The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/02/13
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, GUEST HOST: And thanks to you at home for
staying with us for the next hour.
Now, this was the scene right around 3:00 this afternoon on the steps
of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Everybody out! Everybody out! Time to go! You don`t have to go home
but you got to live the heck out of here!
Yes, there was a mass exodus out of Washington today as the House of
Representative s officially adjourned for their August recess this
And like teenagers on the last day of school, members of Congress just
bolted for the exits today once the final bell rang. Bye-bye, see you in a
Washington is now heading off for its summer vacation, their August
recess. What do you do when you`re heading off for vacation?
Well, don`t you tend to take care of a few last-minute things? Maybe
you run the dishwasher one last time. You take out the trash. You do all
of these things in order to put your house in order before you leave. And
you do that so that you`re not faced with a big, stinky mess when you get
That`s what people do when they`re heading out for vacation. Turns
out Washington did the same thing.
Now, contrary to what you may have heard, they actually did get some
stuff accomplished before they skipped town today. For example, we now
officially have a brand new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
That`s Vice President Joe Biden swearing in Samantha Power this
morning as our new U.N. ambassador. Samantha power of course replaces
Susan Rice who`s now President Obama`s national security adviser.
A lot of people expected this to be a big, hairy confirmation fight.
But Samantha Power ended up getting 87 votes in the Senate. So there you
go. U.N. ambassador, confirmed.
The Senate also confirmed one of President Obama`s top judicial
nominees before leaving town. The Senate unanimously confirmed Raymond
Chen to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit. Now,
that court deals with lot of important stuff, including trademarks,
patents, as well as veterans` claims.
We also now officially have an ATF director. The Senate confirmed B.
Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This is the ATF`s first permanent director in seven years. They said it
couldn`t be done. But it got done.
Today we also got a look at the new jobs numbers for the month of
July. The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs for the month. The unemployment
rate ticked down to its lowest level since before December of 2008.
These numbers aren`t exactly something to throw a party about. But
things are still moving in the right direction. After having let the
interest rates for federal student loans double previously, Washington
finally reached an agreement this week to bring those rates back down.
Those rates skyrocketed back on July 1st. But Congress managed to fix that
problem before they left for the summer.
You might think that nothing is happening in Washington right now,
that it`s just complete gridlock. But that`s not exactly true. Congress
has gotten a few important things accomplished before taking off for that
month of August.
So that is the good news. What`s the not-so good news? Well, it`s
that that sort of productivity is the exception, not the rule. The August
recess is one of those dates on the calendar that you can lay down as a
marker and see how we`re doing compared to previous years. This right here
is every Congress since 1989. Those bars represent the number of bills
passed by Congress before the August recess.
As you can see, on average, Congress passes somewhere in the
neighborhood of 60 bills before the August recess. The last bar that you
see there, that was the first two years of President Obama`s first term.
About 60 bills passed before the August recess.
And then, the 2010 midterms happened. And congressional productivity
plummeted. By that August recess, Congress only managed to pass 28 bills
that ultimately turned out to be the least productive session of Congress
It was even worse than the go-nothing Congress of the 1940s. They
passed 28 bills by the August recess. This Congress? Twenty-two.
That`s it. As “The Washington Post” noted today, this session of
Congress is on track to become even worse than the last session because
they`ve been worse than the do-nothing Congress.
So as much as it might look like there`s some incremental movement on
some important things like student loans and Senate confirmations, this
still might be the least-productive Congress that we have seen in our
lifetimes. But maybe even worse than the possibility that this Congress is
on track to beat out the infamous do-nothing Congress is the prospect that
was raised today by the former House speaker and current minority leader in
the House, Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: After more than six months
in this congress, this Republican Congress, we still have no jobs bill. We
have no budget bill. And we have the threat of shutting down government
and not raising the debt ceiling.
This was a do-nothing Congress. And now it is going to something
worse. It`s an aimless Congress that is falling into chaos. It`s a make-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yikes! Nancy Pelosi christening this Congress the
make-matters-worse congress. Make matters worse how, exactly?
Now, I mentioned that this Congress did manage to get a few important
things accomplished before they skipped town today. But they also left a
few things rotting in the refrigerator. During that press conference today
Nancy Pelosi predicted that Congress would not be able to pass a farm bill
before the current farm bill expires on October 1st. Now, you may remember
that Republican House Speaker John Boehner failed miserably to pass a farm
bill earlier this summer, a farm bill that he supported was defeated by
members of his own party.
Democrats oppose that farm bill at the time because it gutted the food
stamps program that low-income families across the country rely on every
single day. Republicans at that time proposed cutting spending on food
stamps by $20 billion. That`s right, $20 billion.
Again, that bill was ultimately defeated. But before Republicans left
for vacation today, they announced how they`re planning to deal with that
bill when they get back from vacation. They don`t want to cut food stamps
by $20 billion anymore. They now want to cut food stamps by $40 billion,
double the amount that they proposed cutting it by just a few months ago.
The top Democrat on the House agricultural committee said after that
announcement, quote, “I don`t know what they`re doing.”
So cutting food stamps for the most vulnerable members of our society,
that`s what Republicans announced they`re planning to do when they come
back from vacation. But the last thing they did before they left? Voting
to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time. House Republicans today, in their
parting shot before skipping town, voted once again to turn back the clock
on the reforms of health insurance industry that despite their efforts
remained the law of the land.
Republicans have spent the better part of the last month trying to
figure out ways to sabotage the president`s landmark health care law as it
goes into effect. But today, they took a 40th shot at just gutting the
As the great Steve Benen pointed out on “Maddow Blog” today, if we
include the Senate, the total number of votes held by congressional
Republicans to repeal all or part of the federal health care law is 68 –
68 votes to repeal Obamacare. Wonder what`s in store for the health care
reform law when they come back?
So, it sort of seemed like Washington was trying to clean up the house
and take out the trash before they left town. But they also clearly
managed to leave a couple of pieces of rotting fish in their refrigerator.
On the way out the door and all of that is just waiting for them when
they come back.
Joining us now is Congressman Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, who
is also running for Senate.
Congressman Holt, it`s so nice to have you here today.
REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: Great to be with you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what is happening in the house? I mean, really.
Like you look at the senate, there`s at least a little bit happening there.
You`re getting some confirmations.
But this – wasn`t there once a time when House members went open in
august to tell their constituents, here`s what we did. What are these
folks going to say they`ve done?
HOLT: Sure. Many members of Congress came to congress to make
people`s lives better, with a belief that we can actually do something to
help people. Speaker Boehner said recently that the Congress should be
judged by the number of bills repealed, not by what`s accomplished. You
know, by that –
HARRIS-PERRY: They`ve also repealed zero.
HOLT: Well, actually, even by that measure they`re failing.
HOLT: But the health care bill, as you said, today, this was the 40th
attempt to stop it. You know, we can`t deal with this with platitudes
about, let`s come together. We need adult leadership. We need – how long
are you going to negotiate on health care with somebody – to improve
health care, to bring more people into health care, to keep costs down.
How are you going to negotiate to get legislation with people who have
this obsession, an ideological obsession, to repeal? If it`s just like,
how can you negotiate on science education with people who deny Evolution?
How are you going to deny on health care quality of coverage for women with
people who invent their own biology about women?
HOLT: How are you going to negotiate with people on energy with
people who deny climate change?
HARRIS-PERRY: So I think – these are such great examples. The
climate change question, the question of reproductive rights, and sort of
just the biology of how women work and how we production operates.
So it sounds to me like you`re diagnosing the problem as a kind of
vocabulary problem. Is it personal animus? Is it ideological? Is it not
sharing the same constructions of what problems are? I mean, what has
happened in this Congress to make gridlock so prevalent?
HOLT: It`s ideological.
HOLT: And so we`ve got – we`ve got these ideologues who are elected
to Congress in 2010, so many of them, railing against government. They
campaigned against government. And, lo and behold, they find they are
government, and it`s a psychological disconnect they can`t deal with. And
that tail is wagging the dog.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me on this question of ideology, talk about
HOLT: Let me just say, as a scientist, of course, my background is in
science, and so, I like to see policy rooted in evidence.
And I actually think that if you start a debate by finding facts you
can agree on, rather than starting in your ideological camp, you can get
something done. I mean, I have in environmental matters and open space
preservation, most recently in suicide prevention. I got $40 million for -
- over the last two years, for suicide prevention for veterans and
You start with the facts. And then you can – then you can find
common ground that you can work toward constructive legislation.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is precisely where I wanted to go on this
question of food subsidies, SNAP, the so-called food stamp program.
Because the evidence, the basis here is we know that something like 95
percent of those who receive them, there`s very little corruption in the
system. We know that it is majority of children that are using these.
And we also know that they have a stimulative effect on our economy,
that when people get food subsidies, they then have more money to spend in
our economy. I mean, these are facts that are not in dispute.
So how is it that this Republican aspect of the house can say, what we
need to do is to cut $40 billion in food stamps?
HOLT: But, in fact, people do make up their own facts. They say, for
example, to justify this $20 billion cut in food stamps, in the SNAP
program, they said, well, it`s being misused and so that`s why we`ve got to
impose these conditions, you know, drug testing before people can get food
stamps. It`s not because there`s a lot of drug abuse there.
HOLT: I mean, I don`t hear them suggesting that we require drug
testing for farmers to get crop insurance, or to get crop subsidies. By
the way, some members of Congress who are voting against this bill were
getting crop subsidies.
And so, they were making up their own facts about what needed to be
done to be fair to the taxpayer.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Can you imagine if all American homeowners had to
undergo a drug test in order to get their mortgage interest deduction on
HOLT: That`s comparable, yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. Democratic Congressman –
HOLT: There`s so much we`re not getting done.
HOLT: You know, we need to deal with climate change. We need to
break up the banks and continue to put cops on the beat on Wall Street. We
need to, you know, stop spying on Americans –
HOLT: – on innocent Americans.
And instead, we`re trying for the 40th time to repeal the Obamacare.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is, in fact, the law of the land.
Democratic Congressman Rush Holt, so nice to have you here, thank you
for taking a little time out of the campaign trail to spend some time here
on Rachel`s show.
HOLT: Thanks, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Lots more ahead, including an intense weekend for
Americans abroad; alarming news for women out of North Carolina. Plus, I
try something I never thought I`d get to do on this show. Today`s the day
I`ve been waiting.
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just about every year, the U.S. State Department`s
Bureau of Diplomatic Security puts out a report with a scary-sounding
title. It`s called, political violence against Americans. And this most
recent version of the report with the scary-looking bullet hole/American
flag on the cover summarizes major incidents of politically-motivated
violence involving American interests abroad in 2011.
In that year, there were 78 incidents that according to the bureau,
quote, “are believed to have resulted from intentional targeting of
Americans.” Ranging from a gunman shouting anti-American statements,
opening fire on the U.S. embassy compound in Sarajevo, to a diplomatic
motorcade hit by a so-called vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, to
a gunman in Frankfurt, Germany, killing two U.S. airmen on or near at an
Air Force bus at the airport.
Now, we don`t have a similar report for 2012 but presumably, that
report would include the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya,
last September 11th, an attack in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and
three other Americans were killed by heavily armed militants.
The State Department also from time to time puts out other scary-
sounding information like the worldwide travel alert that it issued today
warning all U.S. citizens who may be traveling in the Middle East and North
Africa that, quote, “current information suggests that al Qaeda and
affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the
region and beyond and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the
period between now and the end of August.”
The alert goes on to warn Americans that terrorists have in the past,
quote, “targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation
and maritime services”, and warns them to, quote, “take every precaution to
be aware of their surroundings.”
Today`s warning comes after a whole slew of announcements from the
State Department yesterday.
See, here`s at MSNBC we get alerts from NBC reporters and producers
around the world via something called the hot file. The hot file started
burning up yesterday afternoon. We learned first that the embassy in
Cairo, Egypt, would be closing this Sunday, quote, “out of an abundance of
caution and care for our employees and others.”
Then we learned the same thing would be happening in Kabul,
Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq. Then the flood gates opened.
Until by NBC`s latest count, 22 embassies and consulates from North
America, excuse me, North Africa, to the Middle East, to Central Asia, are
planning to shut their doors on Sunday, August 4th, and potentially keep
them closed in the days following.
And today, the U.K. joined the U.S. in announcing the closure of its
embassy in Yemen for at least two days.
Why is this happening? What is the threat? No one is willing to say
even anonymously what the threat is. Just that it comes from a credible
But they do seem to be willing to say where it is likely to be coming
As NBC`s Andrea Mitchell reported tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: The most likely place for an attack? The
alert warned of attacks possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian
Peninsula. Officials told NBC that means Yemen, whose leader met with
President Obama Thursday and where there have been at least three covert
U.S. drone strikes this past week alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was NBC`s Andrea Mitchell latest reporting tonight
on what may have precipitated the closing of all those embassies.
And joining us now is Evan Kohlmann, NBC News terrorism analyst and
senior partner at Flashpoint Global Partners.
Nice to have you.
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, Evan.
I assume vulnerability is just part of the reality of embassies, that
threats are probably relatively common. So what kind of intelligence would
have led to this kind of action?
KOHLMANN: What we`ve seen in the past were leaks like this have come
out, or information like this has come out. It`s come out of the result of
human sources within al Qaeda in that area. Within al Qaeda in Yemen, that
usually have been recruited by the Saudi government and sometimes they`re
simply providing information to us by proxy.
These individuals usually have direct access within the organization,
and I think it`s fair to presume if they`re ringing the alarm bells now,
based on what we know in prior occasions, it`s very likely that once again,
there`s a human source here that`s talking about something imminent. It`s
not clear what the target is, it`s not clear exactly when it`s going to be
but there`s something very specific apparently here again from a human
source suggesting that there really is something in the works.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, when you look at that map and you sort of
see that yellow band right across the top there, it`s clearly an enormous
number of U.S. interests abroad. In practical terms what does it mean to
have that many consulates and embassies closed for a day or maybe more?
KOHLMANN: In practical terms I don`t think you can really protect
that many embassies and that many consulates all together, all at once, for
a period of a month and a half. I think the reality is that some of this
concern and anxiety probably reflect the atmosphere in Washington, D.C.,
There`s been a lot of criticism on the Obama administration about what
happened in Benghazi, whether you believe that`s legitimate or not, I think
it`s fair to say there are a lot of people in the State Department and
elsewhere who don`t want to be the person this time who ends up getting
blamed by partisan hacks or by others for failing to put out that kind of
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, speaking of Benghazi, as I was preparing for
our interview tonight I was digging through and I saw an interview that you
did just two days before that on MSNBC with Alex Witt and you were talking
on September 9th about your concern about the vulnerability of embassies.
Why was that on your mind at that point? Was that just because we
were coming up to the anniversary?
KOHLMANN: Well, look, it`s something that continuously replays in al
Qaeda propaganda. Unfortunately, as a result of what`s happened in
Benghazi last year, it actually only got amplified, particularly al Qaeda
in Yemen, the group that apparently is behind this latest threat. They`ve
issued multiple different documents in the Arabic and English in the last
year and they have been cheering what happened in Benghazi.
And they`ve been saying, we need to do this again. We need to do this
in Yemen. We need to do this all across the Middle East.
And I think the reality is, is that some of us, we weren`t sure
whether this was just rhetoric or whether that was actual real intent
behind it. Based on the latest information, maybe there really is an
intent behind them, to live up to this threat that they made.
HARRIS-PERY: So if you are making this kind of decision about keeping
these spaces safe and you just said trying to do it for a month, month and
a half is probably impossible. So, you`re saying, OK, starting August 4th,
at what point did you as a decision-maker sort of say, all right, the
threat`s over? Because just – you know, there`s always this kind of
public-ness. Here we are sitting on television having this conversation.
If it lifts on the 7th, or the 8th, or whenever, does that make a
KOHLMANN: Well, look – I mean, there`s specific information from the
same source that was the result of the initial warning that says, well, the
threat has passed – OK, fine, that`s acceptable. But once again, I think
you`re not going to see people jumping to say the coast is clear because
once again, given the political environment that exists right now, I don`t
think anyone wants to be the person to say, it`s all good, the coast is
clear, and then something bad to happen.
Because again, whether or not it`s the responsibility of those who
have made these decisions, they`re going to get blamed. And there`s even
an argument to be said that right now, by putting out this warning, we`re
giving al Qaeda ammunition. Because right now jihadists on the Internet,
they`re thrilled. They`re going crazy over this. They`re jubilant.
They`re very excited about this.
HARRIS-PERRY: About the posture of –
KOHLMANN: About the fact that they have terrified the United States.
So this is also something that needs to go into calculus about whether or
not we want to shut down all our embassies, whether or note want to respond
to these threats, understanding that they are trying to intimidate us and
by falling into that, we hand them some sort of victory as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting because it feels to me on the one hand
there`s this political calculation you`re talking about, where you want to
have been seen to take the protective measures for the domestic politics of
it, but then taking those measures, is it different calculation on the
foreign stage if in fact part of the goal is simply to terrorize?
KOHLMANN: Yes, look. I mean, not to mention the fact that also some
of the same people that are criticizing the efforts that have been made to
protect embassies are the same people arguing that drone strikes in Yemen
should not be happening, and that the people that are targeting our
embassies should not be targeted in drone strikes.
So, I think you can make those arguments, but it doesn`t make sense to
be on both sides. You know, you have to decide, either there are people
out there that are a threat to us or there are not.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, interesting.
Evan Kohlmann, NBC News terrorism analyst, also senior partner of
Flashpoint Global Partners – I really appreciate you thinking through this
with me this evening.
KOHLMANN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And ahead, it`s a Friday. It`s summer. And we have a
salute to our vacationing Congress, although maybe salute is not exactly
the word that I`m looking for here.
HARRIS-PERRY: There was a late Friday news flash regarding the state
by state battle over women`s reproductive health rights. Nothing`s
happening in Washington, D.C., but they are going at it hammer and tongs in
In Wisconsin, the new anti-abortion law requires that abortion
providers working in clinics have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals.
Now, this sort of requirement is not unique to Wisconsin`s anti-abortion
tactics. In fact, anti-abortion lawmakers in Wisconsin did not invent it
but they do know it makes it much more likely that clinics will have to
shut down if and when their doctors do not get admitting privileges in
those nearby hospitals.
Abortion providers in the state filed suit claiming that a clinic in
Appleton and one in Milwaukee would be shut down by the restriction.
And tonight, a federal judge blocked that admitting privileges
provision in the new state law until the matter could be adjudicated at
trial, which is scheduled for November. So, for now, two clinics which say
they would have to close will be able to stay open.
And the fight is much more one-sided in the great state of North
Carolina. And that story is coming up next.
HARRIS-PERRY: It was summer and Ronald Weekley was home from school.
The 20-year-old college student enrolled at Xavier University in New
Orleans was back out west in Venice, California. It was Saturday and he
decided to go skateboarding in front of his home.
This is what happened next. This is the cell phone video taken by
someone on the street. It shows Ronald Weekley pinned to the ground by
four LAPD officers. Then we see one of the officers punch Ronald Weekley
in the head with his fists.
Police say they stopped Mr. Weekley because he was riding his
skateboard on the wrong side of the street, against the traffic. Ronald
Weekley says he did not even know the officers were calling him, he was
opening the door to his apartment when he was attacked from behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD WEEKLEY: They grabbed my hands, they pulled them behind my
back, they stretched them as far as they could so it would hurt me. They
grabbed both of my legs and pinned them forward. At that time being, the
cops had my hands and legs. My face was left in the open. And that is
when the other cop jumped on my back and started punching me in my face.
Four times in a row as I screamed and cried for help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Ronald Weekley ended up with a broken nose, cheekbone,
and a concussion. He was arrested outside his home for resisting arrest.
The LAPD said Mr. Weekley also had three outstanding misdemeanor warrants
from a few years back. They were for violating curfew, a bicycle-riding
violation, and driving without a license.
The officers that stopped Ronald Weekley were part of the LAPD`s
violent crime task force which patrols target problem areas. About 20
officers make up this task force, and according to the LAPD, the officers
in this unit are specifically chosen because they do not have complaints
The Wednesday following the incident, the LAPD`s union released a
statement about the incident titled, “Police work is not always pretty.”
The statement read, quote, “While Mr. Weekley claims excessive use of
force, it is important to remember that partially recorded police action
can easily misrepresent what actually occurred. The law recognizes that
some individuals will not comply with police officers and submit to arrest
unless compelled to do so by the use of force.”
This happened last August, about a year ago. When the video was
released it got a lot of play online and raised serious questions
surrounding the LAPD`s use of force. In response, LAPD launched an
internal investigation as to Mr. Weekly`s arrest. See the LAPD does have a
history riddled with racial profiling and excessive force.
From the very high-profile Rodney King beating that reverberated
across the country into something much bigger, to the lesser-known case of
this young man skateboarding on the wrong side of the road.
Just this week the LAPD launched an experimental mediation program
that would bring officers face to face with people who have accused them of
racial profiling. But the program will be voluntary for both sides.
Now, this is serious stuff. But it`s important to point out this is
not just an L.A. problem or even a California matter.
On the other side of the country, in New York, is the NYPD`s stop and
frisk program. Started more than 10 years ago, stop and frisk allows
police officers to randomly stop and frisk individuals if they have
reasonable suspicion that a person is going to commit a crime. Reasonable
suspicion – well, what exactly does that translate to? According to the
New York civil liberties union, between 2002 and 2011, black and Latino
residents made up close to 90 percent of people stopped. And about 88
percent of those stopped were innocent New Yorkers.
And in our nation`s capital, a report released this month found huge
racial disparities in arrests. A report by the Washington lawyers
committee found that even though African-Americans account for about half
of Washington, D.C.`s population, a whopping 83 percent of people arrested
in D.C. between 2009 and 2011 were African-American. Only 14 percent were
Some other things to point out: 7 of 10 traffic arrests in D.C.,
African-Americans. Nine of 10 drug arrests in D.C., African-Americans.
And while there is a disparity between white to African-Americans in drug
arrests, the survey shows there is much less disparity in actual drug use
between the two groups.
This must be fixed. This is a problem that even former President
George W. Bush was concerned about in his first address to a joint
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Earlier today, I asked John
Ashcroft, the attorney general, to develop specific recommendations to end
racial profiling. It`s wrong and we will end it in America.
In so doing, we will not hinder the work of our nation`s brave police
officers. They protect us every day, often at great risk. But by stopping
– but by stopping the abuses of a few, we will add to the public
confidence our police officers earn and deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Heeding the president`s call for action, Michigan
Congressman John Conyers helped sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act back
in 2001. The act, though, never made it out of committee for vote on the
house floor. And since 2001, Congressman Conyers has been reintroducing
the same bill each and every year. And each and every year, the same thing
Here he is earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: I want to make one thing clear. We
were working on the reintroduction before the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and
the George Zimmerman acquittal, so that these things happened to reinforce
one another. And so it`s in that spirit that I`m happy to join all of you
today to legally in the federal code ban the prohibition on racial
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was earlier this week. Congressman Conyers
reintroducing the End Racial Profiling Act for the 12th year, 12 years.
Joining us now is prison activist Bryonn Bain. He was wrongfully
arrested by NYPD in 1989, while studying at Harvard Law School. Today,
he`s an author, artist and educator, dedicated to helping reform the so-
called prison industrial complex.
Mr. Bain, thank you for being here.
BRYONN BAIN, PRISON ACTIVIST: Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, I mean, first of all, George W. Bush
with that statement –
BAIN: Who else do you need, right? You know?
BAIN: You won`t listen to me, at least you`ll listen to George Bush,
One of the things I want to think about here is the extent to which
this has come back into our conversation around the Zimmerman case.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I feel like, for example, when the president stood
and talked about his experiences of personal profiling, that maybe we
started to lose – the conversation has typically been about structural,
institutional, and police profiling.
BAIN: Right, right. I mean, human right watch back in 2000 was
talking about this. They looked at seven states across the country that
actually had these 80 percent to 90 percent numbers. Decade before that,
we had studies in New York, they were looking at, and showing how Rikers
Island and prisons across New York, it was the same seven neighborhoods,
the Center for Leadership did the study back then.
So, yes, we need to think about systemic and structural issues because
it`s not something band-aids on cancer can fix. We need to look at how to
look at this and correct the last 30 to 40 years of tough on crime and drug
war rhetoric and policy that have completely failed and left us with the
greatest prison crisis in American history.
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels so difficult to me that on the one hand, this
is a moment when so many African-Americans might feel empowered at part of
their country with an African-American president, that they were such a big
part of electing. But then that experience of being thrown up against the
wall, of being frisked, when you`ve done nothing wrong, separates you from
your country, separates you from your sense of connection to your
BAIN: Absolutely. Obama, I was shocked he made the statement. I
also, you know, want him to extend his concern about what`s happening with
police and prisons here, to live up to his promise to close Guantanamo.
I`d be very glad to see that happen because it needs to happen with the
hunger strike happening and everything.
But I also think that, you know, we need to look at – we`re in the
best of times and the worst of times in some way and I think that`s the
reality. We – you know, a black face on a white power structure is still
a white power structure, and that`s the sad reality we need to come to
terms with. The fact that I could be at the most elite law school in the
country and be thrown in jail, and half a dozen times, pulled out of cabs.
In Brooklyn, if you`re in Brooklyn, I can`t wear my resume on my
forehead. Police don`t give a damn. So, we need to look at how do we
change this culture of aggressive policing of black and brown communities
and move towards public health as a strategy, safer communities, healthier
communities, rather than being tough on crime and locking folks away,
because the prison system as it exists right now is not doing anything
effective at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe it`s because you were at Harvard, because there`s
that whole, Henry Louis Gates thing. I mean, maybe it`s you guys from
BAIN: You know, it`s been said that Harvard has ruined more Negros
than bad whiskey. So –
HARRIS-PERRY: One of the things as I was watching again your
conversation about your experience in 1999 with New York City police, and
there is an amazing film out right now, “Fruitvale Station,” about Oscar
In truth, you guys, down on the subway, you and your two friends, it`s
very, very similar to that moment of Oscar Grant who ends up being shot by
an Oakland Transit Authority police officer. Have you seen the film yet?
BAIN: I`m seeing it tomorrow night actually. But I actually talked
to Dolores Huerta who started the United Farm Workers Movement with Cesar
Chavez. She talked about the film being powerful and significant right now
because with Trayvon Martin and this new Oscar Grant film, big out to
Forrest Whitaker for producing that, we have a national consciousness
that`s moving to a place of urgency and we need to do something about this.
It`s been here, it`s been with us.
The grassroots movement that`s rising right now has the capacity to
link with policy and to create the kind of structural change that we need
to have happen in this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe former President George W. Bush can come back and
lead the movement.
BAIN: Hey, you know, I think Bloomberg than give the Central Park
jogger brothers what they need, the settlement that they`re deserving, you
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, the dreams we spin when we`re together.
Bryonn Bain, author, artist and prison reform activist – I thank you
very much for being here this evening.
For North Carolina lawmakers, their extreme conservative rampage has
achieved a scary new milestone. And that is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: In mere minutes I, Melissa Harris-Perry, will attempt a
vaunted and high at technical MADDOW SHOW ritual. Wish me luck.
HARRIS-PERRY: The envelope arrived at a Planned Parenthood clinic in
Kansas City, Missouri, on a snowy day. And inside was a stained sheet of
paper with a skull and cross bones on it, some brown powder, and the
message, “Anthrax. Have a nice death.” Not day, death.
When the firefighters arrived, they quarantined the 20 people inside
the clinic and set up a tent outside for decontamination. We`ve all had
hard days at work. But now, imagine having to scrub down with bleach and
soapy water in a tent outside during a blizzard. That`s a really bad day,
even when the anthrax threat that prompted your decontamination turns out
to be a hoax.
That same week, a similar envelope, some suspicious powder, another
death threat, was received by the Femcare Clinic in Asheville, North
Carolina. In fact, Asheville and Kansas City were only two of more than 30
different women`s health clinics across the country to receive anthrax
threats by mail that winter and spring.
Although some would be temporarily closed and their staff members
decontaminated, none of the letters were found to contain actual anthrax.
That same winter, this also happened at the Asheville clinic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In North Carolina tonight, federal agents are
investigating a bomb that exploded today outside an Asheville clinic where
abortions are performed. The bomb went off 30 minutes before the Femcare
clinic opened this morning. No one was injured.
Investigators on-scene found a second device hours later. It`s now
The clinic was one of several across the nation that received
suspicious packages in the last month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it wasn`t just anthrax threats but bombings too.
The Asheville Clinic one of several across the others to be targeted that
One of the bombs left outside the Asheville clinic only partially
detonated, going off before the clinic was opened. The other one failed to
go off. It could and probably should have been a lot, lot worse. This is
a really bad time for women`s health clinics across the country.
A man named Eric Rudolph was wanted on the FBI`s most wanted list. He
was wanted not only for his suspected role in the bombings the summer
Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, but he was also suspect in the bombing of a
clinic of an Atlanta suburb a couple of months later, and at another clinic
that performed abortions in Birmingham, Alabama, one year after that.
When the police finally caught Eric Rudolph in 2003, after five years
on the run, it was in a town not far from Asheville. Eric Rudolph had been
camping out in the mountains there apparently for years. So, when the
clinic in Asheville was bombed, it was feared that maybe Eric have been
responsible for that, too. It turns out he wasn`t. But that was the fear
– a really, really scary time for women`s health care providers
But here is the thing: the providers to women never stopped. Despite
the violence and threats of violence, only weeks after the bombing at the
Femcare Clinic in Asheville, doctors were again seeing patients. Even as
protesters harassed patients who are trying to enter, and that clinic has
kept its doors open in the 14 years since, until now.
On Wednesday, health officials closed the doors of Femcare in
Asheville, citing 49 pages of health violations. Two days after Governor
Pat McCrory signed North Carolina`s strict new abortion law, state
officials succeeded in doing with paperwork what the anti-abortion
protesters could not do with either threats, or fire hazard or with
The clinic`s directors say they won`t be closed for long. Quote,
“Standards that were accepted when we were last inspected have changed.
And as soon as we were notified of them two weeks ago, we begin the process
of meeting each one of them.”
North Carolina health officials closed a clinic in Durham last month,
and another in Charlotte, that has since reopened in May. Three clinics in
the past three months which may not seem like a lot, but that is more
clinics that the state of North Carolina has closed in the last 14 years.
It is not just the law that changed in North Carolina. The priorities
there have changed too. If you want to close down clinics that perform
abortions by targeting them with specific violations, you`re going to need
to send out twice the number of inspectors that you had before.
This is something that the Republican officials at the highest level
of state government have made a priority. E-mails have sent, money has
been budgeted, closing clinics is something that Republicans in North
Carolina eagerly want to get done. Before the North Carolina general
assembly started doing things like sneaking abortion legislation into a
motorcycle safety bill, there were 16 facilities across the state that
In the wake of a new law, it looks like the number of places where
women in North Carolina can get an abortion will drop from 16 to just one.
And that one place is – wait, oh yes. You see it?
That`s Asheville, North Carolina. It`s Femcare, the same clinic that
survived a nationwide anthrax attack that was at least reported to be an
anthrax attack, the same clinic that survived a double bombing. That
clinic had its doors successfully closed by state officials, but Femcare
reopened its doors after the anthrax threat, and it reopened its doors
after the bomb went off, and the clinic says it will be back this time,
If it does not re open, there might soon be nowhere left in North
Carolina to get a procedure that is still legal in the United States, at
least in theory.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is Friday night and sometimes reserved for the one
and only Rachel Maddow for a cocktail moment. And for a long time, I
thought that this was coolest segment going on – and I kind of daydream
that I would get to come on and make a cocktail.
As a matter of fact, two years ago, in July of 2011, I had a privilege
of sitting in for Rachel. I had a whole thing worked out. The script was
written. Ingredients were purchased. The frozen drink had been designed
to pay tribute to the political news of that day.
See, here is what the script looked like in the handy dandy program
that runs our lives. The theme of the evening was all about how noting,
not even the debt ceiling increase, could get done by the silly 112th
Congress. And then before I could actually live the dream and do a
cocktail-ish moment, there was breaking news about the debt ceiling crisis
– and my dream was deferred, preempted actually, blown out.
So, we went back and examined not only the recipe but the theme and
idea. And here was a sobering revelation, a tribute to a feckless, do-
nothing, obstructionist, maddening Congress, about to take a vacation in
2011, applied almost exactly to Congress on this very day two years later.
So here we go – a cocktail moment, a recipe and a tribute to the
day`s events that has endured for two whole years. Except I can`t even
have a drink, because even a half a glass of wine turns me into Dean
Martin, and I have got to be really earning tomorrow morning because I have
my own show here on MSNBC.
So, rather than a traditional cocktail, I thought I`d share a tasty,
healthy, alcohol-free drink that also symbolizes bipartisan cooperation we
are sorely lacking in Washington, I present the stop the madness and work
together smoothie complete with forced bipartisan.
All right. So, the first thing we`re going to do is to take a banana,
because the actions of our current congress are totally bananas – unhinged
from human reality, from sequester to ACA repeal vote, to the farm bill, it
is completely bananas.
Then, we`re going to take strawberries, because, you know, they`re red
for the Republicans. In, they go, and blue, of course for the blue
Now, the parties may have trouble in real life mixing, but they got no
choice here now. If we are going to get some bipartisanship done, we`re
going to have cool nerves in order to ignore corporate spending and
ideological extremism. So, in goes the ice.
And, folks, this is going to be hard work. So, we`re going to need to
make sure that we keep the interplay and cooperation bubbling. How about a
little sparkling water to add to the mix?
And, of course, because things have been stuck in Congress for a long
time, how about a little mill`s flax seed, you know – get the whole thing
And now, with the touch of a button, we force bipartisanship. Do it
as long as it takes to make cooperation an appealing outcome. And there
you have it. Oops.
There you have it. The stop the madness and start things moving
Hmmm, happy weekend, everyone. Rachel will be back on Monday. I know
you`re happy to hear that.
And I hope to see you tomorrow morning on my show at 10 a.m. Eastern,
right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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