updated 8/7/2014 12:15:10 PM ET 2014-08-07T16:15:10

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
August 6, 2014

Guest: Kiki Palmer, Marielena Hincapie

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: I would not try to pronounce those names
on television again.

STEVE KORNACKI, "UP" HOST: Mr. F, the next time --

O`DONNELL: Exactly, exactly. Thank you, Steve.

KORNACKI: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Well, President Obama was asked tonight if he has the power to
issue work visas to people who are in this country illegally. Let`s see if
you can figure out what his answer means.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never have a green light.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The traffic light is broken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dysfunction in Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving you a green light to push the limits of
executive power.

OBAMA: I never have a green light.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In other words, begin implementing your own immigration
policies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is certainly leading towards that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are now encouraging him.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The crisis on the border
is going to continue until the president acts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what they`re suing him for.

OBAMA: My preference would be an actual comprehensive immigration law.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`ve left town.

OBAMA: Until that happens, I`m going to have to make choices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cute way of saying, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When a president exceeds his authority --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I applaud the executive orders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- then we do have what`s called impeachment.

OBAMA: There are some things we can`t do.

BIDEN: They`ve left town.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We need to be a more welcoming party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to immigration.

PAUL: We can`t be the party of hostility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All this talk of a kinder, gentler GOP.

PAUL: Hostility towards people who don`t necessarily look like us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would like to have it both ways.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ll hear a very different Rand Paul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rand Paul has been arguing for a more inclusive GOP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to grow the party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is running for president.

PAUL: We can win again if we are a more welcoming party.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, at a press conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-
Africa Summit in Washington, President Obama was asked if he believes it is
within his presidential power to grant work permits to people who are in
this country illegally. The president then used 130 words in what amounted
to a simple refusal to answer the question. Here is that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: You have the power to grant work permits to those who are here
illegally, as some of your supporters have suggested?

OBAMA: What I certainly recognize with respect to immigration reform, and
I`ve said this in the past, is that we have a broken system. It`s under-
resourced. And we`ve got to make choices in terms of how we allocate
personnel and resources. So if I`m going to, for example, send more
immigration judges down to the border to process some of these
unaccompanied children that have arrived at the border, then that`s coming
from someplace else. And we`re going to have to prioritize. That`s well
within our authorities and prosecutorial discretion.

My preference would be an actual comprehensive immigration law, and we
already have a bipartisan law that would solve a whole bunch of these
problems. Until that happens, I`m going to have to make choices. That`s
what I was elected to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president`s refusal to answer that question came after Vice
President Biden said this earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We`re trying to figure out, and it`s hard, is that how can we use
the multiple assets absent the congressional support and the real money we
need to do the kinds of things we need, because they`ve left town. And
they left town a long time ago, figuratively speaking, and actually
engaging in this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In Iowa today, where Senator Rand Paul continues to warm up for
a presidential campaign, he said this about President Obama contemplating
executive action on immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: It sounds more like a king. It sounds more like he`s going to give
royal edicts. And what does that do? It creates a whole host of
unintended consequences. Right now, you have 50,000 kids at the border.
They have come across in plain sight and said hey, we`re here. Why did you
come? The president said we were welcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Ari Melber, and the
executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, Marielena
Hincapie.

Marielena, you are our immigration law expert here tonight. Did you hear
something in that answer that President Obama gave that I couldn`t about
what he means in terms of executive action here?

MARIELENA HINCAPIE, NATL. IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER: Well, I really wish the
president had owned it, because he`s on such solid legal footing. The
president has broad authority to use what he calls prosecutorial
discretion, the limited resources that any law enforcement agency can
decide what it will prioritize, how it will use its resources and for what
purpose, public purpose.

So, the president, the same way that he authorized --

O`DONNELL: But, Marielena, let me just -- let me just step in here,
because that`s what I didn`t understand. I understand when he says that
thing about, you know, we get to decide what resources we use, if we move
judges down to the border.

But none of that is relevant to work permits. Those judges down at the
border aren`t handing out work permits. Work permits are not a
prosecutorial matter. So I don`t know why he was using prosecutorial and
law enforcement language when it comes to work permits.

HINCAPIE: Yes, so the reason that it`s a law enforcement issue, Lawrence,
is that it arrives from the first piece the administration would be doing.
This is the same thing they did in 2012 with respect to young immigrants,
to DREAMers, which is, first, it`s saying that young immigrants in 2012
were not a priority for deportation.

So, that`s why it`s law enforcement.

And in addition to saying that, let`s say parents or workers or individual
with long-term ties to the United States today will not be deported.
That`s the priority issue. Secondly, under current immigration
regulations, the president or the secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security can also issue work authorization for those individuals. It`s
called deferred action.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, I wish the president had been as clear --

KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: Marielena.

O`DONNELL: -- as Marielena just was. But he didn`t want to be.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Yes, he clearly did not want to be.

BALL: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: He was not politically ready to say that`s what he`s thinking,
if that is what he`s thinking.

So, what is -- what is the rollout process here if that`s where he`s going?

BALL: Well, I think right now, as you`re pointing out, he didn`t want to
get into a technical legal back and forth, because that would sort of give
away --

O`DONNELL: Well, it`s not technically legal to say yes.

(CROSSTALK0

O`DONNELL: I could have followed that.

BALL: Sure. But I don`t think he wanted to even give that, because he
didn`t want to make it appear that`s what he`s planning, even if that is,
in fact, what he is planning. He`s not clearly ready to go there yet. So,
he tried to conflate issues, talk about what he can do with the current
border crisis, distract from the issue of what he might do at the end of
the summer in a bigger way here.

So, he`s considering his options and the indications are that he wants to
go big, he wants to go bold. Clearly nothing is going to happen in
Congress. So a couple of categories of people that have been discussed.
One would be the folks who would have been eligible for legal status for
citizenship under the Senate bill. That may be too many. So, a subset of
that might be parents of those roughly half a million children who have
already been impacted by the DACA action he took previously. So, I think
that`s where we`re moving towards, but clearly he`s not quite ready to go
there yet.

O`DONNELL: Ari, what would have happened if he had just given a simple yes
to that question tonight?

ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Well, they would have asked a follow-up question,
Lawrence.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: No, that was the follow-up question. But, obviously, there was
a political calculation. The president, at this point, probably has a view
that the answer to that question is yes or no, and he certainly has seen
enough legal research on it now to have a view of it. He didn`t give us
that view for some political reason.

MELBER: I think it may be a political-legal reason. If you go back to
Harry Truman, there`s the Youngstown precedent over the steel mills and one
of the things in that decision that is still good law today is that the
president`s authority is lower when Congress acts to explicitly ban
something rather than areas the Congress hasn`t touched. And that`s why
while last week was a total farce on the House floor, they did start
getting into the deferred action for childhood arrival program or DACA.
And if they did that, and created a political backlash in the Senate, he
would potentially be on shakier legal ground in lawsuits if he invited them
in.

So I could say, I don`t know, but I could say that one reason would be to
avoid charging that environment before he actually acted unilaterally.

O`DONNELL: OK. Marielena, just to go back to the technical of this, you
said what he would probably be doing is moving these people into the
deferred action category. And so, that would allow him -- allow the
administration to grant temporary work visas. Wouldn`t that be what it is?

HINCAPIE: That`s right. It`s only temporary. It`s be long term --

O`DONNELL: Now I get it. Now, I get it.

(CROSSTALK)

HINCAPIE: The president has been clear about that.

O`DONNELL: Right. OK.

So, what -- we are still hearing, Krystal, this talk from Republicans about
executive action and ranting against it. Rand Paul in Iowa saying he`s
trying to act like a king. It seems to me that the White House is trying
to figure out what its political answer to that is.

BALL: Yes. So far, clearly, they haven`t been very dissuaded from taking
executive action based on the Republican arguments just last week. The
president signed an executive order with regards to how we`re going to
treat federal contractors and making sure that we`re protecting the folks
who were working for the federal contractors. So, the Republicans` vague
threats of a lawsuit or maybe a censure or maybe impeachment haven`t
dissuaded the president thus far from being bold in what he`s doing.
I don`t think there`s any sign so far that he feels particularly pressured
by what they`re doing. If anything, I think he feels emboldened to go out
and take a big stand and put it in their face and say, well, you had an
opportunity to act. You didn`t take it. So I`m going to do what`s
necessary for the country to keep us moving forward.

O`DONNELL: OK, the president gave us a few more tea leaves tonight on
this. Let`s listen to the other thing he said about the limits on
executive action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`m bound by the Constitution, I`m bound by separation of powers.
There`s some things we can`t do. What I can do is, you know, scour our
authorities to try to make progress. And we`re going to make sure that
every time we take one of these steps that we are working within the
confines of my executive power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Marielena, what did you hear in that one?

HINCAPIE: Yes, you know, I think this is a cautious administration. I
think Krystal is right, one possibility is they could go as broad as those
who have been eligible under the Senate bill, I think what he`s saying is
they`re going to be very cautious, they`re going to cross all the T`s, dot
the I`s and make sure that they are getting -- that they are doing
something that the president and the office of legal counsel feels is
completely within their legal authority so they can prevent any lawsuits
or, in fact, you know, bringing on any impeachment if the Republicans --

O`DONNELL: So, Marielena, what`s your guesstimate about how many work
permits we would be talking about under this kind of executive action?

HINCAPIE: I mean, it`s hard to say, Lawrence. I mean, I think we`ve heard
anything from 4 million to 6 million, it could be a lot less. It really
depends on what categories the administration to focus on. We really are
urging the administration to go as broad as possible to basically define an
orderly program with which those individuals can longstanding ties in the
U.S. can come forward and apply if they meet certain criteria.

It`s the best thing, not just for the families, not just for immigrant
families, but it`s the best thing for our country and for the economy,
until we can get a Congress in office that will do their job.

BALL: Can I just pick up on that point? Because I think this is a piece
that`s lost that she is pointing out here. When you`re not deporting
children and DREAMers and law abiders, you`re able to focus on the folks
who are actually a risk. So, it makes the country more secure to have
these sort of logical priorities in place.

O`DONNELL: Ari, it`s a political number. When they`re studying this and
thinking how many of these visas do we issue, work visas do we issue, at a
certain point, there`s a political view of that number and they`re going to
say that`s too high or that`s too low.

MELBER: I think that`s right. As you get into the higher millions, right,
you`re going to have arguments, fair or not, saying that`s X million jobs
now in danger for Americans.

There`s a very good policy answer to that, which is these people are here
and the Republicans have done nothing serious about dealing with this
outside a couple of senators in the Republican Party who deserved credit
and we`ve credited before. But most of the Republican caucus doesn`t want
to work on it. And so, they`re daring the president to do more. That`s
where the politics come in.

I think, look, I think the fact that this White House wants to do this in
the fall, to a little bit of politics, means they think they have the
power, they think they have a number that`s going to work politically and
policy wise and they want this fight in November.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, Ari Melber, and Marielena Hincapie, thank you all
for teaching me a little something about immigration law tonight. I needed
that lesson.

Coming up, Barney Frank will be here to discuss a sudden outbreak of
honesty on Wall Street. And Russia retaliates against U.S. sanctions and
President Obama responds.

And Keke Palmer will join me. She`s a month away from becoming the first
black actress to play Cinderella on Broadway. Tweet me your questions for
Keke.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: And now, Stephen, I`ve got a
hard choice for you.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN/TV HOST: Bring it, HRC.

CLINTON: Oh, it will be brought. Your choice, promote by book or I won`t
appear on your show.

COLBERT: But you have already appeared on my show. No! No!

CLINTON: I learned that from George Lucas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Up next, Wall Street has a warning for the rich. Barney Frank
will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: "At extreme levels, income inequality can harm sustained growth
over long periods. The United States is approaching that threshold."
Those words are not mine. Those words appear in a powerful new report on
income inequality by the Wall Street rating firm Standard and Poor`s.
S&P`s warning to us all is that extreme income inequality hurts everyone
eventually, including even the super rich.

In a report entitled how income inequality is dampening U.S. economic
growth and possible ways to change the tide, S&P`s global credit portal
says, Standard and Poor`s sees extreme income inequality as a drag on long
run economic growth. We have reduced our ten-year forecast to a 2.5
percent rate.

Here`s a chart who benefits most from economic growth. It shows that since
the 1980s, the top 10 percent of income earners enjoy most of the income
growth during expansions in the economy. The S&P report says, we see a
narrowing of the income gap, as beneficial to the economy. Benefit also
extend across income levels, boosting purchasing power among those in the
middle and lower levels of the pay scale, while the richest Americans would
enjoy increased spending power in a sustained economic expansion.


Joining me now is MSNBC contributor and former Congressman Barney Frank.

So, Barney, here`s Wall Street warning the super rich that this -- this
kind of income inequality and extremes that we have now is not in their own
long-term economic health.

BARNEY FRANK, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I`m very glad to see that. I do like to
say, a particular piece that comes from Standard & Poor`s, I think their
record of rating corporate debt was pretty abysmal. But they`ve done a lot
with this to make it up.

And you`ve just summarized the main thing here. A very large part of the
American economy is consumption. As you get income inequality, as the
income of many, many Americans is depressed, if it doesn`t keep up with
inflation, as almost all of the increase in growth goes to the rich people,
the economy doesn`t perform as well because the very rich, as much as they
would like to spend it all, can`t do it.

There are only so many stories you can put on your mansion. There are only
so many cars you can buy. The problem is, when you have this kind of
inequality, is that consumption is depressed.

And, Lawrence, we shouldn`t be surprised. We saw an example of this. A
couple of years ago, it was my last Congress, we dealt with a tax issue and
we raised taxes, and this is at the end of 2012. We forced the Republicans
to break that mantra of theirs at two levels. First of all, we did raise
taxes on incomes above $400,000. Secondly, the tax break for the payroll
tax, which is paid by everybody up to $90,000, expired.

It was very clear within six months, the economic drag on the economy from
raising taxes on incomes above $400,000 was negligible. There was none.
The people who are making $400,000, they had to pay 4 percent more of their
income for taxes. They don`t even know how much taxes they`re paying until
their accountant tells them.

But for people at the working class level, people making $40,000, $50,000,
a 2 percent increase in their tax had a devastating economic effect. And
for those six months, luxury goods continue to go up.

So, that`s the point. As you look at who spends money in the economy, the
very, very rich take in the money and sit on it. And the money does not go
to the people who will spend it in ways that then help other people.

O`DONNELL: And the government has had an effect on this curve in income
inequality, according to the S&P report. They say the bottom 20 percent of
households received only 36 percent of transfer payments in 2010 after
receiving 54 percent in 1979. That refers, of course, to government
payments to individuals and the change there being so much of this is now
moving through Social Security and Medicare. So much of that money, which
is not means tested.

So it isn`t targeted in a way that government funding used to help the
poor.

FRANK: There`s one other small piece, which means the price for the
greatest hypocrisy in politics. Those are the wealthy farmers.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

FRANK: Farm subsidies are not only means-tested entitled, not only means-
tested, they`re anti-means tested. The bigger farms, the richer you are,
that`s billions. It`s more of a moral buck (ph) than economic one. But
that`s exactly right.

But there have also been cutbacks. I was a great fan of Bill Clinton, but
I thought his welfare bill, which made it harder for the poor to get
assistance, was a terrible mistake and we see this now further with cuts in
food stamps.

One of the things that strikes me, I know you just talked about
immigration, when I hear some of the conservatives say we shouldn`t be
letting these children in from Guatemala and Honduras because we have to
take care of children here in America, I`m struck by the fact that`s the
only time they care about children here in America. These are the people
who won`t let the states expand Medicaid for these children. So they use
poor children in America to beat the Guatemalan kids. They have no
concerns with them.

But, yes, the -- and the other way in which things have gotten worse, and
I`m glad see the economists are now recognizing this. In `93, I was
against NAFTA. I think Bill Clinton, to his credit, changed. American
trade policy for years has helped the overall national wealth, but it`s
been redistributed in a bad way within America.

Those people who are in the high skill end of the American economy profit
from world trade. People at the lower end, people in low level
manufacturing, low-skilled manufacturing get hurt.

And -- so for years, American trade policy exacerbated that. It
exacerbated the high end returns for people who are very skillful, who
could sell their goods in world trade and hurt the people, people in the
garment and textile industries, in areas that I represented, they get hurt
by trade. We have at least stopped making things worse. Now, we have to
make them better.

O`DONNELL: And this S&P report says some of the good old-fashioned tools
of government, like progressive income taxation can be really helpful here.
When you look at that chart, Barney, of what happened to the wealth of the
top 10 percent during the 1990s under those Bill Clinton Democratic Party
tax increases that occurred in 1983, those tax increases that the
Republicans told us were going to cripple the rich just helped the economy
and helped them move into a richer position.

FRANK: Lawrence, I don`t know which gets the bigger prize for absolute
stupidity as a prediction, the notion that raising taxes on the very
wealthy was going to hurt the American economy when, in fact, the American
economy in the years immediately after that was wonderful. Or the
prediction that same-sex marriage was going to destroy the culture. They
were equally (INAUDIBLE)

But can I do one thing here? Can I take them in?

O`DONNELL: Please?

FRANK: It goes to my old friend. I would like to somebody at least on
this show to pronounce correctly the wonderful man, Eni Faleomavaega, my
former colleague from Samoa.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. You`re the only one among us who could
have done that.

FRANK: He deserves.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and these are the members who serve without real voting
rights. They`re representing these territories of ours, but they`re there
and they do an awful lot of work for their territories.

FRANK: They do. They vote in committee and they are advocates for their
people. And I would tell you, if you work with them, they are advocates
for people as much as anybody else.

O`DONNELL: And, Barney, there`s a quick thing I want to get to, before we
go, which is this issue of inversions, which the president talked about
tonight a little bit, which is the American companies deciding, you know
what? We`ve got to relocate our technical headquarters to another country
to skip taxes.

FRANK: For Barack Obama, this is a make my day moment. He said apparently
that he has some ways -- that he can use executive orders to stop companies
that have benefitted from America, that -- particularly drug companies who
get the highest drug prices in the world in America, because these American
drug companies say, oh, you have to help us do the research.

So when President Obama says he`s going to do everything he can without
Congress, if he has to, to stop them from benefiting from America and
taking their tax money and paying it elsewhere, if the Republicans want to
challenge that, that`s a "make my day" moment. In fact, I will be urging
my former Democratic colleagues, they ought to say, you know, we have a
Contract with America in 1995. We have a lot of people now trying to break
a contract to help contribute to the society as they benefit from it.

I think it ought to be -- every member of Congress ought to announce how he
or she will vote next year on bucking these inversions, and if the
Republican Party wants to protect the right of these companies, to benefit
from America and pay taxes elsewhere, let`s make that the issue in November
election.

O`DONNELL: Former Congressman Barney Frank, MSNBC`s new pronunciation
coach, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

FRANK: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama responds to Russia`s new sanctions
against the United States.

And later, First Lady Michelle Obama had an important public chat today
with former First Lady Laura Bush.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: In the spotlight tonight, Putin
retaliates. Russian president Vladimir Putin is trying to strike back at
countries that imposed sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
Putin ordered his government to impose a one-year ban on any imports of
food and agricultural products from any sanctioning country. The full list
of newly banned food also be released on Thursday and is reported to
include fruits, vegetables and meat, but not include wine. President Obama
was asked about this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Russia said today that it is going to ban
food and agricultural imports that was about $1.3 billion last year. At
the same time, defense secretary Chuck Hagel said the amassing of Russian
troops along the Ukraine border increases the likelihood of invasion. Are
sanctions not working?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t know yet when the
sanctions are working. Sanctions are working, as intended, in putting
enormous pressure and strain on the Russian economy. It has presented the
choice to president Putin as to whether he is going to try to resolve the
issues in Eastern Ukraine through diplomacy and peaceful means or
alternatively continue on the course he`s on, in which case he`s going to
be hurting his economy and own people over the long-term. And in that
sense, we are doing exactly what we should be doing, and we`re very pleased
that our European allies joined us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Steve Clemons, an MSNBC contributor, and the
Washington editor at large for "the Atlantic."

Steve, so now it is sanctions versus sanctions.

STEVE CLEMONS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes. Vladimir Putin is out there
paying a very high price for what he`s doing in Ukraine and making his
people pay for it. I mean, the idea I was watching a Robert Deniro clip on
an airplane today where, you know, Deniro was saying, you talking to me,
you talking to me? And then kind of like what Putin is doing. He is
escalating this in a bizarre way, very, very petulant. And the sadness
behind this for me anyway is that Putin`s popularity in Russia is
skyrocketing. And in the United States, Barack Obama`s marks in foreign
policy among Americans aren`t that great. So Putin is playing to a crowd
out there, but he`s really harming the public`s interest.

O`DONNELL: But now, does the Russian public understand what this means for
them?

CLEMONS: Well, you know, I don`t know. I think there`s a generational
issue going on inside Russia. I think there`s also, as there are many
places in the world, rural urban divides where, you know, Russia feels as
if it has gone through a couple of decades of humiliation and disregard by
the west. And many of those, and I don`t want to compare them to groups in
the United States, but you know, the rise of nationalism is something we`re
seeing in many parts of the world, but it`s very empowered in Russia.

But I think there are people inside Moscow, inside St. Petersburg, you
know, who see the real cost and consequences to their children, their
future, their opportunities in the world from what they`re doing. But I
think there`s a real culture clash inside that country.

O`DONNELL: There`s -- Chris Jansing asked the president another question
about this. Let`s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The troops that are massing on the
border are more highly trained and have more sophisticated weaponry
according to intelligence. Does that make you reconsider, as a few
Democrats have suggested, providing lethal aid to Ukraine given those troop
movements?

OBAMA: The Russian army is a lot bigger than the Ukrainian army. At
least, up until this point, they`ve been fighting a group of separatists
who have engaged in some terrible violence but who can`t match the
Ukrainian army. Now, if you start seeing an invasion by Russia, that`s
obviously a different set of questions. We`re not there yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve, that makes the sanctions contest seem minor compared to
what could be a military conflict.

CLEMONS: No. It certainly, you know, gets your hair to stand on edge when
you hear the president even speculate about an invasion by Russia. And of
course, that has been contemplated. Chuck Hagel talked had about saying
we`re prepared for that. What we don`t see on this side is what is
prepared for that mean, you know? What kinds of steps do you take when the
president has been so clear to say that we`re not going to take explicit
military action in this case?

I think, and we`ve been arguing that the president has been trying to
confine this and give president Putin an opportunity to compartmentalize
this from a lot of other strategic questions around the world that we have
with Russia. What Putin seems to be doing is testing our resolve and at
the same time, he has Ukraine in a vice. He can leave those troops there
for a very long time or he can, you know, have a kind of gray invasion,
which is really already happened. We`re pretending it hasn`t happened yet,
but there`s quite a lot of Russian activity inside eastern Ukraine already.
And we`re seeing similar behaviors in Moldova and other countries.

And so the bigger question is, while we and the west and Europe are looking
just at Ukraine, what are we doing elsewhere around the world with Russia`s
interests to make sure that it has -- feels some pressure from us? And
that`s what`s unclear right now.

O`DONNELL: And Steve, quickly before we go, what is this impact on the
American agriculture?

CLEMONS: Well, I was reading the "Denver Post" of all things. And you
have states around the country very quickly looking at what is the impact
only their economy. And the "Denver Post" said we`re going to lose $53
million in beef sales. And I`m sure you have this going on in counties and
in states all around the country.

So as Chris Jansing said, the overall amount is about $1.3 billion. But if
a time where the economy is just trying to move forward, Ag exports are a
huge part of the American expert business. But that`s just in sort of tit
for tat thing. What it does is it creates an inflection point where you
begin worrying about all the bridges we have in Russia, economic and people
to people and those are now all threatened.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thanks for joining us tonight.

CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush talk about men. And
Kiki Palmer is going to join us later, so tweet me your questions for Kiki.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And now for the good news, and the day that a 9-year-old boy
called the greatest day of his life even though his parents might not
agree. 9-year-old boy goes missing in New York City. That`s not a story
that always ends well. But this time 9-year-old Chris (INAUDIBLE) headed
out for day at the central park zoo with his parents and his younger
sister. Things were going well until about 4:30 when Chris wandered off.
As Chris tells the story, he then went looking for his parents. His
wanderings took him out of the central park zoo, down to busy Times Square,
almost a mile away. He says he was looking for a spot high enough where he
could hopefully see his parents.

When he didn`t see them, he headed another half mile west to New York`s
port authority terminal. That`s where police found him and discovered his
panicked parents had reported him missing to central park police. Chris
and his parents were soon reunited and Chris told a reporter this.

This was the greatest day of my life, because this was the first day I was
at a police station.

Well, yes, the first day I was brought to a police station was not really
the greatest day of my life. But that`s a story for another night. Great
work by the NYPD reuniting that family.

The rewrite is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s rewrite, Michelle Obama reframes the issue of women`s
rights around the world. Today, the first lady spoke once again about the
role men have to play in the advancement of women`s rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I want young men around
the world to understand that they have a role to play alongside of women
who are fighting for these rights and I want young men to understand that
at an early age.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Mrs. Obama is right.
In fact, one person said with me one time, why are you working with women?
It`s men that have the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush were at an event
today for the spouses of African leaders who are in town this week. Last
week, Michelle Obama had much more to say about this subject when speaking
to the young African leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. OBAMA: Generation after generation, we`ve been moving in the right
direction, because of brave individuals who were willing to risk their
jobs, their reputations, and even their lives to achieve equality. And it
wasn`t just brave women who made these sacrifices. It was also brave men,
too. Men who hired women. Men who passed laws to empower women. Men who
prosecuted other men who abused women.

So to all the men, my brothers here today, I have a simple message, a
simple message -- we need you to shake things up.

(APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: Too often women are fighting these battles alone. But men like
you, progressive men who are already ahead of the curve on women`s issues,
you all are critically important to solving this problem. And that starts
by doing a little introspection. And I say this not just to the 250 of you
who are in the room today, but to men around the world.

Men in every country need to look into their hearts and souls and ask
themselves whether they truly view and treat women as their equals. And
then when you all encounter men in your lives who answer no to that
question, then you need to take them to task.

You need to tell them that any man who uses his strength to oppress women
is a coward. And he`s holding back the progress of his family and his
country. Tell them that a truly strong, powerful man isn`t threatened by a
strong, powerful woman.

Instead, he`s challenged by her, he`s inspired by her, he`s pleased to
relate to her as an equal. And I want you to keep modeling that behavior
yourself by promoting women in your companies, passing laws to empower
women in your countries. And holding the same ambitious dreams for your
daughters as you do for your sons. And to the women here, my sisters, --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you.

M. OBAMA: And I love you. I do. I do. Which is why I want us as women
to understand that oppression is not a one-way street. See, too often,
without even realizing it, we as women internalize the oppression we face
in our societies by believing harmful messages about how we should look and
act.

Particularly as women of color, messages that tell us that we`re ugly or
irrelevant. That we don`t deserve full control over our bodies. That we
should just keep our mouths shut and just do as we`re told. And then too
often we turn around and impose those same beliefs on other women and girls
in our lives, including our own daughters.

All of us, men and women on every continent, we all need to identify these
problems in ourselves and in our communities. And then commit to solving
them. And I say this to you, not just as lawyers and activists and
business leaders, but as current and future parents, because as a mother
myself, I can tell you that this is where change truly happens. With the
behavior we model, with our actions and inactions every day, we as parents
shaped the values of the next generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yes, parents can help shape the values of the next generation.
And parents with audiences larger than just their own children, parents
with big audiences, worldwide audiences like Michelle Obama, can try to
shape the values of the next generation. And this country has a first lady
who never misses an opportunity to do that with eloquence and grace.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A Tennessee Republican congressman Stephen Fincher got some
attention when he tweeted late Monday night, God, I love this song and
beach music and shagging.

Well, yes. Who doesn`t? But that tweet was deleted Tuesday morning, not
before a few Washington watchers read the tweet and assumed Fincher was
professing his love for the other kind of shagging, the British kind of
shagging. Luckily, he included context for the link to the song, I love
beach music by the Embers which is popular by people who like shagging,
that is of course, doing the dance the shag. Which even I don`t remember.

Up next, why Cinderella is making news. Actress Kiki Palmer joins us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you like to be when you grow up, a doctor,
lawyer, a standup comic?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. The only thing I am good at is (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go over there and read the quotation that`s on the
wall. Read it aloud, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our
deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, who
am I to make brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are
you not to be?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Kiki Palmer starring opposite Laurence Fishbone when
she was 12 years old in "Aquila and the bee." At 20 years old, Kiki Palmer
became the youngest person in American television history to host a network
talk show on BET. And now she`s ready to make a bit of Broadway history,
September 9th when she replaces Carly Ray Jepson and becomes the first
black actress to play Cinderella on Broadway.

Joining me now, Kiki Palmer. Kiki, thank you very much for doing this.

KIKI PALMER, ACTRESS: My goodness. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Pretty exciting for you. You know, we put the word out on
twitter for all of your fans to get the questions in and I think I`m going
to hand it right over to them.

We have Marcus Silver asks a great question. He says what advice can you
offer to other actors who are looking to revolutionize traditional casting?

PALMER: To just be yourself and continue to shine your light. I mean, you
can`t let anything stop you and let people tell you who you are. You`ve
got to know who you are and go for your dreams.

O`DONNELL: OK. Here`s a question that interests me a lot because I`ve
worked onsets with child actors and I always worry about them. Here`s the
question.

Only 4RM says, given pitfalls that follow shield fame, to what do you
attribute your success transition to multi hyphenate? And you know, how do
you explain not going crazy like so many child stars?

PALMER: I can`t say that I haven`t gone crazy in my own ways, you know
what I mean? I think we all have our times because we`re all growing, you
know. It`s a part of life, especially, you know, n the early years. But I
think I can attribute a lot of, you know, my success and everything to my
parents and to my faith. I have a really good support system. And my
parents have always taught me to have my own relationship with God. And I
think that`s really what allowed me, you know, to just stand by what I
believe.

O`DONNELL: OK. Here`s a question from one of the twitter followers about
what is one of my favorite shows right now. It is from Pam (INAUDIBLE) and
says, how difficult was the role of often humiliated nanny in "masters of
sex," specifically the head lice scene? That`s a little spoiler alert,
because I`m behind in watching my "masters of sex" episodes. So I have not
seen this scene. But go ahead.

PALMER: Well, how difficult was it they asked?

O`DONNELL: Yes.

PALMER: You know, I can`t say that it was necessarily difficult, but it
was very -- I think it was very telling. One of the main reasons I love
being part of "masters of sex" is because it talks about everything and
every point of view that there could be. The right to do an amazing job
with that. So for me, it was more so in experience of displaying some of,
you know, history.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you`re working with masters of acting in that show, and
great writers, Michelle (INAUDIBLE, the friend of mine, created that.

Kiki Palmer, can`t wait to have you here in New York on Broadway. Thank
you very, very much for joining us.

PALMER: Thank you. Thank you so much. God bless.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Ezra Klein is in for Chris Hayes this week and that is next.

END

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