke with Richard Florida of "The Atlantic" this week and
he was arguing that we really should refocus on states and localities
because the cost of living is so different in different places that the
minimum wage that would make sense in New York is much different than the
minimum wage that would make sense, for example, where you are there in
Pittsburgh. What do you make of that argument?
GHILARDUCCI: That makes sense. And that has, in fact, been the policy for
minimum wage over the past 30, 40 years. It`s not new that cities are
passing their own minimum wage and that states have a different minimum
wage. Right now over 30 states have a higher minimum wage than the federal
government and a handful of cities have and have always had a higher
minimum wage. The cost of living in the city is more than it is in other
areas, and it`s appropriate that it fluctuates. It`s also appropriate that
the minimum wage is indexed to inflation. And we`re seeing a lot of states
and cities do that as well.
BALL: Yeah, that`s a really encouraging trend.
Neera, how do we keep, though, from becoming very literally a sort of two-
nation kind of a situation where you have states in particular in the South
who have a very low wage, they have minimum environmental regulations, they
are not going forward with Medicaid expansion, they have less money to
invest in education while states like California, states like
Massachusetts, the northeast, other places in the country are making very
different decisions. What are the consequences of that?
TANDEN: Well, I mean I do think this is a real challenge, that if you look
at the Southern states, that they`re really becoming terrible places for
workers. But I think more importantly, it`s a terrible set of policies for
economic growth. If you look at where economic growth is really happening,
it`s happening in those places where people have a livable wage, where
there`s a Medicaid expansion. California, Massachusetts, these states are
growing and growing pretty well. I would say that the Richard Florida
point, we absolutely believe that states and localities should be able to
go up from the minimum wage that`s established. But, you know, the current
minimum wage -- the current federal minimum wage is really too low for the
BALL: For anywhere.
TANDEN: I mean it shouldn`t be the case that you`re a person working full
time and still living in poverty whether you live in Alabama or California.
California has a higher cost of living, so maybe it should even be higher,
but it`s not acceptable that we just relegate some states to be places
where you work really, really hard and live in poverty. And that`s why I
think a federal fight is so important. And we get so used to how
intransigent the House is that we try to move on. But it`s important that
we keep at it. And again, that`s another reason why this conference
tomorrow is so important because it`s a way for us to focus the nation`s
attention, not just states and localities, but the nation`s attention on
the changing workforce and why we need to make policy change.
BALL: And I think what we`ve seen in the past is as pressure does build
across the country for a raise to the minimum wage, even Republicans can be
convinced to get on board. Paul, I wonder what you make of this, though.
Do you think that we`re headed to a two Americas kind of a situation?
SONN: There really are different trends. But it`s - the minimum wage is
so popular, we`ve seen -- it probably is going to be after the next
election. But there`s, you know, if allowed to vote on it, solid
majorities including most - many Republicans in both Houses would support a
minimum wage increase. And we just need to build the pressure with more
states acting to kind of break through the congressional logjam.
And one of the things we think is so important is that, you know, this
minimum wage increases we are seeing now are actually going beyond just
catching up the minimum wage to where it should have been, you know, for
inflation. They`re actually raising it to a higher level, the 11 in
Massachusetts, the $13 rate that the California state senate approved, then
go to the assembly. That would bring the minimum wage up to a higher level
than we`ve had. And raise pay - across the bottom of the economy, which is
something we really badly need.
BALL: Yeah, it`s hard to overstate how important a raise would be for many
of America`s workers. And yet, I think also we need to think beyond the
minimum wage and look bigger picture at more fundamental structural changes
to the economy. And I want to talk about that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t think
it`s an exaggeration to say that our middle class was built in part because
unions were able to negotiate weekends and overtime and benefits. We
should do everything we can to strengthen unions in this country. Unions
have to be flexible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: That was President Obama in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. And that was
also music to my ears because I think it`s so important that we think not
just about a minimum wage increase, but we have this structural issue where
workers have essentially no power at this point in our political system, so
they have no bargaining ability. And I think we need to think past the
minimum wage to a bigger progressive agenda which, Neera, I`m hoping is
some of what`s going to be talked about at the Working Family Summit this
TANDEN: Absolutely. And, you know, I couldn`t agree with you more. I
mean one of the reasons why we have the problems we have with economic
growth is that workers, the vast majority of workers really haven`t seen
wage increases. The median wage -- the weekly median wage in 2001 was $768
per week, and in 2012 it was $768 per week at a time when costs are going
up. So, we have a real problem. Go ahead.
GHILARDUCCI: More importantly, costs are going up, but productivity has
TANDEN: Yes. Absolutely.
GHILARDUCCI: It`s not because workers aren`t producing more. Economic
Policy Institute has calculated that if the minimum wage just kept up with
the productivity of regular workers it would be $22 an hour.
BALL: That`s right.
GHILARDUCCI: So, Neera is absolutely right.
BALL: Well, in fact, we just threw a graph up on the screen showing that,
you know, productivity and compensation used to go together hand in hand.
They used to rise in tandem. And round about the `70s, right about, by the
way, the same time when union participation rates started to decline, those
two things broke apart and now productivity continues to go up and up while
compensation has flat lined. I mean Teresa, is that in part because of the
decline of unions and what should we be looking to to again marry
productivity increases with wage increases?
GHILARDUCCI: Yeah, much of it has to do with the decline in unionization.
Republicans and Democrats when answering a question about whether or not
unions helped balance the power between employers and workers, they all say
yes and, in fact, that`s true. There`s other problems, too, there`s
outsourcing, other kinds of strategies, but the decline in unionization is
a big cause of the decline and the flat lining of wages. But you know,
unions are behind a lot of the efforts we see to raise the minimum wage.
They really help organize it and around other issues to raise wages and
that`s to curb wage theft, the practice of employers no to pay people for
all of their work. So, this is - we see the shadows of unions, but if
there was collective bargaining, there would be higher wages.
BALL: That`s right. Paul, what`s on your policy wish list?
SONN: Yeah. Well, it`s really the flip side of inadequate wages are the
serious growing problem of unstable work schedules and inadequate hours.
There`s - the government has just started tracking this on census-type
surveys. And they - a shocking 40 percent of U.S. workers don`t get their
work schedules one week in advance.
SONN: There`s really just
BALL: You can`t plan your life.
BALL: If you don`t know when you`re going to work, let alone child care
and things like that.
SONN: Exactly. Balancing going to school, child care or a second job.
And also, a huge percentage of these workers are working part time
involuntarily, they want more hours. So, there`s this really exciting
budding reform movement to push for fair policies for advance notice of
schedules and incentives for workers to provide more full-time hours. And
actually that Sea-Tac $15 ballot initiative included a marvel new policy
requiring employers when they are considering adding part time jobs, to
offer them first to their current workers who may want more hours. So, you
should look - there`s like a real exciting movement that`s just launching
now to tackle these problems. And I think we`ll see that across the
BALL: Neera, we also are seeing that a lot of business leaders are going
to be at this working families` summit. Is there an increasing recognition
among business leaders that maybe having policies that would be good for
their workers, would be good for their company`s bottom line?
TANDEN: There is. And I would say, on the minimum wage, you saw that the
Gap voluntarily raise their minimum wage higher. You also saw a lot of
companies recognize that when wages are down, there`s not enough customers
for them. So I think that people recognize that. And also, I would like
to add, though, that you have to keep in mind that there`s another whole
set of policies in which the U.S. is far behind its competitors, and that`s
on policies that help women workers.
TANDEN: Mothers, and, you know, the United States is one of a handful of
countries that doesn`t offer paid leave. Only 12 percent of workers in the
U.S. have paid leave and these are really generally higher income workers.
So, mothers who are workers have to make terrible choices often about
paying the rent or taking care of a sick child. And I think the company
CEOs recognize that`s not a good human capital strategy to have them make
those tradeoffs. But we need policy, federal policy, and state policy to
make changes. Because it`s a big transformation to have so many women
working and our workplace policies have to keep up to date on this end as
well, on wages, but also on workplace flexibility.
BALL: Yes, and as you`re pointing out, Neera, at this point, they are
woefully, woefully behind in that department. All right.
I want to thank
BALL: Go ahead, Teresa quickly.
GHILARDUCCI: I just want to say one more thing about employers. One thing
that minimum wage and other kinds of labor standards do is protect the
employers that want to do the right thing.
BALL: So true.
GHILARDUCCI: That know giving leave helps with human capital, but they
can`t do it if they have bottom feeders they have to compete against. So,
this kind of legislation actually helps a lot of employers.
BALL: It rewards the good apples out there. All right. I want to thank
labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci, always appreciate your take as well as
Paul Sonn from the National Employment Law Project. And earlier this week
I suggested that Hillary Clinton just might be the Democrat`s Mitt Romney.
Up next we`re going to have a few folks who are going to challenge me on
BALL: Another important story we want to bring to you this morning. U.S.
officials now say they will fly hundreds of migrants to California for
processing, that`s an effort to ease the workload of agents in south Texas
inundated in recent weeks and months by a huge influx of Central Americans
trying to enter the U.S. Most of them are from Honduras, El Salvador and
Guatemala. No children by themselves will be among those taken to
California. The government has been looking for more spaces for mothers
with young children. And immigration control has only one detention center
for families in the entire country. That`s a former nursing home in
Pennsylvania. We`ll be right back.
BALL: So, what are we to make of the Hillary Clinton book tour that seems
to be so much more than a book tour? The down to the second precision
interactions with fans perfectly calculated to make sure visitors don`t
feel jilted while, of course, maximizing the number of signatures. And
then there`s the interviews, 99 percent of the interview substance has been
safe, pretty unremarkable. But that other one percent is naturally what`s
gotten all the attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Came out of the White House
not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we
struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for
houses, for Chelsea`s education. You know, it was not easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Then there was this uncomfortable exchange with NPR`s Terry Gross
about Clinton`s position on gay marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON: I think you`re being very persistent but you`re playing
with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.
TERRY GROSS: I`m just trying to clarify so I can understand --
HILLARY CLINTON: No, I don`t think you`re trying to clarify. I think
you`re trying to say that, you know, I used to be opposed and now I`m in
favor and I did it for political reasons. And that`s just flat wrong. So,
let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I
have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am
proud of what I`ve done and the progress we`re making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Clinton`s response that she`s evolved on equality is an answer that
I really take no issue with. I actually wish more people would have the
courage to evolve, and certainly, more rapidly. But in her talking point
flail, I was reminded of something else, the fact that for the Clintons
everything seems to be carefully poll-tested, focus grouped and weather
waned. If marriage equality was still a drag for Democratic candidates, do
you think that Hillary would still have come out in support? Now that I
watch all of this unfold, I started asking myself this uncomfortable
question. Is Hillary Clinton actually the Democrats` Mitt Romney? Smart?
Of course. Competent? Absolutely. Incredible resume? Without a doubt.
But also I believe kind of tone deaf and unrelatable. Hillary`s dead broke
comment made me think just for a second about Mitt saying Ann drives a
couple of Cadillacs or that he likes firing people. And like Mitt, after
decades in public service I can still only speculate on what Hillary
Clinton is really all about. Is she actually a triangulating moderate,
secret liberal, DLC Wall Street Dem? What sort of president would she be?
There`s certainly no clues in the bland safety of her State Department
record and not in "Hard Choices."
Now, there`s clearly more enthusiasm among Democrats for Hillary than there
ever was among Republicans for Romney. But already those sky high approval
ratings are beginning to ebb. And I think it`s because people are
remembering one version of Hillary when I believe there have actually been
many versions of Hillary. Hillary didn`t just lose in 2008 because of her
vote on Iraq. In fact, the Iraq vote and her inability to say she was
wrong were symptoms of the core problem in her campaign. A problem that
was also, by the way, at the center of Romney`s campaign. She exuded
confidence with no core belief. It seemed like the real answer to why she
was running for president was simply because she wanted to be president.
Will 2016 be different? It`s possible. But so far, at least, I haven`t
seen change I can believe in just yet.
Joining me at the table to tell me all of the reasons why I am so wrong is
Basil Smikle Junior, a political strategist and professor at Columbia
University, he was once an aide to former Senator Hillary Clinton. We also
have Blake Zeff. He`s politics editor and columnist at Salon, he also
served as an aide on the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and
Barack Obama. And Neera Tandem at Center for American Progress is still
with us. Neera also worked on both the Obama and Hillary Clinton
campaigns. And Basil, let me start with you on this question, do you think
that Hillary -- what do you think is the reason that Hillary is running for
president? I assume we all here basically accept the fact that she`s
running for president.
BASIL SMIKLE JR., POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, I`m not going to be 100
percent say that she is. I believe her when she says that she`s still
BALL: All right. Fair enough. Fair enough.
SMIKLE: And I think we should take her at that word.
SMIKLE: But I also - but listen, I do think fundamentally, and this sort
of goes back to your comment about -- in the comparison to Mitt Romney.
When Mitt Romney was talking about the 47 percent, he said it with disdain,
he said it with condensation, he was very patronizing.
SMIKLE: And I think ultimately the comparison to Hillary Clinton is wrong
because what I think we should be focused on is, and separate from how the
Republicans think about this, is how she believes government should be used
to help the most disadvantaged among us. How is government best used to
serve constituents? And I think given her experience, I think giving --
given how she and her husband when they were in the White House, the kinds
of policies and programs that they put forth - I think that
BALL: Programs like what? I mean what would you say?
SMIKLE: Child health plus for example, student loans, for example,
education, expanding ...
TANDEN: Minimum wage.
BALL: But a couple of other counterexamples I would put out. I think
welfare to work has been a disaster.
SMIKLE: Well, it`s been
BALL: It essentially ended welfare.
SMIKLE: It`s been a disaster in terms of .
BALL: And I would also put out there NAFTA, which has massively
exacerbated inequality. Neera, NAFTA is an example - you know, that that`s
going to be a huge issue in the 2016 campaign. But I do think it`s an
example where Hillary Clinton has never been quite clear where she stood.
It seemed at the time that she was very supportive of NAFTA, then when she
was running it didn`t seem convenient to be in support of NAFTA. And to me
there`s an authenticity issue there that voters have a problem with.
TANDEN: You know, I mean I have to say I`ve lived with decades of people
attributing poll testing to Hillary. And I`ve got to say, you know,
working on health care for all in 1994 certainly wasn`t poll tested. She`s
been attacked by the right for a variety of positions she`s taken. That`s
not poll tested. Bill Clinton passed NAFTA. If she runs for president, I
hope all commentators will judge her on what she`s putting forward. I
worked for her for a decade. In the 2007-2008 campaign her economic
program was focused on inequality before inequality was vogue. So, she
talked about CEO pay in her campaign, talked about how CEO pay was running
away from worker pay. She actually proposed regulating derivatives in the
fall of 2007 before anyone was talking about these issues, so I actually
hope people will judge her on the policies she`s put forward and the
arguments she`s making. And if they do, they will see that she`s been
talking about the problems of the middle class and people who are getting
into the middle class and trying to get into the middle class for her
BALL: Blake, do you think it will be an issue for her, the comment, the
dead broke comment - I mean everyone has slips of the tongue. I don`t
think anyone would say that was a perfectly framed response. It was a bit
awkward. It was a bit tone deaf, but do you think she`s going to -- that
is indicative of a bigger issue that she`ll have with the Democratic base
around issues of inequality and around things like the big speaking fees
that she`s taken from places like Goldman Sachs, the fact that she sat on
the board of Walmart?
BLAKE ZEFF, SALON: Look, I mean I don`t think that that slip of the tongue
is going to be a big moment that we`ll be replaying over and over and over
BALL: No, no, no. But I`m wondering if it`s indicative of a bigger
ZEFF: Well, I think that you have rightly tapped into a clamor that exists
on the left, which is for leaders who will be staunchly supportive of
liberal prescriptions to economic problems. And I think that` it`s
possible that people will try to use Walmart against her and those types of
things. When it comes to Hillary Clinton, though, I think the context
that`s important here is that she is essentially within very much in the
mainstream of the standard national Democratic Party right now.
ZEFF: So you look at her positions.
BALL: Which I have a problem with, too.
ZEFF: Well, so let`s talk about that. So, her positions are very similar,
I think, to Barack Obama`s, to Joe Biden`s, to Debby Wasserman Schultz,
whoever we think are national Democratic Party leaders. And so, to the
extent that there`s this critique of her and this longing for a president
who will have a Justice Department that will aggressively prosecute
financial crime which is something I want, and it sounds like you want too,
someone who will stand with fast food workers when they`re striking,
someone who will not try to trade away Social Security cuts to get revenue
increases, those are things that I think are very worthy goals. But what I
would say is, that to confine that critique, I think, to Hillary Clinton
belies a larger conflict. Which is the Democratic Party right now, this is
the party that has cut food stamps, you know - agreed to the formula to cut
food stamps by $9 billion, almost 9 billion, agreed to a budget deal that
failed to extend unemployment insurance. So to me there`s a bigger
conversation to have with the Democratic Party.
BALL: I mean, Neera, there`s something to that, right? Because we did
have - the president trying to trade chained CPI and other cuts to social
welfare programs to the Republicans in exchange for a grand bargain. Has
the Democratic Party as a whole been moved too far to the right?
TANDEN: You know, I agree that some of these decisions that have been made
are not ones that I would have made. But I think that, you know, we`re
doing a lot of tea leaf reading here. And, you know, Hillary, if she runs
for president, she`ll state her views on all of these issues. And I
disagree with Blake that we know what her positions will be on all these
issues. You know, in the budget negotiations she might have been tougher,
she might have agreed to the same thing. Who knows? But she`ll be able to
say these things when she`s running. In my experience Hillary has been a
strong fighter on economic issues. She`s gone toe to toe with Republicans
on fighting for the middle class and people - and for cuts to low income
workers. In 2001 she was the senator fighting for unemployment insurance.
She was the key senator on that. So I don`t think we know that she would
give up or not give up any of these issues. And I think people are reading
into it their own views on these topics and let`s wait till she has an
opportunity to talk about these, and I think she`ll be a strong fighter on
them. Go ahead, Blake.
ZEFF: Yeah, it`s actually - we`re not actually disagreeing here. I at
1,000 percent agree that it`s fallacious
BALL: But you are just saying she`s like with Joe Biden or she`s with
Barack Obama. I don`t think we all know that.
ZEFF: No, actually what I think is that she for very understandable
reasons for the last six years has not been able to talk about her
positions on a host of domestic issues because she was serving as Secretary
of State which obviously precludes her from doing that. And so I totally
agree that for us to sort of forecast what she would have been like over
the last six years on things makes no sense. And we don`t know where she`s
going to be on a bunch of topics moving forward. I was trying to make a
larger point that while Krystal and others talk about a critique, you know,
and want a desire for strong economic liberalism, that we should be talking
- we should expanding that conversation to talk about the Democratic Party
as a whole.
BALL: Yeah, I think
TANDEN: I agree with that.
BALL: That`s well said. Yeah. We are going to have more on this and get
Basil in here as well right after this.
BALL: All right. This is Bill Maher on Friday commenting on Hillary
Clinton`s answer to a "New York Time`s Book Review" interviewer. She was
asked about the book that made her who she is today. And her answer was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER: She says it`s memorizing passages from it, it being the
guiding, light for me, I find it a source of wisdom. I feel like - you are
talking about younger people, I think they`re past this. Hillary is always
a step behind. Don`t say the Bible to answer this question. She just got
over this controversy where she was a step behind on gay marriage.
Remember last week she answered that. She said in her book there that she
got Iraq wrong. I got it wrong, plain and simple. Now I see the light.
If I was her campaign manager, I would say Hillary, get ahead on one issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: So, Bill Maher there, obviously, not a big Hillary Clinton fan. At
least, in his comments there. And Basil, looking back at 2008, because I
think Hillary rightly has a halo from her time in the State Department
where she wasn`t in a position to take on political issues and said she was
above that partisanship, she had very high approval ratings on the right,
at least, those are starting to come back to earth. But I do think we`ve
forgotten about some of her weaknesses as a candidate in 2008. What do you
attribute her loss to there?
SMIKLE: You know, it`s interesting because in 2007 just after she and
Barack announced, there was an interesting article that came out of Chicago
that talked about why Barack could win. And I said yes, I actually
publicly interview, I said, yeah, I actually think along those lines he
could win, also, which caused a great amount of consternation from my
Hillary friends. But the reality is and to answer your question, I think
at that time there were a lot of folks, in the Democratic Party broadly and
some perhaps, in Hillary`s campaign underestimated certain aspects of the
Democratic Party, didn`t tap into people that I thought that were peers of
Barack, a lot of young professionals, young people broadly, a lot of young
professionals, particularly of color, that the party didn`t do as good a
SMIKLE: And I think that sort of put her a little bit behind, but also the
reality is that Barack had a brilliant strategy in going after caucus
states, for example.
SMIKLE: So, I think some of it was fundamental and it goes to the point
that Blake made earlier about understanding who is in the party and how the
party was growing. But it also I think spoke to Barack`s strategy. I
think Hillary, if she ran on her record, she talked about issues as Neera
said, that I think resonated with a lot of voters. It wasn`t a blowout.
And I think we have to also remember that, too.
BALL: Yeah. Neera, speak to that as well. Because I think the Iraq war
issue was such a lightning rod in 2008 and it was so, like, were you with
us or were you against us in the Democratic Party. And it wasn`t just the
fact -- this is all my analysis, that Hillary had voted for the war. It
was also that she wasn`t able to say she had been wrong. She wasn`t able
to change her position. Do you think that issues of inequality this time
will be that kind of lightning rod issue in the Democratic base? And I
know you believe that Hillary is right where we need to be for working
families. Do you think voters, given all that they know about the money
and the connections around the Clintons, do you think they`re going to find
TANDEN: You know, it`s actually fascinating to me. If you look at polls
of the Democratic Party, Hillary has stronger support amongst liberal
voters than even moderates, which is strong support across the board. And
I think that`s because it`s interesting to have all this chatter, but
people understand where she`s been over her career and she`s fought on
these issues. She just gave a speech a few weeks ago defining inequality
as a central economic challenge of our time and talking about why
inequality is a problem. It is a problem for -- on a moral scale, but it`s
also a problem for economic growth, which is the precise argument many
liberals are making, many liberal economists are making around inequality.
So, I actually agree - I agree with you that inequality is the central
TANDEN: And will be the issue that motivates people on the Democratic
side, the progressive side.
TANDEN: But I think these are issues that she`s very comfortable talking
about because she`s talked about them before, before they were the central
point of the national debate itself.
BALL: All right, I want to get Blake in on that same question right after
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: No, I don`t want anything sweet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: That was Hillary Clinton on the trail in 2008. They are trying to
literally pass the proverbial beer test. And, of course, we also remember
Barack Obama awkwardly going to sports bars and awkwardly bowling and all
of these things that are part of campaigning. But Blake, I wanted to get
your take on this. Because it`s one thing to say the right things about
inequality and say the right things about standing up to Wall Street. But
we already see Wall Streeters sort of lining up to support Hillary Clinton.
Are people really going to believe that she`s going to be the person to
take on the big banks and to take on big corporate interests?
ZEFF: Well, that`s a good question. And we`ll have to see how the
campaign shakes out. But just to get back to something with the Bill Maher
clip that I wanted to mention, if I may, you know, this idea that Hillary
Clinton is the only politician out there who thinks about what they say and
is calculating everything she does, you know, I worked both for Hillary
Clinton and for many, many other politicians.
ZEFF: And when I first came to work for the Clinton campaign, you know,
they told me on my first day, they were like, you just have to know that
the rules for us are different. And I was like, what, these people are so
paranoid. What a bizarre thing to say! And there I did sort of learned
that there really are kind of three different types of critical coverage of
Hillary Clinton. There is one, which is like totally legitimate, what
we`ve been talking about in terms of her record, and, you know, the Iraq
war vote, those kinds of things. Obviously legit. Then there`s a second
which I think everyone would also agree with, which is like blatantly
sexist, you know, when you see it. Cracker, you know, things that they
would do about her, right? Then the third is this sort of like weird,
hard-to-describe category where it`s just everything is so skeptical
ZEFF: and cynical about her, just like in these sort of vague
BALL: What do you think that`s based on?
ZEFF: But I just want to give a quick example if I may.
ZEFF: When I worked for Hillary in 2007-2008, during the primary, any time
a - get for the campaign, a supporter, big time supporter would say
something like Bob Johnson or Billy Shaheen who is the husband of one of
the endorsers said something about Obama`s youth that was bad. It was a
big scramble in the war room to clean up this mess and say oh, my God, they
are going to think that Hillary put him up to it, that she secretly
whispered to him what are we going to do. We are going to have to put that
out. And then I worked for Obama in the general election and like the
second week, Charlie Rangel who was supporting Obama in the general said
that Sarah Palin was mentally disabled. And so I`m freaking out, I go, oh,
my god. So, I called the top people - in the war room, and they said what
are we going to do? We have to get out ahead of this. Should we disown
the Rangel comment? What should we do? They`re like why are you
hyperventilating? You are insane. They were right. I was insane.
ZEFF: This is not a problem, we have nothing to do with it. Sure enough,
no reporters asked us about it. There was no suggestion that Obama put
them up to it. And I only mentioned that to say that there really was sort
of a different - is this inherent cynicism. And you asked why that is.
ZEFF: I think that`s worth discussing. But I don`t know if it`s - could
it be partly sexist, could it be partly Clinton fatigue, could it be that
they`ve had, you know, something specific with Hillary Clinton. I don`t
know, but it definitely does exist.
BALL: Neera? What do you say to that?
TANDEN: I mean I would say that like I think reporters should ask
questions like these of themselves. I mean we went through that experience
and the way people put things in gender terms, I mean it was really
shocking. But also I think people have, you know, a level of cynicism, and
I mean it sounds naive. But I think a lot of the times politicians
including Hillary Clinton are trying to solve problems, and you may not
agree with what she comes out and says, but to say it`s all political
instead of just a policy difference I think is more of an issue with
reporters than candidates.
BALL: I agree with that, Neera. And I think - I mean I certainly thought
a lot of the coverage in 2008 was blatantly sexist. I think some of the
coverage now is still blatantly sexist. There`s no doubt about that. And
for me, Basil, the question is not whether or not politicians are always
carefully calibrating what they say and what they do, but it`s my question
of, OK, behind those calibrations, what does she really think? And I`m
still not clear.
SMIKLE: She is a very passionate activist at heart. I actually firmly
believe that. I`ve been on conference calls where we`ve talked about
issues and you can hear it come out. And I think Blake is right, that
there are - there is this perception of her and in some ways stops -- a lot
of folks stop telling the story beyond a certain point. Just very quickly,
2000 campaign, we had a Raleigh, a whole Bartter Williams Smith College
Upstate New York, and she stayed and shook 2,000 hands
SMIKLE: For the - and waited until the last person to leave. But that`s
not going to get written about.
BALL: Let me say, as I`ve been critical here, I hope that you guys are all
right. Because I want to see that side. I want to believe that. I want
to be - because I think she will be our next president. I want to believe
she will be that person that will focus like a laser on inequality. And
with that being said, I want to thank political strategist and former
Clinton aide Basil Smikle Junior, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for
American Progress and for one political editor and former Clinton and Obama
spokesman, Blake Zeff. Thank you all.
And still ahead, it is finally officially summer. And you know what that
means? Supreme Court decisions, of course, including some more milestones.
What`s to expect? That`s next.
BALL: I would wager that anyone who watched "School House Rock" as a kid
has no problem identifying the branches of the federal government. You`ve
got your legislative, the House and the Senate. You`ve got your executive
branch, that would be the president and the judicial, the Supreme Court.
Now, the three branches are all supposed to be equal, they are supposed to
balance each other out. But with legislative gridlock and what`s being
called a do-nothing Congress and a president whose agenda is being thwarted
by the opposition at every term, in recent years it`s been easy to think
that the Supreme Court is really the only game in town in terms of where
the country is headed. Citizens United, DOMA, the Voting Rights Act, the
nine justices of the Supreme Court have handed down several milestone
decisions in the last few years that have affected huge change across the
country and soon, very soon before the end of the month soon, we`ll be
getting more big decisions from the court.
The biggest one or at least the highest profile one is arguably the Hobby
Lobby case, the case that will decide whether companies can opt out of
providing birth control in the health plans that they offer employees.
Doing that is a mandate of the Affordable Care Act. But Hobby Lobby across
store chain has joined with Catholic charities and others to argue that
they should be exempted as a corporation on religious grounds. Here to
talk about that and some of the other big cases that we expect to get
decisions on in the coming days, I`m now joined from Richmond by Dahlia
Lithwick, she is legal correspondent for Slate. And we also have Irin
Carmon, she`s national reporter for msnbc.com. And Irin has been following
the Hobby Lobby case very closely. And Irin, in fact, I want to start with
you, you know. Bring us kind of up to speed, how do you see the decision
coming down in this Hobby Lobby case?
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC.COM: Well, the backdrop here is that the contraceptive
benefit, which many millions of women have already enjoyed as part of their
paid insurance benefits is enormously popular, was politically popular in
2012 and now faces a challenge that could potentially open the door for
companies to opt out of general laws in a way that we haven`t seen before.
Hobby Lobby is a for-profit corporation. Its owners are religious. And
they want to opt out of this rule that says that women`s health care should
be treated like other preventative care. So based on oral argument I think
this is very much going to be a tough decision. I think it`s probably
going to come down on the last day. You had very conflicting signals from
Anthony Kennedy who is looking to be the swing vote here. They did not
seem unresolved about this question that to us may seem very crazy, which
is does a corporation have religious exercise?
CARMON: Are you going to see the corporation in a pew next to you? They
didn`t really dwell on that in oral argument. What they did talk about a
lot is the government actually requiring employers to have health insurance
and is this a burden on Hobby Lobby`s religious freedom rights under the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act? So we could really see a decision, in
which they avoid the major questions, they say, you know, this is not a
burden, if the government doesn`t require you do provide health insurance,
it`s not a burden. Or they could open up the door for companies saying I
don`t want to comply with all kinds of laws because they violate the boss`s
religious freedom. And we could see women who work for those companies in
particular, because women`s health care is so controversial, having a
different set of earned benefits than people have elsewhere.
BALL: Dahlia, what do you make of that? What`s your take on this case?
Is Irin right here, that they could potentially open the door to not just
corporations like Hobby Lobby denying women contraception, but denying
anything that they think is against their religion?
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE: Everything that Irin said I agree with. I think
that one possibility, and you could see this playing out in oral argument,
is that the court tries to figure some narrower way to constrain this
ruling so that it doesn`t on the one hand force corporations to do that
which they feel violates their religious conscience, and on the other hand
as Irin said, open the flood gates to religious corporation owners imposing
all kinds of religious constraints on their own employees regardless of
their employees` religious beliefs. So, I think we`re trying to find some
middle way. Chief Justice Roberts talked a little bit about, could we make
this sort of specific to the Green family who owned Hobby Lobby because
it`s a family owned, sort of closely held corporation? If they`re trying
to go small, they may do that. But yes, if they go big, the consequences
in either direction are really huge.
BALL: I mean Dahlia, to me my head spins when I hear you or anybody else
talking about this case, talking about the corporation`s religion. Have we
ever in Supreme Court history, have we had previous cases in which a
corporation was recognized to have a right to religion?
LITHWICK: Well, this case comes up under the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act, which is at, you know, a statute. So, it`s not a purely First
Amendment religious claim. But no, there isn`t a long history of the court
conferring religious liberty rights specifically in this case to a for-
profit corporation who is, you know, what they do, what they produce is a
chain of craft stores, right? I mean this isn`t the nuns who are
delivering health care, which is a trickier question in some sense. These
people make scrapbooking materials. And so really the question is, this
for-profit corporation that operates to do something that has nothing to do
with religion, to confer religious rights on that corporation is really
BALL: Yes. I think that is well said. And I want to turn now to another
important case, Harris versus Quinn. The Supreme Court is due to decide
whether public sector unions can collect fees from non-union members who
benefit from their negotiations. The unions argue it`s only fair since
they work on the employees` behalf. But some employees who object this,
say it`s a violation of their first amendment rights. Big stakes in this
case as well. Mother Jones recently put it, will the Supreme Court kill
public employee unions? Is that a possibility in this case, Dahlia?
LITHWICK: Again, there`s probably going to be a way, if the court decides
not to do the most dramatic thing it can do, to find a sort of -- thread
the needle here and do something in this case that will only relate to not
every single public sector union in the country, but only home health care
workers, who - which is what issue here in Illinois. But they can. And
certainly I think it`s fair to say there were four votes it looked like
that wanted to go really big in this case, and really, really, I think in
some ways gut a lot of the powers of public sector unions. And ironically
in this case the fifth vote is going to be Justice Antonin Scalia.
LITHWICK: He`s going to be the deciding vote in this case. And whether or
not, really, this case turns into a profound, profound setback for public
sector unions is going to turn on Scalia`s decision.
BALL: Yeah. And we have a Scalia expert on next who can kind of dig into
maybe what might be going on in Scalia`s mind there. But we`re also
anticipating a decision in the case that challenges buffer zones around
clinics that perform abortions. There are laws like this all across the
country under the federal FACE law, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances
law keeps anti-abortion protesters at certain distance away from women`s
health clinics. Many would say a safe distance away from the employees and
patients who walk into and out of those buildings every day. The court is
considering the Massachusetts law specifically. But the decision, again,
could reverberate down the line coast to coast, affecting not just health
clinics, but other places like cemeteries, certainly the West Borough
Baptist church comes to mind here, Irin. And, you know, this is a very
legitimate concern that abortion clinics have. There has been violence,
certainly aggressive protesting techniques outside of these clinics. And
yet some are arguing this is a violation of free speech for protesters.
CARMON: You know, I think what ties together a lot of these cases is that
you have conservative legal groups that are strategizing to use the court
and to specifically use the First Amendment as a weapon against laws that
protect workers, against laws that protect access to clinics. What all of
these cases have in common is that they`re very much part of this
conservative legal revolution. In the case of this particular buffer zone
law, in 2000 the Supreme Court ruled that you can have safe protective
zones around clinics because of the ways clinics are targeted for violence,
as you mentioned. It`s - you could have a time, place and manner
restriction that says you cannot come up to women, you cannot intimidate
women, you cannot block their access to clinics. So the fact that the
court took this case at all is very worrying for supporters of buffer zones
because they could have just said as the First Circuit did, you know, that
this is already constitutional under the Supreme Court. The fact that they
chose to take it means that they probably want to in some way unsettle that
precedent and say, you know, that people can just sort of flood the zone
around abortion clinics.
BALL: All right. Very worrying. We are going to have more on these cases
and also someone, as I mentioned, who can tell us why the Supreme Court is
becoming more like the rest of American politics. And I don`t mean that in
a good way. That`s after this.
BALL: The Supreme Court has long been a revered American institution, but
as our politics continue to polarize, so has our trust in just how the
court functions. The Pew research center recently compiled this data, it`s
on the last 30 years of public opinion on the Supreme Court. And they
found that the consensus of favorable feelings has broken down in the last
ten years. The new reality is now much closer to our country`s partisan
divide. So, what has happened to the court over the last 30 years, one
answer is that it`s grown much more conservative. And here to tell us
about the court`s preeminent conservative justice, we have Bruce Allen
Murphy, he`s the author of a very good new book a great book, I would say
"Scalia, a Court of One." We also have msnbc.com Irin Carmon and Dahlia
Lithwick from Slate. They are still with us. But Bruce, I want to start
with you. Irin mentioned in the last block a conservative legal
revolution. Scalia has really been the driving force on that.
BRUCE ALLEN MURPHY, AUTHOR "SCALIA": He has. He was the forerunner of the
conservative revolution, but he delayed it for 19 years. He served as a
court of one from about 1986 till 2005 by driving the centrist
conservatives more toward the middle. In, for example, the Smith case, the
peyote ingestion case that led to the Hobby Lobby issue, he unraveled a
very careful test that Sandra Day O`Connor had constructed allowing the
state to regulate even religious groups if they had a compelling state
interest and if they could demonstrate that their least restrictive means,
it`s the only way they could achieve this aim, was dealing with not a
central part of an individual`s religion. It was a curious compromise that
led Sandra Day O`Connor every time to be voting in favor of state
regulation. So, the Smith case was really Scalia`s solution. He turned
the clock back to an earlier test, the secular regulation rule, but then
allowed for exceptions. And that`s what we`re talking about now, the Hobby
Lobby case is really a question in the larger sense of whether individual
religiously based corporations can have an a-la-cart menu approach
MURPHY: To this regulation. When O`Connor saw Scalia unraveling her test,
she wrote a note to Harry Blackman as she was listening to Scalia`s bench
statement and said, Harry, it pains me. And I think now that Scalia is in
his legacy phase, he`s seeing the fruits of his labor now this majority has
been created with the edition of Alito and Roberts, he`s a player on the
far right wing. But he`s not the central actor. Anthony Kennedy is.
BALL: Anthony Kennedy is, Dahlia, Bruce says. Do you agree with that in
terms of religious sensitivities on the court?
LITHWICK: I mean I think my cat would agree with that. I think .
LITHWICK: I think it`s indisputable. That Justice Kennedy is
BALL: You have a smart cat.
LITHWICK: Whether Kennedy
BALL: That doesn`t surprise me.
LITHWICK: Whether Kennedy goes, that`s where the court goes. And I think
one of the things that so important, and Bruce said this, but it`s really
worth emphasizing, the singular most important change at the court was a
substitution of Sandra Day - for Sandra Day O`Connor of Samuel Alito.
Because it has moved the court dramatically to the right on issue after
issue, whether it`s religion, abortion, you know, campaign finance reform.
That shift of Alito for O`Connor really changes everything. He becomes the
fulcrum and everything moves to the right.
BALL: Irin, is the fact that the Supreme Court is becoming less popular,
is that just a manifestation of the polarization of our politics at large
or is there something different going on at the Supreme Court?
CARMON: We only have a fascinating shift here where for decades
conservatives campaigned against the Supreme Court, right, when they looked
at largely the liberal successes of the Warren Court and they ran against
them and also Roe v. Wade, which followed, they said activist Supreme
Courts are bad. Well, now you see Republican and conservative groups using
the Supreme Court as a tool to repeal the laws that they don`t like to
lessen regulations, to chip away at executive appointments that they don`t
like, to chip away at statutes that they don`t like, that protect the
interests of constituencies that are less important to them. So, it`s
interesting to see that as the Supreme Court has become activist, but
towards the right, it`s also become less popular. And I think, you know,
that may be a recognition of the fact that we do have a deeply polarized
BALL: Yeah, and Bruce, Justice Scalia, you write in the book it`s obvious
he`s a very, very smart man, very schooled in debate. He came up and
debated in Georgetown. And yet we hear from the bench, and particularly on
the health care reform case, we hear him echoing arguments straight out on
sort of right wing blogs talking about, oh, how long, right, the health
care law is and making the broccoli argument and bringing up things like
the corn husker kickback that weren`t even in the law once it passed. So,
has he changed over time, has he moved further to the right as he become
more partisan? And is he part of the reason why the court has become less
MURPHY: Well, I think part of what he`s doing is more partisan. But it`s
a very provocative man, he`s really an academic at heart. He likes to say
things that in his words kick shins. He`s a shin kicker. And in this case
BALL: He`s good at that.
MURPHY: He`s very good at it.
MURPHY: In the Hobby Lobby case, I think it`s a very interesting moment
for the religion cases in general, because it seems as though Anthony
Kennedy who in the establishment cause area created this no coercion rule,
that the state can`t coerce people to believe something that religiously
that they don`t believe. How do you take that no coercion rule and then
vote in the town of Greece case to allow for prayer before town council?
How do you take that no coercion rule? And just avoid the entirely and
allow for a war memorial in the Mojave Desert? I found it instructive that
Scalia seemed to be working in a certiorari denial in a religion case
dealing with graduation in a church, he was working toward trying to
provoke the court into deciding that case because he wanted to use the no
MURPHY: Which is not something that Scalia believes in. In fact, he
doesn`t like the lemon test at all. So, he seemed to be sensing, at least
in my reading, that Anthony Kennedy may be drifting more towards his pro
BALL: And he`s trying to pull on that way. Dahlia, to bring it back
quickly to the cases we were talking about earlier specifically, it seems
to me like you`re saying the court is looking in basically all of these
instances for the most narrow ruling that they could come out with.
LITHWICK: I don`t know that they`re looking for that. I think that - that
there was clearly anxiety to try to make some of these less blockbusterish
than they were shaping up to be.
LITHWICK: But I don`t know, I think that they are - and certainly I think
Scalia is one of the leaders of the faction that would go big in all these
BALL: Oh, yeah.
LITHWICK: So, the question is whether Anthony Kennedy, you know, can`t
quite pull the trigger on some of these big, big, big rulings and finds a
way to narrow it. But, you know, I think a lot could happen in the next
ten days, and we`re not going to know whether they go big or go small until
they`ve gone big or gone small.
BALL: You have not given me much comfort, Dahlia Lithwick.
BALL: But I thank you very much for joining us, Dahlia Lithwick, from
Slate. And also, Bruce Allen Murphy, author of "Scalia, a Court of One."
Are you a woman who apologizes for everything? I`m sorry to have to tell
you this, but it is time for that to stop, apparently. The politics and
the push to end apologies, that`s next.
BALL: Many Republicans in politics have long insisted that not apologizing
is a sign of strength. Mitt Romney even famously named his book "No
Apology." In the 1986, then Vice President Bush hoped to cast off the
quote-unquote "with the factor he`d been labeled by standing firm with
President Reagan in "never saying sorry."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: And let me put it this way, I`m proud to serve with a
president who doesn`t go around apologizing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: And whether or not they know it or even intended it, the message has
actually been heard loud and clear by a shampoo company. This week a new
ad shows a series of women apologizing in everyday situations. And then it
shows how they can fix their lives by simply not being sorry and having
amazing hair, but mostly by not being sorry. That stirred a lot of debate
online and a lot of ire for its oversimplification of women`s problems in
the office, at home or in society in general. Essentially, it raised a
question that`s been batted around a lot over the last year, whether
women`s empowerment involves telling them to fix themselves, lean in, stop
saying sorry, ban the word bossy. More needs to be done to change
workplace norms and behavior toward women as in maybe the sporadic "Yes,
all women" campaign. There`s a lot I that want to get into here. And
joining me to discuss all of it is Irin Carmon of msnbc.com, she`s still
with us, and L. Joy Williams, political strategist and president of the
Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP. And ladies, OK, it`s just an ad, right,
it`s not that big a deal. I get all that, but something about it really
irritated me. Because I feel like there`s been a narrative over the past
year, and a few things like lean in, the confidence code book, which I
really enjoyed. But there`s this sense that, if women and men do something
differently, the women need to fix themselves to be more like the men. And
that was what bugged me about this ad, L. Joy, more than anything else.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, first I would say I hope that
they`re giving you or other folks that are talking about this on the
networks like a check or at least a box of shampoo.
BALL: I know. We are totally playing exactly what they wanted .
WILLIAMS: Right. Exactly what they wanted, which is what the
representative from the company said, is that they did this to spark a
conversation, to engage a conversation either with the people that are
already customers or to engage a conversation with women in general, which
is their target market and to sort of help build good will for the company.
So, my first reaction when I saw it was to look internally. And say yes, I
do apologize a lot. And so, it was actually funny. A friend of mine .
BALL: I don`t need that guilt from my shampoo company.
BALL: I have plenty of issues to start with without Pantene telling me how
I say sorry too much.
WILLILAMS: Yeah, but I think watching it everyone is going to have a
different reaction. Certainly it`s not going to help them sell shampoo.
WILLIAMS: Right? But what it does do, is create this conversation. And
look, I`m not buying Pantene. I don`t think it does anything for my hair
WILLIAMS: But it at least makes me think differently about the company,
and that they are trying to capitalize on what you said. In the past
couple of years this conversation about women`s empowerment, their
leadership and how they lead differently and what we need to do in order
to, you know, increase women`s leadership. So, they`re capitalizing on
that. I`m very aware that I`m not looking to Pantene to give me leadership
WILLIAMS: However, I think they`re capitalizing on the current
BALL: Irin, where are the commercials telling men to apologize more?
CARMON: I would love to see those commercials.
CARMON: I would love to see men take on some traditionally female traits.
I mean I agree with you. When was the last time we talked about Pantene?
I believe it was 1996. Like I remember being a teenager talking about
Pantene. They have successfully inserted themselves into the conversation.
And I would say as come modification of feminist messages go, which we`ve
been seeing for decades, Pantene is not as bad as Virginia Slims "You`ve
come a long way, baby."
CARMON: I need to wash my hair every once in a while, that doesn`t bother
me. But I do think
BALL: And Dove`s real beauty campaign, I think, is great, actually.
WILLIAMS: And certainly it`s different than go daddy ad or, you know.
CARMON: It`s better than go daddy. But I think we should be skeptical of
how these messages are being sold by advertising companies. Feminism is
not just about a set of behaviors. It`s about policy, and it`s not just
about a good marketing message. So, I think it`s OK to give women advice
on sort of daily behavioral things if it`s coming from, say, a successful
CARMON: I don`t need it from my shampoo company.
BALL: Yes. That is well said. OK, now we are going to give Pantene
exactly what they want and play a little bit of the ad.
BALL: Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a question. Why don`t we go back to the
original theme that we did?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Morning. Got a minute?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry. Not sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, not sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: I love that last one where she just takes all the covers. She`s not
apologetic at all. She`s a strong, confident woman. But isn`t there
something irksome as Irin must pointed about, in particular, about a beauty
company and beauty companies are notorious for making us insecure about
appear - and say that we have to buy their products. They saying, well, if
you just didn`t say sorry and had amazing hair, life would be better.
WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, and - just trying to sell a product, you know, I`m a
business owner, I`m trying to sell a product. I`m trying to convince you
that you need the thing that I`m selling. You know, that`s the point of
sort of doing the advertising, sort of doing those kinds of messages. So,
you know, I think that we, you know, we overanalyze sometimes sort of the
BALL: Oh, I totally overanalyze. No doubt about it.
WILLIAMS: You know, there are people picking apart every situation that`s
displayed in the ad, whether or not she should have said sorry for taking
all of the covers or whether or not she should say sorry for giving the
child to her husband. I mean there was just over, you know, sort of
analytical sort of dissertations about the commercial.
CARMON: Excuse me, there are important cultural messages that are conveyed
everywhere we look, whether they are on billboards, advertisements, how
politicians are treated. These are all the materials of our political
consciousness. So I think in that case, it`s a good thing. But it is
important to note as critics of "Lean In" have noted, that when women don`t
apologize, when they exhibit traditionally male characteristics and
assertiveness, there`s a blowback that`s different from how men are
WILLIAMS: Or in particular, if I can say that, from a political
standpoint, we`ve seen studies as well that if women immediately react and
don`t say sorry and sort of immediately react to charges against them,
against their character and sort of exhibit strong message afterwards, that
that proves positive for them as a candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when women ask for raises, they`re treated
differently than men.
BALL: So question, how do we have these conversations where it`s true,
right, it`s good to know the way women are perceived differently. It`s
good, like the confidence code does, to tell women -- and "Lean In," here
are some strategies, eye contact, power poses, those sorts of things,
without letting the men off the hook and letting the institutions and
government off the hook for policies that have created the situation where
women have to change themselves to be able to get ahead.
CARMON: I think we need to take a both-end approach. Structural change
does not happen overnight. Women do need coping mechanisms to deal with a
deeply sexist world. It doesn`t mean their behavior is going to completely
make the difference. You do need day-to-day strategies to deal with these
things while you`re advancing in the workplace. And you know, I do think
that Cheryl Sandberg does talk about men stepping up and she does talk
about the negative blowback that women get in negotiations. That needs to
be followed with the kinds of policy changes that are going to be talked
about at this week`s White House summit for working families.
BALL: I love Jessica Valenti, she talked about she doesn`t mean them
making her feel insecure over her insecurities. I totally agree with that.
I want to thank political strategist L. Joy Williams. Up next, why the
biggest thing to celebrate about the men`s U.S. soccer team has nothing to
do with tonight`s big game. We`ll explain why when we return.
BALL: When the U.S. put together its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, so
that`s not the next World Cup but the one after that, when the U.S. tried
to convince FIFA that the tournament should be held in American stadiums,
it based its pitch in part on the diversity of the United States. In the
presentation, actor Morgan Freeman called the U.S., quote, "the most
diverse nation on earth." And President Clinton, honorary chairman of the
bid committee, added that all of the proposed U.S. host cities have
residents from 100 to 150 different nations. That`s pretty cool. Quoting
him, "maybe America`s best claim to this World Cup is that we have the only
nation that can guarantee, no matter who makes the finals, we can fill the
stadium with home nation rooters."
The U.S. unfortunately did not win that bid. The 2022 World Cup is
scheduled to be held in Qatar, maybe. Our producers have told me it would
take a whole other segment to get into why the tournament might be moved,
but I want to talk instead about why I believe the U.S. bid for the 2022
games was right on track and relevant to the current World Cup. The U.S.
is a nation with an immigrant past. All of us, unless we`re Native
American, have ancestors who hailed from different shores. And I believe
the men`s national team is the perfect microcosm of that. The coach has
lived in the U.S. for a long time, but he`s actually a German citizen. One
of the players was born in Norway to an American mother, and five of the
players are German American, with fathers who served in Germany in the U.S.
military. On Monday, Americans became well acquainted with one of them,
John Brooks, who scored the winning goal against Ghana. Brooks has never
lived in the United States. On his left elbow he has a tattoo of Berlin
and on the other a map of Illinois with a star marking the city of Chicago,
because that`s where his father grew up.
Nancy Pelosi sent out a tweet on Tuesday that said "immigrants help drive
America`s success even in the World Cup. Look at what the U.S. national
team would be without them. #thetimeisnow." The photo making the point
that many, most, of the players would be gone. And while it should be
pointed out that not one of the players on the men`s national team is
actually an immigrant, I really appreciate what the Democratic leader was
trying to say here. We are all better because of the melting pot this
country has become, and so is the men`s national soccer team. It`s
reflected in the team photo, and it`s reelected in the photos of the
viewing parties held in places like Chicago`s Grant Park. At 6:00 p.m.
tonight, Americans across the country, myself included, and around the
globe, will once again be rooting for the U.S. as it takes on Portugal in
its second match. I will be among those cheering, but I will also be
rooting for everything that I believe the team stands for and represents.
We`re joined now by someone who knows a little bit about soccer, I think.
She`s former goalkeeper for the U.S. national team, Brianna Scurry. She
won a World Cup and a pair of Olympic gold medals. Not too shabby there,
Brianna. And also joining us is a friend of the show, Mike Pesca of Slate,
and host of the podcast (inaudible), also a sports contributor at NPR.
Brianna, I want to start with you, so cool to have you here, thank you for
joining us. It`s always cool to have you here, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, SLATE: No gold medals.
BALL: No gold medals, it`s OK, we still love you. I mean, I am not the
biggest soccer fan in the world, but everybody gets World Cup fever. I
watched that World Cup that the U.S. women`s team won with great
excitement, and I do think one of the really cool things is when you look
at a lot of the teams around the world, you can tell which team it is by
how they look. You look at the American team, you can tell who they are by
how they look because they all look so different and come from all parts of
BRIANNA SCURRY, 1999 U.S. WORLD CUP CHAMPION: Absolutely. Like you say,
America is a melting pot. Truly a melting pot. In my experience, the more
flavor you can have on the team, the better, the different attitudes. All
of us have a desire to win and all of us are essentially from immigrant
parents, and so having that be a vision in showing in the composition of
the team makes us all truly able to get behind that team and get behind the
coach for making that point and showing that, and picking the best players.
So far it`s been working out just great.
BALL: It`s been working out. Mike, is that part of what makes the U.S.
team so exciting?
PESCA: It`s true for the U.S. team, but of course, soccer is the
international game. America has guys from Germany, they have an Icelandic
guy. But you know, there is an American who is playing on the Italian
national team. The German national team has--
BALL: I didn`t know about him.
PESCA: -- Turkish guys. The German national team has Polish guys. I
would say that America, maybe this is me speaking jingoistically, but we
have a very ethical definition of who gets to play for our team. You have
to be a citizen. And so a lot of other countries, there`s a lot of trying
to gain favor with the talented 16-year-old, play for us in a tournament
and then you`re wedded to us forever. We saw in the game between Germany
and Ghana, two brothers playing on different sides. I actually do think
it`s a cool thing. I do think it means that soccer has these international
borders. I will say this. I think it gives the Americans an advantage in
a way, because these other countries have a style of play they`re always
wedded to. Brazil with the beautiful game and Spain with what`s called
ticky-tack, little passes to each other. But Americans can kind of
redefine themselves, based on the character and composition of the players,
which is sort of like America itself, right?
BALL: So true.
PESCA: Just being very innovative, in the moment, and seeing what your
strengths are. And playing to those strengths.
BALL: Brianna, how would you characterize the sort of play of the U.S.
men`s team this year?
SCURRY: I am very excited about the men`s team. Klinsmann has really gone
to great lengths to try to mold the team in a way that is more dynamic,
more exciting to watch, a winner of a team, and I think the game against
Ghana was a fantastic example of that. John Brooks, the gentleman who
scored the game winning goal, he was the one who got beat on the goal
before that by the Ghanaian player. So it`s interesting you see in
pictures him trying to slide and knock the ball away from the Ghanaian
player. Unfortunately he wasn`t able to do that. But what he did is he
picked himself off the ground, and instead of being sorry for himself, he
got that USA spirit in his heart and he went up, five minutes later scores
the game winning goal. And the look on his face was pure joy. That`s what
the U.S. is about.
PESCA: That look was awesome. Like if an actor did that look to try to
convey surprise, you`d say tone it down. Right? It doesn`t seem
BALL: And yet, there`s also a big problem despite the fact that soccer is
the international game, we have people from all corners of the globe
competing. There is a big problem with racism in soccer. Famously back in
April, in an April game playing for his professional club in Barcelona,
Brazilian player Danny Alvez had a banana thrown at him, which I`m told is
not uncommon for bananas to be thrown at black players. In a beautiful
moment, he just picked it up, took a little bite, cast it aside and kept
going. This is a big problem, though, in soccer.
SCURRY: It is a big problem in soccer. And the federations and FIFA
actually have a "say no to racism" campaign that`s been going on for
several years now. So they`re very mindful of it. And it`s something
that`s a bit of a nick on the sport, but they`re working to try to improve
that. And players like Danny Alvez, having that kind of a response to a
banana being thrown on the pitch is a fantastic way to handle it. Good for
BALL: And we can see a lot of famous folks and fellow players eating
bananas in solidarity with Danny Alvez. Is FIFA doing enough here to
combat racism? Is this coming from the soccer hooligan culture? Where is
this coming from?
PESCA: Hooliganism is on the decline in a lot of places.
BALL: Which is good, right?
PESCA: Yes, of course. When we say hooligans, we think of them like
really intense fans, dudes rooting for the Raiders and put on Mad Max
attire. No, these are sometimes like essentially Mafioso and they kill
people in place like Argentina and other places. So this is what I think
about FIFA. I think that they`re doing what they have to do. But it`s an
easy win for them to say they`re against racism. And also, if soccer is
the world game, there is racism in the world. So these supporters of
certain teams engage in these not just racist but homophobic chants. FIFA
correctly does point the finger and says maybe we can find you different
players -- there are some players who have not been allowed to play in the
World Cup, because they, Croatian player, said some racist things.
I will say this, I don`t like to give FIFA any credit. I usually don`t
think they deserve it. If they really were ethical, maybe they would have
taken the U.S.`s bid and say that`s a good point instead of taking the
Qataris` bribes under the table. Which seems to be what happened. If they
really wanted to promote diversity, go with a diverse nation, not the
nation that does not allow Israelis to travel to it and gave them maybe
millions of dollars.
BALL: All right, well, I want to get into the actual game tonight and hear
what Brianna and Mike have to say about what we should expect. That will
be right after this.
BALL: That`s a live shot there of Rio, where of course the World Cup is
going on. I`m joined again by Brianna and by Mike to talk about the game
tonight, which even us, like sort of non-normal soccer fans are pretty
psyched about. Brianna, I`ll start with you. How is the U.S. looking?
SCURRY: The U.S. team looks fantastic right now. Right now all they`re
thinking about is doing the execution they`ve been told to do by the coach
and just getting ready for that game. After being in four World Cups
myself and three Olympic Games, what I used to do and what worked for me is
what I call EEC, execution and emotional control. So if our guys use that
and have their execution -- they`re going to get their chances -- and then
have emotional control when things maybe go a little bit sideways or don`t
go their way, they`ll do great.
BALL: That`s in some ways the hardest part, is keeping your head in the
right place, even if you get behind or you get maybe a call that you don`t
agree with. That`s one of the biggest challenges.
SCURRY: Right. The emotional control part of EEC is easily followed. If
a bad thing happens, like a goal, for example, when I used to play, if I
gave up a goal, I gave myself from the moment that goal was scored to the
time the kickoff began, to be upset about it. At that point I shelf it.
That`s what the emotional control is. You deal with the current situation.
You think about it. That`s what John Brooks did. Like I said earlier, he
had something bad happen, but he had gotten over it by the time the ball
was kicked off. Look what he did a few minutes later.
BALL: I need to learn this for life actually, Mike. So the game tonight,
the U.S. is down a very important player, Jozy Altidore. Do you think we
can beat Portugal? They are a very good team.
PESCA: My advice would be JDL, just don`t lose.
PESCA: If they win, they`re all but guaranteed to be in. The tie between
Germany and Ghana that happened yesterday actually gave them a 20 percent
shot to win the entire group. They have I`d say about a 65 -- two-thirds
chance to advance at all. But it really all depends on not losing this
game. A tie won`t kill them. A loss will be tough.
If you look at if they have a chance to win this game, yes, Jozy Altidore
is hurt, but you know, Pepe, the defender for Portugal, talk about losing
your head, a horrible foul, he had a red card, he`s out. Portugal is down,
and their best player -- when I say their best player - Ronaldo - Cristiano
Ronaldo is more important to Portugal than I think any player in the world
is to his team, including Lionel Messi. Portugal is a bunch of okay
players and maybe the best in the world. But Ronaldo is hurt and his knee
is hurt. And if you saw him last game--
BALL: He`s not full strength.
PESCA: He`s very not much full strength. He only scored two goals in the
World Cup, but I still think he is by far the equalizer. He`s what makes
Portugal the fourth ranked country in the world. So, if you want to look
at the rankings, this is a 14TH ranked country in the U.S., versus a fourth
ranked country. If you want to look at the betting, Portugal is still a 3-
1 favorite by people who are making bets. But I think they really - I
think the U.S. in actuality has about a third of a chance to win and a
third of a chance to tie.
BALL: I`ve been talking to Steve Kornacki about his own World Cup fever,
and I was asking him, because he`s such a cheer for the underdog. He
always backs the underdog, and a lot of times like in U.S. Olympic
basketball, the U.S. is so heavily favored that he actually cheers for like
a Lithuania or whoever it is, the Cinderella story. So it`s cool for him,
because he can cheer for the U.S., because we are the underdog. Who do you
like in the World Cup overall, putting aside the fact that obviously the
U.S. is great?
SCURRY: The World Cup has been incredibly interesting to me because the
one consistency about the World Cup this year is the inconsistent results
that you`ve seen. Costa Rica is already through. Different teams that
you`re not used to seeing. Spain is out already, England is out already.
Within two games, these teams that are normally traditionally very, very
good teams, powerhouses, are out. Right now I`m looking for a team that
has a little bit more consistency. So, one of the teams I like a lot is
Argentina. I know they`re maybe not favored to win, but if Messi gets
turned on, and he`s got that goal now, he got a goal yesterday, so maybe
he`ll get into gear and start playing, and Argentina might have a chance,
and, of course, you can`t omit the favorites, which are Brazil. They are
the favorite team. The home team. They have the advantage there.
BALL: Mike, one word, who do you like?
PESCA: To win the whole thing?
PESCA: U.S. - no. Brazil.
BALL: All right. All right, so what should we know today? Our answers
right after this.
BALL: All right, I want to find out what my guests think we should know.
Let`s start over here with Mike.
PESCA: I`m looking at the New York Post and they are talking about Bill de
Blasio and -
PESCA: And today John Podhoretz, who I follow on Twitter, said, well,
here`s a real thing that`s going bad with de Blasio. Auto thefts are up.
There`s like 12 thefts on Riverside Drive in the last 18 days. Listen, I
don`t know why I was doing this, but I was looking at New York City crime
statistics. In 1990, there were 150,000 or so cars stolen, and last year
there were 12,000. Auto thefts have gone down by 90 percent. We so often
don`t give our society credit. There is a lot of reasons, low jack and
harder to steal cars, but man, we have made huge impacts. Let`s not go
PESCA: Even with pirates in charge.
BALL: Even with pirates in charge. Brianna, what should we know?
SCURRY: Within the spirit of soccer this month, one of the things that
we`re trying to do is bring soccer to the underserved and underprivileged
communities in the U.S.
BALL: That`s great.
SCURRY: That`s something that I`m very passionate about, something I
really like to do. Two of the organizations that are really blazing the
trails for that that I like are Soccer for Success and America Scores.
BALL: Could you be any more amazing? Irin, what should we know?
CARMON: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10:00 a.m. All of the Supreme Court
reporters and all of the politics junkies are going to be out on SCOTUS
blog waiting for Lyle, waiting for decisions in the cases we just
BALL: Big, big week at the Supreme Court, as we talked about earlier. I
want to thank Mike Pesca of Slate, former U.S. national team goalkeeper
Brianna Scurry, and of course, MSNBC.com reporter, Irin Carmon, for getting
UP, and thank you for joining us. Steve will be back next weekend,
Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. Coming up next is "Melissa
Harris-Perry," and on today`s MHP, one day before the White House convenes
a summit on working families, a special look at the politics of parenting.
Everything from equal pay policy to the pressure on new moms to lose that
weight. I know about that, and lose it fast, to the billion-dollar baby
business to Power Puff Girls obviously, and, yes, daddies too.
It`s all next in Nerdland. Have a great weekend, everyone.
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