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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Date: June 15, 2013
Guests: Cristina Bertran, Matt Welch, Jamal Simmons, Raul Reyes, Deborah
Fowler, Salamishah Tillet, Jordan Goldberg, Amy Hagstrom Miller, Howard
Wolfson, Blake Zeff, Jackie Rowe-Adams, Errol Louis, Amy Palmiero-Winters,
Izzy Botko

ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question: would a linebacker
by any other name smell as sweaty plus the Republican obsession with
controlling your uterus. And New York`s billionaire mayor an ally or fair
weather friend. But first President Obama stares down the haters to get a
big win.

Good morning. I`m Ari Melber sitting this week in for Melissa Harris-
Perry. I want to go back to a telling moment with President Obama. The
date was April 27th at the Washington Hilton and the president swapped out
the usual hail to the chief for a different kind of entrance.




OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. How do you like my new entrance music?



MELBER: It takes a certain kind of hutzpah to swagger into the White House
correspondents` dinner to DJ Khaled`s "All I Do Is Win." But from a string
of domestic policy victories in the first term to winning reelection by 4.6
million votes, the record is pretty clear. You don`t always hear about it
in Washington where people are too busy looking into the mirror to look at
history. So, let`s quickly revisit some of the highlights. This president
brought the economy back from the brink through an $831 billion stimulus
program, a controversial, but ultimately profitable bailout of the American
auto industry, strengthening financial reform and creating a dedicated
government bureau to protect consumers. That`s us. Repealing "Don`t ask,
don`t tell." Reducing criminal injustice by cutting drugs sentencing
disparities. Changing the composition of the Supreme Court by appointing
two impressive women, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. And, of
course, the largest progressive domestic policy to expand our social safety
net in a generation, the Affordable Care Act. So, for Obama supporters who
are accustomed to all that, to all those policy successes, so far the
second term may seem like it`s off to a slow start, but I think that
changed this week. The president just took a crucial step towards the
first big win of the second term on Tuesday.

Advocates for immigration reform broke an attempted filibuster. Now
nothing should stop the Senate from an up-or-down vote for landmark
legislation that would provide the U.S.`s first comprehensive immigration
reform in almost three decades. Now, if that happens, President Obama will
become the first president to make a lasting mark on immigration policy
that clears away the citizenship for undocumented immigrants since all the
way back to 1986. And that, of course, was when President Ronald Reagan
passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which took 3 million people
who came into America illegally and made them citizens. For President
Obama, immigration reform is the ACA of the second term. It`s the kind of
domestic policy that lifts millions of marginalized people out of legal
limbo and enshrines presidential legacies, and now that the president score
to procedural win on the filibuster, Republicans can`t stop immigration
votes in the Senate. So some are feeling the pressure to play ball, and
others, however, have hit on a new strategy, and this is important. They
want to amend this bill to death. You`ve heard Republicans talk about
building a wall on the border. Now they have a poison pill set of
amendments that would build a wall on the path to citizenship. In fact,
there are now 44 amendments that were introduced by our count just in the
first two hours of Senate floor debate. And there`s nothing wrong with
amendments and, you know, talking through our ideas through the legislative
process. That`s how things are supposed to work.

But some of these Republican amendments are actually designed to sink the
entire bill. They would tack on so many hurdles to the citizenship process
that many of us think the bill would look a lot more like the status quo
than reform. Let`s look at some specifics. Take Iowa Senator Chuck
Grassley. He tried to create a rule that would not allow the legalization
process, the whole point of this thing, to begin until the Department of
Homeland Security could certify six months of control over the U.S. border
with Mexico. His Senate colleagues dismissed that out of hand, the measure
lost by 14 votes. Then it was Texas Senator John Cornyn`s turn, his
proposal would hold permanent legal residents hostage for a year until the
government able to confirm a total awareness of everything that happens
along the border. Cornyn would also require a pretty arbitrary border
apprehension rate of 90 percent.

Now, mind you, the original bill already includes provisions for increased
border security. Federal spending on border security is right now at an
all-time high. An all-time high, and the Gang of Eight Senate bill already
adds over $4 billion more to that kind of program.

So don`t think for a second that all these poison pills will go the way of
the Grassley amendment. Once it emerges from the Senate, the immigration
bill will still have to survive the House and that as we know is a tougher
sell. Republican senators now, they`re arguing that if the bill has any
shot of becoming law of the land, the Senate has to sweeten the deal with
these poison pills in order to entice their friends in the House side, the
rest of the Republican caucus to get on board.

So ultimately there is a chance here the president could get his win, but
at a price so high it might not be enough for the very people this
president wants to help. Well, at the table with me today NBC Latino`s
Paul Reyes, an attorney -- I did it again.


Raul (ph) Veiro, my second time calling Raul Reyes -- I love teleprompter
problems .


MELBER: Raul is an attorney who`s been covering the debate, and I`m very
excited to have you at the table. We also have Matt Welch, editor-in-chief
of "Reason" magazine, which I consider the house journal of the libertarian
movement. NYU political science professor Cristina Beltran and Jamal
Simmons, who`s worked for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Max Cleland.

Raul, we just talked about everything that is up against this bill. This
important Gang of Eight bill. What are the Republicans facing off with
this week that we`re looking at that`s important to distinguish between
poison pills and real amendments?

RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: Well, the main thing that`s really I think will be
like - will be a turning point is this John Cornyn amendment. Because this
could give a lot of Republicans cover to not support the bill. Because
they could say, well, if this isn`t part of it, then we won`t be part of
it. But as you pointed out, this Cornyn amendment, this - comes on top of
so much border security, but when you really break it down, the big problem
with that amendment is that it takes the path to citizenship, it separates
it from the people who are actually trying to go through that process, it
makes it contingent upon the Department of Homeland Security and other
metrics, which can be changed by different administrations or - by even -
perhaps the Republican appointed DHS secretary, and if the path to
citizenship is not secure, if it`s not direct, this whole balance of the
bill will not work. That`s the danger coming ahead.

MELBER: All right. I want to play something really quick from Jay Carney,
who speaks to the point you`re talking about, whether that kind of
amendment is designed to be a part of immigration reform or something to
sink it. Let`s take a listen to Jay Carney at the White House on Thursday.


JAY CARNEY, W.H. PRESS SECRETARY: What our goal is, the president`s goal
is, is that the Senate keep its eye on the ball and not allow those who
clearly have no interest in passing comprehensive immigration reform, with
all its benefits to the economy and the middle class and our businesses,
not allow them to derail this process, but instead to keep focused on a
bill that will achieve the principles that the president and the Gang of
Eight have laid out.


MELBER: Cristina, you hear Jay Carney there talking about derailing the
process. Do you think that`s what the Cornyn amendment would do?

CRISTINA BELTRAN, ASSOC., PROF., NYU: I think definitely. I think one of
the things that`s so interesting is we keep talking about immigration as a
complicated issue and it clearly is. And so, one of the problems here is,
that we are thinking, you know, the Republicans are trying to play politics
here as opposed to good policy. So one of the things --

MELBER: That never happens.

BELTRAN: Never. It`s like a magical strange thing. I can`t imagine it
ever happening. So, I mean, I think that`s really one of the things that
the Republicans are trying to give themselves cover by being able to say
well, we just want to make sure we have all these security triggers
involved here. But ultimately, it`s a completely unrealistic, you know,
logic for immigration. And we need to really have complicated
conversations about how difficult it is to secure the border, to talk about
border security in a realistic way that acknowledges the difficulties of
this, but instead we`re going to have, you know, potentially incredibly bad

MELBER: And Matt, when you look at Senator Cornyn`s history here, you have
someone who`s stepping into this debate wanting to play a big role, and yet
in 2007 when we had a Republican-backed immigration bill, he demanded
concessions and then ultimately didn`t get behind the thing. So, does that
go to whether we should trust him?

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REASON: I`m not going to - he`s a politician


WELCH: So I`m not going to trust him.


WELCH: But I`m not sure that I agree with the framing of the poison pill.
I`ll not in favor of having some proof, some illusory proof of border
security before signing up to an immigration bill. It`s not my issue. But
I talked to a lot of people who - it is their issue. They feel like they
signed on to this deal by getting enough sort of oral concessions or like
promises that they were going to get some kind of certification of
security. It`s the way it was sort of sold politically to Republicans and
they feel like that the bill, as it exists right now, doesn`t show that,
and so it requires this amendment. I think it`s an actual philosophical
difference, it`s the one that I don`t necessarily agree with, but it`s not
necessarily intended to sink the bill.

MELBER: That`s such an important point there, because what you`re saying
is, even if people are skeptical of the motives of some of these members,
and you say we should be skeptical of politicians, always. This is an
ingredient that should be a prerequisite. And thus if it`s not - if it
doesn`t work.

WELCH: At least a discussion that should be part of .

MELBER: I mean, to those people.

WELCH: Speaking to your point, we don`t have that discussion in this
country that you cannot have a 100 percent secure border unless you become
a police state. No one wants to say that out loud.

MELBER: Jamal, do you buy that?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Well, let`s just first of all,
realize that Cornyn - Senator Cornyn is like Lucy with the football gear.
I mean he is not going to .


SIMMONS: . vote for this bill. He didn`t vote last time, as you pointed
out. And (inaudible) we don`t think he`s going to do it again. And the
border has basically gone to a trickle. I mean we`ve got kind of like net
zero of illegal immigration. So I think Republicans are holding this up as
really it is politics that they`re trying to play with their base
constituents. And so, maybe they need something that you can give them
politically so they can say they did something, but don`t let it be
something that actually gets in the way of the good policy and ruins them.
Ultimately the Republican Party has to make a decision here, are they going
to be a party that has national ambitions, going to appeal to people across
the board and have a chance to win the White House or are they going to be
a congressional minority party that can only win because they redistrict
everything in a way they stay in the majority in the House.

MELBER: Well, and your old boss, former President Bill Clinton said this
week net zero immigration. Raul, why does that matter here?

REYES: It does matter, because first of all we`re doing this at the right
time because immigration is at net zero right now. Mexico`s economy is
growing, so there is far fewer people coming over. But these metrics do
matter. And just to your point, Matt, this bill as it came through the
Senate committee, it`s already top-heavy with voter security provisions.
It already allows for like the largest increases of border security .

MELBER: Right.

REYES: .in .

MELBER: . over the 4 billion of spending.

REYES: So we`re putting that on top of it. And one thing that I think
Republicans are missing in this element they see this - this is something
maybe they`re potentially giving to the Democrats, giving President Obama a
win, a poll last week from Latino Decisions, showed that of a majority of -
majority of Latino voters, bare (ph) majority, would be open to voting for
Republicans if they are instrumental in passing this. And half of Latinos,
Latino voters in the past have voted Republican. So the door is open for
their own opportunity and they`re not willing to go forward with it.
That`s part of the story that I think their leadership is missing. It
could benefit them.

MELBER: Right. And you think the dynamics vis-a-vis Republicans are
actually in their interest if they were enlightened .

REYES: Right. The door - the opportunity is there.

MELBER: That`s the one I want to stay - we`re talking about that in our
next segment. It`s another piece of the puzzle of immigration reform that
we think is a little different this time. You`re going to have to look at
the roll call vote history. And so what we`re going to do, and why no one
would listen to President George W. Bush, up next.



isn`t perfect. It`s a compromise. And going forward, nobody is going to
get everything that they want. Not Democrats, not Republicans, not me.


MELBER: That was President Obama on Tuesday reentering the fray around
immigration reform, the same day a filibuster breaking vote in the Senate
cleared the way for debate on this bill to truly begin. We`re back at the
table with some talented panelists. Jamal, you worked in the Senate for
Max Cleland and well as for others. How significant is this, this week,
this breakthrough, breaking what was an attempted Republican filibuster?

SIMMONS: Look, this is a big deal. It`s what - this is - the filibuster
has been stymieing legislation piece after legislation piece. And so now,
we`ve got - at least we`re going to get some movement and we know, we`re
going to get a vote. The president is playing a really deaf hand here. I
mean sometimes he speaks up, but mostly the White House has sort of taken a
step back with the Gang of Eight, and the Senate kind of work this out. To
keep the Republicans on the reservation, and we`ll see what happens when it
gets out of the Senate and goes to the House.

MELBER: Yeah, I mean one thing I want to contrast here, and Raul, and I
have talked about this before, is there are a lot of places where this
president`s role doesn`t get enough credit. We hear a lot of talk about
his attitude and his mood and, is he strong enough. And that`s all sort of
adjectives as far as I`m concerned. I want to show you some numbers that
show that as a second term president this person, Barack Obama, is doing
way better than the last president who tried to deal with this. I want to
look specifically at the 2007 vote to try to break a filibuster against the
immigration reform, which was President George W. Bush. He basically went
in there and said, we need to do this and Republicans only 12 came out and
said, OK, let`s at least talk about it. By the way, not on the underlying
bill whether we do immigration reform, just to get it to the floor, which
is Jamal was just saying is the issue. And 37 Republicans in President
Bush`s own party filibustered him. That`s 75 percent of the Republican
caucus. So, how significant is it that for a range of reasons we have a
president today who`s already done better than that and broken the

REYES: Right. To me, you know, when you look at the big picture, I`ve
been optimistic about this all along. But when I step back I still have to
say it`s extraordinary that we have come so far. That it went through the
Senate Judiciary Committee, that it made it through the vote. That we are
now - you know, it is now going to the Senate for these weeks. And the
thing is, President Obama`s role is so interesting because he cannot be too
involved because he`ll just be a lightning rod for conflict. In some ways
he can do things in public to exert some pressure indirectly, sometimes he
can be sort of a godfather looking over at it. But he`s walking a very
fine line. And I do give him credit, though, because at certain points he
does, like with the announcement, you know, he does assert himself. So
he`s there. He just cannot be too involved at this point.

MELBER: Matt, do you agree with that?

WELCH: I do. And furthermore, I would say that the Republicans, in
addition to the fact that Obama has won a couple of elections which
influences people .


WELCH: . but he won a couple of elections with increasing support among
Latinos, even after setting records for deportations .

MELBER: Correct.

WELCH: And there`s the young vote right now, which is kind of tied up with
a lot of different things, but part of it is the sense that Republican are
the out of touch old white guy party. Right? So, I mean it`s not just
Latinos who are voting70 percent for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
It`s basically every single group of non-white men.

MELBER: Jamal - Jamal, let`s hear ..


MELBER: Sorry, go ahead, Matt.

WELCH: The Republicans are motivated right now to deal with this in a way
that they weren`t in 2006 because they hadn`t had their hat handed to them
on multiple occasions.

MELBER: Right. And they - and that is really the numbers point here.
They went from 75 percent filibustering a Republican president`s
immigration reform to going along with this president. Matt was talking
about out of touch old white guys. What is your position on that?


SIMMONS: White guys? I love them. Some of my best friends, are old white
guys. You know, listen, they`re caught in a demographic vice, right?
They`ve got this incredibly shrinking population of people in the south,
Midwest, excerpts in other parts of the country who are frankly a little
nervous, right? The country is changing around them. Their economy has
been like contracting so they haven`t had the same economic benefits. The
country is becoming more brown, and more - younger. And the values are
changing. Gay rights, women are working. I mean all of these things are
happening and they are not quite sure what to do. And I think it`s going
to be -- they`re going to have to decide when they`re going to break from
that old group and get to dealing with the new America that`s coming.

BELTRAN: Yeah. And I think the other thing, though, is - I mean to want
to give credit to Obama for getting things as far he has.

But like you said, a lot of this is about the changing demographics, the
election, the fact that Latino voters came out in such high numbers and
it`s really forced the Republicans to think about that fact or occasionally
try to think about that fact. And I think the other part of this that we
sort of forget is how important it was that Dreamers and undocumented
activists put this on the table last summer. When they began, you know,
sitting in in Obama`s campaign offices and saying, we`re going to talk
about deportation, as you`re trying to appeal to Latino voters, we`re going
to be bringing this up.

That was something that mainstream - immigrant rights organizations were
intimidated - afraid to do. And so, you know, young undocumented activists
put this on the table and I think that`s something that makes this go-round
with immigration really interesting. Is that we`re used to talking about
the undocumented. What we`re not used to is the undocumented speaking for

REYES: They`re not usually part of the conversation.

BELTRAN: And now they`re themselves organizers.

REYES: They have asserted themselves .


REYES: They have asserted themselves, as you said, often against the
advice of the more established advocacy organizations.


REYES: It was one year ago today that the president announced that
deferred action for young people who were brought here illegally as
children. And that - you know, when looking back, that`s sort of a turning
point in the election .


REYES: . because that`s when you know, Latinos were very disappointed with
this president because of the record deportations and he had been very
recalcitrant on immigration. That was a turning point. And from there,
from that on, that`s when Latino voters became energized, mobilized and
then it culminated in I think it was 71 percent .


REYES: . turnout for the president.

MELBER: Right. Well, Raul, you mentioned that rule that interplay of the
Dreamers and then people say, well, is the establishment going to embrace
that? What`s the White House is going to do at 9:40 A.M today, they did
put out a statement commemorating that one-year anniversary, using the
language of Dreamers .


MELBER: That`s not something that I think was as much a mainstream part of
the debate, you know, previously.

BELTRAN: Exactly. And I think one of the things that`s really interesting
about this, is we tend to talk about immigrants in terms of what they give
us. Right? And it`s often very instrumental and it`s very much of
economics. They give us their labor, their give us their youth, their
energy. What we don`t talk enough about is their civic capacity. We`re
talking about citizenship here. And citizenship isn`t just a status. It`s
a practice. Right? And so, one of the things that undocumented activism
and immigrant activism in general has done is it`s shown us people enacting
a citizenship they don`t yet have.

MELBER: Yeah, and I want to .

BELTRAN: And that`s really powerful.

MELBER: And I want to pick up on that .


MELBER: . and look at whether that is worth 60 votes or 70 votes.


MELBER: Something we`re talking about up next on this show. We`ve got the
new standard that the Senate wants to be set and why some of us think it`s
worse than 60 votes. That`s up next.


MELBER: Welcome back. The filibuster proved 60 vote super majority has
become something of a new normal for passing bills in this Senate. And
that is still not enough for some backers of this immigration bill. The
Senate Gang of Eight doesn`t think 60 votes will be enough to entice
Republicans in the House to take action, even if the legislation passes the
Senate and that super 60. So they are ditching the super majority for an
overmajority, a new number that Gang of Eight member Senator Chuck Schumer
spoke about on "Meet the Press" last week.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-New York): We`re hoping to get 70 votes, up to 70
votes, which means a lot of Republicans and we`re willing to entertain
amendments that don`t damage the core principles of the bill, but improve
the bill just as we did in committee. We came out of the committee very
strong. Our gang of eight stuck together and we picked up Orrin Hatch`s
vote as well.


MELBER: Why stop at 70? Maybe we need 80. Cristina, I want to go back to
you, we were talking about this before the break. My question is, say

BELTRAN: I don`t really understand. I mean I think then the terrorists
win, right?


BELTRAN: I mean I don`t really - I don`t really get the logic of sort of
thinking, really, do you think like six more votes is going to make, you
know, you know, all the sort of Tea Party congressmen go, oh, well, now I`m
totally for it. It seems like an insane effort to create a worse bill.
Like it just seems like a recipe for creating the potential for more poor
amendments. You know, and that is more dangerous.

MELBER: So, do you think Senator Schumer who people see as an advocate on
this .


MELBER: Is just strategically wrong?

BELTRAN: I think he is. I think it`s really - I think - I think the real
case is what is the best policy for immigration and then making a case for
why this is the best policy. Like we need to fight on the ground of ideas
rather than sort of playing politics with assuming that three more votes is
going to transform the debate.

MELBER: Matt, you - you`re friends with libertarians. You`ve known to
consort with the Tea Party.

WELCH: I`m like - I`m like Chuck Schumer, yes.

MELBER: Is this just a game - I mean - and again, I`m not going to make
you defend everything that we think they might want.

WELCH: Sure.

MELBER: But it seems to me that this is a crazy game that we have to go
around worrying about what a minority in the Republican caucus, in the
House, which has not shown a responsible interest in leadership on this
issue, what it would take to get them and build up to 70 now.

WELCH: Look, do you want a bill? Do you want a law to be passed? Then
you`re going to have to have the House of Representatives pass a bill. And
they are going to need to feel like they either have political cover for it
or that they`re not going to be punished so much politically or that they
are going to be punished so much politically for not passing it. And so, I
think that`s all that Chuck Schumer. Now you have never good (ph) Chuck
Schumer --- and .

MELBER: Don`t start today.

WELCH: So, I`m not going to start today, but I think that`s what he`s
getting at, is that hey, look, if this is going to pass, it can`t be like
Obamacare, it can`t just get over the wire and then have an entire swath of
the country be hostile towards this. This has to go a lot stronger.

SIMMONS: I would just like to follow kind of the old admonition to get
from your parents and your first boss, under-promise, over-deliver. So, I
would like to sort of say, well, let`s face 60 and then let`s get 70 and
have a big showing. I`d hate to call 70 and then come in at 68 and
everyone now thinks of that some sort of a defeat.

MELBER: Well, not that - Raul, isn`t that right? I mean why give away the
leverage? You`ve got the "New York Times" today asking weather John Cornyn
could be the key vote, which used to be like the key 60th vote, now like he
could be the key 70th vote. That`s not a thing

REYES: Right.


REYES: It`s announcing the strategy is certainly not a good idea. But
looking at the bigger picture, to your point about, you know, Obamacare,
the Affordable Health Care Act, remember that that long amendment process
where the Republicans inserted, I think, it was 150 amendments to really
change the character of that legislation? And they didn`t vote for it
anyway, so I think there`s a really a strong case to be made here that it`s
better to go with a good bill with 60 or 60-some votes rather than
something that is an assault on the core of this bill, and the core of this
bill is the pathway to citizenship. That is what matters, that`s, you
know, that`s what sets this apart. And that`s the balance we`re talking
about, that the constructive going to this whole process. I`m not
convinced that the 70 votes is the party.

BELTRAN: Yeah. And I think - I think there`s also another political
option for them, which is trying to develop the best bill and fight for it.
If you let this get watered down with crappier and crappier amendments, at
the end of the day if the bill does pass, and it doesn`t work in all these
kinds of critical ways and then Democrats respond by saying .

MELBER: Nobody would be happy.

BELTRAN: Well, we accepted this bad amendment, and then actually, you
know, it produces a lot of sort of civic frustration with people saying,
why can`t you guys do this right? You know, at least if Democrats can make
an argument that we had a good bill, we did these things. And I think - I
mean I think whether this passes or not, I think the passage is not
contingent on this sliver anyway. So, it doesn`t seem like it`s
politically that smart because I think you end up having the health care
problem, where you end up .

MELBER: Exactly.

BELTRAN: . making arguments for a bad bill that you ended up ultimately
crediting yourself.

SIMMONS: The one question, I - which is that health care is actually a
pretty good bill, 30 million people are going to be covered.


SIMMONS: And so I would like to email - at some point as a practitioner of
politics and policy passing what you want to do is get a bill passed, as we
were saying - as Matt was saying earlier, you want to get a vote passed,
and that means sometimes you are not going to get a perfect bill, you are
not going to get a great bill.


SIMMONS: But you`re going to get a good bill and that`s going to be good
for a lot of -- much better for a lot more people than having no bill at

WELCH: I`ve said from the beginning of this that it is a strategic error -
- now you guys disagree with me -- to make this a comprehensive immigration
reform. When you have a situation where there`s 10 million people who are
law breakers, it`s time to think about this as a prohibition problem. And
there`s a way to get at that prohibition problem without throwing the
kitchen sink into this. But two generations of reformers have decided that
we need it to be comprehensive. The moment it becomes comprehensive with
it, is the moment that you`re going to get amendments all over the place,
you`re going to have so many things that outrage so many people and so it
becomes difficult to pass, and it does get watered down by the structure of
the way that .

MELBER: Right. And part of the question here is whether it`s getting
watered down and diluted or to your point, Cristina whether it`s just
getting crappier.


MELBER: Making it crappier is different than making it more watery.

BELTRAN: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

MELBER: And we`re going to keep an eye on the crap and the water.


MELBER: What I want to look at next break, when we come back, is another
really important piece, which is you have to understand what triggers me in
this policy and political contest and why that gimmick may be catching on
with our Congress. It turns out that the budget drama has some lessons for
the immigration reform advocates.


MELBER: If this, then that. That`s how policy triggers are supposed to
work. So if a sequence of war securities measure are in place, then the
path to legal citizenship opens up for America`s undocumented immigrants.
And that might be a reasonable approach to public policy for some people
except when we`re left stuck with a trigger that becomes bigger than the
policy itself. I think we need to look no further for an example than the
trigger that was never supposed to happen. Remember this moment from a
presidential debate last October?


not something that I proposed. It`s something that Congress has proposed.
It will not happen.



MELBER: But it did happen. The threat of automatic spending cuts was
supposed to force Congress to take action to reduce the deficit. Instead
we got what we`re stuck with and struggling with now, a seemingly permanent
sequestration. Now, Jamal, I bring up the sequester because it was a type
of trigger and I think it`s absolutely clear from the record that the
president was not interested in going over that cliff. In fact, he went
more than halfway to be reasonable, to do outreach, to be bipartisan.


MELBER: And the very thing that he and others had said, we don`t want,
John Boehner wrote in the "Wall Street Journal," we don`t want this to
happen, became the policy. Should we be worried about that here as we look
at all of these triggers?

SIMMONS: Well, the question for me is going to be, you know, the Gang of
Eight, does it stick - does it keep some of these dangerous amendments out?
And then we - you mentioned a name that we have not heard enough about,
John Boehner. You know, what about John Boehner`s leadership here? He`s
really .

MELBER: I kind of feel like I hear about him all the time.


SIMMONS: Really? What are you watching? Here? You know, John Boehner`s
House is going to have to pass this. He`s the speaker. So, the question
is, is he going to be able to exert the leadership to get his party to do
what the majority of Americans want. And that needs to be on his shoulder.

MELBER: So, Matt, that goes to part of the policy discussion we were
having earlier, which is what kind of triggers do you think are fair and
reasonable to include? Clearly many Republicans and even some libertarians
rejected Grassley`s approach because it seemed like a poison bill
pretending to be a trigger. How can we be sure that the alternatives are
more real?

WELCH: I think it`s all going to be in this sort of muddy zone between
having DHS, you know, say, I think we got it under control, Cornyn wants a
90 percent rate of catching illegal immigrants at the border. I think
that`s probably a nonstarter. So, they`re going to try to find some way
for a mushy cover that doesn`t actually require any hard trigger. Is what
I guess because you can`t actually measure this and lock it down.

BELTRAN: What I was struck by is that this whole idea of triggers in the
way reflects a kind of - a fundamental lack of trust in our ability to

MELBER: Exactly.

BELTRAN: I mean it does - wait, wait. Like we can`t do .

WELCH: Understandable.

BELTRAN: Yeah. But in some ways like you cannot make a machine that runs
itself. Like at some point you actually need judgment and assessment and
on the ground fluidity where you can make choices and you can`t escape
that. And triggers, you know, produce some incredibly destructive
policies, and so it actually -- and it works actually on the opposite
sense. What has the sequester done but erode people`s sense that
government can work. So, it`s - it`s -it produces the very thing it ..

MELBER: Well, and Raul, doesn`t that go to the real, the deeper policy
question Cristina is raising, which is when the Patriot Act was first
passed there was a trigger of sorts technically a sunset, but the idea was
that after ten years we must redebate this, because it will expire. We
must. And there was actually agreement interestingly across the left and
the right, both in passing that thing, which turned out to have (inaudible)
some bad ingredients, but also with that approach of saying give us ten
years. Is that logic really applicable to a situation where a lot of
people including American businesses seem to say we need to deal with
undocumented immigration regardless of what happens on the boarder?

REYES: Right. And also there are so many variables in this equation. You
know, how the Mexican economy is doing, how that effects our, you know, the
flow of illegal - undocumented immigrants into this country. You know, the
needs of our labor markets, you know, you know, however is in power,
whoever happens to be which person from which party is appointed DHS
secretary, and the problem, I know, I certainly support various metrics to,
you know, to have different levels of boarder security. The problem is,
what we`ve seen in past attempts at border security. The Republicans keep
changing those metrics. In fact, going back to 2007 attempt at the
immigration reform, pretty much all of those metrics that they had then for
border security, have been met or surpassed. But now that we are talking
about illegal immigration again. Now those are not good enough. They have
put them further, although as we talked about, illegal immigration is down.
So, it`s just a very fine line. But .

MELBER: We have to go because we`re about to talk about - prison reform.
I want to give the last word to Jamal. Do the Republicans (inaudible) to
go posts?

SIMMONS: Oh, They move them every time. There`s one more thumb on the
scale, though, I want to say before we go, which is the technology
community, Silicon Valley wants to get this done.



SIMMONS: To get those H1B visa numbers up.



MELBER: All right. Well, thank you to Matt Welch and Jamal Simmons.
Cristina and Raul will be back later in the program. We are going to look
at a new Republican effort to regulate women`s bodies. I think you need to
see this. But first, there are a lot of apologists out there for the
Washington Redskins. I want to call bull on a very important one - my
letter to Commish, that`s up next.


MELBER: You know this guy? It`s Frank Luntz, he is a conservative
labeling guru who`s worked for everyone from Newt Gingrich to Pat Buchanan.
And this week his firm held a focus group to gauge reaction to of all
things the name of the Washington, D.C., NFL franchise. That`s according
to the Web site "Think Progress." And one of the questions for potential
participants of the focus group was whether the name Redskins is offensive.
Well, no need for a focus group when it comes to the NFL`s top dog. We
already happen to know how he feels about the team name because he defended
it in a letter. He called the name "a unifying force that stands for
strength, courage, pride and respect." Well, that`s a misunderstanding
that runs so deep I do feel compelled to respond with a letter of my own.

Dear NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it`s me, Ari. And look, commish, it
is tough to come out against the Washington Redskins, I get it. They are
the world`s fourth most valuable sports team, worth more than $1.5 billion.
But your response to ten members of Congress urging a name change that we
saw this week was pretty disappointing. You wrote that, "In our view a
fair and thorough discussion of the issue must begin with an understanding
of the roots of the Washington franchise and the Redskins name in
particular well, yeah, let`s do just that, let`s look at the root of the
word "redskin." In their letter to you, those ten members of Congress
including the co-chairs of the congressional Native American caucus, tried
to explain to you that Native Americans throughout the country consider the
"R" word a racial derogatory slur. Yet the national coverage of
Washington`s NFL football team profits from a term that`s disparaging to
Native Americans. Commissioner, the debate may continue over the
definitive origin of the world, but for many it traces back to one man,
commissioner, meet Spenser Phips, he issued the Phips proclamation in 1755,
which called for the genocide of Penobscot nation. Why? Because that
nation didn`t want their ancestral lands colonized, and that`s the
colonists set up a bounty for the scalps of the Penobscot men, women and
children. Those bloody scalps are believed to have been first deemed
redskins. The red is not for the color of their skin. It`s for the color
of that bloody genocide. So commissioner, when you go on in your letter
and say, neither an intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate
Native Americans or offend any group, know this, it`s not even about
intent. It`s about impact.

And when it comes to the Washington franchise, you`re already talking about
a team with a very troubled past, this is the same team that was the last
in the NFL to integrate players of different races and only did so because
of the pressure from the president at the time, John F. Kennedy. It`s the
same team where even now franchise owner Dan Snyder is demonstrating
continued petulance and childish resistance to this change, telling "USA
Today," quote, we`ll never change the team name. It`s that simple. Never.
You can use caps.

And even more alarming than Snyder`s reaction to the name change is yours.
You run the league. You have a moral obligation to uphold the values and
commitments of the NFL. Your league has even published a values policy on
diversity. We looked it up. And it says, "We represent and respect a wide
range of human differences, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds
for the benefit of the organization."

Respect. That`s one thing the term "redskins" is not about. So
commissioner, we see you. You aren`t fooling anyone. And the next time
you weigh into this debate, learn some history. In fact, you could even
learn what your own value statement says and then apply it. Sincerely,



MELBER: Welcome back. Here in Nerdland, we`ve talked a lot about the
school to prison pipe line. Schools are simply too quick to send students,
minors into the criminal justice system. In Mississippi, for example, the
U.S. Department of Justice recently had to order one school district to
stop arresting and jailing students and mostly black students for
infractions as minor as failing to wear a belt.

Now, some students are claiming that Texas is running a pretty similar
pipeline. Texas is sending students to adult courts simply for cutting
class. The charge? They call it truancy. In Texas legal terms that
simply means failure to attend school, it`s a misdemeanor criminal charge.
Students who miss too much school must appear before a judge along with
their parents in court. They can hire a private attorney, but the court
does not provide lawyers for those who can`t afford them. Poor students.
And with or without a lawyer, students face punishments ranging from $500
fines to jail time, if a judge finds them in contempt. But now several
students found some lawyers to strike back at the entire system. A new
suit was filed on behalf of seven students in Dallas County just this week.
The formal complaint followed the Department of Justice argues that these
policies are so unfair they`re actually unconstitutional. Joining me today
from Austin, Texas is Deborah Fowler, the deputy director of Texas Apple
Seed, one of the legal groups that filed the students complain. Thanks for
joining us.

having me.

MELBER: So, explain like what it means kids into a court system is wrong,
as you argue in this suite, and what kind of system would you actually want
to replace this thing?

FOWLER: Well, you know, the states that are doing this well, the states
that have really focused on reforming the way that they handle status
offenses like truancy use court as a last resort. That`s absolutely not
what we`re seeing in Texas and it`s certainly not what we`re seeing in
Dallas County. Dallas County is prosecuting more than 36,000 of these
cases every year. So the sheer volume is overwhelming. And there are kids
getting swept up into the system that in no way resemble what I think most
of us would commonly think of as a truant student.

MELBER: What do you think is your best hope to take something that has
some kind of majority support or at least hasn`t been stopped through the
political process, what`s the best hook to get the courts to stop it?

FOWLER: We`re really interested in working with the Department of Justice,
with the county, with the school districts to get everyone to the table to
try to find a solution that is good for kids. What we see now is
absolutely not effectively dealing with truancy problems in Dallas County,
nor is it good for the youth that are getting swept into the system.
They`re being routinely threatened with jail even when they`re too young to
be sent to jail. They`re being arrested at school. And they`re being
arrested in court. What we`d like to see is what the Department of Justice
has done so effectively in other states. You mentioned (ph) Meridian.
They`ve also done a great job in Palm Beach County to bring the parties to
the table and put into place research-based solutions that really
effectively deal with whatever issue the schools are trying to address.

MELBER: And talk to me a little bit about the economic and racial
disparities. I don`t think you have to be in a troubling school or poor
neighborhood to be familiar with the idea that kids sometimes don`t want to
go to school and, shocker, kids sometimes cut class.

FOWLER: Correct.

MELBER: So, why does it seem like the brunt of that, I would call that a
pretty typical feeling for students, not to make light of it, but why does
it seem like that fairly universal instinct is being perhaps punished more
among black students and among poor students?

FOWLER: Well, you know, it`s hard to say and that`s one of the things that
we really hope that the Department of Justice will come in and investigate.
What we see in Dallas ISD is that while African-American students represent
only 24 percent of the student body, they represent 40 percent of the cases
that were sent to court for truancy last fiscal year.

MELBER: Say that one more time?

FOWLER: Sure. In Dallas, ISD, we see that while 24 percent of the student
body is African-American, 40 percent of the cases in court last fiscal year
for truancy were African-American students.

MELBER: So, that`s almost double the rate. I mean that`s pretty striking.

FOWLER: Right. Right. We see the same in Richardson ISD for Latino
students actually. They represent about 39 percent of the student
population, but represented about 52 percent of the cases in court last

MELBER: Now, let me get your thoughts on one response from Dallas County
judge Clay Jenkins who oversaw the truancy courts there. The judge told
"The Dallas Morning News" that truancy courts already are actually a model
system that`s lowered the dropout rate by 12 percent. So that is a number
and that`s a response, I think, that goes against some of the claims that
you`ve been working on in your filing. What do you say to that?

FOWLER: Well, we really just don`t see -- Dallas ISD has done a terrific
job in reducing their dropout rate. There`s no question about that. But
the truancy courts were in operation for four years before Dallas ISD began
to see a reduction in its dropout rate. So it`s really hard to know that
that is directly attributable to the truancy courts. In fact, we think
that it has more to do with Dallas ISD having been named as one of the
dropout factories by a report in 2007 and then instituting internal
processes to address dropout, not the truancy courts.

MELBER: Right. So briefly on that, you think your opponents are basically
seizing on an improvement that they didn`t cause?

FOWLER: I think that`s right. And what we see in the court outcomes for
students is pretty dismal. We have a 50 percent, quote, recidivism rate.
Only 28 percent of the students who appear at their first review hearing
are actually compliant with the court`s order. And probably the worst is
that only half of those students who actually have a referral to court are
appearing. So there are, you know, a fully 50 percent of the students who
get a court referral who never actually show up in court.

MELBER: Great. Well, look .

FOWLER: These are the students that we should be worried about.

MELBER: We`re going to keep our eye on this and on what the response may
be at the national level. Thank you for sharing some time with us,

FOWLER: Thanks so much.

MELBER: All right, coming up next, gird your loins. Republican lawmakers
are coming and they`re coming for reproductive rights fast and furious.
And we`re going to talk to Michael Bloomberg`s deputy mayor about the
billionaire`s big plan to make money talk and the guy safety battle. More
Nerdland at the top of the hour.


MELBER: Welcome back. I`m Ari Melber, filling in for Melissa Harris-Perry
this weekend.

House Republicans have begun a plan to limit and potentially ban types of
abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This nationwide ban is
scheduled to get a vote next week. Now the house has the votes to pass it,
of course. The Senate will not have those votes. And even if it did this
is still a Republican dream bill because our president, President Obama,
would veto it.

If it passed under a future president, it would also be unconstitutional
under current precedent in the law. In fact, a similar law in Arizona was
struck down for that reason this year. For House Republicans, though, this
is a vote of pure symbolism. And that`s what makes it so important, we
think, and scary.

The GOP is staking a public claim here. This is what we believe. This is
who we are.

Now, they used to save some off the scariest stuff for their party platform
which isn`t really binding, of course. Now, House Republicans are
legislating at the same pitch that they used to just politic, declaring
that they will do anything possible to get between women and their doctors
and their choices about when or if to have an abortion.

Now, for a policy that`s clearly unconstitutional, there must be someone
sort of responsible, right? There must be some Republicans who at least
care about the legal precedent if not the values here.

Nope. It turns out every Republican man on the House Judiciary Committee
voted to move this bill last week. And since they only have men on that
committee, that`s the total. These views are just as extreme at the state
level, but there are some problems there that go deeper because there are
fewer checks and balances.

In state after state, Republican politicians are restricting reproductive
rights. In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker, remember him, he`s
going to sign a bill requiring rules like compelled ultrasounds for women
seeking abortions.

Now, this is what happened Wednesday when Democrats objected to moving that
vote in the state senate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down. You`re not recognized. The question before
the House is non-debatable. Call the rolls.

You`re interrupting a roll call. Sit down! Right now! Call the roll!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Carpenter.


MELBER: Call the roll.

In Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry, you also remember him -- well, he
expanded a special legislative session in order to look at new reproductive
rights restrictions. The proposals were blocked by Democrats in the
regular session but under some of the special rules in the special session,
they may not be able to stop them. The restrictions could force nearly all
of the state`s clinics to close, I repeat, all of the clinics to close. It
would, in fact, leave only five for all of Texas` 26 million people. That
would be one clinic for every 54,000 square miles of Texas.

And in Ohio, the new approach seems to be shaming. A bill introduced this
week requires women to get ultrasounds and pay for the procedure
themselves, then the bill would also use a pretty sinister way to
criminalize Medicare. It would threaten doctors with a first-degree felony
charge if they don`t follow a state-mandated two-day waiting period for
abortions regardless of medical necessity.

So, don`t let the talk of a more women-friendly party fool you, and don`t
believe them when they say that jobs and the economy are clearly the main
thing they are focused on. This is the mainstream Republican mission now,
with the backing of the House Speaker and a slew of governors who could be
serious presidential candidates in 2016.

So, as we said make no mistake and gird your loins, this is what
Republicans are about.

At the table with me, counsel for the Center on Reproductive Rights, Jordan
Goldberg; professor of African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania,
Salamishah Tillet.

And back with us Cristina Beltran, associate professor at NYU, and NBC
Latino contributor, attorney Raul Reyes.

I want to talk with you. What is the significance of what we just saw in
the states there?

things. One, if you thought that Obama winning the election meant that the
GOP war o women was over, we were wrong. Obviously, it`s an ongoing
onslaught against women`s reproductive freedoms and reproductive rights.
But the other thing is, Jessica Valenti had a really good piece in "The
Nation," recently talking about anti-choice legislative activism, as a kind
of magical thinking.

What`s interesting to me is that with these ongoing both state and national
legislations to limit women`s reproductive choice, that the GOP, while they
may have lost the war with Roe v. Wade, they`re winning the piece. So, I
just think that this ongoing onslaught against women`s reproductive rights
is just part of their platform and also kind of a response to other issues
that are going on like immigration reform, as well, as you know, we can
think about, even affirmative action. All of these things are part of the
changing demographic of the United States in which women`s reproductive
rights are part of that as well.

MELBER: Well, and, Jordan, that`s something that Melissa talks about a lot
on this show, how that fight moving to the state level is actually a very
different legal and constitutional kind of battle, right? I mean, you
can`t just get Roe everywhere to knock down everything. Explain some of

seen over the last few years an incredible assault on women`s reproductive
health in so many different forms, you`ve got ultrasound restrictions,
you`ve got bans on insurance coverage for abortion, you`ve got bans on
abortion at 20 weeks and even, and this year, we`ve seen states just take
it one level further. Arkansas banned abortion at 12 weeks a couple of
weeks later. North Dakota banned abortion at six weeks.

You`ve seen states --

MELBER: Six weeks.

GOLDBERG: Six weeks. Earlier than some women know they`re pregnant. It`s
just all across the board an assault. And although we take them to court
and get these things knocked down in a lot of situations and in fact you
were talking about the 20-week ban being considered by Congress and that we
were able to defeat a similar 20-week ban in court in Arizona, but it`s
issue by issue, state by state.

And honestly, this has to be a national thing. Your rights shouldn`t
depend on your zip code. It`s been incredibly challenging to fight the

MELBER: Well, to pick up on Salamishah`s point, I want to put up a pretty
striking image on the screen that goes to the idea that -- yes, in many
ways choice keeps winning in federal elections, yet when you look at the
numbers, here is the chart, you have abortion laws are spiking in 2011 and
2012. There it is. You see just a huge increase.

Cristina, why is that happening even as the national political discourse is
clearly favoring the president`s approach?

BELTRAN: Right, right. I mean, I think it`s a fascinating issue. I think
about sort of what you`re talking about in terms of the idea of kind of
hysteria and the kind of magical thinking like that, like that logic is
sort of interesting. Like are they so feeling disempowered in some
critical ways that this is one way they can go after something where they
have critical agency in doing this stuff.

MELBER: What do you by -- you mean the Republicans losing at the political
level generally makes them want to act out?

BELTRAN: Yes, really makes them want to enact a vision of the world in
which women`s bodies are treated this way. Like I think that`s part.

But the other part I was thinking about that I`m continually interested in
is, politically, it`s horrible for working class women, women in rural
areas. I mean, but what it also does is produces a collective sense of
women having a collective sense of threat, right?


BELTRAN: Which is really interesting when you think about the deep
diversity of women in this country, the fact that these kinds of laws
create a sense that women are kind of a bloc is really interesting
politically for Democrats. I think every time they do this Hillary Clinton
should send them a gift basket. It`s incredibly good for --

MELBER: Which is a weird backlash. What do you think, though, of that

TILLET: I think, the Census released data, the changing racial
demographics in the United States. For the first time in American history,
children born under the age of 5 are racial -- the majority of them are
racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.

So, I think there`s a moral panic, a fear of the end of whiteness that
we`ve been seeing a long time in that I think Obama`s ascension as
president kind of symbolizes to a certain degree. So, I think this is one
response to that sense that there`s a decreasing white majority in the
country and that women`s bodies and white women`s bodies in particular are
obviously a crucial way of reproducing whiteness, white supremacy, white

So, I think it`s kind of a clamping down on women`s bodies in particular
white women`s bodies even though women of color are really caught in the

MELBER: And you`re talking not only then about a potentially religious
view about life, you`re talking about social control. I mean, that goes to
some of these programs that are different than just necessarily a position
that people disagree with. They also say, no, we need to go into the
doctor`s room, we need to tell women under it threat of, as I mentioned,
criminalization of their doctor`s conduct or as a prerequisite to doing
anything, how they should analyze their medical care, whether to have an

Do you think that is a piece of it, too, the social control, Raul?

REYES: To a certain extent. But I want to say there`s another aspect to
this equation that is so deep, from it a legal standpoint, troubling from
the role of a Supreme Court. Yes, Roe v. Wade is on the books, but when
you look at the cases that have been going through the court, they are
chipping away at these reproductive rights.

In 199, I believe the case was southeast Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood,
they said that women you cannot place -- the state cannot place undue
burden on a woman in regard to her on pregnancy, her life, her choice.
Fast-forward 15 years in the Gonzalez case, now the court says it`s OK for
the state to promote various interests it sees fit, including the life of
the unborn child.

And we have an extremely conservative Supreme Court. So little by little
they are moving the boundary for what is OK in terms of telling women what
to do.

And anytime when you`re in this type of issue, what is the -- the policy is
saying that we don`t doctors to tell women what is best for them and we
don`t trust women to decide what is best for themselves. And that is a --
that should trouble all Americans.

MELBER: Well, you`re hitting on something I want to go to Jordan on after
the break. That is a point we see even wider than the choice movement,
which is if the courts see something as a right and we mean that, then
there can`t be excessive burdens in that, which are your own medical
decisions, which are your own medical decisions. I want your response to
that when we come back.

And also up next, we`re going to talk to Texas to talk with one of the
people on the front line of this debate in Texas, trying to hold the line
on reproductive rights.


MELBER: Welcome back. We`ve been talking about how Republican state
legislators are passing increasingly extreme laws restricting access to
reproductive rights around the country perhaps no more restricting than
Rick Perry`s Texas.

So, joining us now from Austin, Texas, is someone on the front lines of the
fight, Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder of the Whole Women`s Health chain
of clinics and around the country.

And just this Thursday, she testified before the Texas committee on a range
of new abortion restrictions that could shut down all but five abortion
providers in the entire state.

The committee approved the restrictions on Friday and sent the legislation
to the full state Senate.

Amy, thanks for joining us.

AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, WHOLE WOMEN`S HEALTH: You`re welcome. Thank you for
having me.

MELBER: What did you tell them?

MILLER: Oh, I told them a lot of things. You know, it was remarkable
about how many questions I asked led me to understand there wasn`t a
mastery for what legislations we already have in place.

Texas already has some of the most onerous regulations for abortion
facilities in the country. We`re expected every year. We have quality
assurance programs. We report our complications. We have nurses on call

We already have a pretty serious system in place to be sure that all the
clinics are safe and that they`re compliant. So, it was amazing to me how
many questions I got from some of the senators who actually didn`t
understand the systems we have in place already.

MELBER: So, Amy, that goes to Cristina`s point, that some of this may not
be about actually deciding how many clinics there should be, but some sort
of just larger Republican backlash. You`re in one state. Is that some of
your experience there?

MILLER: Absolutely. I think this isn`t -- you know, they oftentimes couch
these kinds of regulations as though they`re about patient safety or
something like that, when really this is about access. We`re going to go
from 47 clinics from the state of Texas down to five immediately.

There`s no grandfather clause written into the regulation. And we have
four of the top 11 cities as far as population in the country. So, this is
a pretty serious regulation, and what they`ve done is they`ve put four or
five different bills from the regular session into this omnibus bill,
things they weren`t able to get on to the floor for proper discussion
during the regular session. They waited until the special session when
there`s sort of a super power, when they don`t have to go through the same
process in order go get these things brought forward.

And we`re very concerned. It will have a grave effect on the health system
here in Texas. It does nothing to prevent abortions. It doesn`t do
anything to prevent abortions, address the need for abortion. I mean, you
can`t just restrict access. It`s not going to change the fact that one in
three women in Texas is going to need our services. We`re going to have a
problem on our hands.

MELBER: Yes, I want to go to Jordan on that point.

GOLDBERG: Absolutely. I think this Texas bill is exactly -- it sort of
represents all of what`s been going on. You have four different types of
legislation ramrod through during a special session. The political will
wasn`t there during the regular session. That`s not what these guys were
elected to do. And, in fact, almost everything in that bill has been
blocked by a court in one way or another.

You`ve got at least four different kind of restrictions, a ban on abortions
at 20 weeks. You`ve got the part of the bill that would shut everybody
down, restrictions on medication abortion and requirement that all
physicians with admitting privileges. All of those have been looked by
court and all of them have been blocked.

TILLET: Yes, I just want to say in terms of who`s being disproportionately
effected, women of color and working class women being the victims with
regards to this legislative battles and also the kind of rhetoric, the
anti-choice rhetoric.

Couple of years ago in New York City there was that big billboard I think
in Soho that says the most dangerous place for an African-American child is
in the womb, right? Black women`s bodies, Latino women`s bodies, people
who may not necessarily have access to private medical facilities are being
used as pawns in this Republican battle against women.

I just want to reiterate that. Also, I think what`s really disappointing
or dismaying to me is for all of us who have to keep focusing only on
choice as the way we think about reproductive justice, this is what
happens. We can`t think about all the way women`s reproductive freedoms
are being curtailed. Everybody doesn`t have access to affordable health
care. We`re focusing on choice because the Republicans are keeping us in a
stalemate for so long.

MELBER: Amy, what do you say to that?

MILLER: I`m really happy to hear that reproductive justice framework
brought up. Texas is not -- Texas is hopefully turning blue. Texas has a
very, very, very large Latin and Latino population and many of our clinics
serve a diverse group of people. We already don`t have any Medicaid
coverage for women seeking abortion services, of course, but for women
seeking a lot of services. Insurance coverage is very small, we`re 49th
out of 50th, as far as people in our population with insurance coverage.

So, this is going to very much disproportionately affect Latino women,
African-American women, legal immigrant people that`s going to affect
families, that`s going to affect rural people tremendously because the five
clinics that will remain are only going to be in large urban settings and
Texas is a very, very large state.

MELBER: So, Amy, trace that back to political organizing. Does that help
you in communities of color or out there in Texas, that angle to try to
sort of make sure that people get the information they need about what`s
being done?

MILLER: You know, I think -- abortion is a complex issue. People have
very complicated feelings about it. I think when feelings start to affect
politics, we run into some difficulty, especially when ne start to regulate

I think abortion is one of those things, nobody thinks they will need
abortion until they do. That`s when they find out about the laws affecting
their rights and their access. So I think it`s very important to tell this
story and to have people understand that, while nobody plans to have an
abortion their lifetime, you know, one in three women are probably going to
need one at some point in their lifetime or most of us have thought about
it or ran into some sort of an unplanned pregnancy scare. So, if we can
sort of appeal to folks that this is part of mainstream medicine, that is a
common procedure very necessary for the health and safety of the population
of women in Texas.

MELBER: And for the final point, I want your response to that, Cristina,
the idea there`s a constituency out there but not always very aware.

BELTRAN: Yes, an aware one. And it works because we were saying before
women are such an incredibly diverse population, half the population, one
of the interesting things too is I think the fact that there are so many
different populations interested in things like birth control.

I mean, the Republican war on women has been so pervasive it`s even reached
into access to birth control and women`s health.

So I think for a lot of young women, in many ways if the Republicans hadn`t
played this card so heavily, this wouldn`t have become a back seat issue in
places who are more middle class, affluent, who feel like they have with
fairly decent health care issues. It`s creating a sense of collective
threat among women and politicizing women around reproductive rights. That
is sort of an interesting moment that is reaching across --

MELBER: That is one silver lining. I know Melissa is going to keep an eye
on this story.

And I want to thank Amy for joining us from Texas. And also thank Jordan,
Salamishah, Cristina and Raul.

Up next, the parents of Newtown. Six months later, the struggle still
continues. We`re going to be talking to the New York deputy mayor Howard
Wolfson. He`s working with Mayor Bloomberg on building a new gun safety


MELBER: Six months ago yesterday, Adam Lanza entered an elementary school
in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire, killing 20 school children and
six educators. The horror galvanized the political debate about guns
unlike any other event in recent history. And some states acted but in
Washington, nothing changed, despite passioned appeals from the White House
and the families of the Newtown victims, efforts in Washington to enact new
stricter gun control measures failed, of course, back in April.

But the very vocal families of Newtown are not giving up and it appears
their determination hasn`t waned one bit. Families took their plea to
President Obama and Vice President Biden on Thursday. They met with
representatives and senators this week, as well, including the two top
Republicans in the House, John Boehner and Eric Cantor, and they demanded


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am here today to remind Congress what happened to
my family, to remind them of what keeps happening in America. Five
thousand more Americans have died due to gun violence since December 14th,
and there still hasn`t been any federal action to protect us from gun


MELBER: She`s right. Not one piece of federal legislation. New York
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a somewhat controversial plan to change that.
His man, Howard Wolfson, is here to explain. That`s next.


MELBER: A majority of senators voted for stricter background checks in
April. Despite that strong support however, Republicans forced a super
majority requirement and the bill ultimately died. Ninety-one percent of
the Senate Republican caucus opposed the bill, but now, it`s Democrats who
are facing some of the strongest attacks.

This week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out with a tough and
somewhat unusual tactic. The billionaire is calling on New York`s
Democratic donors to cut off donations to the four Senate Democrats that
opposed the gun amendment.

Bloomberg says that cutting off their money supply in Gotham will make them
better on gun safety back home. As he told his donor allies on Wednesday,
"The next time these four senators want you to support them with donations
to their campaigns, tell them you cannot."

But why focus so much on Democrats when the numbers do show that Republican
senators were the biggest obstacle to reform? Is this three dimensional
chess or is it another case of elitist false equivalence?

We invited the senior member of the Bloomberg administration to walk
through the thinking, along with some other experts. Howard Wolfson is
deputy mayor of New York City and a former campaign aide to Hillary
Clinton. Errol Louis is a host of inside city hall and expert on New York
politic. Blake Zeff is news editor at "Salon", and a former aide to Barack
Obama and Hillary Clinton.

And it`s my honor to welcome Jackie Rowe-Adams to this conversation. She
founded Harlem Mothers Save after losing two of her sons to gun violence.

Thank you all for being here.

I want to start with you, Howard, because as we`ve said, it`s a very
important issue. Mayor Bloomberg has led on it for a while but as you know
he upset a lot of people this week, the first question being, in your view
and the mayor`s view, what percent of the problem is attributable to
Republicans in the gun safety debate in Washington?

HOWARD WOLFSON, NY DEPUTY MAYOR: Well, look, there`s no question the
Republicans bear significant responsibility for our failure to pass gun
laws. Having said that, it`s the Senate Democrats in charge of the Senate,
and we want to make sure that we hold every member accountable who casts
the wrong vote. Now, we have run ads against Republicans. Since the vote
we have run ads against two Republicans. We have run ads against a

And in New York where Democrats from around the country raise a very large
sum of their campaign money, we are urging donors not to give to those
Democrats until they switch their votes and do the right thing.

We are very much working towards another vote in the Senate. We believe
that is a real possibility. There was an article in "The Times" I think
yesterday or the day before, there are quiet conversations occurring
between the senators who voted the wrong way. Perhaps they`re going to
modify the bill somewhat. We haven`t seen what it would exactly look like.

But there`s a real possibility and a real hope for some progress here, and
we`re going to keep some people`s feet to the fire and hope they change
their votes and listen to their --

MELBER: I don`t think anyone is it against feet to the fire. I think
they`re talking about whether the fire is apportioned correctly or if you
and the mayor have your heart in the right place, whether you`re doing this
false equivalence thing and saying 91 percent of Republicans are
filibustering this, basically using the super majority to basically prevent
action. I want to put something up about what you said about this issue
and Democrats.

You basically said in a "New Republic" article that got a lot of attention,
"The fact that a Republican would get elected is irrelevant to our cause.
On this issue a Republican would not be worse." I think that`s in spirit
with what you said today.

Let me put one other thing on the screen which is some criticism you got
from a progressive blog Daily Kos. We can put that up. What you`ll see
and you know Daily Kos, you remember them from the campaign.


MELBER: "Given Republicans want even looser gun laws, Wolfson`s assessment
seems well off the mark." And this writer went on to say, basically, that
your strategy, Mayor Bloomberg`s strategy, is loser strategy. What do you
say to that?

WOLFSON: Well, when someone like Mark Pryor votes the wrong way on to
issue, I would say this to my friends on the left, what`s their measure of
accountability for them, continue to give them money, continue to give them
support, continue to basically hold them harmless and say it`s totally OK
if you vote the wrong way, there is no accountability?

Politics and elections are about accountability. If we can change some
votes, if can we persuade some people who voted the wrong way to vote the
right way -- Republicans and Democrats, let`s be clear, we`ve probably
spent more money running ads against Republicans and Democrats, but we`re
not going to walk away from holding Democrats accountable either.

MELBER: I want to bring in (INAUDIBLE). You say probably. Do you have
the numbers? It`s Republican more than Democrat. I don`t have the exact
figure but yes, we`ve spent more money against Republicans.

MELBER: And Bloomberg personally has donated a lot to Republicans which
confused people again because of the role they played. I want to bring in
Blake who`s written about this.

BLAKE ZEFF, SALON.COM: Sure. You know, look, the first thing I want to
say is that, actually, Mayor Bloomberg deserves to be commended because
he`s been talking about this issue for a long time, before it became cool
after Newtown. I mean, it really has, and he`s been working on this.

So, having said that, I do think this strategy is a bit of a half a loaf,
because, yes, Mark Pryor should pay for his vote, if you believe it`s bad.
He should pay for it. But if you`re not recruiting other candidates who
are better to run against him, you`ll end up with someone worse.

So, for example, Mark Pryor had this bad vote. He`s C minus lifetime from
the NRA. So, he`s usually not in the pockets of the NRA. However,
whichever Republican runs against him had will likely be an A-plus NRA
candidate, all the Republican candidates in Arkansas are.

So, you look at this. You can`t do it in a vacuum. You can`t just look at
Pryor and say, we`re going to show him a lesson. If you end up getting a
Republican who`s worse.

What I would love to see the mayor doing, in addition to going after people
like Pryor, is to get involved in some of this more movement building and
recruit people to run against these types.

MELBER: Let`s listen to Mark Pryor`s response since we`re talking about
this man that you guys are targeting. Let`s play that.


SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: I`m committed to finding real solutions to
gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights. I`m Mark Pryor,
and I approve this message because no one from New York or Washington tells
me what to do. I listen to Arkansas.


MELBER: Well, if you listen to Arkansas on the Republican side, as Blake
mentions, the other Republican senator of Arkansas with A-rating has voted
to have national conceal and carry, voted to say these gun manufacturers
shouldn`t face lawsuits. It isn`t necessarily true you can ensure or
guarantee unless you want to guarantee that Mayor Bloomberg knows that the
replacement won`t be worse for the issue.

WOLFSON: I think in Arkansas the replacement might be worse on the issue.
That`s not the point.

The point is we have a senator sitting in the Senate now, he voted the
wrong way, he has the opportunity to take a look at the issue. Maybe
change his vote. Maybe vote differently on another similar bill.

What measures are we going to take to incentivize him to do that? Some of
my friends on the left apparently would say nothing. There are no measures
we can think --


MELBER: I want to bring in Jackie because you`re saying someone will say
nothing. What do you say, Jackie?

you, Mayor Bloomberg, from speaking and taking the lead on gun violence.

But clearly this is a no-brainer. You target everyone. I know he`s saying
it`s Democrats. But it was Democrat/Republican.

And we cannot put our children`s lives and say it`s Democrat and
Republican. We are talking about our children lives, our babies. So,
every one of them should not be voted in again. And that`s where money
should be spent.

Harlem Mothers Save is on the phone every week calling these different
senators in the different states saying, do not put them back in office.
And that is key. We cannot allow them to think that they are being
separated from the others and they did a good job because they did not.

We want this bill passed. We want our background checks in place so we can
stop another child from losing their live, another mother from crying. And
not only children -- look, you`re crossing the street. Innocent people are
getting killed. So, we have a lot of work to do here.

ERROL LOUIS, NY1: I think if you`re going to play the NRA`s game, the NRA
is a single issue faction. They`re very good. They`re very organized.
They`re very focused. And so when they come after you with their grades
and their ratings and ads and so forth, they`re not asking about some
larger picture about -- oh, gee, what if a Democrat gets in because we`re
going against a conservative Republican.

They`re not playing that. They`re looking at a single issue. Mayors
Against Illegal Guns is doing the same things.

One thing about Senator Pryor`s ad I that I think is disingenuous that we
should make note of is that -- oh, I just listen to Arkansas. The polls
show he would have gotten more support for supporting background checks,
the bill in question that we`re talking about that he voted against was
very modest, sort of baby steps, included money for mental health. And all
of what he said was a reason he couldn`t do it is really not true. I mean,
something like 64 percent of Arkansas voters have said that they want
background checks. So he went the other way.

So this is New York, it`s money from New York and maybe some voices from
Harlem and voices from Washington saying, do what your constituents want.
And there`s sort of a clear political benefit to it.

MELBER: To what Jackie`s calling for, Blake, do you think is the right
strategy? How would you tweak it to try to put in Washington and spending
the sort of passion and energy that you`re bringing, which is you don`t
want people who are bad on this issue getting reelected.

ZEFF: That`s right. I totally agree. I`m thrilled that Mayor Bloomberg
is engaged in this. What I`m suggesting is, why don`t we go after these
senators and by the way members the House who have taken wrong votes and
recruit better candidates, candidates who are better on this issue so that
you`ll end -- we`ll end up -- this is a consensus we can come to here, is
if we can get rid of the bad senators and bad House members and recruit
better candidates as part of what we`re doing.

Don`t just kick Pryor out and get some who`s worse. That doesn`t help.

MELBER: You`re going to what comes in.

ZEFF: Yes, kick out Pryor and get a primary him or someone better -- a
better Democrat or he can find a Republican that`s better on the issue --
God bless, that`s great, too. But it doesn`t do us a lot of good to
replace Pryor with someone worse, maybe symbolically help legislation.

MELBER: Well, that`s important that also goes to Errol`s point about how
the NRA works. I want Harold`s response and we`ll do that after the break.

Up next, the NRA sets its sights on a former ally.


MELBER: One of the senators who met with Newtown victim families this week
was Senator Joe Manchin. And despite a lifetime "A" rating from the NRA,
which is not easy to get, the group has turned on him for supporting
background checks.

Here`s their new ad.


AD NARRATOR: Remember this TV ad?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I`m Joe Manchin, I approve this ad
because I`ll always defend West Virginia.

As your senator, I`ll protect our Second Amendment rights.

AD NARRATOR: That was Joe Manchin`s commitment. But now, Manchin is
working with President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Concerned? You should be.


MELBER: Now, first of all, that ad is disgusting because Manchin`s support
for common sense background checks don`t do anything against the Second
Amendment and there`s not a second amendment lawyer in the country who
could honestly claim otherwise.

What`s also interesting politically, Howard, is your boss, you deputy
mayor, the mayor figures into that ad, the backlash against Manchin. Is it
fair what the NRA is doing? And does your work do far enough to match them
as a mirror image, which is part "The New Republic" said you`re trying to

WOLFSON: Well, I think at the end of the day we have more than enough
resources to meet the NRA on the field and match them if not best them. So
I`m not worried about that.

I`m also not worried about Senator Manchin. This guy is a hero. He stood
up, did the right thing. His vote is supported by the majority of his

He is very popular. He`s going to be fine. He`s going to have all the
support that he needs. So, the NRA is going to go after him, but I think
he`s going to be standing tall.

ROWE-ADAMS: He did the right thing. The NRA is thinking in terms of their
guns and money. They`re making money off our kids losing their lives.

The NRA, they just don`t get it. And enough is enough with them. And I`m
proud when I hear Mayor Bloomberg stand up against them. I`m proud when we
all stand up against the NRA. I actually went face-to-face with LaPierre
when I went to St. Louis, Missouri.

And everything that`s on the table now, I said to LaPierre, I talked about
stand your own ground, how that`s not having a gun in your house, stand
your own ground is protecting your home, not being a vigilante. I talked
to him about background checks. I talked to him about micro-stamping. And
then, months later, the Newtown happened. And he still don`t get it.

And you know what he said? Oh, I`m so sorry, I`m going to work with your
organization, I don`t want lives taken.

So he lied. And this is the problem. So only thing I could come up with
is, you`re trying to make money continuously selling your guns and keeping
your name out there saying, don`t take our guns. We need to save lives.
We need to stop this senseless killing. And they need -- and I said to
him, join Mayor Bloomberg, join the president with legislation.

He said, oh, no, Bloomberg lets all the criminals out of jail.

MELBER: Wow, I mean, two thoughts on that. Number one, I would like to
see the footage of you educating him.

ROWE-ADAMS: Oh, yes. "Daily News" have it.

MELBER: And number two, you`re hitting on such an important policy point,
which is the NRA`s big agenda item before Newtown they got through was a
Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which only helped manufacturers avoid being
taken to court. Didn`t do a thing for gun owners.

So, I appreciate you`re raising that.

Errol, to go back to you. The point here isn`t that Bloomberg is bad.
Bloomberg is a net gain. But having said that, this is Mr. Stop and Frisk,
OK? This is a guy who works with Republicans whenever it works for him,
works with tough police practices that many of us feel are unconstitutional
before they`re racially discriminatory.

This is not a guy who we think should get a free pass because he dip noose
the debate. What we`re hearing here, what do you think he could do beyond
simply going on attack?

Blake is talking in our break about what why don`t you record, if you`re
serious about it, why don`t you recruit candidates?

LOUIS: This is a question that has come up with Mayor Bloomberg
repeatedly. He was asked when he ran for reelection in 2005, why are you
giving so much money to the very Republican Party whose members are pushing
in the wrong direction on gun control and a bunch of other issues you care
about? The mayor`s response has also been, I think Howard would agree with
this, is to say, look, if you like them on some issues you have to support
them. If you don`t like on others, you fight them.

MELBER: OK, Howard, I want to get your response.

WOLFSON: With all due respect, he`s given lots of money to Republicans in
the state Senate in Albany who by the way provided the votes to pass
governor Cuomo`s gun bill. So, I`m not sure about the criticism.

We are able to incentivize Republicans in this state to pass gay marriage
and to pass a comprehensive gun bill. If we`re doing that, yes, I plead
guilty to that. Absolutely.

ZEFF: Well, I mean, I will say this. I do think in some ways, Michael
Bloomberg is an ideal person to be behind this fight because he`s got lots
of money. He`s got political will.

He is in some ways imperfect because he`s got other passions. Guns aren`t
the only one. There`s also what he would call education reform, charter
schools. Also I would call it relaxing financial regulation, I don`t know
if Howard would call it that.

But as a result, that leads to endorsing Republicans. So, he endorsed
Scott Brown over Elizabeth Warren, for example. As Errol said, has often
endorsed state Senate Republicans who then blocked the microstamping bill
in the Senate.

So as a result, Bloomberg is a tricky messenger for this because it leads
him to often endorse Republicans. I mean, that does confuse --

MELBER: We`re out of time. We`re going to stay on this debate.

Blake, thank you for that. Jackie, thank you for the work you`re doing and
sharing with us. Howard, I appreciate coming and answering tough question
and we`ll make time again. And Errol, thank you for being here.

Up next, the runner making a difference for young victims of the Boston
bombings. A true foot soldier joins us here when we come back.


MELBER: About 19 years ago, Amy Palmiero-Winters suffers a major
motorcycle accident. She went through 27 surgeries and an amputation below
the knee. That hasn`t stopped Amy. In fact, she set the world record as
the fastest marathon runner with a below the knee amputation. She`s also
the first amputee to compete the 100-mile western state endurance run.

Are you impressed yet? Well, she was the first woman amputee to complete
the bad water ultra marathon. At 135 miles, I`d say that`s a pretty bad

And there`s more, Amy is the program director for a Step Ahead Prosthetics.
And she`s founded Amy`s One Step Ahead Foundation. A nonprofit
organization that serves children with physical disabilities.

Now, Amy is working on behalf of the four children who lost limbs in the
Boston marathon bombings so they can get access to the prosthetics they
need. And for that, Amy is our foot soldier this week. I`m thrilled to
have her in the studio, along with Izzy Botko, who is a below the knee
amputee and as a participant in Amy`s One Step Ahead Foundation.

Thank you both for being here.


MELBER: Absolutely. Amy, tell me about what you`re doing.

PALMIERO-WINTERS: Well, what we`re doing is we`re basically bringing hope
and we`re trying to bring awareness to those who were affected in the
tragedy, just to let them know that nothing can stop you. Any obstacle can
be overcome.

MELBER: And you talked about athletics was important to you in your whole
life and when you dealt with, what was a setback, significant setback, it
didn`t really slow you down.

PALMIERO-WINTERS: Athletics is a huge part of, I know it`s a huge part of
my foundation what and it does is it just builds self-confident. So, when
you something happened in your life, it helps you move on because it gives
you goals to focus on.

And Izzy is prime example. She`s been out there doing her first triathlon,
doing amazing things, and you can see the pride within these athletes and
these young children because of sports.

MELBER: Izzy, what is Amy teaching you?

IZZY BOTKO, BELOW THE KNEE AMPUTEE: She helps me like when I was rashes,
she teaches me what to do, and she helps me with bike riding and running
and swimming and when I did the triathlon, she helped me with that too.

MELBER: Now, I`ve never done a single marathon yet alone the triathlon.
So, what happens? How many different steps are there and what`s your
favorite part?

BOTKO: I like the swimming part. You do swimming, biking and running. My
brother did it with me when I did it, so that was fun.

The swimming part is the most fun because you get to like, I love to swim.

MELBER: That`s great. Yes.

And, Amy, when you saw these images in the Boston attacks you could see
that people would be dealing with this from this terrible accident. What
went through your mind and how did that pull you into helping with the

PALMIERO-WINTERS: What immediately goes through my mind is t promote
awareness and give education. The most amount of education you can get out
there to let those affected know it didn`t have to be that bad.

Losing part of your limb or losing a part of your body is not who you are.
It`s a piece of you.

It`s just like everybody else. You get up in the morning and you put your
honor glasses. Well, we get up in the morning and we put on our
prosthetics. We`re just like everybody else. We just wear prosthetics.

MELBER: There`s another thing you said striking. Forgive me if I
paraphrase it wrong, but something to the effect that you felt when you
were worried about saying, oh, you know, my ankle hurts, but, you know,
other people don`t have an ankle. Tell me about that spirit because that`s
kind of amazing to me.

PALMIERO-WINTERS: Well, it`s the type of situation where you can have
something happen to you and you can feel like it`s the worst thing. But if
you really think about it, there are others who experience so much more
tragic events than something like that.

And so, if you just take a moment, take a step back and realize maybe it`s
not so bad and get up and keep moving forward. I was in race and I was
very early on in the 50 mile race and I twisted my ankle. And my thought
was, you know, there`s a lot of little kids waiting at the finish line for
me and they don`t have ankles so for me to complain about something like
that is nonexistent.

MELBER: Wow. Well, thank you, Amy and Izzy, for spending time with me.
You are out foot soldiers of the week and we are proud of it.

That`s it for our show today. I want to thank you at home for watching.
I`ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Nerdland regulars
Kenji Yoshino and Jelani Cobb will be here as well, and some other people
that I`m excited about. We`re going to look at Supreme Court issues that
will alter the civil rights laws we have here in America.

Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT" -- Alex.


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