'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, February 15th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: February 15, 2015
Guest: Marcus Mabry, Molly O`Toole, Julian Zelizer, Katon Dawson, Barbara
Lee, Dominica Davis, Peter Keldorff, Seema Iyer, Monifa Bandele, Cherrell
Brown, Julian Salazar, Marquez Claxton, Samantha Jenkins, Michael-John
Voss, Dave Zirin, Caroline Clarke
DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC GUEST ANCHOR: This morning, my question. Are we
seeing the return of the debtor`s prison?
Plus the FBI director`s very frank talk about policing and race, and the
cost of war. But first, the latest on the deadly terror attack.
Good morning. I`m Dorian Warren in for Melissa Harris-Perry. First this
morning, we want to bring you on update on the shootings yesterday in
The first shooting targeted a freedom of speech event featuring a
cartoonist who has depicted and mocked the Prophet Muhammad. One person
attending the event was killed and three police officers were injured.
The second shooting targeted a Jewish synagogue. One man providing
security was killed. Two police officers were wounded. The prime minister
of Denmark spoke earlier today outside the synagogue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: Our thoughts goes to
his family. We are with them today, but our thoughts goes to the whole of
the Jewish community today. They belong in Denmark. They are a strong
part of our community and we will do everything we can to protect the
Jewish community in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Danish police say the person suspected of carrying out these
attacks was killed after exchanging fire with authorities. Joining me now
on the phone from Copenhagen, Denmark, is Peter Keldorff, a reporter at the
Danish Broadcast Corporation. Peter, what do we know about the identity of
PETER KELDORFF, REPORTER, DANISH BROADCAST CORPORATION (via telephone):
The police have told us this afternoon that they know the name of the man
that they killed this morning and, as you said, they suspect is the
attacker from the two attacks.
And they told us that our intelligence agency knew the man in advance. He
was on their radar as our chief of intelligence told us. So our
intelligence agency knew the man in advance and they know now the name of
him, but they don`t want to reveal it to the press and to the public.
That`s what we know for now.
WARREN: And do police believe the suspect was the only person involved or
are they looking for more?
KELDORFF: They are for sure looking for more. Right now as we speak,
there has been a mass arrest at an internet cafe in the same area in the
city where the man was shot and killed last night, this morning, so for
sure they are looking for more.
But on the other hand they told at the press briefing earlier today that
they don`t think there are others working with him. They are keeping their
cards pretty close, the police, of course.
So we don`t know what`s up and down in this, but of course, they are
looking for more. As we speak, as I told you, a mass arrest is going on in
the same area where he was killed.
WARREN: Peter Keldorff in Copenhagen, thank you.
Now we turn to another international story with implications here at home.
President Obama this week asked Congress to authorize his war against the
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but the truth is the war began months ago.
Three American service members have lost their lives in missions supporting
the war. The loss of a human life is immeasurable. While there are many
ways to measure the costs of war, the most basic comes down to money and
the financial figures we can analyze are mounting.
The United States has already spent $1.5 billion in its campaign against
ISIS, according to the Pentagon. We are spending an average of
$8.4 million every day. For some perspective, the war in Afghanistan cost
the U.S. $212 million a day.
Together, the past 13 years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have
cost $1.6 trillion. This war is much cheaper. So-called smart bombs cost
$40,000 each. Every hour of flying time for a fighter jet is about
$10,000, and the U.S. has launched more than 5,000 air strikes so it`s not
pennies, but ground wars are vastly more expensive.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. spent more than $1 million per year for every
soldier on the ground. Compared to that, the operation against ISIS is a
war on the cheap. And that is perhaps why the president is so confident in
public and congressional support of this new war known as "Operation
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I`m optimistic
that it can win strong bipartisan support and that we can show our troops
and the world that Americans are united in this mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Joining me now, Marcus Mabry, editor-at-large for "The New York
Times," Katon Dawson, National Republican consultant and former South
Carolina GOP chair, Molly O`Toole, politics reporter for Defense One, and
Julian Zelizer, professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton
University and author of "The Fierce Urgency of Now, Lyndon Johnson,
Congress, and The Battle for the Great Society."
Thank you all for joining us today. Marcus, I want to start with you
because the public appears to be in favor of the president`s actions
against ISIS. Does the financial cost factor into public opinion on war?
MARCUS MABRY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It will. It does, it does.
Historically it has. In this case of course --
WARREN: Should it?
MABRY: Without a doubt the most tragic cost of any war is loss of human
life on both sides. Certainly I think Americans feel it keenly, certainly
Americans whose families serve feel it keenly. One problem fortunately or
unfortunately is that more and more American families don`t have a service
member in their family.
So I think fewer and fewer of us are attuned to those costs, but those are
the most tragic costs. Economically speaking, the American public
generally supports a war, as far as from an economic point of view, as long
as we`re in good economic times.
We happen to be lucky enough to be headed into what seems like a sustained
economic recovery, so when it comes to this war I don`t think there`s going
to be a problem.
The other fact is because we don`t have boots on the ground and right now
there`s no political will to have boots on the ground, it`s a lot easier
for the American people to stomach the war.
WARREN: On this point I want to bring up the poll data. For war
authorization, 54 percent say yes, 32 percent say no. This is an NBC
News/Marist poll, but in terms of ground troops, 26 percent support large
number of troops on the ground, 40 percent support limited number of
troops, only about a quarter supports no troops on the ground so it`s
interesting that there is support for sending actual people.
MABRY: I think if you actually have boots on the ground, I think those
numbers would get much worse quickly. The idea is one thing, but doing it
WARREN: Molly, I want to ask you, does cost factor in for members of
Congress and how will it in any way factor into Congressional hearings on
authorization for the use of military force?
MOLLY O`TOOLE, DEFENSE ONE: I don`t think that`s what we see or what we
hear. We see a lot of the kind of chest-thumping sort of rhetoric, but
really the members of Congress are the ones who have to make these
considerations about costs. They are the ones in charge of appropriations,
WARREN: Power of the purse.
O`TOOLE: Exactly. As we`ve seen with the Islamic State fight and the
global war on terror for the past 13 years, the only real power for
oversight that Congress has, I mean the war against the Islamic State has
been going on for six months without Congress weighing in is that power of
Now, politically they are loathe to be seen as not giving the military what
they need in order to be successful. So while they are the ones that are
in charge of getting these bills passed that would grant funds to the
Department of Defense, what you see publicly is not going to become these
back door discussions about costs. They`re very in tune to what the public
WARREN: Julian, tell us how past presidents have dealt with the cost of
JULIAN ZELIZER, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Until World War II they
tried to deal with them so they would sell savings bonds where they would
raise taxes and dealt explicitly with the moneys as did Congress. Recently
we don`t do that.
We fund it through deficit spending and borrow. So people don`t feel the
effects and Congress has a little leeway, but eventually the costs are
known not through taxes, but the deficit rises, other programs start to
feel it and that`s where legislators are unhappy.
So right now, it all seems easy. The question is what happens if this
expands and accelerates and what`s the trade-off that will be necessary.
WARREN: Katon, how if at all does cost factor into what stance the 2016
presidential candidates will take?
KATON DAWSON, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOP CHAIR: It will have nothing to do
with this. You`re already watching the Republican candidates wanting to
increase defense spending. You`re never going to lose on defense,
especially in a state like South Carolina. Move to Iowa and Nevada.
I think one of the things to see in the polling that I do is these
beheadings and murders have changed the public opinion, especially of the
young lady. And I make note that they didn`t show that one. And that --
that`s been one of the most unifying thing I see at the diner between
Republicans and Democrats is they now understand who this enemy is.
They don`t understand the scope of it, but they understand we`re going to
have to lead. For once this is an unusual president to be asking for these
powers. Some of my guys tell me he`s not asking for enough, because the
public talks about it now.
You know, Marcus, when it gets down to people talking about it at the
restaurants and the fear and you feel the fear, the money will come second,
politics will come first.
WARREN: Marcus, I want to come back to you because you started with this.
We hear the president and other congressional leaders saying over and over
no ground troops, that this is not going to be a ground war in any way.
Should we believe them?
MABRY: Sure, right now. For now you can believe them. The reality is we
don`t know what`s going to happen going forward. This is going to be a
very long struggle, an intractable struggle. Many people argue you can
look back to the struggle for Iraq and before Iraq and say this is all part
of the same struggle.
On left and right, Democrats and Republicans, there`s an interesting debate
happening over that issue. About but the fact is look at Copenhagen over
the weekend. This is truly a global struggle and a global war. How you
carry it out and what means remains to be seen. But I find it hard to
believe that somewhere in the world you won`t need ground troops.
WARREN: More on the war and the cost of war when we come back, but before
we go to break we want to provide an update on winter storm, Neptune, as it
barrels down on New England bringing heavy snow and blizzard conditions.
This is what Boston looks like this morning. Crews are trying to dig out,
while the area could see another foot of snow before the day is done.
Hundreds of flights out of Logan Airport have been cancelled this morning
and people are being urged to stay off the roads.
This storm is a triple threat, snow, high winds and bitter windchills, all
in an area still struggling to recover from earlier snowstorms. NBC
meteorologist, Dominica Davis, is here with the latest on the blizzard`s
timeline. Dominica, is today the worst of it for New England?
DOMINICA DAVIS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: It absolutely is going to be. It`s not
so much the snow, although they have had plenty of that. The snow is
winding down, but the blizzard warning will stay in effect and that`s
because the winds and cold will be the extreme conditions today.
Here`s a look the at our blizzard warnings. They go up and down the coast
going from Massachusetts all the way up to Maine and that will go right
through the overnight. And that is because with winds gusting as high as
what could be 60, 70 miles per hour, blowing and drifting snow will be --
will be the case throughout the day, which means visibility could be down
to zero, making for blizzard conditions.
So here`s a look at Doppler radar. Good news because we`re seeing the snow
machine wind down. That is great. Parts of Boston have picked up 19
inches with this new storm that has come in since Saturday, still looking
at heavy snow bands through south eastern Massachusetts.
Other than that really the snow is leaving. It`s the cold and the winds,
though, that will be picking up. Here`s where we`re looking at extreme
winds. Right along the coast where we have blizzard warnings, 60 to 70
miles per hour through the afternoon and tonight, 50 miles per hour from
New York further south.
So the whole northeast is in on these strong winds. So everybody from
Maine all the way down to D.C., you will see some very gusty winds for
today, windchills 31 in Boston. It`s 43 -- I should say wind gusts, 43
miles per hour in Philadelphia.
And look at these windchills, this is dangerous cold. We will see some of
the coldest air of the season tonight and tomorrow morning. Could be the
coldest air we`ve had in a decade.
WARREN: NBC meteorologist, Dominica Davis, thank you.
Stay right there, we`re going to talk to the only member of Congress to
vote no on the 2001 authorization of military force, Representative Barbara
Lee and her peace bill, after the break.
WARREN: President Obama says he doesn`t even really need Congress to sign
off on his military campaign against ISIS. According to the White House,
the president has all the legal authority he needs, thanks to a vote
Congress took more than 13 years ago.
On September 18th, 2001, Congress authorized the president to, quote, "use
all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or
persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist
attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001, or harbored such
organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of
international terrorism against the United States by such nations,
organizations or persons."
The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of military force. In fact, only one
member of Congress voted against it. She joins us right now.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, joins us live from
Berkeley. Good morning, Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning.
WARREN: Thirteen years ago you said you were afraid that our use of force
might spiral out of control. I want to ask you, is that what you see now
happening with the president`s campaign against ISIS?
LEE: It`s unfortunate that the resolution I voted against really does
allow for a state of perpetual war. I think this is critically important,
without any president coming back to Congress. That 2001 resolution served
as the basis for the 2002 resolution, which was the resolution to authorize
the use of force against Iraq.
And here we are again now engaged in military action without repealing
actually that first resolution. And so I`m worried, frankly, that the 2001
policy is going to stay in place until we repeal it and that it will set
the stage for the continuation of military operations throughout the world
really without congressional input, debate or authorities.
WARREN: Let me just follow up and clarify here. You don`t think it`s
enough that the president wants to repeal the 2002 authorization for the
use of force, which we know was a justification for the 2003 Iraq war, you
want him to also -- you want Congress to also repeal the 2001 authorization
of the use of force as well?
LEE: Absolutely. I`ve had legislation to do that for many, many years now
because if you have a policy in place that allows for endless war and that
allows the authorization to go to war any time, any place, anywhere, then
you`re really defeating your purpose coming to Congress with a resolution
that has not actually included repealing that first one.
We need to fast forward to today and the war that we`re engaged in at this
moment and not use any legal basis as the 2001 resolution for the
continuation of that war. We need to debate a clean authorization.
We need it to be debated with regard to repealing the 2001 so that we can
actually bring forward now the American people`s views on going to war in
this day and time.
WARREN: So speaking of debate, Congresswoman Lee, President Obama said
this about the upcoming debate in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: In the days and weeks ahead, we`ll continue to work
closely with leaders of Congress on both sides of the aisle. I believe
this resolution can grow even stronger with the thoughtful and dignified
debate that this moment demands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So, Congresswoman, how do members of Congress have that dignified
debate? And what questions do you think must be asked?
LEE: Sure. I`m really proud and pleased that the president has brought
forth this resolution. I hope the speaker will allow us to bring it forth
to debate and discuss on the floor. Of course, we`re six months into this
war and in many ways this resolution, you know, moves us forward because we
are engaged in military action.
But I believe that we need to look at all of the options. I have a
resolution, HJ Res-30, which does not take military action off the table
nor forecloses military action, but it lays out a comprehensive approach so
that we can really deal with the underlying causes and really dismantle and
Many have said, many military experts, even the president has said there`s
no military solution only to this very horrible and horrific terrorist
organization in terms of dismantling them. And so we need to look at a
We need to make sure that we address all of the revenue streams, the oil
revenue streams that funds ISIL, we need to look at the flow of foreign
fighters into Iraq and Syria. We need to look at the underlying sectarian
and ethnic tensions.
And so there are many, many issues that have to be addressed to ensure our
only national security and help move forward in the Middle East where we
can really disable and dismantle this very terrible organization. So we
need to have a debate, but we need to debate all of the options, not only
the military options.
WARREN: Thank you. Thank you very much to Congresswoman Barbara Lee in
Still to come, new poll results just released this morning reveal much
about the class of 2016 and three very key states.
WARREN: President Obama was not shy this week about putting the war
against ISIS directly in the 2016 spotlight. Here he is explaining why his
authorization for the use of force would expire in three years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the
next president`s term. It`s conceivable that the mission is completed
earlier, it`s conceivable that after deliberation, debate and evaluation
that there are additional tasks to be carried out in this area. And the
people`s representatives with a new president should be able to have that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: OK, Marcus, I saw your eyebrow raised there. How would this
affect the 2016 race?
MABRY: I couldn`t help but be affected by the president saying it`s
conceivable this will be completed in the short time. No. It`s not
conceivable to anybody. This is a long struggle. The next president will
definitely have to deal with it.
As Katon was saying earlier, the Republican field is all on one side of the
issue. In the primaries, it will be interesting to see is there a race to
see who can be toughest on this issue.
WARREN: I want to bring in Senator Ted Cruz`s statement about this and get
you to respond, Katon, because he wants to make it more specifically about
Islam. Let me read what he said this week.
"Congress should strengthen the AUMF by making sure the president is
committed to clear objectives and a specific plan to accomplish these
goals. That should begin by clearly defining the enemy as radical Islamic
We will not be able to win the war against radical Islamic terrorism as
long as our commander in chief refuses to recognize who it is that we are
fighting." Is he right?
DAWSON: Ted Cruz is the spokesman for Ted Cruz. That being said in
itself, you know, to a point he is, it`s good politics for him right now.
It`s red meat stuff. It`s what the president is probably trying to do.
Nobody is fooling themselves who this enemy is anymore. I don`t think we
have to guess who they are, we see it every night.
So at the end of the day -- reasonable I guess in three years with a
reasonable person. But this is going to be pontificated the entire time
along with defense spending.
ZELIZER: I think all the candidates need to be careful, though. While the
drums of war will sound appealing in campaign rhetoric and some of it
rational, some of it from fear, two things. Iraq still looms large and I
think the public maybe in the polls --
WARREN: The polls right now.
ZELIZER: I don`t think there`s a huge appetite for a big war right now.
And that`s important. And, you know, the second issue is there`s a lot of
divisions in both parties that are right beneath the surface within the
GOP, among the Democrats with war reauthorization.
Any candidate who makes the wrong step dealing with this can bring those
rights out and find themselves in a minefield. The economy is still big.
Certainly the Democrats are not going to want to shift to war time footing
and forget middle class issues are what a lot of Democrats are asking for.
WARREN: Let`s hear from one other potential GOP candidate about war, going
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I would say that there is a pretty
simple authorization he could ask for and it would read one sentence. And
that is we authorize the president to defeat and destroy ISIL, period. And
that`s, I think, what we need to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So --
DAWSON: Pretty smart.
WARREN: Is that all we need to do?
DAWSON: Fairly smart. Certainly Congress is a little deeper than that. I
go back to what he said. I remember in 2008 looking at Bush`s poll numbers
and looking how war weary the Republican voter was. You know, and that was
-- even when we had John McCain, a war hero, but that was -- and you`re
right. We`ve got a long time between now and then. This is a political
football but there`s a double side to it.
MABRY: What Rubio says is certainly smarter than what Cruz said. A war
against ISIL, ISIL may have multiple addresses, but it`s not good
addresses. A war against radical Islam, what`s the address for that, it`s
WARREN: Let me get Molly in. Boys, boys, boys, let me get Molly in here
because the president says he already has authorization and this can be
confusing for some people. He has authorization, but he`s asking Congress
for authorization. Why is he doing this and what does it gain him
O`TOOLE: I`m pretty skeptical of his argument that he put forth last week
and what they have said that they`re relying on the -- his powers as
commander-in-chief, they`re relying on the 2001 and 2002 AUMF so they don`t
need Congress` support, but they`d like Congress` support because they`d
like to show a united front.
I think to some extent there is a legitimacy issue here. Obama himself
said he wanted to refine and repeal the 2001 AUFM. He wanted to repeal the
2002 AUMF, and then they shift their position saying they`re relying on it.
So Obama is a constitutional law scholar. He basically won office against
Hillary Clinton because he could force her to own her vote for the 2002
AUMF so I think there`s a legitimacy issue, but I think it`s more political
A lot of Republican critics but a lot of members of Congress can sit back
and say we don`t know what the president`s strategy is. Now, if he forces
them to own, to share some of the burden politically of the fight by
forcing them to take a vote publicly, I think that that gives him some
support as well, in particular if it doesn`t go as planned.
WARREN: Still to come, new polling on presidential hopefuls. Up next,
when the hits just keep coming, retracting the latest in a series of
snowstorms pounding the region of the U.S. still struggling to dig out.
WARREN: Snow, on top of snow on top of snow. That`s what folks in parts
of New England are dealing with this morning as a new winter storm moves
through. The area has already been hit with nearly three weeks` worth of
record-crushing snowfall and much of it is still on the ground due to a
prolonged cold snap.
Add to that a sharp drop in temperatures and dangerously low windchills.
Joining me from Boston is MSNBC`s Adam Reese. Adam, in what way has this
latest snow event just compounded the misery? We`re having some technical
problems. Adam, can you hear me?
ADAM REESE, MSNBC: I`m not hearing you.
WARREN: Adam is not hearing us. He`s in the snowmobile.
REESE: I can`t hear.
WARREN: Adam, tell us -- tell us what`s happening in Boston, if you can.
REESE: I don`t hear. I`m not hearing you.
WARREN: Adam, can you hear us yet? I think the cold freeze is chilling
the microphone for Adam. We`re going to come back to him later, but up
next, $100,000 a plate fundraisers, just how deep do the pockets run among
the class of 2016?
WARREN: Despite all the posturing and guessing about the potential GOP
presidential candidates, the field is wide open. You don`t have to take
our word for it, though. In a new NBC News/Marist poll, in three states
there are three different frontrunners.
In Iowa, if the state`s caucus were held today, former Arkansas Governor
Mike Huckabee would edge out former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker.
According to the poll, if the New Hampshire primary were held today, Jeb
Bush would come out on top ahead of Walker and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
And in South Carolina, native son Senator Lindsey Graham tops that crowded
field, yes, before even any formal declarations.
The GOP presidential race is shaping up to be a close one. Seven different
Republicans get double-digit support in at least one of the states. In the
race for campaign funds, one potential candidate is pulling way, way ahead.
According to "The Washington Post" Jeb Bush is far outpacing his would be
rivals and his two political committees are on pace to amass tens of
millions of dollars by earl spring.
According to "The Post," the former Florida governor`s overwhelming
dominance in the race has come at a speed that has impressed long-time
Republican money players who say wealthy party backers have rapidly
migrated to Bush since Mitt Romney decided against another White House run
two weeks ago.
When we say wealthy, we mean really, really wealthy, like 1 percent
wealthy. At a New York fundraiser last week, about 25 supporters paid a
minimum of $100,000 each. It is one of six events for the similar price
tag being hosted by Bush`s political action committees.
But as the campaign donations pour in, will voters also follow the money?
Back at the table to talk cash and the campaign trail, Marcus Mabry,
editor-at-large for "The New York Times," Katon Dawson, National Republican
consultant, Molly O`Toole, politics reporter for the "Defense One," and
Julian Zelizer, professor at Princeton University.
Katon, I`ve got to come to you first, of course. At this stage of the
game, tell us how important it is to be winning the money race and not the
DAWSON: It`s always important to win the money race, ask Barack Obama.
It`s always important to have cash on hand and the ability, but the numbers
are what they are today, 18 percent is 18 percent. Mind you 36 percent
probably wins you a lot of primaries because most of these primaries aren`t
convoluted runoff elections.
It`s the guy who gets the most votes out of 14 ends up winning probably the
most delegates, certainly in South Carolina and going back to the other
states. So my point is it`s early in the race, it`s like NASCAR, they`re
swapping paint but never discredit the bush financial expert.
WARREN: But the Bush`s money making machine scare off Mitt Romney and is
it going to scare off others?
DAWSON: I`m not sure it`s going to scare off, there`s going to be about
five people that can afford to run for president, as far as the Republican
side, five. The rest will have a good time in the debate and there will be
Everybody catches lightning in a bottle in the Republican primary for a
while. When you catch it, you catch it on the outside, the front side and
the back side from everybody else. Ambassadorships are out there, it`s a
given, he did a great job. Mitt Romney is gone, he took care of that. So
WARREN: Marcus, Jeb Bush sounded like a populist recently in Detroit where
he said the recovery has been happening everywhere but in the family
paycheck. How does he reconcile $100,000 for a plate for a dinner with
connecting with middle class and working class families?
MABRY: Well, I think we in the media are terribly unfair to politicians.
I rarely say this.
WARREN: Isn`t that our job?
MABRY: We are unfair to politicians. It was so much to have dinner, how
can he have that much a person? It costs so much to run for office in
America. Whether you`re running for dog catcher is expensive. Running for
president is ridiculous.
We`re going to have a billion dollar race again. It`s disgusting if you
want to have a democracy that you can buy an office this much. That`s
shameful. But that`s not Jeb Bush`s fault. That`s all our fault, that`s
society`s fault, so that`s a problem.
We cannot call the guy out for that. What I`m interested in and the
earlier question, I don`t think Mitt Romney was scared off by anybody`s
money. I don`t think Mitt Romney is scared of money. He can buy the
election himself with his own money without emptying his bank account.
So that`s not the issue. What Jeb Bush is trying to do is scare off
everybody else with the money. Mitt Romney was scared by the fact that he
would have been humiliated again probably and the Republican faithful were
saying that so that was an issue.
Mrs. Romney certainly didn`t want to run. The issue for Jeb is to scare
off everybody else exempt for the four other people who will have the money
to be competitive in this race.
ZELIZER: Everyone takes money at this point. Both parties take it and you
can be wealthy personally and be progressive. Franklin Roosevelt was very
wealthy and he`s the most progressive president. The question is what are
the Republican policies? Where are they taking the money from, and some
would argue they are not sympathetic to policies that will help working
WARREN: Let me ask you on this in terms of policy. Jeb just released his
reformed conservative vision and it sounds a bit familiar. Remember
compassionate conservatism that his brother trotted out as his philosophy.
What do we know about reform conservatism?
ZELIZER: A lot of Republicans are actually bringing that up. It worked
for George W. Bush. It actually was important in the 2000 campaign and I
don`t think Democrats should take it too lightly. A lot of people feel
Democrats have not done a good job dealing with some of these core economic
I do believe Republicans in the elections can make a play. There is a
disconnect with where Republican policies are, with tax cuts and with
economic assistance and where these poverty arguments have been coming
O`TOOLE: Right. I do think that the compassionate conservatism, this sort
of reformed conservatism, however you want to give that name to it. I do
think it could be compelling.
Obviously the Republicans have suffered in the last few elections from a
policy standpoint, also in terms of social issues, in terms of the
diversity and how they can appeal to the minority groups of voters who are
only going to play a larger and larger role.
That`s going to be even bigger in 2016 than it was in 2012, than it was in
2008. I do think what Bush represents in terms of this reformed
conservatism. He also has more moderate stances when it comes to things
And that`s going to be really key to winning over some of those voters that
have been lost to the Republican Party for the past several elections.
MABRY: You`re talking about the general election campaign. Before you get
to run for president, you`ve got to win that primary. I`m not sure those
voters will be as enthusiastic about this populist kind of notion of the
middle class being left behind as they would be about other economic
messages so I`ll be interested to know about that.
WARREN: Let me ask all of you. Is it a good or bad thing that there is no
front runner in the GOP field? It seems like an open field. But I`m also
curious who you think will be the first to flame out.
DAWSON: Go ask all the frontrunners from the last two how it felt to be
frontrunner. Hillary Clinton. Ask how they felt --
MABRY: She`s not running yet.
WARREN: By the way, she`s at the top of the polls in Iowa, New Hampshire
and South Carolina.
ZELIZER: I actually think it`s a good thing for the party. I think the
party uses these primaries sometimes to have a more vibrant and robust
debate about what they should be and put more ideas on it. But we do have
to remember that fundamentals matter.
Back to Jeb Bush raising a lot of money, in the long term I think that`s
still a big story. Once you hit the actual season, if you don`t have the
kind of money to compete, he`s going to wipe people away. And so I do
think the debate is good, but we have to keep our eye on that fundraising.
DAWSON: You`re right on it because the calendars are very different. Both
moved the conventions up the calendar. It`s about a 28 to 35-day race.
Whoever has money t to jump on Super Tuesday first, most of them won`t
after they get through South Carolina.
WARREN: I want to point out that Governor Bush`s mom, Barbara Bush, has
changed her mind. She wouldn`t mind another Bush in the White House.
All right, coming up, the political punch lines 40 years in the making, but
first, here`s a look at what happened when "Saturday Night Live" cast
member, Keenan Thompson met the real rev.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming right up, we`re going to be talking about
something, just stay tuned for it. Coming back from a commercial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keenan Thomas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keenan Thompson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reverend Sharpton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: The news that Jon Stewart is retiring soon as host of Comedy
Central`s "The Daily Show" shook up many fans of smart funny hilarious
Another show was proving that politics is indeed a laughing matter.
Tonight "Saturday Night Live" will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a
big three and a half hour primetime special on NBC.
Some of its most celebrated cast members will be there, including Chevy
Chase, Tina Fey, Dana Carvey and many others who gave us some of the most
enduring political impersonations. Here are some of our favorites from
over the years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I don`t win, I will continue to run in the
primaries, even if there are none, and now for my second announcement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, Mr. Hussein, the venom of the American cobra
spits far and true. Not spitting yet, wouldn`t be prudent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your name, sweetheart?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her name is Shakira.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shakira, that means African princess, doesn`t it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why, yes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, she certainly is beautiful enough to be a
princess. Say, are you going to finish these fries?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m the president of the United States and I need a
straight answer. Am I going to get the spy plane back?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of
any foreign policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I can see Russia from my house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, America, I know you`re not in love with me anymore,
but I want you to know that my heart still beats for you and I can prove
it. I`m so in love with you that was fun, right? So do you want that or
WARREN: All right, so Julian, tell us how has political humor affected
politicians over time?
ZELIZER: Well, there`s been the humor that politicians themselves deliver,
some like Ronald Reagan have used it very effectively to cut opponents like
Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale, one joke in a debate often just puts them
But then you`ve had shows like "Saturday Night Live" which have been
effective. Gerald Ford, his portrayal by Chevy Chase as a Klutz, even
though he was a football player and an athlete had an impact on how we
thought about it.
Many others, the George W. Bush one was very devastating in terms of how
people perceived his intelligence.
WARREN: And it reminds me of the Al Gore impersonations of 2000, the
ZELIZER: And those bled into the campaign as did the Sarah Palin. That`s
a new, amazing phenomenon where they`re almost indistinguishable who we`re
talking about, Tina Fey or Sarah Palin.
WARREN: Katon, you advise lots of politicians. What advice would you give
to someone who finds him or herself the butt of the late night comedy
circuit, the butt of jokes?
DAWSON: You`re in a real bad place, man. And politicians nowadays
understand there`s a 24-hour news cycle. There`s stuff that catches
everything they say. That`s where they all get caught. That`s who flames
out first. They make the mistakes, they get comfortable.
Jokes work, especially self-depreciating jokes work and they really work on
the stump. But when you become the narrative of a show like "Saturday
Night Live" with the tremendous audience it has and the ability to run
clips and clips again, it`s not a real good day for the guys who work for
MABRY: Sarah Palin more than anybody, she`s got to -- she felt it more
than anyone. I was watching an HBO documentary of her game change on that
book and how much Sarah Palin -- the real Sarah Palin and Tina Fey melded
together is really clear in that documentary so-called.
Because I can`t imagine Sarah Palin thinks it is. But Tina Fey was kind of
the most endearing part of Sarah Palin during that campaign, which is kind
WARREN: So Molly, do politicians worry about their comedy critics as much
as their news critics?
O`TOOLE: I definitely think that they do. We`re sad that Jon Stewart is
going off the air, but for a while that`s where a lot of Americans were
getting their news. So I think they are more attuned.
I think it will play into 2016 even more than it has in the past in era of
social media, I think people are very, very attuned to that. I think they
have to learn to laugh at themselves.
We want to think of politicians as being very smart people with all the
ideas, but also very down to earth people that we can relate to so I think
you have to laugh.
WARREN: I think we recently saw President Obama having fun in a Buzzfeed
video encouraging people to sign up for the ACA. How important is it for a
president to have a sense of humor?
ZELIZER: I think it`s very effective. It`s a good way to go after another
candidate without appearing nasty and mean. Reagan was under attack in the
1980s for being too old and he had this famous too old for Walter Mondale.
He said I won`t use my opponent`s age against him, his inexperience and
youth. That was a very effective line. He did the same with Jimmy Carter
back in 1980. Carter gives this long speech about health care and Reagan
just goes there you go again and he killed it.
So I think you can use humor well, but it can also help you with the
problem that you`re talking about. In an age of soft news, humor is the
news and you need to respond.
WARREN: Let me follow up with you, Julian, specifically as our
presidential historian. Who do you think were our most naturally funny
presidents and why?
ZELIZER: Lyndon Johnson was very funny on the phone. He tells stories, he
tells jokes. He can crack you up. I do think Reagan publicly and George
W. Bush actually could be pretty funny when they wanted to respond to some
of their critics.
And then some were unintentionally funny. Gerald Ford became in
quintessential case, someone who didn`t mean to be funny as Al Gore was,
but was just fodder for the humorist.
WARREN: Is there no going back to -- it`s 40 years since "Saturday Night
Live." Is there no going back? We`re in an era that this is just the
business of politics, of having to respond to impersonations and comedy
DAWSON: The air has changed. Everybody has the world in their pocket now
and we all have the list now to get there. It`s changed. It`s not as much
fun as it used to be. You know, those things mattered, but when you get
with politicians and all the mics are off, they`re all pretty funny.
They wouldn`t be there if they didn`t have the charisma level, but it is a
dangerous part of a campaign. It`s the danger place to be to try to go --
especially a politician who really isn`t funny and tries to be. It is just
a real kill.
MABRY: And it didn`t work with Palin.
WARREN: Well, we can talk about this for the next hour. Thank you to
Marcus Mabry, Katon Dawson and Molly O`Toole. Julian will be back in the
next hour. Be sure to watch the "Saturday Night Live" special tonight on
NBC starting at 8:00/7:00 Central.
Coming up next, frank talk from the FBI director on race and policing and
the big controversy shaking up Little League Baseball. More nerdland at
the top of the hour.
WARREN: Welcome back. I`m Dorian Warren in for Melissa Harris-Perry.
Right now we want to bring you the very latest on the shootings yesterday
in Copenhagen that are being described by Danish authorities as a terror
attack. The first shooting targeted an event featuring cartoonist who has
caricature the Prophet Muhammad. One person attending the event was killed
and three police officers injured. The second targeted a Jewish synagogue.
One man providing security for -- was killed. Two police officers were
wounded. Danish police now say the person suspected of carrying out these
attacks was killed in a shootout with authorities.
Joining me now on the phone from Copenhagen, Denmark is Peter Keldorff, a
reporter at the Danish Broadcast Corporation. Peter, who exactly was this
PETER KELDORFF, REPORTER, DANISH BROADCAST CORPORATION (on the phone): We
don`t know for sure yet. The police are not telling much. What we know is
that our -- the Danish Intelligence Agency and the police have told that
they knew this man in advance. They are not saying anything specific about
him. They don`t want to reveal his name, they told us we know his ID but
at this point in the investigation we do not want to tell his name. They
are carrying out several operations within the city of Copenhagen right now
towards an internet cafe. Several reports about many arrests right now and
also earlier today in the area where the first attack happened yesterday,
there was also a big police operation earlier today. And the police are
just not generally talking that much about it, especially who this guy
WARREN: This seems very similar to the attacks in Paris on "Charlie Hebdo"
and then the kosher supermarket. Is there any evidence of a connection?
KELDORFF: At this point there`s no hard evidence, but the police and the
agency -- intelligence agency has said that this looks like the same style
of attack as in Paris. It`s the same pattern. And also politicians,
Danish politicians and as I said the police and the agency -- intelligence
agency has said this looks and could be an attack that had the same pattern
as the thing that happened in France. First you attack a cartoonist who
has drawn the Prophet Muhammad and then afterwards you go towards a Jewish
-- in this case it was a synagogue and Jewish temple.
WARREN: And what can you tell us about the context in Denmark in which
these shootings happened? Was this something the Danish people expected to
KELDORFF: Expected is a hard word. I would go more with fear. But yes,
you`re right, the Danish population has been feared, has been expected that
this might happen. Denmark has had issues with drawings of Muhammad. It
was originally ten years ago the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten that
first made the first drawings of the Prophet Muhammad and after that had
several threats towards the newspaper. Danish embassies burned down ten,
eight, nine, ten years ago, so yes, this has been within the knowing of the
population that it was more or less bound to happen at some point, people
are feeling here.
WARREN: Peter Keldorff in Copenhagen, thank you.
Now we turn to a key issue here at home, policing and race. This week the
impassioned pleas of the racial justice movement that has demanded
recognition and response to the problems of policing of communities in
color were joined by an unexpected new voice, the director of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. On Thursday, FBI Director James B. Comey
delivered a speech at Georgetown University on race and law enforcement
that was remarkable as much for its candor as its unconventionality. Comey
speech marked the first time the director of the FBI has spoken so openly
and directly about race and the police and it was a moment that carried
with it the weight of the bureau`s own fraught history with race, a fact
that Comey acknowledged in his address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: There is a reason that I require all new agents
and analysts to study the FBI`s interaction with Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. And to visit his memorial in Washington as part of their training.
And there is a reason I keep on my desk a copy of Attorney General Robert
Kennedy`s approval of J. Edgar Hoover`s request to wiretap Dr. King. It is
a single page. The entire application is five sentences long. It is
without fact or substance. And is predicated on the naked assertion that
there is, quote, "communist influence in the racial situation." The reason
I do those things is to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we
learn from them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Among those lessons were a series of heart truths Comey said he
had to face including the ways people can be misinformed by deeply and
grained beliefs and how apparently we can all learn a little something
about that from singing puppets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: Much research points to the widespread existence of unconscious
bias. Many people in our white majority culture have unconscious racial
biases and react differently to a white face than a black face. In fact we
all, white and black, carry various biases around with us. I am reminded
of the song from the Broadway hit Avenue Q "Everyone`s a Little Bit
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Comey went on to describe how that bias can form the basis of
racial profiling by the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: The two young black men on one side of the street looked like so
many others that officer has locked up. Two white men on the other side of
the street, even in the same clothes, do not. The officer does not make
the same association about the two white guys. Whether that officer is
white or black. And that drives different behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: He called on law enforcement to not only recognize how their
biases inform their behavior but to employ empathy as a way to change it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: Those of us in law enforcement must redouble our efforts to resist
bias and prejudice. We must better understand the people we serve and
protect by trying to know deep in our gut what it feels like to be a law-
abiding young black man walking down the street and encountering law
enforcement. We must understand how that young man may see us. We must
resist the lazy shortcuts of cynicism and approach him with respect and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Comey concluded with a policy proposal that he said would be a
first step in understanding the scope of police bias in communities of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: How can we address concerns about use of force? How can we address
concerns about officer-involved shootings if we do not have a reliable
grasp on the demographic and the circumstances of those incidents? We
simply must improve the way we collect and analyze data to see the true
nature of what`s happening in our communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Director Comey`s call for more data would address the FBI`s
challenges in gathering a comprehensive accounting of police shootings
from local law enforcement, but numbers don`t stop bullets. And this week
communities of color that have never stopped keeping count of the lives
that have been lost or threatened by police violence have continued to add
more numbers to their tally. Thirty five-year-old Antonio Zambrano Montes,
shot and killed Tuesday by police in Washington after he allegedly threw
rocks at them. Fifteen-year-old Jamar Nicholson shot in the back by a Los
Angeles police officer while he was standing next to a friend who was
holding a toy gun. Fifty seven-year-old Sureshbhai Patel who had traveled
from India to visit his son in Alabama and he was left partially paralyzed
when a police officer slammed him to the ground.
A response to a 911 call in which the caller identified Patel as, quote, "a
skinny black guy" who he had never seen before walking in the neighborhood.
So, while Director Comey speech brought an end to the silence from FBI
leadership on race and policing, it`s clear that the effort needed to
effect meaningful change has only just begun.
Joining me now is Seema Iyer, host of The Docket on Shift by MSNBC and a
criminal and civil rights Attorney Monifa Bandele -- excuse me Monifa,
Communities for Police Reform. Cherrell Brown, community organizer for
Justice League NYC and Julian Salazar, a professor of History and Public
Affairs at Princeton University.
And joining me from Columbia, South Carolina, is Marquez Claxton, director
of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and a retired NYPD detective. And I
want to start with you, Seema. Because other than the fact that it`s
important that the FBI director said these things, Comey really didn`t
bring anything new to the discussion. We`ve heard critiques from Attorney
General Eric Holder, we`ve heard this same critics from New York Mayor Bill
de Blasio, so what`s the significance of any this speech?
SEEMA IYER, HOST, "THE DOCKET" ON SHIFT MSNBC: For me not much. There is
a judge in New York Supreme Court and he says people should not get credit
for doing their jobs. And part of his job is recognize his community, the
people he serves and the reality. You shouldn`t give him so much credit.
And just because you make a speech doesn`t change what`s actually happening
in those communities. That needs to be implemented.
WARREN: Okay. So speaking of implemented and solutions, I want to play
sound of one of the solutions Comey proposed in his speech and get you to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: Let me be transparent about my affection for cops. When you dial
911, whether you are white or black, the cops come. And they come quickly.
And they come quickly, whether they are white or black. That`s what cops
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So that was -- we were really looking for sound of my brother`s
keeper. And so, he says in his speech and I want to get you to respond to
this Cherrell. The truth is, what really needs fixing is something only a
few like President Obama are willing to speak about perhaps because it`s so
daunting task, through the my brother`s keeper initiative, the President is
addressing the disproportionate challenges faced by young men of color.
Does this make sense in a speech about the tensions between law enforcement
and the communities they serve?
CHERRELL BROWN, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER, JUSTICE LEAGUE NYC: Well, I believe
personally that my brother`s keeper is a myopican scope. You`re taking all
of these resources in Obama`s key program around race and applying it to
half the community. Black and brown girls are also called extraditionary
including transwomen. So I think that it doesn`t reach far enough. And
I`m afraid that we`re going to get really excited about embracing this
respectability politics. You can come from a good home, you can have a
good job, and be educated and still be racially profiled by the police. We
saw this with Henry Louis Gates a few years ago.
WARREN: So, Marquez, I want to come to you. Because Comey concluded with
the need for more data. And I want to ask you, is the policy solution he
proposed proportionate to the scope of the problems laid out? And frankly,
what if any influence that the FBI have in changing policing policies and
MARQUEZ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: The FBI has significant
influence and sway on local policing issues and efforts. And I think
Director Comey`s comments were substantive and as yet to seen whether
they`ll be significant and as far as implementing some measures to really
proactively engage and shift into focus of policing in the country. Let`s
be clear about something. Many activists, many individuals around the
country have been screaming for criminal justice reform. What Director
Comey did and before him Attorney General Eric Holder and even President
Obama did was laid out a platform for not just reform, but actual criminal
justice reconstruction, which goes much further then. And I think if there
is a clear -- clear evidence that there is a need for not just reform but
reconstruction based on the comments by Comey and the realities faced by so
many people across the nation.
WARREN: So we earlier played video of a 911 call. Not video of the call
but of Comey saying, hey, when people call 911 the cops come. But if you -
- and that`s good if you live in a high crime neighborhood. We`re happy to
see police. But as we`ve seen with the case of Mr. Patel in Alabama, a 911
call does not end well for people of color. What should we make of that
statement from the FBI director?
MONIFA BANDELE, COMMUNITIES UNITED FOR POLICE REFORM: Well, I`m glad you
pointed that out because just last week I was sending time with the family
of Kenneth Chamberlin who was a retired military person whose 911 was
called when his alert went off, medical alert went off and he ended up
being shot and killed by the police up in Westchester, New York. And this
is just one story and the stories go on and on and on. And the thing that
I was listening to when I heard the FBI director`s speech, some of it was
what he was talking about but one thing missing to me, which is what is
going to be the policy around accountability and justice? We can keep
doing a lot of training and we can get data to analyze the problem and we
can even put in place policies that will kind of shift things moving
forward, but right now Akai Gurley, his family got indictment but it`s not
going to bring him back, will they get justice? Will they get
accountability? And I think that`s the fifth if you talked about four hard
questions to discuss. I think the fifth hard piece is, how are we going to
hold police officers accountable?
BANDELE: He talked about there is no more of an epidemic of racial bias in
police officers than there are with academics and artists. Well, none of
my college professors carried firearms, so I think this is a critical
imperative piece here that accountability and justice also be put in place.
WARREN: So, Marquez, I want to get you back in here quickly. The FBI has
had a hard time attracting black agents and has actually seen a decline
from 5.6 percent in 1997 to 4.7 percent in 2012 in terms of African-
American special agents and the director himself said it`s difficult luring
potential candidates away from the private sector to work for government.
Thoughts on those numbers.
CLAXTON: Listen, there are agencies across the nation who claim to have
the same difficulty attracting minority or black employees, and in fact
what we have to examine is whether there is an actual will to attract those
employees, those black into law enforcement. But let`s be clear about
something. It is not necessarily change the dynamic that we`re facing here
throughout the nation, it`s not the complexion of the force but the climate
within the force, the rules, the regulations, you know, the culture that is
within the particular agency. So merely changing the complexion will not
have significant impact if the rules or the application of the rules remain
the same. So we should place less emphasis, although I support increasing
representation and diversifying whatever law enforcement we`re talking
about, we have to be honest about it and say until we change the climate,
until we once again reconstruct the criminal justice system, we`ll face the
same issues and the same problems with different complected people.
WARREN: Thank you to Marquez Claxton in Columbia, South Carolina.
Up next, more details are beginning to emerge about the officer indicted in
the shooting death of Akai Gurley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN THOMPSON, BROOKLYN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: After the shot was fired, they
could hear people running away. And then this delay for four minutes. And
then when they went down the stairs and saw him laying there, the evidence
will show that they did not render medical assistance to Mr. Gurley. As
they were trained to do in the police academy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: That was Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson on the evidence
he presented to a grand jury that on Wednesday, he handed up a six-count
indictment against an Officer Peter Liang for the shooting death of 28-
year-old Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project last
November. And Seema, I want to come to you first because we`ve seen the
recent decisions from juries not to indict in the shootings of Eric Garner
and Michael Brown, the reluctance of these grand juries to indict police
officers. What was different in this case?
IYER: He didn`t testify. I think that was a very compelling factor. And
full disclosure, I actually represent Akai Gurley`s brother, completely
unrelated matter. But I think because he didn`t testify, there was no
alternative explanation. I understand his attorney`s decision not to. His
hand was on the gun. His finger pulled the trigger. And since the 1990s
they have changed the guns` pressure so you need more pressure to pull the
trigger and all of these factors contributed to him not testifying. I
think if he testified he may not have been indicted for manslaughter but
still indicted for the criminally negligent homicide.
WARREN: Cherrell, I want to ask you, given the lack of indictments in the
previous shooting cases, does this moment feel like justice in any way?
BROWN: It doesn`t, because we know that indictments don`t equate to
justice. We saw this with Amadou Diallo, we saw this with Sean Bell, we
saw this with Ramarley Graham (ph). Unfortunately the bar is set so low
and convictions seem so far-fetched that indictments feel like some sort of
justice. We know that that`s not the case. Out of nearly 180 NYPD-related
shootings, I think four of those came to an indictment, one conviction and
no served time. So if history is to believe, I don`t think that justice
will be served in this case either.
WARREN: Monifa, I want to play more sound from D.A. Thompson. Let`s take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: The police commissioner said that it`s discretionary for an
officer to pull out his gun while do on a vertical patrol based on the
circumstances. But what the evidence showed in this case is that this
police officer put his finger on the trigger of his gun and fired that gun
into a darkened stairwell when there was no threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Darkened stairwells in the housing projects that have led to other
unarmed teenagers as well as police officers being killed during these
vertical patrols, as they called them. I`m wondering here in addition to
policing practices, does this case also point to a need to revisit public
housing policies around safety and lighting, basic as use of lighting in
BANDELE: Yes, all those issues need to be addressed but still at the end
of the day when the police officer is patrolling this housing project, it
is to protect and serve all of the residents of that project. How can you
possibly protect the residents of a building if you`re walking up and down
in the staircase with your hand on the trigger? You actually have every
man, woman, child, grandparent in danger in that housing project. So, you
know, it really calls to question what -- you know, what the ultimate goal
is of the way that the housing projects are being policed. And I think
that the other piece, you know, I wanted to go back to the indictment
briefly, is that Ken Thompson wanted an indictment. And I think that when
we look back at the transcript from the grand jury proceedings in Ferguson,
in St. Louis County, it`s clear that the prosecutor may or may not have
wanted an indictment.
BANDELE: You know, as many of us who have sat and served on grand juries,
indictments are not something that are far and few between, only when
you`re talking about police officers. So Ken Thompson wanted an indictment
and I think that`s why we got it.
WARREN: Seema, I saw you chomping at the bit. I want to get Julian --
IYER: Well, I was just agreeing with everything she`s saying but I also do
want to point out, I do go to east New York a lot and I have been to the
pink houses and it is so unbelievably dangerous and scary, one of the worst
areas. It is almost barren and it is so -- it`s like a war zone. And I
think that`s a great point that you brought up the lighting, because I go
to different projects where there are lit stairwells at night during the
day so I think that`s a great point.
WARREN: So, I want to -- this is important. So Salt, which is a South
Asian advocacy group has issued a list of demand sue the police in response
to the police violence in Alabama against Mr. Patel and among them disclose
current training procedures that respect to communicating and interacting
with limited English proficient and immigrant members of the community.
Implement trainings for all police officers to more effectively respond to
immigrants and LEP individuals. Cherrell, very quickly, what do we think
about how police communicate with the communities they serve?
BROWN: I think that`s what`s really interesting about this case in Alabama
is that still at the heart of it is anti-blackness. Right? The call was
made to the officer because the person described Mr. Patel as a skinny
black man. And then the officer came under the premise that this was a
black man that he was apprehending. Of course not being able to
communicate played a role in that. I think that`s really important that we
think about how we train police to interact with communities that they
can`t communicate with effectively. Really quickly on the patrol issue,
vertical patrolling, it`s akin to broken windows policing. Right? And I
think that if the city is worried about the crime or violence that may
occur due to subpar conditions, then maybe we should address those
conditions rather than criminalizing and surveillance -- the people that
live in these conditions. Right?
WARREN: Julian, I wanted to get you in but we`ve got to go, unfortunately.
Seema is sticking around. Thank you to Monifa Bandele, Cherrell Brown and
Julian Salazar. Before we take a break, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg weighed in on the issue of race during a one-on-one interview with
an MSNBC Reporter Irin Carmon. Here is some of their conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC REPORTER: I`m wondering how you see the current state
of race relations in our country.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: People who think you can wave
a magic wand and the legacy of the past will be over are blind.
CARMON: Should we be worried that all of those great achievements of the
civil rights movement are being rolled back?
GINSBURG: Some day we will go back to having the kind of legislature that
we should, where members, whatever party they belong to, want to make the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: You can see more of Irin`s interview with Supreme Court Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the "Rachel Maddow Show" tomorrow at 9:00 p.m.
Up next, blizzard conditions bearing down on Boston.
And still to come, they were outlawed before the civil war but new lawsuits
alleged modern day debtors prisons are here in the U.S.
WARREN: New England might have grown accustomed to record snow this winter
but this weekend`s storm could be more dangerous than the previous three
storms. Areas like Boston could see less snow but the winds are worse and
the temperatures are extremely low. Residents are bracing for whiteout
conditions and potential power outages.
Joining me now from Boston, Massachusetts -- joining is MSNBC`s Adam Reiss.
Adam, have you seen many people outside braving the elements?
ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Very few, Dorian, other than us. Really
a few people shoveling, a few people want to take it all in. It is
beautiful. But other than that, really not a lot of people. Good morning
from a snowy Boston, Dorian. The winter storm just ended about an hour
ago. The blizzard-like conditions. Twelve inches of snow here in the
city. Take a look outside. I want you to look at this street. We`re in
the Back Bay, and 12 inches on top of these cars, 18 inches up north from
here and it`s really -- we`ve had thunders now early this morning. Actual
lightning during the snowstorm. It`s like a ghost town here in the Back
Bay. The National Guard has come out helping people shovel out. Three
thousand pieces from the D.O.T., I`m going to ask Kevin to stop here for a
minute. I`m going to get out. I just want to show you this street.
This is Marlboro Street. We`re here in the Back Bay, and just to give you
a sense Dorian of what this is like, these are not just snow mounds, these
are actual cars that are covered here. So, again, like I told you, we had
maybe 80 inches from three weeks of snowstorms. Now on top of it 12
inches. These cars are basically bury and who knows how long it will take
to get all these cars out. Now, the governor said that he wants people to
stay at home, stay safe and stay warm and stay out of this. It is
beautiful but the roads are very slippery and it`s best if you stay home
until all this shoveling can be done, the plows come through and clear this
out -- Dorian.
WARREN: Thank you, Adam. I`m glad we can hear you this time. And thanks
for that action and showing us all about the snow in Boston.
Next, jailed for weeks for failure to pay minor fines. The new lawsuits
against two cities in Missouri accused of profiting off of poverty.
WARREN: Debtors prisons, you might think they`re a relative of the past
after all the United States outlawed them nearly 200 years ago. But two
new lawsuits filed in Missouri last Sunday claim that jails in the towns of
Jennings and Ferguson are essentially modern-day debtors` prisons holding
citizens who can`t afford to pay their traffic tickets or fines for other
minor violations. When Ferguson erupted in racial unrest following the
shooting death of Michael Brown, protesters pointed to the court system as
one cause of their anger. And in reading about this new lawsuit, it`s not
difficult to see why. Samantha Jenkins, who is the lead plaintiff in this
suit against Jennings said she was put on a payment plan when she could not
afford to pay her traffic tickets.
But when she missed one of those payments, she was promptly put in jail.
Her lawsuit says Jenkins along with others in the suit were held
indefinitely and not provided with attorneys. It goes on to say that
police and jail officials arbitrarily changed the amount of fines owed. To
make matters worse, the conditions of the jails themselves were allegedly
awful. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III denied the charges saying in part
we believe this lawsuit is disturbing because it contains allegations that
are not based on objective facts. There has been no response from the city
Samantha Jenkins joins me from St. Louis, Missouri, along with her lawyer,
Michael-John Voss of ArchCity Defenders. Good morning to you both.
MICHAEL-JOHN VOSS, ARCHCITY DEFENDERS: Good morning, Dorian.
SAMANTHA JENKINS, LEAD PLAINTIFF SUING JENNINGS: Good morning.
WARREN: Mr. Voss, can you give us a bit more detail on what your clients
are alleging happened to them and how did traffic tickets lead to jail
VOSS: Yes. So our organization, ArchCity Defenders, is a nonprofit law
firm in St. Louis. We`re working with equal justice under law in the St.
Louis University law clinics in the suit. What we`re alleging basically is
that these municipalities are incarcerating individuals because of their
inability to pay off debt owed to the city from these unpaid traffic
tickets and outstanding fines. And our suit is alleging -- it`s something
that`s occurring throughout the nation actually, whether in Montgomery,
Alabama, or in Georgia or in Washington State that there is a practice and
pattern of incarcerating poor people and predominantly people in
communities of color because of outstanding debt that they owe to those
municipalities. And that`s what we`re alleging in our suit. Go ahead.
WARREN: And clearly, this disproportionately affects those who can least
afford it, NPR says it creates a cycle of poverty.
VOSS: That`s correct.
WARREN: So among other things -- it`s partly a cycle of poverty, but it`s
also about the description in this suit of the conditions in the jails.
Among other things the cells were overcrowded, prisoners didn`t receive
regular showers or even tooth brushes. And they were forced to live and
sleep in filthy conditions. And Miss Jenkins, I want to ask you, what was
the jail like when you were there?
JENKINS: Jennings jail was very horrible to me. It was overcrowded. They
have -- the women`s cell has eight -- it bed eight womens, but a lot of
times, like the last time I was there at Jennings, it holds eight women but
we had like 15 or 16. So, therefore, they had like seven to eight women on
the floor with their mats. They run out of spots on the floor to lay their
mats. We have two tables in the women`s cell that we eat our breakfast,
lunch and dinner on and the women at night have to put their mat on top of
the tables that they eat on, they sleep on and we get up in the morning and
have to eat at the same table. In the middle of the night while you`re
trying to go to the restroom, you have to step over eight, nine bodies to
make it to the restroom. We wasn`t allowed toothbrush and toothpaste.
The last time I stayed in Jennings, I stayed there approximately over two
weeks and I never had a toothbrush or toothpaste to brush my teeth with.
We was allowed to take showers, but the showers was very disgusting. You
have paint peelings all on the floor. We have no shower curtain. At the
time that we take showers, the men COs was allowed to come back while we
were taking showers. The only cover-up was the sheet to our bed. We was
only able to have one blanket, thin blanket and it`s freezing cold in
Jennings. If we asked the COs for an extra blanket, we wasn`t allowed. If
we got an extra blanket from a prisoner that was leaving, they would take
it away from us.
WARREN: Mr. Voss, I want to ask you especially about the fact that cities
like Ferguson are making a lot of money from this practice. Our city
defenders reports that Ferguson collected $2.6 million in court fines and
fees last year, making it the city`s second biggest source of income. Tell
us quickly why this is so problematic.
VOSS: Well, it`s about a distrust between the community and its
government. If we go back to the events of August 9th and the kind of
questions as to why there was so much outrage about the shooting death of
Michael Brown, what you have in place is a pattern and practice where low
income individuals and the residents in the community of color there were
being basically harassed with low-level traffic violations by the police
and then they were being incarcerated because of their inability to pay.
And that pattern and practice has gone on upwards of 40 to 50 years. And
therefore, the community itself had such a distrust from the city, when the
city was telling them just to be calm and wait, we`re going to do an
There was definitely that trust that you would expect to be there had been
eroded, and so therefore you have this huge dynamic that has manifested
through looking just at the numbers like you said. The $2.6 million that
it brace through its court filing cost, the second largest source of income
for that municipality. You have also the fact that Ferguson has a
population of 21,000 people but has 33,000 outstanding arrest warrants.
That`s 3.6 arrest warrants outstanding for household in the city of
Ferguson. Jennings has 2.1 outstanding arrest warrants for people in the
city of Jennings. So what you have is a disparity there, a very clear
disparity that`s impacting predominantly minorities and people of color.
For example the fact that --
WARREN: Mr. Voss, unfortunately we`re out of time but I want to thank you
and Samantha Jenkins very much for joining us from St. Louis, Missouri,
this morning. And here in New York, thank you to Seema Iyer. Don`t Miss
Seema`s show "THE DOCKET" on Shift by MSNBC live on Tuesdays at 11:00 a.m.
Eastern and also don`t miss nerding out on Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
Up next, the controversy surrounding the little league team stripped of its
national title. Why there may be more to the story.
WARREN: Last summer I was filled with hometown pride when Chicago-based
little league team Jackie Robinson West became the first all African-
American team to win the national championship. Baseball has struggled to
attract African-American players and fans, so the JRW team gained national
attention. Praise for their sportsmanship, they were even invited to the
White House by President Obama. But now the story has taken a very
disappointing turn. Following an investigation, Little League
International has stripped the players of Jackie Robinson west of their
title and all their wins. The reason, coaches allegedly falsified boundary
maps and recruited players outside their district. It may seem a
straightforward if depressing story, another case of the adults ruining it
for the kids. But according to my next guest, there`s much more to the
Dave Zirin, sports editor from The Nation Magazine joins me now from
Washington. And Dave, what can you tell me about how gentrification
factors in here?
DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION MAGAZINE: Well, gentrification is
the reality for our cities around the country. And baseball does not go
well with gentrification because before gentrification you have
disinvestment. And that`s been the story of the south side of Chicago.
You have dilapidated fields, you have parents on the team who are subject
to eviction, subject to displacement, and even one of the kids on the team
dealt with homelessness. So the idea of talking about boundaries when
you`re talking about an urban team, I mean, is almost like a grotesque joke
compared to the typical teams in Little League International which come
from suburban backgrounds. Now, what defines the suburbs? Land, baseball
diamonds, space, infrastructure, boys and girls clubs, places so kids can
actually learn baseball. The reason why baseball is dying in urban areas
is precisely because of disinvestment and gentrification. That`s what made
Jackie Robinson West such a remarkable story, and they`re paying for the
fact that the boundaries of urban baseball are just, frankly, more fungible
than suburban baseball. This whole thing is a catastrophe to me.
WARREN: So, Dave, let me ask you this. So talk to us about what you think
would lead to coaches recruiting outside their district and specifically is
this something that`s widespread in little league sports?
ZIRIN: Well, it`s so interesting. First, let`s start with that last one.
The people who basically, quote-unquote, "turned Jackie Robinson West in
was from nearby Evergreen Park," which is a suburban district.
WARREN: Majority white, if I`m not mistaken.
ZIRIN: Yes. Yes. Very white and actually it`s very disturbing because in
Evergreen Park, that`s a place where if you live on the south side of
Chicago, it`s known as a center of racial profiling, harassment by police,
et cetera. Evergreen Park play Jackie Robinson West, guess what the final
score was. It was something like 42 to three. So Evergreen Park, which
has, by the way, also been accused of recruiting out of boundary
ironically, people have come forward in the last week and said that they`re
the ones who were caught being down drivers` licenses of cars and they
reported it to Little League International. A little leaguer international
should have figured this out before this even started, before the words
even started, not waited six months to then take it away from these kids.
Remember, these are children that we`re talking about. And once again, I
have to say this.
The idea of this team being investigated so thoroughly by Little League
International when teams go through this whole process and never get
investigated with the same kind of scrutiny, I mean it smacks of a double
standard and it smacks of Little League International frankly wanting to
have their cake and eat it too, which means that they will celebrate and
even monetize the fact that you have this historic all-black team winning
the Little League World Series, but then they`ll also give them that extra
dollop of scrutiny that other teams are not subject to.
WARREN: Dave, you mentioned the kids and the players. I want to ask you,
how have the players reacted to having their title taken away?
ZIRIN: Actually I was on the radio this morning with the mother of one of
the children, and she spoke about it at length. I mean there`s a lot of
support in the community saying you guys are still the champions, but you
also have a lot of crying kids. You have a lot -- and everyone -- it`s so
disgusting as you hear all these people saying on social media, whatever,
let these kids learn the lesson that cheaters don`t prosper. They`re
actually learning a very different lesson. They`re learning we can be the
best on the field but it`s actually an unleveled playing field because we
can succeed, but guess what, the team from Nevada that we beat actually now
they`re the new champions. And I read this report that the team from
Nevada, they heard that they were granted the title and a lot of the kids
and parents were celebrating like, yay, we`re the real champs. What kind
of lesson does that teach? What kind of lesson that that teach that if you
lose to an all-black team from the south side of Chicago, don`t worry
because big Little League International will step in and make it all right
for you six months later.
WARREN: Thank you very much to Dave Zirin in Washington, D.C.
Up next, imagine digging into your family history to learn you`re related
to music royalty. One woman`s incredible discovery, after the break!
WARREN: On this day, exactly 50 years ago we lost a musical great, singer
Nat King Cole. Cole made a splash in the music world with hits like nature
boy and "Unforgettable" and made history by being the first African-
American entertainer to host a variety TV show, "The Nat King Cole Show" on
NBC. The jazz musician`s iconic voice has transcended generations and
touched millions, including a woman named Caroline Clarke who annoyingly
had a special connection to Cole. Clark was adopted as a new born baby.
She didn`t seek information about her birth parents until she started a
family of her own and want a more information about her family`s medical
history. She discovered her grandfather was no other but the music legend
Nat King Cole. Since meeting her birth family, Clark has written a memoir
called "Postcards from Cookie," which is just been released in paperback
and describes her reunion with her birth mother, Carol Cookie Cole. The
book details Clark is experienced discovering, meeting, and ultimately
befriending her long lost relatives.
The author of "Postcards from Cookie," Caroline Clarke joins me now. Thank
you so much.
CAROLINE CLARKE, AUTHOR, "POSTCARDS FROM COOKIE": Thank you.
WARREN: And I was just as I was saying in the break, I was captivated last
night reading your book. And I want you to tell us how you happen to
discover your biological parents at age 37.
CLARKE: You know, it was a series of just completely unforeseen,
unexpected things. I went looking for medical information as you said, it
was the only thing I knew I was entitled to and you know, that sort of the
one frustration every adoptee has that you go the first question the doctor
ask is about your medical history and it gets to really be frustrating not
having that answer. So, the social worker said, you know, would you like a
social history as well? And I thought, you know, what`s there to know? I
knew very little about my birth family but anything is worth finding out.
Well, she had a seven-page report and she began reading it and she
described my birth mother physically which I have never known what she
looked like, she detailed we had both been English majors in college. You
know, million little things. But the big things that stood out was that
she painted a picture of the family of the time I was born. They was
clearly very wealthy. There were five children and it was a unique setup.
My birth mother was 20 years older than twin sisters. I knew one of those
sisters and so --
WARREN: You just happen to know one of them?
CLARKE: Well, you know, it turns out that her youngest sister was a dear
friend of mine since college. And because I knew the family, I had met
everyone except my birth mother. And because I knew them, I just
recognized them without any names or geography, you know, it stood out. I
mean, you know?
WARREN: So, let me ask you this, your adoptive parents were receptive to
you reaching out to cookie. How did that help you in this process?
CLARKE: It was absolutely key. I don`t think, you know, I always felt I
was very lucky and where I was supposed to be. My mother who raised me
could not bear children. The only way they were going to have children was
to adopt. So, it wasn`t that I wasn`t curious, every adoptee was curious
but I was really happy and felt very, very lucky. I think even an added
sense of appreciation because I knew I could have had something very
different. So, if my parents hadn`t been receptive, encouraging even, I
don`t even know that I would have -- that I would have taken it farther.
Although, I have to say, the revelation that I had this connection, that I
had a friend who turned out was my aunt, to not go ahead and make that call
would have taken, you know, incredible restraint that I`m not sure I would
WARREN: So, what is the process of meeting your birth family taught you
about the adoption process over all? And how do you think cultural
perceptions of adoption have changed over the years?
CLARKE: You know, it`s interesting because obviously there are many ways
to create a family now that didn`t exist when I was born. And adoption
although it`s been around forever, I think there is this sort of lingering
stigma attached to it. And today when you have fertility treatments and
you have surrogacy and you have so many alternatives to create a family,
you know, adoption can kind of get last place in that. And that is
something that bothers me. Because obviously, it was the best thing to
ever happen to me. With all the joy and wonder of meeting Cookie and
everything that having this other family has added to my life.
CLARKE: None of that would have happened if I didn`t have the life I
already had. And adoption gets a tough rap. We only hear about it when it
goes very wrong, which is actually very rare given the frequency. So there
just have to be more good stories out there.
WARREN: I have so many questions for you but we`re out of time. But I
encourage everybody to read the book, Caroline Clark, thank you so very
much for joining us.
CLARKE: Thank you.
WARREN: Please, please, check out her book. "Postcards from Cookie" out
now in paperback. That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for
watching. Melissa will be back next weekend. She was off this weekend
celebrating her baby daughter AJ`s first birthday, happy birthday to AJ
Perry. And tune in to Shift.com MSNBC on Thursdays, there are some show
called nerding out, apparently join me at 11:00 a.m. Thursdays and now it`s
time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Our favorite nerd, thank
you so much, Dorian. I appreciate that.
Everyone, Denmark the day after, still on high alert. I`ll talk with a
member of the House Intelligence Committee about the threat to soft targets
in the U.S. like that cafe overseas.
Game of drones within the past few hours, the FAA released its new rules
for commercial drones, there`s one key point that might put a damper on the
concept in the U.S.
So, who is the greatest not ready for prime time player ever? There`s a
new list ranking every single one of them just in time for SNL`s 40th
anniversary tonight. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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