Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY Date: January 3, 2016 Guest: Gian-Carlo Peressutti, Aimee Meredith Cox, Elizabeth Gill; Bobby Tolbert; Donna Lieberman; Ritchie Torres; Mark Luckie; Gloria Allred
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question, just what do we mean by diversity?
Plus, 382 days and one very determined president.
And, the complications of politics, marriage and misdeeds.
But first, Bill Cosby`s latest lesson for America.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
By now you have seen the unlikely images from every possible single angle. 78-year-old comedian and national icon Bill Cosby in a perp-walk as he entered Montgomery County courthouse on Wednesday to be charged with aggravated indecent assault, a felony, and if convicted he could face prison time.
Now, this is the first time he has ever been charged with a crime after dozens of allegations of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct going back several decades. Cosby and his attorneys have repeatedly denied the allegation.
Now, America`s dad has a mugshot. And that fact is jarring. It causes a kind of cognitive dissonance to see this one-time revere figure being ushered into a courthouse just miles from Philadelphia, a city where his image in a mural that the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Nelson Mandela, a mural that was painted over in 2008, three years after the alleged victim in the case in which Mr. Cosby is now charged first brought claims to police. The alleged victim, Andrea Constand, claims that Cosby whom she considered a friend and mentor, drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004.
When she brought the claims to police in 2005, the local prosecutor declined to press charges because he said there was not sufficient evidence. Cosby told police the encounter was consensual. More than ten years later and just days before the statute of limitations ran out the newly elected prosecutor in Montgomery County filed the charge.
District attorney-elect Kevin Steele says he decided to charge Cosby after deposition by Cosby from a civil suit Constand file and settled out of court became public earlier this year. In the deposition Cosby denied any sexual assault but acknowledged obtaining drugs with the intent of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with.
Constand is one of 57 women who have come forward with claims that Cosby sexually assaulted them or engaged in other sexual misconduct, 57 women, 57 women. The number of alleged victims in as staggering as the images of Mr. Cosby`s arrest.
On Thursday the "New York Daily News" cover, all those she said echoed the sentiment of July`s "New York" magazine cover which featured a 35 of the women accusing Cosby of misconduct and the empty chair to represent survivors of sexual assault by anyone who have not come forward, 57.
I have been thinking about this number a lot. The sheer weight of the possibility that dozens of women have silently endured the trauma and shame of surviving sexual assault at the hands after single assailant. Even the remote possibility that we as a nation were complicit in the silence, that we turned away from allegations because it was just too painful even to imagine seeing exactly what we saw this week.
"Ebony" magazine captured it perfectly on their November 2015 cover, the shattering of our dearly and long-held image. And no matter what legal outcome of the case the national rupture with Mr. Cosby and his legacy of a (INAUDIBLE), even if only one accuser has a day in court, even if Mr. Cosby is not found guilty, 57 is just too many to ignore, 57.
But here is a lingering question for me. Why is it so often true that one woman is in fact so easy to ignore.
Joining us now, Gloria Allred, an attorney who represents 29 women who have accused Mr. Cosby of sexual misconduct. She does not represent the woman in the Pennsylvania case. Also with us, Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and Irin Carmon who is a national reporter for MSNBC.com.
So Gloria, I have been thinking about this number a lot in part because if you spent any time on social media, despite 57, you will still see all of this language about these women are gold diggers and Mr. Cosby is just being brought down by a media or by a kind of conspiracy to take him down. You yourself have been called all sorts of things. And I keep thinking about the chill of reluctance that creates for all survivors to come forward.
GLORIA ALLRED, CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER: And that`s a statement, Melissa, about why many women do not come forward when they become victims of any one of sexual violence, of rape, sometimes of child sexual abuse. It is the fear. Sometimes there are actual threats by people. Sometimes it`s just the feeling that there is an imbalance in power, and that in a sense is a threat.
Now when you come to celebrities, for example, like Mr. Cosby who has fame, who has money, who has power, in addition, has that image of a very well respected and honored father figure, then an individual who is not known to the public fears, well, they won`t be believed, and they will be criticized. And as you very well point out, more than 50 women have come forward and still that`s not enough for some people to believe women. So why would they have believed one woman?
The good news is -- that was the bad news -- is that women have now broken out of that fear. They will not remain silent. They will come forward. And that is where we are today. I think that`s really a sense of empowerment that they have, understanding there are risks, and some of them, by the way, have been sued by Mr. Cosby, but also deciding that they`re going to speak their truth and I`m very proud of them.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I have been thinking about just a little bit, Joy, in the context of, we have talked about some of the policing in the black lives matter movement, the part of the discussion about the perfect victim. And if we think about the fact that Daniel Holtzclaw who is -- Mr. Cosby is not a convicted rapist, former officer Holtzclaw is a convicted rapist. And we know that his strategy was in fact to find women who would be unlikely to be believed. That was actually the perpetrator`s strategy.
I keep wondering if in the case of sexual assault if perfect victim almost exclusively means the sheer number of victims, right. It is not any one individual, it is that you must have dozens of people in order to look believable.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, especially when you have somebody like Bill Cosby who also had on his side in addition to all the things that Gloria mentioned, an aggressive public morality. Essentially, he was the arbiter of morality for millions of Americans, you know, self- declared arbiter of morality for decades in addition to having a ground- breaking career that gave him this sense of a shield of having broken so ma having broken so many barriers himself as a black man who succeed in Hollywood. And you think about these women who were all very young. They were just over teenagers, in early 20s, or in some cases teenagers, who were (INAUDIBLE) in the business and who a lot of these allegations are during a period in American history, a period in Hollywood when drugs and sex were a part of the conversation. So he could hide beneath the shield of the sort of immorality of the general world around him and his sort of, you know, his sort of morality in context of that.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have to say for all the bad news, probably my single favorite piece of good news here is the Nevada law change. And this idea that in recognition of how long it sometimes takes survivors to come forward, Nevada has changed their law so that now instead of a five-year statute of limitations we are now at 20 years, is that right?
ALLRED: Yes. And I want to give credit to my client, who is one of the alleged survivors of Mr. Cosby, (INAUDIBLE) and her husband, Ben, because, you know, they went to a Nevada legislator. They decided they wanted to change the law. And then I came with my client and we testified before the Nevada legislature and were with Governor Sandoval when he signed the bill. And we are now going to work -- that is, other women -- in California to do that. And you will be hearing more about that this month because senator Leva is going to work to eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of rape in California.
But I do want to say something about what Joy said. You are absolutely right about demoralizing of Mr. Cosby. As a matter of fact, federal judge Edward Moreno called him a public moralizer, one of the reasons he decided to unseal the deposition which then of course, you know, we see Mr. Cosby under oath testifying about giving Quaaludes to a woman.
Having said that, I just want to say that all women that are coming forward are not necessarily the ones who, you know, who were involved with Quaaludes. My client, Judy Huth, who was only 15 years old, alleges that she was victimized by Mr. Cosby at the playboy mansion. And we are set, you know, we are litigating that. So, it may not be that only Andrea Constand has her day in court. We are looking forward to having a day in court for Ms. Huth as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: I just, as someone who is an assault survivor, you know, the other piece of it, of that 57 women piece is just if you are early on in that, there is this kind of guilt that also exists, even though - I mean, because carrying guilt is a part of the story of surviving is. But like this idea all of these folks later -- it should be shared by all of us that we don`t believe one and so we have to go to dozens of people.
Thank to Gloria Allred. Joy and Irin are sticking around. We are going to have much more from them over the course of this morning.
You stay right there because up next, the latest controversy lighting up the twitter sphere and its impact all about, twitter.
HARRIS-PERRY: The hashtag Black Lives Matter was one of the most tweeted news hashtags in 2015, thanks in part to the influence of black twitter. That cultural phenomenon that we all know and sometimes love that includes some of the 18 percent of U.S. twitter users who are African-American.
So twitter users are in fact more racially diverse than other social media networks including Facebook and LinkedIn. As a result of their user demographics, twitter has, on a few occasions stated its commitment to ensure quote "that twitter employees are representative of the vast and very backgrounds of their users around the world."
As recently as August 2015, the company made a few diversity related 2016 New Year`s resolutions including increasing its percentage of women employees to 35 percent overall, as well as increasing women in leadership positions to 25 percent. Likewise, the company hoped to increase minority employees to 11 percent and those in leadership to six percent.
That`s why many were surprised last week when the company announced its pick for the new vice president of global diversity and inclusion. Jeffrey Siminoff is a white man who is currently ending his tenure as Apple`s director of worldwide inclusion and diversity. He is also cofounder of the leadership committee at Out Leadership, a global advisory firm dedicated to LGBT inclusions in senior levels of leadership in many industries. And he will be replacing (INAUDIBLE), who was the VP of Diversity for six years.
And this hire comes a few months after Leslie Miley who then the only black engineer at twitter in a leadership position, stepped down from his post during a series of layoffs at the company. He publicly attributed his decision to leave twitter to issues with diversity. But, as twitter and other major social and tech companies continue to think through ways to increase employee diversity we also have to examine what diversity means and what company leaders can do to improve it.
Joining my table Mark Luckie, former manager of journalism and news at twitter and author of "Do U" and Raul Reyes who is attorney and NBCNews.com contributor and co-host of "Changing America" on MSNBC`s Shift.
So Mark, why is this an issue?
MARK LUCKIE, AUTHOR, DO U: I don`t believe that there is a problem with a white guy being in this leadership position. But you`re talking about Diversity at a company that lacks black and Latino employees at the same degree as white male employees. And so to have this very public role and have it led by a white man is to users, they`re like what`s going on? Because you said, hey, we want more black people, we want more Latino people. The person who is in charge of that is a white male hire. And people are sort of taken aback by that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I am so of two minds on this. I mean, on the one hand, if we are going to use the language of Diversity and not of racial justice, will then LGBT questions, women, that does constitute Diversity. If what we mean is racial justice, maybe we ought to say that, Raul.
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: We have to remember people`s idea of diversity comes from our own lens. Like for example I tend to see Diversity in terms of people of color, African-Americans, Latinos. There are other people who look at it in terms of gender, LGBT inclusion. That said, what I find so confounding about this situation is we know that Latinos and African- Americans over index for usage of twitter. If nothing else, forget arguments about Diversity, just from a business sense, wouldn`t you want someone who`s tied in to these networks, who has connection with these communities? And just as we have black twitter, you know, with hashtag black lives matter, hashtag I can`t breathe, all these social moves is the same thing among Latinos.
Christmas week alone there was hashtag Mexican Christmas, hashtag (INAUDIBLE). So these are communities that are heavily engaged. Why wouldn`t you want someone with roots in these communities? That`s the part that is puzzling to me.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So again, (INAUDIBLE), there is a part of me that thinks -- I can remember when I first started in, you know, the academy, which is what I still think of as my real job. I said look, I never want the job ever being the Dean of Diversity or the Dean of black students because there is a way in which that -- and let me be very careful -- ghettoizes, in order words create and actually generates a space that`s only for race questions, that is only governed by people who are racially marginal. I`m down for the white folks running the diversity stuff. Right?
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: Yes. I guess you can make a counter intuitive argument that maybe if it is a white person running, they`ll be less marginalized in the organization. But I do think it is the bare minimum. If you already have a problem with Diversity and there are many qualified candidates who are people of color who specialize in this issue, you did have a lot of people to choose from. But I think you are right, there was a wonderful piece on medium this week by a female engineer who said real head of Diversity and inclusion should be --
CARMON: Creating a position is almost, it is a good way to create a committee that we`re going to study it that maybe somewhere along the line they will be some changes. I do think the bare minimum is they could have found a person of color. But unless you have buy-in (ph) at the top, we have all been in institutions that pay lip service to there`s -- let`s use the word diversity for now, or inclusion. But until you actually see power and leadership throwing their energies behind this and saying this is important, nothing is going to change.
HARRIS-PERRY: You worked in places where they use lip service to Diversity? I`m just stunned to hear that.
So Mark, talk to me about what Irin said there was the idea that there is - - there are a lot of qualified candidates, right? And I think part of what we hear all the time is, look, it`s not racial choices being made at the top, it is in fact, pipeline problems. So, you know, we saw even the White House doing these really kind of over the past, you know, three or four years focus on STEM Diversity, you know, for girls and women as well as for people of color. Is there a big wide population of potential leaders to choose from?
LUCKIE: There`s not necessarily the widest population but they certainly exist. And what`s happened in tech is that black and Latino people and women are seen as less qualified automatically. And what happens is, we had a black person, we had a Latino before, we are not going to hire anymore because that person did poorly. And so, it`s already set in their mind that, OK, we need to stick with someone who`s a white male in these instances.
REYES: And it`s also the mindset I think many people in the tech industry, they feel their idea of Diversity is we have Asian-Americans, we have south-Asians. So we have checked that box. That is our Diversity. It is just the lens they are looking for.
HARRIS-PERRY: I feel like this is why we have to expand that language away from Diversity. I mean, Diversity is kind of the language that has been left on the table, for example, in the affirmative action debate and higher education. And you know, it is kind of whishy-washy (ph) like we all re just be different with each other as opposed to saying, look, black and brown people use twitter. They use it in very specifically racialized way around racial justice concerns and therefore you need people of color in those positions.
REID: Yes. And I feel like tech is sort of the widest lane where we are discussing this right now but is certainly is not the only place. I`m reminded in talking about this of the same debate that is happening in politics right now where you have a Democratic Party that`s super dependent on people of color, but where suppliers of color, people who are consulting, people who are pollsters, people who work in the field of campaigning can`t get a second look from the party when it comes to the contracts.
And then the other industry I`m thinking of this hair. You know, African- Americans are in the `90s. There was this big debate over whether or not the fact that African-Americans are such, you know, super users of certain sort of industries in the hair world, we are not at the other end profiting from it at all.
Twitter is something that is so endemic now to the communication of African-Americans in terms of black lives matter, but just every day social networks. The idea that you don`t want to have people in place who understand one of your most important markets just is inviting that market to go elsewhere.
HARRIS-PERRY: I saw you - the core of my soul with the hair thing, because the whole idea that the natural hair market now, that the products are dominated by not by sort of the black-owned companies but by companies that are mainstream companies. But we are like there is like the one diversity person who works there. And so, I just -- I don`t know, I have many, many other feelings about that.
Thank you to Mark Luckie for joining the panel. And the rest of the panel is going to be back a little bit later in the program.
And up next, the latest on the new turmoil in the Middle East.
HARRIS-PERRY: In Iran overnight angry protesters stormed the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. These are images from the "Associated Press" demonstrators armed with rocks and Molotov cocktails and set fire to the building. This is all in reaction to Saudi Arabia`s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric and 46 others yesterday.
To our knowledge, no one was hurt in the Tehran protests and the Iranian student news agency has reported 40 arrests. The executed sheikh was a critic of Saudi Arabia`s treatment of its Shiite minority. Saudi Arabia is defending the executions as part of the war on terrorism.
For the very latest, let`s go right to Tehran, NBC`s Ali Arouzi is there.
Thank you. Tell us what you know.
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Melissa. Hard-line protesters raided the Saudi embassy in Tehran last night angry over the execution of the prominent Shia cleric, sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Protesters shouted "death to Saudi Arabia," threw Molotov cocktails at the building before pouring inside and ransacking the premises.
Flames and smoke could be seen billowing from the windows. Protesters last night also ransacked the Saudi consulate in a Mashad (ph), the city in northeast in Iran. And Iran`s ruling establishment today were very quick to condemn the execution.
The supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, the highest authority in the land, said the Saudi Arabia in a tweet, he said Saudi Arabia will face divine revenge for al-Nimr`s execution, calling this execution a huge crime and wrong deed.
The country`s very powerful revolutionary guard also vowed revenge on the house of al-Saaud (ph). Iran`s president Hassan Rouhani in a more balance statement said that Nimr`s execution violates human rights and Islamic values. But the damage of the Saudi embassy was by no means justifiable.
Rouhani also said in the statement that Iran`s interior minister has been asked to identify the attackers and bring them to justice in order to stop these sort of things ever happening again and guarantee the full safety to country`s diplomatic missions.
Now, having said that, there is no love lost between rivals and foes, Iran and Saudi Arabia and this latest episode is sure to fan the flames of tension further -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Ali Arouzi live in Tehran.
Up next, new questions about what it means to solve homelessness.
HARRIS-PERRY: The federal government declared last week that New York City has effectively ended chronic homelessness among military veterans. It is a milestone in the fight against homelessness, one achieved by the city in part by giving more than 1,000 beds into permanent housing in 2015. But of course, it comes with caveat.
The city has not claimed to end episodic homelessness among veterans. And there are still more than 700 homeless veterans living had shelters. The biggest caveat of all is that New York remains far from eliminating homelessness for everybody else. A problem which in recent years has reached its highest levels since the great depression.
About 58,000 New Yorkers sleep in homeless shelters on any given night. Most of them are families with children. And the city says an additional 3,000 sleep on the streets and the subway. Although advocates say the number is actually far greater.
Reducing homelessness has become a focus for Mayor Bill de Blasio`s time in office with critics most notably the "New York Post" claiming he has ushered in a new era of street homelessness and public violations.
The mayor has announced this string of initiative in recent months. The biggest announce in November is a $2.6 billion effort to build 15,000 more units of supportive housing which is heavily subsidized and comes with a range of social services attached over the course of the next 15 years, but it may be too little. Homeless advocates say the city needs at least twice that much new housing.
Joining me now, Bobby Tolbert, a board member with Vocal New York, a community organization serving low income people with HIV and AIDS. Attorney Raul Reyes, also Donna Lieberman who is executive director of the New York civil liberties union and New York City councilman Richie Torres who chairs the council`s committee on public housing. Thank you all for being here.
Bob, I actually want to start with you because you have spent time in your life inside and outside of New York public shelters, homeless shelters. And I want you to help us understand what the experience is. What is it we misunderstand about the experience of homelessness?
BOBBY TOLBERT, BOARD MEMBER, VOCAL NEW YORK: Well, the whole stigma about it is people who have a roof over their heads don`t really know exactly what it is all about. You know, you can`t imagine what it feels like not having your own roof over your own head, especially when your immune system is compromised, like myself, and you need to take care of yourself. You need housing is therapeutic, you know, stable and affordable house something actually therapeutic. It will allow me to take my medications, make all my doctor appointments, and I can eat well. And these are things lacking in shelter system.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, that feels to me then, Richard, why we need these supportive housing units, right? I mean, it is so important to hear from you that housing is this kind of foundational first step. But it is also about, right, access to medication and access to all kind of the whole range of things that again those of us with resources often take for granted.
RITCHIE TORRES, COUNCILMEMBER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: You know, to the mayor`s credit, he is taking a humane holistic approach to addressing homelessness so he is investing $2.6 billion in creating 15,000 units of supportive housing. That`s affordable housing with on-site built-in supportive services. And your supportive housing is both good economics and good morals. It is much more cost-effective and much more humane than shelter or incarceration or hospitalization and it is the best tool that we have for ending chronic homelessness.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, is homelessness getting worse in the city? I mean, that, you know, probably the "New York Post" would tell me it is.
TORRES: Look. I think the "New York Post," it is deeply unfair to blame the mayor for homelessness without putting the problem in its historical context. Homelessness is largely a consequence of our affordability crisis which is driven by a perfect storm of falling incomes and rising rents, you know. When it comes to apartments renting at a $1,000 or less, New York City has lost 400,000 units of affordable housing since 2000. But it is also the product of public policy.
There were a series of public policy decisions made well before the mayor came into office under the Bloomberg administration. Homeless families were systematically cut off from rental and housing assistance, whether section 8 vouchers, public housing or the elimination of work advantage.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, one of the things that I think id important, right, so you had this long history that has real impact on real people`s lives. And then, Raul, I feel like the kind of good news that we started with was this idea that, you know, the federal government through its initiatives that were in part led by the first lady and by Dr. Biden was to attempt to end veteran homelessness. And we saw in tons of cities, several dozen cities across the country, that once you had like a deadline and some resources and some focused detention, in fact they were able to make huge strides. Is that what we need for homelessness overall?
REYES: Well, it is what we need for homelessness overall. But this is a subject I feel deeply conflicted about because there is a first step, and I think it is great that mayor de Blasio is doing this. But the fact is, look at the way action occurs around homelessness. It usually occurs when the general public reaches this level of discomfort --
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We don`t want to see it.
REYES: It is not really about "them." It is quote-unquote. It is more about quote-unquote "us," that we don`t want to see them so much. And so, many the solutions before often tend to be reducing homelessness in reality, it turns out to be reducing the visibility of homeless people.
And as much as this effort for veterans I think is terrific, we are also getting into that categorizing say good homeless and bad homeless. And you know, 18 percent of homeless people have jobs. They just can`t make ends meet in our low-wage economy. So it is a very difficult issue that I think the mayors are starting to do heroic work, but we need more buy-in at the federal level.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what if we have to end up in the circumstance perhaps staying in a shelter overnight, what`s does that experience like? What does it mean to find yourself in a shelter?
TOLBERT: Well, it is a very, very sobering event. I mean, I was in -- I started in the shelters during the Giuliani era. And he proposed that people in HIVs were living in luxury hotels when actually they were rat infested, they were substandard, they were dilapidated, there were poorly kept. And these were all commercial SROs that people were living in.
I find that the non-profit organizations that sponsor homes for people who can`t afford an apartment were the best because they cared about people. The commercial SROs are only for profit and that`s all they worry about. They don`t worry about people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. Everybody stay in the table. And you and I are going to talk quite a bit about the question of policing homelessness when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Three homeless New Yorkers say that the police and city sanitation workers stole and illegally destroyed their possessions all while they were trying to stay dry on a rainy night in October.
The New York civil liberties union which represents the men in a lawsuit against the city released video of the incident. It appears to show officers waking the men up with flashlights followed by sanitation workers in hazmat suits dragging their things into a waiting garbage truck.
The city said in a statement to MHP show this incident involved individuals trespassing on school grounds. It is illegal for individuals to trespass on school grounds and we will not tolerate it for security and safety reasons. That said, we will review or protocols concerning can the seizure and disposition of personal property to ensure that it can be reclaimed by its rightful owners.
What`s happening? Tell me about the suit.
DONNA LIEBERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: Well, the city in a coordinated effort by the police department and sanitation department, in the wee hours of the morning, October 2nd, stole and confiscated and threw out the -- all the worldly possessions of these men who, down on their luck, not a roof over their head, had to sleep on the street. And they had previously been sleeping on the street under the tracks and were shooed out of there to near the school by the police.
So, you know, whether they were trespassing or not, the police department has absolutely no right to steal their worldly possessions. And you know, it`s shocking to me that the city has yet to disavow this kind of harassment. You know, when you lose your birth certificate or Social Security card or your medications, it is a hassle to replace them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So help people understand. When you say worldly possessions. So, especially for folks who may not have encountered or experience homelessness, when you say -- what is it that people are carrying with them on the street?
LIEBERMAN: They carry with them their birth certificates, their Social Security cards, their medications that they need for whatever illnesses plague them. They carry the only photos that they have with their families. This is like everything that we take for granted that we can access all the time and the police stole it. They gave them no opportunity to retrieve anything that was valuable. They threw them into the sanitation trucks that were ready and waiting. And, you know, the monetary value of what was taken is not that great. But the human value and the affront to their dignity that happened is just like, you know, you can`t measure it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Ritchie, this is as well what happened, I think, I read where it says we`re going to have outreach workers, go and have these connections with people who are living on the streets, we`re going to make sure people are in shelters. If I read it just sort of with little context, it sounds great. If I read it after having read about this incident I think, oh, outreach worker sounds like a euphemism for a police officer taking your things.
TORRES: It`s a fair point. And, you know, we should monitor how talk about it. And make sure home-stat is not become a pretext for criminalizing the homeless. But as Mayor Bill de Blasio is as far from Rudy Giuliani as one could imagine and I have trouble imaging this city of New York under this mayor reversing back to the 1990s when homeless people were inhumanely cycled in and out of the criminal justice.
REYES: But the problem is that there is many of us saying - not necessarily dependent on de Blasio, but as many of those same police officers. It is the force. And in theory, as you said, home-stat is a good idea but when you look at the fact they are adding all these police officers in reality, that is going to bring us right into the criminalization of homelessness. And in this case for example in this lawsuit even if homelessness were a crime, which it is not, trespassing, at most, is a misdemeanor, the proper procedures would be to take their belongings, tag it as possible evidence and return it to. That, you know, if you go to prison, they tag your belongings and you can be returned to you after decades. The fact they did this to these men and that`s all they had in the world, that is inhumane. So there are aspects of home-stat that are very troubling.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think to me, that is the chances. It is not about whether or not Mr. de Blasio is, you know, potentially good in doing the right thing, it is the system. And especially when we rely on the police. I mean, this is part of what we are looking at in Chicago when you call the police to deal with a mental health crisis and then two folks end up dead, right, not because - I mean, now whether or not Rahm Emanuel is a good mayor is a separate question, but in part because police are trained to do certain kinds of things, right. Sanitation workers are trained to throw things away, right, when they show up. When you hear that story how does it resonate for you?
TOLBERT: Well, we definitely support the lawsuit. This is not the first time this has happened. It actually creates a paradox with the mayor offering 15,000 units of affordable housing and on the other hand allowing the police to break up homeless encampments. It is a sad day in New York where we actually criminalize homeless people. I believe that if police officers want to build a house for homeless people, that`s the only involvement that they should have with homeless people, you know. Because the police element or the law enforcement element has no business in dealing with the homeless.
LIEBERMAN: Yes, I mean, you know, in fairness to the mayor, you know, this happened prior to the announcement of home-stat and I think that city hall has finally woken up. At least I hope that they have. And you know, as Ritchie said, we are going to be watching like a hawk to make sure that they have.
The announcement that they will instead of relying primarily on the police, rely on social workers and trained individuals to provide services and coordination for homeless people and get them into shelters, and the fact that the city announced a policy -- reversed the policy that shelters could kick people out during the day -- I mean why would they kick people out when it is cold out? That`s all progress.
But you`re right, it has to -- we have to monitor this closely. We have to make sure that the city does what it has promised, which is coordinating social services and supporting homeless people, not criminalizing them. Homelessness is a tragedy, not a crime. And they have to finally build housing that`s affordable for all New Yorkers.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s also obviously not just exclusively a New York problem. It is a question facing us across the country.
Thank you to Bobby Tolbert and to Donna Lieberman and to Ritchie Torres. Raul Reyes is sticking around because we are going to talk politics a little later.
Coming up, why a California woman is suing a hospital just weeks before she is due to give birth. That`s up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Dignity Health Hospital network accusing the system of denying basic reproductive healthcare to its patients. The suit was filed on behalf of a dignity health patient, Rebecca Chamorro and the visions for reproductive health, an organization of doctors dedicated to improving access to quality reproductive care.
Now, Chamorro was a patient at Dignity Health Mercy medical center. It is a catholic hospital in Redding, California, the only hospital in her city with a delivery ward. Her doctor agreed to perform a tubal ligation for her after her scheduled C-section this month. But the hospital refused to allow the procedure.
Dignity Health hospital follows religious guidelines stipulated by the U.S. conference of catholic bishops which bans catholic health care organizations from actions it considers quote "intrinsically immoral," including sterilization and other contraception. The ACLU argues that the hospital network illegally withheld pregnancy-related medical care for reasons unrelated to medicine.
According to the ACLU, this lawsuit comes just a few months after mercy medical center refused to perform a tubal ligation that another woman Rachel Miller wanted to have after her scheduled C-section. After Miller and the ACLU threatened to sue the hospital permitted the procedure in September, and the hospital said the decision was based on initial information from Miller`s doctor which fits its criteria to allow tubal ligation.
Chamorro and Miller are two of three women who sought help from the ACLU after the hospital refused to permit post-partum tubal ligation. In a statement, Dignity Health said, in general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services as Dignity health catholic facilities.
A hearing in Chamarro`s case is scheduled for Tuesday in San Francisco superior court a little over three weeks before she is due to give birth.
Back at the table are Raul Reyes and Irin Carmon. And joining us now from San Francisco, Elizabeth Gill, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of northern California.
So tell me a bit more about this case so that folks can understand exactly what`s at stake here.
ELIZABETH GILL, SENIOR STAFF ATTORNEY, ACLU: Sure. So this case is a challenge to a hospital chain, a catholic hospital chain, for denying women -- for discriminating against women and denying them basic healthcare, basic reproductive healthcare based on its application of the religious directives. And as you mentioned, Dignity health hospitals is a large corporation, along with the general expansion of catholic hospitals in the U.S. over the past 15 years.
Dignity health has also grown significantly. It`s an enormous corporation. It describes itself as the fifth-largest health care provider in the United States and it`s the largest hospital provider in California. Yet in its catholic hospitals, it follows the religious directives put out by the catholic bishops and that means that they don`t provide most reproductive healthcare which are characterized in the directives as intrinsically evil.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me for a minute.
Irin, I want to come to you on this because it is my understanding that not only is there a refusal to provide certain kinds of procedures like tubal ligation, but also sometimes information so that patients at catholic hospital, in fact, cannot get information about reproductive care, for example.
CARMON: In certain states women have no right to sue if the doctor withheld information from them about their pregnancy. For example, if there were birth defects. Because of religious reasons, because they think it might lead to an abortion. Ms. Chamorro actually is relatively lucky that she has time to sue because there has been other litigation that has been brought on behalf of women who sought emergency lifesaving care. For example, during the course of a miscarriage at the catholic hospital and the ACLU has been involved in that kind of litigation, and because of the interpretation of the religious directives, these women`s health were placed at risk.
HARRIS-PERRY: Help us also understand a little bit here. Are we talking about the individual physicians, nurses, PAs or the institution itself? So in other words, are all the providers in the hospital also catholic?
GILL: No, they`re not and that`s a great point. You know, this is really about the hospital actually interrupting the doctor-patient relationship. So in our case, our client, Ms. Chamorro and her doctor decided that it was in her medical best interest to get a tubal ligation immediately following her C-section. Her doctor is ready and willing to perform that procedure. And it would just take him one to two minutes immediately after he delivers her baby. But the hospital itself is refusing to authorize the doctor to provide that care. And really, it is as if, you know, the catholic bishops are standing in the operating room and staying the doctor`s hand and preventing him from providing our client with the care she needs.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I think for me, Raul, that`s part of what creates a distinction here that is distressing. It is one thing to ask kind of portrayed off for individuals. But when an institution is doing it, it feels like it is precisely the thing that we so frequently hear from people who are about religious freedom is a problem.
REYES: Right. But when we talk about this corporation, let`s remember, not only is it a very large corporation in the state of California, they receive so much government money. They receive taxpayer funds in 2012. I think they received $23 million in government grants. Over $3 billion in Medicaid/Medicare. So they are using our funds and imposing their own viewpoint.
And to be honest, every time we have these types of discussions about the interference of the doctor-patient relationship, it just feels so wrong because this should be between her and her doctor which is not something that should be out there. It is a shame that it had to become a lawsuit and that she`s even in this position. It is very unfortunate.
CARMON: It is interesting because the language of conscience I think has really become very associated with conservatives. But if you look at the early fights for reproductive health access it was really the, what we would now call pro-choice people were making the argument that individual doctors have to follow their conscience and provide this care to the patients that they see fit.
I also think it is really interesting that this hospital provides some tubal ligations and not others and under what criteria? I mean, again, they are making the individual determination as opposed to the woman herself in consultation with her doctor? And I do find that very striking. How do they pick and choose?
HARRIS-PERRY: Elizabeth, do you know the answer to that? How do they pick and choose?
GILL: You know, it seems arbitrary. And from our perspective, you know, we did write on behalf of a client this summer and potentially because she was represented by the ACLU, the hospital backed down and then allowed her doctor to perform the tubal.
But for any women, you know, the decision of whether the ability to access, you know, this incredibly common form of birth control and I`ll just say that, you know, 30 percent of married women of reproductive age get tubal ligation as their chosen form of birth control. And it happens in about 10 percent of hospital deliveries.
And for a woman to be able to access that should absolutely be a decision that is between her and her doctor. And whether she`s -- whether her doctor is able to actually perform the procedure should not turn on the views of the catholic bishops and --
HARRIS-PERRY: So it is a medical risk question here. If you don`t have it during the C-section or during the delivery then you have to go back in for a second procedure, then all of the things that become risk factors for any medical procedure begin to obtain. So it is a question of increasing risk as well for health.
Thank you to Elizabeth Gill in San Francisco. We will obviously all be watching this case very closely.
Here in New York, thank you to Irin Carmon. Raul Reyes is going to hang out for the next hour.
Coming up, no lame ducks here. President Obama plans for a fantastic finale.
And a tale of two Clintons. Should Bill`s past hurt Hillary`s future?
There`s more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY": In exactly 382 days from today, President Obama will shake hands with the next president and exit the Oval Office. And along with the first lady, he will begin his post presidential life. And during this final 382 days, the Obama administration will move deeper into its golden year, a moment both high pressure and potentially liberating a moment where if a leader is brave enough and bold enough, he just might be able to go ham while giving no damns, a moment perfectly captured in this scene with my favorite fictional life President Josiah Bartlet. And his cabinet of characters, and NBC`s now defunct TV show, "The West Wing." Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time we have left, we have the ability to affect more change in a day at the White House than we`ll have in a lifetime once we walk out these doors. What do you want to do with them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It was a moment dramatized for TV but for good reason. Deadlines do tend to focus the attention and concentrate effort so the final year after presidency can be productive, something President Obama clearly understands based on his riff at the White House Correspondents Dinner in April.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I am determined to make the most of every moment I have left. After the mid-term elections, my advisors asked me, Mr. President, do you have a bucket list? And I said, well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Take executive action on immigration? Bucket.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Climate regulations? Bucket. Right thing to do.
(END VIDEOC LIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And there you have it. Fourth quarter Obama going on a tear because, well, bucket. Which explains a lot about the games we saw in 2015. Most notably the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Free Trade Pact, the landmark international climate accord and historic deal to limit Iran`s nuclear program which we`ve been talking about in a bid and the opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba. That doesn`t mean the President just ticking off this year`s Democratic accomplishment and then checking out. No. No. No-dams Obama is nowhere near done telling the American public and his final news conference of 2015 that he has never been more optimistic and that he will, quote, "Leave it all out on the field" in 2016.
It`s the no dams President Obama we`ve getting to know a little better ever since, his State of the Union Address last year when he noted, quote, "I have no more campaigns to run. I know. Because I won both of them." A no-dams President Obama who now occupies a less consequential space in the face of opposition on Capitol Hill maybe but President Obama who already has redefined with the fourth quarter of the two-term presidency can be. He`s now promising to sprint the finish line of his presidency with an aggressive push for 2016 because, bucket, it is the right thing to do.
And on the top of that bucket list for 2016, a new resolve on gun control. President Obama set to meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch tomorrow to figure out what he can do by executive action. And that may be just the beginning of his grand finale.
Joining me now is Joy Reid, national correspondent here at MSNBC. Raul Reyes, co-host of "Changing America" on MSNBC. Gian Carlo Peressutti is the Republican strategist and former Press Secretary for President George H.W. Bush. And Aimee Meredith Cox who is assistant professor at Fordham University.
All right. Guns, why don`t just start there? Since that`s -- that`s where the President has started. We`ll talk more about what else is possible. Let`s start with the guns initiative. Doesn`t feel important what he`s talking about, the executive action he`s planning to take.
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think so because I think, you know, if you ask folks in the White House the two things that the President has felt the most frustration over not being able to accomplish really would be on guns which I think would be number one on immigration. So, I think on gun control, the President understands he cannot get legislation through Congress. If the bill that he worked on with, you know, some high-profile Senate help last time was not able to get through, the Manchin-Toomey bill, I think the President understands that the only way to get any meaningful gun control through executive action and so he`s going to take it on Monday.
HARRIS-PERRY: Gian-Carlo, there is an argument that a president`s actual greatest legacy isn`t even in their policy but in part on whether or not they leave the White House to someone of their own party. And it does seem to me that this is the kind of thing will also have political meaning. I want you to listen to candidate Bush just for a second and then have you respond. He was on air this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This first impulse always is to take rights away from law abiding citizens and it is wrong. And to use executive powers he doesn`t have is a pattern that is quite dangerous. It`s not a surprise that people don`t believe that our government`s working on their behalf anymore when you have a president that recklessly uses executive authority that the constitution doesn`t provide him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIAN-CARLO PERESSUTTI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No surprise I agree with Jeb on that one. What I would say is, if the President truly wants to make a lasting impression and leave a lasting legacy he should focus on violence for which gun control might be a part. But it is not the sum total of the effort that he should make to combat the overall issue which is reducing violence and gun violence in this country. And --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what -- just I mean, not that I need you to have the solution to gun violence in the country in the next 22 seconds but what might that look like that`s different than gun control?
PERESSUTTI: I think that this president would be well served to convene a national conversation on all of the elements that we have heard are contributing factors to the violence, the epidemic of shootings that we have in this country. And if this president does that and if he is seen as being expansive in pursuit of a solution to the issue, I think he will be well served and his legacy will be well served.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is an interesting idea -- this idea of the big national conversations, the convening, that`s very like to me presidential term one. Right? And in fact we did see that with this president on a variety of different issues. We are now in countdown, we have 382 days. I have no time to convene nothing. I have got to get some action take it. And so, I guess part of what I`m interested in is, whether or not you see other actions, other pieces of what he might be up to here?
AIMEE MEREDITH COX, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Yes, I mean, I think what`s so fascinating about this president and especially in this fourth quarter this second term is that we are really faced with the fact that no one man, no one administration can transform or even uphold the social order. And that is so clear with this presidency, with this black man in office. We are face to face regardless of your politics with the fact that our entrenched systems, our legacies, our historical legacies are what we the people -- and this phrase has never been more important than in this presidency. We the people are the foundation of the democracy that we want to see.
So unfortunately, at this point in time in this second term, with 2015 being the year where we`ve seen the most mass shootings. I think it`s the number is 372. It is unfortunate that it takes this sort of high visibility egregious acts for us to see an opening in the way that we think about violence. And so in some ways, I agree that we need a finer definition of violence. And I think the opening comes with gun control with these mass shootings. Unfortunately, allows us to have a broader conversation about the violence that happens in the criminal justice system.
COX: About the violence that happens on a daily basis in people`s lives. So, we can`t just talk about sort of gun control without talking about poverty, without talking about systemic racism.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I wouldn`t -- president have been up to that.
HARRIS-PERRY: The criminal justice reform in particular is the thing that he put on the agenda really last year that if 2015 were kind of the penultimate year before this sort of final push, that if there is one thing that indicated what that year was about it really has been criminal justice reform.
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: Right. He`s already made it, you a focus point. And Gian-Carlo, I admire your optimism that we can have that he can convene a national conversation. But I truly believe that this president feels the "Kumbaya" time is over. It`s done. It is time for executive action. But the danger I fear with executive action on gun control, gun reform is that it will end up the same way as executive action on immigration, it will prompt a lawsuit, it will be tied up in courts and there won`t be any movement until he`s out of office.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, and I think to me, that`s in part the question here about whether or not the use of executive authority on one the hand is this kind of wait and make a thing get done, right? But also has this, I mean, the final year of a president`s term is also the year of a presidential election. It has real consequences. The Grio asked whether or not 2016 was going to be the president`s blackest year yet. And, you know, I presume that they`re talking in part about what kind of --
Yes. Right. Right. Right. I`m presuming that they`re talking about a kind of stylistic, you know, thing? The President`s willingness to do a cultural representation of blackness piece in a way that maybe he`s been unwilling to do before?
REID: Yes. I think that to the extent of doing executive actions in your final year, is about your confidence that you can also get your democratic predecessor elected, your successor elected, right? And that you would leave either a Democrat with these executive orders to enforce or a Republican in a very awkward position of attempting to retract rights which is a good political reason to do it. I think the Democratic Party had better hope that this is the blackest year of President Obama`s presidency because they need something to get black folks to line up for presumably Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or whoever gets the nomination. They need something to energize African-American voters. I think from a purely crass political standpoint, doing things to energize African-Americans and say, this is what you must defend, I`m going to put these things on the table, whether it is gun control, whether it`s criminal justice reform, whether it`s immigration, I`m going to put these things on the table and black and brown voters, defend it at the polls.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll going to take a break but I`m going to make you an offer, Gian-Carlo.
PERESSUTTI: Yes, ma`am.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because I actually think that the question of having a big national conversation is an important one. Just don`t know if the President does in this moment. I on the other hand have a talk show and if you want to work with me to do some bipartisan work here on this show over the course of the next year to actually talk about violence in a broader sense, if there was some way we can start to vote in, I`m giving you the forum of "Nerdland." I got a White House, but I`ll give you Nerdland people.
Up next, the President`s accomplishments on 2015. Joy-Ann, Gian-Carlo, think about it during the break. And we`ll talk about -- as we go, we`re talking about President Obama joyriding with Jerry Seinfeld.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I do really well with the zero to eight demographic.
JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: Oh, really.
OBAMA: Yes. They love me. Partly because my ears are big and so I look a little bit like a cartoon character.
OBAMA: And then little kids love saying my name.
OBAMA: But it`s all one big name. It`s Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama calls the Iran nuclear deal one of his administration`s biggest accomplishments of 2015, both for the diplomatic achievement of getting the deal done and the political victory of getting it through Congress. "Washington Post" calls it, the most determined strategy success of his presidency. But the New York hadn`t even began when reports surface but the President`s signature achievement was in trouble contributed by Iran`s October surprise ballistic missile test. The U.N. called them a violation of the deal in the "Wall Street Journal" says the White House was set to slap Iran with first new sanctions.
But by the next day, the White House announced it would be delaying the plan to impose new sanction to the move, the "Wall Street Journal" reported could open the door for Tehran to test the boundaries of what violations it can get away with and Iran`s leader appeared to do just that tweeting he was ordering the missile program sped up. I got to say, this does not seem good for the President`s foreign policy legacy.
PERESSUTTI: Not even a little bit. I mean, there are those of us who were extremely wary to put it mildly, at the onset of this deal. And now we hear that perhaps the reason for the delay is, we want to make sure we don`t empower Rouhani`s enemies so we`re not left with a more conservative leader. So, essentially that says, we can`t abide by or we can`t enforce any of the rules of the agreement because if we do, Rouhani gets deposed and we`re left with something worse. Man, that`s an awful justification for not --
REID: I think the administration understands that the road to solving a lot of the micro-problems in the Middle East meaning the Yemeni situation, Syria, et cetera, goes through getting Iran and Saudi Arabia`s sort of back door war to end. And I do think that what you`re going to see over the course of this year is a lot of background diplomacy. I think standing down on those sanctions is part of a strategy to try to get Tehran and Riyadh into talks. That would actually be probably the biggest and most important thing that the administration could do to try to solve many of the other issues from ISIS on because that proxy war is a lot of what ISIS is about. It is a lot of what`s going on in the Middle East. It has to get solved. I think they`re going to try to do it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to do in the foreign policy realm the same basic question as domestic policy, which is, to ask, OK, so this is happening in the world. This is happening under this president and there is an election going on. And one of the front-runners is this man`s former secretary of state. And I wonder about the ways in which if this falls apart or if this looks as though there`s weakness, it then impacts a potential Clinton campaign.
COX: Yes. You know, I think part of -- I think it is a longer game. And I think ultimately President Obama sees this longer game and is really invested in it and is less concerned with what this does in terms of the typical detractors of the Democratic Party which is, there we gone crime, they`re not sort of standing firm, both domestically and internationally. I`m less concern with that and I think what we really need to focus on the ways in which what happens in the domestic sphere is sort of this false conflation with domestic issue and this larger international issue.
And I think it is really around this definition of what it means to be an American. I think this is important to bring that up. And do, the ways that this perception of how we sort of fight these battles or are weak in these international battles are the same perceptions that influence how people sort of look at domestic policy, right? Who is the enemy, both at home and sort of abroad and how does someone like a figure like Barack Obama or even potentially sort of Clinton, sort of fall into -- easily fall into this role of someone who`s not protecting America`s borders both inside the nation state and beyond.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I think also what you just said, also reminds me legacy is always going to be complicated by the viewer of the legacy.
HARRIS-PERRY: And for the Left, there is always been this question of, on the one hand that are praising many of the President`s domestic policies, whether it is ACA or sort of a new way of thinking about criminal justice that is lessening the impact of the criminal justice system. At the same time there is a lot of critique from the progressive side about his foreign policy actions which often include things like drones. And I mean, just thinking about sort of, if I`m reading "The Nation," on any given day, yay, ACA, you know, boo, drones.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I`m wondering about then in this final year how he`s thinking about legacy forum versus domestic policy.
REYES: Well, I think part of the dichotomy is he`s thinking legacy, long term. But the reality is he, you know, it is 11 months, nine months. He has to get his approval ratings up to situate Hillary Clinton or whoever is the Democratic nominee, most likely Hillary Clinton, to situate her to carry on. And I believe one thing he could do in terms of Iran is to just clarify what -- to the public I think more of what this Iran deal is. Because these ballistic missile tests, they were not covered by them. They`re not nuclear weapons, they weren`t covered by the deal. They are violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, U.N. but not U.N.
REYES: So, in this -- it is like a weird position, we`re removing poise to remove sanctions and put on other sanctions. But that`s Iran, they will always test us.
REYES: That`s how they work. And they`re also playing to their own domestic audience. I think he needs to expand to our home audience just what this Iran deal is about. The reality.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, your point about the communication of the Iran deal is actually not unlike what had been said about ACA and various points.
HARRIS-PERRY: There needs to be more communication.
REYES: Be explainer in chief.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although, that`s what he said. That Bill Clinton was going to be with the, right -- Secretary of explaining himself or something. But Gian-Carlo, let me ask you, because when you worked for H.W., it was in the context of his post-presidential life. And I do sort of wonder if in fact the President maybe is selling himself a little bit short on a bucket list in part because as a young man, there is going to be a lot of time left for this president to continue to influence public policy.
PERESSUTTI: Hundred percent. And I think he will keep doing that. There are a variety of ways he can do it. He can do it, just like former President George H.W. Bush did, he influenced in the political real realm, he influenced in the private sector, he certainly influence the charitable and the non-profit sector. Your dashboard is much more vast and broad as a former president. Someone once said to me, I thought it was a great line, if only you could be a former president without ever having to be president it would be the greatest job in the world. Right?
PERESSUTTI: And it`s really true because everywhere you go people love you. You don`t have to go to places where people don`t love you. You can be monumentally impactful. And I have great hopes that, you know, that this president will do that. With all due respect to the Iran deal which I think is a complete disaster, I hope it works out. But as a former president he`ll have a unique soap box.
REID: I think it`s interesting that if you think about the immediate past presidents, the President who I see as the most similar to Barack Obama and in terms of his pragmatic outlook on particularly the Middle East particularly is George Herbert Walker Bush.
REID: It is sort of a shame almost that Herbert Walker Bush is not robust and healthy enough. Because I think he would be a good sort of partner. And this president loves the bipartisan outreach to really be somebody who could almost sort of dispatches and start to deal in this world. Because no president I think had a more robust relationship with the Saudi Royals and really knew had a deal with some who understood them. And either way, no matter who wins the next presidential election -- if it`s Hillary Clinton --
REID: Unless it is Bernie Sanders --
REID: There is going to be a more hawkish person in the White House. And I think this president wants to lay down the marker of non-intervention, of none neo-conservatism, and a pragmatism in the Middle East and of trying to get the Saudis and the Iranians together. That would be a good marker to lay down to move that ball a little to the Left --
REID: -- because we know that after next January it is going to move a lot to the Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you make the point about bipartisan. Before the break, I did laid out an offer that if you want to help me out, we can actually make a national conversation on violence, part of what we do over the course of the next year here on "Nerdland."
PERESSUTTI: Melissa, I`d like nothing better.
HARRIS-PERRY: It sounds likely to be fun, we`ll make some calls.
Up next, President Obama`s years in photo.
HARRIS-PERRY: You have been looking at just some of the piercing, heart- warming historic photographs of President Obama this year. And while the first family returns from their Hawaiian vacation today, the official White House photographer is out with his best 2015 year-end pictures.
NBC`s Ron Allen filed this report from Honolulu.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are unique, behind the scenes close up images of the President. Many never seen publicly until now. Serious matters inside to the White house. A first daughter drops by the Oval Office to see her dad. The President with an aide`s twin sons. Mom wiping away a tear. The year-end gallery of White House photographer Pete Souza there with Mr. Obama day in and day out on the start giving NBC News an exclusive first look.
PETE SOUZA, WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER: I probably take between 500 and 2,000 a day. Probably about a quarter million a year. Somewhere in that.
ALLEN: Over seven years?
SOUZA: Over seven years, so yes, a lot of pictures.
ALLEN: Part of Souza`s mission to document history. President Obama and the first family greeting Pope Francis, a handshake with Cuba`s Castro, a big smile after the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Obama there for Vice President Biden in his son`s funeral.
SOUZA: He is the President of the United States but he`s also a human being. I try to show his personality as best I can. There is obviously a lot of pictures with little kids in my year-end gallery. He loves babies.
ALLEN: That`s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes daughter Ella before the Halloween party.
(on camera): Have you ever seen a president lying on the floor in the Oval Office before with a kid in an elephant suit?
SOUZA: Definitely not. Definitely not.
ALLEN: The gallery reveals the Obama administration wide open door policy for staff children.
SOUZA: And a lot of them are children of working moms. And he knows what a sacrifice they make. In terms of, you know, being at work a lot.
ALLEN: This year`s gallery has 111 pictures. What`s Souza`s favorite?
SOUZA: My favorite picture will hopefully be the one I make later today or tomorrow. That`s what, you know, keeps you going, you`re trying to get a good picture tomorrow.
ALLEN: Ron Allen, NBC News with the President in Honolulu.
HARRIS-PERRY: And up next -- he`s back. Bill Clinton on the campaign trail. Could his past hurt Hillary Clinton`s future?
HARRIS-PERRY: Whether it is a personal e-mail server or the Benghazi attacks, Hillary Clinton`s political opponents have kept her busy dodging their attempts to level her with a scandal. But over the last week, Donald Trump has taken a different tactic by attacking her for being scandal adjacent. On Monday, Trump tweeted, "If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband with his terrible record of women abuse while playing the women`s card on me, she`s wrong." Tuesday the three-time married Trump followed that up on the "Today" show with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at whether it is Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them and that certainly will be fair game, certainly if they play the woman`s card with respect to me, that will be fair game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Trump warns that if Hillary Clinton continues to deploy Bill Clinton on campaign trail, she should be prepared for attacks involving her husband`s sexual history. And it`s a history that includes Bill Clinton`s first denied but finally admitted affair with Monica Lewinsky. Bill Clinton`s alleged non-consensual sexual contact with several other women as well as at least three women who -- I`m sorry, at least three women who have accused Bill Clinton of unwanted sexual encounters but it is also a history that does not at any point as far as I can tell involve Hillary Clinton being involved in any of those accusations other than being married to the man who stands accused, which raises the question of the extent to which Hillary Clinton`s political future should be determined by Bill Clinton`s scandal-plagued past. What do you think?
COX: This is such an ill-advised attack. I can`t imagine that Trump`s advisors would even condone this. It makes no sense. It actually looks badly on Trump. So, first, it is old territory. These are old issues. We`ve been here before. And if the goal is to somehow make Hillary look like a fraudulent feminist because she`s supporting her husband, this hasn`t work in the past. I just don`t see it as, as an effective strategy --
HARRIS-PERRY: But I mean, we actually started the show with Cosby.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, for me, old itself is not sufficient if there is alleged bad sexual --
COX: But we also have to look at Trump`s history. Right? So, you can`t be sort of accusing someone and take yourself out of the equation. And so, by "old," I don`t mean to imply that this sort of like sexual transgressions are older or old news but the fact that we have seen Hillary sort of face these attacks before and it hasn`t really landed on her. It hasn`t really disrupted -- I don`t think, her political acumen.
PERESSUTTI: I don`t disagree any with you at all but I think some political context here. If you are the subject of a taunt by Donald Trump, it means one of those things or both. It either means that you`re perceived as a threat or it means that the entirety or sum element of Trump`s base of support really wants this.
PERESSUTTI: And I think this is an example where you get both. There`s no question that Trump feels the heat and knows that if, God forbid, he is the nominee, this is a line of attack on him and the polls prove that out.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right.
COX: He has a problem with female voters. So, he knows that. He also knows that playing the Bill Clinton card is red meat to many, most all of his supporters. So he`s going to try to ride this as long as he can. And agree with you, I don`t think -- but there is one more element that we didn`t discuss here that we need to get into and that is Hillary does have a problem in terms of how she responded and reacted recently to Monica Lewinsky`s emergence.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Yes.
PERESSUTTI: And if -- pardon me, but if a man had done that, it would have been a completely different reaction and the reaction -- HARRIS-PERRY: So I -- and this is where I think there really is a vulnerability. Is that in part because there still exists around Hillary Clinton a question about so who is she really. And I`m not saying whether that`s fair or not fair. I`m just saying, strategically right? Because of the kind of the management of her personality and the deployment of things like feminism or race politics, ala Kwanzaa, you know, for example, there`s always that room, there`s always that space for any opponent. Mr. Trump or anyone else to kind of intervene there or you don`t think that.
REYES: Well, you get Trump opens this door completely at his own peril. Because you touched on it, but I mean, Trump had allegations from Ivana Trump in the past that there was some sexual assault. He has said that men and women serving together in the military is contributed to sexual assaults in the military. He defended Mike Tyson. He has his own -- his own individuals questionable sexual harassment claims and allegations. So I think he could be very vulnerable going back to this. And not only that, it is not just that it is old news, it is that it is news -- the way it is different from Cosby is that for example, Cosby, those are old allegations but they were never fully unearthed, explored, discussed under the magnifying glass. For a certain generation everything of the Clinton years has been discussed, you know -- again and again and again.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, here`s one thing that does strike me as similar between the two. There is been a lot of conversation about Camille Cosby, right? A lot of conversation about, well, is she complicit, you know, what did she know? Now she`ll have to testify. And I think it is profoundly shocking and bizarrely unfair to hold spouses, women accountable for, and yet it is what we do as a public discursive strategy.
REID: It`s true. And I understand from a political standpoint, you want to take away your potential opponents, whatever their weapons might be.
HARRIS-PERRY: By saying --
REID: Right. If the Republicans could get Bill Clinton off the table, meaning that you get everything about him off the table, his economic record, his popularity, if you could terrify the Clinton campaign out of using him for their political benefit, that is actually a good thing for the Republicans, right? If they can scare her and bully her out of doing it. But the problem is, is that number one, you did have litigation of this during the 1990s. And Hillary Clinton for the first time really is running right down that zone of I`m running to break that glass ceiling as a woman.
And I think for women of her own generation, the problem is going to be that she`s now in the Eleanor Roosevelt position meaning that if Eleanor Roosevelt had run for president and that`s her hero -- would we have said Eleanor Roosevelt must be discounted because of the peccadillos and the sexual indiscretions of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Wouldn`t woman of a certain generation look at that and be absolutely offended? Yes.
REID: And I think that for her core base of support, which is going to be, white women over 60 --
REID: This is going to be such a destructive strategy to Donald Trump, A, because his own past is going to be brought up. And, B, because she is running for them. And that I think for that group of women who are going to be her core supporters, this strategy will backfire mightily.
HARRIS-PERRY: But they cannot get her elected. I mean, so like, I mean, I`m down, those are her people go hill right. But if you want to actually win the U.S. presidency, she is going to have to activate the folks who elected President Obama twice and that`s actually young women of color. And young women of color might feel very differently about this story.
COX: Yes. And I think, too, I mean, there`s something that you brought up. So, I`m not going to backtrack but what I will say, what I do think is of course, to think about is the way that sexism plays out in this sort of different nuance way. So, we look at Donald Trump. There is a way that he could be bombasted --
COX: -- dimensional, and state this outrageous things that contradict to he as a person. But we don`t allow Hillary that same leverage.
PERESSUTTI: Absolutely not.
COX: So, there is a way that we are constantly trying to figure out this space between who she is as a person. Right? As an individual and her policy. So there is a way that she`s always sort of labeled a feminist, but then we question her personal actions as a feminist --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that`s right.
COX: You know, can she defend herself against the allegations against her husband, how does that reflect her record. But when we talk about young women of color in particular and we talked about the type of feminism that they`re interested in. And so, yes, we could name all the ways that Hillary has bid for reproductive rights, for certain women and also for equal pay. But when we talk about feminism, there is not just one dimension to feminism.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
COX: And there`s ways that she has supported corporations and supported policies that are detrimental to low-income women, to women of color. So there`s -- there are these contradictions.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to take a quick break because we got to pay bills or something. And there`s more when we come back. Stay. Just stay. We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday, an al Qaeda affiliated terror organization released a video that included a sound bite from Donald Trump to make its case to political recruits. The 51-minute video is from Shabaab, a group of militants who operate as an al Qaeda branch in Somalia. It includes a clip of Trump announcing his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. And it makes Hillary Clinton appear particularly prophetic because of this comment she made at last month`s Democratic presidential debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don`t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS` best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The main thing to be reminded of there is she does not need anyone to protect her and stand up for her, she seems just fine, right? And competent in sort of pushing back whatever critiques may show up. It seems to me that there is still yet -- we talked about the kind of like unleashing of President Obama. There still is of yet not a full unleashing of the Hillary Clinton like we see her in a moment like that, I like her best in a moment like that, and yet we so rarely see that on the campaign trail.
REID: She`s more hyper managed. I think part of her problem is that she`s been so managed throughout her political career that even after basically living with the Clintons for better or for worse for 30-something years, people don`t have a full sense of her really because she tried to run not as a woman in `08, she tried to run as sort of tough, you know, tough international, interlocutor and stay away from the woman card until the very end. She`s really sort of -- and also she`s been so many different people. She`s been a Rockefeller Republican, and then she was the super feminist, and then she`s been all over the place. And so I think she does need to get her persona out. That said I think their strategy is to let the Republicans have the stage and to swoop in at the end and try to take advantage.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me tell you my take, my favorite place for learning things about Hillary Clinton is actually in her e-mails. And so, there are all these huge e-mail dumps. Right? And I know everybody`s just like combing them for Benghazi references. But, you know, if you are in a highly nerdy mode and you want to like go into it, it is fascinating. Like, there`s this one where she`s talking about -- remember the sunglasses Blackberry photo? And they`re telling her, oh, the picture has gone viral? And her response is like, what? Why would people even have a feeling about that? Or there`s another one, oh, they`re saying nice things about your hair and clothes. And she`s like, I ain`t complaining. She`s actually more friendly and enjoyable in the context of her e-mails. It`s a different kind of space to find data about her.
PERESSUTTI: And Joy, I think you`re absolutely right. I think that their strategy now is to remain scripted and to remain disciplined until the Republican field sorts itself out. When it does there will be plenty of opportunities for Hillary to show her human side like she did -- I believe it was after her bad loss in Iowa eight years ago where she had that moment where, you know, she allegedly teared up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, I hate that moment.
REID: I know --
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, you --
PERESSUTTI: But it worked for her.
PERESSUTTI: It was a turning point I think for her race.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it was a turning point right up until the President loses in New Hampshire, and then gives the -- you know, gives the, well, no --
COX: Yes, we can.
PERESSUTTI: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right? Which I think we constantly forget. That was a speech given in defeat. So, she`s up there. I found my voice, and he`s like, yes, we can. And then it turns into like, you know, hmm, New Hampshire, `08, we can`t even talk about it because I go --
REID: And the fact that the feeling was that she had to weep, right? In order to show she was actually a woman was really troubling. And just the whole set-up of that thing that the person she was talking to was not really a neutral voter, really a Hillary voter. I mean, there was a lot about I think that was, again, very managed.
REYES: I think we should stop waiting for the authentic, quote-unquote, "Hillary to emerge." After all these decades, this is who she is, Hillary Clinton is authentically managed, hyper-disciplined. That`s it. And we`re not going to --
HARRIS-PERRY: She actually is my prediction.
REYES: The person we see, that`s who she is. And I think, you know, she`s not going to emerge. How many times that we have seen the new Hillary, the human side of Hillary, the grandma Hillary? It is still the same old Hillary. Like it or not, that`s who she is. And she is probably never be woman fuzzy, it`s just who she is. But what remember that every time she is -- when she is the subject of great attacks, that`s when her popularity rises. That`s when she goes up in the polls.
PERESSUTTI: When her back`s against the wall. That`s the Clinton --
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
HARRIS-PERRY: They love to swing.
COX: Yes. That 11 hour Benghazi infomercial was actually the high point of her campaign.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. It really was.
COX: It was.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
COX: But I think, you know, this question of when you show your humanity is really based on things like race and gender, right? And class. Who has the ability to always be their full selves and when is it a strategy if you are of color, if you`re a woman, it is a strategy for you to show your full self. Like you have, and think about the timing of that and when it happened to you in conversation, what the context was. It is always sort of this very methodical process of being human in public.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Going back, you know, saying that the President is going to have his blackness weighed --
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, you have to wait until the end of your presidency.
COX: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- this kinds of throve, yes.
REID: We`re talking even in the break about the fact that for Hillary Clinton perhaps the greatest peril on that very tissue of race is going to be, if people decide, African-Americans to relitigate something she was involved in --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I would like, don`t bring up -- don`t bring up `08 because I can`t hold my face together with that.
REID: And that is her biggest vulnerability. I don`t think it is so much on the issues of women because I think women want that White House badly enough to look past whatever they have to look past to. If it is a woman in the White House you want but on issues of race it is the thing that`s holding back particularly young women of color from fully embracing this idea. Because not only is there no diversity, no racial diversity on the Democratic side of the aisle, you also have somebody who when she and her husband get up there and start to make their case are the same two people who got into a very negative racial discourse with Barack Obama.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And remember that there is no gender gap.
REID: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: White women vote a majority for the Republican Party. A gender gap is a gender race gap. You`ve got to get women of color.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Joy Reid, Raul Reyes, Gian-Carlo Peressutti, my new co-host apparently on a national conversation about violence. And Aimee Meredith Cox.
Up next, good news to start us off in 2016.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s here, 2016, and there is no way to know just what the year will bring for each individual. But as a nation, we have a few things we do know. We`re going to compete in the summer Olympics, we`re going to choose a new president and we will begin living with new laws and policies that took effect of the start of the New Year. Oregon workers will benefit from the state`s new mandatory paid sick leave, and California`s women`s workers will have a somewhat easier path for showing wage discrimination.
Workers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia will all enjoy higher state minimum wages. It`s going to be easier to carry a gun openly in Texas and harder to smoke in Hawaii where the legal smoking age is now 21. Virginia improved access to voting for students but in North Carolina where I live, 2016 is the year when it becomes harder to vote. But here`s one other thing we can be sure about in 2016.
You, the viewers of Nerdland will be letting us know what you think about our show in tweets, posts and go old fashioned snail mail. There is no doubt that you will let us know when you think we have succeeded or failed. And we hear at MHP will keep working together to make a show worthy of your engagement. As HNIC -- head nerd in charge -- I have the overwhelming privilege to work with a team of deeply committed and passionate individuals without whom this show certainly would not go on. In fact, come to think of it they are so good, so hard-working and so thoughtful, it`s almost like they have superpowers. So, to ring in the New Year, here`s a look at the heroes and she-roes who make "MHP" show every week. Happy nerd year, everybody!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SHOWING NAMES OF NERDLAND CREW)
Mohamed Hassan, intern. Ariel Shapiro, graphics production assistant. Victoria Shantrell Asbury, booking production assistant. Traci Nicole Tillman, associate producer. Taaq Kirksey, video producer. Kat McCullough, segment/booking producer. Kai Ma, segment/digital producer. Rachel Slajda, segment producer. Traci A. Curry, segment producer. Lorena Morata Ruiz, line producer. Michelle A. Cumbo, senior booking producer. Greg Carlson, senior producer. Belinda Walker, senior producer. Murray J. Adam, director. Eric Salzman, executive producer. Melissa Harris-Perry, HNIC, Head Nerd in Charge).
215 Interns -- Ayanna Gila, Karisma Price, Andrew Joyce, Jamil Smith, Shana Til.
Guest Hosts -- Dorian Warren, Joy Reid, Janet Mock, Ari Melber, Richard Lui.
Makeup and Hair -- Christine Leiten (ph), Claudia Mancine (ph), Raquel Vivve (ph), Tammi Polidoro, Don Francis.
Video -- Sakinah Allen, Maria Christiansen, Alyssa Donovan, Ralph Fusga (ph), Larry Guo, Katie Hakucsa, Chris Liatsis.
Graphics -- Mia Aaron, Matt Bartolotta, Kury Cayenne.
Studio Crew -- Joe Apruzzese, Ryan Conde, Robert Knoelle, David Ortiz, Mark Schmidt, Pedro Valentin.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
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