March 25, 2014
Guests: Richard Trumka, Jeffrey Rosen, Jan Schakowsky, Angela Rye
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed, and thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, supreme showdown. The right wingers try again and again to
tear down President Obama`s health care law. And today they`re at it
again. The Supreme Court heard arguments from two businesses whose owners
don`t want to comply with part of the Affordable care Act, saying it
violates their religious beliefs to include certain forms of contraception
in their employee`s health plans.
One of the businesses is Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores
with 13,000 employees. The company says that religious freedom is the
reason it should be able to deny preventive care to employees.
This chase could set a powerful president. If companies can claim covering
contraception is against their religious beliefs, what`s next? Could a
company say serving gays is against its beliefs? Or serving minorities?
This case raises serious issues. But for Republicans, it`s a last-ditch
effort to attack a law, a way to grandstand and they ran to the cameras
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: One thing that is very clear is that
the act known as Obamacare is not fair. It`s not fair to people all across
the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Religious freedom is under attack by the Obama
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is outages how far we have gone away from the
founding of the rights of this country.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: People of faith do not have a right to practice
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: People have a right to practice their faith. But do
corporations have the religious rights that individuals do?
Meantime, just look at how the health care law is already helping millions
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: In 2009, retired small business owner Scott
Trindle had a heart attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after that I had a notice they were going to
cancel me as of the end of the next month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Under the ACA he is saving at least $100 a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old system I have been forever barred from having
private health insurance. Now I`m not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: 27-year-old graduate student Rodney Hammond
waited to sign up for Obamacare. But now he has gotten in under the March
31st deadline and has a subsidized plan for only $82 a month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: For the first time in 20 years, Dave can
make a trip to the doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time in my life, I`m covered. I can`t
tell you how good that feels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This law is making a huge difference. Yet Republicans refuse to
accept it. They lost it in Congress. They lost it the last time it went
to the Supreme Court. And they lost it in the last election. Today`s
fight is part of the same battle.
Joining me now are Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who is outside of the
Supreme Court today, and Jeffrey Rosen, professor at George Washington law
school and president and CEO of the National Constitution Center. Thank
you both for being here.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Reverend Al.
JEFFREY ROSEN, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON LAW SCHOOL: Thank you,
SHARPTON: Jeffrey, let me go to you first. This could be the defining
case of the Supreme Court term. How unusual is what`s being sought in this
ROSEN: Well, Justice Sotomayor suggested, it`s very unusual. She said
name one previous case in which we held a corporations have the same
religious liberty rights as natural persons. And if the court rules
broadly and extends the logic of Citizens United to say that corporations
have the same free speech rights but the same religious rights, the liberal
justice has suggested this could mean that religiously motivated
corporations can claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.
You mentioned gays and lesbians. Yesterday the court delayed about whether
to hear a case about whether a wedding photographer can refuse to
photograph a gay wedding on religious grounds. So it could have very
SHARPTON: You know Congresswoman Justice Elena Kagan asked questions today
that suggested the ruling for Hobby Lobby could set a dangerous precedent
as Jeff said. She said, quote, I`m quoting the justice, "so another
employer comes in, and that employer says I have a religious objection to
sex discrimination laws. And then another employer comes in. I have
religious objections to minimum wage laws. And then another family leave
and then another child labor laws."
I mean, do you worry this would be a slippery slope, Congresswoman?
SCHAKOWSKY: There is no question. And in its brief, the justice
department argues that if employers can use their religious beliefs to
choose which what laws that they will obey, that it would be very hard for
the government itself to function.
And it seems to me, and maybe our lawyer can answer this, the Amish went to
the Supreme Court because they don`t believe under their religious beliefs
in Social Security. And the decision was that they had to pay into Social
Security. They could not choose for their employees not to contribute.
SHARPTON: And, you know, Jeff, when she raises that point about the Amish
and others, I think that it is confusing a lot of people. How could the
religious beliefs of the owners of a company affect their employees?
ROSEN: Well, that`s precisely the question that Justice Kennedy asked at
the argument. He seemed concerned that the rights of the employer could
trump that of the employee. And of course he is the swing vote in this
case. On the other hand, Justice Kennedy was also concerned. Does this
mean the government could force a religious employer to cover abortion?
And he didn`t like that prospect either.
So essentially, the truth is that all the previous cases that have
recognized religious rights of for-profit corporations like Jewish store
owners who don`t have to sell on the Sabbath were individuals. And the
stretch here is the claim that the corporate form itself has religious
Now, the court could rule on that narrowly as Chief justice Roberts sais
and say just this small closely hope corporation, the arts and crafts
store, Hobby Lobby is allowed to bring the suit, but we`re going to save
for another day and brought a question whether all corporations can sue.
But clearly, justice Kennedy wants to little broadly as he did in Citizens
United, the consequences could be the very ones that the congresswoman
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, some say this is really about women`s health. In
fact, the president of the national women`s law centers told NPR, quote,
"for an employer to say I will cover all the basic essential health needs
for men, but I am picking and choosing for women. And I am simply going to
take out contraception or specific forms of medically approved
contraception. It is sex discrimination." What is your response to that?
SCHAKOWSKY: There is no question about it. The signs that were in front
of the Supreme Court today "not my boss` business clothe and "we`re the 99
percent", of course, 99 percent of women during their reproductive years
use contraceptive. But these women employees have contributed just as much
as the men have to what is part of their compensation package. That`s
their insurance. And now we`re saying that the employer can go into that
and pick out what he doesn`t want to do and claim religious beliefs for the
13,000 employees of Hobby Lobby. And 100 other companies that have also
filed cases under the same rule, under the same principle about religious
SHARPTON: Now Jeff, let me go back to you. You mentioned Kennedy is the
swing vote here. Give me what this court looks like. It seemed very
divided in the debate and then well in the questioning today. And clearly,
this decision, where they go has real serious, real serious implications.
I mean, we joked about Governor Romney talking about corporations of people
last year. But that`s reality today. That is exactly what is being argued
in front of the Supreme Court and it could happen.
ROSEN: Well, this is really the convergence of two of the most
controversial cases recently, citizens united which said corporations are
people, and the health care case, which upheld health care on to the
grounds chief justice Roberts decided that the mandate was a tax, not a
There was one funny moment in the courtroom today when Justice Sotomayor
said well, the corporations don`t have to provide the coverage. They could
just pay a penalty or I mean, a tax. And chief Roberts said she is right
about that. And everyone laughed. And it was the same lawyers, General
Verelli and Paul Clement who had argued the Obamacare case.
But justice Kennedy has to decide. He --
SHARPTON: Those are the same lawyers, I want to push a little there
because that was a little surreal that we are looking at the exact same
lawyers. Was that unusual?
ROSEN: I mean, talk about a constitutional rematch. They may not be that
unusual because it`s a small group of lawyers that tend to argue before the
court. And the solicitor general always represents the government.
But just it highlighted the drama. Justice Kennedy lost the Affordable
Care Act case where he wanted to strike down the health care mandate. He
won Citizens United where he said broadly, the corporations are people.
And it was so dramatic to watch him have to decide how far does he want to
take that principle. Does he really want to use the first amendment to
drive a stake into the heart of, you know, anti-discrimination laws and all
other sorts of neutral laws that people have become to depend on.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, some of the toughest questions were asked by the
women on the court today. They really asked some very tough questions to
SCHAKOWSKY: You know, it wouldn`t surprise because the women take it
personally. They understand the importance of contraception in their own
lives and what it meant. And by the way, this is for men as well. We talk
about contraception as family planning for a good reason.
Taking that right away from women to control their bodies and to follow the
prescriptions that were given by their doctors for the most effective form
of contraception really is discrimination against women and bad for
families in our country.
SHARPTON: Jeff, you have a great sense of the court. You study these
things. Can you call this one? Is this too close to call?
ROSEN: You know, I`m not going to -- I`m not going to call it. But I
think chief justice Roberts is going to try to go narrow. And he signaled
that he wanted to do that. And Justice Brier signaled he might be open to
that. Yes, this Hobby Lobby can bring the suit but others can`t.
The problem is he tried to do that in the Citizens United case. And
Justice Kennedy insisted on writing a broad opinion saying corporations
aren`t people and Roberts had to go along. So, you know, it`s going to
come down to Roberts once again. And we`ll see whether or not he can rein
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll know in June. And hopefully we`ll see the right
thing done. And of course all of us have our own idea what the right thing
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Jeff Rosen, thank you both for your time
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Reverend Al.
ROSEN: Thank you very much.
SHARPTON: Coming up, he said he would take down President Obama. He is
Jim DeMint, the senator turned tea party power broker. But now someone is
ready to take him on. The fight coming to Jim DeMint. That`s next.
Plus, it happened again. Another day, another right wing mistruth trashing
the Affordable Care Act. We bring the facts, ahead.
And Donald Rumsfeld says a, quote, "trained ape would be better at foreign
policy than President Obama." I`ll have a lot to say on this.
And a new development in the case of the pregnant mom who drove her kids
into the ocean. Does she belong in isolation or a mental hospital? Stay
SHARPTON: Up next, former Senator Jim DeMint vowed to break President
Obama. It didn`t work then, but he is still trying. But now our next
guest is calling him out and taking him on. That`s next.
SHARPTON: The fight over minimum wage is raging in America, and today some
staggering new numbers. Across the country, minimum wage workers are
struggling to make rent. In Minnesota, minimum wage employees have to work
an average of 91 hours a week to afford rent. In Texas, it`s 93 hours a
week. In Virginia, 115 hours. And in Maryland, it`s 138 hours. There is
something wrong with this picture. But Democrats in Washington are
fighting to change it.
Today, senators talked about how women will be impacted by raising the
minimum wage, and they introduced a Texas mother who shared her story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There have been times when have I had to enroll
myself in SNAP, WICK, those kind of food stamps. I`ve had to go to a local
shelter. I`ve had my lights turned off. I`ve had to go without a phone
because I know that my rent and car were more important. Have I missed
every Christmas, every thanksgiving, every Halloween and every new year`s
with my daughter. I dread the day when she looks at herself and wonders
why mommy is never there. How am I going to pay my bills should not be a
question I have to ask myself every single day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: She is right. And this is where the policy comes in. Because
Republican leaders in the house refuse to even allow a vote on raising the
minimum wage. It`s the same Republican Congress that won`t extend
unemployment insurance. They voted to slash food stamps. They have put an
ax to the safety nets every time they could. And leading them along the
way is tea party power broker Jim DeMint.
The former senator turned heritage foundation president who once said he
would do away with the federal minimum wage entirely. His group has been
vehemently opposed to the Democrats` minimum wage proposal. But now
someone is calling him out and challenging him to a fight. The AFL-CIO
Richard Trumka has written a letter to Mr. DeMint asking him to participate
in a public forum on the minimum wage, a one-on-one, no holds barred.
Public debate on minimum wage. Now that`s something I want to see.
Joining me now is Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. Thanks for
being here tonight.
RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Al, thanks for having me on. I really
SHARPTON: You`ve said that you would debate Mr. DeMint any time, any
place. Has he responded?
TRUMKA: He has declined to debate us. And it could be for a lot of
reasons why. Maybe he doesn`t feel comfortable defending his position on
repealing the minimum wage. Maybe he doesn`t want to talk about what
America would look like with no minimum wage at all. Maybe it is because
it`s a no-win situation for DeMint and heritage because their claim at
raising the minimum wage would kill jobs just isn`t supported by the facts.
We`ve done it 37 times. We haven`t lost jobs yet. So we believe whatever
the reason, we believe that we ought to have an honest debate so that the
American public can benefit from it and decide and we`re ready to have that
SHARPTON: Richard, you said that we raised the minimum wage 37 times and
we never lost jobs when we raised the minimum wage?
TRUMKA: That`s absolutely correct, Al, 37 times. We haven`t lost jobs
yet. And every time they use the same old argument, if you raise the
minimum wage, we`ll lose jobs. Look, if the minimum wage had kept pace
with inflation right now, it would be 1079. If it had kept pace with
productivity, it would be 1867. If it had kept pace with the top one
percent, it would be $28.75.
Work shouldn`t trap people in poverty. It should it raise them out of
poverty so they don`t have to rely on federal assistance. But right now
millions of people go to work every single day. They work hard just like
the lady that was on before me. And they still live in poverty. They
can`t make it. It`s time that we raised the minimum wage and honor work,
not continue to let people languish like we have been.
SHARPTON: Why did you go after Jim DeMint? Why did you challenge him
directly to a one-on-one with you?
TRUMKA: Because they`re the heart beat of the conservative side. I mean
they -- first the Koch brothers come out and say we want to repeal the
minimum wage. And then heritage follows them after getting $3.5 million in
donations from Koch. They say we want to repeal the minimum wage. We say
increase the minimum wage. They say repeal the minimum wage. Let`s have a
debate, and let America decide which is best. I think I know where people
will decide. They`ll say let`s increase the minimum wage. Let`s bring it
up so where people can actually work hard and they can live out of poverty.
That`s what we want to do. I hope he`ll come out and debate us.
SHARPTON: I often say we can have our different opinions. We can`t have
different facts. Maybe that`s what they`re afraid of. They don`t want to
admit raising the minimum wage will help reduce poverty. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When you raise the price
of unemployment, guess what happens? You get less of it.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: A minimum wage law, as good as it may sound
at the outset is not the way to do it.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I don`t think raising
minimum wage, and history is very clear about this, doesn`t actually
accomplish those goals.
BOEHNER: It`s bad policy. And it will hurt the very people the president
purports to want to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, you represent millions of workers literally, Richard. How
do you deal with that kind of opposition in Washington?
TRUMKA: Look, right now the American public strongly supports a minimum
wage increase. Democrats do. Independents do. Even Republicans do.
Small business does. Large business does. The religious community does.
The progressive community does. Everybody supports it except a couple of
small groups. Heritage and DeMint for one. And they`re doing the bidding
of the Koch brothers.
And then the hospitality industry. Because one thing we didn`t talk about
yet al is the tip wage. It`s $2.13 an hour. It hasn`t been increased
since 1991. And 77 percent of the people who get tipped wages are women.
It will bring women out of poverty. It will do a lot. Well ought to bring
it up to the minimum wage so that when people work, everybody gets the same
minimum wage. And they index it for inflation. That`s what they need to
do in this country.
SHARPTON: This is very serious. Thank you so much, Richard Trumka, for
being on the show.
And the people in this country support this, 90 percent of Democrats, 71
percent of independents. 53 percent of Republicans all support the minimum
Yes, Jim DeMint needs to face you head-on and deal with the facts, deal
with these issues if he has an argument while you`re running from it. In
fact, I tell you what, Richard Trumka. If he will debate, he can do it
right on this show, anywhere, any time he wants. We`ll be there. I`ll
even shut up and let you all do all the talking. But we need the American
people to be dealt with straight on this.
TRUMKA: I`m ready, willing and able to have that debate. I hope he comes
out of the shadows and defend his position of repealing the minimum wage
SHARPTON: And I hope we can bring the minimum wage that ought to be in my
opinion raised out of the shadows of some Washington back room partisan
kind of situation.
Coming up -- thank you, Richard.
Coming up, another day, another misleading right-wing ad against the
president`s health care law. It`s a history of distortion, and we`re
Plus, Donald Rumsfeld compares President Obama to a, quote, "trained ape?"
And it looks like Scott Brown is ready to run in New Hampshire. And he is
already in top campaign form, putting his foot in his mouth. Tonight`s got
you is next.
SHARPTON: He`s been out of politics for 15 months, but former senator
turned FOX News commentator Scott Brown is ready to get in his truck and go
back to the beltway. Nothing has been officially announced, but he has
formed an exploratory committee to run for Senate in New Hampshire. He is
making speeches slamming the Affordable Care Act and changing his permanent
address to his vacation home in New Hampshire.
But over the weekend, he hit a local New Hampshire diner and a voter
criticized him for not being a New Hampshire person. And here was the
former senator`s reaction. And, yes, this is an exact quote. "Do I have
the best credentials? Probably not because, you know, whatever. But I
have a long and strong ties to this state."
Of course, you know whatever. That`s his response? But it also reminded
me of his hall of fame tweet from last year. Remember that late night
twitter fight that he got in, and he wrote, bqwhatevr. Not only was it
hilarious, but it also set all kinds of questions about why and how said
it. Here is he how responded weeks after.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN, FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: Anyone ever hear of a pocket tweet? A
pocket dial? It`s pretty simple. Have I an iphone 5. Where is it? If
anyone has an iphone 5, the keys are small. It`s very, very sensitive. It
was teaching me how to, obviously, you can get on facebook and twitter.
And there were some areas I didn`t really understand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: So you`re saying it was just a mistake?
BROWN: Well, what else would it be? I`m randomly pushing numbers and
putting it out there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Pocket tweet. Love it. But did he think we wouldn`t notice his
whatever campaign in New Hampshire? Nice try but whatever, because we got
SHARPTON: Less than a week to go to enroll in President Obama`s health
care law, and the right wing continues to distort the facts. Today the
Koch Brothers backed Americans for prosperity group released this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People don`t like political ads. I don`t like them
either. But health care isn`t about politics. It`s about people. And
millions of people have lost their health insurance. Millions of people
can`t see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less.
Obamacare doesn`t work. It just doesn`t work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: No, what doesn`t work are the claims this ad makes. Now airing
these ads in several states. The "Washington Post" Glenn Kessler shows how
it`s just not true. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of
people with insurance. And millions more are actually paying less and
getting more. But here is what is so maddening about it. This is a
pattern. It`s a repeated history of distortion. This Michigan ad featured
a woman battling cancer, saying her insurance was canceled under ObamaCare
and she could no longer afford health care.
Except the "Washington Post" found she had a new health plan and her
monthly premiums were actually cut in half. Then there was this ad
featuring a woman in Arkansas who says her plan was canceled. But the
"Wall Street Journal" pointed out that no Arkansas residents have had their
plans canceled due to the health care law. This appears to be a
coordinated effort of distortion from the start from death panels to job
killers to rationing. All not true. It`s one thing to push a political
agenda. But it`s another one entirely too repeatedly distort the facts.
Joining me now are Angela Rye and Jimmy Williams. Thanks for being here.
JIMMY WILLIAMS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Angela, we`ve seen political ads behind a lot of beliefs, and
we`ve seen them bend the truth. But how far is too far when you`re dealing
with health care?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, Rev, too far was 54 votes ago four
years ago in the house of jokers -- I mean the House of Representatives, of
course. And I think that now we have, you know, folks like those who run
Americans for Prosperity, which is exactly what their name says. They are
for prosperity by any means necessary and at all costs. So you have people
who now have health coverage that actually covers something, that now
actually can see doctors and specialists without referrals, that now can
ensure that they can live and live more abundantly in this country.
And the fact that they are pulling these people for whatever reason,
perhaps because of their own prejudices about the president, or whatever
else, their own ignorance about the law and they`re putting them on air and
they`re not telling the truth. It`s really unfortunate. And in spite of
all of this opposition, four years` worth, the President hasn`t been able
to see at least five million people in this country now covered, although
we have a long way to go with 317 million people in this country, we`re
still fighting. And I think that people need to continue to get covered.
SHARPTON: You know, Jimmy, this distortion, I mean, they seem to get fact
checked over and over again. They just ignore it and keep distorting the
JIMMY WILLIAMS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I mean, take a look at the
Tampa Bay times and PolitiFact. I think they have looked at 13 different
ads over the last three or four years by Americans for Prosperity. Of
those, none were rated true. None were rated mostly true. And only two
were rated half true. All the rest were false or mostly false or outright
lies. That`s a pretty bad track record. But I mean, you have to get into
the minds of Republicans to understand exactly how they think. There is a
big difference between Republicans and Democrats.
I don`t mean necessarily in their ideology, I mean how they actually look
at the world of governing and the politics. Republicans transact.
Democrats feel. Remember, Bill Clinton said, I feel your pain. We care
about kids who were sitting in poverty. We try to do something about it.
Republicans don`t think that way. They transact their way into any kind of
political situation. So it doesn`t matter if the Koch Brothers actually
belief anything that they say. Clearly they don`t.
Because if that`s the case, they can only believe lies. The problem here
is that we have to start on the left and in the middle. Independents in
this country have got to start shouting louder than the lies that are being
told by the Republicans. If we don`t do that, we have no one else to blame
but ourselves. Truth will always prevail, but not unless we go out and
shout it out to the rooftops everywhere across the country. And that`s
with we have to do.
SHARPTON: But shouting out louder, Angela, the problem is these right wing
groups have a lot of money behind them.
WILLIAMS: That`s right.
SHARPTON: Take a look at this. Since January of last year, Americans for
Prosperity has averaged over 1600 ads in nine U.S. Senate races. That`s
more than two times the total number of spots as the democratic group
Senate majority. Angela, they have a lot of power. How do you combat
these groups and their misinformation? How do you scream louder if you do
not have the money to amplify it?
RYE: Not only the money, but the bullhorns. If you`re shouting from the
rooftops with no microphone or bullhorn, you`re eventually going get
hoarse. And we`re playing with the folks that have a lot of dollars to
spin, they will do anything to try to win the Senate majority. I know a
lot of us saw Nate Silver`s prediction. I don`t know how we combat people
who are not playing a fair game. They`re not playing with facts here.
It`s something we have talked about ad nauseam on this network. And they
continue to make sure that the message of getting out, the message is clear
and it`s precise and it`s honest. That`s the only way that we can combat a
SHARPTON: You know, at the heart of all of this, Jimmy, is the Affordable
Care Act itself.
SHARPTON: It goes back to what you say about those that feel for people.
Because it`s helping millions of Americans. That`s what is so disturbing
to me. More than five million Americans have signed up. Three million
young adults have gained insurance under their parents` plans. It`s saved
eight million seniors $10 billion in prescription costs. And now 120
million Americans with preexisting conditions can`t be denied coverage. I
mean, this isn`t about politics. It`s about people`s lives.
WILLIAMS: Right. And I`m one of those 120 million people who didn`t have
health insurance before because of a preexisting condition. Now I do. And
by the way, when my cobra ran out, my premiums are half what they were
under what I was playing for cobra. Listen, I worked in the Senate from
1997 to 2003. We had something back then call the patients` bill of
rights. We would offer it up on the floor all the time. The Republicans
would vote it down. They would never offer their own plan, not once. So,
from 1997 when I worked in the Senate until now, if someone could please
find me a single GOP or republican-introduced bill, just introduce
I mean, it could be one word. I don`t care what it is. But they keep talk
about their plan is coming there is nothing there. There is no there,
there. So, we have to show that they`re not for anything. If we`re for
something, we`ve got to be for. Mary Landrieu is for ObamaCare in
Louisiana and talk about the people that are sitting that now have health
insurance. There are stories to be told that are good stories that aren`t
lies like Americans for Prosperity.
SHARPTON: You`re absolutely right. Because I travel all over the country,
as you know.
SHARPTON: And I see it everywhere I go.
SHARPTON: Angela Rye, Jimmy Williams, thank you both for your time
RYE: Thank you, rev.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And this note. We asked Americans for Prosperity for comment.
They didn`t address the accuracies of the ads, but said Democrats, quote,
"simply wish away the bad news about ObamaCare," and that is the law is,
quote, "wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of Americans." So pretty
much the same old story.
Coming up, Donald Rumsfeld compares President Obama to a, quote, "trained
ape," and some on the right are bashing the First Lady`s good will tour of
China, but we`re talking a tour of our own, back to the Bush presidency.
SHARPTON: Think for a second. Who are the last people who should be
criticizing the President`s policy on Afghanistan? Yep, members of the
Bush administration. Yet that`s exactly what former Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld just did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Our relationship with Karzai
and with Afghanistan was absolutely first-rate in the Bush administration.
It has gone downhill like a toboggan ever since the Obama administration
came in. A trained ape could get a status of forces agreement. It does
not take a genius. And we have been so mismanaged that relationship, I
think the United States diplomacy has been so bad, so embarrassingly bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A trained ape? He of all people should be talking. And since
when does he care about diplomacy? Isn`t he the man who said this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shouldn`t get into this is diplomacy and I don`t do
diplomacy. You may have noticed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Oh, we did notice that the Bush administration didn`t do
diplomacy. And that`s why it`s so shamelessly hypocritical to attack the
President`s diplomacy. Sadly, it`s the same hypocrisy we keep seeing from
the right. They`ve attacked the First Lady`s trip to China, but was silent
under First Lady Laura Bush. They blasted the President`s vacation, but
where were they when President George W. Bush was at the ranch in Crawford?
It`s a double standard, or should I say, a W. standard.
Joining me now are Richard Wolffe and Goldie Taylor. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Richard, you covered the Bush administration. Of all people to
criticize President Obama`s strategy in Afghanistan, why Donald Rumsfeld?
WOLFFE: Well, let`s just be clear. For a start, if he is suggesting the
President is a trained ape or should be a trained ape, he is clearly an
untrained ape when it comes to Afghanistan. There is a guy who made a big
deal out of the friendship. We won Pervez Musharraf. Remember him? The
general who was ousted from power in Pakistan. That`s the big source of
friction with Karzai. And you know, what happened was that big buddy in
Pakistan was helping the very people, al Qaeda, Bin Laden, himself
sheltering Bin Laden, all the while he was saying we`re the best of
Bush and Musharraf were the best of friends. So they read that wrong then.
They didn`t get the diplomacy right. They didn`t get the security right.
And if you think about it, when you put the whole diplomacy into context
between Vladimir Putin, the man who looked in his soul and saw a friend
there and Pervez Musharraf, you have a group of people who have no
legitimacy whatsoever here.
SHARPTON: And he is saying, Goldie, that a trained ape would be better, or
could do better, or something of that sort. But, you know, the right wing
blog Breitbart is attacking the President today for going on more overseas
trips than the President Bush, than former President Bush. They`re
treating it like a scandal. The only thing that there is barely any
difference in the time the two presidents have spent overseas. President
George W. Bush has spent 116 days abroad at this point in his presidency.
President Barack Obama has spent 119 days, three days doesn`t seem like a
huge difference to me. Certainly not a scandal, Goldie.
TAYLOR: Well, it certainly isn`t, especially when you have a president
like this one who is more interested in diplomacy than bombs. And so I
think that is, you know, really the difference between the two presidents.
The last president was willing to wage war in many places like Iraq where
maybe we should not have been. And so to take this President and compare
him with the last in terms of overseas trips, in terms of, you know, where
he goes, in terms of working reform policy and moving our diplomacy ahead.
You know, I think really is unfortunate.
On the other side of this thing, to have someone like Donald Rumsfeld use
something like, you know, a trained ape as a metaphor, it seems to be
something that Donald Rumsfeld likes to say. He said it at least two or
three times publicly over the last 15 years. And who knows how many other
times in private quarters. And so, I don`t think that necessarily that
phrase is something that he said as a racial term. But giving the context,
given the sensitivities around this presidency, given what is happening out
there, you know, in the public discourse around this, I think Donald
Rumsfeld ought to be more careful really in his choice of words around this
SHARPTON: Whether it`s a comparison or metaphor, whatever, it is still
SHARPTON: But let me go back to something, because you covered the Bush
years as well, Richard. The right continues to attack the First Lady for
her good will trip to China. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Michelle, she is now playing ping-pong,
that`s right, ping-pong, on taxpayer-funded vacation in China right now.
MARK LEVIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Obama ladies having a grand old
time. I hope they`re enjoying themselves because you are paying a fortune
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Isn`t any media, so, we don`t know
what is being exchanged. And we don`t know what is being brought back.
You know, cultural exchange works both ways. I mean, are they going to
leave Michelle`s mom in China as part of the exchange?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not the money. It`s very easy to spend other
people`s money. It`s not their money.
HANNITY: They seem so out of touch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, this is unbelievable. The First Lady and her daughters
and her mother. I mean, there is no regard for anything here. Where was
the outrage when Laura Bush took her daughters to Europe? I mean, with
many of us that adamantly, vehemently disagreed with George Bush, we never
attacked Laura Bush and her daughters. They`re not only attacking Mrs.
Obama and her daughters, but her mother? I mean, is there any level of
decency in this political discourse?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFFE: Maybe they`re not clued in to how diplomacy works. But let me
tell you. I traveled on Bush White House trips. I traveled on these
cultural visits that Laura Bush would do to these foreign countries, and
you know, she would get more coverage and more positive coverage than her
WOLFFE: I think it was valuable to this country. The Chinese understand
that too. They do cultural trips all the time. They are building
relationships and building influence. That`s the power of -- soft power of
those kinds of cultural exchanges. So, you can pooh-pooh it. You can say
it`s stupid. It`s actually a good use of money in terms of what the White
House has to do. And, you know, I understand that they hate everything
this President does. They`re going to like it when it`s a Republican first
lady who is doing it.
They`ll see it`s valuable and it promotes American interests. But you
know, why would they be sensitive about this kind of thing? Donald
Rumsfeld wasn`t sensitive about Iraqi civilians dying. The right wing echo
chamber isn`t sensitive with anything to do with this first family. Anyone
serious about foreign policy knows that this kind of sensitivity is what
really pays dividends going down the road.
SHARPTON: But, you know, Goldie, I think that there is absolutely -- I
agree with Richard. But alright, fine, you want to talk about -- you don`t
think taxpayers should be paying for the trip which is ludicrous. We`ve
done that with other first ladies and the country benefits from this. But
even in a sarcastic way talking about, are we going to exchange and leave
her mother, I mean, to me there is a boundary of decency that you have when
you`re talking about the first family in a country or any family. And
that`s what I`m so outraged about.
TAYLOR: You know, Reverend, in these environments, I don`t know that there
are boundaries anymore especially for Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. I don`t
know if there really are any boundaries, you know, when it comes to this
president. You know, two things are really at play here. First, we are
living in a time when people are looking at their government and they`re
looking at spending and they`re wanting us to do more with less. And so to
use the president and his foreign diplomacy or use the First Lady`s travel
and the family`s travel as a weaponized that is something that sort of goes
along with politics, so it`s to be expected.
But to do it in this way, to do it with this President and this first
family is almost to say as if they don`t deserve to represent us, that
something about them says that they should not travel abroad on our behalf,
or that they should not make use of a government airplane, or that we
should not fund this. And so there is something, something about this
president that they find different than all others.
SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe and Goldie Taylor, thanks for your time. I`m
going have to leave it there.
WOLFFE: Thanks, reverend.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Up next, the case of that pregnant mother who drove her van into
the ocean with her children inside there is a judge ruling today.
Plus, 49 years ago, Dr. King taught us all a powerful lesson. Today it
rings true now more than ever. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: A judge ruled today that the pregnant mother accused of trying
to kill her three children by driving her minivan into the ocean will be
allowed to stay at a mental health facility until she can return to jail.
Three weeks ago, Ebony Wilkerson drove her van into the ocean in Daytona
Beach, Florida, with her three children inside. She told police she was
trying to get away from her abusive husband. Bystanders ran to help, and
thankfully all three children were pulled safely from the car. One of the
children later told police, "Mom tried to kill us." Last week Wilkerson`s
lawyers tried to get her $1.2 million bond reduced, but prosecutors argued
she is a danger to the community.
Today the defense and prosecution agreed to drop the motion and leave the
bond in place. In return, Wilkerson will move out of an isolation unit and
into a psychiatric unit where she can go to group therapy sessions, get
prenatal care, and exercise with supervision. Wilkerson faces charges of
attempted murder and child abuse. We`ll continue to follow this story.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, honoring the past. Forty nine years ago today,
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led 25,000 people on their final
stretch of their historic pilgrimage from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
The goal was equal voting rights. And on that day, Dr. King called it a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (JANUARY, 1929 - APRIL, 1968): I know you`re
asking today how long will it take. Somebody is asking how long will
President`s blind the visions of men. How long? Not long, because no lie
can live forever. How long? Not long. Because the moral universe is
long, but it bends towards justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Today the fight goes on for voter rights, for gay rights, for
immigration rights. And today we remember these images. We remember how
Dr. King and so many others march peacefully hand in hand. We must
continue that fight.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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