September 16, 2012
Guests: Harrison Schultz, Allison Kilkenny, Wade Henderson, Peter Goodman, Hanna Rosin, Jamie Kilstein, Maya Angelou, Eileen Guzza, David Levine, Karen Tappin, Jim Frederick
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question. Have we
really come to the end of men? Plus, one year since occupy Wall Street
began. Where are they now?
And the legendary Maya Angelou discusses with me the power of her name.
But first, how Mitt Romney learned the hard way that presidents don`t get
to pick their crises.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
With the November elections weeks away, national attention has been laser
focused on the presidential race. But this week, that seemingly singular
event was forced to take a back seat as violence erupted across the Middle
East and beyond. Many of those taking to the streets were responding to an
unfortunate American-made video which many felt insulted the prophet
On Tuesday, an infamous gunman joined the crowd outside the U.S. embassy in
Benghazi, Libya breeching the compound walls and killing the U.S.
ambassador Christopher Stevens, Navy Seals Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods,
and diplomat Sean Smith.
President Obama honored them at Andrews air force base in Maryland on
Friday as he and we watched the flag draped coffins descend from a military
plane. Many of us, we are struck by this somber event and by the very
images of American bodies shrouded in the flag. That image which for so
long was censored until President Obama lifted the 18-year ban in his first
year in office. The policy was put into place by President George H. W.
Bush in 1991 during the gulf war and was upheld by his son during the
second gulf war in Iraq serving only to obscure the true cost of war from
so many American citizens.
The president, alongside secretary of state Hillary Clinton, marked the
contributions of our slain diplomats in Maryland on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Greater love hath no man
than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. The flag they
serve under now carries them home. May God bless the memory of these men
who laid down their lives for us all. May God watch over your families and
all who love them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Since Tuesday, protests have grown beyond Libya and Egypt to
U.S. embassies in Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, India and more. And as we
watch the anger spread, we remain hopeful that those upset by the film as
well as those who have seized this opportunity for violence will recognize
that just as we prize freedom of speech, this country equally stands for
freedom of religion. And the president echoed these sentiments in his
weekly address yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This tragic attack takes place at a time of turmoil and protests in
many different countries. I`ve made it clear that the United States has a
profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom.
And we reject the denigrations of any religion, including Islam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, just as freedom of speech has consequences so do all
aspects of the democratic prospects. We all watched with high hopes as the
very same countries that have been burning American flags this week embrace
democracy during the Arab spring.
So, how do we balance this tolerance against our own country`s very real
need for security? These are complicated questions. Life or death
questions. One that we rely on our presidents and their administrations to
address on our behalf. This is the work of the commander in chief.
Violence in streets across the Arab world in the past days should remind us
that these clearly are not abstract policy questions. They`re not just
about etiology. And yet, this was somehow, it seems, lost on the
Republican presidential challenger and his foreign policy team this week.
Governor Mitt Romney rushed out of the gate with this statement late on
Saying "I`m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in
Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in
Benghazi. It`s disgraceful that the Obama administration`s first response
was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions but to sympathize
with those who wage the attacks."
On his timeline of events, Governor Romney chose focused his response
toward the domestic campaign rather than foreign diplomacy reiterating the
next day, the Romney doctrine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The statement that came from the
administration and the embassy is the administration, the statement that
came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology and I
think was a severe miscalculation. The statements were inappropriate and
in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to
apologize for American values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: No apologies here, quite literally. The Romney doctrine is
just that. No apologies. No apologies for or from America, period.
Without care for the specifics or diplomacy with no foreign policy
experience of his own, Romney assembled a team of experts to help him form
that simple message. Who has he brought together as the brain trust, 24
experts. The majority came directly out of President George W. Bush`s
bullpen. The same team that hit thousands of American caskets as they came
home from Iraq. The same team that swore up and down weapons of mass
destructions existed in Iraq. The same team that copied and pasted the
agenda of the neo-con think tank project for the American century on to a
map of the world. It is the same team that doesn`t even have access to the
classified briefings yet. The Obama administration is going to start
briefing Romney and Paul Ryan next week.
Ultimately, Romney`s statements this week steered the national conversation
towards questioning his political savvy, not about the real issues facing
national security. And ultimately, his actions did say a lot about what
kind of commander in chief he would be.
Romney approached the crisis in Benghazi with the same bravado of his Bain
experience. The New Yorker`s Amy Davidson wrote this week. That Romney
acted as though all that`s needed for a transformation is a little
managerial sleight of hand. This was Mitt Romney`s first chance since
accepting the official Republican nomination for president to have a
commander in chief moment to show the nation and in fact the world how he
would act as head of state. It would be hard to say that he proved that
he`s up to the task.
With me is Peter Goodman, executive business editor of "the Huffington
Post" and Allison Kilkenny co-host of citizen radio, reporter for "the
Nation," civil rights advocate Wade Henderson of the leadership council and
Jim Frederick, international editor of "Time" magazine who wrote the
magazine story, cover story "the agents of outrage."
Thank you all for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to start with you, Jim. Because my primary feeling
was that this was a complicated moment, a difficult moment, Americans, dead
in a foreign country on their mission for their country. And it somehow
became about politics instead of about any of those issues.
JIM FREDERICK, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes. I mean think
it`s pretty clear that Romney didn`t do himself any favor and knocked the
national conversation off track. I think the thing we really need to look
at is not so much this round of protests. This round of protests is going
to blow over. I think what we need to look at are the protests next time
and the time after that. Because we`re seeing a real political shift in
the Middle East where historically you would have these dictators who would
put, you know, these types of protests down, you know, by stepping on
FREDERICK: And now you have a new genre of democracy. You have very weak
leadership and I mean the whole spectrum of what`s going on in the Middle
East changing. So it`s a real genre shift of crisis that`s happening. And
Romney`s comment really was insensitive to that kind of genre shift and
really painted the situation in black and white.
FREDERICK: When the spectrum is completely different.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This point about it no longer being black and white, I
wanted to look at these images out of Libya that I found particularly
gripping. We`ve seen all of the protests images. But there were also
these images saying they stood with and thought of this diplomat as their
friend. Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans, the idea that Libya
apologizes for this moment. And it immediately makes more complex the
How do we now, after having dealt with all these years with the Mubarak
with the dictator in the position, how do we now move towards dealing with
another democracy here?
WADE HENDERSON, THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Well Melissa, I think you
raised a really important point. Romney`s remarks were stunningly
inappropriate. And what made them so particularly troubling is that, as
you point out, our role in Libya had been as a liberating force. Chris
Stevens was highly regarded. I think throughout the Arab spring. We`re
seeing the complexity of the transition from autocratic to a more
democratic process. And as Jim pointed out, it really is more complicated.
What I found so troubling is that there was also a fraught of desperation
on Romney`s comments that seemed to politicize an event that obviously
should have been viewed to the diplomatic lens and recognizing that
Americans` interests are for March complicated than his statement reflects.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I want to listen to Romney talking about his own
doctrine. I want you to jump in here, Allison. Because he does have a
very, you know, he is a business guy and he kind of gives you the sort of
business version of how we are going to addressing the issues. Let`s
listen to Romney of his own doctrine at a press conference on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: First confidence in our cause, a recognition at the principles
America was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for.
The second is clarity for our purpose which is that when we have a foreign
policy objective, we describe it honestly and clearly to the American
people, to Congress and to the people of the world. And number three is
resolve in our might. That in those rare circumstances, those rare
circumstances where we decide it`s essential for us to apply military
might, that we do so with overwhelming force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Allison, we`ve got confidence, clarity and resolve.
ALLISON KILKENNY, CO-HOST, CITIZEN RADIO: And our might.
HARRIS-PERRY: And our might.
KILKENNY: Yes. I don`t know what that means. I`m hearing a lot about we
have to have justice. We have to show our might. And I`m wondering what
that means and I`m concerned particularly when what happened in Libya is
being conflated with what`s happening in Egypt and Yemen. And I`m
concerned when I hear, you know, this is all because of a video. And
certainly, that`s true a lot of the time, but it`s also because food prices
are skyrocketing and there are drone strikes. And it`s more complicated
than it`s made to seem to the general public. And that always concerns me
because I think of what happened before Iraq when that was oversimplified
and we were lied to.
So, this is a really precarious time particularly when warships are being
dispatched and we`re hearing about marines being sent and drones. So, I
think this is a time when we need to pause and not use rhetoric like show
HARRIS-PERRY: This is a really -- I think this was a key point, right?
The idea of the video as the match that lights it allows us to go back to
this sort of 2001 discourse, why do they hate us? They hate us for our
freedom. They hate us because we can make a video about the prophet
Mohammed and therefore it sets us off. And it think that`s right, there`s
something about that narrative that takes us back more than a decade.
PETER GOODMAN, AUTHOR, PAST DUE: You know, we have already lived through
an era where we had a Republican president who had been a governor with no
foreign policy experience for whom the world seemed like a cartoon. Where
you figured out who the good guys were, who the bad guys were and anybody
speaking about democracy had to love Americans because we owned democracy.
And that was a disaster. And we are still paying the cost of that
And what Governor Romney did was reveal himself not only to be unhinged and
cynical enough to turn something incredibly important. I mean, we`re
talking about the lives of millions of people around the world and the
deaths of Americans, you know, in real time and turn that into a venue for
the tire some political narrative. But moreover, he revealed himself as
uninformed and unconcerned. And he projected that same sense that we got
under George W. Bush that things were pretty simple.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, is it more uninformed than - I mean, most governors
had - you know, President Clinton didn`t have any experience. You know,
senator Obama didn`t have much foreign policy experience. That doesn`t
necessarily mean that one would be bad on the foreign policy stage. But,
is there something in this response that suggests what sort of foreign
policy manager, what sort of head of state Romney would be.
FREDERICK: Yes. Because I think he lost the narrative. Because it wasn`t
about apologizing which in any statement that I have seen Obama
administration didn`t actually apologize for anything and had precious
little sympathy for the attackers. I think the larger narrative that I do
think the Obama administration appreciates that the Romney administration
doesn`t, it`s not actually about the film.
The film is what filmmakers called McGuffin, it could be anything. And if
salafists or imams or rabbi rousers (ph) across the Middle East are looking
for things to be offended by on the internet today, there is so much stuff
worse than that particular video.
FREDERICK: So, it`s a matter of plucking it out of thin air. And that`s
why I think that the Obama administration and people who are a little bit
more subtle in their thinking appreciate that the narrative has changed in
the Middle East and in the Middle East, whether it`s you know, food, water,
jobs, shelter, clothing, these protests domestically for countries like
Libya and Egypt, they`re political protests by political motivators and
activists that are trying to destabilize these branded markers. That is
the thing we should be most concerned about.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the critical thing and we will come back on exactly
that question of the subtlety here.
And up next, when you`re the president, you apparently really better know
how to deal with Vladimir Putin. More on that of after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know the election isn`t over yet. But I`m already going
through my favorite Governor Romney greatest hits. Remember this season
commander in chief moment from Mitt Romney about Russia?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: This is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They
fight every cause for the world`s worse actors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So this week a message from Russia with love. President
Vladimir Putin had this to say.
I`m grateful him, that would be Romney, for formulating his stance so
clearly. Because he has once again proven the correctness of our approach
to missile defense problems and strengthened Russia`s positions on talks on
this important and sensitive subject.
OK. That will help our team at the next round of NATO talks. At the table
is "Huffington Post" Peter Goodman, Allison Kilkenny of "the Nation," Jim
Frederick of "Time" magazine and civil rights advocate "Wade Henderson."
Is he doing damage even from his role as candidate or is this sort of the
bluster of the campaign?
FREDERICK: I think it`s hard to say he`s doing damage. Foreign leaders
know who the candidate is and who the sitting government is. Is he
torpedoing his ability should he become commander in chief? Yes. I mean,
you play the Putin quote. But yes, I was in England for the Olympics when
Mitt Romney came through. And you know, Britain is the easiest date on the
HARRIS-PERRY: They haven`t been met since 1780.
FREDERICK: And so, for to have the headlines there, you know, say Mitt the
twit and have Boris Johnson who is a buffoon in his own right make fun of
Mitt as a buffoon is really saying something.
So, you know, is he doing geopolitical damage? I`m not even sure the
comments he made about the Middle East crisis necessarily did geopolitical
damage because everybody knows who the candidate is and everybody knows who
the government is.
FREDERICK: But, he is not doing his election chances or his perception,
reputation and stature abroad anything.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. There is " New York Times" CBS news poll that shows
that Americans basically reinforces exactly this idea that the president is
coming in at about 51 percent on the idea that he`s better at handling
foreign policy whereas Romney is down just over a third.
And again, so I think challengers always have that problem vis-a-vis a
sitting president. But that, certainly, he`s not doing any favors here. I
do want to ask a little bit about whether sort the president`s handling of
this Middle East question for a moment. Let`s listen to the president
being asked a question about whether or not Egypt is still ally and his
response. I thought this was a fascinating part that went underreported a
bit this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would you consider the current Egyptian regime
an ally of the United States?
OBAMA: I don`t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don`t
consider them an enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, we certainly know that Mubarak was an ally.
And so, this new democracy right in the, you know, aftermath of the
uprisings we`re hearing. Not an ally, not an enemy. We saw Morsi respond
to this. Was this brilliant or was this a gaffe?
KILKENNY: This is when I get concerned. Because it is like we consider
you an ally as long as you behave and you are on the leash. But, the
second that you perhaps challenge America power, America`s power, that`s
when we start to like, you know, reconsider our relationship.
If I am a poor person in Afghanistan, I`m not too concerned about the faux
pas of Mitt Romney or President Obama. I`m concerned, are you going to
invade my country? Are you going to send more drones? Are my children
lives in danger? So, I think , you know, I don`t want to be presumptuous
and speculate about how Afghanis are feeling or anything. But, it just
seems like that would be more of a concern than did Mitt Romney make a
blooper this week.
HENDERSON: But you know, I don`t consider the president`s remark about
Morsi and Egypt to be a gaffe.
HENDERSON: I mean, after all, we provide $1.3 billion annually to the
Egyptian government. President Morsi is out of the Muslim brotherhood
which should not be seen in hostile terms but obviously is very different
than the relationship we have with president Mubarak. I think the jury is
still out about how we will ultimately relate to the future of Egypt and I
think the president is sending a coded message for president Morsi to hear.
HARRIS-PERRY: And he seems to have heard it because he went from a fairly
soft position to a much stronger stance on it.
GOODMAN: It seems to have been a useful bit of diplomacy. I mean, what`s
the word ally means?
GOODMAN: Ally means that if you get yourself in trouble and you`re
attacked, we`ll send Americans to go and involve themselves. Often to the
detriment of the people we send and the people who are on the receiving end
of troops. So you know, that`s a serious word. And I think the president
was effectively saying the world is increasingly complicated. We applauded
when democracy swept through your region and we`re pleased to see that
larger numbers of people, certainly under Mubarak now get to decide what`s
going to happen on a day-to-day basis in Egypt. But the jury is out on
whether our values align, whether our interests align.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, how do we do that? How do we nurture democracy? We
have a vision of ourselves at the shining city of - on the hill that set an
example for democracy. But in real terms, how do you nurture the aspects
of democracy that are the tough parts, the parts that require you to have
to listen to people who disagree with you and allow for plurality of
religious expression and all of those sorts of things?
HENDERSON: Well, I think first, we have to give great credit to Hillary
Clinton. I think she`s been outstanding as secretary of state. And I
think she`s managed the Arab spring with great care and sensitivity.
I was in Egypt six months before the revolution. And I know that Mubarak
kept a lid on with his military might and power, but also by providing
people with bread and food stuffs. And we recognize that things are
Hillary Clinton has set, I think, a wonderful floor for emerging
democracies and she wants to embrace them and she sent that signal. I
think you have to take that into account as we evaluate where we`re going
FREDERICK: I agree with all of that. I think that now is where the real
test starts. After the euphoria of these are all democracies. Democracy
is a hard thing to build in a region where there`s no history of having
effective ones. And you know, the United States between the declaration of
independence, you know, took 13 years to have a fully formed government.
FREDERICK: And now, everything, because of the --
HARRIS-PERRY: Then we had to have a civil war. Right.
FREDERICK: And so I think once the election blows over, once this round of
protests blows over, I think that we would be remiss if we didn`t point out
that the Obama administration does have to have a lot of introspections and
a soul searching about what foreign policies in these areas are going to be
like because you know, we just look at Mohammed Morsi and the fine line
he`s trying to walk.
FREDERICK: Where on one hand, he is a former member of the Muslim
brotherhood. But sitting on his right flag, he has got 25 percent of his
parliament is stilled by salafists. And so, you know, he is -- that`s
effectively -- it`s a very loose and bad analogy, that`s effectively their
FREDERICK: And they are pushing the Muslim brotherhood and the entire
government (INAUDIBLE). And they are trying to foment these protests
because they would like to see the United States relationship destabilized.
So, it is really the hard work begins now.
HARRIS-PERRY: That image. We`ll leave this conversation on that image.
That of sort of Morsi dealing with his own version of sort of right word
poll on that side and then whomever is the president here in the United
States, at this moment President Obama managing a right word pull on his
flank and this question of can we stay with a complex diplomacy allowing us
to move forward a democracy.
Thank you so much for being here today, Jim.
And one thing is clear, Mitt Romney doesn`t want to talk about foreign
policy. What he does want to talk about? We`re going to go ahead and have
that conversation next.
And later in the show, we`re going to talk with my adviser from college,
Dr. Maya Angelo.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We need to champion small business. We need small business to
OBAMA: We honor the small business people and the scribers, the dreamers,
the risk takers.
ROMNEY: I will champion small business and entrepreneurs.
OBAMA: Small business owners. Small business owners. Small business
ROMNEY: The last one to be a champion of small business. I want small
business to grow. Taking care of business
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, the candidates don`t agree on much right now, but the
one thing they`re both obsessed with, small business owners.
According to both campaigns, these small business owners are the backbone
of the middle class and the most important demographic in America right
now. They are the job creators. Indeed according to the White House
national economic council for the past 20 years, two out of three net new
jobs have been created by small and new businesses.
So, to find out who the coveted Americans are, we brought them to the
studio. Still with me is Peter Goodman of "the Huffington Post" and also
now, my new panel of small business owners. Karen Tappin, CEO of Karen`s
body beautiful, David Levine, co-founder of Mr. Beans and Eileen Guzza, the
president and CEO of Donnelly and more corporation.
It`s so nice to have you all here.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I know that you all are not politicians. You`re not
political speakers. You are, in fact, small business owners. Start by
just telling me very briefly sort of a little bit about what it is that you
do, Karen and I`ll ask each of you the same question.
KAREN FINNEY TAPPIN, CEO, PRESIDENT, KAREN`S BODY BEAUTIFUL: OK. Well,
what I do is manufacture natural hair bath and body products. So, I have a
staff, we mix, we cook all the products from scratch using natural
HARRIS-PERRY: You have an actual thing that you sell, right?
TAPPIN: We do.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, when a country where we keep talking about that is over,
there`s no longer sort of any opportunity to make things in this country,
you are making something, even in an area typically thought of as a service
industry, which is the beauty industry.
TAPPIN: That`s correct.
HARRIS-PERRY: How about you, you have actual things that you are doing,
DAVID LEVINE, CO-FOUNDER, MR. BEANS: If I show you. So, we invented a
line of wireless lights to replace wired lights or be in supplement to
wired lights. A $20 or $30 light you install on your own. It has a motion
sensor, uses a bright LED and the moment someone walks into a closet or
walks up by the side of your house, they go on for 30 seconds and then they
HARRIS-PERRY: I got to tell you, as somebody who lives in a hurricane zone
and just lived through hurricane Isaac and had no power for more than a
week, the idea of battery lights makes me very happy. So again, like the
idea that you are actually producing something and it is something that you
invented it yourself. Is that general American entrepreneurial.
LEVINE: There`s a lot of innovation. What I love about is we take input
from a lot of different people. We create the innovation. We actually
focused on power outages for a while because we got a lot of input that
power outages were an issue and created a power outage lighting system.
So, yes, it is. I think Americans are the best at innovating and coming up
with these ideas. I think this is just one idea.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Eileen, tell me about the work that you do.
EILEEN GUZZA, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: Well, we are in the placement of high
level IT professionals on a contract basis. I started the business back in
`97 at 24 years old. I`ve been through trials and tribulations with
different things that happened in America, like 9/11 which really had a
hard effect on our business. I was keeping all my eggs in one basket,
mostly selling to the financial sector on Wall Street. And that was
detrimental to the business within the year after 9/11.
But then, you know, through a lot of tenacity and persistence, back in
2003, 2004, started selling to different industries and that has really
worked much better. So to all small businesses out there, diversify. The
industries you sell to. Absolutely.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you all are a diverse group of people doing a diverse
group of things.
Peter, when you look at this, I feel like when we say small business owner,
it`s a little bit like when we say the American worker. And we have a
vision of the small business owner that doesn`t necessarily reflect the
diversity of folks currently at the table.
GOODMAN: Yes. I think that`s right. I mean, small business is a term to
gets thrown around by lots of different people that means all sorts of
different things. I mean, if you go and ask Jamie Diamond are you lending
to small businesses, oh, yes. Incredibly, you are over your growth. If
you start asking him to define small businesses, he`ll back away
uncomfortably because they generally don`t lend to these sorts of
businesses started by people with, you know, real tangible ideas. I don`t
know much about your financing mechanisms yet. But I imagine your own
money, you know, your own skin is in the game, who would agree your own
credit is on the line.
A lot of small business owners are really depending upon using the value in
their home, using credit cards. Tapping friends, neighbors, relatives.
And that`s an area that we really have to focus on when we talk about small
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, let me ask you this. We just saw both of
candidates saying over and over again. Small business owners, small
business owners. When you`re listening to Governor Romney, when you are
listening to President Obama, when do you feel like yes, that`s it. That`s
exactly what I need my president to do?
TAPPIN: Access to capital.
TAPPIN: Obama, he passed a small business act, sort of the jobs act where
he increased the loan limit for SBA loans. So, that was very interesting
to me. Because I`ll be applying for SBA loans soon, so as access to
capital, corporate taxes. That is something that perks my ears up.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. We`re going to take a quick break and then come back on
exactly that question because David, I understand you did a little survey
of some other business owners and that part of that answer was none of them
are doing anything for me.
So, we are going to come back on that exactly and ask what is it we need
our government to do for our small business owners. That`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I`m back with my panel of small business owners and Peter
Goodman of "the Huffington Post."
OK, for David, you did a little research before you showed up. Talked to
some other business owners. What are they saying about this election?
LEVINE: Yes. So, Mr. Beans is one of many companies in Cleveland area
that are entrepreneurial community. So, I sent an e-mail to them. I also
surveyed a Harvard business school professor. And what we`re hearing is
the main thing people concerned about are taxes.
For a small businesses, capital gains tax is so important. It tells you
how much you`ll keep if you sell your business at the end. And that`s a
big part of why we go in this in the first place. We`re not typically able
to grow big salaries as we grow the business.
The second thing is for an investor, if your capital gains tax increases
and you are going to keep less of what you get from investing in the early
stage business, you`re less likely to do it. There are much better
investments of more stable companies out there.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, that is on the agenda for you. It`s the capital
gains sector. There are other things that you feel -- I know, you`re at a
stage, still relatively early stage in the business.
LEVINE: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I -- let me just real quick also ask this. The other
thing, though, that I wonder if folks understand. So you are -- you`re
producing products. But part of how you`re producing products is using
international labor, including labor in China.
LEVINE: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you hear, for example, Governor Romney talking about
China, does that give you pause one way or another?
LEVINE: It does. Well, I think a lot of us are very skeptical of
politicians. You know, I`m not excluded from that.
LEVINE: It feels to me like Mr. Romney took that stance against China
because of his background in outsourcing, he`s trying to prove that he`s
much tougher on China. If he got tough on China and the currency was
devalued maybe to market forces, who knows, the cost of products 90 percent
of what we buy would go up. That would o reduce disposable income by such
an amount it would throw the economy off. I`m not an economist.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s pretty good.
LEVINE: I know that for a fact. If you walk into - you know, no one is
more frightened about this than Walmart at this moment getting tough on
China. So, I don`t know what he`s getting at. I think he did it to
position himself. And I think it was a mistake.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, from small business investing to create products that
require the cheap labor or the less expensive labor all the way to the
Walmarts, you`re saying that this position even with the conversation
around taxes gives you some pause and makes you think about what sort of
impact that would have.
Part of what I was interested about what you are saying in terms f the post
9/11 moment was this idea that the large geopolitical socioeconomic factors
had an impact on you as a small business owner.
As you`re looking at our sort of current context, what are the big issues
that are facing you?
GUZZA: Well, I am not a political person. I am a Hispanic woman that owns
a small business and whether Democrats, Republicans or independents get in,
in November, what I`m interested in, what we`re interested in as small
businesses is that they reinforce to the large corporate America fortune
1,000 companies out there that are buyers of whatever good or services we
sell, to give us a shot. To give us an opportunity to bid on their - you
know, not a handout but to let us participate in the opportunity to sell to
them, which is -- it`s difficult when, you know, you`re a small business
trying to get the stability with other, you know, I have a lot of
competition in my particular industry.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s interesting to hear you talk about competition,
also to being a Hispanic woman owning a relatively small woman, sounds to
me or it feels me like some of the conversation we hear about what`s good
for business, which is deregulation the government out of things. Might
actually be problematic for you in that part of what government has done is
say you`ve got to give small businesses a shot, you have to give local and
minority and women-owned businesses a shot to bid. So, in that context,
does government actually help or improve your opportunities?
GUZZA: Well, I urge all small minority women-owned companies, especially
in the New York city marketplace, which is where I work and live, to reach
out to companies like New York city, MBDA, minority business development
agency, run in by (INAUDIBLE) here in New York. These are government-
funded or quasi government funded organization. This one in particular is
through the department of commerce. And they help you connect with those
large corporations that would otherwise probably not look at you as a
potential, you know, source.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Peter, yes. This feels to me like we don`t hear this
part of how government actually contributes through raising the SBA cap so
there`s more capital. Through making sure that minority and local and
women owned businesses have opportunities to bid on the big contract.
GOODMAN: I mean, certainly, government plays a decisive role in deciding
who gets an opportunity for the businesses out there. But I mean, one of
the things I`m curious to hear from you guys at the table is my sense from
talking to other business owners is that you`re by and large not sitting
and waiting for the government to solve your problems. You`re waiting
really for demand to return into the American economy. I mean, there are
not enough people in America today who can afford to buy your goods and
services. That`s something that government can influence this in a very
HARRIS-PERRY: I love that issue of demand. I mean, sometimes black hair
care is called the recession proof industry because we always have demands.
But it`s not, right? What has been your experience on that?
TAPPIN: It`s not. I had a retail store in Brooklyn for eight years. And
at the beginning of the recession, shortly after President Obama came into
office, a lot of my customers were losing their jobs and getting laid off.
So, my business turned into probably about 80 percent in store and the rest
online to now being about 90 percent online and, you know, the remaining in
store. And so, a lot of customers would say I can`t afford your products
anymore, but I`ll be back as soon as I get a job. And I heard that over
and over. So, I had to, you know, re-strategize and try to make my
products more accessible to a national market. So, that worked out really
well for me. But no, black hair care is not recession proof, absolutely
HARRIS-PERRY: And actually, let me push on this a little bit. Because
sometimes, we hear that the minimum wage, of raising the minimum wage would
be horrible for small businesses. But raising the minimum wage would also
mean that many of your customers would have a little bit more disposable
income. Because many of them are probably themselves sort of based on that
When you think of a minimum wage raise as a small business owner, do you
think please don`t do that, because it would increase my cost or do you
think that sounds like a good idea because it would give folks a disposable
TAPPIN: Well, I agree it`s aid good thing to do, to give folks more
disposable income. I pay as way more than minimum wage so it doesn`t
bother me. I`m all for helping people and making sure people can have, you
know, a good standard of living. So, the minimum wage conversation doesn`t
affect me in the way I run my business at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll talk more about health care and about the other sort
of questions that we often here impact small businesses because I want your
take on it when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Back with my panel of small business owners.
The name of the Republican national convention is we did build this. It
was off to repeat a counter punch to a purposely misconstrued argument made
by President Obama. Conservatives are pushing what authors Brian Miller
and Mike Lapham called the "self-made myth." This myth asserts that
business success is solely the result of individual hard work and sacrifice
by one individual. And it isn`t that. The reality is that successful
businesses are built together. Individual effort key. But it`s
supplemented through taxpayers who pay for schools and roads and laws and
institutions and make businesses possible.
Entrepreneurs who decry government interference may not understand how
important government investment has been for their own profitability.
Let`s see what my small business owners thing. Self-made myth or built
together? When you`ve heard that sort of out there over the course of this
campaign, what do you think? Yes, it is just me or we need to be moving
TAPPIN: Well, of course, I mean, you need people to help you build your
business. It`s insane to think that you did it all by yourself with all
the thoughts in your head and you didn`t need experts to kind weigh in on
the choices you need to make. I mean, my business partner is my husband.
I`ve got lots of consultants and my staff that I rely on to help me make
good decisions, and then my customers. There`s a larger team than me and
my - me, myself and I. There`s no way that I could build the business I
have by myself.
HARRIS-PERRY: And David, one of the things I heard you say is that
certainty is part of what`s important. Your sense of uncertainty about
what`s going to happen with the capital gains tax and I think potentially
what is going to happen with the new health care reform law.
How important is certainty for a small business owner and the government
creating that certainty?
LEVINE: I think it`s very important. It depends on the state of your
business. I think early stage companies may be less important. But as
you`re starting to grow and thinking how do I invest in people and what`s
the next step. You know, Bill Sawman (ph), the professor at HVS I talked
to he said uncertainty is a form of a tax. It`s a cost down road that
prevents you from doing things. Health care is probably the biggest item
that I think about right now as the company grows. We`re four employees at
Mr. Bean. So, it`s not something that we`re concerned about.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, with four employees, you`re outside of the
requirements of it. But I`m thinking, once you get to a certain level, it
might, in fact - so, there`s two ways to think about it, right? One is
health care and the requirements of providing health care can be a burden.
On the other hand, if you are a health care providing small business
knowing that everybody has to do, also levels your playing field or is that
LEVINE: No. I think it just takes away from the growth. It may not -- if
you`re looking at a world where you`re competing with everyone, maybe so.
I may not be growing, but my competitor is not growing either.
But, to know what to invest in and how to bring on people and people are
the sources of great ideas. I mean, Karen was talking about it. To do
that, you need to know what it`s going to cost me to maintain this person.
And it was the survey I did, health care for the larger companies that were
a little further away, health care is a big reason they`re not growing as
aggressively as they normally would.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask this question. If there was one thing that you
could hear from Governor Romney or President Obama, what would you want to
GUZZA: I think the current administration has done some great things, like
through the small business administration having all this different
certifications you can have as a small business need as particularly as a
minority woman and how I can sell to the federal market space without -- I
wouldn`t be able to. So, that has been a great thing from this
But there`s still a lot of challenges as a small business. And I would
like to see corporate taxation perhaps which is I think it`s oscillating
around 35 percent currently. If that came down a little bit, I think that
I could right now, I`d love to hire another recruiter for the firm. You
know I mean, the recruitment is business basically. And I think that if
taxation came down a little bit, I could hire more people which in turn,
you know, I would be able to go after more business, other industries that
I`m not in and therefore, you know, those large corporations that are my
customer could also grow and hire more people.
HARRIS-PERRY: I appreciate all of you being here. Corporations may not be
people but you all are. I greatly appreciate you being here and sharing
your views with us.
So, thank you to Karen and David and Eileen. Peter, you`re going to hang
around and stay with us for later.
But, I also want to do a quick update on two stories that we`ve been
covering on this show.
Previously, we`ve told you about the ongoing scandal within the U.S. air
force. Female recruits charging male instructors with harassment and
sexual assault. Incidents stemming from the Lackland air force base in San
Antonio, Texas. The air force has just named a woman, Colonel Deborah
Liddick to take command of the basic training at Lackland. The base that
graduates about 35,000 airmen a year.
Now, while the air force made the appointment without any mention of the
charges still under investigation, we salute the colonel`s appointment.
And last week on this program, we also featured Valerie Core, a Sikh
American filmmaker whose work focuses on peace and understanding for all
people. Valerie has been especially active since the oak creek Sikh temple
shooting in August, drawing the attention to hate crimes there.
This coming Wednesday, Illinois senator Dick Durbin will convene a senate
sub-committee hearing on hate crimes prompted by the Oak Creek shootings.
We can only hope that more conversation brings about more understanding.
We`re always excited when the stories that happen here happen to start
moving the things that are happening at home.
And still to come on today`s show, my conversation with Dr. Maya Angelou.
But next, do you know who is celebrating a really big one-year birthday
tomorrow? That`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Normally for our vault, we dig deep into NBC archival
footage to find old clips that we want to show you because we feel they
have particular relevance to something happening now.
But this week we dug back only one year. And we were amazed at how this
scene already seems a bit like ancient history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Police would not comment on possible injuries
and whether excessive force was used. Witnesses say over 50 protesters,
some with blood on their face were hauled off by police this afternoon.
CROWD: We are 99 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s the rich and there`s the poor. Then there
CROWD: The whole world is watching.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the rich is stepping on our next. They`re trying
to squash us down. But this is causing uprising. And we are taking back
what is ours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will only snowball into more political action,
political change and a movement that they in these buildings won`t be able
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of occupy Wall
Street. The movement may not be as visible or audible today but there is a
real legacy impacting all of us. And that`s next.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
February 2009, just weeks after the inauguration of President Obama,
a group of bloggers gathered in Seattle to protest government spending and
taxes. Protests grew and April 15th, Tax Day, 2009, ushered in a new
movement with an old name -- the Tea Party, with its revolutionary war
regalia, American flags and controversial hand lettered signs was born.
What started as protests became a coordinated political action. In
2010, the midterm elections, five Tea Party-supported candidates became
U.S. senators, 40 were elected to the House.
They came with a strategy: focus on the deficit and refuse,
absolutely refuse. No matter what is at stake, refuse to compromise.
The result? A 2011 standoff on the debt ceiling which brings us to
2012 and the Tea Party is still a major player. A Tea Party-affiliated
group, True the Vote, is set to impact this election through efforts to
suppress turnout by aggressively challenging voters at the polls.
Now, tomorrow is the anniversary of a different grassroots movement.
On September 17th, 2011, young people organized in protest of growing
inequality and shrinking opportunity.
Their tactic? Occupy Wall Street, in order to draw attention to the
plight of ordinary Americans. Unlike the Tea Party, protests grew and
Occupy camps popped up in dozens of American cities.
But few media outlets covered the protest until October 2011. That
was when local officials deployed police to end the occupation. Then in
the middle of the night on November 15th, under a media blackout, the
original Occupy camp in Zuccotti Park was cleared by police in riot gear.
At least 70 people were arrested. Property was destroyed, confiscated and
A pre-dawn raid in California`s Oakland Occupy camp by police in riot
gear on November 21st shocked Americans, as did the shameful display of
campus police pepper spraying the faces of peaceful Occupy protests at UC-
So, Occupy was successful in changing the conversation, bringing
attention to the 99 percent. But they fielded no candidates, advanced no
single unified agenda. We`re seeing Tea Party efforts in play as we head
into November 6th.
One year later, where is Occupy?
Harrison Schultz is the anti-market research analyst of the Occupy
Wall Street and social media director of the Big Idea Fund; Allison
Kilkenny is co-host of "Citizen Radio" and a reporter for "The Nation";
Wade Henderson, the civil rights advocate and president and CEO of the
Leadership Conference; and Peter Goodman is the executive business editor
at "The Huffington Post".
Thanks for all for being here.
So, Harrison, where are you guys? Tea Party is going to impact this
election. They impacted 2010. What is Occupy doing in 2012?
HARRISON SCHULTZ, OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: A lot of things.
There`s so much I could possibly talk about. As always, I can only really
speak for myself. You get 10 different occupiers in a room, you get 10
But what I`ve been working on is presenting an actual plan to the
Occupy movement, to actually wrap in the end the economic crisis and
permanently alter capitalism. This is known as the Big Idea Fund.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, tell me, give me one of the many big ideas.
SCHULTZ: Essentially, we have a new research project. It`s a book
called "One Hundred Thirteen Million Markets of One" by Rose Honeywill. As
well as -- it was written by a gentleman named Chris Norton, my mentor.
Basically what we found is that Occupy Wall Street likes to look at
99 percent versus 1 percent. One percent owning about 36 percent of the
You look at things in terms of wealth, that`s fine. But if you look
at the problem differently. If you look at it in terms of spending, the
issue completely changes. The 1 percent doesn`t drive this economy. The
government does not drive this economy. In terms of discretionary
spending, they`re only spending about 24 percent.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, the consumer is driving it.
SCHULTZ: About 4 percent.
SCHULTZ: We`ve discovered that there`s 46 percent of the people in
this country that control about 77 percent of all discretionary income.
That`s about $3.75 trillion a year. That`s more than Germany makes in a
So, we have -- there`s plenty of money in this country. There`s no
shortage of money. It`s just in the wrong hands. We don`t really know --
we`re not putting it in the right places.
The Big Idea Fund is about creating the kind of business, creating
the whole as an economy that we need in order to fix things.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Allison, my little lefty spirit is just down with
the occupiers. But I -- the very notion of if you put 10 occupiers in a
room, you get 10 different ideas, you`ve been covering it as a journalist.
How do we get sort of this passion and these sets of ideas to have
the same impact on the players in Washington that we`ve seen from the
organized efforts on the right?
ALLISON KILKENNY, WEARECITIZENRADIO.COM: Well, I`m an ally of
Occupy. I actually -- I dig the way they do things. So, the remaining
outsiders from the political system.
A lot of people are like, why haven`t they run a candidate yet? And
the problem is that system of our governance is broken. That`s the whole
idea of Occupy. That`s why Occupy it exists at all.
So, I think a mass resistance outside of the political sphere,
putting so much pressure on it that it has no other option but to comply
with it is the way to go. And Occupy has already had success doing that.
I mea, the fact that President Obama has been talking about class in this
country. I mean, that`s because of Occupy Wall Street.
So, they`ve already had an effect on it. So, for people who say,
like, oh, they haven`t done anything. They were just a bunch of hippies
that`s playing drums. It`s like that`s not the case.
SCHULTZ: Not at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it the time to distance -- I`m thinking in the
context of the civil right movement, and there came a moment when civil
rights sort of -- folks ended up at the Occupy camps. They were saying x
okay, yes if you had asked us in `55 what have we accomplished. The answer
wouldn`t be much but by `65 we`ve changed this legislation.
Is that what`s happening now?
WADE HENDERSON, THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Well, I think so. But
let me go back for a moment. I think Occupy deserves more credit than we`ve
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Let`s give them some more love.
HENDERSON: Let`s give them more love. They actually changed the
debate in Washington when they emerged. At the time the debate was focused
on deficit reduction.
When they came into being, the debate then focused on trying to deal
with the needs of people, of poverty, the needs that government had to
provide support. I think the debate shifted completely and because of
that, the Occupy movement helped stimulate the debate that`s taken place in
Now, they didn`t field candidate and they probably shouldn`t have.
Occupy people, you get 10 in a room, you get 20 different.
HENDERSON: This is really a lot more complicated.
But having said that, I think they really helped change the debate in
the country and I think you`re seeing that play out in this election.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s interesting. I was reading my
"Fortune" magazine, one much my favorite 1 percent pieces, I also like
"Vanity Fair" and others.
But there`s an article that speaks, "Stop beating up on the Rich."
It pushes back against the whole idea that says, oh, look, part of what
Occupy is doing, this kind of class warfare.
But the very idea of asking the question, is it still OK to be rich
in America? That is directly a result of Occupy`s discourse.
PETER GOODMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: That`s right. I think we should be
giving occupy credit for changing the terms of the debate precisely because
-- I mean, Harrison just gave us his youthful analysis. The fact that
ultimately, you got to have money in people`s pockets to spend on goods and
services to create jobs in America. That is the fundamental problem.
And when we`ve tried to progressively distribute some of the spoils
of this economy by having wealthy people in America do what wealthy people
do and pretty much every other developed democracy, which is to say pay
taxes for goods and services and help people out who are struggling and
help generate demand for things when demand is sluggish, we hear -- oh, no,
that`s class warfare, you can`t do that. That has effectively bottled up
the tax reform that we need.
What Occupy did was say, you want to talk about class warfare. The
situation here is that all the spoils are flowing to the 1 percent. We`re
the 99 percent.
Now, that said, where we are today is in a position where we ought to
be asking Occupy, do you want to do what Ralph Nader did to America and
give us George W. Bush? Because whether we think this political process
we`ve got is corrupt, whether it`s damaged, dysfunctional, there is a
decision before us. And the consequences of that decision are very real.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I mean, I guess what I`m saying is -- I love all
of this. Then I want Occupy, right, tell the other occupiers, right, I
want Occupy at the ballot boxes if True the Vote is going to be there
suppressing. I want Occupy there registering.
Is it possible for both things to be happening?
SCHULTZ: That`s exactly where it has to go. This is -- it`s great
to be outside of the system and protesting. But that`s not revolution.
There`s a history of protests that`s been established by people like
(INAUDIBLE) and Gandhi.
That`s really the only way we think of protests, stepping outside the
system. I mean, there`s other ideas here, more dangerous ideas you could
say that you need to Occupy. You need to seize the appropriate means of
production. It`s time for us to start owning and occupying our own
businesses, our own politics.
So, it`s time to start entering the system and playing the game.
Frankly, I fully intend to take a page out of the Tea Party`s playbook. I
want to meet Tea Partiers, talk to them, learn how they`ve done it.
A buddy mine was talking about an Occupy/Tea Party reality TV show
that they were trying to hijack.
SCHULTZ: It`s good -- all bets are off this year. The movement is
back where it was a year ago. About the same number much people are paying
attention to us. The world things we`re burnt out. And they`re wrong.
We`re not burnt out.
KILKENNY: The issues haven`t gone away. Occupy is an idea. It`s
Yes, I mean, I think you really summarized it nicely. But, you know,
the students have gone on to do other things. They`re participating in the
student debt movement, people working on the foreclosure crisis.
It might not be under the banner of Occupy anymore, but that
revolutionary spirit hasn`t gone away because the government hasn`t
addressed the problems. I don`t see it either/or thing. I don`t see it as
you are either a protesters or you vote.
But you can`t see voting as being an active citizen and a protester.
It`s like you can vote but then you have to get out into the streets and
GOODMAN: Go ahead.
HENDERSON: You really have to underscore the fundamental point here
which is that voting is the language of democracy. If you don`t vote, you
And what we can`t have are people who see themselves as outside of
the system, not having responsibility to vote. That makes a huge
So without getting too wonky, one of the facts that we`re fighting
now is the so-called budget sequester, where there`s going to be a huge
fight over the debt. That, in part, is because of the Occupy movement
having brought this issue to the table and now trying to get the political
support needed to work out a better budget deal that affects poor people,
doesn`t jam Medicaid, provides relief for Medicare, provides relief for
emergency services. All of those things are an important piece of
democracy and can only be achieved at the ballot box.
SCHULTZ: I disagree. I fundamentally disagree.
I mean, this new project with the Big Idea Fund. We don`t need
government spending. Ryan is talking about four percentage points in
spending. We have all the money we need.
It`s just -- it`s going -- there`s no place for it --
HARRIS-PERRY: But you still have to have government to reallocate.
All I would say --
HARRIS-PERRY: The one thing I guess I would say, if the vote were
not important, no one would be trying to suppress it.
SCHULTZ: That`s not what I`m saying.
But in terms of spending, we have all the money we need. It just
needs to be organized better and it`s possible. There are alternative
economic models that we`re looking at and talking about.
HENDERSON: No, I don`t disagree, I think.
But here`s the problem. Food stamp policy is determined by budgets.
Medicaid policy is determined by budgets. School allocations are
determined by state and federal budgets.
All we`re saying, it`s not that we don`t have sufficient money.
We`ve got to try to do both. We have to pay for services that are
important. We`ve got to try to reduce the deficit. There needs a long-
SCHULTZ: Economic elites to do it for us.
HENDERSON: The 46 percent --
HARRIS-PERRY: This is going to keep going in the break. And I
totally see that Wade and Harrison are going to immediate to spend some
Harrison, thank you for coming and chatting with us.
The rest are back for more.
Up next, not only is Occupy still around. It turns out men are still
around. I know, you`re not shocked are you? But there is a new book
suggesting that we`re at the end of men. I`ve got some at the table.
Totally sure we`re not over.
HARRIS-PERRY: For me, it feels like women have spent this year in
the trenches fighting each new political battle in the war on women. But a
provocatively new book argues that rumors of women`s demise has been
greatly exaggerated. But in fact, it`s the women who are doling out some
of the dominance of their own.
In "The End of Men: And the Rise of Women", author Hanna Rosin
compiles facts and figures about women`s performance at work, in education
and at home. Distills it into the conclusion that girls rule and men,
well, they are just trying to keep up. Rosin`s argument for the ascendance
of the modern American women begins with the fact that women now earn the
majority of college degrees and hold more than half of the jobs in the
But she says the good news for women is also accompanied by bad news
for men. Jobs in traditionally male-dominated fields like manufacturing
were wiped out by the economic downturn and they aren`t coming back. "The
End of Men" predicts a future where men find themselves out-earned, out-
employed, and out-educated by women, who unable to meet their match may
increasingly find themselves happily going it alone.
The author of the book, Hanna Rosin, is joining me today from
Nice to have you.
HANNA ROSIN, AUTHOR, "THE END OF MEN": Thank you so much.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Hanna, eek your book, I read it, and I read the
whole thing. I had like so many multiple reactions to it. In part,
because it feels like the replacement of women into the marketplace doesn`t
necessarily mean that women are in ascendance if they`re working at jobs
that don`t pay, for example, a living wage. How is this the end of men?
ROSIN: One thing I think is misunderstood about the book, and maybe
the tone is ambivalent, is that this isn`t actually a triumphalist book.
This isn`t like we`ve reached this great moment in history and now we take
There`s lots of things that are not that great, like when you
mentioned women going it alone, I think it`s really, really tough. I mean,
if you talk about the statistics on single motherhood and how rapidly it`s
increased because people are not getting married. I don`t think anyone
thinks that`s a good thing. That`s a tough fate.
So, a lot of this is just happening. But I don`t really take a
position on whether it`s terrible or awesome. I think some parts of it are
great and some parts of it are really worrisome actually.
HARRIS-PERRY: But let me push on this a little bit. When we frame
it as men, sort of male bodies and female bodies, sort of what these men
and women are doing, I think part of what we miss is for example
masculinity and the power of patriarchy. So, when you talk about, for
example, women having more jobs, but then if you look at the political
numbers, right, they don`t have more jobs just sort in government, right?
If you look at the Supreme Court, the U.S. House of Representative, the
U.S. Senate, the White House -- the 100 percent of the White House, that`s
all male, you know? Eighty-three percent of the Senate and the House of
Representatives, all male.
So, where is maybe women have more roles, but not where the power is?
ROSIN: Yes. That`s an excellent point. Everybody brings that up.
We have not achieved female domination overnight. That`s absolutely true.
All I can say is that it hasn`t been going on that long. It`s only
been about 40 years. So, you sort of take stock in how amazingly things
And most of the book is about dynamics in the household, how this is
changing our culture basically. And decisions we make about marriage and
decisions we make about, you know, how we raise our children. And those
things have really changed so much in a short period of time.
But, you know, you see women rising. But, of course, they have not
reached the very top yet. One of the things I do in the book is explain
how in this transition moment, when things are so influx, we`re actually
still quite uncomfortable with female power. And I talk about that and
sort of how women can navigate that new world.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask you about the sort of decisions. You
know, you talk about the decisions we make in our own households and yet
the political is part of that, because obviously if we are in war on women,
where women`s reproductive rights are being taken away, you`ll get to make
decisions, right, if you don`t have access to birth control and termination
ROSIN: I actually think of the war on women as the total backlash
against the societal shifts that I`m describing. And particularly when we
were focusing on contraception. It`s utterly absurd if you think about it,
because American families are completely dependent on not just women`s
earning power but women`s ambition.
I mean, you have women contributing 42 percent of household income on
average. You have a lot of women who are the bread winners in their
families. So, the idea that we would revisit the contraception debate is
absurd and shows you how people are feeling this new rise in women power
and uncomfortable with it.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to take from exactly that point, that idea
that maybe the war on women is a response to the end of men. It`s
fascinating. It`s certainly provocative. Thank you so much for joining me
from Washington, D.C.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I`m going to ask the guys whether
or not they are really over. And later, I`m going to talk with the doctor,
Dr. Maya Angelou.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it really the end of men? It`s time to let some
With me, Jamie Kilstein, co-host of "Citizen Radio" and he`s also the
husband of another one of my guests, Allison Kilkenny, of "The Nation".
Yes, they`re together. They`re not over.
And, of course, civil rights advocate, Wade Henderson, and Peter
Goodman of "The Huffington Post".
So, guys, are you over?
HENDERSON: Well, look, Hanna`s title reminds me of a t-shirt I saw a
few years ago -- "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes.
HENDERSON: The truth is that, look, that`s a glib take on the
progress and status of women today. But it ignores a different reality.
I mean, obviously, we know that women earn, what, 77 cents for every
dollar this a man earns. But women single heads of household, those in
poverty are almost 29 percent in comparison to 13 percent of male head of
households. We can`t even pass in Congress the Violence Against Women Act,
which was initiated years ago.
And the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
has been around now for over 30 years. Jimmy Carter signed it. But it`s
never been ratified by the Senate.
It speaks to the condition of women from a structural standpoint that
shows their access to power is incomplete at best. I think Hanna`s book
sort of ignores that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it feels to me like a little bit -- like the
argument that used to be made about African-American women as matriarchs
because they worked at much higher rates than their white female
counterparts. But the idea that black women were somehow powerful actors
in society was clearly misrepresenting the structure.
JAMIE KILSTEIN, CITIZEN RADIO: I was just going to say, it`s -- you
know, it is one -- you look at so many of the jobs they`re getting, right,
like teachers for example. Congratulations, you can teach. You`re on
strike in Chicago and you don`t have air conditioning.
Like I guess I`m just afraid -- any progress is good obviously -- but
I`m afraid the way like men`s rights activists and people like that will
take it, where "UP WITH CHRIS" this morning, they were showing this great
chart about from -- awful chart. From the Heritage Foundation about how,
poor people have microwaves. What are you using microwaves on your yachts
I feel like people will react to this the same way. Women can vote
now, it`s the end of men. It`s like there`s not going to be competition.
We`re all being screwed over by the same people.
KILKENNY: Yes. You know, I`m not to bash Hanna, but I don`t know
why it`s presented as this like, yes, this either/or thing. It`s like
either the men flourish or they die, you know, like a brutal death.
KILSTEIN: Right. It`s not like when Allison gets a new writing gig,
I`m like it`s over for me. We`ll be fine.
GOODMAN: The backdrop that we have to keep in mind, and that`s the
vast majority of working people in this country have seen their wages
stagnate or decline over the last quarter century plus. So to the degree
to which women are doing marginally better in the story than men because
the men are the guys who by and large lost construction jobs, manufacturing
jobs, that actually paid must have to support a whole family, and the women
are now stepping in, often earning, you know, 10 bucks an hour in the
service sector economy without health care and struggling, you know, I
don`t think this is what Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan had in mind in
terms of let`s declare victory.
There are fundamental problems that affect everyone unless you`re the
fabulously rich in America.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a bit like saying, well, now you have President
Obama so racism that`s over. Now we`re in the post-racial moment, right?
It feels like well, but wait a minute, there are systems and the systems
continue to operate even when some of the new bodies show up in the spaces.
KILSTEIN: It`s one of those things where the bar is so low, you
know? It`s like so -- you`re getting closer to equality and that -- we`re
celebrating that? Like we should start at equal, men and women should be
equal. We shouldn`t be like, oh, women are almost getting something so bye
men, you know?
KILKENNY: Yes. The standard gets lowered every time women`s rights
are under attack yet again. It`s like, you know --
GOODMAN: I think we`re confusing sometimes adapting to the trauma
that most people are experiencing in this economy with self-actualization.
I mean, these women at the lower end of the economic spectrum, who are not
getting married, who are not taking on another mouth to feed, which is
often an unemployed guy who, if he manages to get a job, his wages might
get garnished for child support, this woman is not celebrating, by and
large, you know, her tremendous independence that she has to support
herself and her family by herself because a lot of the men she could choose
from in this pool have been put in a position where they can`t earn their
That`s not a happy story. That`s a story of serious decline.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you, because it sounds like there`s a
potentially happy story that`s not being allowed to be a happy story, which
is what if masculinity is being redefined? Not the end of men, but the end
of only valuing men`s economic power. What if, in fact, we now start
thinking of -- I mean, so my husband is a lawyer and a civil rights
advocate and all those things. But he`s also a great dad. He`s also the
best cook in my household and we go very hungry without him.
What happens if we valued those contributions in the household just
as much as his paycheck?
HENDERSON: Look, cultural redefinition of masculinity and
femininity, that`s all to be supported and celebrated, because it brings
about a level of equanimity in the household that we haven`t had
But until women achieve paycheck fairness and until we`re able to
adjust the structural inequalities that help suppress women and keep them
artificially out of the marketplace and below men, we haven`t really made
the progress that I think people here would support.
GOODMAN: Nobody wins if half the population is struggling.
KILSTEIN: I do like that point, though, that men should take care of
the kids, especially if the woman is working.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not baby-sitting if you`re watching your kids.
KILSTEIN: You`re watching your own child.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s parenting.
KILSTEIN: Yes, it`s like I think you get guys sometimes that like,
you know, I think Hanna talks about in her book a guy with his kid like
wistfully looking at a construction site. And it`s just like, come on,
man, like this is your kid. What am I supposed to be like giving birth
It`s just like deal with that. I think that`s OK.
I think that the powerful people in America love playing us against
each other, right? Because it`s so much easier to blame a type of person,
so much easier to blame an immigrant than it is to blame the entire system
of Washington and the jobs program. It`s so much easier to blame, you
know, a gay person getting married than actually realize your marriage
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me pause on exactly that. It feels to me like --
it`s interesting to me when this notion about men and women, it`s as though
that`s the only kind of relationship there is. Everything is husbands and
wives, men and women.
One way to make more men available for marriage is to allow them to
marry one another, right? Gay men who want to marry one another.
KILKENNY: Straight couples who don`t want kids like us, like that`s
not considered normal, you know? And then, suddenly, we`re not part of the
conversation because we`re not parents, you know? So any kind of atypical
KILSTEIN: That`s a really good point. We get that a lot. When are
you going to have kids?
I just tell people that I have a medical condition that I can`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: Peter is like, oh, my gosh. It feels like I want
these things to coexist. I want heterosexual marriage to coexist in a
companionate way with marriage equality and gay marriage. I want men who
are primary breadwinners to exist with those who are in relationship where
they`re not primary breadwinners, like the multiplicity of ways to be male.
HENDERSON: The 21st century models of cultural adaptation and
change. And that is progress. Things are changing and our views about
normative behavior are different now than they were a few years ago.
I think the points that Allison made about childless couples and I
think the points that you have made about the heterosexual model being the
primary definition of culture in this country, it`s evolving.
Now, look, we may all want that security of knowing that men will
marry women and hopefully procreate and that`s all good stuff. But having
said that, it`s the economic and political issues that are at the heart.
GOODMAN: It`s fundamentally an economic book and the fundamental
economic story is the decline.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. It`s decline for everybody.
Thank you to everybody for being here -- Jamie, Allison, Wade and
And up next -- novelist, activist, teacher and now, Dr. Maya Angelou
is going to share wisdom with Nerdland.
HARRIS-PERRY: Twenty-one years ago, as an undergraduate at Wake
Forest University, I had the honor of being a student in the classroom of
an American icon, Dr. Maya Angelou.
And over the course of her 84 years, the little girl born as
Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, raised in Stamps, Arkansas,
evolved into the global Renaissance woman we all know as Maya Angelou.
She had done it all -- novelist, poet, activist, teacher, singer,
dancer, historian, actress, filmmaker, even the first black woman to
conduct a streetcar in San Francisco. Her globally acclaimed first memoir,
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" added the life story of a black woman to
the (INAUDIBLE) of the great American novel.
In her role at professor at Wake Forest University, she taught
courses in literature, democracy, social action and all those who are
familiar with her infinitely quotable wisdom can attest, the lessons she
has to teach reach far beyond the classroom and into our very lives. And
as I found out when I sat down with Dr. Angelou recently, in the living
room of her Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home, her wisdom reaches into
our understanding of modern-day American politics.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s been 20 years I think. I took your course as
a sophomore here at Wake Forest.
And I remember that one of key lessons was courage. And that courage
is the most important virtue.
DR. MAYA ANGELOU, AUTHOR, POET: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because without it, nothing else can be practiced
ANGELOU: That`s right. Your memory is good, by the way.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have said it to myself over and over for 20 years.
When you look at our current world, do we lack courage?
ANGELOU: Yes. We lack courage, particularly because we`re not wise
enough to try to educate ourselves so that we really can develop courage.
So we act like cowards. We sit in rooms where people use
pejoratives, racial pejoratives or sexual pejoratives. There are people
assaulting and beleaguering other people, Mexican, or Arab, or Jewish. We
just sit there like numb skulls instead of taking up because whoever is
being assailed, that`s you nit wit.
You should say excuse me, just a minute, I won`t sit in this room
when people are being assailed. Those are human beings and I`m a human
being. And so, I have to pick up for I must support this person.
You say he`s too skinny, fat, thin, stupid, bad teeth. I mean, wait
a minute. The statement is I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien
And if you know that, then you have enough -- develop enough courage
so that you can stand up for somebody and without -- maybe you don`t know
it at the time, but you`re really standing up for yourself. It`s the human
in you. It`s the kindness in you which allows you to be courageous.
You develop courage in small ways. You say I will not be called this
because I`m a woman. I`m not a B. Because I`m black, I`m not an N.
Because I`m an American, I`m not a fool or a murderer. I`m not that.
You have to develop ways so that you can take up for yourself and
then you take up for someone else. And so sooner or later, you have enough
courage to really stand up for the human race and say I`m a representative.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`ve also always said that words are things.
HARRIS-PERRY: They can harm or uplift. When I look at our current
political environment, I feel lack of courage, I see us turning our
opponents into enemies, and I see us using our words as weapons.
Beyond the partisanship, beyond supporting this candidate or that, is
there some lesson for a political world that we can gain?
ANGELOU: I don`t know how we can, after the fact, after the
election, how we can look at each other with friendly eyes, having for all
intents and purpose cursed each other out and said that this person is not
-- this person is a liar, a brute. This person is a fraud. And then the
elections will take place and then we have to work together in the House of
Representatives or in the Senate or in the supermarket.
I think it`s fair and proper to say -- to explain your point of view
and what you hope to achieve. That`s fair. But that doesn`t mean then
that -- say of the other person who has another agenda that he`s a brute.
Or she`s a terrible word. That`s stupid.
What breaks my heart, Ms. Perry, Dr. Perry, what breaks my heart is
to think what would our nation be like if we dared to be intelligent, if we
dared to allow our intelligence to dictate our movements, our actions? What
would -- can you imagine?
HARRIS-PERRY: Can you imagine?
More from my interview with Dr. Maya Angelou tackling the issue of
education is next.
Now save 50 percent on banners. One of the most memorable lessons
taught to me by Dr. Maya Angelou is that words are things, they have power.
If that`s true, the words of her name, Maya Angelou, are powerful indeed.
In my talk with her, we talked about the magic of the name Maya
Angelou and its ability to give new life to communities and to transform
ANGELOU: I don`t know that of 40 schools around the country named
for me and libraries and homes and things, areas in cities in Portland. In
fact, in Harlem, areas named for me. If you name me for Maya Angelou,
maybe the people will take it back and oppose their druthers, and the
brutes. It`s a blessing to work hard and be given such kudos, such
responsibility, such honor.
HARRIS-PERRY: But it`s more than that. That means your name -- you
talk about words being things -- your name has actual power. If you name
it for you, perhaps people will take it back.
ANGELOU: Yes. What we can do when we have built a name or when
we`re building a name or when we`re just starting, the moment we understand
-- oh, wait a minute, I can help somebody, just a minute. I can help
Then you realize that that person that you`re speaking to and
speaking of is in your lap, and needs you.
HARRIS-PERRY: There are four schools in Washington, D.C. named for
HARRIS-PERRY: It seems like 444 too few. One of them is especially
for adjudicated youth.
ANGELOU: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Why is that important to you?
ANGELOU: It`s so important. When the larger society is saying,
you`re nothing. I don`t have to consider you. Then -- they then begin to
believe they`re nothing and worth nothing.
And so, they become obese. They become cruel. They become criminal.
They hold up liquor stores. I mean, they risk their lives and so
that`s how they can only get into the school, supported or introduced by
the probation officer or parole officer.
The children come in. They have to be in school from 8:00 in the
morning until 8:00 at night. And 8:00 at night, they don`t want to go home
because home may be where the hurt is.
ANGELOU: So they stay in the school and I just tell you wonderful
ANGELOU: I went up there, supporting this school, then the two young
men, the two lawyers had a contest, how to name the school. I was sitting
there. One of the founders said here`s a woman who earned the right to
name the school. The young woman got up, she was not looking all that good
and she had a piece of paper.
(INAUDIBLE) She said, how are you doing? (INAUDIBLE) telling us to
get up, get up. You know, she`s trying to make us do good and, you know,
Maya Angelou been down low, she`s down lower than any of us. And now she`s
up high. She`s way up over you white people. She`s up over it. I said
ANGELOU: That was 12 years ago.
About four years ago in Philadelphia, a young woman came, she said
Dr. Angelou, how are you? I said fine. She said, you don`t remember me.
I said no. She said, my letter won the right to name your first
school. I asked, you are -- she told me her name, and I said, what
happened to you? She said, well I finished at the Maya Angelou school and
then I took my first degree from Howard. And my second from Hampton. And
I`m now working on my doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.
See? This young woman was just waiting to happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: She was just waiting to happen.
That also perfectly describes exactly how I felt when I first met Dr.
Angelou more than 20 years ago. And I am so grateful that she took the
time to talk with me this week.
Dr. Angelou and her lessons as a teacher will be on my mind next
Sunday. I will be hosting a special edition of this show. It will be a
student town hall as part of NBC`s education nation summit live from the
New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan.
To inform and guide this discussion, we will be collecting questions
and ideas from students. You can send your ideas via Facebook, on
Facebook.com/educationnation. And on Twitter @educationnation.
Also students can upload YouTube videos for a series we`re calling my
solution, by going to educationnation.com. Go ahead. And invite the
students in your home to do that today. And be sure to tune in next Sunday
at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
And up next, I`m going to tell you what was the most important
government program that helped my success.
HARRIS-PERRY: Last Monday, I was honored to address students at my
alma mater, Wake Forest University.
Many of Wake`s bright, ambitious students ask me about success -- how
to achieve it, what tools to use or paths to take. In thinking of how to
answer their questions, I was reminded of a simple truth. Hard work is a
necessary but insufficient condition for success. You remember the
difference between necessary and sufficient conditions from high school
OK. What`s the equation for water? H20. So hydrogen is necessary
for water but it`s not enough. To make water, you also must have a little
oxygen. Oxygen is the sufficient condition.
Success is like that. You need hard work, commitment and courage.
But you also need help in the investment of others. Help is the oxygen for
success, the crucial sufficient condition.
Now, help comes in many forms. If you`re really lucky, you might
start off with wealthy parents who provide you access to the best schools,
opportunities for cultural enrichment and investment in your
Nearly all Americans get help in other ways too. Government programs
benefit nearly every successful American.
Now, when I say government program, you`re probably thinking food
stamps and welfare. Those programs are crucial to helping the most
vulnerable. But government help comes in many other forms -- the home
mortgage interest deduction, subsidized student loans, unemployment
insurance, veterans benefits, Medicare, Social Security.
Those are the middle-class safety net. Corporate tax cuts, imminent
domain, public stock trading and intellectual property rights are the
government programs of the wealthy. No individual of any group is solely
responsible for their own success. Everyone receives help.
The roads and bridges we travel towards success are paved by
government funds, both literally and figuratively.
The most important government program that provided sufficient oxygen
for my success? Extraordinary, committed teachers in the public schools I
attended from the day I started kindergarten until I left for college.
As the crisis in public education is on dramatic display in Chicago
this week, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge how much I owe to
those men and women, those government workers, who were the oxygen of my
Thank you especially to Amy Knight (ph), Roberta Thieg (ph), Valerie
Gregory (ph), Mrs. Erickson (ph), and Alan Ramshire (ph). I have not
forgotten the difference that you made.
And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching
and a very happy holiday to all of those celebrating the Jewish New Year
I`ll see you again next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. And then on
Sunday, our show will be student town hall as part of NBC`s "Education
Nation" from the New York Public Library. You do not want to miss that.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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