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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/08/13

Guests: Luis Gutierrez, Elijah Cummings

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, GUEST HOST: Thanks, Ed. I appreciate it. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. HARRIS-PERRY: And thanks to you at home for you staying with us for the next hour. Rachel has the night off, but there is lots going on this snowy evening. New data on just how little say the NRA has in the gun debate. Congressman Luis Gutierrez joins us from Chicago, where mourners are paying their last respects to Hadiya Pendleton. RNC chairman Reince Priebus tries to diversify his part in the same his predecessor did, yet another state legislature moves to take away a constitutionally protective right. All that is coming up -- plus, Beyonce, yes, Beyonce. But when begin tonight with the massive storm that is battling the northeastern region of the country. At this hour, a state of emergency has been declared by the governor of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. Residents in all six of those states are now facing what is shaping up to be a winter blizzard of historic proportions. At this point, some of the heaviest snowfall is expected in the Boston area, where forecasters are warning about the possibility of more than two feet of snow. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick banned all traffic from the roads after 4:00 p.m. today. That is the first travel ban of that kind in more than three decades. And some shoreline residents in Massachusetts have been asked to evacuate tonight. In neighboring Connecticut, that state`s governor, Dan Malloy, has also issued a ban on all non-emergency motor vehicle traffic. And that ban took effect earlier this evening. And Rhode Island`s Governor Lincoln Chafee has taken similar measures, ordering cars off the roads in state off the road as well. So, the storm has been blamed for this 19-car pileup in southern Maine earlier today, which caused minor injuries and is causing travel problems in the air as well. At this point, more than 4,000 flights in and out of the Northeast have been canceled. New York City`s airports remain officially open at this hour, but most flight activity has ended for the night. Already just a few hours into this storm, more than 10,000 electrical customers in the Northeast have been left without power. And tonight the National Guard reports that more than a thousand national guardsmen have been activated in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and in New York as this region prepares for the worst. Joining us now is NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins. Bill, what is the latest at this hour? BILL KARINS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Melissa, we are watching this storm maturing, if we want to call it that. It started out earlier today. It was growing into intensity. Now, it is becoming a full-fledged blizzard. In the last hour, about 50,000 people have lost power. And we`re going to continue to add to that number to the hundreds of thousands throughout the overnight. That`s the worst part of this. Losing power in the middle of a winter storm when you don`t know how long it`s going to be until the power crews can a, get through two or three feet of snow to turn your power back on. Let me show you a cool image of the storm. This is the imagery I show you during hurricane season. It almost looks like a hurricane. The spinning L is where the center of the storm is, now just south of Massachusetts and Cape Cod. And the way it works is all of the warm air gets sucked into the storm. And on the back side, all the cold air comes in behind it. And that`s what we`re seeing now in areas where it`s actually snowing down towards Philadelphia for the first time. The white on the map shows you where it`s snowing. The blue is where it`s snowing very hard. We`re talking 2 to 3 inches an hour. We`ve had reports of thunder snow -- literally, it`s lightning and snowing at the same time, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and some spots of Massachusetts. Now, Long Island is just a mess. I`ve heard reports of six inches of snow, and an inch of sleet on top of it. And now we have snow and rain and sleet. Long Island is a miserable place right now, with the high winds and the crazy mixture of winter precipitation. And it`s not fun right now in Boston either. Winds are now up to 50 miles an hour. Same with Newport, Martha`s Vineyard, you know, Vineyard Haven, all the same. So, eastern Mass is where most of the power outages in Rhode Island are going to occur. Already a foot of snow on the ground in many locations of Rhode Island. We`re going to add another foot probably in the next six to eight hours. I think the one good thing when most of us wake up tomorrow morning, it will be over with. Hopefully, the plow crews by about noon can get things under control and move all of snow. We`re talking still the potential, someone from Boston to Providence has a chance of 30 inches of snow. And, Melissa, the highest they`ve ever had is 27.2 inches. I mean, this is going to be top 10, top 5, who knows, maybe even number one by the time it`s all said and done. HARRIS-PERRY: So, Bill, I know that, obviously, a lot of the governors have been making the decision to get cars off the road. But what is the primary danger other than the traffic danger that is faced for residents in these areas? KARINS: Unfortunately, there is always some knuckleheads that are going to go out there on the roads when everyone has been told to stay off of them. Now it`s snowing up to about three inches an hour. This is where the cars get stuck. It snowed so hard, you know, the plows can`t keep up with it. And then you`re in the middle of some interstate, in the middle of nowhere, and you have to call the rescuers to come get you and you`ll be stuck for 12 hours. There will probably be hundreds of people that are going to get stuck with that scenario tonight. They try to avoid. I`m sure they minimized it, but it`s going to happen tonight. So, the concerns are for the rescuers out there in the middle of the night doing this and then the power outages. Tomorrow morning, the last piece of this puzzle will be the coastal areas of Massachusetts at about 10:00 a.m. That`s the high tide cycle when we expect the storm surge to be at its highest, the wave action to be at its highest. We could have waves 10 to 15 feet right near the coast where we have a storm surge of around three to four feet. It`s not going to be any sandy or anything like that that happened on the Jersey Shore and Long Island, but we could see homes with water getting in them or possibly weakening their foundations and falling to the sea. So, we`ll watch that tomorrow morning at sunrise. HARRIS-PERRY: NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins, thank you very much for that update. And as you just heard, Bill mentioned that the area that is expected to get hit hardest from this storm is in fact Boston, where there are some models that are predicting nearly three feet of snow. The Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore is live for us from Boston tonight. Jim, what`s the latest? JIM CANTORE, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: Yes, Melissa, we are snowing at two inches an hour right now. Gusts of over 50 miles per hour at Logan Airport. I mean, thank goodness the governor just made the call yesterday, saying look, I want everybody off the roads at noon. I`m going to shut down the T at 3:30. You don`t have a choice. That allowed the plows and whatnot to get out there and get major headway on this storm. Now, it`s very, very hard to keep up with. I mean, I was out here earlier. And my footprints are right there. Now, they`re completely covered up. So we`ve got 2 inches an hour coming down. Obviously, we`re at the Boston Commons. So, folks are out here, enjoying the snowfall. Let`s face it. This is just a beautiful sight out in through here if you don`t have to be driving in it, which is exactly what we don`t want people to do. Now, because of the wind that is picking up as well, we`ve had hurricane-force gusts on Nantucket Island, we are starting to see power outages now in Massachusetts alone, up to 30,000 plus without power. We`re afraid that`s going to continue to go up. We`ve got Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and probably parts of Maine as well that are going to be dealing with these. You know, national grid says about 100,000. I`m thinking about 250,000 before all is said and done. The problem is once those lines come down, once those poles come down, you`re going to have to remove all this snow before you can get in there and do some of the repairs. So it`s kind of a twofold problem here. And, unfortunately, one that they`ve warned people once you do lose power, especially if it`s a severe case, it`s going to be probably a week before you get that power back on, even though there are many crews on standby to get in there and help with the situation. The problem again, though, is to get the snow out of the way first. Then we can get in on some of these roads and obviously get these power poles back up and the power lines back up as well. We`ll see how that situation mounts tonight. The good news is here it is at nightfall on a Friday night. Most people are off the roads. The airports, even though they`re not closed, are literally shut down as well. So, we got mostly everybody that we needed to get out of harm`s way. And now, we just have to hunker down and ride this thing out. It`s going to be a long night, and it`s going to get worse before better. Snowfall possibly up to my waist at the Common before all is said and done with the storm. Melissa, back to you. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Jim. The Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore who is there with folks in Boston who are making the best of it with snow people and dogs. I kind of love that So, thanks to you for reporting for us tonight. And there is lots more to come, including the amazing, shrinking NRA. Plus, the endangered awesomeness of the postal service. And Beyonce versus the universe. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve got lots to say about Beyonce. Entire show`s worth of things to say about Beyonce, really. But tonight, we`ll just stick to her Super Bowl performance and why those lights really went out. That`s still ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCHULTZ: It`s now a political reality that the National Rifle Association, the once poster child for how scary lobby groups can intimidate politicians and keep them from supporting common-sense and popular policies, that NRA is no longer very scary at all, or influential, not in the way they would like us to think they are. A PPP poll released earlier this week found that an NRA endorsement is now more likely to cost votes than to gain votes for a political candidate. We had hints of the NRA`s anemic influence during this past election when they spent nearly $11 million trying to get pro-gun candidates elected and got less than a 1 percent return on that $11 million. It is becoming increasingly clear that no one listens much to the NRA anymore. But for all of the out there, shocking, and just plain ineffective talking points, the NRA screams from the roof tops, there is one message, one message on which they sort of have a point. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George, and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So Wayne LaPierre is talking about the Second Amendment to the Constitution there, and he is kind of correct. In this country, we have a constitutional right to bear arms. The Second Amendment is 27 words long, quote, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." There is obviously a lot of debate about what kind of arms the Second Amendment refers to and exactly what a well regulated militia is. But it is clear that one of the things the Founders wanted people to be able to do is to protect themselves from the government, government overreach. And this is a fact of American life that the most liberal of liberals or progressive of progressives simply can`t deny. The Constitution protects this right. Here is the deal -- for the past 48 hours, we`ve been watching a horrifying story unfold in Los Angeles. A frightening case study in what happens when someone decides to bastardize those rights and to use those Second Amendment rights to create chaos. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a blue alert broadcast on a 187 suspect, former LAPD police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner. Suspect is armed and dangerous. TV ANCHOR: As we join you tonight, a madman is still on the loose. Christopher Dorner has killed three people and wounded another. Every police officer has become a target, and it has now moved to the mountains of Big Bear. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Christopher Dorner is a former police officer himself with grievances against the LAPD. He has allegedly chosen to take out those grievances by targeting and killing other Los Angeles police officers and members of their families. He is trained in how to use weapons. Among the weapons he may have in his possession a .50 caliber rifle which shoots five-inch-long bullets that can pierce bulletproof vests and vehicles as well as a shoulder-fired missile launcher. He is still at large this evening. Dorner left a detailed manifesto online that he addressed to America. He called it last resort, and in it he listed the names of the people he plans to target and kill. Buried within his rant, quote, "I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system." This is one individual who has decided that he believes the Los Angeles Police Department has overstepped its bounds. He has decided to use his Second Amendment rights in this horrifying way. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, we have been asking ourselves how to balance those Second Amendment rights with the moral imperative to keep innocent people, especially children, safe. Since that day when 20 first graders were shot and killed in their classrooms, there has been sustained attention on the issue of gun violence and gun safety. And it seems for the first time in a long time, it`s not just political posturing. The presidential election is over, but elected officials are actually continuing to talk about what kinds of policies we might be able to enact, what we might be able to change, despite the partisan divide that seemingly stifles any reasonable debate on any issue. Today, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would make it easier for people to access mental health services at 2,000 federally qualified community centers across the country. The community centers were offered 24-hour care, and they would be able to bill Medicaid for their mental health services. The legislation is a move in response to the Newtown massacre. Another bipartisan group of senators, including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has long been a staunch gun rights advocate is working on legislation that would make it mandatory to pass a background check for everyone who wants to buy a gun. Currently, roughly, 40 percent of the guns sold in this country are sold with no background check at all. So, if that happens, that would be a stunning achievement, right? Even just the bipartisan talks themselves pretty encouraging. It is all so encouraging. But we have to be careful not to pat ourselves on the back too much. Not yet. Tomorrow, First Lady Michelle Obama is returning to her hometown of Chicago. She is returning to attend an event that should not even be taking place. She is returning to attend the funeral of a child killed by gun violence, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago on January 29th. She was huddled with a group of kids taking cover from a rainstorm after school. When a gunman opened fire and shot Hadiya in the back and killed her. Hadiya was an honor student. She was a majorette. And in fact, she just performed at President Obama`s inauguration last month. And she was killed about a mile from the president`s home on the South Side of Chicago. Hadiya`s story reminds us again that while the mass murder of children in Newtown was an unspeakable horror, it is thankfully rare. And while the manhunt in Los Angeles is a terrifying spectacle, it too is rare. What gun violence is in this country is Hadiya Pendleton, a teenaged girl killed in her own neighborhood in Chicago. We have some political will right now coalescing around gun violence in this country, right? There are steps being taken that are encouraging, and maybe some of the things our lawmakers are working on, maybe they can stop the next Newtown. But is there enough political will to do what it would take to save the next Hadiya Pendleton? Hadiya was most likely killed with a handgun in a city that has been reeling from gun violence, a city that is seeing its crime rate soar, specifically homicide, a city where roughly 90 percent of the near record number of homicides last year were gun-related, a city where local gun laws are only as strong as national gun laws. "The New York Times" broke this down recently. Of 50,000 guns traced by Chicago police, more than half came from outside Illinois, mostly from Indiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. The Second Amendment means we have a right to bear arms. Should it also mean that there is no place in our political dialogue about the factors that made Hadiya Pendleton`s murder possible? Is it impossible to talk about removing handguns from our streets? Is that simply too extreme? Our first lady is going to be in Chicago tomorrow attending the funeral of a child killed by gun violence. Chances are while she is there, another mother is going to get a call about another child whose life was cut short by a gun. Joining me now is Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. Congressman, thank you for being here. REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: A pleasure to be with you this evening. HARRIS-PERRY: So, clearly, Chicago has been receiving national attention due to the high rate of gun violence. And there is a way in which that`s a good story, because for a long time it was happening with no light shining on it. GUTIERREZ: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: But the other thing, it`s led us to recognize the city actually has very tough gun laws. GUTIERREZ: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: What needs to be done if you`ve already got the gun laws in place and you still have this sort of murder rate? GUTIERREZ: Well, the guns -- it`s so porous, right? The guns just filter through to the city of Chicago. And, you know, the first thing I supported back in 1993, 20 years ago when I first arrived in congress with such fervor was the assault weapons ban. I remember when we extended it. And that was good. But, you know, Melissa, on Monday, I worked all day today thinking than same question. So we`re going to have some faith-based leaders come and meet with me on Monday. And we`re going get some victims, survivors of gun violence. We`re going to meet with them, talk to them. And we`re going to start also begin to focus on, as you said, handguns. I went, and I was astonished there were 351 people murdered with guns in 2011 in Chicago. Three hundred sixty-one of them -- I mean, 351, 361, 351 were handgun, 90 percent. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. GUTIERREZ: It`s clear we need to look at handguns also. And I hope - - for too long, I think you`ve heard many of us, Melissa, as we go into national campaigns and we don`t want to be put in a corner as being against the Second Amendment and against the rightful right to bear arms. And it seems as though we articulate much too passionately and clearly and eloquently how we`re going to defend people`s right to have guns during campaigns, instead of talking about how we`re going to save children on our streets. HARRIS-PERRY: So -- GUTIERREZ: And lastly, if I could just, 10 of the kids, I read the papers, 10 of those murdered were teenagers, 10. In the month of January. HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you a little bit about this. I think this is tough, right? And it`s tougher than just the laws. Because the last time that a Democratic president, in this case it was President Clinton, introduced powerful new federal laws, we ended up incarcerating black kids, kids from the west and south side of Chicago, kids from towns like New Orleans. There is just a little part of me that keeps being concerned that on the one hand, yes, we must push for tougher regulations. But how do we keep those regulations from falling on the backs of the very kids we`re trying to protect? GUTIERREZ: You know, here is the point. We need a holistic approach to this. We can`t just look -- it`s true. I wouldn`t want to get on an airport where four out of 10 people didn`t get checked, right? HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. GUTIERREZ: So four out of 10 people don`t get checked for handguns in America. So that`s not the kind of way we should conduct ourselves. Conversely, let`s face it. We have a responsibility to have economic engines out there because -- I mean, the demand for drugs is so huge and continues to spiral out of control in this country. Let`s face it. There is a direct correlation that the largest -- HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. GUTIERREZ: -- the propensity for drugs comes from the selling of drugs and the protecting of those drug turfs, of which we are all involved both in the city and outside of the city, right? The suburbanites come into the city to buy drugs, and we consume drugs in the inner city. So the scourge of drugs continues to have a huge impact on our community, killing populations because of the use of drug and killing our population, our youth innocently. I mean, just think of the contradiction of that young girl dying, right? Honor student, wants to be a doctor. Just finished her final examines. Doesn`t use drugs and killed. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. GUTIERREZ: Probably because somebody was using and consuming drugs, and somebody wanted to save the turf and protect the turf they were selling in. HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman, I so appreciate you bringing us to that point, because it does feel to me like this is exactly why it gets tough to have this conversation, because it is holistic. On the one hand we have the piece tough on guns, but the other piece is addressing the drug war and what it has done in our communities. I so appreciate you joining me tonight, Congressman Gutierrez. GUTIERREZ: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: And also, the work is going to continue. And those of us who love Chicago and who know the scourge that this is in these communities, thank you for the work that you`re trying to do there. GUTIERREZ: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you for your time. Now, having done the electoral math, Republicans are forced to wander way outside their comfort zone. How is that whole rebranding thing working out for you? Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The Republican Party has a new campaign going. It`s called growth and opportunity project. As part of this new GOP, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus is visiting around the country. Yesterday, Mr. Priebus held a, quote, "African-American engagement and listening session in Atlanta" with African-American small business owners and community leaders from across Georgia. According to a black Republican blogger who`s at the meeting, this means that Reince Priebus met with Georgia`s black Republicans. Mr. Priebus told reporters afterward that the Republican Party has to change its ways. He said the party has to spend more time in more communities year-round, not just before an election. But on the Republican chairman says Republicans are OK. Quote, "I don`t think there is anything that we need to fix as far as our principles and our policies." So on some level, it is clearly embarrassing to Republicans that more than 90 percent of African-Americans vote against them. It must be, or else they would not keep announcing every four years that the Republican Party was wrong to use race for political advantage, that the party was wrong to use race as a political wedge. It sounds nice, right? The new Republican Party is going to reach out to you, you right where you live. Kind of like when Mitt Romney went to the Martin Luther King Day parade in Jacksonville. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Wow, you want to do a picture here? (CHEERS) ROMNEY: Hey, I get to be up here. Come on. Whose got your camera, though? Who let the dogs out, who, who? Thanks, guys. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, who did let those dogs out? Or how about the time that Newt Gingrich called Spanish the language of living in the ghetto and then apologized in Spanish? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (NEWT GINGRICH SPEAKING SPANISH) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Or how about when the Republican Party elected an African-American chairman, and he announced the dawn of the hip-hop Republican with Republican principles in urban/suburban hip-hop settings. How is that working out anyway? Oh, right. If the Republican Party really wants to change, they might start thinking about folks like these. Voters in an Ohio City forced to wait in ridiculous lines because Republicans cut the time for early voting. Republicans are still trying to make it harder for people in urban/suburban hip-hop settings to vote with laws that require new forms of ID. And they are still voting down bills that would expand early voting, or just keep the lines reasonable at the polls. And Republicans are still making plain old life harder for working people. They`re still cutting taxes on the rich and snipping away the safety net for the poor. The day Republicans really go out into our communities and make a priority of our priorities, well, then you`ll know that the real makeover has arrived. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: A giant storm slammed into the east coast tonight, dumping snow and rain and ice from New Jersey all the way up to Maine. States of emergency have been declared in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and a limited state of emergency was declared in Maine. In Connecticut, the governor banned all non-emergency vehicles from the highways. In Massachusetts, all cars were ordered off the roads this afternoon. The archdiocese of Boston urged people attending mass on Sunday to use caution and prunes. And meteorologists expect this storm to leave behind one to three feet of snow. When you think of snow and rain and sleet and gloom of night, you think of the Post Office, right? Or rather the Post Office creed. Here in New York, you can see it there. See it? Just above the colonnade at the famous James A. Farley Post Office. "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." And for the time being, mail delivery has not been interrupted in New York state, although the postal service is asking people to help out their mail people by clearing snow and ice from the driveways and porches. But in New England where, the snow is heavier and driving conditions are extremely dangerous, Post Offices closed early today. New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont all pulled their drivers off the road today. But amazingly, the Post Office is expected to be back in full swing tomorrow. On Saturday, mail delivery will be back. And it will be back for about seven months. You see, this week the postmaster general announced that starting in August, the Post Office will break with decades of tradition and will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays. The Post Office has been downsizing for a couple of years now, shutting down locations that didn`t add enough to the bottom line. But this is far and away the single most significant contraction of what the Post Office does. The Post Office belongs to you. It is a service you get from the government because the Constitution says so. The United States Constitution proscribes the Post Office. It was a cabinet-level position until the 1970s. The Post Office is a really big deal. And its impact on America, that`s been really big too. Not only does the Post Office handle 40 percent of all mail that`s physically delivered in the world, but it also operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the country. And because the government has been historically better at implementing nondiscrimination policies for years the Post Office was a critical pathway for African-Americans trying to break through to the middle class. The Post Office not only paid a decent wage and was willing to hire African-Americans, but it promoted them too. By the end of the 20th century, a fifth of all postal workers were African-American. Today the Post Office is still hugely important in terms of jobs. It is the second largest employer in the country. Just after Walmart. It`s Walmart, then the Post Office. But what seems like a strength, the Post Office as a job creator, has been turned into a weakness. The Post Office had to shrink and get smaller because in the Bush era, the Republican-controlled Congress forced the Post Office to do something that no other government agency has to do. The Post Office has to fund itself impossibly far into the future. And because of this impossible to meet funding mandate, the Post Office seems broke. It is not broke there are people trying to break it, but it is not broke. The union that represents mail carriers estimates that if the Post Office goes ahead with the plan to cut mail delivery from six to five days a week, it will cost the country about 25,000 jobs. But hey, maybe Walmart`s hiring. Joining us now is Congressman Elijah Cummings. He is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Congressman, it is good to have you here this evening. REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you. HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me, Congressman Cummings. Do you have concerns about these planned changes to the Postal Service? And particularly the impact that it might have on black communities? CUMMINGS: Oh, no doubt about it. You`re talking about just this reduction from five days to -- from six days to five days will cut anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 employees. And with regard to Asian, African- Americans, and Hispanics, they comprise about 40 percent of the postal service employees. So it`s logical to believe if they were to lose that 30,000 jobs, easily 40 percent of them would be African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. Now, there is another thing, Melissa, that a lot of people don`t realize. And that is over 40 percent of all postal employees are women. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. CUMMINGS: So you have a lot of women, many of whom are single women - - head of household, and they depend upon that decent wage, decent working conditions and benefits to take care of their families. So, yes, it would have a devastating effect in an economy that is already very, very fragile. HARRIS-PERRY: I keep thinking that maybe the Post Office needs sort of better marketing. So after I saw the Dodge`s "God made a former Super Bowl commercial," I kept thinking we need a "God made a mailman" PSA, God needed someone to keep a growing nation connected and God need someone to keep an eye on your house when you`re traveling and God needed someone to knock on the doors of the elderly. So, God made the mailman. Like there is something mere needing to express just how critical the work of the Post Office is. CUMMINGS: Yes, I think a lot of people are confused as to why the Post Office finds itself in the difficulty that they are. Keep in mind that the Post Office produces about $65 billion a year, but 99.99 percent of that comes from the sale of stamps and first class mail. And what has happened over the years, Melissa, is that the people have now moved more and more towards using the Internet. And so therefore since 2008, that income coming into the Post Office has been reduced by something like about -- the volume, that is -- had been reduced by about 43 percent. So, basically, we have now I think and pretty much everybody admits this, we`re going to have to do some downsizing because it`s just not a good fit right now. We have more employees than we actually need. But there are all kinds of ways to achieve this without necessarily going through drastic measures. HARRIS-PERRY: So what do you think the Congress can do at this point in order to kind of forestall the labor force decline that can happen as a result of going from six days to five days a week? CUMMINGS: You know, one of the things that happened last session, Melissa, is that the Senate put together a pretty good bill. I didn`t agree with everything in it. But it called for innovation. In other words, opened the door so that the Post Office can do what Post Offices do in other countries, enabling them to make additional money. For example, having opportunities to sell cell phones and opportunities to have all kinds of postal services that they would not normally have. In other words, to expand and to do things that they don`t do now. And so -- but what happened is in the Congress, the response has been that any time they decided the Post Office wanted to do anything innovative, Congress said no, we don`t want you to do that, because then you`ll be competing against the private sector. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. CUMMINGS: So their hands are kind of tied. Basically, what the Congress needs to do is do a comprehensive bill whereby we have what we call an innovation officer, which is my idea. And that person would keep the Post Office as cutting edge of innovation and bringing in new ways to of making money. The other thing we`re going to have to do is we are going to have to do some downsizing. But when we downsize, we have to downsize with compassion. Keep in mind we have more than 100,000 people that are right now eligible to retire. And what we have to do now is make sure that they have a decent parachute to land. In other words, to give them some incentive money so they can go ahead and retire, and so that we can right size the Post Office. Those are the things that we have to do. But keep in mind every time, Melissa, that the Post Office tries to do something -- HARRIS-PERRY: Right. CUMMINGS: -- to correct itself or to make it possible to get new revenue or whatever, the Congress comes in and says oh, no, you can`t do that. They wanted to close down some Post Offices that are not being productive. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. CUMMINGS: Congress says no, that`s not -- you can`t do that in my community. HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right. CUMMINGS: They want to close a plant down, a mailing plant -- no, you can`t do that. So -- (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: We got to have a kind of balance here. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. They don`t let them innovate, they don`t let them compete, and then they say you`re not innovative and you`re not competing. CUMMINGS: That`s right. That`s right. That`s the problem. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Congressman Elijah Cummings -- CUMMINGS: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: -- who is ranking member of the House Committee on Overnight and Government Reform -- I appreciate you being here tonight. CUMMINGS: Thank you very much. HARRIS-PERRY: And coming up, what the story of Beyonce and the Super Bowl lights says about all the ladies, single or otherwise. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Earlier this week, we learned that next Tuesday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio would be delivering the official Republican response to President Obama`s State of the Union address. Today, the Tea Party announced its own post-speech presidential naysayer, Kentucky`s Republican Senator Rand Paul. This is the third such Tea Party state of the union response. Their past two speakers were Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. Yep, that`s happening on Tuesday. Happy Mardi Gras, everybody. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Let`s say you`re a doctor, and a private physician in any small to mid-sized city in the country. If any of your patients comes to you with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, you as her doctor can quickly and quietly provide her with a low-risk, outpatient procedure to terminate the pregnancy. You can file a claim with her insurance company. You can both go home to your families. But let`s say you`re a doctor who has chosen to provide abortions to the most vulnerable women, to women without insurance, teens or domestic violence victims. If you`re a doctor trying to serve that population in, say, Jackson, Mississippi, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or Little Rock, Arkansas, or Fargo, North Dakota, you have a completely different experience. If you live in the community, you`ll have protesters at your home and office. Your friends and neighbors will get flyers calling you a murder. You might employee an armed security guard. You take a different route to work every day. You might not even feel comfortable living in the community where you work. You might fly in from out of state and then fly back home when you`re done each week. You might have to use an assumed name while you`re in town. And if you don`t, you can expect to be followed to your hotel by people who want to stop you from doing your work. Openly providing abortion where every one has access to it is bordering on impossible in the United States. The one remaining clinic in the entire state of Mississippi, which is served by doctors who fly in each week to serve the patients there, is poised to be shut down by anti-abortion politicians who control state government. And they have been very straightforward that their goal is to close this one clinic by passing onerous, new regulations that they knew it could not meet. (BEGION VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: I know it`s historic. It`s a day you see that first step in a movement, I believe, to do what we campaigned on: to say we`re going to try to end abortion in Mississippi. We`re going to continue to try and work to end abortion in Mississippi. This is an historic day of beginning that process (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That process of shutting down this one clinic started last spring. And the same process is starting right now in Fargo, North Dakota -- another state with only one remaining abortion clinic being targeted by the state legislature in exactly the same way. The North Dakota Senate this week passed a bill with new regulations targeting just that one remaining clinic. Alone, among all health care providers in the state, with the exact same new regulations enacted in Mississippi, rules that are not necessary for safety or health. Just as this method of shutting down access to abortion seems to be working in Mississippi, the folks in North Dakota are picking it up and running with it. And if it works in North Dakota, if this new bill becomes law and does shut down that one remaining clinic, it cuts off access for women in a huge swath of the country. This is Fargo. This is where the only abortion clinic in North Dakota is. The next closest clinic is to the east. It`s almost four hours away in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The next closest clinic to the south, about four hours away in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To the west, you`re probably looking at Billings, Montana, more than eight hours away. As you can see, there`s already a very serious access problem in this part of the country. So if you take away the one clinic in this region that is served by so few clinics, you`re cutting off access for women in a four-state region. And that is the goal. With both of these laws, to harness the power of state government to eliminate access to abortion, to eliminate the one little building in the entire state where a woman with a few means and tough choices to make knows she can go. But let`s be clear: even if the state succeeds in shutting down this clinic, they will not eliminate abortion in the state. Those with regular, private, OB/GYNs will still be able to terminate pregnancies. What these rules will do is to eliminate safe and legal abortion for the most vulnerable women. And there`s a very easy way to describe this world being created by anti-abortion forces winnowing down the options for women. This is the pre-Roe v. Wade reality. Just like before Roe was decided 40 years ago, abortion is now affordable and accessible in some states and not in others. This fundamental, constitutionally protected right, in practical terms, depends on where you live. Women shouldn`t have to live with that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: A little news on a big story today. We`re a bit closer to understanding what caused the more than half hour power outage in the New Orleans Superdome last Sunday. According to latest reports, the outage was caused by a relay, electrical device which is supposed to prevent precisely these kinds of outages. The relay manufacturer has asserted the problem wasn`t in the device but in how the local power company, Entergy, installed it. The intrigue. But here`s one thing we can now reliably say about the power outage. It was not caused by Beyonce. Yes, that was a theory being floated by some. Oh, OK, by many. At first, it was by fans who took to Twitter and said her utter fierceness took down the power grid. Eventually, the Beyonce meme was enough of a things that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell felt compelled earlier this week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROGER GODDELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: There`s no indication at all that this was caused by the half-time show. Absolutely none. I know that`s been out there to say that Beyonce`s half-time show had something to do with it. That`s not case. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So she didn`t blow the lights. That hasn`t stopped an almost comically predictable criticism of Beyonce`s performance, emerging full pledge from those who see danger around every corner when women start flaunting their sexuality. There was Katherine Jen Lopez (ph) declaring on the "National Review Online" that Beyonce should, quote, "put a dress on it." And Rachel Campos-Duffy on Mike Huckabee`s radio show suggesting that half-time, quote, "looked like a stripper show." Listen to this exchange. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE: When you were seeing the half-time show -- you`re sitting there with your kids -- what did you think as a mom and what were you saying to them? RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, the first thing I realized is that it looked like -- it looked like a stripper show. (END AUDIO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: All right. I`m going to need everyone to take a breath. Now, feel free to debate and disagree about the aesthetic, musical or artistic value of Beyonce`s performance. But once you start blaming electrical engineering failures or moral disintegration on a 31-year-old married mom and businesswoman, with an envy (INAUDIBLE), you have entered into mythological woman-blaming, you know, like the story of Pandora, a woman who opens a box that unleashes sadness and misfortune onto the world, or Eve, another woman who ate that apple and brought sins to all humanity. Now, it`s Beyonce and her bootyliciousness that will make it unsafe for American children to enjoy the brain-crushing performance of violence of Sunday afternoon football punctuated by Go Daddy commercials. Right. These are the stories we tell and they have consequences. Remember in 2010 when conservative candidates campaigned on improving the economy? As far as I can tell, the main target of all that economy-improving legislative energy was women`s uteruses, which were targeted with a record number of new laws restricting abortion access. It`s like they think women making their own reproductive choices not Wall Street making bad bets crashed the economy. No, that is crazy as thinking Beyonce blew the lights in the Superdome, right? That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back on Monday. And I will see you tomorrow morning Saturday and Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. It`s time for "THE LAST WORD". Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END