Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 10/24/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hurricane Patricia, the strongest ever
recorded in the Western Hemisphere, hit land. The storm was still firmly
within category 5 range when it made landfall last night, packing winds of
up to 165 miles per hour. As the center of the storm now drags across
Mexico, Patricia is rapidly weakening. It is now a tropical storm. But
the heavy rain still poses some danger to parts of Mexico and even south
Texas. Joining me now, MSNBC meteorologist Bonnie Schneider. What lies
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: We`re watching for that threat of
flooding, even though the storm certainly has dissipated, as you mentioned,
and a tropical storm, but it will still bring some rainfall through central
Mexico. And of course the risk for mudslides, landslides, because of all
that water coming down. But there`s still another threat we need to talk
about and it`s happening right now. Look at these red boxes. These
indicate the flash flood warnings at present. We already had record
rainfall in many locations. But look at this, it still continues to rain,
heavy rain training through Austin, Texas right now. The next stop for all
this rain is actually Houston. So when we zoom into the area where we`ve
seen the heaviest rain, like Corsicana, where there have been 15, 16 inches
of rain. The problem is more is to come, and all is shifting to the east.
So there`s Houston getting some light to moderate rain right now, but with
the energy from Patricia as well as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, we
have a stalled front, it all works together to bring this. 6.3 inches
expected over the next three days in Houston, Texas. But we`re also
looking at a threat for southwest Louisiana as well, and all the way along
the border there. So Port Arthur, Beaumont, we`re going to see a lot of
rain in these areas, where it`s been dry for a while, Melissa. That`s why
it`s so dangerous to get all this rain at once, really will make for some
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Bonnie Schneider. We`re going to check
in with you a little later in the program.
Still to come this morning, we`ll also have highlights of Rachel Maddow`s
interview with Hillary Clinton, and Kenji Yoshino is going to be here to
explain how the Supreme Court may be about to take up crucial cases on
abortion access. But we turn first to a question of leadership. Wednesday
brought the highly anticipated news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: As my family and I have worked through the
grieving process, I`ve said all along what I`ve said time and again to
others. That it may very well be that that process, by the time we get
through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for
president. That it might close. I`ve concluded it has closed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And with that, Vice President Biden publicly announced he
would not seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency. For weeks,
the question of whether the VP would run animated political observers,
media and even many voters, with many just counting the days until his
announcement. But despite the anticipation, we knew it was going to take a
while. Because the vice president and his family have been hurting since
the loss of their beloved son, husband, brother and father, Beau Biden.
It`s an incomprehensible loss that could strip anyone of the emotional
resources needed just to carry on, let alone run for president. And Mr.
Biden had warned us that his emotional capacity in the wake of Beau`s death
might keep him from running.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I don`t think any man or woman should run for president unless, No.
1, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and, two, they
can look at the folks out there and say, I promise you, you have my whole
heart, my whole soul, my energy and my passion to do this. And I`d be
lying if I said that I knew I was there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: But Wednesday, the vice president told us he thankfully was
there emotionally, and that his family was there with him. He told us it
was not a matter of grief, it was a matter of time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Unfortunately, I believe we`re out of time. The time necessary to
mount a winning campaign for the nomination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So there will be no Joe. And I for one am disappointed.
Okay, maybe not like Lesley Nope (ph) disappointed, but I did want the vice
president to run. I wanted Joe Biden to really want to be president. Let
me say it a little bit differently. Because this is about more than just
I want the vice president in a successful two-term presidency to want to
seek the Oval Office. I know Mr. Biden and his family have been grieving a
tremendous loss. I know it`s almost impossible to see how he could win.
But I wanted him to want it anyway, because well, hell, it`s the American
presidency. And it is a nearly unfathomable privilege to be anywhere
within the stratosphere of being able to compete for that office.
Come on, admit it, political nerds, you have at some point supported one of
those quixotic candidates, a candidate who threw her hat into the ring with
little name recognition and even fewer dollars. Or maybe you supported him
even if he couldn`t win because he had such a vision for what he could do
as a school board member or city councilman or even a president that you
bought into. I`m not suggesting for example that lost causes are somehow
more authentic than carefully strategized campaigns. But there is
something about the willingness to just do it, to run, that is necessary
for feeding this American project in self-government.
And it is worth pointing out that sometimes very long-shot candidates do
indeed win. In this year`s Republican race, currently shaping up to be one
of the most expectation exploding elections in recent memory. I even think
Senator Sanders is surprised to find himself running as strongly as he has
thus far. And yet we`re hearing politicians like Congressman Paul Ryan
decide to pursue top level leadership if and only if victory is a foregone
conclusion. On Thursday, Ryan did officially announce his bid for the
speakership, but only after all three major factions of House Republicans
endorsed him. I guess that`s good for him, but I`m worried about our
system when the certainty of victory is a precondition for getting in the
So even if he didn`t think he could win, I needed Vice President Biden to
want it. Because being the president is a really big deal. And here`s the
thing, I kind of think the vice president is predisposed to thinking the
same way. Because I want you to listen to him telling the American people
that he`s not running.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I believe the huge sums of unlimited and often secret money pouring
into our politics is a fundamental threat to our democracy. We need, as
the president`s proposed, to triple the child care tax credit. That alone
will lead to dramatic increase in the number of women able to be in the
workforce. If I could be anything, I would have wanted to be the president
that ended cancer. Because it`s possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: No, sir, I like you, Mr. Vice President, but this is just
mean. You cannot tell me you are not running for president and then set
out a vision of campaign finance reform, gender equity and curing cancer,
restoring optimism that would have happened if you had been elected. That
is like flirting with me at the party all night long, refusing to ask me
out on a date, and then telling me how cute our kids would have been. No,
Now, no one can forget and no one should underestimate the gravity of the
loss that Vice President Biden has suffered. But watching the vice
president, one from a successful administration, outline his would-be
presidential agenda, and yet declining to run, has renewed my anxieties
about a troubling anemia affecting the Democratic Party.
Say what you want about the GOP choices this year, but at least a whole lot
of Republicans want to be president. And over on the Democratic side, it`s
easy to get the sense that many party leaders looked at that really cool
house over on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and shrugged their shoulders and
said meh, largely because they didn`t think they had the numbers or the
funding or the time to get through the doors. But if the only people who
respond to the call to run are those who could assuredly win the office,
what are we left with? Members of wealthy families. Maybe political
dynasties exclusively dominating the race for the highest office. Not the
stuff of a thriving democratic system.
Joining me now, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who is also the former
Democratic National Committee chair, and an MSNBC contributor. Alfonso
Aguilar, who is executive director of the American Principles Projects
Latino Partnership. Aimee Meredith Cox, assistant professor of African-
American studies, Fordham University, and author of a really great book
which we didn`t put the title in there.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s fantastic. And Eric Boehlert, who is the senior fellow
at Media Matters for America. Sorry, Aimee, we`re going to plug the book
Mr. Dean, I want to come to you. What are your thoughts? Am I wrong on
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I think we`re in a better shape than you
think as a democracy. I do agree with Joe on Citizens United. It`s a
total disaster, because it`s demoralizing to 80 percent of the American
people who don`t think anything they do counts.
And so it is a disaster. Look, Joe, Joe`s run twice. He definitely has
the heart for it. The problem is, he`s at 20 percent in the polls,
everybody loves him, and he has 100 percent name recognition, and he hasn`t
started campaigning yet. So that`s his ceiling. He at some point, you
don`t do this because – it`s too much to put your family through. And
Hillary is an incredible candidate.
HARRIS-PERRY: I hear you. I do. Particularly on the family part. When
you don`t see a clear pathway to victory. That said, you know this maybe
better than anyone else, for Democrats to win in the general, we got to
have big turnout. And what happened in `08, all that anxiety about that
hard-fought, very long primary, actually ended up being really good for
Democrats. And I wonder, with Mr. Biden choosing not to get in, if
Democrats had now lost that.
DEAN: There`s another issue. And it`s one – I mean, I had decided to
support Hillary a long time ago, so it wasn`t an issue for me. But if I
wanted to run now, I wouldn`t, because Bernie`s got my slot, essentially,
the insurgent. And he`s doing great. So there`s a lot of things that go
into this. It`s not – having done it once, having found a candidate that
I thought would be a better president than I, why would you do it? Just
for the sake of doing it? I thought that Hillary would be the best
president of the all people who are running by far.
HARRIS-PERRY: I got you. And if he`d opted out, if the vice president had
opted out and said, I`m out because I`m looking at Hillary Clinton and I
say to myself, but that ain`t what he did. He dug a little hole. He
planted a little shady tree. He put it over. And I was, like, excuse me,
sir, again. If you`re not running – this is tough for me.
DEAN: The thing is, his heart said to do it. But he listened to his head.
HARRIS-PERRY: I gave the Republicans a lot of credit here by saying there
is a robust group that are running on the Republican side. But when you
look at the leaders, they actually – the current folks leading in the
polls. They actually are not office holders. There`s one part that makes
me say, okay, democracy`s good on the Republican side, because folks who
aren`t – who aren`t even currently in office are willing to jump in. But
it also makes me concerned when for example Mr. Ryan is eschewing
leadership a little bit and the folks on the Republican side who may be
best positioned aren`t running.
ALFONSO AGUILAR, EXEC. DIR., LATINO PARTNERSHIP: Let me say, look, on the
Republican side, I think the message voters are sending right now is
they`re frustrated with Washington. We have a Republican Congress. And
they`re not governing. They`re not legislating. I think they sent them
there to do something different. To advance certain principles. They
can`t agree among themselves. In terms of Paul Ryan, look, he knows what
John Boehner went through. He doesn`t want to go through that. He wants
to make sure that if they elect him speaker, they`re at least going to
respect him. Not just going to go against him every time he proposes
Let me just say one thing about Joe Biden. As a Republican, I would have
loved to see Joe Biden in the race. I think he would have challenged
Hillary. He would have made those debates certainly much more interesting.
I mean, the last debate was so boring, everybody was in agreement. And
certainly would have been a great contrast. He`s an authentic, honest man,
and I think he will be a great contrast with Hillary.
HARRIS-PERRY: See, now that was some shady tree planting over there too.
Let me – I want to play one little thing. I just want to play our current
president. President Obama, way back in 2007, at the JJ dinner in Iowa,
talking about why he was getting in the race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: I am not in this race to fulfill some
long-held ambitions or because I believe it`s somehow owed to me. I never
expected to be here. I always knew this journey was improbable. I`ve
never been on a journey that wasn`t. I am running in this race because of
what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, we`re going to talk about that idea of a
fierce urgency of now, and whether or not it still exists in the Democratic
Party. I want you to just let that run through your head for a minute, and
here`s the other thing that happened on Wednesday. Even as he told us that
he would not run, the vice president did take a dig at the person who is
running, and that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I believe we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is
ripping this country apart, and I think we can. It`s mean-spirited. It`s
petty. And it`s gone on for much too long. I don`t believe, like some do,
that it`s naive to talk to Republicans. I don`t think we should look at
Republicans as our enemy. They are opposition. They`re not our enemies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Vice President Biden on Wednesday taking a not so
veiled swipe at the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for the pride
she expressed in the first Democratic debate for making enemies of the
Republicans. The question I have for my panel is, is that fair? If you`re
not getting in, do you get to plant the shady tree over the one most viable
candidate left in the race? What do you think?
AIMEE MEREDITH COX, FORDHAM UNIV.: Is it fair? I think it`s part of our
democracy. I think that sort of conflict and debate and tension is what
makes a good sort of democratic citizenry. But I don`t think it`s about
not playing by the rules. I think in fact these are the rules of the game.
I am deeply disappointed Biden didn`t run as well. And part of that is in
fact when you showed the clip of Obama in 2007, I wish we had a clip of
Shirley Chisholm. I`m thinking about the most improbable candidate
possible with Shirley Chisholm. That spirit, that urgent spirit of wanting
to throw your hat in because you have something to say, because you have a
community to stand in front of. Because you believe so deeply in the
democracy. So I wanted to see Biden run because I feel like there was a
space that`s missing. There`s a space between Hillary Clinton, which some
people feel is just more of the same, and Bernie Sanders, who many people
feel is maybe too far to the left. I think Biden could have created some
of the excitement that I feel is missing that we saw with the first run of
Obama. I think we`re missing that sense of urgency, of a new possibility.
Of something perhaps being different than the way it`s always been done.
HARRIS-PERRY: Even your point here that there`s a thing missing. One of
the things that`s missing is, again, we had a two-term Democratic president
who is still quite popular. Who sort of mentioned if he ran again, he`d
probably win again. I think that may even be true of President Clinton.
But talk to me then about what happens when there`s nobody who is sort of
running on that record in the race.
ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS: Well, I think if Joe Biden saw Hillary
Clinton wasn`t really running on President Obama`s record, he would have
been I think even more urgent to run. She`s been pretty clear. I mean,
yes, there`s a couple keystone things here and there. But it`s pretty hard
to find a ton of daylight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She
seems to be very proud of her time in the administration. Very proud of
Barack Obama`s accomplishments.
So, again, I think Joe Biden, it`s interesting because, you know, he didn`t
really – he didn`t really have a group he was going to represent. I think
Bernie felt that urgency. He had to get in there. Barack Obama felt he
had to get in there. And I think part of the problem with Joe Biden was
there wasn`t a natural constituency.
One other quick point was that, you know, I don`t think the press really
covered themselves with glory for the last four months of this what-if
game. This is all based on one Maureen Dowd column, and we spent four
months on is he going to run, isn`t he–
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re trying to get a little enthusiasm here, it`s an
BOEHLERT: There are a couple of studies on this. His possible campaign
got four times as much coverage as Bernie`s actual campaign.
HARRIS-PERRY: I hear you. I do. But I think that also is indicative to
me, Governor, of what was the kind of missing piece here, right? So you
talk about Bernie is in my spot, the insurgent spot. The fact is, there`s
something about the fact that the vice president, because I hear you. It
would be tough for him. There`s not a natural consistency. But the people
we elect to be presidents are vice presidents, governors, and senators. So
like actually, he isn`t nearly as much of a long shot as say for example –
DEAN: The problem is that`s on paper. The problem is you have a candidate
with a resume that`s probably the most extraordinary resume I can remember
as a candidate for president of the United States, Hillary Clinton. As I
talked about the other day, which I get some pushback on, there are a lot
of people who would walk through walls for Hillary Clinton. There are a
lot of people would walk through walls for Bernie Sanders. I haven`t met
many people who would walk through walls for Joe Biden. Good guy, they
like him a lot. But you know.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask one more push on this. There`s a little bit of a
leadership anxiety I have. For me, I still have angst about the fact that
Mrs. Clinton didn`t run in 2004. That to me was the moment when it would
have been like almost impossible for her to win. She would have been
running against an incumbent president, but man, I felt like the Democratic
Party needed her to step up. She chose to wait until 2008. I think there
were real consequences for that.
And one of the things I have always appreciated about President Obama even
when I`ve disagreed with him is that even though there was the Clinton `08
inevitability, he nonetheless made that choice to run. There is something
about supporting the candidate who throws the – who just does it, who goes
for it. And I feel like that`s part of what the Bernie Sanders surge is
now. I guess what I want to ask, is that fair, or should we not be kind of
making a leadership judgment based on the willingness to get in, in a tough
DEAN: I don`t know what to say about that. Lots of people have gotten in
in tough spots and hadn`t gone anywhere.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, that`s right. But you made a difference and then –
DEAN: I did make a difference.
HARRIS-PERRY: And then took leadership of the party when, heck, nobody
wanted that job.
DEAN: Right, right.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think this is your point about Shirley Chisholm, she
wasn`t going to win, but she altered the system in ways that allowed Barack
Obama to win all those years later.
BOEHLERT: Well, look, I mean, Bill Clinton wouldn`t have been president, I
mean, George Bush Sr. was riding high in the polls. Everybody thought
Mario Cuomo was going to be –
AGUILAR: I think we can`t underestimate what he`s saying about timing. I
think Governor Dean knows this well. Running a presidential campaign is a
great enterprise. At this time to raise the money, to –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I get it.
AGUILAR: To mount the operation, the infrastructure in states like Iowa,
and New Hampshire, it`s tough.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know, I get it. And it`s undoubtedly not a personal dig
at Vice President Biden, who I both like and respect as a candidate.
Although I don`t know him. But what I will say is it`s concerning to me.
Just from, again, the health of the party overall. But one more thing, the
party is going to be running an actual election. There is a race. The
race right now is mostly a two-person race between Bernie Sanders and
Hillary Clinton. And guess what`s going to get hot tonight? Iowa. The
Jefferson Jackson dinner. We`ll go there to talk about what`s in a name
when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Remnants of Hurricane Patricia are compounding the effects
of heavy rain already hitting south Texas. Some areas have already seen
more than a foot of rain in the last 24 hours. This is new video of a
train that derailed in Navarro County, Texas. Joining me now from Dallas,
NBC News correspondent Charles Hadlock. What do we know about this
CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa. It happened early
this morning about a few miles north of Corsicana, Texas, which is about an
hour`s drive southeast of Dallas. The interstates were already flooded,
but the train tracks were also under water, with about 13 inches of water
falling in that area over the last 24 hours. The train came along, hit the
water, and then derailed, and rescue workers had to get to the train to
rescue the two train workers who were on board. Everyone got out safely.
They`re now trying to wait for the water to recede before lifting that
train and getting it open again.
Let me show you where I am right now. This is the Trinity River, as it
passes by downtown Dallas. Now, the river is normally back behind those
trees there. But the level today is at 37 feet. It`s expected to crest at
39 feet. But even though this is a dramatic shot, this is what it`s
supposed to do during a flood. This is a flood plain. So there`s no real
infrastructure under water here. But what we`re worried about is Hurricane
Patricia off to the southwest as it moves across the mountains of Mexico
and along the Texas coast. Communities along the coast, including Corpus
Christi, Galveston, and Houston, are all on high alert, waiting to see what
happens as this moisture that`s already in Texas mixes with the moisture
that`s coming up from the Pacific or from that hurricane. Everyone is
watching what will happen over the next 48 hours here, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Charles Hadlock in Dallas. It`s a tough
situation there. We`re going to keep our attention on it.
There is much more to come this morning. We`re going to go live to Des
Moines, Iowa for a preview of tonight`s Jefferson Jackson dinner next.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this morning, we`re counting down to the Iowa Democratic
Party`s annual Jefferson Jackson dinner. The Dems` biggest fundraising
event of the year. Now, during election years, the dinner offers
Democratic presidential contenders a chance to rally the supporters and
donors and settle into their message, increase enthusiasm and really step
into that star power just ahead of the first caucus in the nation. In
Iowa, do you remember back in `07 when the Jefferson Jackson dinner brought
us this iconic turning point? And then Senator Barack Obama`s then
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA: Doesn`t just offer change as a slogan. But real meaningful
change. Change that America can believe in.
OBAMA: That`s why I`m in this race.
OBAMA: That`s why I`m running for the presidency of the United States of
America. To offer change that we can believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I just love the young president. Yes, the dinner is a
really big deal. And since its inception almost a century ago, it has
honored the party`s founders, Thomas Jefferson, who penned these words.
“We hold these truths to be self-evidence that all persons are created
equal.” And Andrew Jackson, the president often credited with popularizing
populism. But we also know that both Jefferson and Jackson held and traded
human beings as property. Jackson also signed the quote “Indian Removal
Act” and initiated the Trail of Tears. Because those legacies are at odds
with the party`s values and the self-evidence truths written in the
Declaration of Independence, the Iowa Democratic Party voted in August to
change the name of the Jefferson Jackson dinner after tonight`s event.
Joining a growing list of state parties to vote those names down. And
joining me from Des Moines is Jamal Bouie, chief political correspondent at
So, Jamelle, I don`t know what to make over the cleansing of Thomas
Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. What are your thoughts about that?
JAMELLE BOUIE, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: I`m conflicted too.
For Jefferson, Jefferson the slave owner, Jefferson has relationship with
Sally Hemmings, lots of controversy, lots of ugly things, I think, in
Jefferson`s history. At the same time, Jefferson is probably the most
eloquent defender of the young American republic. Was a democratic
theorist along with James Madison who still influences people today. And I
think that`s a legacy worth holding onto.
Andrew Jackson is a little different, right? Andrew Jackson - No one
remembers Andrew Jackson for anything but an Indian (INAUDIBLE) and
wrecking the American economy by imposing a national bank. And so, I think
actually I think it`s totally fair to want to excise Jackson from
recognition in the modern Democratic Party. I think there are more
appropriate figures to be trying to kind of link together the party`s past
and its present than Jackson. But Jefferson is a genuinely tough case.
Because he does have those ugly parts of his history. But he also is a
very vital person in our history.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I mean the Declaration of Independence is sort of a big
deal. And I don`t - you know, like I`m just not down for removing that out
of our story. Let me back up just to the strategy piece here. How
important is this dinner, in this kind of race? I mean, at this point,
with Vice President Biden bowing out, we have a situation where it looks
like Hillary Clinton has a pretty clear pathway to the nomination. But is
this still critical?
BOEHLERT: Yes, it is. I mean you showed the speech Obama gave. That was
the turning point. At this point eight years ago, he was exactly where
Bernie Sanders was early. Down 20 or 30 points in the national polls. And
he turned it around if you start looking at the polls. You know, the
question is, is Bernie Sanders going to be able to do what Barack Obama did
or is Bernie Sanders going to be more of a Bill Bradley situation?
DEAN: Let`s be really clear about how Barack Obama won in Iowa. The
speech was great. But he won by having a better organization …
HARRIS-PERRY: On the ground.
DEAN: …than anybody`s ever had before or since. When I ran, we had that
record turnout in Iowa. In Obama`s year, they doubled it. And all the
people I know in Iowa who go to the caucus, they say we got there and three
quarters of the people we`ve never seen before. Now, that – that`s
actually what convinced me that Obama could win and be president. If you
can organize like that and have that kind of discipline, I thought, wow,
this guy could do it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is not a small point that, you know, we in the
media, we tend to focus on the speeches or the moment. But it`s actually
that ground game. And this is actually a lesson that the GOP learned …
DEAN: And this is where I want to hear because …
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, and GOP has been doing on the ground, organizing in a
DEAN: I want to know who these guys are, when they are out front, and what
kind of ground games …
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, because that`s what I`m thinking. Trump may
be able to be on top of the polls, but can they get that ground game going?
AGUILAR: Well, and part of it was ironically Citizens United. It has
activated grassroots activists like never before. And we`re seeing in the
Republican side people, regular people, participating actively. And I`ve
seen it in Iowa like never before. Regular people participating of the
process. That were not part of the Republican establishment.
Participating of the process and supporting candidates who are clearly –
don`t have a record in politics. They`re supporting people like Trump,
they are supporting people like Carson. So, that`s how they – people like
– candidates like that can actually win a Republican caucus in Iowa. So I
think Citizens United has actually activated organizations that recruit the
base and make regular citizens active participants of our democracy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jamelle, I want to – I want to come back to you on this.
Is that generally your impression of the impact of Citizens United?
BOUIE: Well, that – I actually have not heard that take on the impact of
Citizens United. In part, because it doesn`t appear to me that super PAC
money is really going towards that kind of organization. And when you
think, you know, it`s one thing to have people excited about a candidate.
Some of them very happy to even come out to a rally, but something very
different to have people come out to a caucus, right, to come out and
actually participate for a long time in the process of voting. And in
deciding. And so, it`s unclear to me whether the kind of money and leads
by super PAC, Citizens United and super-PACs would actually go to that
purpose. But, you know, lots of – happening this election.
BOUIE: We are talking with Donald Trump. So who knows?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, it`s pretty quiet there behind you. But do you have a
sense that it`s going to be a big night there in Des Moines?
BOUIE: Yes, so if you are behind me, there`s a setup for the Hillary
Clinton and Katy Perry event. But just a couple of blocks down, there`s a
gaggle of Hillary Clinton supporters cheering every car that comes by. You
can`t hear them, but I can hear them pretty clearly at this point.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, I like the idea that maybe what we`ll do is we`ll have
it called the Jefferson and then whoever the headliner is. So like, you
know, the Jefferson/Katy Perry dinner for this year.
BOUIE: Right. I like Roosevelt really. Like Jefferson Roosevelt.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m down for that, yeah. Let`s get – Thank you to Jamelle
Bouie in Des Moines, Iowa, and here in New York, I want to say thank you to
Governor Howard Dean, the rest of the panel is sticking around. And up
next, this week`s marathon testimony session and what it really revealed.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s been called Hillary Clinton`s best week ever.
Wednesday was big when Vice President Biden who could have been her
toughest rival for the Democratic nomination declared he would not run.
But Thursday was even bigger. As the former secretary of state sat in the
hot seat for an 11-hour spectacle. With the House committee investigating
the 2012 attacks in Benghazi Libya that killed four Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever talk to Ambassador Stevens when all of
this was going on in the hotbed of Libya?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a yes or no question, madam secretary, I`m
sorry. Did you ever personally speak to Ambassador Stevens – we don`t
know the answer. Did you ever personally speak to him after you swore him
in in May? Yes or no please.
HILLARY CLINTON: I believe. Yes, I believe I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It was the show that GOP had been waiting for. This likely
Democratic presidential nominee getting grilled on the security failure
that occurred during her watch. Now, after 11 hours, what exactly did we
learn? The committee chairman, Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South
Carolina, has that answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What is one of the important new things you learned today?
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C., CMTE. CHAIRMAN: I think some of Jimmy Jordan`s
questioning. Well, when you say knew today, we knew some of that already.
We knew about the emails, in terms of her testimony, I don`t know that she
testified that much differently today than she has previous times she`s
testified so I`d have to go back and look at the transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: After 11 hours, not to mention the month of preparation, and
the committee chair`s response was I don`t know. Last night, in her first
interview since Thursday, Secretary Clinton reacted to Chairman Gowdy`s
comment on MSNBC`s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Does that make you glad you did it or does that make
you feel like it was a waste of time?
HILLARY CLINTON: I said I would do it. And I did it because if there is
anything new, which is unlikely after the eight prior investigations that
have been held, we should know about it because the point is what are we
going to do to both honor the people that we lost and try to make sure this
doesn`t happen again?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining the table now is Karen Finney, senior adviser and
spokesperson for Hillary Clinton 2016. Your candidate had a big week.
KAREN FINNEY, SR. ADVISER, HILLARY CLINTON 2016: We did have a big week.
It was a good week. You know, Thursday I think was so important for a
number of reasons. I think people saw a president sitting at that table.
I mean who else could sit there for 11 hours? I mean, just her command of
the information. She was calm, cool, collected throughout all of it. Took
all of the questions. And we`re talking about events that happened quite a
while ago. And very meticulous detail. Talking about, you know, the
security measures. Talking about what happened. Talking about sort of the
relationships between this country and what was going on at the time in
So I think the Republicans were disappointed because the truth is they
didn`t ask much that was new. So there wasn`t much new to say. And I
think it was quite obviously – you`ve got Trey Gowdy on the campaign trail
today with Jeb Bush. So if that doesn`t tell you it was political, I don`t
know what else will.
HARRIS-PERRY: I got to tell you, we talked a little bit earlier in the
hour about this idea that Americans are feeling distressed about government
in general, and the Republican base is feeling distressed about what the
Republican Party may be actually doing in Congress. And I feel like what
happened on Thursday ups the ante on both of those.
AGUILAR: I agree. I think the Clinton campaign`s probably going to hire
now Trey Gowdy –
AGUILAR: Because that was a gift to Hillary. Look, it was a colossal
waste of time.
HARRIS-PERRY: And not just time, taxpayer money.
AGUILAR: Oh, absolutely. They want Republicans to focus on the issues of
the day, the concerns of regular Americans. I think in terms of Benghazi,
the damage is done. People I think realize that the administration, that
Secretary Clinton was not truthful. To do another hearing, to repeat the
same questions, and Trey Gowdy says, we have no new information. I mean,
the damage is done. Why do it? So in politics, you can`t get too greedy.
FINNEY: It may be your opinion you don`t believe what they said, but as
Hillary said on Thursday a number of times, you may not like the answer,
but that –
HARRIS-PERRY: – political strategy – let me just suggest, not
adjudicating her truthfulness, right, I think there may be a point to be
made that whatever damage there was, whatever drip, drip, drip has been
caused suddenly got reversed on Thursday.
BOEHLERT: Look, she testified 33 months ago. She answered a lot of these
questions 33 months ago. Media Matters has a list of not only all the
questions she was asked, all of them have been answered. We have been
debunking this for three years.
HARRIS-PERRY: I actually wonder if you guys are sad that it seems to be
over now – because now like what happens –
BOEHLERT: Look, they`re going to keep throwing misinformation at us, we`ll
just keep fact-checking it. But here is the other point that I think is
important. Hillary at the debate, Hillary at the hearing, where was the
phony, calculating, unauthentic Hillary Clinton that the press has been
depicting for six months? She has been under a barrage of endlessly
negative snarky coverage, and you take away the filter, and people are
like, oh, that is not who she is – she`s smart, she`s savvy.
HARRIS-PERRY: I consistently see in Hillary Clinton over the years, she –
so candidates are good and bad at different things. She`s particularly
good when attacked, right? So it is sort of her sweet spot about when she
suddenly really – like it`s kind of focusing for her.
COX: I think this is not a small point. If we think about what happened
here, we think of it as a witch-hunt. If you`re going to stage a witch-
hunt, it`s theater, it`s public theater. You have to do that in a
competent way, and this was completely incompetent. So I think it damaged
the Republican Party.
FINNEY: I just want to add something, though, because I think part of it
is what you also saw on Thursday was someone who this is who she is. She
takes the job very seriously. She knows the facts. She knew the
information. She knew – that`s also part of her and part of her
leadership style and just part of who she is as a human being. By the way,
what we did not see on Thursday was anything that told us anything about
how we make sure we don`t lose more Americans. Instead, you`ve got
Congress, Republicans in Congress, by the way, fighting over whether or not
to fund a training center that could actually help prevent what happened.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to listen to Secretary Clinton talking about exactly
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: It is deeply unfortunate that something as serious as what
happened in Benghazi could ever be used for partisan political purposes.
And I`m hoping that we can move forward together. We can start working
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, on the pure politics, she took it and she flipped
AGUILAR: Days before she had said that Republicans were her big enemy –
now she wants to work together.
FINNEY: I`m sorry, what did you see there on Thursday? Were they
AGUILAR: Absolutely. I told you, it was a terrible – it was terrible
theater. But a week doesn`t make a campaign.
AGUILAR: There are many statements of hers where she contradicts herself.
And we still have that first hearing, where she said, what does it matter?
Look at her credibility ratings.
AGUILAR: People question her credibility. That is reality.
FINNEY: Why are you talking about talking points –
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, we`ll talk about the best testimony of all, all
over Secretary Clinton`s face, this is all happening. It is still
HARRIS-PERRY: Very few new details emerged from Hillary Clinton`s Benghazi
testimony on Thursday, despite 11 hours of interrogation and partisan
sparring. But what did we get out of it? The very meme worthy faces of
Hillary Clinton. There was one hand on the face, is that really your
question face. And there were the two hands on the face, did you not hear
me answer that question three times face? And there was the do you even
have a question face. And then there was the I look like I`m listening but
really I`m thinking about Drake`s “Hot Line Bling” video face. No, we just
made that one up.
Look, it was – it was the 11 hours, again, felt like rather than feeling
like it was a deep seriousness, instead what it ended up feeling like was
again theatrical. One of the best moments of theater though came from
Representative Cummings. I just want to play a little bit of him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, D-MD.: I don`t know what we want from you. Do we
want to badger you over and over again until you get tired, until we do get
the gotcha moment that he`s talking about? We`re better than that! We`re
so much better. We`re a better country. And we`re better than using
taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign. That`s not what America is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Are we better than that?
BOEHLERT: We should be. I mean, you know, I think that was hour nine or
something. I don`t think Representative Cummings has ever been on a
committee that spent almost $5 million to hold four hearings. This is –
and Trey Gowdy refusing to create rules for the committee. They just all -
- they just threw everything out the window because they thought they had
Hillary in their sights. That`s what made the hearings so amazing. They
thought this was going to be their theater. This was going to be their
propaganda. This was the Fox News hearing that was going to, you know,
damage Hillary Clinton. But after the debate, a week before, I`m sure Trey
Gowdy was thinking, how do we cancel this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me back up a little bit on where damage may still have
been done. On the one hand, I heard Representative Cummings say, OK, we`re
better than that. But honestly, as I watched those 11 hours, I kept
thinking about Sonia Sotomayor, you know, being grilled in this way that
was often rude, even around her name, her ethnicity, while sitting there
with a cast on her foot. I was remembering Joe Biden`s less than
spectacular moment with Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas Senate
confirmation hearings. I thought, actually, we might not be better than
this. And especially for young women thinking about some day running. Are
they watching this spectacle and thinking, this is going to be the price I
will have to pay if in fact, I ever want to go to this level?
FINNEY: Here is what I would say to that. I hope if they do, if they were
watching that and they watched Hillary Clinton, what they came away with
is, if it happens, I can handle it. I can do it. As women, we can do it.
I saw this woman get up there and do it and answer the questions. Part of
the reason we didn`t see or hear new information and part of the reason you
got some of those faces is because the whole investigation has been a sham.
If they`d really been doing their work and had come up with new lines of
questioning instead of did you call this person or did you call that person
or how come Sid Blumenthal e-mails you –
HARRIS-PERRY: I think it is fair to ask the questions about the ambassador
FINNEY: But they`ve been asked seven times–
AGUILAR: But to say that the entire investigation is a sham, I mean,
that`s ridiculous – I think–
FINNEY: What did you get for your $5 million? What did the American
AGUILAR: No, no, no, let me talk. You talked. Look, I agree that this
hearing was unnecessary. Having said that, was the investigation
necessary? I think so. The American public need to know. Are there going
to be criminal charges or anything like that? I don`t think so. At the
end, we have the information. Let the American public judge for
themselves. I believe that the administration, Secretary Clinton, were not
truthful. They told us at the very beginning that this was the product of
a video produced here in the United States, and it turns out it wasn`t
FINNEY: All right, so –
AGUILAR: So I think the American people – we have four people, four
Americans dead. I think we need to have this discussion –
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ll tell you what we`ll do here.
AGUILAR: She`s not above the law.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to get out the light sabers. And during the
commercial break, we`re going to let these two light saber–
AGUILAR: I have a green one.
FINNEY: – you got to let me respond to that, I mean –
HARRIS-PERRY: I can`t though because of the commercial thing. Hold on,
just don`t go away, Karen. Coming up, Congressman Paul Ryan is ready to be
the next speaker, but he has a list of demands. Do his personal
preferences match his politics? More Nerdland at the top of the hour.
Maybe even more Karen Finney at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to turn now to one of the biggest political
stories of the week and one that won`t be fully resolved until next week.
The House of Representatives needs a new speaker, someone to take on that
powerful office third in line for the presidency. And the charge of
everything that happens on the House floor, including which bills come to a
And most Republicans want their new speaker to be Congressman Paul Ryan.
They believe only he can unite the party`s warring factions. Only he can
guide the House Republicans out of chaos and into glory. Only he can
inspire the district 2`s rise up against the tyrannical capital and take
control of Panem. Sorry, that`s “Hunger Games”, sorry.
Anyway, you may remember Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney`s running mate in 2012.
His fellow Republicans really want him to run for the speaker`s gavel and
it`s really big gavel. Who wouldn`t want that?
Well, Paul Ryan. He said now he is, quote, “ready and eager to be
speaker”, but he didn`t really seem to want the job in the first place. He
said it over and over again.
And it was only this week that he finally relented and then only if his
demands were met. He wanted support from all the Republican factions, even
the cantankerous House Freedom Caucus that helped boot John Boehner. And
he also demanded one more thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I cannot and will not give up my family
time. I consider to do this with reluctance. And I mean that in the most
personal of ways. Like many of you, Jenna and I have children who are in
the formative foundational year of their lives. I generally worry about
the consequences that my agreeing to serve will have on them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, Congressman Ryan will only deign to become one of the
most powerful men in the country, yes, his fellow Republicans guarantee him
weekends off to spend with his family who live in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Remember, Congress is only in session 137 days a year, about 100 days less
than your average full-time worker. But Speaker Boehner, for one, spent
most of his off time on the road.
In just the first half of this year, he hosted more than 100 events for
lawmakers and candidates according to “Politico” and raised $28 million.
Paul Ryan does not want to do that. Some think that is to be applauded,
including Facebook CEOO Sheryl Sandburg who declared Ryan had won the lean-
in award of the day, saying, quote, “We need work to work for parents and
having leaders who weigh responsibilities as fathers as much as their
responsibilities to their jobs shows all of us what is possible, #leanin.”
Also, cheering the congressman was Anne-Marie Slaughter who famously wrote
“The Atlantic” cover story, “Why women still can`t have it all”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, THE ATLANTIC: This will help women as well as men.
Because this will say that you can be committed to your family and still be
committed to your career. And that`s a very important statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: If only there was some other way that a congressman and the
chair of the powerful ways and means committee could help women as well as
men. Maybe like voting for policies that help women and families, like the
Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act. Oh, that`s right, Congressman
Ryan did vote on that bill. He voted no.
Or maybe he could help women by using the committee he runs to advance
policy reforms that would help women in their families, like a bill to
create a national paid leave insurance program within Social Security.
That bill is collecting dust in the ways and means committee which Ryan
chairs. Paul Ryan certainly talks a lot about helping people, especially
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: We want a healthy economy. And a big part of that is having a
safety net that is strong. Both for those who cannot help themselves and
for those who need just a helping hand to get up and going in life. That`s
our goal. So, today, I would like to start a conversation. I want to talk
about how we can repair the safety net and help families get ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a nice conversation but congressman has literally done
the opposite. He calls his budget plans the path to prosperity, plans that
would cut hundreds billions of dollars from programs like food stamps and
Pell grants and Medicaid.
Ryan also wants to reform welfare again by increasing and expanding work
requirements. Even though work requirements by definition for struggling
parents, especially single parents, to spend less time with their kids.
So, you know what`s good for the goose? Well, it`s just good for the
Joining me now, Sarah Jane Glynn, director of the Women`s Economic Policy
Center – at the Center for American Progress, and Alfonso Aguilar,
executive director of the American Principles Project, Latino Partnership.
Aimee Meredith Cox, assistant professor of African-American studies at
Fordham University. And Eric Boehlert who is the senior fellow at American
Matters for America.
Was this irritating to you, the Ryan of it all?
SARAH JANE GLYNN, DIR. OF WOMEN`S ECON POLICY, CTR FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:
Well, one thing that always irritates me is we seem to be shocked any time
a man says he wants to spend time with his family. I think that`s
incredibly insulting to all of the men who would love to have more time to
spend with their kids.
HARRIS-PERRY: I hear you.
GLYNN: We know that 75 percent of men say they want to spend more time
with their children but their jobs prevent them from doing so. We know
that more than 90 percent of men say if they were considering a new job,
they would think about how it would impact their time with their kids.
So, this isn`t actually a new conversation or a new issue, it`s just being
given new voice because someone who`s in an incredible position of power
and privilege is talking about it.
So, in that sense, I`m glad. I`m glad that we`re on the show talking about
it. I`m glad that it`s all over the media. This is a conversation we need
to keep happening.
But it is really problematic to keep talking about this in very
individualistic ways. This is something we need to deal with at the
national level through public policy, not through individual negotiations.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re shaking your head, I presume not because you don`t
think fathers love their kids.
AGUILAR: No, my kids –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, exactly.
AGUILAR: Let me tell you something, I think it was such an awesome
statement to make. We have to make it more. I think President Obama has
also made the importance of parenthood.
AGUILAR: Parents have to be in the lives of their kids.
Government is not going to make us good parents, mothers or fathers. It`s
individuals. And we have to take responsibility.
I don`t think he was asking, to be fair, any special treatment. He was
just talking about the exaggerated expectations that sometimes the
Republican Party puts on speakers.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me just say, I hear you, I hear you – government
can`t make an individual a good parent. Government can, through a set of
policies, make – facilitate the capacity to parent.
And let me give you one example – weekends brought to you by the American
labor movement which provides you with two days a week when your children
are not in school and you are not at work. So, the demands that Ryan was
making are the kinds of demands that male and female workers have been able
to make through the labor music.
AGUILAR: I agree. At some point, we have to understand that government
can`t continue spending. Imposing new requirements on business does have
an impact on business that affects individuals. It may mean less job for
people, and a job, as Newt Gingrich used to say, is the best social program
that a person can have –
HARRIS-PERRY: Cannot have it all, all the same way, all at the same time.
So either we believe that especially for young children that parenting is
critical and therefore it is worth investing in as a country.
So, things sometimes cost a little money, like our military. And so,
sometimes, we have to say, zero to 12 months. We actually think it is
highly valuable for parents – fathers, mothers – to be able to be present
and to do that, we therefore facilitate that capacity.
GLYNN: Well, we also have some options that cost zero dollars, such as
doing what he has done, the right to request flexibility. There is
legislation, the Schedules That Work Act, that would enable people to make
reasonable requests to their employees. Can I have a permanent schedule
that`s not shifting every week? Or can I change my work hours slightly so
I can care for my children or care for my aging parents? Zero dollar price
tag on this.
That would be doing exactly what Ryan has done, providing that right for
every worker. Yet he and his party have not stood up for this idea.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s so important. Folks don`t always recognize if you`re
not an hourly worker, you may not know that if you have a retail job or
restaurant job, sometimes you don`t even know until that day whether or not
you`re working. How can you begin to provide child care?
Look, before we go to break, an update on Patricia, which is now a tropical
depression, as it pushes across Mexico. It was one of the strongest
hurricanes to make landfall in the western hemisphere, remnants of the
storm are compounding the effects of heavy rain already soaking South
This video is from Navarro County where a freight train ran into high water
and overturned. We know two train workers have been rescued. We`ll have
much more on this flooding, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: The left is making a big mistake here. What they`re offering people
is a full stomach and an empty soul.
The American people want more than that. People don`t just want a life of
comfort. They want a life of dignity. They want a life of self-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And that was the likely next speaker of the House,
Congressman Paul Ryan, last year, in a nutshell, outlining his ideology.
I`m going to let you in here, Aimee.
COX: I have a lot to say. I mean, I think what is so fascinating to me is
the way that Ryan steps to the mic as a martyr, like I`ll reluctantly come
to this position if I can have these concessions. And the privilege of
being able to make those demands, a privilege of being able to sort of
claim your family, the family/work life balance in ways that totally
obscure what`s happening to the majority of Americans.
And so, even when we think of Paul Ryan`s – bringing his family to the
table, and I will take this position if this can happen. Some people might
say, this is really great, right? This shows that we can finally this have
this conversation in ways that will eventually impact what`s happening with
women. But I would say that`s not actually true. And so, what women are
we talking about and who are we talking about when we talk about the
privilege to demand that you can have balance in your life when there are
so many of us who are struggling just to hold on to what we have. Forget
get about finding the balance or being able to juggle.
And that individual, sort of that individual mentality, is – majority of
the basis for the Republican Party. Pull yourself up by your individual
boot straps. The fact that if you can just be self-determined, without
understanding the very real constraints that prevent the large majority of
Americans from being able to be self-determined.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, I`m not mad at wanting to spend time with your
children in the formative years. That`s great. But then I want to say
then for all.
BOEHLERT: Right. It`s interesting, as you mentioned, speaker of the house
has about 100 days off – more 100 days than the average worker. John
Boehner used to brag he golfled 100 rounds a year.
So, this is a very unique position. I don`t get the sense that Paul Ryan
wants to start a national conversation. He`s got the GOP over a barrel,
and he`s saying these are my demands. It would also be kind of fascinating
what the media conversation would be if this is Nancy Pelosi.
BOEHLERT: If Hillary Clinton was running for president –
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes.
BOEHLERT: – oh, by the way, if I win, we have new rules. Impressive
HARRIS-PERRY: There is, again, for me a bit of a tandem on this point,
which is a little separate than the family work leaves point. But just the
like, OK, I also get your kids and – they come first. But there`s also
extraordinary privilege in this opportunity.
That gives me a little – you know, Sarah Palin, for all of my
disagreements with Governor Palin, when her country called, despite the
fact she had a 4-month-old, she was fine. She was like, OK, maybe not the
best time to be vice president but I`m going to try. Sometimes it is a big
enough opportunity for leadership that you go ahead and step in.
BOEHLERT: The speaker`s job is such an awful job right now, right? Nobody
wants it –
HARRIS-PERRY: But Mr. Ryan is a catfish noodler, which is basically the
same thing, right? It means you go catch the catfish with your hands. I
think that`s basically the same thing as trying to wrangle the current
Republican Party into line.
AGUILAR: But let`s be fair. If there`s somebody who is a hard worker when
he goes to Washington is Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans
You know very well that I work on immigration issue, trying to get
Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has
reported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez.
Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is
somebody who`s trying to govern.
HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you. I just want to pause on one thing.
Because I don`t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great
choice for this role. I want us to be super careful when we use the
language “hard worker.” because I actually keep an image of folks working
in cotton fields on my office wall. Because it is a reminder about what
hard work looks like.
So, I feel you that he`s a hard worker. I do. But in the context of
relative privilege, and I just want to point out, when you talk about work
life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don`t have health care
who are working –
AGUILAR: I understand that –
HARRIS-PERRY: But we don`t call them hard workers. Call them failures,
people who are sucking off the system –
AGUILAR: No, no, no –
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s true.
AGUILAR: That is very unfair. I think we cannot generalize about the
Republican Party –
HARRIS-PERRY: Not all Republicans, that is certainly true.
AGUILAR: Mitt Romney did a terrible job about –
HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t even think –
AGUILAR: – connecting with the middle class. If Paul Ryan, who comes
from a state like Wisconsin, is a Republican and conservative, – he
understands we need a growing economy to create good paying jobs –
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m also not talking about the middle class –
AGUILAR: In the last eight years, the median household – has gone down
$10,000 a year –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely –
AGUILAR: – under Obama`s economy. You can`t blame Bush now. So, no,
let`s be fair, at some point, you have to own the economy. Impoverishing
Hispanics. You know, you cannot resolve the problems of the middle class
with government benefits. You do it with a growing economy and good paying
HARRIS-PERRY: And I just don`t think there`s any sort of economic measure,
Alfonso, that would not demonstrate a growing economy under President
Obama. So, I agree with you it has not been felt all the way down. But
there`s also no question it has been growing.
Thank you to Sara, Jane Glynn, Eric Boehlert, also Alfonso Aguilar, and
Aimee Meredith who are sticking around.
Up next, an update on the tropical storm Patricia, the case that can lead
the security to rule on abortion for the first time in nearly a decade.
HARRIS-PERRY: Patricia is now a tropical depression, pushing across
Mexico, where the terrain is slowing down the storm. But remnants of the
storm are compounding the effects of heavy rain already soaking south
Texas. This video is from Navarro County, Texas, where a freight train ran
into high water and overturned. Two train workers were rescued.
MSNBC meteorologist Bonnie Schneider has been tracking the storm.
Bonnie, how much rainfall should Texans be expecting this afternoon?
SCHNEIDER: Melissa, we`re going to be seeing a lot of rain. And not just
for this afternoon, but for the next few days, so even into Sunday.
I want to show the latest information with tropical depression now
Patricia. So, the storm has weakened. It`s been weakening very rapidly.
Hard to believe less than 24 hours ago, we`re talking about a category 5
So, here`s what`s left of it. The remnants working their way into Texas.
That`s what we`re anticipating. That will only enhance what`s going on
And it`s a dangerous situation, especially right here in Bastrop County,
that`s east of Austin. This is the county sounds familiar because we`ve
had the wildfires burning there. Now, with all that scarred area, the
rains coming down. So, naturally, flooding a huge concern for this part of
And then we head to Houston. This is where we`re watching large amounts of
rain accumulating. You can see it from the southwest. Really, the
moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and only enhanced by Patricia. It`s a
recipe for a lot of rain.
And you have to realize looking back that Texas overall, over the past six
months, has been pretty dry. So, when you`re getting all this rain in at
once, it`s going to make for a lot of flooding. So, six inches expected
into Houston in addition to what we`re already seeing. And then look at
Port Arthur, right on the border there with Louisiana.
We`re talking about rain into Lake Charles, Beaumont, all these places
looking at a lot of rain. But we`re certainly looking at substantial rain
into central Texas, and well into Louisiana as well. So, this is the
forecast over the next few days, Melissa. We`ll be watching it, because we
have all that moisture coming in from Patricia, and the rain that`s already
So, that`s why it`s looking like a tough situation for Texas.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Bonnie Schneider.
Now, I want to go back to that train derailment in Navarro County. We have
new details. The 64-car Union Pacific train was carrying cement en route
to when several cars were knocked off the track by the water. No
passengers were on board the train. And an emergency management team was
able to rescue the conductor and engineer without any injuries.
Joining me now by phone is Jeff DeGraff, who is the spokesperson for Union
Jeff, are you there? What can you tell us about the rescue this morning?
JEFF DEGRAFF, SPOKESMAN, UNION PACIFIC (via telephone): Well, we`re very
glad to report that our two crew members were rescued without injury by the
Navarro County water rescue team. And once the train did get stuck in the
high water, they were able to evacuate the locomotive and swim through to
some higher ground where they were able to wait for the rescue team. So,
they are safe and secure, just a little damp and a little shaken.
HARRIS-PERRY: With the crew now safe and secure and evacuated, what are
going to be the next steps for securing the actual train?
DEGRAFF: Well, we`ve already begun the process. We have approximately 19
cars on the back end of the train, on the northern end of the train. That
are still on the track, and we`re bringing in the locomotive from the north
that will pull those cars out and move them northward to clear the area.
The rest of the cars locomotives are (AUDIO GAP) have to wait until the
floodwaters recedes. (AUDIO GAP)
So Mother Nature to give us a window here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. Well, I`m just so happy and I know all of us
are that the crew is OK. And that they were able to be evacuated without
I want to say thank you to Union Pacific`s Jeff DeGraff in Spring, Texas,
I`d also like to bring in NBC News correspondent Charles Hadlock in Texas.
Charles, we talked with you last hour. What`s the situation where you are
HADLOCK: Hi, Melissa. I`m along the banks of the Trinity River here in
Dallas as the river passes by downtown Dallas. Normally, the river is at
30 feet just beyond those trees there. But today, it`s at 35 feet. It`s
expected to climb another two feet.
But even though this is a dramatic shot, this is what it`s supposed to do.
This is a flood way. So, it`s supposed to flood here.
The rain (AUDIO GAP) drought all summer. The last significant rain (AUDIO
GAP) is way back in July. So, this rain is welcome. (AUDIO GAP) receiving
too much, down around Corsicana, where the train derailment was. They got
up to 18 inches of rain over the last 24 hours.
And as that hurricane continues to break apart over Mexico, the remnants of
that will move across the mountains of Mexico, across the coastal plains of
Texas. And that`s what has so many people concerned.
We`re already having bad weather here because of another storm system. You
bring in the remnants of Patricia, and it could be even more rain,
especially along the Gulf Coast. That`s why the city of Houston and
Galveston are on high alert today, through tomorrow, watching out for
what`s coming from the Southwest.
Melissa, back to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Charles Hadlock in Dallas, Texas.
Up next, Kenji Yoshino is here. So, you know we`re going to talk about the
Supreme Court. And we`re going to talk about how that court could soon
make access to abortion much harder.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that health
services provided by Planned Parenthood will no longer be eligible for
coverage under the state`s Medicaid program. The governor released a
statement saying that his decision was informed by the secretly recorded
videos showing a Planned Parenthood represented discussing the
organization`s fetal tissue donation program.
Planned Parenthood has challenged the videos, calling them deceptively and
misleadingly edited. But the governor`s initiative means that Texas` 39
Planned Parenthood providers will lose the $3 million in Medicaid
reimbursement used primarily to cover health care services for women who
would be otherwise unable to afford the cost.
Texas Democrats has tested the legality of the decision, calling for a
federal investigation into the state`s reasoning for cutting the funds.
Planned Parenthood was also under fire in Louisiana, where a similar
attempt by Governor Bobby Jindal to cut funding was blocked temporarily by
a federal judge. But even as the dispute over Planned Parenthood continues
to play out with state level, the Supreme Court is poised to take up a
larger fight with national implication for access to abortion. In the
coming weeks, the court will decide if it will hear a case brought by it
Texas abortion providers who would be forced to close under the strict
anti-abortion law signed in 2013 by Governor Rick Perry.
The providers are asking the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court
ruling that upheld the law and that if allowed to stand could leave the
entire state of Texas with only ten remaining abortion clinics out of the
40 in operation before the law passed.
Should the court allow the case to move forward, the decision will be its
first major ruling on abortion since 2007.
Joining the table now are Nancy Northup, who`s president and CEO of the
Center for Reproductive Rights, and Kenji Yoshino, who`s professor of
constitutional law at NYU.
Kenji, what can you tell us about what to expect in terms of the Supreme
KENJI YOSHINO, PROF. OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, NYU LAW SCHOOL: Yes. So, the
standard is always a place to start, right? So, the standard they`re going
to apply is from the 1992 Planned Parenthood versus Casey case. So, the
question is whether or not these restrictions place an undue burden on a
woman`s right to choose. And undue burden is defined as having a purpose
or an effect that places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman
seeking a pre-viability abortion.
What`s the issue in these statutes are the so-called TRAP provisions. So,
there`s this notion that – which is targeted regulation of abortion
providers. And so, one set says you have to have admitting privileges to a
hospital that`s more than 30 miles from the abortion clinic. And then the
other provision says your abortion clinic has to be up to code with regard
to – comparable to ambulatory surgical center, right? So, essentially
like a hospital grade kind of environment.
So, both of these are incredibly onerous. And as you said, you know,
before this law was enacted, there were 41 providers. And now, if this
decision is upheld, it could be down to 10.
HARRIS-PERRY: This question of access, Nancy, feels like the kind of the
next frontier or the existing frontier around reproductive justice. That
Roe stands, right? This isn`t going to overturn whether there is kind of
an essential right to privacy and to seek an abortion, but it could make it
impossible to actually access it.
NANCY NORTHUP, PRES. & CEO, CTR. FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: This case is
very much about the viability of that right to abortion. As Kenji was
saying, the stakes here are about the reality of women`s constitutional
rights to access abortion. What the Texas politicians have done is try to
sneak around those rulings that Kenji was talking about on false pretenses
of health and safety, to pass laws they knew would have the effect they
have so far. Half the clinics have closed. We`re down to about 20 clinics
in the state of Texas.
They`re trying to make an end-run around the Constitution. They`re trying
to disrespect the rulings that are there. So, it is really critical that
the court do. They have not seen any kind of case like this in all the
years since Roe versus Wade. There`s never been a law like taxes that has
had the effect of actual blocking access to services in the state.
And so, that`s why it`s critically important for the women in Texas but not
just there, for the women in other states, the United States, to make sure
that their ability to get care in their communities continues.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I wonder, as we`re thinking about how the court is going
to make the decision because your point that they haven`t seen anything
this enormous since Roe. How much will medical expertise testimony in the
form of, you know, amicus brief and others matter here?
Because the main pushback from reproductive justice advocates tends to be,
look, these rules sound like, oh, they`re about protecting health and
safety when in fact they`re not. And so, how much will the court need to
hear from medical professionals around that?
YOSHINO: Right. Well, the AMA and ACOG which are the leading
organizations have been really clear that this has nothing to do with the
health of women. In fact, it would impinge on the capacity of women to get
through safe and healthy, you know, abortions. And so, this is completely
pretextual with regard to what`s being put forward.
And just to give you a statistic, the number of regularly performed
abortions, most commonly performed type of abortions in Texas leading to
medical complications is 0.05 percent nationally, 0.05 percent. So this
kind of health rational, though it sounds very good, if you just sort of
scratch a little bit under the surface, you see it`s a complete pretext.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m also wondering, the court is meant to be insulated from
politics. But I wonder how much the conversation about those Planned
Parenthood videos will, in fact, enter in to the conversation that the
justices themselves have?
NORTHUP: Well, I think what links the Planned Parenthood deceptive
underhand videos in this case is the extreme ways in which those who want
to block access to safe and legal abortion will take any means even
underhanded means. So, that`s what links the two. And the underhanded
nature, to build on what Kenji was saying, if you close down, as this case
would, all but ten clinics in Texas, the drive from El Paso, Texas, to San
Antonio, 15 hours round trip.
So, the notion that you are helping women`s health care when you take it
out of their communities is patently absurd.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And this is the question of undue burden.
One more piece for you on this particular question, Kenji. Will the
Catholicism of the court impact this decision? There are a
disproportionate number of Catholics who sit on the current court.
YOSHINO: Yes. I mean, it may. You know, six of the justices are
Catholics, if you`re talking about Sotomayor and Kennedy, right, they were
two of the five justices who put the freeze on the fifth circuit opinion
and said this can`t go on to operation, until we decide whether or not
we`re going to review it or not the ruling itself.
And so, you know, I think it`s a little bit up in the air with regard to
that. I think it is again going to come down to Justice Kennedy and how he
feels about undue burden. From my perspective, it`s like, you know,
Justice Kennedy would have a lot of explaining to do after writing the
opinion where he set out the undue burden, but only set it out but said,
you know, we have to remain faithful on (INAUDIBLE) ground to Rove.
So, you know, Casey`s often described as a super precedent. So, if he were
to re-jigger or to depart from the undue burden test, that would be really
remarkable departure for him on jurisprudential grounds, not on religious
HARRIS-PERRY: Not on religious grounds.
When we come back, the rise of the pregnancy crisis centers. They are not
what they seems to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Type the words “abortion” and “clinic” into an Internet
search box, and among the list of services for women looking to end a
pregnancy you might also see results that, while they include the word
“abortion”, link to clinics whose mission is to convince women not to have
one. They`re called crisis pregnancy centers.
And a recent “Salon” report found that they outnumber abortion clinics by
an estimated 3-1. Now, these centers offer pregnancy testing, ultrasound,
child care r resources and counseling to women facing an unplanned
pregnancy. But investigations into the practices of pregnancy crisis
centers like the 2006 government report has found they are at best
ambiguous about their explicit anti-abortion agenda and at worst
intentionally deceive women with misleading or scientifically inaccurate
information to deter them from accessing an abortion until the pregnancies
have advanced too far for termination.
The centers, most of which have conservative Christian affiliations,
receive millions of dollars in state and federal funds. And they are often
located in close proximity to reproductive health centers which can make it
easy for a woman seeking an abortion to accidentally end up at a pregnancy
crisis center instead.
And that confusion is what brings some women to the doors of a pregnancy
crisis center in Jackson, Mississippi, that`s only minutes away from the
last remaining abortion clinic in the state.
Here`s what the director of the center told MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BEAVERS, CENTER FOR PREGNANCY CHOICES: There are those that come
and they may not call or whatever. And they would think they`re going to
get an abortion here. I`m trying to think over the years. We have had
those, you know. Sometimes people hear what they want to hear.
I`m really a firm believer that abortion goes against the basic nature of a
woman. A mother, a woman is made to guard and protect her baby and to
defend it at the cost of her own life. An abortion asks us to take the
life of the baby for the sake of the mother. I just feel like it`s so
anti-woman and so anti-our nature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to take a quick commercial break. When we come
back, I`m going to let my panel respond.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break, we were talking about crisis pregnancy
Aimee, I want to let you on this.
COX: Yes. I mean, when we hear the words care, protection and safety as
it relates to the abortion debate, we have to be really careful in
discerning about who`s care, protection and safety we`re talking about.
And increasingly, it`s becoming clear that we are not talking about low
income women, especially young women of color.
The pregnancy crisis centers, if we are talking about anti-abortion, right,
so the desire to not encourage young women to get abortions, that`s one
thing. But when you are deceiving young women, when you`re giving them
misinformation, when you`re not giving them the scientific facts,
biological facts that can keep them safe and protect them physically, that
HARRIS-PERRY: And they –
COX: And we`re not just talking about a political debate here, we`re
talking about allowing people to have information to take care of
HARRIS-PERRY: It really is misleading. I mean, I don`t want to – it
really is misleading information, which is to say medically inaccurate
information given about sort of the effects of abortion which simply –
there simply is no research –
COX: Which is different from not agreeing with abortion, that`s very
different. This level of deception is dangerous.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this point I think is an important one. I do think
abortion is a relevant important social, moral, political topic that
deserves conversation in the public sphere. But there`s the oddity of on
one hand, taking Medicaid reimbursements not for abortion, right, but for
primary health care that occurs at Planned Parenthoods, While at the same
type, using the abstinence-only education federal dollars to help support
the crisis pregnancy clinics the kind of unfairness these clinics actually
get tax dollars.
AGUILAR: Let`s put things in perspective. I think abortion clinics still
outnumber by a wide margin crisis pregnancy –
HARRIS-PERRY: They do not, no, they certainly do not. No, not in
Mississippi. They certainly do not. There`s only one in all of
Mississippi, whereas there are many crisis pregnant centers. So,
throughout the south, actually no, the crisis pregnancy centers –
AGUILAR: And you`re arguing really that all the crisis pregnancy centers
are deceiving, look –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, because I think people think crisis pregnant center
means a place I can go and get an abortion –
AGUILAR: Look, to say that abortion is the law of the land, I can admit
that. That`s the legal perspective. To say that abortion is objectively
science based, I reject that totally. That`s an opinion. And –
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s a medical procedure –
AGUILAR: Well, it`s a medical procedure like euthanasia could be a medical
procedure as well, yes. You kill a baby, it`s dead. You kill a older –
an elderly person, it`s dead.
But we have to talk about the ethics and the morality about it. But I
admit that it`s the law of the law.
But we live in a pluralistic society where we have to respect freedom of
religion. We have churches. We have people of faith that run clinics that
provides all sorts of services. We have to protect their right –
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure –
AGUILAR: People against their –
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, sure, sure. That is very different than giving tax –
AGUILAR: We`re talking only –
HARRIS-PERRY: That is very different than giving tax dollars to support
one side while snatching it from the other –
AGUILAR: We are giving tax dollars to Planned Parenthood and they`re
Let me tell you about the Hispanic community, how they go to Planned
Parenthood thinking services and they are forced to have an abortion.
HARRIS-PERRY: No one is forced to have an abortion. That is simply not
AGUILAR: Come on.
HARRIS-PERRY: And now, the protections of the state, California just did
it, had to step in, because the crisis pregnancy centers are so misleading
and require them to be clear to women about the fact that they don`t
provide reproductive health services, and you know, women are at the center
of this, and they need to be able to make their decisions for themselves.
And we have to respect women in making those decisions, and that is not
what the practice is at the crisis pregnancy centers do.
AGUILAR: It is a beautiful argument, but in the end it is a strategy of
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not a strategy of intolerance –
AGUILAR: And let me finish, if I can finish, and I`m the only token
differing opinion on the show today. And what I am trying to say here –
AGUILAR: I believe in the democracy, but I am opposed imposing the
religious dogma and I believe – I`m against imposing secular dogma.
And to tell a center that you have to talk abortion where you`re providing
services to women, that`s –
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I say, if you receive federal dollars and the fact
that you give medically inaccurate – so let me say in the state of North
AGUILAR: It isn`t inaccurate.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the state of North Carolina – so, for example, in the
state of North Carolina, in our sex ed for students, you have are to give
medically inaccurate information and I`ll give you the example of what it
is. People who teach it are told that they have to tell the students that
having an abortion affects your ability for later fertility which is simply
not true, and yet, you have to do this. So, in fact, we do have the
government stepping in and stepping only on one side.
I want to say thank you to Nancy Northup and to Alfonso Aguilar, Aimee
Meredith Cox and to Kenji Yoshino.
I want to also just for a moment switch to a slightly different topic here
because for months, we`ve been covering the hardships the Chicago schools
are facing. There were hunger striking parents who were fighting to have
their southeast side school reopen. There were the major corruption
scandals involving the former Chicago public schools chief who gave $23
million of the school system`s no-bid contracts to a former employer to
secure some serious kickbacks for herself while the district, itself, faces
major fiscal problems.
And in the wake of the shooting in Oregon, the president in a news
conference announcing Education Secretary Arne Duncan`s resignation brought
up the dangers of gun violence at Chicago school children`s fate when he
said, quote, “Kids are running for their lives just trying to get to school
In an environment where students are affective by violence, corruption and
displacement, our foot soldiers this week is working to make the lives of
those students a little less tumultuous.
Brielle Siskin works for Umoja, a non-profit student development group as a
restorative justice manager. But the kids at Sullivan High School in
Chicago know her as the peace king, that`s because Brielle runs one of the
Umoja`s six Chicago peace rooms, a safe place where students and the
faculty members can come together to work out the environment in friendly
And Brielle is seeing results. Since the peace room started at Sullivan,
suspension rates have dropped exponentially and just as importantly, the
school`s environment has changed to become a more friendly place.
Brielle Siskin joins me now from Chicago.
Nice to have you.
BRIELLE SISKIN, UMOJA: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, tell me more about the peace rooms, and how exactly do
SISKIN: Yes. So, the peace room, it`s a safe space at Sullivan where
students and staff come to solve interpersonal conflicts they are dealing
with one another. And we also do a lot of the relationship building and
community building in the peace room, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, this idea of restorative justice and
particularly restorative justice for young people has, I think, gaining
some traction in our public sphere. Talk to me about why it`s important.
SISKIN: Yes, so restorative justice is important, because it gives
students the opportunity to come together and talk about conflict and harm
when it happens. Oftentimes in the schools, when students do something
wrong, there is a suspension that happens or a punitive discipline, and so
restorative justice in the peace room gives the students the space to
resolve their issues so they can stay in school and stay in class
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, sometimes we have talked about the strategy
whether it is curricular or co-curricular as the peace rooms are, we also
talked about the realities of kids not having enough food to eat before
school or during school hours, or the challenges they may be facing in
their communities and the neighborhoods before and after school hours, how
does the peace rooms address some of those issues?
SISKIN: Yes. So, the peace room is just a space where people can open up
and talk about what they are dealing in the moment or the night before,
because often what I see is the conflict that takes place is not actually
something that is between the two people, but maybe they were hungry the
night before and maybe they had a bad conversation with their mother before
they left their house.
So, the peace room gives students a space to open up and talk about those
issues so that we can really get at the underlying conflict and provide the
supports we need for the students.
HARRIS-PERRY: And what are the teachers and the administrators saying
about this process?
SISKIN: So the teachers and administrators at Sullivan, they are very pro-
restorative justice. We have the principal at Sullivan who lives and
breathes this work. He believes that students should learn math, they
should learn English and they should also leave school learning the skills
they need to resolve conflicts. And I`m not going to lie, it take as while
for the teachers to get upon board, but at Sullivan they really have,
because they see that it works.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Brielle, I have a question for you and I don`t know if
a peace room might help me and my guest Alfonso Aguilar to make peace about
the big political differences that we have?
SISKIN: Yes. I think you definitely could. We have to do some norm
setting at the beginning, talk about how you want to respect each other.
Maybe you can talk in peace. But I would love to support with that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. I think I`m going to get Alfonso into the peace
room a little later and see if we can find some restorative justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to say thank to Brielle Siskin in Chicago and thank
you for being our foot soldier this week.
SISKIN: Thank you. Thanks so much.
And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. We
will be back tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I expect to see you
here joining us tomorrow. We`re going to discuss the DNC`s invitation to
host a social racial justice forum at the town hall. And we`re going to
talk with Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter and DeRay McKesson of Campaign
But, right now, it`s time for a preview of “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT”.
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