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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

July 30, 2013
Guests: Jan Schakowsky; James Peterson; Dana Milbank; Nia-Malika Henderson,
Martin Luther King III, David Corn

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Signing the Social Security act
into law. Over the years, it`s strengthened our safety net and has saved
millions of lives. Today, the president spent that monumental anniversary
defending his own health law in going right after Republicans who are
standing in its way.


focus on what should be our priority, which is growing our economy and
creating good middle class jobs, we`ve seen a certain faction of
Republicans in Congress hurt a fragile recovery by saying that they
wouldn`t pay the very bill the Congress racks up in the first place,
threatening to shut down the people`s government if they can`t get rid of
Obama care, wasting the country`s time by taking something like 40
meaningless votes to repeal Obama care is not a job plan. That`s not a job


SHARPTON: A 48 votes to repeal Obama care is not a jobs plan. And
shutting down the government to attack Obama care, that makes no sense.
But don`t take my word for it. Just ask certain Republicans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shutting down a government is a suicidal political

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t look at that as very courageous. Most of
us see through it and realize that these people really just taking
themselves out of the debate. I think it`s a silly effort.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think the Republicans have the
courage to do that?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Frankly, probably not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s the dumbest idea I`ve ever heard of.
As long as Barack Obama is president, the affordable care act is going to
be law.


SHARPTON: You heard him. The affordable care act is going to be law.
But that hasn`t stopped the farthest on the right from running to the floor
with more garbage talk today.


SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: The American people deserve not to have this
law implemented and enforced.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I`m hearing that this law makes it
harder for people to create jobs. This bill is going to make it harder on
the middle class.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This isn`t working, and Congress should
defund it.


SHARPTON: Make no mistake. What they say does not matter. The law
is here to stay. It has been and it will be. If you need any more proof
than today`s anniversary should do it for you. Forty-eight years ago, LBJ
faced the same headwinds in fighting for Medicare. Back then, it was
another GOP hero trying to tear the programs apart. It was Ronald Reagan.
And he sounded an awful lot like those who are trying to defeat the health
care law today.


an excuse to bring what they wanted all the time, socialized medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The model for socialized medicine has already been
tried, and it failed.

REAGAN: From here it`s a short step to all the rest of socialism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can continue down the path towards European

REAGAN: He will wt for the government to tell him where he will go to
work and what he will do.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The government telling you what
you must do.


SHARPTON: Guess what, Republicans? Medicare is not going anywhere.
And neither is the president`s health care plan.

Joining me now is congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Democrat from
Illinois, and "Washington Post" Dana Milbank. Thank you both for being on
the show tonight.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, when will the GOP learn? I mean, when will
they learn the health care law is here to stay?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, this is really back to the future. You`re right.
The Republicans were against it, against Medicare. Ronald Reagan was the
chief lobbyist against that at the time. And now no one would think of
repealing Medicare. I don`t know when they will ever learn.

But you know, Reverend Al, this isn`t just about politics, that`s for
sure. A hundred and twenty-nine million Americans have a preexisting
condition, and the discrimination against them is going to go away in
January. What a relief that will be for millions and millions of

SHARPTON: Dana, you know, they despise health care so badly that they
are telling uninsured people not to sign up for health care coverage.
There is a Reuters report that quotes -- I`m quoting saying "Republicans
and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive to dissuade uninsured
Americans from obtaining health coverage." I mean, that`s a lot of
despising something to tell uninsured people don`t sign up for coverage for
their own health.

we keep asking ourselves why are they doing this? In fact, if you count
all the Senate votes to appeal Obama care, they`re up to 67 by my count and
all these other extraordinary efforts.

There was a hint as to why just yesterday a group of 50 conservative
groups wrote a letter to the house Republican leadership pleading with them
to have this showdown. Shut the government down if necessary to get rid of
Obama care. And the justification was if they don`t do it now, the
benefits, the entitlements are going to start kicking in next year. And
the presumption is the program, like Medicare, will start becoming popular
when people realize all the things that are in it. So, if they want to
stop it, they have to stop it now before people realize what is in it.

SHARPTON: You know, Congresswoman, they are trying to change the
public positioning on this. There is house Republicans that are
circulating a memo suggesting that lawmakers hold media tours with local
business leaders, bashing Obama care. But in one and I`m quoting the memo.
"make sure the participants will be 100 percent on message. While they do
not have to be Republicans, they need to be able to discuss the negate
effects of Obama care on their employees."

Now, that coupled with the fact that right-wing media has given the
GOP a platform for their campaign to defund health care law, listen to


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There is going to be a big push
by conservatives to use this as an opportunity to defund Obama care.

HANNITY: Either you Republicans get off your backside and stand as a
bald contrast to Obama care and make a courageous stand or get out of the
way. And we`ll --


SHARPTON: But they are trying a ground game of GOP lawmakers touring
around media tours. They have the sky attack from the right wing media.
They are really trying to shoot this law down that`s helping people.

SCHAKOWSKY: It`s absolutely incredible. I think it`s a kind of

This law is going to help businesses, small businesses in particular,
but really, it creates more options for middle-sized and large businesses
as well. And certainly for ordinary Americans, this is really just such a
blessing for people to be able to finally get insured. Tens of millions of
people. And it`s like before Medicare came in. Half of all seniors had no
insurance. And now all of them do. All of us do.

And so it`s really a wonderful program. And now Americans I think are
starting to ask what does this mean for me, rather than this sort of
abstract policy discussion about Obama care. And the majority of Americans
would rather fix it than repeal it all together. So even there, the
Republicans are on the wrong side.

And one more thing. There are members of Congress who are saying they
are going to. Refuse to help people who come to their offices and want
help to enroll. Amazing.

SHARPTON: You know, and when I say that they`re doing this, Dana, for
a law that is helping people, you know, another day, another good news
about the health care law. Maryland, Maryland is now reporting that its
health insurance premiums will be lower than expected. A 21-year-old
nonsmoker will be able to buy health insurance that costs as low as $93 a
month starting October 1st. I mean, is this what GOP is really worried
about, the huge success of the program?

MILBANK: Well, I think that`s why you have these 50 conservative
leaders saying you got to fight it now before all these benefits kick in.
That`s exactly what they are worried about. Look, there is going to be
good news and there is going to be bad news as any program is implemented.
And the good news here is obvious. That all these people who needed
coverage are going to be getting it.

The Republicans, the congresswoman`s colleagues, Republican colleagues
in the house, they are saying -- their formula this week is stop government
abuse. But I think the real formula of the house Republicans are employing
right now is stop government. And it just seems that whatever it is they
need to say no to it right now with everything they have, even if that
means shutting down this government on October 1st.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, do you feel that there are any Republicans
that are among your colleagues in the Congress that are trying to move to
some kind of common ground here and make sense out of this and try to avoid
closing down government and encourage their fellow Republicans not to do

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, you certainly played some of the clips of
Republicans that are worried that there will be a backlash if they decide
to shut down the government. And Reverend Al, I want to remind people that
October 1st, they can start signing up for Obama care. They can actually
enroll. And people that have questions about it should go to health, which is a really usable site that will give the facts, not the
politics, just the facts about what will be available.

I think fighting this law, threatening to shut down the government is
really a losing political strategy for the Republicans.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and Dana Milbank, thanks for
your time this evening.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama calls our GOP lawmakers for
caring more about their job than yours.


OBAMA: If folks in Washington really want a grand bargain, how about
a grand bargain for middle class jobs? How about a grand bargain for
middle class jobs?


SHARPTON: Plus, it`s happening again. A new secret plan to take down
the president`s agenda is revealed tonight. The memo that group of right
wingers doesn`t want you to see revealed tonight.

And Bill O`Reilly has been taking some personal shots at me. Tonight,
my open letter to him. It`s optimistic, and it celebrates our great

And what is on your mind? Send me a question or comment. E-mail me.
Friend or foe, I want to know. "Reply Al" is coming.


SHARPTON: While President Obama`s busy rebuilding the country, the
GOP is busy finding new ways to say no. We saw that again today when the
president flew to Tennessee to talk about what should be the number one
concern for everyone in Washington, creating jobs.


OBAMA: Even before the financial crisis hit, we were going through a
decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, but most
families were working harder and harder just to get by. Nobody who works
full time in America should have to live in poverty. I`m going to keep on
making the case and fighting for the fact that we need to raise our minimum
wage, because right now it`s lower than it was when Ronald Reagan took


SHARPTON: The president also proposed a new grand bargain with
Republicans in Congress. He will simplify the tax code if they invest in


OBAMA: If folks in Washington really want a grand bargain, how about
a grand bargain for middle class jobs? How about a grand bargain for
middle class jobs? So I`m going to try offering some of the serious people
in both parties should be able to support. A deal that simplifies the tax
code for our businesses and creates good jobs with good wages for middle
class folks who work at those businesses.


SHARPTON: But Republicans like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell
rejected the president`s proposal before he even gave his speech. It`s a
plan that could create jobs, but Republicans are only interested in
creating gridlock.

Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson and James Peterson.

Thank you both for joining me.


to be here.

SHARPTON: James, now Republicans are even refusing to compromise to
create jobs? I mean, won`t voters remember that?

PETERSON: I hope so. I hope the voters also remember the fact that
the Republicans are accusing the president of taking this plan to the
media. Actually, he is taking this plan to the people. And if we can go
into some kind of time warp to go back 10, 15 years, this corporate tax
rate as well as infrastructure spending and jobs around infrastructure
would be considered Republican plans. So the idea that all of the sudden
before the plan and the details even get out that they can reject it goes
to this sort of gridlock that has been the modus operandi for the Congress
for the last five or six years.

SHARPTON: You know, Nia-Malika, the president took it right to the
Republicans. He is not pulling any punches. Watch this.


OBAMA: For most of this year, we`ve seen an endless parade of
distractions and political posturing and phony scandals. If Washington
spent as much time and energy these past two years figuring out how to grow
our economy and grow our middle class, as it spent manufacturing crises in
pursuit of a cut at all cost approach to deficits, we would be much better
off. We would be much better off. I don`t want to go through the same old
arguments where I propose a new idea and the Republicans just say no
because it`s my idea.


SHARPTON: I mean, Nia-Malika, are the gloves off? It seems kind of
straight forward there.

HENDERSON: Indeed. And what he is clearly trying to do is he is
trying to frame this debate before it actually happened. Interesting that
he went to a very red state, corkers, about corker`s own backyard. Corker
had been in some ways a partner to the president, at least more of a
moderate in terms of considering some of the president`s plans. It doesn`t
look like that is going to happen this time. He already came out and said
that he was skeptical of it.

But I think it`s smarter of the president to go on the offense. We
will see what happens. Congress folks are going on recess. They will be
back in their own neighborhoods. They will probably be having some town
halls. It will be interesting to hear what comes out of that, what sort of
complaints constituents are having. Everybody knows the middle class is
hurting. A pew poll shows 85 percent of people who consider themselves
middle class are worried about staying in the middle class.

SHARPTON: You know how professor Peterson, the disparity in incomes
and the income gains over the last three decades, I mean, it`s really
telling. Look at this. The blue line showed that over the last three
decades, the poorest 20 percent in this country had income gains of 16
percent. But look at this red line. During the same period, the top one
percent enjoyed gains of 281 percent. I mean, this kind of disparity ought
to alarm everybody across-party lines.

PETERSON: It really should. It`s one of the greatest challenges
facing our nation in the 21st century. It`s a problem that President Obama
has presided over. But it`s not one that he started. And it looks to be
getting worse and worse. Income inequality is at record levels.

And here is the thing. This is interesting about the president`s
comments and how he is positioning this particular to get this plan put in
place. You notice there have been sort of organized protests across the
nation around fast food wages.


PETERSON: So it`s interesting for the president to try to tap into
that and say hey, we`ve got to get an adjustment to the minimum wage. If
it`s not a living wage, let`s at least adjust for inflation, and that will
go a long way towards beginning to address the income inequality. The
concentration of the wealth at the top one percent, and this is a global
thing too, but it`s also here in America is one of the most striking, one
of the most profound challenges facing us as a nation in the 21st century.

SHARPTON: And you know, Nia-Malika, the things that concerns me,
though, is when you look at the words and the war on the poor that it seems
that the right has launched. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people are feeling that they`re not being paid
adequately, then they have got to find a job some place elsewhere the
business model pays higher wages.

LIMBAUGH: It`s not that there are jobs that Americans won`t do
anymore. It`s just that Americans don`t want to work. Then entitlement
society is too big. We have the numbers yesterday, 101 adults in this
country get federal assistance of some kind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we`re trying to say is mediocrity should be
rewarded there is no responsibility on you to do anything. We`ll make sure
that corporate America keeps paying you more than you really should earn.


SHARPTON: See, this is what concerns me. Because with this kind of
talk, I mean, how can we expect them to pass any legislation that will help

HENDERSON: It`s certainly a dangerous tone, this sort of antipathy
towards Americans, this sort of sense that Americans are lazy and they
don`t actually want to work. I mean, it certainly runs counter to what we
know about Americans, the people who built this country.

We have a fight going on here in D.C. where Wal-Mart wants to expand
their company here, but the D.C. city council is very much pushing back,
asking for a living wage of $12. We`ll have to see what happens with that.
Is it better that they pay 8 bucks an hour or have no jobs at all? So it`s
a fight. I think we`re going to see a long, hot summer of working class
folks really standing up for themselves. It`s almost a replay of, you
know, sort of operation zero, ground zero.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika Henderson and James Peterson, thank you both for
your time.

PETERSON: Thanks, Rev.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, exposing the GOP secret plan to take down
President Obama`s agenda. The right-wingers are caught red-handed on this
one. We have the memos to prove it.

Plus, my open letter to Bill O`Reilly. He has gotten a lot of things
wrong. And I`m correcting the record tonight. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: On this show over the last few weeks, we`ve had a serious
conversation about one of the biggest issues facing our country, the racial
disparities in our criminal justice system. These are difficult,
entrenched issues that require seriousness and honesty. To FOX News host
Bill O`Reilly, they`re just a punch line.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Al Sharpton and the grievous industry
strike back. That is the subject of this evening`s talking points memo.


SHARPTON: Grievance industry. That`s how Bill O`Reilly boils it
down. The frustrations and the hopes of millions of people who feel that
too often the legal system is stacked against them, everything from racial
profiling and police brutality to unequal sentencing, including death
sentencing. Since he is so far off base, I thought I would take time
tonight to offer this open letter to Bill O`Reilly. Maybe he`ll learn,
even learn something different. Because having a grievance and fighting to
change it, that`s not an industry. It`s one of the finest traditions in
this great country, and it dates back to the earliest days of the United

The idea was so important to the founders that they put it in the
first amendment of the constitution. Quote, "The right of people to
peaceably to assemble to petition the government for a redress of
grievances." In 1848, women gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, to demand
equal rights as citizens. They said that, quote, "Women do feel themselves
aggrieved, oppressed and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred
rights." They were aggrieved.

And they got together as Americans to make their voices heard. In
1963, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his letter from a Birmingham
jail that he hoped white clergy members would serve as the channel through
which our just grievances could reach those in the power structure. That
same year, The New York Times called the march on Washington the greatest
assembly for the redress of grievances that this capital has ever seen.

Dr. King later reminded us that the history of Americans, the history
of confronting injustice, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. And
he told us we wouldn`t have to wait long for progress.


DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., (JANUARY, 1929-APRIL, 1968): How long?
Not long. Because all through the moral universe is long, but it bends
towards justice.


SHARPTON: America has been bending towards justice for over 200
years. Along the way from the beginning until now, they have always been
people without the ability to rise above their own narrow interests and
petty score settling. The founding fathers considered people who looked
like me to be just three-fifths of a person. My ancestors in South
Carolina were slaves, and it took a civil war to set them free. From
Seneca Falls, it took 72 years for women to get the right to vote, a long
time. People just considered it normal for women not to get to vote.

But the arc of justice bent in the right direction. It took 100 years
for the civil rights movement to send Jim Crow packing. The grievances we
faced in America have changed over time, just as the country has changed.
But today there are still deep injustices that we must address. Our
criminal justice system too often treats millions of Americans differently
because of the color of their skin.

Right here in New York City, under the stop and frisk policy, the
police stop more than half a million people last year. Eighty seven
percent of those that were stopped were minorities. But 89 percent of the
stops resulted in no arrests, no summons. They were just people whose
rights were violated for no legal reason. Similarly the night Trayvon
Martin was killed. The Sanford Florida Police Department let his shooter
walk free without even conducting an investigation.

They just took his word for it. If the police in Sanford had acted
justly, maybe Trayvon Martin`s parents wouldn`t have had a grievance and
called me and others to come publicize their demand for an arrest and a
proper investigation. Now, even the President of the United States wants
the stand your ground laws reexamined.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: For those who resist that idea
that we should think about something like the stand your ground laws, I
just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could
he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?


SHARPTON: Bill, America is the greatest country in the world because
we have the freedom to challenge our nation to be even better. We`re
always striving to form a more perfect union. We`ve long passed moved
unfair -- moved past unfair tariffs and three-fifths of a person, beyond
denying women a right to vote and beyond the control of Jim Crow. Now we
must fight against criminal injustice and economic inequality.

We fight for equal rights for all Americans, for gays, for new
immigrants, for women to earn equal pay for equal work. Sure it makes some
people uncomfortable. But this country has always evolved because people
stood up, addressed the problems of their time, and fought to change them.
That`s the greatness of America. Now you know, Bill. Sincerely yours,
Reverend Al.

Joining me now is Martin Luther King III. Thanks for being here,
first of all, Martin.


SHARPTON: You know, protests over injustice is a key part of our
history and of yours personally.

KING: It certainly is. And in fact that is part of what we`re doing
on August 24th as we reenact the march on Washington. My dad always used
those techniques. He also had a public policy agenda that he had in place
that would ultimately create laws that would provide change for our nation.

SHARPTON: And he was always denigrated and called names. You know,
the names that he called into stuff he had to endure, our stuff today is
petty. The first thing they did was try to act like he was involved in
some industry. They indicted him for income tax, said he was stealing
money from the organization Montgomery and it ended up totally being
untrue. But it`s always to go after your character rather than deal with
what you`re trying to raise as an issue.

KING: Well, that is certainly very true. I think, you know, what dad
did, of course was use the laws of the land to be exonerated. And they had
to of course go through a court process.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

KING: You know, unfortunately, in America, the justice system has
many challenges. When we look at 59 percent of those in jail being people
of color, we`ve got to find a better way to address justice for all, to
have a more inclusive system of indigent defense. A number of things have
to happen. But it takes people being on the streets, it really takes
street heat. Not nonviolent street heat I should say.

SHARPTON: And at the same time, we are all for correcting people, and
we do in terms of their personal behavior and family and all that. But
that does not justify not dealing with the unequal system in terms of the
justice system and other things, whether you`re well-behaved or not,
whether your family is correct or not, we see the plight based on a racial

KING: Well, yes. I would say certainly, unfortunately, that is where
we still are.


KING: We`re a much better nation. We got to move to higher ground.
We have to operate at an optimum level. We`re not operating at the level
that we need to as a society. And certainly even in our own community,
there are things we must do. So I think the responsibilities certainly
with the government, the responsibilities within our own households.

SHARPTON: Now, you know yesterday President Obama met with some of us
in the civil rights leadership to discuss the Supreme Court ruling on the
voting rights act. Which you have fought all your life helping
reauthorize. Your father helped to set it in the first place. And the
President said yesterday, when you think about it, this is small bore stuff
compared to the lynchings, shootings, and killings that happened 50 years
ago ultimately, this is within our power to change. Martin, are you
hopeful we can change and maintain the teeth of the voting rights act,
August 24th and other efforts are trying to do?

KING: Well, I`m certainly convinced that we can. We`ve got to get
some movement in Congress. And obviously there have been hearings already.
But we`ve got really some monumental work to do. I think that when people
of all ilks and all walks of life come together, blacks and whites and
Latinos and the Hispanics and people from every walk of life come together
on the 24th, when the nation sees that there is great interest, and the
fact is nobody should ever be having an issue voting in 2013 and beyond.
We should have theoretically done that. But unfortunately, with those
teeth taken out, we`ve got to find a new way to ensure that everybody can
participate in the process.

SHARPTON: You talk about everybody. When you look at even across
racial lines, look at the income inequality in the country. Since 1978,
workers pay as only increased by 5.7 percent, yet CEO increase has been 726
percent. This is across the board. This is unbelievable. And it brings
me back to your father`s last effort was the poor people`s campaign.
Economic inequality across all racial lines.

Yes. And absolutely. I think that that`s another issue that we`ve
got to constructively find a way to address, because the disparity just
certainly should not be that great. Certainly one may understand why a CEO
may make more than an employee. But when you`re talk 700 percent is almost
abysmal. It is beyond belief. We can and we must do better. The only way
that changes, though, is Americans have to come together and engage in

SHARPTON: You know, when we talk about the criminal justice system
voting of course, the criminal justice system is also paramount in what
we`re raising this year. You know, whites and blacks use marijuana at the
same rate, but blacks are four times more likely to be arrested. These are
the kind of disparities we have to address.

KING: Still, we still know, you and I and others have fought around
racial profiling. Profiling is still very real. Profiling is something
that again, I think this sensitivity, our sensitivity, diversity and human
relations training is something the Police Departments need, as well as
corporate America, as well as the governing structure. Those are the kind
of things that hopefully help us begin to understand cultures. When we
understand cultures and people, maybe we won`t just target a certain group.
The reason why the prison populations are so high with African-Americans is
because we`ve been targeted. That is not right.

SHARPTON: And it also is still gender-based. Women still only earn
77 cents to a man`s dollar. All of these issues we must continue to stand
up and fight for until we make it right, a more perfect union for everyone.

KING: Well, that`s why we are calling for the march on Washington.
It is not just a commemorative march. It is a march with real action --
and a real action-oriented agenda. I would like to say oh, we made it,
Reverend, we don`t have to, you know, this is just symbolic. No, it`s real
there, they are real issues. People have suffered all across this nation.
We can and we must, and we are a better nation than the behavior we`re

SHARPTON: Martin Luther King III, I`m glad that you are here tonight.
And you heard my letter to Bill O`Reilly. I remember, you made it possible
for me to be kind of close with your mother. She used to tell me Al,
you`ve got to be bigger than your critics. Grow. How you still fight back
and use bad language. So, I hope she sees I`m getting a little better.
I`m not there yet, but I`m getting a little better.

Martin Luther King III, thank you for being here tonight.

KING: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a secret plan to destroy the Obama agenda is
revealed. You don`t want to miss this.


SHARPTON: We`re back with a top republican school official who gets
an F in fairness. While pushing right wing solutions to education reform.
Tony Bennett became a conservative star by privatizing schools, handing out
vouchers, and cracking down on teachers pay when he was the head of the
schools in Indiana. But now the Associated Press reports, he was caught
cooking the books at a charter school that just happened to be run by a
rich republican donor. The AP obtained e-mails showing that last year this
charter school originally got a C grade, potentially hurting the funding it
would get from the state.

So Tony Bennett stepped in to personally fix it, telling his staff to
change the grading formula to make sure the school would get an A grade.
Why would he do it? Maybe because the school was founded by a rich
republican named Christel Dehaan, who in the past had donated $138,000 to
Bennett`s campaigns. Even a school kid can see this adds up to something
pretty fishy with some poor marks for the right wings attempt to undermine
our public school system.

Did Mr. Bennett and his rich GOP friends think we wouldn`t notice how
he failed our school kids? Nice try, but we flunk you.


SHARPTON: It`s happening again. Mother Jones has revealed a secret
right-wing plan to destroy President Obama`s agenda. It`s known as
Groundswell. The magazine obtained documents revealing a, quote, "30 front
war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation. And bring down the

Members include Jenny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas, former Tea Party Congressman Allen West, and a top aide for Senator
Ted Cruz. Their strategy includes hyping scandals, crafting anti-Obama
messaging, coordinating with conservative media, pressuring moderate
Republicans, and collaborating with GOP lawmakers. These far right
activists have had meetings with top republican lawmakers like Speaker
Boehner and Darrell Issa. This is money and the power rubbing off on
Congress. But if we shine the light on it, maybe we can make a change.

Joining me now, David Corn. Thanks for coming on the show, and great

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Good to be with you, Rev. Thanks for
having me.

SHARPTON: Can you tell what kind of influence does this group have on

CORN: Well, let me give you the basics first. We at Mother Jones
have got hundreds of pages of their internal documents. We made them
public, put them online a couple of days ago. And Groundswell is a
coalition of right wing groups lead, you know, and activists led by Jenny
Thomas, as you said, and others, who get together on a weekly basis to put
together strategy and messaging points so they all can speak together in
unison and try to change the political narrative, you know, from a far
right perspective.

They have aides on The Hill, people who work for Senator Sessions and
Ted Cruz and some of the Tea Party members in the House side who constantly
are coordinating with them and sending them requests for information and
for advice and for help. How can you help us on the debt ceiling showdown?
We want to ask Gina McCarthy, the EPA nominee a few weeks ago, a few months
ago back, some questions. What should we be asking her?

SHARPTON: They do actual strategizing and research for a lot of the
things to really try and stop the President`s agenda and try to stop things
from moving forward?

CORN: Yes. That`s what they`re doing. It`s exactly the agenda that
you would think they would have. And they try to come up with these very
nifty messaging points to win the narrative. They think they lose the
narrative again and again to the left and to progressive groups. So they
spend a lot of time thinking what is the right words we can use. And one
exchange of what one set of memos that we posted, they talk about, you
know, when you say conservative republican Tea Party, to minorities, that
connotes racism. So we need a different name for ourselves. We should
call ourselves Frederick Douglass Republicans. One problem was they
spelled Frederick and Douglass wrong. But the message here is that they
think all they have to do is --

SHARPTON: So, this whole Frederick Douglass republican was a phrasing
they wanted to use to mock, not that they had any commitment to what the
historic Frederick Douglass was all about. And on the line, they didn`t
even know how to spell the names right.

CORN: Well, a lot of what they do is about marketing, talking points,
bullet points, and messaging. And they really believe that there is
nothing wrong with their policies. That they just have to put a different
icing on the cake. You know, they have a long exchange which they`re
trying to figure out what they should call their voter identification
efforts. They concede again that people here that and they think the
Republicans and conservatives are acting racist and they`re trying to
dilute the black vote.


CORN: And so they say maybe we should call it voter rights, election
integrity, and all these other phrases. But the core is there.

SHARPTON: Election integrity. How long has the group been meeting?
When do they start meeting?

CORN: They started meeting earlier this year of February, March. And
one other interesting thing that we haven`t mentioned yet, is that they see
Obama and progressives, people like you as the enemy, but they also see
another enemy, and that`s Karl Rove. These guys are so far to the right,
they think Karl Rove is an enemy of conservatives.


CORN: And they have a secret project. They call it -- they call it
the Karl Rove project to undermine rove by getting people to stop making
donations to his Super Pac, by making him in their words, toxic to the

SHARPTON: Now one of the people in the group, a central figure in
Groundswell is Jenny Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas. I mean, is there a conflict of interest here when Justice Thomas
has to then go and rule on cases involved in these very same issues?

CORN: Well, Jenny Thomas has gotten what some criticism as has
Clarence Thomas in the past because she was a lobbyist against Obamacare,
making money, you know, trying to make -- repeal the law. And then her
husband votes on it.


CORN: You know, she ran a group that benefited from the Citizens
United decision. So she could have made tens if not hundreds of thousands
of dollars off that decision.

SHARPTON: No, but Thomas is dealing with voting rights case,
abortion, gay marriage.

CORN: Gay marriage.

SHARPTON: And she is on this group that is actively strategizing
against it. That`s not a conflict, David?

CORN: And some of these groups actually involved may be bringing
cases to the court, doing you know, friends of the court briefs. It`s
very, very close. I mean, for there to be an official -- an official
conflict -- money changing hands, but this is really sort of walking the
line. And I will tell you one thing that most Americans don`t realize.
There is a code of conduct, an ethical -- an ethics code for everyone in
the federal judiciary, except Supreme Court justices.


CORN: They don`t apply these rules to themselves. But Congresswoman
Louise Slaughter later this week is going to introduce a bill, her office
tells me, that will make this code of conduct apply to Supreme Court

SHARPTON: We`ll see how much the justices of the Supreme Court
applaud that as further transparency and integrity in government. David
Corn, great reporting. And we`ll be watching and monitoring this group and
your reporting on it. Thanks for your time.

CORN: People can see all these documents at Thanks
a lot.

SHARPTON: All right, David.

Up next, friend or foe, I want to know. Reply Al is next.


SHARPTON: It`s time for "Reply Al." Keep sending me all your
questions. Friend or foe, I want to know. Peggy writes, "I was wondering.
How can it be that Congress can still get paid even though they refuse to
do their job?"

Good question, Peggy. I think if they had the same criteria you and I
had, not getting paid if they didn`t work, we wouldn`t have the gridlock
that we have.

Scott says, "What cause have you lent your support to that you`re most
proud of?"

Well, you know, Scott, I`ve fought a lot of causes, fought a lot of
battles. You know what I`m most proud of, January 12th, 1991, I was lead a
non-violent march in Brooklyn, New York, Benson Hurst. A young black male
had been killed by mob that didn`t want blacks in the neighborhood. A man
ran out of the crowd and stabbed me, tried to kill me. I confronted the
fact that now I`ve got though know what I really believe. I came up in the
aftermath of Dr. King`s life, and I preached forgiveness and nonviolence.

And I fought with myself to forgive that young man that stabbed me. I
ended up going to court testifying that I forgave him and asked the jury to
give him leniency. The judge gave him nine years in jail anyway. He wrote
me from jail and thanked me for forgiving him. I then got enough strength
to go and visit him in jail. He cried and thanked me. I told you, I
didn`t come for you, I came for me. The thing I`m most proud I`ve had in
life is the battles I`ve had with myself to make me become a person that
can practice what I preach. Because Gandhi is right. The change you seek
must begin with you. And if you know you change and evolve -- I`m not
there yet, but evolving -- you`ll be most proud of that.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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