Chai Komanduri examines history`s lessons for dealing with congressional obstruction. A controversial police stop in Ohio raises questions about discrimination. The House of Representatives is set to extend the debt ceiling. Tony Schwartz discusses America`s mental health.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Nice to see you, as always.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And, tonight, Chai Komanduri is back with a look at history`s lessons for dealing with congressional obstruction.
And later tonight, we have a report on a controversial police stop in Ohio raising questions about discrimination.
Our top story now is a welcome headline for the Biden administration: Republicans blink and Congress takes action. A vote in the House expected to begin actually at any moment to pay America`s debts largely from the last administration, part of that compromise to raise the so-called debt ceiling until December.
Speaker Pelosi working to keep her caucus together and telling progressives she shares their concern about negotiations that are pushing Democrats below a safety net spending package that was initially aimed at over $3 trillion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I`m very disappointed that we`re not going with the original $3.5 trillion. Whatever we do, it will be transformative.
But the fact is that, if there is -- are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Choices to be made.
Meanwhile, progressive leaders like Bernie Sanders emphasize that that so- called $3 trillion neighborhood was already, he argues, the compromise position and that it has widespread support.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We have the strong support, the overwhelming support of the American people; $3.5 trillion is already a major compromise. And the time is now long overdue for Senators Manchin and Senator Sinema to tell us exactly where they are spending. What do they want to cut?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: As always negotiating continues, Democrats say there is a chance here to submit potentially enduring wins for the still young Biden administration.
A spending breakthrough that Americans could feel would, they argue, fortify something of a trickle of other promising news, including over 10 million job openings in July and August, record highs, new COVID cases also continue to drop this week after all those Delta problems. In fact, this may be the one thing that both parties agree on in Washington right now, that any breakthrough on spending could calcify the backbone of support for this president, further raising the stakes for the clash to come.
I`m joined now by Michelle Goldberg from "The New York Times" and Eugene Daniels, author of Politico`s Playbook.
Your thoughts, Michelle.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that -- look, I think that progressives that I have spoken to understand that there is going to have to be a negotiation.
They understand the kind of catastrophic -- how catastrophic it would be if both the reconciliation and the infrastructure bill went down, which is the threat of what could happen if progressives are unable to come to an agreement on something that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema could also accept.
And so I think they`re ready to compromise. And part of the difficulty, though, in even kind of getting into these negotiations is that Manchin at least has thrown out a number, right, $1.5 trillion. So they can say, well, the final number is going to be somewhere between $1.5 trillion and the $3.5 trillion that Biden initially asked for.
It`s much more difficult to think about what Kyrsten Sinema wants and to think about making offers to Kyrsten Sinema when she`s not even saying what her parameters are.
MELBER: Yes, I mean, Eugene, in all fairness, Kyrsten Sinema is that person who, you are trying to go out to dinner, and they won`t give up a restaurant name, but they keep trying to veto everybody else`s.
I don`t know if you have a friend like this. The stakes are a bit lower than transformative social net spending, but, well, I`m down for, like, let me hear what you guys have. How about sushi? No. How about the Morton Steakhouse? No. How about Chick-fil-A? No.
And you need that person to eventually sooner or later give you a restaurant or a cuisine, do you not, Eugene? Asking the hard questions here tonight.
EUGENE DANIELS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Unfortunately, I`m that friend typically, very unsure about what I want to eat.
I mean, that`s exactly right. Michelle is right. There is no understanding almost so what Kyrsten Sinema wants. And I think that is something that`s been frustrating for everyone, right, trying to figure out, OK, so where do we need to go?
And, also, but it does, -- and it would seem that Manchin and Sinema probably are not on the same page for -- when it comes to climate change, how much money in climate change needs to go into the reconciliation bill. So that`s another layer of difficulty, because then you have the two people who you need to agree not agreeing with each other.
So there`s all these layers that these two add in difficulty. I will say Sinema has said that the White House and people behind the scenes know what her numbers are, know what she wants. We have not seen that. She`s not public about that at all.
And the White House won`t say. Any time we ask, well, what is she asking for, they say, we will leave it to her. She`s not telling us anything.
So we`re in this game of waiting and trying to understand, what is this going to come down to, not the 1.9 whatever number. We probably will end up 1.9, 2.3, which is what White House sources tell me they`re expecting, but we don`t know what`s in it, and what`s going to be in it, and what are the priorities that they want to make sure stays in it.
MELBER: Yes. Just on your reporting there and your point you`re hearing from your people in the Biden White House that it could be 2.3 or lower?
DANIELS: Right, right.
There`s no -- there`s no world I think in which it goes much higher than that, when you have Manchin saying 1.5. One of the things that was interesting that day when he was outside with that court of reporters to get that picture is that he wasn`t very clear that he would go higher than 1.5.
And so if he wouldn`t -- if he doesn`t answer and say I`m not going higher than 1.5, the assumption is, based on how things work in D.C., is that he`s willing to go higher, but not much higher.
MELBER: Yes, Michelle, it`s a little wacky to claim at this juncture, after everything that`s gone through the voting and the framework on the floor and where we are in the spending process, that it has to be some state secret what you`re for.
I mean, candidates routinely run for the Senate promising to do things and make their priorities known. And then they get in there. And you have Sinema, who was a Green Party person, and was a -- said she was going to change the way business works, essentially taking a super secrecy position.
Whatever you think of McConnell and the Republicans, they`re public about the level of spending they would even go along with, and most of the Democrats and the president. So she`s sort of that outlier there.
Your thoughts on that, Michelle, as well as the numbers that I think bear repeating. And people have seen some of this, the support for key tenants of the bill, like drug price reform, Medicare expansion, paid family leave, which many call of family values item, this is wide widespread support. You don`t see those kind of numbers for just about any politician, Michelle, which would suggest some of the plans in here are more popular than the people.
GOLDBERG: Well, and I think it`s really important to realize this is sometimes reported as moderates vs. progressives. And that`s not really the case. A lot of the front-line House members, the people who flipped Republican seats in 2018, have been very, very clear that they want to be able to run on Medicare expansion. They want to be able to run on Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices, to lower prescription drug prices.
They want to be able to run on a lot of the things that are in the Build Back Better Act. So it`s not really progressive vs. moderates. It`s everyone vs. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. And it`s Kyrsten Sinema -- it`s not just that she`s not telling the media what she wants. From people I have spoken to a lot of the members, members of the House who are involved in these negotiations, they know that she`s negotiating, but are also in the dark about what her precise demands are.
MELBER: Yes, that darkness seems to be a theme.
The other big story that I want to get you both on is the progress on the accountability side, this MAGA riot congressional investigation.
Our panel stays, but the news here is, they are stepping up the explicit pressure, saying that there could be jail time for any Trump aides or allies that are defying these lawful subpoenas. As you may recall, four former Trump aides, which includes the former number one, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, are supposed to appear for testimony Thursday and Friday this week. Tomorrow is their evidence document deadline for some.
Thursday, for example, is also a deadline for Steve Bannon to face questions. He has no government job protection. He is a person who once worked in government who was once prosecuted and who was pardoned by the former president, but now he`s a civilian, like anyone else facing a subpoena.
Committee members, like Adam Schiff and Raskin there, Jamie Raskin, saying, comply or face criminal contempt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): If witnesses do not show up, we will hold them in criminal contempt. We will vote them in contempt in the House. And we will refer them for prosecution.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I`m advising the deployment of the full panoply of enforcement powers at the disposal of the United States Congress. That includes criminal contempt powers, civil contempt powers.
The people govern here, and no one is above the law, not a president, not a former president, not the political cronies of the former president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And I want to be clear on the legal side.
It`s not as if these individuals like, say, Mark Meadows are claiming that they just want to debate the scope of the subpoena or narrow it -- that would certainly be within their rights -- or that the deadlines aren`t unrealistic, that they`re too busy. Those are things that happen in this kind of negotiation.
Meadows isn`t too busy. He`s on FOX News. He`s doing his thing. He`s talking about Trump. And he`s still kind of publicly dodging on whether he will follow the law or not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Listen, I`m going to let the attorneys handle all of that, Laura.
I can say this, that, when I talk to people, they say, well, we have already been through two impeachments. They don`t quite understand that. The American people know that it`s politics as usual. Hopefully, we will get beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Eugene, we don`t know if the politics as usual reference was to that classic song on the "Reasonable Doubt" album.
But we do know it`s politics as usual to duck the questions. He has every right, as an American citizen, to defer comment and let the lawyers do it. I respect his right on that.
But his argument doesn`t make much sense. To claim that because there was other proceedings or that Congress did other things at hearings, whatever, that somehow he as a citizen is above the law and doesn`t have to comply. Where does this go in your view?
DANIELS: I mean, those things had nothing to do with January 6, right?
Like, when and exactly -- exactly what happened, you had that second impeachment. It`s about January 6, what the president did. But we still didn`t -- there`s so much more that even through that impeachment investigation, that we have no idea what happened. And that is exactly what this committee and this panel is looking into.
I think one of the -- how I see this ending up is that they`re going to comply in some way, right? You talked about the negotiations that they`re going to work with Congress. I think if Adam Schiff and the other members of Congress, if they`re really serious about this criminal contempt of court, if they`re serious about like I think it`s $100,000, up to $100,000 that they can be charged, then they`re going to have to seem more serious than they are right now.
We have already passed the date in which they were told to give the documents. You look at Steve Bannon. His lawyer said he wasn`t doing it.
And so then do something about. And I think that`s something we`re hearing from Democrats, is they`re getting a little frustrated that it seems like the committee isn`t putting the hammer down and having -- wanting Bennie Thompson to make it very clear that you can`t do this to Congress. You have to follow the law.
MELBER: Yes. And you don`t have to be an expert on this.
News viewers, citizens, people who have kept abreast of the last couple years understand that the modus operandi of the Trump officials was to literally defy and stonewall everything. There was no procedural middle ground. And so if you know, how you`re going to deal with that is one of those looming questions.
My thanks to Eugene and Michelle.
We have a lot more coming up in the program.
Democrats finding ways to outmaneuver McConnell, and why he looks fazed as he loses the blinking battle here on the debt ceiling, as I mentioned. Chai Komanduri, "Chai Day," coming up.
We`re also going to fact-check some claims about police reform with a new video of alleged misconduct, officers dragging a paraplegic man out of the car.
And, later, a deep dive into how we are all working and living and coping in this unprecedented time. Perhaps we have gotten through some of the worst of the pandemic, but what about our mental health? What about our time together as a community when we`re still so far apart?
Tony Schwartz back on THE BEAT live with me in studio at 30 Rock, in the spirit of being together. That`s also later tonight.
You`re watching THE BEAT.
MELBER: Here`s one thing about people. People love stories, narratives. We know this.
In fact, over the past few decades, the idea of an explanatory narrative has become even more common. What you`re looking at here is pretty fascinating. Google data shows the use of the word -- we will put that back up, I think we have it -- the use of the word narrative, you see here, skyrocketing in books since the 1980s.
You can see the spike, which is people talking about narratives more and more and more, from TV to social media. We see the emphasis on dramatic, clear narratives.
But narratives can be wrong. People in finance said housing prices always go up, a narrative that was largely true until they crashed in 2008. Baseball fans said the Red Sox can`t win the World Series. They even called it the curse of the Bambino, because, as you probably heard, the Sox hadn`t won since 1918.
That narrative was cemented. But it was wrong. The Sox did win the series by 2004.
Now, what`s the point here? Well, even sturdy narratives backed by some evidence can be upended. In D.C., there`s a narrative that Republicans are just willing to burn the whole place down if they don`t get their way, so that their stubborn nihilism is supposed to give them political leverage.
They really will shut down the government or make America default. That`s what the narrative says. And then that kind of belief of economic hostage- taking will get rewarded, because the D.C. people, the people who write the narrative believe the narrative, that the Republicans won`t back down or blink, so somebody has to.
Well, why am I talking about this tonight? You can add that to the list of broken narratives, because, up until very recently, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was vowing to oppose raising the debt ceiling. He was telling anyone who would listen in public, and he was saying he would oppose it, and not help the Democrats, even if it brought the U.S. government into default.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Let me be crystal clear about this. Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.
We will not support legislation that raises the debt limit.
They will not get Senate Republicans` help with raising that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is that true? Narrative fact-check: False. They did get Republican help, because McConnell blinked last week.
He backed down, which tees up tonight`s news, Congress holding these votes, raising the debt ceiling, Democrats getting Republican help on the framework.
Now, is this a one-time event? Should D.C. go back to that same narrative? Or is there more to learn here, as McConnell caved?
Well, one part of the answer comes down to how the Senate runs. It`s not a pure democracy. The reason America even had to ponder potential default is that McConnell routinely leads the GOP in obstructing a majority vote on bills, including even something as important as these debts.
Well, Republicans and Democrats have used this, but Republicans do it more, especially lately, abusing filibuster power to technically delay and stop votes. Now, under these old rules, it takes a supermajority of 60 votes to end the filibuster and get a vote.
The default talk, though, was getting so hot, that Democrats started modeling, changing those old rules to stop McConnell from abusing the filibuster to prevent the debt vote. Democrats angry about all of it, they say he blinked. And it put McConnell in that bind, especially as his own donors opposed this game of chicken with the economy.
Now, Democrats really had an opening here, and this is not a finished story. This may arise again in December, because this deal expires then. If Democrats tweet some of those old rules, all for the purpose of keeping the economy going, well, the public reaction is going to range from nonplused, like, I didn`t even hear about it, to supportive, like, yes, if you owe the bill, then I guess you got to pay for it. And I guess you had to vote on it.
And then the third category would be probably Democrats getting some rare support from McConnell`s own donors, who I just showed you oppose default. It`s hard to think of what voting bloc would actually be upset about this move. It is a popular clear, even kind of mellow way to cut down on D.C.- McConnell obstruction, which many people don`t like to begin with.
It would also cut into the power of the minority party, which right now is Republican. Someday, presumably, it goes back to Democrat.
But think about this. If you go check, recently, presidents in both parties have slammed the filibuster and called to end it because they want votes on their own agenda. How often did Trump and Obama agree on anything in Washington? It`s a reminder that not everything`s about partisanship. Some things are just about old broken systems and sclerotic leaders, like Mitch McConnell, who defended his obstruction tool, to be clear, against change, whether it was pushed by Trump or Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: There`s not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster, not one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now political strategist Chai Komanduri notes that, while many presidents do want votes on the floor, the filibuster now is more aligned with a GOP that is fundamentally opposed to much federal governing at all.
Killing the filibuster hurts one side disproportionately, he says, the side opposed to legislation to solve the nation`s problems. Komanduri arguing the GOP has rallied to obstruction politics because its priorities are actually unpopular, a dynamic that actually runs back before the current kind of Trumpified era.
He also argues that an examination of when the Democrats had tiptoed towards the filibuster may reveal more about a really stunning gap in the modern political parties and the support they have around America.
Go back to 2005. Senate Democrats did threaten to use the filibuster to block a plan to privatize Social Security. President Bush tried selling the plan to the public, betting that he would find public support that would put pressure on those Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, NEWS ANCHOR: One of the most uttered phrases in Washington, D.C., these days is Social Security reform.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reforming Social Security will be a priority of my administration. This is going to be hard work to bring people together and to make -- to convince the Congress to move forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Bush is starting the new year and his second term with an admittedly ambitious goal, reforming Social Security.
BUSH: For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was the argument. Those were the days. The effort failed, all amidst the reported general anxiety attack in the Republican center over Social Security, driving headlines so bad, there really wasn`t public support and there was never a vote.
In other words, Democrats didn`t need to exercise that filibuster threat. By contrast, we have been living through weeks of coverage of these popular items blocked from an up-or-down vote.
And so let me tell you this. There`s a tendency when you have these kinds of stories to kind of just go right through them. OK, we raised the debt ceiling, so let`s move on, right? It`s certainly not the most fun thing to talk about in the news, let alone in your real life.
But it`s all related. Did the Democrats just live through -- I mean, this week going into tonight`s vote -- an example where you could actually see the blinking and actually beat the narrative and actually change the rules to have, OMG, it`s possible, a democracy on the Senate floor?
Well, Chai Komanduri is here to get into all this on "Chai Day."
We`re back in just 60 seconds.
MELBER: So, what day is it? You know what it is, a very special day here on THE BEAT with its own cartoon and its own soundtrack, "Chai Day."
Political strategist Chai Komanduri, who`s worked on three presidential campaigns, an Obama veteran, and who we find intellectually lovable.
Thanks for being here, sir.
CHAI KOMANDURI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Ari. How are you.
MELBER: I`m great. You make this argument? I just walked through some of it. Explain.
KOMANDURI: Yes, there is nothing that Republicans want that a Democratic filibuster could stop.
Mitch McConnell only wants to do two things in the U.S. Senate. He wants to cut taxes, and he wants to hire conservative judges. A Democratic filibuster cannot stop either of those. Now, if you look at some of these hot button issues that we have discussed over the last several months of guns, abortion, voting rights, what you will notice is that Republicans have D.C. think tanks like Heritage and ALEC set up to write legislation for Republican state legislators.
Those legislatures pass that legislation. And then conservative Republican judges uphold that legislation. And this allows someone like, say, Susan Collins off the hook. They can blame the judges, not themselves, for these unpopular policies.
The whole thing really is a very well-oiled machine, with the filibuster serving as a Death Star to destroy progressive legislation. And keep in mind, by the way, that Luke Skywalker, he blew up the Death Star. He didn`t say, hey, let`s keep this thing around in case the Rebel Alliance might need it one day.
No, he blew it up, because when you are trying to defeat an enemy or defeat an opposition, which is what the Democrats are trying to do, you destroy and take away their biggest weapon, which is the filibuster.
MELBER: Any "Star Wars" fan would react, though, with the follow-up? What if it`s a trap?
"Star Wars" reference. "Star Wars" reference.
MELBER: You know what? I don`t even -- I`m not really even asking that question. I just wanted to get -- what was that character, the guy with the...
KOMANDURI: Admiral Ackbar was the character.
MELBER: Shout-out to Admiral Ackbar.
MELBER: No, I don`t actually think it`s a trap.
But I do want you to build on your point about what is revealed, because we had a former Schumer staffer mention this on our air. The president mentioned it and then other people have mentioned it. So it`s started to percolate.
It`s funny. Sometimes, it feels like nothing`s happening. And then, in the span of, as far as I can tell from the newsroom, a day to three days, somewhere in there, it was like, wait, maybe this will be the thing that starts opening the door to changing this obstruction filibuster rule.
And, as we just walked through, McConnell`s own big spenders would be for it. The Democratic Party`s for it. And everyone else who`s not a Senate nerd, like us, wouldn`t even hear about it. So do you think that there`s something here that some of the Democrats who you used to work for have this congealing and setting in and going, wow, this is what it looks like when McConnell blinks?
And if you want to talk about a trap, McConnell kind of fell right into it. What you really saw in this recent episode is how Trump and McConnell work for different masters. Mitch McConnell works for corporate interests. He has taken more money from corporate interests than any of the senator in the last cycle.
And that has been true for multiple cycles. He works for corporate interests. That`s who he cares about. Corporations, by the way, love the filibuster. It protects them from progressive legislation, and they pay Mitch McConnell as a form of protection money against this progressive legislation.
Donald Trump only works for himself. The only bank account he cares about is Donald Trump`s bank account. Now, the corporation did not want a global economic meltdown, obviously. Donald Trump, however, wanted some chaos that made Joe Biden look bad.
So Mitch McConnell played it cute. He was hoping Democrats wouldn`t blink. It didn`t turn out the way he wanted. So he bought -- he decided to blink. He`s the one who reversed himself on this, because, at the end, he works for the corporations, not for Donald Trump.
MELBER: I thought -- you said Trump only cares about himself. I thought he cared a lot about coal miners.
KOMANDURI: Well, that`s -- I mean, what`s interesting is, he likes to play dress up as a coal miner when he goes to West Virginia, but I don`t think he really cares anything about them.
In fact, if you remember, he did try to take away health care and preexisting conditions, something that coal miners in West Virginia very much need.
MELBER: Fair. Facts, facts mixed with "Star Wars."
I want to look a little deeper at the point you raise, because if -- I say this sometimes through the TV to viewers. If you`re watching all this and thinking, it doesn`t seem like it`s working over there in Washington, and it seems like some things changed, but a lot of things are blocked, yes, well, these rules are part of it. And the popular support is there.
It`s not my job, Chai, as a journalist or news anchor, to tell people, here`s what should or shouldn`t happen. But I can tell you, if you`re watching, the odds are most people watching support certain things that are not happening for broken reasons.
So, for your analysis, let`s just look at a couple examples here where you have that contrast, because we were just showing before some of the Democratic principal plans there that have 80 -- numbers in the 80s. Here, you have two and three supporting stricter gun control laws, a big issue that we don`t always -- always see, except for when there`s terrible times.
I think we have this, Republicans fearing Democrats` voting protection bills went well. A new poll shows that, if you actually explain it, depending on how it works, a lot of people say, yes, fortifying and streamlining voter rights, yes.
And, finally, a majority want to keep abortion legal, although they do support restrictions, according to polling, but, again, that putting things much closer to what a floor vote might provide if we just had democracy in the Senate. Your analysis of that part of this?
KOMANDURI: Yes, there`s another thing I would add to all the issues, which is, there`s been a lot of discussion about national unity and bipartisanship.
In fact, bipartisanship has been invoked by the Democratic defenders of the filibuster. I would argue that national unity and bipartisanship would be well-served by making the Senate a more productive place. Getting rid of the filibuster would make it simply a more productive place.
You would no longer have people like Marsha Blackburn, who would spend all their time sitting in their office trying to get Taylor Swift to tweet back at them, because there is no legislation. Nothing is being done in Washington because of the filibuster.
MELBER: Well, let me jump in and then I will let you finish.
You know what Taylor would say about that early phase in a relationship, where you`re hoping to be acknowledged, but you don`t know how it`s going to go.
KOMANDURI: I unfortunately do not know this. I`m not super familiar -- I`m familiar with her politics more than her music.
MELBER: She would say it`s delicate. It`s delicate.
KOMANDURI: I`m sure she would.
KOMANDURI: What is not delicate, however...
MELBER: Go ahead.
KOMANDURI: ... is the way the filibuster is used. It just uses a hammer to destroy anything progressives want, and it`s making and corroding the nation`s political dialogue.
MELBER: Yes. Well, I think you nailed it, and the filibuster not delicate.
And, if Congresswoman (sic) Blackburn is hoping for that, that response -- you don`t know when they`re going to text you back, if ever -- we wish her well with that. Plenty of Swifties out there. We wish her well.
I know, from the documentary, Taylor not into Blackburn`s politics, but we wish everybody well. Music is a unifier, Chai.
KOMANDURI: It absolutely is.
MELBER: Now I feel like the segment`s gone off the rails.
KOMANDURI: We can tie it back to "Star Wars" in some way.
But the reality is...
MELBER: Well, the filibuster is the Jar Jar Binks of the series.
KOMANDURI: Well, I have defended Jar Jar Binks before. Jar Jar Binks is actually, I believe, a good person. He`s not a bad person.
KOMANDURI: If you want to compare the filibuster to anything, it would probably would be Jabba the Hutt, who`s like this monster who just dwells for its own self-consumption, not doing much for anybody, but is still being used by the Dark Side of the Force for malevolent purposes.
MELBER: Much better.
I`m not surprised that where you land was much better than my humble attempt. We will call it Jabba. And I will say to BEAT viewers who`ve put up with me through this segment we will take other nominations online.
You can go to THEBEATWITHARI Instagram. Maybe we will see if there`s other characters or just one big Jabba the Hutt sitting with Mitch on the Senate floor.
Chai, your erudition and your patience always appreciated.
Up ahead, let me tell you what we have, a special look at what we have been talking about, our health, mentally and otherwise, in pandemic life. And the CDC is calling out these spiking depression and anxiety statistics. It`s something that should not be stigmatized. We can talk about.
Friend of THE BEAT Tony Schwartz is here with another special guest.
And, later, a spotlight on police reform.
You`re watching THE BEAT.
MELBER: There`s been a lot of news. We have covered a lot of it. But I want to get into something else that we`re all going through at one time or another lately.
Americans are burnt out, anxious and many depressed. We have a pandemic death toll total over 700,000. The other toll is harder to measure, but it is real. And it relates to just our daily life and work, even if you feel like you have been through some of the worst already. And we know people are getting crushed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A few days, I would be fine and working fine and everything would be fine. And then on, say, like a Friday, I would feel like I couldn`t even deal, couldn`t get up that day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single patient I see is complaining of this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are exhausted from the mere act of being human, whether it`s from paid work or from parenting, caregiving, managing chronic illness.
I think many people are experiencing burnout. And it`s not simply a psychological phenomenon.
KATHERINE CHIQUI ZUMBA, IMPACTED BY PANDEMIC: I will always like fake a smile.
QUESTION: Were you depressed?
CHIQUI ZUMBA: Not really depressed, but like mostly sad all the time. There`s a lot of kids, they don`t want to address it or they`re scared to address it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Not depressed, but sad all the time, which goes to how we think through the words we use, whether we`re kids or we`re adults.
People are tired. People are tired of talking about they`re tired. And, sometimes, we just want to shut it all out.
Now, one thing that we`re seeing, because in the news we measure things, right, is how people are also just making changes in this context. Over the last 18 months, reports of millions of people quitting their jobs. NPR says people rethinking what work means to them, how they are valued, and how they spend their time.
And then the CDC, which we often talk about in the COVID context, of course, tracks all kinds of data. They`re confirming what you may feel. Depression and anxiety levels are measurably up compared to before the pandemic hit.
So let`s get into it with some special guests.
We have leaders in the mental health field here and a friend of THE BEAT Tony Schwartz. He`s the co-author of "The Art of the Deal," you may recall, but, nowadays, he advises CEOs and other leaders with The Energy Project, which advises companies like Google and Kraft on channeling emotion and dealing with energy to produce results, a very applied example with the workplace.
And we`re also joined by Thea Gallagher, a clinical psychologist who has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-hosts "Mind in View" podcast.
Welcome to both of you. And thanks for having a conversation that we intend to be real and without stigma.
And, Thea, when is a time for people to stop and reflect on how they`re feeling and how to identify, even before they get to the point of whether they see a specialist or doctor, whether they`re sad or anxious in a way that might be addressed?
DR. THEA GALLAGHER, CO-HOST, "MIND IN VIEW": Everyone asks me this question, like, when do I know I need help? But your question of when do we reflect, I think it`s every day, every evening, kind of sitting down and doing that nonjudgmental observation.
What worked for me today? What didn`t? Because I think our -- we`re noticing that people are having higher highs, lower lows, assessing how I`m feeling. How is my mood? And what`s impacted it positively or negatively? Or was today just a tough day and I don`t really understand why?
But really collecting that data on yourself is so important, because that`s how you`re going to know where to make the changes. And are the changes kind of more internal or external or a combination of both?
MELBER: That makes a lot of sense.
Tony, MSNBC viewers know you for one thing. And in this life, if you step out in public, you might be known for one thing, right? You had this link to the former president. But I have known you for years, and you do this work that really fits to this moment post-pandemic, or whatever you want to call it, but you have been doing it with companies.
So there`s a, how do we produce results? It`s not just tune in, drop out. What are you seeing and thinking about in this time where people thought we`d be through it, but we`re not really through it?
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": So, helplessness is one of the most difficult emotions that anyone can have. It`s traumatizing to feel helpless.
And I think, between COVID and climate change and polarization, just people being able to actually even get along, we`re in a state of trauma, we`re in a state of overload. And I think that people really have not had to reckon with what`s going on inside them in quite the way they did.
You know, 80 percent of CEOs in a study that I just read, Egon Zehnder -- this is the organization that did the study -- 80 percent of CEOs now are saying that their personal -- their ability to grow and evolve is as important to their success as the company`s ability to grow and evolve.
So we have an awareness that that`s coming right now. But we also need practical solutions. I thought I would show you and viewers how we think about this, and therefore maybe how to manage it better.
So, we call these, I hope, if we get them up -- we call these the Energy Quadrants. So, do we see them?
MELBER: We don`t have it, but I have my notes.
You talk about...
SCHWARTZ: I will do it.
MELBER: Go through it.
So, the idea is that the way people perform at their best is to feel very specific emotions. They`re positive emotions, you ask somebody, how do you feel when you`re performing at your best? Consistently, 100 percent of the time, they will tell you excited, energized, focused, in the zone.
However, when you`re feeling a sense of threat, you fall into something we call the Survival Zone. It`s kind of the fight-or-flight state.
SCHWARTZ: It`s either angry or it`s anxious, or it`s some blend of those.
And that is a suboptimal place from which to work and to live. And if you spend too much in the Survival Zone, you end up in the Burnout Zone. Here we see it now.
So if you`re in the Survival Zone for too long, you`re in the Burnout Zone. Survival isn`t good to work from. Burnout is the worst place, because it`s negative and it`s low-energy. So what`s the antidote? This is the key.
Most of us are moving right now between those two top ones.
SCHWARTZ: Some threat or stress comes along and we fall into the Survival Zone.
The antidote to that, the solution to that is to more intentionally and consciously move into this lower right zone, the Renewal Zone, which gets no respect. You don`t get respect for saying, hey, I`m going to take a break now. I`m going to take a nap now.
SCHWARTZ: But great athletes, with who we`re just -- who we started this work with, understand the managing of work/rest ratios.
SCHWARTZ: They understand that that`s as important as spending...
MELBER: Well, and to stay in the quadrants, the other thing about Performance Zone is, depending on your job in life, or your parenting or your obligations, that might be a place you have to go.
So, you go up to the upper right performance, and you say I got to be confident for my kids, for my community, for my job. But then, at some point, you got to drop -- I`m looking at this with you here.
I think the Renewal Zone, lower right, is kind of the Enya zone.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, absolutely.
It`s -- we think it`s sort of the magic of the next generation of work. And what`s happening right now is that people are so overwhelmed, they`re reporting to us -- I have had three CEOs in the last two weeks of Fortune 500 companies say to me and have their team say to me when I was working with them: Our whole company is in the Survival Zone.
MELBER: Yes, I bet.
Let me bring Thea back for reaction, Thea, as well as Tony mentioned hopelessness. When we keep an eye on politics, we see hopelessness can quickly curdle into anger and other efforts to feel less hopeless, because you`re on the attack.
But does that really work long term to make yourself or your family feel better?
GALLAGHER: No, I think you can feel -- and Tony was talking about feeling really overwhelmed.
When we start to feel really overwhelmed, then we start to feel hopeless. And we feel like we have no impact on the world around us. And so I think even politics, climate change, like, you wake up and these feel like unsolvable problems. What can one person do?
And so I really try to bring people back to like, what can I control in my environment? What can`t I control in my environment? And you are even speaking to like, I have to be confident and upbeat for my family, for my kids, I need to be this person.
But I think you also need to make sure that you`re being real and authentic, and talking about the struggles that you are having. And we already see that some of these bigger political and global issues are having an impact on our kids, and how do we have these difficult conversations?
But how do we also have places of rest, and like Tony was speaking to, serenity and tranquility? They sound really lofty, but we can create those in our day-to-day environment with small tools.
Well, and I appreciate one point between both of you is, when you said being real, keeping it real, Doctor, and it`s sort of like, we all know, even at a very young age, what we`re socialized that it`s OK to say. Like, it`s OK to say you`re doing good. That`s much easier than saying you`re doing poorly.
Or I`m from the West Coast. It`s good to say, oh, how you doing? Chilling. I`m chilling. Like, that`s a positive. But depressed isn`t or. On the East Coast, I noticed, when I moved out, people would be like, how you doing? Busy. Like, it was cool to say busy.
But, sometimes, it doesn`t feel as easy to say, I`m really sad today, or I have been thinking about my friend and what`s going on with his family post-COVID and the problems they`re having. That`s weighing on me, right?
If you can`t even start the conversation, how can you even grow?
So we have only started here. Tony is a friend of the show.
Dr. Gallagher, friendship is a two-way street, but maybe you will become a friend of this show, and we will talk to these issues.
Thanks to both of you.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
GALLAGHER: You`re welcome.
MELBER: Appreciate it.
We also want to make sure everyone understands, if you or anyone you know may be dealing with any aspect of depression, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We have both the number, which you can use at any time, as well as the Web site. It is not-for-profit, and it`s there, if that is something that you or anyone in your community might want to use.
When we come back, we look at police reform demonstrated and the problems that we need. We have talked about why you need video, why you need facts. We`re going to show you part of a story that`s important and then look at police reform one year after the BLM protests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLIFFORD OWENSBY, OHIO: I`m a paraplegic, sir.
I cannot step out of the car. I cannot step out of the vehicle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got in the car. You can get out of the car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: An Ohio police department under fire today after an officer was caught on video dragging a man, Clifford Owensby, out of his car during what might have been a routine traffic stop.
Now, what`s important here is he told them that he could not, literally could not exit the vehicle because, as he self-identified, he`s a paraplegic.
We`re going to show you some of the officer`s body camera video. This relates to the entire reform movement that`s been discussed, whether we need these videos and whether we need transparent methods for them.
Now, we do not know -- I say this as a matter of fairness -- what happened right before after this actual footage. And a warning: It can be disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OWENSBY: I can`t step out of the car, sir. I`m a paraplegic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to assist you out of the vehicle.
OWENSBY: No, you`re not. No, you`re not. No, you`re not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can cooperate and get out of the car, or we`ll drag you out of the car.
Do you see your two options here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car, dude. You`re making this worse.
OWENSBY: I`m a paraplegic, bro! You can (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hurt me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car. Get out of the car.
OWENSBY: You can hurt me, bro!
OWENSBY: What you all doing, bro?
I`m a paraplegic, bro!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, you`re making a choice.
OWENSBY: I`m a paraplegic, bro!
I`m trying to tell you that I got help getting in the car. You all can (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hurting me!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car.
OWENSBY: Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car.
OWENSBY: Somebody, help! Somebody, help! Somebody, help!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Owensby filed a complaint with the NAACP. Both it and the police department are doing investigations of the incident.
The broader context is, all of this comes at a time when police reform legislation on Capitol Hill, after months of supposed bipartisan negotiation, was declared dead.
And the issue was whether police would continue to have a type of immunity that experts say shields them from the normal accountability that literally every other profession has. That was a sticking point, as we report, in the negotiations.
Meanwhile, "The Post" reports 35 state bills which try to address any sort of reform here have died over the last 18 months. And most policing is, of course, governed at that state level, not federally.
We are one year out of the big push to try to reform police conduct and systemic racism in America.
One of the issues about funding was whether you could use some of the money that seems to go to the hard edge of policing and put it towards other human problems that apparently the police end up stepping into, like funding mental health and housing programs.
Police departments across America, well, they`re getting their money back. There`s also been a rise in violent crime rates. Criminologists debate the reasons. It is tied somewhat, people say, to economic trends in the pandemic.
There is not a lot of evidence that you can just throw endless money at the old style of policing and get lower crime rates. Now, there are Democratic cities like New York that have tried to do some changes.
They allocated an additional $200 million to the NYPD. LAPD got a 3 percent boost. Burlington, Vermont, gave its officers $10,000 bonuses. The Austin P.D. budget is now at its highest ever, $142 million.
And in a world where people talk politics, remember, many of these places are run by Democrats. This is a question about American policing, not left, right or party. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson restored $10 million in overtime funds and hired 275 new officers.
No one is saying that you can`t have funding to do more than one thing to police, patrol and protect a community. But there is evidence that continuing to fund the same system, without reform at the federal level, without major state reform, without accountability in court, which is what everyone else is subject to, except police in America, there`s a lot of evidence that that is not fixing our problems. It may be doubling down on them.
There`s a troubling reality here, and it needs your attention.
We will be right back.