'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, August 30th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
August 30, 2014
Guest: Jelani Cobb, Kate Nocera, Mike Pesca, Margaret Carlson, Chris
Geidner, Evan Wolfson, Tim Boyum, Angela Rye, Rashad Robinson, Woody
Connette, Brian Thompson, Clarence Page, Connie Schultz, Froma Harrop
JONATHAN CAPEHART, GUEST-HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Think President
Obama is going to act soon on immigration reform? Think again.
Good morning. And Happy Labor Day weekend. Thanks for getting up with us
this morning. I`m Jonathan Capehart sitting in for Steve Kornacki. The
news certainly isn`t taking a holiday from world of terror, the threat in
the UK and questions about what that means here in the U.S., to the fallout
in Ferguson, to a new subpoena in the Christie investigation. We`re going
to tackle all of that and much, much more in our next two hours.
Beginning with word in the "New York Times" this morning that President
Obama appears to be in no rush to act on his declaration in June that if
Congress wasn`t going to act on immigration reform, he`d find a way to do
it alone by the end of the summer. But now Mr. Obama and his aides appear
to be stepping back from a firm commitment to that timing, a move that
could draw fire from immigration advocacy groups for expecting decisive
action soon. In his pre-Labor Day, oh, my God, that tan suit press
conference, President Obama hinted at a delay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think anybody
thinks that Congress is going to act in the short term, but hope springs
eternal that after the midterm elections, they may act. And it continues
to be my belief that if I can`t see Congressional action, that I need to
do at least what I can in order to make the system work better. But some
of these things do affect time lines and we`ll just going to be working
through as systematically as possible in order to get this done. But have
no doubt, in the absence of Congressional action, I`m going to do what I
can to make sure that system works better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Joining me now is Jelani Cobb, professor of history at the
University of Connecticut, and contributor to the New Yorker. Kate Nocera
of BuzzFeed. Mike Pesca, host of the Slate podcast The Gist. And my buddy
Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg View.
So let`s talk about this. I mean, if the president delays his action on
immigration reform after saying he`s going to take decisive action, how
much of a problem is this going to be?
KATE NOCERA, BUZZFEED: It`s going to be a huge problem on The Kill
especially among the Congressional Hispanic caucus. They feel like the
president has promised and promised and promised and not delivered. And so
you`ll going to hear a lot of stuff not just from the advocacy groups
outside The Hill but on the Hull as well criticizing the president.
MIKE PESCA, SLATE`S THE GIST: Although if you think about the long game,
let`s say, you know, it`s likely that they`re going to lose the Senate, the
Democrats are going to lose the Senate. But what if they lost by one seat
and what if that election came down to 4,000 votes and what if polling
shows that a big bold declaration on immigration drove 5,000 people to the
polls. So perhaps it`s smart what the president is doing, I would say
that, you know, if he delays action and doesn`t animate republicans in the
long term, he might be helping himself more than hurting himself and
helping that cost.
CAPEHART: Margaret, do you agree with that, that it`s smart?
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG VIEW: I think it is the pragmatic decision to
make. And we all know you how unfriendly the president is with senators
and members of Congress. This is a friendly thing to do to those people
running like Senator Mark Pryor in Arkansas, and Kay Hagan and others, who
first of all don`t want anything to upset the apple cart at this point.
You want the status quo. And while the, as Kate says, the Congressional
Hispanic caucus doesn`t like it, they do want a Senate majority. So they
will be I think a little bit more -- they`re going to be upset and they
will say what they need to say. But I don`t think they`re going to
engineer some kind of backlash.
JELANI COBB, HISTORIAN: And this is also kind of about President Obama`s
fundamental cautiousness, though. And I`m not sure how that plays out in
the long term. I mean, we think about this time and time again, his
presidency has been almost defined by these attempts to say, oh, perhaps
it`s a deal to be made here, perhaps if we take the cautious route here.
I`m not sure that this is the best route. I think at some point, we kind
of know what their handwriting on the wall is about immigration. How
Congress is going to deal with. And I think it should probably moving
NOCERA: Right. If anyone is going to be moved on this issue, I mean,
people that support immigration reform are probably voting for Kay Hagan
anyway. You know, they`re voting for Mark Pryor anyway. I don`t believe
that this is going to necessarily move voters, except it will make
republicans really angry if he does in the short term, but they`re going to
be angry kind of no matter what.
CARLSON: Jonathan, we`re the Rick Perry, you don`t have a heart focus over
I`m all for the dreamers. I think, you know, the public supports it. But
you don`t want to do it in September when the Senate is in the balance. I
still think there is a chance. You said, it`s gone, I think there`s still
PESCA: There`s a chance.
CARLSON: To keep the majority, yes.
PESCA: Fifty something percent chance that they lose, but there`s a small
change they won. But there`s only one race where even 10 percent of the
voters (INAUDIBLE) so once you take that off the table that you`re not
actually going to be gaining voters, pragmatic, not bold, not visionary,
CAPEHART: All right. Let`s move on to our next story. We`ll discuss now
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There is no next.
CAPEHART: There`s no next.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Let`s stick with this.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me talk about this one more time.
CAPEHART: Actually, I had another question.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`ll get a heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me take back what I just said.
CAPEHART: No, no, you can`t take back what you just said, but what I`m
going to say what I was going to say, turning now to a report that the New
York Police Department is being investigated for a second restraint related
death. Yesterday a medical examiner`s report cited, quote, "physical
restraint by police" as the cause of death of the man under arrest last
month. They ruled the death a homicide. The report also cited heart
disease exacerbated by high blood pressure and thickened arteries as well
as obesity as contributing factors in his death.
This comes days after New Yorkers marched to protest the death of Eric
Garner who died last month after a chokehold was used in his arrest.
Another death ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. There is also this
morning, the St. Louis County police officer who made headlines during the
Ferguson protest for pushing a CNN anchor live on air and was then
suspended after video emerged of him threatening to quote, "kill
everybody." Well, he`s now retired from the force. The officer Dan Page
had boasted about being a Jesus-loving killer at a 2010 meeting of the
group Oath Keepers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER DAN PAGE, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I don`t care whether
you`re Christian or not. I personally believe Jesus Christ is my lord and
savior. But I`m also a killer. I`ve killed a lot. And it if I need to,
I`ll kill a whole bunch more. If you don`t want to get killed, don`t show
up in front of me. That`s all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Holand (ph) with Chris Hayes reported Dan Page`s retirement last
night. He`s expected to receive a full pension and benefits according to
police officials. My question to the panel is, are we reaching a new
sustained level of awareness of police misconduct?
COBB: In what community? In what community? Quite simply, African-
Americans have known about this for a really long time. And it`s almost a
question of whether or not people believe. Perhaps because we have, you
know, a new kind of surveillance culture with the prevalence of camera
phones, that you can now actually have visible evidence of this. But you
think all the way back to Rodney King, the dawn of, you know, this being on
video and we saw what happened to him and there was not a conviction.
So this is almost kind of frustrating to say like, well, if we can show
this a dozen times, and people have not come to the conclusion that this is
part of our everyday reality. Not just for African-Americans, but for the
country at large. And so just very quickly about that group he was talking
to, I interacted with some of the Oath Keepers while I was there, and they
are an organization of ex-military and ex-law enforcement people who
believe ironically that the military and the law enforcement communities
are not necessarily upholding the constitutional rights of American
citizens. So it`s very kind of odd disjuncture because he`s actually
typifying at least they way they explain themselves, he`s typifying exactly
the problem that they articulate.
PESCA: Jelani, I`m going to answer the question. What community? I think
conservatives and moderates are coming around to this. I mean, I`ve been
on the website in the National Review and the Blaze, and it was funny after
Eric Garner`s death. I expected, well, he didn`t resist, and I didn`t see
that at all. I saw the sentiment of over policing. I think the idea of
this phrase over policing is now gaining a lot of -- I should say that the
New York City man who you referred to, that death predated Eric Garner as
the investigation that`s going on now. And in the absence of video, we
don`t know exactly what happened.
But I think the thing that came out of Ferguson is not just this anecdotal
or this idea, yes, maybe there`s over policing, how do you get your finger
on it, all the statistics about the disparities in the population and
representation and, you know, everyone in Ferguson has, you know, an
average of three-and-a-half warrants on them. It`s just the sort of thing
that does wake up reasonable people. And I think we are seeing some
movement on the issue and some changes in opinion.
CAPEHART: So, this actually makes me think of the whole issue in terms of
being able to see these things, that it helps with the conversation. And
one of the things that came out of Ferguson is that what if -- and also
here in New York -- what if police were wearing body cameras, where people
could actually see, have a record and go back to look. Is that the
solution or is that something just a feel good thing that actually won`t
CARLSON: Well, you know, there are a lot of cameras that we`ve learned
about that exist in police departments, but they have the capacity to turn
them on and off. We need cameras that stay on for the things you don`t
want to have recorded. And this has been so dramatic that you have
senators, republican senators like Rand Paul, really basing a lot of what
they`re saying to build a bigger tent on the arrest rate and as you say
those three-and-a-half warrants. And the over militarization of police.
And, you know, it`s too bad it takes pictures but, you know, it`s an old
song pictures worth a thousand words. It really does help for those of us
not in the community to see it, actually see it and know about it. And
those pictures out of Ferguson and the Eric Garner chokehold really help it
to, bring it home to people.
CAPEHART: Margaret, you brought up Rand Paul, Senator Paul which made me
wonder, who other -- who else besides Senator Paul in the Republican Party
of any kind of stature has said anything either about Ferguson or about
over policing or the militarization of the police since all of this
NOCERA: I think there is a small caucus in the House -- on the House side
of libertarian-minded republicans who have spoken out either on twitter or
on Facebook about what is going on. And I don`t think the issue is
necessarily going to go away when Congress comes back this session.
Obviously there is a lot of stuff going on in the world, but there is
enough of kind of a coalition of liberals between the Congressional Black
Caucus and libertarians that actually really want to look at the issue of
over policing and having Rand Paul as a voice out there, a prominent one,
certainly does a lot to keep it up front.
CAPEHART: Yes. I agree. We`re going to have to take a break. We`ll
discuss more of the stories making headlines this morning on the other side
of this break.
CAPEHART: All is quiet so far this morning in Great Britain, the morning
after the UK raised its terror threat level to severe. That means
government officials consider an attack highly likely. But they stress
that they don`t have intelligence suggesting an attack is imminent.
British Prime Minister David Cameron warned that Britain faces the, quote,
"Greatest and deepest terror threat in the country`s history because of
developments in Iraq and Syria. In other words, ISIS."
NBC News` Kelly Cobiella joins us live from London with more details.
Kelly, good morning or good afternoon where you are.
KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jonathan. Yes,
as you mentioned, there is no evidence according to security officials of
any specific or imminent attack here. But with 500 British citizens
travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and some 200 now back, the threat
they say is very real.
COBIELLA (voice-over): Britons awoke to a new fear this morning, splashed
on every headline, terror alert red. The highest since 2011. A terrorist
attack the government warned is now highly likely.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What we`re facing in Iraq now with
ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known
COBIELLA: The terror group ISIS has the world`s attention and they`re
using it posting yet another violent disturbing video, this time of
captured Kurdish soldiers. Among the ISIS fighters are hundred of British
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is the golden era of Jihad.
COBIELLA: They have given tips on how to join the fight and they have
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is James Wright Foley.
COBIELLA: James Foley`s killer spoke with a British accent.
CAMERON: It is becoming clear that there are some gaps in our armoury and
we need to strengthen them.
COBIELLA: Britain hasn`t been hit by a large scale terrorist attack since
2005, when four British Islamist bombed the London underground and a bus
killing 52. But last year, a British soldier, Lee Rigby, was slaughtered
on a London street in broad daylight by two Islamic extremist, and in
Brussels, an ISIS recruit killed four outside a Jewish center.
SHIRAZ MAHER, ICSR: The Islamic State is now beginning to posture and
directly threaten the west and western interests. Literally hundreds if
not thousands of fighters with passports that give them easy access.
COBIELLA: Passports that allow them to travel to Europe, Britain and
beyond to the U.S. where the threat level remains the same.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t anticipate at this
point that there is plan to change that level.
COBIELLA: The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that
officials are deeply concerned about the threat posed by ISIS, but they
know of no specific credible threat to the U.S. -- Jonathan.
CAPEHART: Kelly, is anything being done to stop the travel of jihadists
back to Britain or the United States?
COBIELLA: Well, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement
yesterday that they have already tightened controls at airports with direct
flights into the U.S. Airports around the world obviously. And they`re
also working with foreign countries to track these foreign fighters. But
in terms of actual passports and the freedom to travel, Britain is still
working on that, in fact, politicians are meeting this weekend trying to
hash out some sort of new laws or proposals which would remove, strip those
passports from foreign fighters and essentially keep them here in the UK.
But again, these are just proposals, ideas, nothing in law yet -- Jonathan.
CAPEHART: My thanks to Kelly Cobiella in London. Thank you for joining me
Margaret, I want to start with you. As Kelly just reported, we`ve received
no indications from the U.S. that there is increased terror threat here.
Should we be more concerned than we are, do you think?
CARLSON: Well, I took the train and didn`t fly here, so my terror alert is
red. Yes. There is just so much going on that seemed out of our control
and it doesn`t feel like the U.S. knows just who the American jihadists
are. So did you get a sense that we have control over who of our citizens
have passports that have gone to fight? I don`t think we know until then
die, then we know. So so much now seems out of our control with a
terrorist group that is so well funded, and so effective and has recruited
Americans that could sneak back in so much more easily.
NOCERA: And that it seems like we`re just sort of learning about them.
You know, the president to come out the other day and say, we`re working on
a strategy when ISIS has been developing for months and they have taken
control. I mean, it seems like we don`t even know what they`re doing
necessarily. We`re starting to figure out and authorizing surveillance,
but it doesn`t seem like --
CARLSON: There should be like an uber watch list.
PESCA: Well, I think it was a miss-speak, we don`t have a strategy. I
mean, obviously we`re dropping bombs on them.
PESCA: And it`s working to some extent in Iraq. Now, ISIS is vicious,
ISIS is potent, but it`s always said that we`re at the most dangerous place
since 9/11. We heard Cameron say a version about. The difference between
that and al Qaeda, since 9/11, they killed thousands of us on that day, is
that talking to experts, ISIS wants to win in the theater that they`re in
now, they`re an army, they are full of people who are army regulars who
uses vicious tactics. More vicious than al-Qaeda. They haven`t been
planning an attack -- from what we know, they haven`t been planning an
attack on the American homeland. That is something that al Qaeda was
doing. So even though there is a richest terrorist group that the world
has probably ever seen, it doesn`t mean that their target is the United
States in America right now.
CAPEHART: But I come back to the question of the American jihadists who
are leaving here, going there. I mean, is it hysterical in the negative
sense to be concerned that they will then come back and wage war on the
COBB: Yes. I mean, I don`t think those two things can be completely
distinguished. Because one victory in the theater that they`re in is
related to what the United States does, what Western Europe does in
response. And so I think that this is something we should be very
concerned about. I also think that we should not lose sight of the fact
that they don`t necessarily have to send people back here. We`ve seen in
the last few years radicalization via the internet that will have people
who are here already. So perhaps this is something that we can look at, 70
to a hundred, maybe 30 some odd people, but they`re not identified yet,
that is one thing. I`m actually more concerned about people who may
already be here.
CARLSON: And of course I think ISIS would love a hit in the United States.
That`s the greatest victory of all.
COBB: For propaganda purposes at least.
CAPEHART: Well, on that uplifting note, my thanks to Kate Nocera of
CAPEHART: And Mike Pesca of Slate for you joining us this morning. Still
ahead, the snarkiest courtroom arguments we`ve ever come across and why
they`re so important. That`s next.
CAPEHART: Sometimes things move with such speed and with such consistency
that stopping them appears to be impossible. It seems as if the momentum
cannot be halted. The watershed has been reached. Such is the case with
marriage equality. State after state has been recognizing the rights of
gay Americans and judge after judge overruling efforts to block same-sex
marriage. In half of America`s states right now, there are same-sex
couples who have gotten married. Some in states that already recognize
their unions, and some in states where marriage rights are still making
their way you through the courts.
Right now, the rights of same-sex couples in four states, Kentucky,
Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee hinge on the decision of just one federal
judge. And no one is sure which way he`ll decide. See, he was a Bush
nominee. But in recent year, he cast a vote upholding the Affordable Care
Act. Drama, but even cases that are easier to predict offer plenty of
excitement. Take what happened this week in Chicago on where justices on
the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from Wisconsin and
Indiana. These justices asked Indiana`s lawyer to explain why the state
was in their words, damaging. The children of same-sex couples. Asking
them to struggle to grasp while the parents of their classmates could be
married but their parents cannot.
For Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, the answers to every question
seem to come down to tradition and biology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS FISHER, INDIANA SOLICITOR GENERAL: I think the law goes as far as
it reasonably can in defining marriage according to this --
RICHARD POSNER, JUDGE: You should allow incest, right?
FISHER: We allow incest? We don`t allow incest.
POSNER: First cousin --
FISHER: I`m sorry. Yes. I think again, the assumption being that there
would be infertility at that stage.
ANN CLAIRE WILLIAMS, SEVENTH CIRCUIT JUDGE: I don`t think you`re going to
answer Judge Posher`s question. So, let me see if I can put it a little
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Later occurring oral arguments, Fisher was forced to again
defend Indiana`s idea of marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: I`m talking about production of babies here. I`m talking about,
we don`t know which couples are going to reproduce and which not. All we
know is that opposite sex couples can, you know, reproduce even if they
don`t intend to --
POSNER: But you let all the sterile people marry.
FISHER: But we don`t know who they are. We don`t know who they are and we
POSNER: You know with the cousins, right?
FISHER: We can`t inquire --
POSNER: It`s ridiculous if you don`t mind my saying, so the whole idea of
these people models, so you have some 80-year-old cousins who have gotten
married and you say that`s a model for family formation, will encourage
young people to marry?
FISHER: Well, I think that`s part of it and the other part --
POSNER: Is there evidence about that model?
FISHER: No, it`s self-evident.
POSNER: I regard it as absurd, you say it`s self-evident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Boom. Here how to discuss the fight for marriage equality in
Wisconsin and Indiana as well as other states is Chris Geidner, the legal
editor for BuzzFeed and Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom
to Marry. Thank you both for being here.
Chris, I`m going to start with you. You were in the court this week. And
I wanted to know, how did the people react to the exchanges we just
CHRIS GEIDNER, BUZZFEED LEGAL EDITOR: It was something else, Jonathan.
I`ve been attending all of these arguments across the country. And it was
an environment unlike any that we`ve seen in any of these other cases. I
mean, Judge Posner was just crushing each of the lawyers from the two
states in their attempt to defend the bans. And then even when he wasn`t
doing it, the other two judges, you have the quote from Judge Williams.
And then there was also Judge Hamilton who was hearing the case. Both of
them were sort of the nicer version of the same sort of arguments that
Judge Posner was giving.
And the audience which was largely supporters, I mean there were two
different cases that were multiple cases that had been combined in each
state. So there were a bunch of plaintiffs in the room who were watching
their case happening in front of these judges. And I think obviously going
in, they were very nervous about what was going to happen and then when we
got into it, and within the first five minutes of the argument, it became
sort of clear that the judges were going to be going that it sort of the
tone lightened and people started sort of chuckling along as these
questions got more and more brutal.
CAPEHART: Hey, Evan. This summer we reached a milestone, half of the
states and Washington, D.C. now have couples who were married there. Could
anyone have foreseen this in 2004 when anti-same-sex marriage campaigns
were winning all over the country?
EVAN WOLFSON, FOUNDER, FREEDOM TO MARRY: Yes, I think we could foresee it.
We knew all along and we had the strategy right from the get-go that we
were going to win by bringing the country to national resolution through a
case in the Supreme Court. But that the way to get there and to win was to
build a critical mass of states and a critical mass of public support.
Conversation by conversation, persuasion by persuasion, and battle by
battle. And what we`re seeing now, what we`re all feeling now, is that we
have that critical mass of states, we have that critical mass of support.
The American people, the American courts are ready to end this
And right now, we`re at that point as you said a watershed that we have
built to. And we have to keep doing what has been working in order to
drive home the message now to the United States Supreme Court that not only
is the country ready for the Freedom to Marry, but there is great urgency
for them to act, for them to take a taste or several cases, and to end this
discrimination. Because every day of denial continued to be a day of real
hardship and in dignity for couples all across the country. It`s time to
end this discrimination.
CAPEHART: Well, Chris, this question I was going to ask you next. You
know, marriages are being prevented by a court of order. In six states,
where there are marriage same sex couples. Can give us any idea of how
long people will have to wait?
GEIDNER: Well, I mean, that`s the question that is sort of -- that Evan
was hinting at, is that we now have already several petitions before the
justices of the Supreme Court asking them to take one of these cases and
this week we saw the unusual filings by plaintiffs, people who had won at
the courts of appeals saying we want you to take these cases, as well. And
the justices are going to return from their summer recess in September next
month and they`re going to have all of these cases before them.
And I think Evan`s point, the point that the states have made, the points
that the same-sex couples have made, is that this is not something that the
country is going to be OK with the justices sort of holding off for another
year or two. And I do think -- I mean, despite what Evan said, I do think
that the speed from Windsor to today is not at least what the justices were
CAPEHART: Hey, Evan, I know you wanted to get in on that question. What
is your answer?
WOLFSON: Well, no, I do agree with what Chris said and by the way, I want
to give a shout out to Chris who was just named Journalist of the Year by
the National Journalist Association, the LGBT Journalist Association. And
it`s because he`s exactly right, that the courts are saying what the
country has been saying. And the real question now to the Supreme Court
is, having put a stay, having frozen several of the decisions that we have
won in the nearly 40 decisions we have won over the past year with courts
all across the country saying there is no good reason for this
discrimination, if you the Supreme Court are holding those cases, then you
need to act because the delay is harming real families.
CAPEHART: I`m not sure if we have enough time for me to ask you this
question before we have to take the break. Well, I`m going to ask you the
question anyway. Here is a clip of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,
republican, after the courts overturning his state`s ban on same-sex
marriage last June. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I was one of the people that back in
2006 voted for the constitutional amendment supporting it then. My
position hasn`t changed, but right now it`s ultimately left up to the
courts, not a political matter, it`s ultimately in the courts, and I think
the judge recognized that while she made a ruling and I respect that, she
also issued the stay because there are several other states where this
issue is pending. And it ultimately be decided by --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So Evan, there you have a 2016 presidential contender saying
same-sex marriage is not a political matter anymore. That`s pretty bold
for a republican to say, don`t you think?
WOLFSON: Well, actually I think it`s pretty reflective of the desire to
get this over with and to not be on the wrong side of history that people
like Scott Walker are evincing. And by the way, you played that clip of
Judge Posner`s withering dismissal of the anti-gay arguments that are being
churned out again sort of as a last ditch measure by the justices, by the
attorneys for the opposition. But Judge Posner in 1997 wrote an article in
which he was reviewing a book advocating for the Freedom to Marry and what
he really said was, whether or not there is a constitutional right and
probably there is, it`s unrealistic to expect the courts to get too far
ahead of the public, it`s unrealistic to expect the courts to do the heavy
The country is not ready he said in 1997. And here he was leading the
charge now in court the other day saying, it`s time for the discrimination
to end. There is no good reason for it. So, that`s because we have
created the climate that will allow the courts and now soon we hope the
Supreme Court to do what it should have done. I mean, the constitution
hasn`t changed. The arguments haven`t changed. What has changed is the
understanding of how the denial, the Freedom to Marry really does hurt gay
people and has no good reason.
CAPEHART: Evan, Chris, stay with me. We`re going to continue this
discussion on the other side of the break including Justice Scalia. And
how he`s helped this debate move along. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: Welcome back to UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI. I`m Jonathan Capehart
sitting in for Steve. So we were talking about marriage equality. And one
of the best ironies in this story is that Justice Antonin Scalia opened the
door to same sex marriage more than a decade ago. Judges have sited
Scalia`s descent in the 2003 Lawrenceburg, Texas decision which overturned
anti-sodomy laws. At the time, Scalia wrote that, "the encouragement
appropriation was an insufficient reason to deny marriage rights since the
sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry." That` that`s similar to the
arguments we heard in the previous segment Judge Posner make in the cases
involving Indiana and Wisconsin. So, Chris, talk about the Scalia factor
in all of this.
GEIDNER: Yes. I mean, I do think that it`s something that supporters of
marriage equality and lawyers and others who now are fighting to marriage
equality do like pointing out. Because it is sort of just desserts for
Justice Scalia in their view because he has me -- he`s been in descent in
all of the three of these gay rights cases at the Supreme Court rumor.
Back 1996, Lawrence versus Texas that you mentioned in 2003, and then
obviously in last year`s Windsor decisions striking down part the Defense
of Marriage Act. And he has said, that this -- the logical end of what
you`re talking about in this majority opinions is going to lead to the end
of bans on same sex marriage, because it`s the same sorts of arguments
upholding those bans.
GEIDNER: And so it is what it is.
CAPEHART: Hey, Evan, the Associated Press has a story this morning about
the Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie saying he lost his Democratic primary
re-election because of his support for same sex marriage. He said, quote,
"Republicans crossed over en masse to vote in the Democratic primary and
then the religious factor came in." Abercrombie said. "Doctrinally, I was
outside the circle and paid for it." Evan, what do you make of this?
WOLFSON: I think the governor is hurt by his stinging loss in the primary
and he made those statements, but there is actually zero, and I mean zero,
evidence support that proposition. He lost by more than 2:1 to a
Democratic challenger who also supports the freedom to marry in a Democrat
primary where Democrats by overwhelming margins in Hawaii, like the
majority of people in Hawaii generally support the Freedom to Marry and the
polls afterwards showed that the voters did not indicate that was the
reason they rejected this sitting governor. So I understand his hurt
feelings, and I think he should be proud of his legacy in having signed the
Freedom to Marry bill. But there is absolutely no evidence to support
CAPEHART: My thanks to Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed and Evan Wolfson of
Freedom to Marry for joining us this morning.
WOLFSON: Good to be with you.
CAPEHART: Still ahead, southern hospitality for a Democratic president.
Has President Obama`s trip to North Carolina put a fellow Democrat on the
spot? We`ll explain next.
CAPEHART: A warning that we`re about to show you some truly pathetic and
in-effect all video. This right here, is not it? When President Obama
walked off Air Force One in North Carolina on Tuesday, at that point,
everything looked just great. But once he gets to the bottom of the stairs
and starts meeting with the people who showed up to welcome him in the
Charlotte, no idea at what we`re looking at. It`s the receiving line of
mystery. This guy might be military because of the hat. Just a guess.
But further down the line, no clues at all. Could be anybody. Actually,
we know it was Democratic Senator Kay Hagan. And it looks like her
exchange with the president went rather well. They shook hands, she smiled
warmly. He appears to have kissed her on the cheek and maybe even
whispered something in her ear. But if you`re Kay Hagan, do you really
prefer images like these or you can actually tell who she is or this one?
From the camera that -- full Enmity (ph), I ask these questions because
Senator Hagan is running for re-election.
Fighting for it actually. She leads State House Speaker Thom Tillis by
only four points. So right after the kiss and the handshake, Senator Hagan
attacked the Obama administration for its handling of the Veterans Affairs
scandal. Well, sort of. It happened at the same podium where the
president had just been finished an address at the annual American Legion
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: The administration has a long road
ahead to restore the faith and trust in our veterans. Please know that I
am confident of Bob McDonald`s ability and that he is up to this challenge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So she criticizes the Obama administrations, but praises the
Obama administration`s new V.A. secretary. How will Senator Hagan`s mixed
messages play in a red state that has taken on a purple issue in recent
years? A state Obama and Hagan both won in 2008. But a state that then
reverted to a complete republican takeover at the state level four years
Joining me now is Tim Boyum of Time Warner Cable News, North Carolina.
He`s been following every development on this Senate race. And Margaret
Carlson from Bloomberg View is also back with me. Tim, it would be hard to
find any Democrat to defend the V.A. and Senator Hagan`s criticism seemed
very mild. So what if anything does she gain with such measured comments?
TIM BOYUM, TIME WARNER CABLE NEWS: She might gain some with the
independent voters. A lot of these elections is going to come down to the
independent in the suburbs who are watching this very slowly. I mean, some
of the headlines said that she`s walking a tight rope. She has supported
the health care act in this country, but the president is polling at 41 or
45 percent in North Carolina, so she has to walk it very closely to that
line, to try to police both sides.
CAPEHART: And let me follow up with you, Tim. Is there a potential she
will annoy Democratic leaning swing voters and GOP leaning swing voters
BOYUM: Well, I don`t know. I mean, you know you have those independent
voters but there are also problems with bases for both candidates. So you
have people on the left-hand side that are upset that she hasn`t been
Democratic enough, she has ads out there saying that she`s the most
moderate senator out there. So both candidates are having problems, they
are trying to attract every vote they can because this is going to likely
come down to just a few percentage points.
CAPEHART: So, Margaret, I mean, should it be surprising that Senator Hagan
was on the tarmac at all to greet the president? I mean, didn`t she have a
scheduling conflict she could come up with not to be there?
CARLSON: Yes. Especially since she was speaking at the same American
Legion Convention that he was. She could have been, you know, working on
her speech. You know, Senator Byrd was there, the republican senator from
North Carolina, so I think she was for us to go there. You couldn`t have
him and not her. If I were President Obama, I would have like laid off the
huggy kissy thing. And so, it couldn`t have been a more Performa kind of
thing because Obama is deeply underwater in North Carolina.
In her speech, she was somewhat critical of his handling of the V.A. And
she`s been great on the V.A. In fact, she expanded facilities there, the
wait times are down. You know, in a state with over 700,000 veterans and
100,000 active duty, she`s so pro-military, married to a Vietnam vet, her
father and brother whatever. So she`s kind of got that. Right? It`s
going to come down to this eight percent that the libertarian is drawing.
Where is that going to go?
CAPEHART: Hey, Tim, as we mentioned at the top of the block, President
Obama and Senator Hagan both won your state in 2008, but after that, there
was a complete reversal. Republicans takeover at the state level. So my
question is, is North Carolina turning in to a purple state or do you
believe 2008 was an outlier?
BOYUM: I mean, there is no question that we`re a purple state. The
demographics of the state are changing. The United Nations study just
yesterday said that Raleigh and Charlotte are going to be two of the
fastest growing cities, large cities in this country. So, the demographics
show that the urban areas are likely become more Democratic in the future.
Republicans are trying to do everything they can between now and then when
that happens. But this is definitely a purples state, swing state.
The libertarian candidate is getting eight percent in polls, however 3.2
percent is the highest in the last 12 years that the U.S. Senate candidate
has every gotten. So she`s right, Margaret, who is going to get those
votes. Thom Tillis has some issues with the Tea Party faction of the
party. Who is going to go to the polls and who are they going to vote for
or they`re just going to stay home?
CARLSON: And the base isn`t going to come out in the way that it did for
Obama. So she doesn`t have that going to her this time which is what
pulled her across the finish line last time.
CAPEHART: And Margaret, let me ask you really quickly. I saw something --
whoever who wrote it, taking the flip view that the president going to
North Carolina and Senator Hagan being there on the tarmac to greet him
actually shows that things might be a little better in North Carolina in
that Senate race. Do you buy that?
CARLSON: Obamacare is doing a little better as it`s doing everywhere once
ObamaCare gets into effect. It doesn`t seem to be the lighting rod. I
don`t know, if I were Kay Hagan`s campaign manager, I might have just let
it rest a little.
CAPEHART: Tim, what do you think about that?
BOYUM: Well, I think it is an issue which going to be. I mean, Thom
Tillis just released an ad that said, she voted with the president 96
percent of the time of the death seven percent. I still don`t think the
campaigns know what voters care about this election. And that`s going to
really work itself out over the next six to eight weeks.
CAPEHART: Great. I want to thank Margaret Carlson from Bloomberg View and
Tim Boyum from Time Warner Cable News, North Carolina, for joining me this
morning. Thanks, folks.
CARLSON: Happy weekend.
CAPEHART: When we come back, a huge developing story out of Texas. Stay
CAPEHART: Some big news out of Texas this morning where a federal judge
ruled the new abortion law in that state set to go into effect on Monday
violates the constitutional rights of women. He blocked the restrictions
from going into effect. Only eight clinics that perform abortions would
have been able to comply with the restrictions. Right now, a 19 clinics
officer resist statewide. But the victory may only be temporary. Because
the state is expected to appeal the decision. And other decisions about
this law by this same judge had been overturned by higher court before. So
we`ll keep an eye on the developments out of Texas and we`ll be right back
with much, much more right after this.
CAPEHART: Trying to prevent another Ferguson.
Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Ezell Ford, Donte Parker, the list goes
on. A tragic list. Unarmed black men and boys killed by police just this
month. But there are other names. Like Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, and
Amadou Diallo. All unarmed, all black, all killed by the police over the
years. Investigations are still ongoing in the case of Michael Brown.
Three weeks later, we still don`t know many of the facts. We still haven`t
seen either of the two police reports that the public has demanded. But a
group of more than 100 civil rights leaders and progressive activists is
not waiting to demand concrete changes to the way police forces are run
across the country.
In an open letter to President Obama earlier this week, they wrote, quote,
"The pattern is too obvious to be a coincidence and to frequent to be a
mistake. From policing to adjudication and incarceration, it is time for
the country to counter the effects of systemic racial bias." The group has
coalesced around seven policy recommendations to help prevent the next
Ferguson. Ideas included improving racial bias, training for every level
of law enforcement, establishing independent reviews of police departments
that shoot unarmed victims, and making sure police forces are
representative of the communities they serve. And also want to police are
to the federal level to enforce these policies.
Will real change come out of Ferguson? Change that could one day help
communities feel like the police are an accountable ally?
Joining us now are three individuals who signed their name to that letter
to the president, political strategist Angela Rye, former executive
director for the Congressional Black Caucus. Jelani Cobb, professor of
history at the University of Connecticut and contributor to the New Yorker.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change. Also joining us is
Woody Connette, an attorney who argued on behalf of the plaintiff in the
1989 Supreme Court case that expanded the right to police to use force.
And Jelani, I want to start with you. Tell us about these proposals you
are supporting and what you hope will change in the wake of Ferguson.
COBB: Well, I mean, I think that we have a fundamental question of who
polices the police. It`s not a new question. It`s something that we`ve
had to grapple with for a very long time. And I think that it`s tragic,
but if we think back about this, we kind of observing the way history has
played itself out. The same month that President Obama was inaugurated,
there were three African-American men, most notably -- one in Dallas, and
another in New Orleans. Three African-American man, all of whom were
unarmed who were shot by the police.
And so I don`t think that we should kind of think of these things as
somehow another aberration. And because they`re fundamentally part of a
normal life in many communities of color, we have to say, well, there is
something like a czar on the federal level. As it is, police forces are
not required to release data about how many people they shoot. We don`t
know how common a phenomena is this, we don`t know the demographics around
this. And once again, this is kind of civil rights movement raising issues
that were constitutionally important for lots of different populations,
this not something that just African-Americans should be concerned with.
Anyone who is concerned with, kind of limitations on government power and
individual liberties should be looking at this and saying, these are things
that are important to address.
CAPEHART: Rashad, one of the proposals I particularly like is the one
calling for an independent review of police departments when cops shoot
unarmed victims. Tell us more about that and what happens now.
RASHAD ROBINSON, COLOR OF CHANGE: You know, I think that is incredibly
important. Far too often we see cover ups, you know, when this happened.
The blue shield of police departments comes into place and we don`t
actually get the information on what exactly happen. When local police
departments are essentially in charge of policing themselves and there is
no sort of higher authority, no independent authority, the community can`t
trust. Being on the ground in Ferguson and seeing the display over and
over again at the different press conferences that were being had by the
locals, you got the sense that no one could particularly trust what was
going to come out.
And this is happening around the country. And over and over and over
again, we see in each of those instances that you displayed, a sense that
justice simply will not be served or hasn`t been served. Black people,
young black people, can be shot or killed by the police. And there is no
sense that justice will ever be served. And if there`s no accountability,
then we will never get to a place where this actually real systemic change.
CAPEHART: Woody, you argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of a police
suspect in a case that was key to expanding the police`s right to use
force. Tell us a little about the case and what it`s meant over the past
WOODY CONNETTE, ATTORNEY: I had a case for a client named Dethorne Graham
whose situation was pretty typical of what happens in many encounters with
the police. He was not shot, he was not killed. He was injured when
police overreacted in what would become an investigatory stop. Those are
the thousands and thousands of cases that to me go below the radar and
they`re not getting the attention from the public that they deserve. The
one lesson I got out of Dethorne Graham case is that we can`t count on the
courts to police the police. That we need to have better training on the
front end. There needs to be better supervision of that training. There
needs to be some way of supervising and monitoring police forces in
general. And so whether that is a national police czar or a more
aggressive approach by the U.S. Department of Justice, something needs to
CAPEHART: Let me follow with you, Woody. Well, Darren Wilson, the officer
involved in the Michael Brown shooting, do you think he`ll be in-charge of
the crime and do you think current law gives police too much discretion?
CONNETTE: I don`t know whether he will be charged with a crime or not.
And I think that the current standard is not that bad. It says that a
police officer`s conduct is to be assessed based on what might have been
objectively reasonable under the circumstances. The standard is not that
that bad and in fact it`s a good one when it comes to training police
officers. The challenge though is in trying to figure out how to take that
standard and apply to a situation like these officers. So what a jury
might do is something that I would not want to speculate on right now. But
I will say that just earlier this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, a jury
did find a police officer liable for a taser death and awarded damages to
the family. An all white jury with an African-American victim.
COBB: One thing that gets lost here was that, we have this kind of idea of
African-American communities versus the police. And many of these
communities are actually saying, we want a functional relationship with the
police. And so, when people talked about this always comes up, and people
say, well, what about -- why are you focusing on this, what about, you
know, black on black crime. So, do you think that people are not aware of
this? They want a relationship with that police that is functional perhaps
precisely because we are aware of how many African-Americans die as a
result of violent crime. And so it was kind of an invasion of a
fundamental thing that we have to have some degree of accountabilities on
one happened if we will ever address the issue on the other hand.
CAPEHART: Angela, I haven`t forgotten that you`re here on the panel out
there in Seattle. Give me your thoughts.
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, there`s several. One is, I think
it`s worth noting, Senator McCaskill`s actions last week where she talked
about the importance of body cams on these officers which is yet another
policy, priority, not necessarily mentioned in the letter, but of course
more broadly as it relates to accountability. Claire McCaskill said, look,
these folks should be responsible to the point where federal funding is
tied to whether or not officers are wearing body cams and they should be
cheering the hearing on this. This in September.
The other thing that I think we need to talk about is, there needs to be a
paradigm shift here. So, yes, there needs to be a federal czar. But part
of this is changing a whole culture of not just corruption, but above the
law kind of culture sort of speak. I remember reading a book about this in
my critical -- class, I`m an undergrad. And there is this notion that
because I am in charge of enforcing the law, the law does not apply to me.
And we`ve seen it come over and over again.
Not even just it relates to black victims, I know a white father wrote a
piece last week about his son dying and him not even being able to imagine
what it would be like to be a disenfranchised black person who once again
lost their child. And we`ve seen, since Ferguson, cases in Minnesota, in
LA and all of this other places because this is not new to us and we`ve not
been asleep at the switch. But I hope that collectively whether it`s a
strategist or entrepreneurs or activist, that we cannot only just write a
letter to the president but we can continue working diligently to elect
people that not only look like us.
But think like us at it relates to these matters. So that they can stop
happening. We have to really press hard on this. We can`t point to the
next tragedy. It`s not just about black on black crime, it`s not just law
enforcement officer once again assaulting someone else in our community.
It really is about changing the culture.
ROBINSON: You know, Angela is absolutely right. And last week, you know,
we delivered Color of Change, a call to other organizations delivered
nearly a million petitions to the White House. This is a moment right now.
This is a moment that we have to seize in order to, you know, mobilize
every day people. You know, as I sort of looked at the movement from
organizations around the country, where they several rights organizations
or progressive organizations, people are asking what they can do. And this
is a moment for the federal government to step in.
Over and over again, as you, you know, displayed in the opening, we
continue to see these moments happening around the country and there are
real federal policies on the table now that the administration can move on
in these next couple of years. And it`s going to be incredibly important
that they step up and move. Because there are people behind this, there
are people ready to stand up and fight for this. And as we come into the
midterm locations, as we hope to mobilize black people and get them engaged
and believing that the country is behind them and want to support them and
the Democrats want to support them, these are the types of policy proposals
that folks will have to push for and put up-front. Because these are about
people`s lives being at stake.
CAPEHART: Well, and speaking of politics, let`s talk about a particular
Democrat. Hillary Clinton responded to the shooting in Ferguson of Michael
Brown and the aftermath for the first time on Thursday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY: Nobody wants to see our
streets look like a war zone. Not in America. We are better than that.
We can do better. We cannot ignore the inequities that persist in our
justice system. Inequities that undermine our most deeply held values of
fairness and equality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Angela, I`m coming to you on this. Are civil rights leaders
going to push Hillary Clinton to support the concrete measures you`re all
advocating for? Will you push her to back ideas like the police czar?
RYE: Well, and you know, Jonathan, I can`t take credit for this, but you
know, Joy, Karen and I were talking about whether or not she would going
speak out on this and then she spoke out. Now, it may have been a
But on a serious note, I think that we have to apply pressure to everyone
responsible, whether if it`s in Missouri, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator
Clair McCaskill, whether it`s on some other street in a local community
holding the mayor accountable. But, yes, Hillary Clinton if she`s going to
run for office, if she`s not just because of the platform she has, she has
an obligation. She picked a perfect day to say something. Of course, you
know, it was the anniversary of the MLK "I Have a Dream" speech for the
march on Washington, 51st commemoration.
And I think that it`s worth noting that, and I don`t want to politicize
this, but I think it`s worth noting, because they had an autopsy report. I
haven`t heard anything from Reince, I haven`t heard anything from the GOP -
CAPEHART: Reince Priebus.
RYE: And it`s a major issue. This is not politics as usual. These are
American lives. You don`t know what party Michael Brown belonged to. You
know, this is a really major issue. And it`s a democracy and it`s a black
eye for folks looking at us all over the world.
CAPEHART: Angela Rye, political strategist, thank you very much.
University of Connecticut, history professor Jelani Cobb, Rashad Robinson
from Color of Change. And Attorney Woody Connette, thank you all very much
for joining me this morning.
Still ahead, Burger King is having it their way with a merger and a move to
Canada. So what has Congress done to prevent more companies from
defecting? Spoiler alert, nothing. We`ll go north to the border, next.
CAPEHART: On Tuesday, we learned that Burger King is buying the Canadian
doughnut chain Tim Hortons and moving its headquarters from the U.S. of A
to Ontario, Canada. The $11 billion deal met with an uproar from Democrats
who accused the American fast food chain of moving overseas to pay lower
taxes what is known as an inversion. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown called for
a boycott and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said, he was quote,
"Disappointed in Burger King`s decision to renounce their American
citizenship. With every new corporate inversion, the tax burden increases
on the rest of us to pay what these corporations don`t."
But Burger King said, the deal was not about taxes but about growing the
company. The "New York Times" reports that moving to Canada would shave
only a couple of percentage points from the fast-food company`s tax bill.
So we can`t be sure exactly why Burger King is moving to Canada, but we do
know this, it follow as a wave of U.S. multi-national companies running for
the border, buying up foreign companies and then nominally relocating their
Bloomberg estimates that by doing this, American companies are depositing
as much as $2 trillion overseas. Out of reach of the IRS. It might seem
shady or unpatriotic, but it`s perfectly legal under the current tax code.
While there are Democrats and republicans in Congress who wants to address
the issue, surprise, nothing is getting done. A familiar story on so many
other issues. Earlier this month, Obama said he will tackle inversions on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We don`t want to see this trend grow. We don`t want companies who
have up until now been playing by the rules suddenly looking over their
shoulder and saying what some of our competitors are gaming the system and
we need to do it, too. That kind of herd mentality I think is something we
want to avoid so we want to move quickly as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Joining me now is MSNBC contributor Jared Bernstein, senior
fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and former chief
economist for Vice President Joe Biden.
Jared, thank you very much for being here. This term inversion is somewhat
new to politics. It was recently the word of the day in the White House
Instagram feed. Why not this corporate inversions start and why are they
picking up steam now?
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: They have been around for many a
decade and in fact back in 2004, when Congress kind of did stuff, they
actually did raise the bar to inversions by changing the amount of shares
that new shareholders had to hold in the newly formed company. But that
bar has turned out to be too low. And basically, your other very good
question, why now? I think that just has to do with the fact that more and
more American corporations are engaging in new ways and old ways of tax
avoidance. It`s precisely what the president just said. If the
corporation across the street is avoiding their taxes by inverting, that is
by, you know, setting up their tax mail box really in another company, then
you`re at a competitive disadvantage to them if you don`t do the same. So,
I think there is a bit of a -- out here.
CAPEHART: So, Jared, as I noted that there is some support in both parties
to end this practice. But they haven`t come to a bipartisan agreement
about how to fix the problem, where are the two parties on this?
BERNSTEIN: Well, I think that the two parties are probably in this case
somewhat less relevant than the two chambers. That is, it is actually
possible that the Senate could take action. There are --republican Senator
Orin Hatch who really don`t live inversions. The problem is, and this is
not unfamiliar, is in the House.
BERNSTEIN: It seems pretty inconceivable to me that the House is going to
get its act together to do something about this, so now you have the
president and Treasury Secretary saying, we should let Congress move first.
Because it`s much better to the new tax law through a legislation and
through a rule changes or executive orders. But if they fail, we may have
to move. And frankly, I very much hope they do.
CAPEHART: They`ll have to move. So what will the president do to limit
inversions on his own if he has to?
BERNSTEIN: OK. So, really, if it`s interesting that you were talking
about Burger King and the tax rates. The reason why these corporations
invert really has very little to do with tax rates themselves. They
already pay a much lower rate than the statutory corporate rate. There is
all these loopholes that they`re already taking advantage off. Corporate
versions afford them two new things that they can do, to cut their taxes in
America. One is called earnings stripping, the other called hop scotching.
They don`t even need to get into them. But there`s these ways in which
multinational firms avoid paying taxes. Now, what the administration, the
treasury can do is to change the way the IRS administers rules around these
tax advantages to firms that have inverted and basically not end
inversions, but reduce the financial incentive to go there.
CAPEHART: So if the president acts alone, it sounds like he could do a
fair amount to limit inversion, but how much more could get accomplished if
BERNSTEIN: Well, that is a really important and overlooked question. If
the president acts alone, I actually believe that the rule changes that I
just articulated would seriously dampen inversions. The problem is because
it`s a rule change versus legislation, when the next president comes in, if
it that is a president of another party, they can change those rules back.
Which is really a lousy way to do tax law. Legislation just has a way of
sticking much more than any of these executive order type moves.
CAPEHART: Right. Jared Bernstein, always wise. Thank you very much.
Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Thank you
for joining me.
BERNSTEIN: My pleasure.
CAPEHART: Still ahead, trying to get the deleted text between Governor
Chris Christie and a top aide. We`ll discuss this new stage of the
CAPEHART: There is a new subpoena this week in the effort to find out who
knew what and when in the Bridgegate scandal swirling around New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie has been on something of a vacation lately from the
scandal that plagued his administration earlier this year. He`s been
traveling around the country campaigning and raising money with republican
candidates for governor as chairman of the Republican Governors
And next week, he`s headed to Mexico leading a delegation of New Jersey
state officials and business leaders. But the near constant travel has not
made it possible for Governor Christie to completely escape the state and
federal investigations into his administration. Just last month, a top
aide to Governor Christie Regina Egea testified before the state`s
legislative committee investigating the lane closures that she had
exchanged text messages with the governor himself. Text messages that she
The legislature investigations took a big step forward this week when they
sent a subpoena to Egea`s carrier AT&T. The committee is looking to obtain
those deleted texts or any communications between her and Governor Christie
last December. Now, Christies maintains he knew nothing about any
nefarious behind the lane closings until e-mails and text messages between
members of his administration became public in January. So what could
these messages reveal?
For answers to this as well as other questions about the investigation,
we`re joined by Brian Thompson, veteran and New Jersey reporter for WNBC
here in New York. Brian, thanks for coming.
BRIAN THOMPSON, WNBC REPORTER: Sure.
CAPEHART: So, who is Regina Egea, and how was she involved in the scandal
before it came to the public?
THOMPSON: Do you remember Bridget Kelly?
CAPEHART: Yes, of course.
THOMPSON: Bridget Kelly was that aide who wrote that notorious e-mail,
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," before there was traffic
problems in Fort Lee.
THOMPSON: Right. So, Regina Egea was in essence her boss. Nobody has
been able on connect that Bridget did this on Regina`s authority or say so.
Nobody has ever made that claim actually. But in the subsequent days after
the traffic jams, it was Regina Egea`s responsibility to kind of, you know,
help look into this, what happened, why did her people get involved in
something like this. And so she started looking for whatever depth that
she may or may not have used in this investigation of hers and by December,
she was texting the governor certain information as she admitted in her
testimony to the Bridgegate committee that indeed she had told the
governor, she said about certain aspects of what the Port Authority was
maintaining was their, oh, let`s just say, demeanor in this whole thing.
It wasn`t really revealing what she said, what was revealing was that she
had texted the governor while he was still denying any kind of knowledge
about what was going on.
CAPEHART: Right. And December 2013 is the focus of this subpoena. Why is
that such a pivotal month to this investigation?
THOMPSON: That was the month when after we knew that there was something
rotten in Denmark that the governor was saying I still don`t know what`s
going on. As far as I know, it`s still nothing but a traffic study. I
don`t know that anybody did anything wrong and heck, I the one who moved
the cones out there he said at one news conference.
CAPEHART: Right. Jokingly.
THOMPSON: Jokingly, of course. But it`s crucial on the aspect that all of
a sudden we now know based on her testimony that Regina Egea did indeed
have some sort of text communication with the governor. Well, is it a
smoking gun or not? We don`t know. The committee thinks there is a chance
of getting, recovering those text messages. First, they have to have AT&T
honor the subpoena. Second, AT&T has to be able to produce the content of
those messages. But they`re also asking for a record of all phone calls,
So it would be interesting for example that after she had texted the
governor with this message, even if they can`t recover it, did she then
talk with the governor on the phone? That`s the kind of record that the
committee is looking for. OK. So did she talk? Did he call her? Did she
call him? How long did they talk? You won`t find the content of the
conversation, but you`re trying to put a circumstantial evidence --
CAPEHART: Right. You`ll know that they talked. Now, Governor Christie
was asked about this text messages, earlier this month. Let`s take a
listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have no recollection of her even
sending me a text, so I couldn`t tell what you it said because I don`t even
remember her sending it to me. The Gibson Dunn folks had access to
everything that I had. And so, you know, if I had it still at that time,
then they would have had access to it. And if I still didn`t have it at
that time, they wouldn`t have. I have actually no idea. I have no
recollection of it at all. Obviously it was something of no moment or no
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So Brian, why wasn`t the committee able to get these deleted
text messages from the Gibson Dunn investigation.
THOMPSON: I mean, the $7 million Gibson Dunn investigation that the
THOMPSON: -- commission? Yes.
CAPEHART: And paid for with taxpayer money. But go on.
THOMPSON: Because maybe the governor`s office only paid half a price. I
don`t know. But the problem with it is that text messages disappear after
a few days. Gibson Dunn in all frankness, they didn`t have access to AT&T,
they didn`t have subpoena power to the AT&T, to get this type of
information. So, it`s just, you know, in reality, it just wasn`t there for
them to get.
CAPEHART: So an AT&T spokeswoman told the star ledger that the company
takes its obligations to law enforcement seriously while also considering
their customer`s privacy. Do you think they`re going to comply with the
THOMPSON: That`s a really good question. Did they want to risk the wrath
of the New Jersey legislature. Let`s put it this way. If your business
model is dependent upon government cooperation, what would you do?
CAPEHART: Well, yes, you know, speaking of government cooperation, the
U.S. attorney has had no problem stopping the legislative committee when it
seemed they were going to interfere with their own investigation. But they
haven`t done that here. Is that significant?
THOMPSON: I maintain that everything that this committee does is done with
the consent, not necessarily approval, but the consent of the U.S.
attorney`s office. So there are two possibilities here. One, U.S.
attorney doesn`t believe these text messages are possible to get. Or two,
it doesn`t mind the committee doing its dirty work for them. Let`s see
what they come up with. It`s possible the U.S. attorney has not decided
that the text messages could be germane to what it is doing in its
investigation. It`s possible. So you have all sorts of possibilities, but
I still maintain that this committee does not do something as we`ve seen
with their cancelling witnesses without the U.S. attorney`s consent.
CAPEHART: And my last question, the governor said his office would comply
with the legislator`s investigation. Now, does the committee feel that the
governor and his administration has been helpful forthcoming?
THOMPSON: Not the Democrats on the committee. But you know, again, these
text messages are not something that Regina can turn over because they
disappear after a few days. Yours to do, at least in the system. But so
you have to go through the subpoena to AT&T to get that. But no, did
Democrats on this committee feel the governor`s office has been fully
forthcoming? No. Does the governor maintain that he has been fully
forthcoming? Yes. You decide.
CAPEHART: I lied. This is a really quick last question. What is the time
table? How long is this going to take?
THOMPSON: My guess, and I can only --
CAPEHART: The investigations, I mean.
THOMPSON: I can only give you a guess at this point because I have no
inside knowledge on this. But I think a lot of people are expecting the
U.S. attorney to act sometime in the month of September or October at the
latest, which suggests to me that it could be into November. I would say
but sometime this fall, you will see the U.S. attorney announce whatever
findings it`s decided to come to.
CAPEHART: Brian, you know, you aren`t done mayhem.
Brian, thank you so much for coming in.
THOMPSON: Thank you so much. Sure.
CAPEHART: Still ahead, the print version of your local newspaper may be on
life support, but is there still a future for editorials arrest opinion
pieces? As an opinion columnist in my day job, my answer is yes. We`ll
find out if that`s wishful thinking on my part, next.
CAPEHART: Welcome back. You`re probably here right now on a Saturday
morning of a holiday weekend because of two things. A, you love the news.
And B, you love opinions about the news. And as an opinion columnist, I
have to say, I`m flattered. Because it`s a changing word out there, there
are international and domestic stories that we obsess over. We not only
want to know the news, we want analysis, explanations, and, yes, we want to
know what others think about these developments too. Most of all, we want
The opinion columns of old, the ones that get printed and delivered to your
doorstep, just don`t cut it in this day and age. While the print edition
still has its place. The beauty of the web is that it lets you discard the
boundaries set by the page. We are not past the point of putting columnist
in the straitjacket of 750 words and three scheduled weekly appearances on
the Opinion Page. Most readers don`t want to wait. They get alerts that
news is happening and they`re opening new windows on their browsers,
they`re looking to their smart phones for updates and most of all they want
At the "Washington Post," my pieces are a flurry of words fortified by
hyperlinks, videos and pictures to give my readers context of a story
everybody might be talking about. And that doesn`t scratch the surface of
Facebook and twitter. This is not how it was only a few short years ago
and readers are loving it. With all the talk of news rooms in decline,
opinion drives traffic in news outlets like mine. So, I want on discuss
this. How has the opinion column changed in the age of online news? Are
we seeing the end of the opinion columns as we`ve always known it? To talk
about this, we have a panel of experts.
Clarence Page is a Pulitzer Prize winning opinion columnist for the Chicago
Tribune. Connie Schultz, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, now an
SAS for Parade Magazine. And here on set, Froma Harrop, former editorial
broad member of the Providence Journal. Now, a syndicated columnist.
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: And I want to begin by asking each of you,
how opinion writing has changed in the modern age? Clarence, you go first.
Well, you mentioned a couple of things there about length and all. But
that saying to me is the mixture of media because you can embed links in
your column or blog if you will and you can do videos. Every column I do,
I do a short video, as well that runs with it. And it`s tribune and it`s
offered to other subscribing newspapers. And so, it`s different. The
other thing, the 24/7 nature of the new age is confusing to us old geezers.
I`m used to having deadlines. The idea of setting deadlines for myself
runs against my very nature, but I`m getting used to it.
CONNIE SCHULTZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I agree. And I`m not a
nationally syndicated columnist also in addition to writing for Parade.
So, I have two different animals you`re dealing with. I am doing video for
a Parade. Here is my concern. I agree that we need to be responding and
interacting with readers. I think that changed a lot and I think that`s
for the good. What I do want to emphasize though is that nothing should
replace the sort of reflection you get when you give something a bit of
And that`s what I worry, sometimes we`re losing, we really are becoming --
that echo chamber sounds cliche, but sometimes cliches are there for a
reason. We`re not here to just keep pounding up the same reverberating
what somebody has already said or piling on what somebody said. I really
feel like my job every week as a syndicated columnist is due to a lot of
research, oftentimes a lot of reporting on my own, before I put my fingers
to the keys for the column. I interact on twitter and Facebook immediately
often but I think our readers deserve a deeper reflection when it comes to
bring an analysis to what`s happening in the news.
CAPEHART: I want to come back to that. Because I agree with you 100
FROMA HARROP, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And I too agree with you 100 percent.
I find that I package my opinions in many different ways. If something big
happens, I`ll throw something quick out on twitter and then two hours
later, write a more reflective version of my opinion, build the opinion,
change it, do reporting, bring in more material. And so we put our
opinions out in just various forms, including you know, 130 characters,
isn`t this a terrible thing that just happen and then you write your 600
words on why it`s a terrible thing that happened. And you do need some
time to put together a good opinion.
CAPEHART: Uh-mm. And you know, it appears I`m the only on this panel that
you didn`t mention from -- that you were doing video with your pieces, but
Connie and Clarence also said, you guys are doing video with your pieces.
Let`s come back to this discussion about taking time to think about pieces.
I was asked -- I was on a panel, actually I was asked on a questionnaire,
if I were king for a day as a writer, what would be the one thing that I
would decree. And the one thing I said I would decree is that every writer
should spend at least 20 minutes thinking before they actually write
something. How much time do you actually spend thinking about something
before you write something?
HARROP: Well, it depends on the subject. If it`s something really on the
top of the news, I can`t spend a huge amount of time thinking, but lot of
my columns are on developing stories. And you know, because of the
immediate social media, I think we columnists have to offer a slightly
different product than we did 20 years ago. We have to offer analysis,
some new take on something.
CAPEHART: Yes. Connie.
SCHULTZ: I think it`s really important to emphasize that one of the
crucial roles a columnist can play is closing the distance between readers
who are trying to consume all the news and those of us who are trying to
make sense of it to so that we start the conversation. And I spend most of
the day on the day I file my syndicated column, I wrote a public Facebook
page, and we get conversation there is a lot. But I do think it requires -
- I mean, the 20 minute thing, yes, I guess I would agree that even if they
spent that much time sometimes thinking about it, but I also want to
emphasize Jonathan that we still don`t have enough women weighing in with
their opinions in sanction places like newspaper, op-ed sanctions and
people of color.
And that to me is rather astonishing in 2014. Look, I hang out with a lot
of women who have a lot of opinions. I`m mindful that it`s harder for
women, many woman find it harder to summon the inclination to offer up an
op-ed to volunteer for op-ed which the op-ed project has really been trying
to encourage women to do. And I`ve been working in a minimal level
compared to someone looking op-ed project. But we`re trying to encourage a
wide swath of women writers of all ages to start thinking about not just
sharing their opinions over coffee or on their Facebook page, but actually
contributing to the larger conversation.
CAPEHART: I want to bring the conversation to the interaction that you
were talking about a moment ago Connie with social media and e-mail. How
has their interaction -- Clarence, I`m going to go with you on this, how
has your interaction which readers changed in the last several years?
Because I know it`s immediate from twitter to Facebook, to e-mail, phone
PAGE: It`s also addictive.
CAPEHART: It`s constant.
PAGE: Yes. And it`s also addictive, Jonathan. I love it too much. If
I`m not careful, I will twitter all day long. And tweet, and check my
Facebook page and all. I enjoy interaction. But it`s interesting to me, I
still get more candor I`d say from both sides through old fashioned e-mail,
we cannot call e-mail old fashioned. By that, I mean, on my Facebook page,
God bless them, my Facebook followers tend to be so nice. I mean,
complimentary to me, whereas my regular e-mail, that`s where I get the
trolls and the people who represent the real America and my view.
CAPEHART: Yes. Can we talk about that? Because the up side is you get to
hear from everyone who is reading us and listening to us.
CAPEHART: The down side is, you start hearing from really crazy mean
racist, bigoted, homophobic nasty people.
HARROP: To which I`ll add sexist. And it`s got to one reason why, there
aren`t more women out there giving their opinions. Because I know, we all
know, Connie knows from experience that the blow back you get if you`re a
woman is really unusually nasty. And also I think a lot of women, you
know, don`t have that thick skin that they need to take it.
SCHULTZ: Well, we need to grow that skin. And my attitude these days, I
mean, I`ve been doing this for quite a while now and I get of course the
odd mail, but as soon as you attack me for my personal appearance or my
gender, I win. And I think it`s really important to encourage women and
people of color to remember that if you aren`t making a difference, you
aren`t getting a response. And my editor Kate Medina at Random House
really summed up what I consider to be the model for my life several years
ago. No whining on this yacht.
What a privilege to be able to write your opinions and get immediate
response. And I will say also Jonathan, back to the more thoughtful
reflection, by far I`ve noticed when I take the time and try to relate to
readers directly or bring in a personal experience, not mine necessarily,
but somebody`s, to help frame a larger issue, by far those are the columns
that get shared more often and get more comments. So, I think we are
rewarded when we take the time.
CAPEHART: We have to take a break. We`ll pick up this conversation on the
other side of the break. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: We`re back discussing the future of op-ed columns. And I want
to read two quotes from opinions columnist from last July. The first is,
David Brooks who said, I`ve never attended a meeting at the times we can
write about anything. I`ve been at the times for over a decade. I`ve
never had a performance review. We can go anywhere we want and we are just
left alone. And second is from former Times columnist Bill Keller who said
column writing is a lonely business and the one thing that I missed about
being in a newsroom is the pleasure of sitting around a table with six or
eight really smart people who know their stuff and puzzling over a problem.
Now, in both counts, identify with this because I feel left alone sometimes
which is good. And I feel left alone sometimes, too. Is this something
any of you identify with even as we`re so connected? Clarence, I`ll start
with you and then Connie.
PAGE: Yes. I was raised as an only child, so I don`t like to be alone. I
came up back in the day when newsrooms made noise. You know, typewriter,
people are yelling copy, blah, blah, blah. It is like a tomb in the
newsrooms now. I think that collaborative process is something me and my
column writing colleagues tend to agree is really such an important part of
our job, it`s hard to duplicate. And at the same time, I can`t emphasize
enough the importance of being able to reflect on the news. I think that`s
really our job. We do report and research. But reflection, giving some
opinion that helps the reader have something to bounce their opinion off
of, that`s really the most important part of the job, I think.
SCHULTZ: I think the tendency is to become isolated. I think it`s crucial
that you not be isolated because it directly affects your work. And I
write mostly in the city of Cleveland where I live or in Washington where I
spend some of my time. And I get out every day. I talk to a loft
different people. Whenever I work on a column, I like to brain storm with
the people I respect. I also love the community we`ve built at Facebook.
You know, Twitter I think of as that`s when we talk to one another as
journalists, let me show off. And we try to compete.
Facebook is the place where we have conversations. And I am very grateful
to the Facebook community we`ve built there. Because I`ll throw out a lot
of questions and you never know where those conversations are going to take
you and you often find sources. But I do agree more now than ever -- I
mean, I don`t sit in the newsroom anymore where reporters would come over
and say, I can`t write about this but I wish you would. I do miss that
part a lot.
HARROP: Well, I think collaboration is important and it helps fill your
brain with new ideas. And for me collaboration means also talking to the
mail man, talking to people at the grocery store, talking to people who are
not in your business, finding out what they`re interested in and what
they`re worried about. I think at the end of the day, though, writing a
column is a solitary enterprise. You`re sitting there at the -- I write it
out of my home office, and if I want to see people, I take my laptop to
CAPEHART: Real fast, if you were a monarch for a day, what`s the one
thing you would decree all opinion writers do? Connie, Clarence and Froma,
SCHULTZ: Use your brain not your immediate reaction. Use your brain and
think about what you want to say.
PAGE: Absolutely. Provide that lens that`s going to help the public
understand all this information bubbling up around us every day.
HARROP: And also just stop worrying about what people are going to think.
Stop anticipating the sort of e-mail and twitter responses you`re going to
get. Just go out and say it.
CAPEHART: Clarence Page from the "Chicago Tribune," and Connie Schultz
from the Creators Syndicate, thank you both for joining me this morning.
So what do we know this morning that we didn`t know last week? Our answers
CAPEHART: I want to find out what my guests know now that they didn`t know
when the week began. I`m going to start with Brian Thompson.
THOMPSON: How hard it is on this Labor Day weekend to be a low wage earner
from the Starbucks worker out in California who had to juggle her life and
her single mom existence to work their schedules to the young woman who
died in Elizabeth, New Jersey, because there was an open gas canister in
her car because she was hopping between jobs so she was, in effect, living
in her car and she died from the gas fumes. That`s how hard.
HARROP: Well, it turns out that the most explosive charges out of the V.A.
Hospital scandal that thousands of veterans were dying because of the wait
to see a primary care doctor were not true. Surprise, the government is
not killing veterans.
CAPEHART: The thing I know now that I didn`t know before is -- and we
didn`t get to it at the roundup at the start of the show, but Michael Sam,
who was drafted by the St. Louis football team, he`ll find out today
whether or not he is going to be the first openly gay person to play
professional football. I think by this time tomorrow we`ll know whether
that`s the case, but that`s what we know.
I want to thank Brian Thompson of with WNBC in New York and Froma Harrop
from Creators Syndicate for getting up early to be with us this morning and
thank you for joining us today for UP.
Join us tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. I`ll sit down for a one-on-one
interview with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Coming up next is "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY." Stay tuned for Melissa.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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