Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 11/01/15

Wes Lowery; Ras Baraka; Joo-Hyuan Kang; Phillip Atiba Goff; Eugene O`Donnell; Clay Cane; John Opdycke, Cristina Beltran, Susan Del Percio, Diane Horvath-Cosper, Shana Knizhnik

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question – just how
notorious is RBG?

Plus, the GOP establishment strikes back.

And, playing politics with the police.

But first, President Obama refutes the so-called Ferguson effect.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

And it is a decade-long trend that`s baffled researchers` attempts to
explain it. Certainly around 1993, the violent crime rates in the United
States started to fall, and continue to falling, on and on until two
decades later, the crime rate has dropped by almost half. But what may be
more remarkable even than this dramatic decline is the explanation.
Because the answer is that no one exactly knows why it happened.

There are a lot of theories floating around, everything from an aging
population to declining alcohol consumption, to a decrease in children`s
exposure to lead. But the cold, hard numbers, one single data point that
says this is the answer – well, that just doesn`t exist. Turns out it is
just not that easy to take something like the crime rate, a phenomenon that
is likely driven by a complex and overlapping effecters and distill it down
to one theory of everything. And the same thing holds true for more recent
turn in that decades-old trend.

As reported in August by “The New York Times,” over the last year, some
U.S. cities that seen their murder rates increase. In major cities like
Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington and New Orleans, the number of
murders as of August of this year had already surpassed the numbers
recorded the same period last year. The uptick in murders in these cities
is unquestionably troubling. And the urgent need to stem the tide of
violence has prompted political and law enforcement leaders to ask again,
why? Why is this happening? And the answer again is – we don`t have a
precise answer. Because we don`t have all the data. Not that an absence
of concrete facts has ever stopped anyone from jumping to a conclusion,
especially when some of the cities that have experienced the highest
increase in murders are also cities that experienced social unrest in the
wake of police violence against unarmed African-Americans. It is the kind
of coincidence researchers like to keep in mind with the old adage that, of
course, correlation does not equal causation.

In other words, two related events that occur at the same time do not
necessarily mean that one thing is causing the other to happen. But it`s
that coincidence which has prompted speculation about the so-called
Ferguson effect. By now you`ve heard of the idea that increased scrutiny
of people violence has led to more aggressive policing and in turn more
aggressive criminals.

So far there`s no data to conclusively confirm that the Ferguson effect is
an actual thing, but the idea is starting to catch hold. Earlier this
month Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel fleeted the theory to explain the spike in
homicides in his own city, and then FBI director Jim Comey co-signed it
starting with an address at the university of Chicago law school last


JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FBI: In today`s You Tube world our officers
reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent
crime. Our officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact
that keeps bad guys from standing around especially with guns. The
suggestion, the question, that`s been asked of me is, are these kinds of
things changing police behavior all over the country? I do have a strong
sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that`s blown
through law enforcement over the last year, and that wind is surely
changing behavior.


HARRIS-PERRY: So let`s just catch this for a seconds. Because Comey`s
implication was the equivalent of a record scratch to the Obama
administration which has sought to balance a message of support for police
with action to enforce police accountability. You see, his remarks
certainly seem to have landed like by a lead balloon at the justice
department because according to the “New York Times,” he quote “caught
officials by surprise” and quote “several officials privately fumed at Mr.
Comey`s suggestion.”

And by Monday, the “Times” reported that the DOJ and the White House were
just plain angry at what they saw as Comey undermining the administration`s
policies on criminal justice.

For his part, Comey, who President Obama hand-picked partly because of his
reputation for standing up to presidents, stayed true to form. He doubled
down on his comments in another speech on Monday before a gathering of law
enforcement leaders at the international association of chiefs of police
annual convention.

President Obama was scheduled to speak before that same audience of police
chiefs just a day later. And Comey`s unwavering conviction had set the
stage for a moment of delicious anticipation.

With the president channel the frustrations of his administration and come
straight at Comey`s comments? Yes.


pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political
agendas. If we stick with the facts and we maintain effective coordination
across federal, state and local agencies, then we are going to continue the
hard-fought progress that you and so many law enforcement officers have
made over the past two decades. That saves lives. And keeps families


HARRIS-PERRY: See, no data cherry-picking. And amid unsubstantiated
theories flying all over the place the president grounded his analysis in
empirical evidence.


OBAMA: It is true that in some cities, including here in my hometown of
Chicago, gun violence and homicides have spiked. And in some cases they
spiked significantly. But the fact is that, at least so far across the
nation, data shows that we are still enjoying historically low rates of
violent crime.


HARRIS-PERRY: So once he got that out of the way, President Obama did
something more than just stick to the facts. He also acknowledged that
there is a place for experience that acknowledges the human interaction
behind the statistics.


OBAMA: But, you know as well as I do that the tensions in some
communities, the feeling that law enforcement isn`t always applied fairly,
those sentiments don`t just come out of nowhere. I mean there`s a long
history here in this country. It`s not something that any individual
person here is responsible for. But we all have a responsibility to do
something about it because it`s part of our legacy.


HARRIS-PERRY: And that message that the collective experience of American
citizens matters when those experiences tell a story of profound injustice
is especially powerful. Coming from this president when the experiences of
those citizens are among his own.


OBAMA: There were times when I was younger – and maybe even as I got a
little older but before I had a motorcade – where I got pulled over and I
confessed. I told Chief Beck, most of the time I got a ticket, I deserved
it. I knew why I was pulled over. But there were times where I didn`t.


HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is Phillip Atiba Goff, president of the
center for policing equity. And from Chicago, Eugene O`Donnell, former New
York police officer and professor of law and police studies at John Jay
College. Thank you both for being here.

Phillip, I want to start with you because it feels like the president was
crystal clear about not cherry-picking data. So talk to me about what data
we would need to have in order to begin to understand what is actually
going on in cities where we have seen an increase in the number of

to know where to begin but let me begin with this. Part of the assertion
of the way the Ferguson effect is existing in the culture right now is
incredibly infantilizing to black and brown communities. And the reason is
because it suggests that the only reason people aren`t committing crimes is
because police officers are out there catching them.

There is no data to suggest that has ever been the case. Never, ever,
never not once. So part of the data would be demonstrating that police
behavior doesn`t just respond to crimes, but that it reduces it. Now, some
work David Weisberg (ph) and others shows hotspot policing can in fact
disperse crime which ultimately brings it down a little bit.

But there is the second part which drives me to distraction, shall I say,
which is that the comments – the worst case comments of the Ferguson
effect suggest that be law enforcement somehow are too cowardly, too afraid
to go where they are told to go. So a hotspot policing is – they call it
cops on dots. You get a map, they says here is where bad things are
happening. You go there. That`s the most rudimentary form of it.

Law enforcement are going and doing that in every city. There is truth to
the idea that law enforcement experience, a sense of erosion of trust in
the community and that that has a profound effect in how they think about
their jobs and how they relate to people.

But the idea that, one, they`re not going where they`re told because
somehow they are so craven is an insult to law enforcement everywhere. And
two that people in black and brown communities are just itching to go do a
crime until they see a batch? That makes assertions that prey on people`s

HARRIS-PERRY: So Eugene, let me come to you exactly on that because, you
know, I think he`s laid out exactly sort of - I mean, there is a variety of
things that I find distressing about this Ferguson effect, but that latter
one is the one I want to talk to you about. The idea that it not only
infantilizing communities but also police officers saying that these men
and women who we knew take tremendous courage to do the work that they do
on a daily basis are suddenly so afraid of iPhones and of You Tube that
they are now unwilling to intervene in meaningful ways in the communities
where they`re asked to police.

I mean, tying homicides is a little bit of a stretch. But the cops are
concerned that their job is now being portrayed in a way that`s
problematic, that the work that they do which involves really being in
conflict with people, using force, that somehow if they`re captured on
video with something that appears to be bad that the political
establishment will throw them overboard.

I think the most important news we`ve done this on your show numerous times
in the last year is the police mission. The tremendous amount of
(INAUDIBLE) of policing going on in the country where police are simply
used for everything. They use to go after deadbeat dads, cigarette
sellers, classroom management in South Carolina, to raise revenue in
Ferguson. So the mission needs to be defined.

Before we get in what we seem to be going on this in some ways I get we
should do it simultaneously. We`re doing it backwards a little bit or
upside down, if you will. We need to be saying what is the right role for
the police in America and obviously clearly over the last year we haven`t
seen desperados coming in contact with the police and bad endings for those
people. We`re seeing ordinary people coming in contact with the police and
that is the conversation we need to have. There`s political dysfunction.
There`s overuse of the police. And this is the root of some of the
dramatic video that captures all the attention. Poor policy decisions.
Bad politics.

GOFF: So, Gene, I just want to pick up on something that you said in
there. And I want to make sure that we don`t gloss over it, which is that
it is a real experience that there are law enforcement that are concerned
about doing their job in a new media landscape. But the connection to
homicide, that`s a little bit iffy.

It`s really important to get that that`s more than iffy. Because the idea
that something has gone on and now there is a danger that`s coming from
black communities, it`s coming to kill you, is one that politicians have
used for generations to do bad to law enforcement and bad in black
communities when there have been no data to suggest it whatsoever.

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, I have to say for me some of the most striking data
seem to demonstrate exactly the opposite of a Ferguson effect. We know for
example that in St. Louis, if we`re going to call it a Ferguson expect, if
there is a hotspot, it ought to be in St. Louis, right?

GOFF: Ferguson, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: But that the number of murders actually begin to rise prior
to the death of Michael Brown, prior to the protests that occurred there.
And just by definition, something that happens after cannot cause something
that happened before.

GOFF: That`s exactly right. So there`s nothing to suggest that in these
communities where law enforcement might feel under siege that they are not
doing their jobs, and, further, that not doing their jobs leads to higher
rates of murder.

About a year ago I came on this show and I said one of the things that`s
most concerning to me is that we`re going to get to a point where maturity
and subtly and nuance are going done required. We are at that point.
There`s a story that Chuck Ramsey told me when we were on a panel together
where he went to the bedside of an officers who had been shot. It is a
deep graze right by his right eye. And he said what happened? And the
officer said the first thing is I saw the man with the gun and then I
thought about Ferguson. I hesitated. That`s real. That`s scary. But he
went. He was there. He fought crime. He did the most noble thing that
men and women in law enforcement can do.

And so, while it is real that law enforcement is at an unprecedented height
of scrutiny, and while accountability and change is incredibly scary for
people who are putting their lives often the line to keep all of us safe,
while all of that is real, let`s be sure when we go a little bit off
reservation, right? That we`re easily brought back. Because what I don`t
want to see happen is I don`t want the scare tactics of the scary black
folks and scary brown folks to become a political football that anybody
grants any more legitimacy than the crazies who are saying it.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So stick with us, Gene. Stick with me. Much
more on this and there are more voices, in fact, to bring into this
discussion, including the man who President Obama`s going to visit tomorrow
to discuss criminal justice reform.


HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama has made criminal justice reform one of the
hall marks of his second term. Over the course of the past few months he
has met with top-ranking law enforcement as well as inmates and corrections
officers. And tomorrow he will be in New Jersey to continue his campaign
for reform as he explained in his media address this week.

Joining the conversation now, Joo-Hyun Kang, who is director of communities
united for police reform and the mayor of New Hope, and then also, the
mayor of Newark, New Jersey Ras Baraka. I was like she`s totally not the
mayor – who will be meeting with the president tomorrow and Wes Lowery,
political reporter for “the Washington Post.” Nice to have you all here.

So Mayor, he`s coming to Newark. As part of that is going to be talking
about what happens on the back end of incarceration. Talk to me a little
bit about the work you all have been doing in this city for that.

MAYOR RAS BARAKA (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Well, we kind of focused a lot
on re-entry in the city of Newark. We have - I heard earlier you talked
about hotspots, but we`re not just doing hotspots in terms of crime, we`re
doing that in terms of following prisoners as they come back to their
families to figure out where they`re going, what they`re doing, services
and resources that they have. We have a project called hope where we
transition them into jobs and begin to try to help them re-enter into
society. We helped them with everything from IDs to transitional housing,
to employment, to all of these things to make sure their transition back
into Newark is a good and safe one.

It`s a difficult job, because we still trying to get employers to buy into
the fact this they need to hire ex-offenders. But we are working very hard
to make that happen. But we also help folks on a lot of other things from
education, like I said earlier to re-introduce them to their own families,
to many things as we possibly can to make their transition a good one.

HARRIS-PERRY: So this is - it seems to be a critical point that the
president is both talking about policing on one end, but then also criminal
justice reform and even recidivism on the back end.

Gene, back to you for a quick second. Because part of what the president
did back in Chicago was also to make an argument that gun reform, reform
about gun control, ought to be an argument that police should be out in
front of. And so, I`m wondering how you see even that policy as linked in
to this broader conversation we`re having.

O`DONNELL: Totally. I mean, what we see in New York and where there are
zones of tension is because the police stepped in in the vacuum because you
had gun violence and the police became the default setting so they were
doing these stops which are very inefficient. It is worth saying just
quickly, that in Chicago the police chiefs in the country deserve a shout-
out for coming forward and saying, we are going to advocate for criminal
justice reform, also. So that`s going to help make this nonpartisan. We
got to think of our ideological prism detector, and try to put everything
into an ideological prism. This should be nonpartisan. This should be
humane and pragmatic. And the police chiefs, to their credit, are helping
to drive a reform agenda and saying there are a lot of things we just
shouldn`t be doing, the mentally ill and other issues like that.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, hold for me. I want to play for you a
little bit of the president`s weekly address where he`s talking about what
his plans are in Newark. Then your response in terms of this overall
movement. So let`s take a listen to the president`s weekly address.


OBAMA: So on Monday I`ll travel to Newark, New Jersey to highlight efforts
to help Americans who paid their debt to society, reintegrate back into
their communities. Everyone has a role to play from businesses that are
hiring ex-offenders, to philanthropies that support education and training
programs. And I`ll keep working with people in both parties to get
criminal justice reform bills to my desk, including a bipartisan bill that
would reduce mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders and reward
prisoners with shorter sentences if they complete programs that make them
less likely to commit a repeat offense.


HARRIS-PERRY: So when you think about the long trajectory of criminal
justice reform movement work, how does what the president`s saying there
fit into that?

is incredibly important that he`s making a comment on this in the way that
he is.

HARRIS-PERRY: Repeatedly over the past months.

KANG: In an environment that`s not necessarily open to that in all
quarters of the country. But secondly, he`s leading with a message in what
we need to change in terms of criminal justice reform. And I wish we are
seeing that more happening locally.

In New York city, what we`re seeing, unfortunately, is a mayor who actually
just put out a very regressive call about a week ago saying that we should
actually roll back Rockefeller drug laws basically in terms of it diversion
programs and that`s out of fear right now. And we have a president and an
opportunity in this nation where there`s a movement that`s trying to
operate from a place not of fear, not of politics of fear but really
politics and dignity and respect for all people.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, because part of what I need to understand, do you mean a
political fear or a corporal, like a fear of –?

KANG: I think it is both. I think what we are doing right now or what we
are seeing, unfortunately, is because we`re in a moment right now where any
kind of a social movement that makes gains, there are reactionary forces
that try to roll it back. And the way it gets rolled back often is through
really perpetuating a myth and culture of fear.

So what you were talking about earlier in terms of the Ferguson effect,
Wesley just told me the first person who used that term was Heather
McDonald. That`s no mistake. You have a person who`s known for her racist
reactionary writings and announcements. And that is really actually not
taking data, not taking (INAUDIBLE) experience, but creating a myth that
people are afraid of to really promote progressive social policies.

HARRIS-PERRY: So then, how do you promote progressive social policies in a
city, for example, like Newark?

BARAKA: Well, first of all, you have to understand that there`s been proof
and data that you can reduce incarceration rates and also reduce crime at
the same time. One does not relate to the other. You don`t have to have
mass incarceration to reduce crime. In New Jersey that`s happened. In
California that`s happened. In many states in America crime has reduced
and incarceration levels has reduced at the same time. So there`s
opportunity to do that through jobs, through social programs, and

HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, the president even said in that same address he was
saying that you have to make sure that young people have a set of
possibilities in front of them.

Stick with us, we have so much more to get to. More voices at the table to
bring in, including the confrontation of black lives matter activists and
Hillary Clinton.

But after the break, I`m going to get you the latest on that Russian
passenger plane that crashed in Egypt killing everyone on board.


HARRIS-PERRY: Investigators are combing the site of a Russian plane crash
in Egypt today. The passenger jet crashed shortly after takeoff yesterday
killing all 224 people on board. Teams have been working to recover the
bodies transporting them to a morgue in Cairo before they will be flown
back to Russia. Investigators have also found the plane`s black box which
should give them the best evidence yet in determining what caused the

Joining me now from Cairo, NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely.

Bill, have investigators begun to rule out any of the causes?

No, they have not ruled out any of the possible causes, including even
terrorism, although they have poured cold water on a claim by ISIS that it
shot the plane out of the sky. The officials both Russian and Egyptian are
saying that there is no terrorist group in the Middle East that has the
missile capable of hitting a plane at an altitude of 31,000 feet.

Egypt`s president el-Sisi within the last few hours has cautioned against
drawing any quick conclusion. He says this investigation could take
months. And a Russian aviation minister who visited the scene of the crash
also cautioned against early conclusions. But he did say that the plane
clearly broke up in mid-air. He said debris was scattered across 12 square
miles. But cautioning again not to jump to conclusions. It is only the
investigation of those two flight recorders that will bring us the hard
evidence, and they are not being looked at by investigators from Russia and

Also, French investigators because airbus manufactured this plane. And
Indeed the U.S. national transportation safety board is also involved
because, of course, the engines were manufactured in the United States.

So they are looking at those black boxes, trying to answer the basic
questions why on earth did this plane descend so quickly and so rapidly,
why was there no distress call from the pilot, and no communication with
air traffic control. So it is a tragedy. It is a national day of mourning
in Russia and it remains for the moment, Melissa, a mystery.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Bill Neely in Cairo.

Up next, the police and presidential politics. See how Governor Chris
Christie is finding his way to stand out from the pact.


HARRIS-PERRY: At Wednesday night`s debate, New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie did pretty much everything he could to stand out in front of a
crowded are field which he languishes in seventh place. Including taking a
question about presidential moral authority and turning it into a moment of
police politics.


director, the president`s appointed FBI director, has said this week that
because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the
United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars,
that they`re afraid to enforce the law and he says, the president`s
appointee, that crime is going up because of this.



made three statements there, none of which were true. He characterized the
FBI director`s statements as claiming that the – that because of a lack of
support from people like President Obama police officers are not getting
out of their cars.

I was in the room for the FBI director`s speech. While many people,
including the national director of the fop, as well as civil rights groups
had real issue with what the FBI director said, he didn`t is a you any of
those things.

If we`re going to have an argument or discussion about crime rates
potentially going up as it relates to viral videos which was the argument
the FBI director was making, we can have that conversation and you had the
conversation earlier today where there certainly is anecdotally not impact
in some places with police officers feeling more scrutinized and therefore
maybe being more hesitant. We don`t have any data to link that to rises in
violent crime. And again, the FBI director certainly wasn`t at any point
claiming this was President Obama`s fault.

HARRIS-PERRY: But let me just say. There was a little bit of something.
So, that was right. Chris Christie is mischaracterizing what the FBI
director said. On the other hand the FBI director did see in that moment
to be running counter to what the president and the administration`s
message had been, not just for a day or a week but really for quite some
time. And given that Mr. Comey and governor Christie will been U.S.
attorneys together you understand the Bush administration, there was a
little bit of like gut-wrench to watching that happen during the debate.

GOFF: Yes. There was a ton of gut wrench watching that happen in the
debate. This is what I was talking about when I say that there`s a moment
during this process when maturity is what`s called for and the difficulty
when you go off the reservation, when you begin your statements with, I
don`t have any data to speak to this. Even when you are the repository for
all of the data having to do with crime in the United States, right? It
allows for mischaracterizations like the one that Christie made which is
just a vile political play that undermines any chance of having community
trust between law enforcement and the communities they`re sworn to protect.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, I want to pull Gene in here. Also, I also
want to acknowledge – I know for some of my viewers the off the
reservation term in particular can be anxiety producing, I just want to put
a pin on that.

But Gene, I want to come to you for a second. Because I want to ask about
what Philip was saying substantively there about sort of the way politics
can make it so difficult to build these relationships. Because I think in
the end, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, there`s
meaningful necessary relationship to be built between law enforcement and
communities. And I`m wondering the extent to which when this shows up in
any debate, any political arena, it becomes more difficult to build that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. So the important side, the police – the president gave a
great speech at IECP, was well received. And if you read the speech,
there`s very little to argue about. Yes, and the truth is that, again, I
think this is – the further we get away from ideology on this the better
off we are.

You cannot ignore the reality if you go into some communities on the ground
there is a fear factor and they`d like to see the police more engaged and
they are concerned about that. And if you saw some of the comments mayor
de Blasio is making of recent vintage, it is because of situations like the
officer getting shot in east Harlem. And then you go into the
neighborhood, you go into public housing there, city of New York had this
great renaissance but it`s not a uniform renaissance and there is a fear
factor. So while we`re doing criminal justice at the top we can`t get
paralyzed in a root cause conversation.

There`s absolutely a history here and absolutely a set of root causes we
have to look at, but we also have to come down on the ground and see what
people say and hear what they want. And I think some people would be
surprised to hear that they want to see the police more, out of their cars
and they want them engaged. And the truth is, we do have police who runs
in the country that are little more than employment agencies, really, where
the police simply don`t engage. And that is a real issue.

HARRIS-PERRY: So mayor, I also want to come to you because I think Gene`s
point here about getting down to the ground. You know, one of my favorite
nerdlicious data points is that shootings can be up even while murders are
down. So we saw this for an example in 2014 in New York, the number of
shootings rise at the same time that the number of murders plummets. And
it is because getting shot does not necessarily mean being murdered. And
the main thing that intervenes there is an ambulance and high-quality EMT
response system. So you`re thinking like as mayor you can actually bring
down the murder rate not even by changing the crime rate but by changing
things like street access, the number of ambulances and the ways in which
we actually are responding to crime in neighborhoods.

BARAKA: And gun control. So the less guns, less access to automatic
weapons, smaller the gun, right, contributes to all that. So the shootings
should necessarily become murders but because of the things you said it
reduces the amount of murders. But also in access to weapons, the
immediate access to weapons kind of allows people to have the opportunity
to shoot which then causes murder.

HARRIS-PERRY: So stick with us. I want to bring in a couple more things.
But just really important to know, it is just not happening on the GOP
side. Up next secretary Hillary Clinton is confronted by Black Lives
Matter activists even as she tries to outline an agenda designed to appeal
to African-Americans.


HARRIS-PERRY: At a rally Friday at Clark Atlanta University, as Hillary
Clinton talked about her plan for criminal justice reform, she was
interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists.


power of the feelings that come forward. And yes, they do. Yes, they do.

CROWD: Black lives matter!

CLINTON: Yes, they do and I`m going to talk a lot about that in a minute.
Now, my friends, I`m going to get to some very important points that
actually prove that black lives do matter and we have to take action


HARRIS-PERRY: Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and Congressman John Lewis are seen
trying to talk to some of the protesters. About ten minutes into the
chanting, the crowd started is cheering “Hillary!” and let her talk and the
activists left the university gym.


CLINTON: Thank you.

CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: Thank you all very much. I really appreciate it. And I
appreciate the congressman and the mayor having my back.


HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So let`s just back up for a second to the substance of
what she was talking about before that moment. Because she is talking
about bringing sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine down
to zero. And it already reduced under President Obama. She was talking
about bringing it all the way down. How important would that be in this
big story about criminal justice reform?

KANG: I think that`s important and (INAUDIBLE) which she also talks about
is important. But it is also really important to put in context that she`s
only really talking about some policies that`s really politically safe at
this point. When we are looking at racial disparities in sentencing, we
got to look at the entire game and look also, especially in terms of drug
policy for marijuana. We already know. Study after study shows that white
Americans and black Americans use and people of color use marijuana at
about the same rates. But the people who are most likely to face the
criminal justice system are going to be black Americans. And that`s
actually what`s unacceptable that Hillary doesn`t address.

So what everyone is just criticizing protesters for using direct action
which is a completely legitimate tactic, this is something that we should
keep in mind. That the only reason some would argue that she and other
Democratic candidates are even addressing racial justice or criminal
justice is because of direct action tactics.

HARRIS-PERRY: What do you make of the direct action tactics?

LOWERY: Of course there`s still a divide. I remember as that protest was
taking place I was receiving e-mails from our reporter in the room as well
as text messages from activists, some of whom were saying make sure you are
checking this out. Other who were saying, what`s in world`s going on?
We`re doing this again?

There is a real divide in the movement space about the best way to continue
to provide pressure on these candidates is. I think that a more sober kind
of analysis of it is that you have some activists who are really working to
have these behind the scenes meetings and sit-downs, but that space in fact
is created by these direct actions. But if you don`t have people standing
up and interrupting Hillary Clinton or setting up in interrupting Bernie
Sanders or Martin O`Malley, maybe those candidates are less likely – you
know, it`s key.

Hillary Clinton was rolling out the beginnings of her criminal justice
reform platform and even in that space was still interrupted. That
provides a new pressure, potentially creates a new space for even more
political gains by some of these activists.

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, we had a big conversation about this
inside/outside strategy last week on the show with two black lives matter

And so Mayor, you`ve been both inside and outside. And so, I`m sort of
wondering at what you are seeing as you watching these, continuing both
interruptions and sit-down meetings.

BARAKA: Well, I think it is great, actually. I think it is the democracy
at its best. The dynamic, the kind of pressure from the outside, that
forces policy. It is absolutely what needs to happen. I think that none
of these things would be going on if folks weren`t yelling “black lives
matter” all over the country. They would still be saying “all lives
matters,” except black people are the ones getting shot in the back by
police. So it is important to say black lives matter. And I don`t think
this discussion wouldn`t have been a part of any national political debate
if it wasn`t for these protests.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I just also want to say, I know Congressman Lewis
absolutely had Hillary Clinton`s back there. But I also want to point out
that he had the back of the black lives matter movement activist a bit.
Let`s just listen to him for a moment.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I think they represent another time, another
period, and they were trying to make a point to dramatize what they are
concerned about. I was not taken back. I`m not offended. I told him that
I would meet with him, and I will, in my office or here on the campus.


HARRIS-PERRY: So I always love that about Lewis. He doesn`t say they`re
not at all like us civil rights activists. He`s just like they are just
like the way we were. And it is kind of do of both of those strategies.

GOFF: Yes. It was lovely to see him say, look, we want to hear the
candidates speak. And at the same time these folks have some legitimate
concerns here, right. So, it is the crack powder cocaine disparity like
we`ve known for a long time that is racist and there is no scientific merit
to it whatsoever.

But the other things, while they may be politically safe, are still kind of
problematic in terms of what consequences you are going to have on the
ground. So I was saying during the break, the box, on principle makes a
lot of sense. But Steven Rafael (ph) and other economists have looked and
an experiments, controlled experiments. Sometimes what happens if you
remove that, the people`s racial prejudice is not taken away. In fact it
gets worse. They don`t have the assurance this person hasn`t been in jail
and they assume because you`re black that you are, right.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This is (INAUDIBLE) pages-worth demonstrating that
white men who do check the box, who do in fact have a criminal record are
still more likely to get a call back than black men who don`t have a
criminal record even (INAUDIBLE). So it is a complicate set of questions
and one that deserves inside and outside strategy to continue to be part of
the conservation.

Thank you to Eugene O`Donnell in Chicago. Also here in New York, thank you
Phillip Atiba Goff for bring us the data and the (INAUDIBLE), Joo-Hyuan
Kang and Mayor Ras Baraka. Have a good time with the president tomorrow.
And Wes Lowery is going to be back in our next hour.

But up next, the compelling new documentary when your church makes you feel
rejected and judged instead of supported and loved.


HARRIS-PERRY: What do you do when forced to choose between your faith and
who you are? A new documentary from BET entitled “Holler if you hear me,
black and gay in the church,” tackles that exact issue. Produced by`s Clay Cane. The documentary examines the intersections ever race,
gender, sexuality and religion. Holler if you hear me paints a vivid
picture of the reality of LGBT youth often face while examining their role
within African-American churches.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see LGBT people coming in to our worship spaces but
we won`t haller or we won`t speak it or name it or we won`t acknowledge
their presence. And when at times that we do, it`s oftentimes in
derogatory situations. I will never find (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve already tried to commit suicide probably four
times. It is not worth – it is not worth taking – it is not worth taking
your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ability to look at every single person that is
breathing and living and moving and understand that there is a god presence
in that person, for me is love.


HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now Clay Cane, entertainment editor of
and producer of “Hollar if you hear me, black and gay in the church.”

I`m so happy about this film. Tell me why this project is important now.

narrative in the hands of black LGBT folks in the church. I also wanted to
push the narrative beyond same-sex marriage, beyond Don`t Ask Don`t Tell.
And those things are great and those are great wins. But in “holler if you
hear me,” I went to LGBT youth homeless shelter and interviewed folks and
they said we`re not thinking about same-sex marriage. We`re trying to get
a job. We`re trying to love ourselves right now.

So it was really putting the narrative in the hands of LGBT folks because
like someone says doc, one of the reverends, he says, if we are so right
that we are damaging people, it is undermines all of our rightness. So I
wanted to know their narrative, their stories, their journeys.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to play just a little bit more of it. In part
because there was a discussion here about what would constitute salvation
around sexuality that I think is just critical for this piece. Let`s take
a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just knew that I would experience deliverance in the
form of heterosexuality. I just knew one day not necessarily that I was
going to wake up but if I stayed true to the process, that God would reward
me with heterosexuality. Never thinking that I would be delivered here
into a different way of thinking, knowing that my salvation is not
compromised, knowing that my walk with Christ is not compromised, but in
fact it is strengthened by me walk in my truth.


HARRIS-PERRY: Such a powerful moment in the film.

CANE: Yes. You know, it is one of those - it reminds me of (INAUDIBLE)
when she said I am not tragically colored. They are not tragically gay.
They are not these LGBT tragedies. And that was one of the big things that
I learned is that while they went through spiritual violence, they went
through theological violence, they don`t lose their faith. And for those
where faith is important to them, that is incredible that they still – it
actually strengthened their faith through it all.

HARRIS-PERRY: It actually feels to me like what I always think of as the
great gift of African-American Christianity to world religion and to U.S.
context was always the ability of black communities, enslaved communities,
communities living in Jim Crow to see that God loved them even when the
rest of the world said that they weren`t worthy. That`s like actually one
of the theological gifts, that capacity to do that. And so, I kept seeing
that in these queer folk who were saying yes, I know the world is even
quoting scripture to me that I am not loved but I recognize a God that is
bigger than that.

CANE: Right. And that`s so powerful because black LGBT folks have been
serving the black church since there was a black church, right. So we have
always - and I saw something you did a while ago at school talking about
slavery. There must have been LGBT folks back during slavery. It is a
consistent thing of where we are. There were people in the doc who were
afraid to do it, like “I hope I don`t lose my job, but it is important to
have my story out there.” And I didn`t want to show the stereotypical
angry black preacher screaming and hollering. And say let me just
humanized this. Let me start with what the human story.

HARRIS-PERRY: Because it is more complicated. You know, it is often just
about a kind of closeting or silencing or push-aside, part of what I like
about the “holler if you hear me,” recognize me, see me, acknowledge that I
am standing in your presence.

CANE: Yes, because if you`re not being heard, if you are not being seen,
you`re not being loved. And one of the takeaways that I really hope people
really understand is that theological violence and spiritual violence, it
is just as damaging as physical abuse, as emotional abuse. Where does your
soul go if you were taught you were an ado abomination? And we talk about
suicide in the documentary. Once you decide you don`t want to commit
suicide, then how do you live? And that`s really important.

HARRIS-PERRY: It is a central question that in fact black churches have
been trying to answer for a long time. How do you live? And so, this is
another frontier.

But thank you so much for the piece. And thank you to Clay Cane, “holler
if you hear me, black and gay in the church,” will be available on BET now
app tomorrow and on Tuesday.

Still to come this morning, the GOP establishment strikes back.

And we see if the authors of notorious RBG can keep up with the workout of
an 82-year-old Supreme Court justice. Spoiler alert – they can`t.

There is more Nerdland at the top of the hour.


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

The Republican presidential primary has been dominated by unlikely outsider
candidates whose total lack of political experience seems to be their
primary political appeal in their bid for president. And as we saw this
week, the establishment candidates, the good on paper candidates, the
governors, the men whose resumes include successful political campaigns and
years of experience running state governments, well, they`re angry that
they`re losing to the outsiders. Very angry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The talk about we`re just going to have a 10 percent
tithe and that`s how we`re going to fund the government? We`re going to
just fix everything with waste, fraud and abuse? Or that we`re just going
to be great or we`re going to shift 10 million Americans or 10 million
people out of this country? Leaving their children here in this country
and dividing families? Folks, we got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody
that doesn`t know how to do the job.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t vote for me if you want to
keep the gridlock in Washington, D.C.

about this. Let`s tell people the truth. For once, let`s do that and stop
trying to give them some kind of fantasy that`s never going to come

BUSH: It troubles me that people are rewarded for tearing down our
country. It`s never been that way in American politics before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This stuff is fantasy, just like getting rid of
Medicare and Medicaid. Come on! That`s just not – you don`t scare senior
citizens with that. It`s not responsible.

BUSH: We have to offer a compelling alternative that is based on hope and
optimism and grounded in serious policy which I`ve laid out and you can go
get it at

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Governor.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, these are the guys who have every reason to believe that
they should have been leading the field and they`re not going to take it
anymore. We`re calling it the establishment strikes back!

Joining me now, John Opdycke who president of Open Primaries, a group
dedicated to an open and nonpartisan primary system. Cristina Beltran,
associate professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and the director of
Latino Studies at New York University. Susan Del Percio, a republican
strategist. And Wes Lowery, political reporter at “The Washington Post.”
So, Susan, I think the last time you were here, actually you expressed some
concern about what happens if the establishment don`t really like kind of
show up in the primaries and in fact, it looks like they showed up at this
last debate. I`m wondering sort of where you are on this right now.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it`s funny, we did this
autopsy, the political autopsy after 2012 which has now become infamous.
And what it did is we had to have broader appeal. The other thing it said
was governors are better candidates because they have executive experience
and yet they`re not associated with Washington, D.C. So they did
everything right. Now I understand their frustration, but what I think the
missing component that no one played – realized was, people are so
frustrated because our elected officials are not being held accountable.
And that`s the tide that brings these former governors or current governors
in to Washington experience and government experience.

We don`t hold our government officials accountable and that`s Donald
Trump`s message right there. At the end of the day, no matter how you look
at it, I happen to think he`s very weak on offering the specifics. I think
Kasich is right about that, I think Christie is right, those were are all
good points. But he says, if you don`t do the job, you`re fired and that`s
what people want to hear. You`re going to hold people accountable. Sure,
you may not get it right, sure we may not agree, we need to switch your
positions and all that but at the end of the day, you`ll going to be held
accountable. That`s what at least the republican voters want.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s an interesting point. John, I`m wondering if what
we`re seeing here in this moment, so kind of the rise of these unlikely
candidates, if that is unusual or if it is sort of an anomaly in this
particular 2016 moment, or if you see it actually as a feature of partisan
primaries that might be different if we were in an open primary system.

JOHN OPDYCKE, PRESIDENT, OPEN PRIMARIES: I think that it is directly tied
to the fact that the primaries themselves are closed, they`re run by the
parties, they`ve created a situation that the will of the American people
is very difficult to express itself and you end up with candidates that
don`t really reflect that. However, this is not just about 2016. There is
an anger in this country that has been building. Look at 1992, Ross Perot
was at 42 percent in the polls at that time. The American people are
deeply frustrated with both political parties for the ways in which they
silo and corral people into these different segments that are doing war
with each other and there`s no opportunity or little opportunity for
constructive, honest developmental dialogue that can move the country

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m so interested in that idea of frustration. And I`m
wondering, in part, if that frustration sometimes also emerges from a lack
of information about how the process works. So I both want to acknowledge
that I think that frustration does exist and that part of it is in part
descriptive about an idea about accountability. But I also wonder if some
of it is also just rooted like in not quite getting and I don`t mean this -
- like, oh, they`re dumb – I just mean, it`s actually complicated to
understand how an idea goes from an idea to policy.

And I think this actually tells us a story about how rhetoric matters and
how governing versus running for office matters. Because I actually think
that for the Republicans, this is a hell of their own making. Right?
Because I think basically – and this includes the establishment – that if
you run for office and you say that government is the problem, not the
solution, if you say Washington is a cesspool, if you demonize your
opponents and you say things like, you know, ObamaCare marks the end of
freedom as we know it and you speak about government in these apocalyptic
terms, and then you turn at the point when you`re in office and you have to
then tell voters, you know, compromise is necessary, change takes time,
yes, you`ve been offering simple answers to complex problems.

And all of a sudden you say that, voters not surprisingly feel lied to and
they feel betrayed. And I think what that tells us is that political
rhetoric matters. And that if we have simple answers, then if you offer
simple answers they`re going to balk at complex solutions. And I think
that if you run for office and you try to produce fear and anger and
resentment you end up with fearful, scared and angry voters.

HARRIS-PERRY: But that`s exactly the hell of their own making. The hell
of their own making. For 40 years since Reagan.

DEL PERCIO: But the problem is you can just take a recent example with the
House having to elect a new speaker.


DEL PERCIO: Is that those folks, that –

HARRIS-PERRY: The freedom caucus.

DEL PERCIO: Freedom caucus wouldn`t compromise a scintilla.


DEL PERCIO: So, it`s almost opposite they believe but they go home and
they say, if we don`t get everything, we were going to fight and they`re
the ones who actually caused more the problems than the folks who say we
have to compromise.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Exactly. And so, I was going to say, as much as I
agree on the deep relevance of discourse and the way that that like
government is the problem, can then make it hard to be part of the
government, let me also say, I feel like I have also seen some of that
happening on the left even with the hope and optimism about sort of, you
know, I can go and solve it, right? Or me and my crew can solve it. But
when in fact it can`t just be solved by a better person. Like the system
itself. And so part of what I`d be interested in knowing from you, just
as you talk to voters, folks in Iowa, in New Hampshire, like what part of
what you`re hearing here ends up getting reflected?

LOWERY: Of course. And I think you`re both making this point. This idea
that we`ve had a conversation now for a long time. And I used to cover
Congress. And so, I covered a lot of these –

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry!

LOWERY: It`s all right. So there was always this, you know, we have to
remember even just our recent history. The push, the Republicans coming in
2010 and taking control of the House largely on the back of a, you know,
this being a mandate to obstruct President Obama. Mandate to try to
overturn ObamaCare, something that arguably was never going to happen
legislatively. And yet this was what Republican voters were being sold for
the last eight years was this idea that we are going to undo these things
and change these things. Now there is a deep frustration about among
republican voters who I`ve spoken with because those things didn`t happen.
And so you had this promising from both Democrats on the Left of things
that were going to be accomplished that have not been accomplished and the
Republicans on the right of things that were going to be accomplished that
have not been accomplished.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, that explains Bernie Sanders.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That explains Bernie Sanders.


LOWERY: – are deeply distrustful of GOP establishment, they see as
hypocritical and just flat-out lying. Progressives are concerned that
Clintonism is a complete sellout of progressive ideals. Independents are
now 45 percent of the whole country. That`s surging. So you have an
environment in which there is deep, deep dissatisfaction with the political
institutions, with the political parties, and yet the political system,
starting with the primaries, is set up to give maximum control to the

HARRIS-PERRY: To the parties, right.

LOWERY: And that is creating a gap between the people and how the parties
govern that`s widening every day. You just don`t have an income inequality
gap. We have a political gap in the country.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s really because I want to come back and as we come back,
I want to talk a little bit about Jeb Bush and the questions of the
parties. But the thing that you just laid out there about the relevance of
parties, that`s a historical reality about how those institutions have
grown. I keep thinking about John Aldrich`s book “Why Parties?” And the
answer is because hard to organize a big country like this into just two
groups. Okay. More. More. More. We`ll get nerdy in that break.

Jeb Bush is ready to launch his Jeb can fix it tour. What is it he`s
trying to fix?


HARRIS-PERRY: Things that are good signs for your presidential ambitions.
A $100 million war chest. Nearly universal name recognition. More
endorsements than any of your opponents. Something that is a bad sign for
your presidential ambitions, being forced to repeatedly explain, that no,
you are not dropping out of the race. Here`s former Florida Governor Jeb
Bush on “Meet the Press” this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still want to be president?

BUSH: I do. I do. I see great possibilities for our country. I honestly
believe we`re on the verge of greatness. We have to fix some really big
complex things and I have leadership skills to do it and I`m fired up about


HARRIS-PERRY: Is he just a – I think he actually probably don`t have
leadership skills to be a decent actual president but boy, he does not
sound fired up when he says he`s fired up.

DEL PERCIO: He is a candidate that needs a lot of work. He`s not
campaigning when like he did when he was running for governor of Florida.
The environment has drastically changed. Jeb Bush needs to change with the
times, or double down and being his nerdy little self that he is. Because
that`s what he is.

HARRIS-PERRY: Just go full Ross Perot on it.

DEL PERCIO: Well, because he`s trying to be something to everyone and that
ends up with that, you know, Chuck Todd saying are you fired up? Yes.
It`s just doesn`t work. That`s not how you advise a candidate.


DEL PERCIO: And I think he does have – Jeb Bush has the chance to play
out time unlike some of these other candidates.

HARRIS-PERRY: Because he`s got $100 million and name recognition and –

DEL PERCIO: Exactly. Let them start firing their shots at other folks.
And let him just keep doing these town halls where he can answer people`s
questions and gives good answer.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, John, let`s say it was an open primary. And all the
Dems and Republican were in there together and everybody was making the
choices and all the debates had everybody. Would it be a different story
for Mr. Bush? Would it be a different story for Mrs. Clinton?

OPDYCKE: I don`t think it would be a different story for Mr. Bush. I
think he profoundly misread the country. I think he`s looked at his run
for president similar to his brothers. And that eight years of a Democrat
in the White House, the country was ready for the Bush brand of compassion
and conservatism, he completely read that.


OPDYCKE: I think to your point though, about whether there would be a
different story, if you put together Democrats and Republicans, if you
mixed it up, if you opened it up and let everybody vote in the primaries,
right now independents are shut out in many states. You`d have a whole
different political conversation taking place in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And really long debates!

HARRIS-PERRY: And really long debates! Although maybe you`d have a
different threshold for getting into them. So, let me ask this. The other
person emerging as a potential establishment striking back candidate is
Marco Rubio. He was on face the nation this morning. Let`s take a quick


JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST, “FACE THE NATION”: Bush campaign called you the
republican Obama. Is that an insult or a compliment?

MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don`t think they mean it
as a compliment and I certainly wouldn`t take it as that. Look, campaigns
are going to say whatever they think gives them an advantage. And
obviously someone has convinced Jeb that attacking me is going to help his
campaign. It won`t change the way we run our campaign.


HARRIS-PERRY: We`re talking about discourse. The Republican Obama, and
then the response of being, people are convincing Bush of something,
there`s a lot of like analytic discourse going on there.

BELTRAN: It`s a lot of really crazy back and forth and watching those two
sort of spar it out is going to be fascinating. But, you know, I thing I
think, you know, what Rubio has been able to say, I`m not a legacy
candidate, you know, I am not part of this Bush-Clinton. But I think one
thing we keep forgetting, is that, okay, the Clintons are a powerful
ambitious power couple who have been on the public stage for like 20 years

HARRIS-PERRY: A long time.

BELTRAN: The Bush family is a political dynasty. Jeb Bush`s grandfather
was in the Senate. I mean so this is a family, and we are in a political
moment. I think you are exactly right. Where the idea of political
legacies like that is not attractive right now. And I think the other
issue is, I think there is a real hope that Jeb Bush would be Jeb, that Jeb
would be sort of Bush 2.0, he would be George Bush without 9/11. He would
be the multicultural George Bush because the Bush family has this very long
history of promoting conservative multiculturalism.


BELTRAN: I think there`s a real hope that Jeb Bush could do that.


He looks so annoyed that this is not being decided by big donors.


He doesn`t like dealing with voters.

HARRIS-PERRY: So he does to me come off as peevish in moments but I`m not
sure that it is about donors. It does however feel like the establishment
shifted under him and I think that for me is part of what`s interesting to
watch here was.

LOWERY: Of course. And I think so, too. And I think that Jeb`s play
right now honestly is that he needs to tread water. He`s trying to tread

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Just keep it up. Just keep it up.

LOWERY: We can get a debate stage with more than a dozen candidates on it.
You know when we get to the convention there, he still not going to be 12
candidates in there. Only so many of them will be funded. Marco Rubio
seems to be building some momentum. Ted Cruz certainly will have the
backing. You know, we keep a tracker of who is the front-runner of this

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes! We took a look at it, too. Who was leading at this
time in our various GOP campaigns? I know we`ve got that. Go ahead.

LOWERY: All right. So today, in 2012 Herman Cain was leading the
republican presidential primary.


LOWERY: In 2008, Rudy Giuliani was up 12 points. Hillary Clinton was up
23 points. Howard Dean in 2004 was up a point.

HARRIS-PERRY: Colin Powell in `96 – Colin Powell was leading! I love

DEL PERCIO: These are historically different times and environments that
these candidates are running in. Howard Dean was probably, because he was
so forward thinking on how he used the internet when it came to fund-
raising, but none of the other folks that we just mentioned had any – have
any idea how to run in this environment.

HARRIS-PERRY: But Iowa is later. So, to go back to the ways in which
primaries make a difference, right? Typically Iowa is early January. Now
we are talking early February. It actually means that they have a bit more
breathing room before they show up in those –

DEL PERCIO: Well, it also gives them one other advantage, take someone
like Ben Carson. Everyone is saying, well, in recent republican history
Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee both won and look what happened to them.
Ben Carson is in a drastically different situation. Because he has a lot
more money than it – they raised money after their win and couldn`t get it
on the ground. Ben Carson can be doing well in Iowa, spending relatively
little money, and building up other states. And that is also a big
difference when you have that much longer to be – before the election.

HARRIS-PERRY: So then part of what I`m wondering is, have the parties now
crafted for themselves a primary system that will actually undo them? Like
that we have a primary system now where so few Democrats jumped in because
Hillary Clinton was – had such a big foot –

OPDYCKE: She`s the heir-apparent.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. She`s the heir-apparent. So then folks don`t get
in. So you don`t have a competition in a real way on the democratic side.
And then on the republican side you end up with a potential Carson or Trump
winning some of these early catching fire. Like have they – you were
talking about the seeds of their own destruction. I`m wondering if the
actual structure is the seed of the party, it`s destruction.

OPDYCKE: Yes. I think that if you look at Congress for example, less than
50 members of Congress are elected in competitive elections. The primary
is the only competitive election and that`s how the parties guarantee party
loyalty on both the Democratic and Republican side.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But it`s how that`s because the state parties are
drawing in their centennial census years is this heavily gerrymandering –

OPDYCKE: It is not just gerrymandering now. The parties use the primaries
as a way to control the nominating process. And that is the bread and
butter of partyism. But to your point about, have they created something
that`s undoing them, the presidential primaries offer opportunities for the
American people to make certain statements. That happened in 2008. When
independents, when President Obama put together a coalition of not just
Democrats but Republicans and Independents to challenge the Democratic
establishment in Hillary Clinton. And this year I think the action has
shifted to the republican primary and you see –

HARRIS-PERRY: Republican establishment is going to need to go out and get
independents to challenge the competitive – man, it is getting good!

Thank you to John Opdycke and to Cristina Beltran, to Susan Del Percio and
to Wes Lowery.

Up next, the latest into the investigation into a Russian Airliner crash.

Plus, more on the President`s visit to Newark tomorrow.


HARRIS-PERRY: A make shift memorial is growing this hour at Russia`s
airport in St. Petersburg. Two hundred and twenty four people were killed,
including 17 children, when a Russian airliner crashed into a mountainous
region of the Sinai Peninsula yesterday. Grieving families await the
return of recovered bodies. The first of which are expected to arrive in
Russia today. The plane`s black boxes have also been recovered and they`ve
been transported to Cairo for further investigation.

Joining me now from Cairo, NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely.
Bill, what are investigators hoping to learn from that black box?

NEELY: Yes, the black boxes are in good condition apparently and they were
opened at Egypt`s aviation ministry this afternoon. We don`t have a
readout on what they`re showing but the investigators, both Russian, and
Egyptian and French, will be listening for the last words and sounds from
the cockpit and any other noises within the plane. That`s from the cockpit
voice recorder. The flight data recorder should give us an idea of the
real speed, the real altitude, how quickly the plane fell. Because it
seems it fell dramatically and that the speed went from 500 miles an hour
down to 70 miles an hour before it hit the ground.

A Russian aviation ministry person who was at the scene has said that the
plane split up in mid-air. It at least broke up in two, indeed the tail
section and the nose section were at least three miles apart. Now we don`t
know why that happened and he is cautioning against drawing any early
conclusions from that. The same is from Egypt`s president. They`re all
saying it is too early to draw conclusions. But the search area is wide
and the questions, Melissa, still are many. It`s not just a national
tragedy for Russia. It really is a great national mystery. Back to you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, to NBC`s Bill Neely in Cairo.

Now, as we mentioned in our first hour, President Obama will travel to
Newark, New Jersey tomorrow to discuss criminal justice reform. He`ll be
joined by Senator Cory Booker and Mayor Ras Baraka in highlighting the re-
entry process of formerly incarcerated people who are trying to find jobs.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I believe we can disrupt the
pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. I believe we can
address the disparities and the applications of criminal justice from
arrest rates, to sentencing, to incarceration and I believe we can help
those who have served their time and earned the second chance, get the
support, they need to become productive members of society.


HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now from the White House, NBC`S Kristen Welker.
Kristen, this is the third high-profile event that the President has done
in recent weeks addressing criminal justice reform. How important does
this seem to be this issue for the legacy the President is trying to build?

important question, Melissa. This is a key part of President Obama`s
legacy. And he`s become increasingly focused on criminal justice reform
but also on finding ways to decrease tensions between police departments
and communities of color. You mentioned these recent visits that the
President has made. Just this past week, the President spoke to police
officers in his hometown of Chicago, and while he was there he called for
reduced mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders.

He also praised legislation that`s bipartisan legislation that seems to
actually be making its way through Congress. That legislation would
decrease some prison sentences. But looking even further past in that
Melissa, this spring the President met with police and young people in
Camden, he talked about community policing. And then you recall this, this
was a really big visit over the summer, he became the first president to
visit a federal prison. During that trip he spoke to inmates as a part of
a vice special that aired on HBO. Take a look at the clip.


OBAMA: I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was young. But I`ve said this
before, I was just in an environment where you could afford to make some


WELKER: So the President really speaking in personal terms about this,
Melissa. And I believe this is personal for him. Last year in the wake of
the Trayvon Martin shooting death, the President established My Brother`s
Keeper. That`s an initiative aimed at making sure young men of color have
more opportunities. So back to your initial point, this is clearly a key
legacy issue for this president. And what`s interesting, Melissa, is that
officials here have indicated that it`s something that he`s going to really
continue to focus on once he leaves office. This will continue to be a key
focus for him.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s one of the first times I`ve heard him actually
say, you know, during the 15 months I have left as president and as a
private citizen. You know, he doesn`t normally even sort of use that
language. But when he has, it has been in relation to this question of
criminal justice reform.

WELKER: That`s absolutely right. And I think you can expect him to even
once he leaves office really focus on that my Brother`s Keeper Initiative.
This is something that not only tries to set up support systems for young
men of color, but also tries to improve and enhance community policing in
law enforcement communities all across the country. He acknowledged it, it
is a work in progress and it is something that`s slow going. But again, I
think that we are getting a preview of what we can expect to see from
President Obama once he becomes a private citizen.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And we were reminded by a panel of young women who we
had on the show yesterday, that in fact, not just young men but also young
women and young women of color who are in need of this kind of effort
relative to incarceration and school push-out. Thank you so much to
Kristin Welker at the White House –

WELKER: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, the Supreme Court may not be the biggest issue
when it comes to access to abortion services. And we`re going to explain
so stay with us.


HARRIS-PERRY: In the coming week, the Supreme Court could decide to take
up one of several cases that would lead this court to its first ruling on
abortion since 2007. The most likely case focuses on regulations that
would limit Texas, the nation`s second-most populous state to ten health
care clinics that provide abortions. The regulations like those aren`t the
only threats to abortion access in this country. Many medical
professionals who perform abortions face threats that could hamper their
ability and willingness to do their jobs. Many face threats of bombings,
physical violence, destruction of property, or even harm to family members.
Simply for providing a legal medical service that three in 10 American
women will seek and receive by the age of 45.

My next guest wrote a moving piece this week in the Washington Post which
she describes one of the cause of her profession. Constant fear that her
life, along with her family, might be in danger. She recently found a
website that accused her of being part of a quote, “Abortion Cartel.” The
webpage posted her office address, along with photographs of her with her
then-15-month-old daughter. And she wrote, “I fear for the safety of my
child. I worry the protesters may someday show up at her daycare focused
on hurting her as a way to punish me. Seeing her face on the anti-choice
website made me consider that maybe she would be safer living apart from me
and that my presence in her life might cause her more harm than good. And
while I refuse to be intimidated from doing my job, this assault on my
confidence as a mother has been particularly distressing.”

The doctor who penned those words, Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper and despite
these threats. Despite the near constant pressure not to do the work she
does, she continues. And she`s kind enough to join me this morning to
explain why. Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper joins me now from Baltimore.
Doctor, nice to have you.

DR. DIANE HORVATH-COSPER, OB-GYN: Thank you so much for having me,

HARRIS-PERRY: Can you talk to me a little bit about how you as a young
person deciding to be an M.D., then decided that you wanted to be an OB-

HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I always wanted to take care of women. And that
was kind of the way to do it. It had a little bit of everything that I
liked. It`s fun to deliver babies. It`s fun to do surgeries. And I
really felt like I wanted to be with women especially in times when no one
else wanted to be with them, like when they are seeking an abortion.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, part of what we`ve seen over the course of the past
decade as anti-choice strategies have evolved is that one of the efforts
has been actually to attack the ability even of doctors to get trained to
do this work so there are some states where the state medical schools don`t
even teach DNC procedures, for example. So, I am wondering if in your
training there was ever a time in medical school or during residency where
people talked about the possibility of harassment or being targeted if you
did choose to perform abortions.

HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I was very fortunate in that I sought out a
residency program that provided the training specifically. Many do not.
And that was a priority for me. And we did actually talk about safety and
security when we would rotate through the clinics. We got some training in
how not to be easily recognized, not to wear your scrubs in and out of the
clinic, to be identified as a provider. So, I was fortunate to get that
training but also very sad that I had to have that training on safety.

HARRIS-PERRY: I think the thing that makes me most sad having read your
piece is that the photo often used to depict you in these spaces for anti-
choice people includes your daughter. Can you talk to me a little bit
about finding that and then the conversations that you`ve been having with
yourself and your family since then?

HORVATH-COSPER: Yes. You know, I had gotten used to, for better or for
worse, walking through protesters, being escorted from my car by security
guards. And I think I just saw it as something that wasn`t – wasn`t so
much directed at me personally, it was directed at the role that I was
playing and the service that I was providing. But when I saw my daughter
on that webpage in the evening when I was kind of combing through the sites
that I check periodically, that really crossed a line for me because then
it became extremely personal. And the conversation I`ve had so far with
friends and family, people have been overwhelmingly supportive and I`m very
fortunate to have that. But you know, I`ve talked about what would happen
if something happened to me and who is going to take care of my child and
who`s going to be able to help out with her if, you know, something
terrible were to happen and I wasn`t there.

HARRIS-PERRY: When we were having a conversation among the producers about
inviting you on the show, I kept saying, is she sure? Does she know how
bad it can get after you`ve appeared on air? Talk to me about whether or
not this harassment has ever impacted your decision to do your work.

HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I think that there`s two ways to respond to
bullies. One of them is to be intimidated and to stop doing what you`re
doing, even though – I know that what I do is the right thing for women.
Women will get air abortions, whether or not they`re safe, whether or not
they`re legal. And I think that I feel very called to this work. So my
response to bullies is to continue to provide this service, to continue to
help women understand that what they`re having is a very normative
experience and that I`ll be there for them no matter what.

HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, you are extremely brave and I am
extremely pleased that you took a moment to join us. Thank you for joining
us and for telling the story.

HORVATH-COSPER: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.


HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, the story behind the notorious RBG.


HARRIS-PERRY: You might know her as the notorious RBG. Supreme Court
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman ever to serve on the highest
court in the land, has inspired memes portraying the diminutive lace-
collared octogenarian as a total OG. And she kind of loves it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: – what`s it like to be the notorious RBG?

When this started and my law clerks had to tell me about notorious BIG, we
do have in common having grown up in Brooklyn.


HARRIS-PERRY: Justice Ginsburg gained her internet notoriety in recent
years for her scathing dissents on major court opinions like Shelby v.
Holder. Shelby was the case in which the Supreme Court struck down the
core of the 1965 voting rights act. The court invalidated the VRA`s
preclearance formula to determine which states must get federal approval
for any changes to their voting laws and by declaring it outdated they
basically declared it unusable. Justice Ginsburg was steamed so she wrote,
throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to
stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a
rainstorm because you`re not getting wet.

Now there`s a new book tracing Justice Ginsburg`s life from her time as one
of the only women in law school in 1950s, to launching the ACLU`s women`s
rights projects in 1971 to her 22 years and counting on the Supreme Court.
And it is titled, appropriately, “Notorious RBG.”

Joining me now are its authors, MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon. And
Shana Knizhnik who is a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit, and the creator of the “Notorious RBG” blog. So, nice to have you


HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, this book is different in a lot of ways from
what you might normally imagine a text about a sitting Supreme Court
justice to be. I mean, this is like, you know, just sort of open it and
there are like great photos and why take this route for talking about

SHANA KNIZHNIK, CO-AUTHOR, “NOTORIOUS RBG”: Oh, I think something that the
Tumblr was trying to achieve and that we tried to bring to the book as well
is this really subtle combination between substance and fun. And I think
one of the things we`re most proud of with the book and sort of the
phenomenon itself is that it`s creating a space for people that care about
these issues to talk about this amazing woman, but also to talk about these
issues and still have fun with it which is something that I think young
people are searching for these days.

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, we are in the midst of a presidential election
cycle so the Supreme Court is always that critically important thing that`s
sitting out there but that rarely actually has much substantive
conversation. And look, Justice Ginsburg is in her 80s. Everybody has an
opinion about whether or not she should step down. What are your thoughts
after having worked on this text?

CARMON: Well, there couldn`t be more at stake. You mentioned the case
that might come up in Texas that may leave only ten abortion clinics in one
of the most populous states in the country where 5.4 million women of
reproductive age live. There are racial justice questions. There are
employment and discrimination questions. But I think Justice Ginsburg is
still very much in her prime as a jurist and as the voice of the liberals
on the court. She has no intentions of stepping down until she can`t do
the job anymore. So, I think people who are interested in carrying on her
legacy should look to next year as the crucial year for what is going to
happen in the future and work to elect a president that shares their

HARRIS-PERRY: How exactly did this woman become this notorious? What were
the surprising moments for you in writing this?

KNIZHNIK: Well, you know, I think in terms of the phenomenon why everyone
is so drawn to her, I think it is partly because of how inspirational her
life has really been. She`s gone through so much. And it is really, you
know, looking back from 2015, it`s like you don`t even think about the fact
that she was one of nine women at Harvard Law School. Was asked by the
dean to justify why it was she thought she could, you know, take the place
of a man. So I think that people are drawn to that. And especially young
women are searching for this voice, for you know, role models,
inspirational people that are doing this work and she`s been doing it for
so, so long.

HARRIS-PERRY: I think the other – you`re talking about the fun and the
substance. For me, Erin, part of reading her dissents, reading these
textes, it was almost like this is what it would look like if a woman gave
absolutely no damns about what other people thought of her and instead just
stood on her own, you know, space. And it is kind of extraordinary to see
that level of intellectual and jurisprudential freedom.

CARMON: Well, unlike Scalia who likes to call people idiots when he
disagrees with them, she`s always very reasoned, and rational in her
decent. But at the same time, she packed such a punch. So, she`s doing it
politely. She`s kind of like, pushing you back with the force of her
reason and I think people respond to that. You know, one of the things we
realized with the book is that for decades she stood for these values.
She`s remarkably consistent and has had so much integrity in pursuing
these, that by the time we`re hearing her dissenting, it`s after she`s
tried everything else. She`s tried to get an outcome that won`t erode
these very fundamental rights particularly for marginalized people in
society. But if that`s not going to happen that`s when you get the DJAF
moment. That`s the moment where she is speaking to the public and the
dissents are not just for the court watchers and our book is not just for
the court watchers.


CARMON: It is to engage the public.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And it is deeply engaging in that way. There`s one
other audience that strikes me as important and that is she is of course
not alone on the court. There are two other women, relatively new
justices, the newest justices of the court, Justice Kagan and Sotomayor.
When you look at them and the work that they`re currently doing, do they
have a chance of someday becoming notorious?

KNIZHNIK: I hope so. I mean, people ask me, you know, why not Sotomayor
or why not Kagan? I think, you know, I`m like more than happy to share –
I think RBG is more than happy to share the celebrity. She`s always, you
know, she`s been the firsts in a lot of her life but she`s never been one
to only – to be the only one. She wants to bring other women along with
her. And she`s taken an active role in mentoring the other female Supreme
Court Justices. And she was very happy that Obama appointed them.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It is one of the questions of leadership when you are
the first to trying to make sure that you are not the last. We got a
little bit more. “The Notorious RBG” co-authors even got the scoop on
Justice Ginsburg`s regular workout from her long-time personal trainer.
And here`s the Justice herself back in February throwing down a workout
challenge to Irin.


CARMON: So, as you know, I met with your trainer. I interviewed him.
Lovely gentleman.

GINSBURG: He said you wouldn`t try out my routine.

CARMON: Someday. I mean, I can`t keep up with you Justice Ginsburg
because I heard you can do 20 pushups?

GINSBURG: Yes. But we do ten at a time. And then I breathe for a bit.
And do the second set.


HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you can`t just let something like that lie. So Irin
and Shana took up the RBG workout challenge. We got it on video and that`s
up next.


HARRIS-PERRY: Did you know the 82–year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg can do 20 push-ups? Ahah! And she challenged the co-
authors of the new book, “Notorious RBG” to try her regular workout. She
even sense her own personal trainer Bryant Johnson up to New York to put
them to the test.


start off with the push-ups. Best exercise known to mankind. I want you
to get down. I want your heads up looking at me and your shoulders
(INAUDIBLE) out to here. Down and up. That`s how you want to do it.
Okay. Go ahead. Inhale, good. And up. Awesome. Good. And again.
Good. And go to your knees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She can do 20 of these?

JOHNSON: She does 20. Again, head up. Here we go. Down and up. I`ve
got you. Good. Going here and going here. And go. One, two, three,
four, five, six. Justice wants to extend her apologies for not being able
to make the workout herself but she did tell me to make sure that I worked
you hard.


JOHNSON: Oh, yes. We sit on the stability ball right here and we do a
little shoulder work. Dumbbells to the side. Bring them up. Take them to
the front. Bring them back out. There you go. That`s the rhythm.
Looking good. Looking good. Looking good. Looking good. We do leg
presses. I lay down. I am in this position here. I lay on her feet. She
comes down and pushes up. Push. Oh, yes, push. Down, slow. Up. And
again, two more. All right. From here we straight into one-legged squats.
Leg between my leg. Stand up, back down. Touch and go. Good. Touch and
go. Two. Looking good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got my weak side.

JOHNSON: Now you realize you have to do planks. Squeeze everything tight.
Thirty seconds. Thirteen, 12, 12, I mean 11, 10, 9, 3, 2, 1. Relax.


JOHNSON: Very good. Very good. Awesome. Awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. You win, Justice Ginsburg. You win.


HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. You could not get through the workout. What in the

CARMON: You win Justice Ginsburg. That`s it.

KNIZHNIK: Yes, I think she did. She actually won. That`s kind of

CARMON: People call her frail because she`s older and she`s had cancer
twice but I think she`s shown that she`s more than up to the task.

HARRIS-PERRY: It is my thought as I was watching that. I was like, well,
the First Lady is really a wonderful ambassador for Let`s Move, but I`m
wondering if it ought to be RBG because she put you two under apparently.

CARMON: Yes. One of our favorite stories in the book, actually, Shanna
got in the process of reporting, was about how when she was about 60 years
old, they went whitewater rafting and they told her, you had to sit in the
back because, you know, you`re going to fly over because you`re so light.
And she said I don`t sit in the back.

KNIZHNIK: We have an amazing photo of her in the front of the boat, with
her like guns-a-blazing with her oar up, it`s amazing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Nobody puts the Justice in the corner. No. No. There`s
not have been. If there`s one thing that she is talked to you all about
her legacy, despite the fact that she`s not ready to go. She`s in her
prime. What is the legacy she wants to leave on this court?

CARMON: She says in her life, the thing that is most valuable is that she
worked in a movement that made life better for all people. For men and for
women, she always says, it`s not just women`s liberation, it`s men`s and
women`s liberation. And she wants to fight so that everyone can have equal
citizenship stature under the law.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m wondering if its feeling like that slipping away from
her in the context of this particular court.

KNIZHNIK: Absolutely. I mean, I think that`s something we talked about
the idea that she never wanted to be the great dissenter. Right? I mean,
this is what happened in 2013 that launched this blog. Is that, you know,
the majority opinions were going in the complete opposite direction. She
had to stand up and not only, you know, write these opinions but speak out
about them.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s a great text and it`s really is a lot of fun.
Definitely is for the general population, we`ve got incredible picture of
the young Ginsburg in here. And also, I almost wondering even if the New
York marathon was written like, maybe we`ll even just see here like, you
know, bringing not in the rare. But maybe in the middle of the pack out
there somewhere.

Thank you to Irin Carmon and to Shana Knizhnik. And the book once again is
the “Notorious RBG.” That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for
watching. I`ll see you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

But right now, it`s time for a preview of “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT” but
that`s not Alex. That`s Richard Lui. Hi, Richard, how are you?

RICHARD LUI, MSNBC HOST: Melissa, good Sunday to you. We`ll going to talk
about presidential hopefuls up next hitting the Sunday talk shows. We`ll
compare some of the candidates in the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Also, the new focus for President Obama this week as he pushes for criminal
justice reform across the country.

Plus, what does the U.S. hope to accomplish in Syria with boots on the
ground? And what can we accomplish? We`ll talk about all of that. Don`t
go anywhere. We`ll be right back.



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