tv Washington This Week CSPAN July 11, 2015 10:22pm-11:01pm EDT
ll disagree with our opponents on lgbt rights, but on places where we can coincide, it is incumbent upon us to coincide. like neera said, this is a remarkable opportunity. the window of opportunity has never been flung this wide open before. it is an economic issue. it is absolutely at the core of how the government is using taxpayer money into building this great epidemic of over incarceration, 2.3 million people behind bars. the highest rate in the world. what took us 50 years to build since the war on nixon will take us decades to undo. we are thrilled to be working with coke industries. we are thrilled to be working with the american executive council. we are thrilled to work with other groups that come not just with an economic imperative but moral imperative. at the end of the day, this is not just about balancing budgets and shaking deficits.
this is about do unto others as you'd have them do unto you, this is about turning the other cheek. this is about whether or not america's a country that believes in the value of redemption and whether each one of us should be judged for the rest of our lives for the worst act we've done on our worst day of our life. and if we don't believe that rule should apply to us, then it ought not apply in our criminal justice context. that's why i think the opportunities are enormous and i look forward to working with anyone else with whom i might disagree on other fronts. we'll just park those issues, peter, arthur, and others, and we'll work together where we can and get some things done. but thank you very much. [applause] jeffrey: this has been a superb constitutional conversation. my expectations were high and you have surpassed them. i have heard, i would not say rancor, but engaged debate and i
have also heard some important agreement on fundamental issues , like the moral foundation of american liberty, the importance of opportunity, and the dangers of massive operation. as for the national constitution center, we will be the central national hosting platform for precisely this kind of constitutional conversations, on the web here in philadelphia and around the country and we will educate the citizens of the united states about the u.s. constitution, hearing the best arguments on both sides as we have today so each can make up their minds about how best to celebrate freedom. we are now going to celebrate our own freedom by taking a 15-minute break and we will return to hear the great walter isaacson interview mike bezos. [captions performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
announcer: next, a conversation with mike bezos. after that, another chance for a discussion on court cases involving religious liberty. announcer: on newsmakers, steve israel, chair of the democratic policy and communications committee, talks about democratic priorities for congress. the possibility of a shutdown, the iran nuclear negotiations, and 2016 campaign politics. "newsmakers" sunday at 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. announcer: this week on first
ladies, influence image, we learn about lucretia garfield and mary macarthur mcelroy. lucretia was a believer in women's rights. when her husband, james garfield, was assassinated, she returned to ohio and made their home into an early version of a presidential library. chester arthur, a widower becomes president, mary macarthur mcelroy establishes white house social etiquette used by future first ladies for decades. lucretia garfield and mary arthur mcelroy this sunday night on c-span's original cities -- original series, first ladies. sundays at 8:00 p.m. eastern. on c-span3. announcer: philanthropist mike
bezos, father of amazon.com founder jeff bezos, talked about his experiences from emigrating from cuba as a boy. this conversation about immigration takes place at the national constitution center in philadelphia. it is 30 minutes. [laughter] [applause] >> the immigrant sometimes is the one that best understands the concept of freedom and what america is all about. tell us about your experience as an immigrant. what did you feel? >> thank you for allowing me to be here. the conversations have been unbelievable. i am over the top already. we take for granted these discussions and conversations. it's unbelievable.
so, go back to 1958, back in cuba, and i was at that time maybe 13, 14 years old. and i was fine. i was a teenager doing my thing, going to school, minding my own business. there was no thought of ever leaving cuba. my dad is a -- he owned a lumber mill, which he worked hard at. that's where i learned my work ethics from, get up at 5:00 in the morning and work until 5:00 in the evening and so it was -- but it was a good, comfortable life. and then all of a sudden, things change. -- changed. it was kind of a topsy turvy. all of a sudden what you thought was yours is no longer yours.
it's been deemed to be taken over and shared with others. that happens through all industries -- all private property disappears. even the schools that i was going to got shut down because they were changing the curriculum from the curriculum they had to one that was more communist-oriented. over a two gear. , i didn't have much to do, except perhaps potentially get in trouble. that's when my parents decided i needed to get out of cuba. >> what age? jeff bezos: the process started when i was about 15. it took about a year to get
everything going. my brother and sister were much older than i. i wasn't surprised of the family. because he was a professional. my sister was a teacher so they would not let her out. my mom and dad said, you have got to be the one to get out because if they draft you, then we will all start here. if you go out, we might find ways out. and in those days, this is a 1961. when the process started, they were letting kids go out by themselves, without any major concern. the process started and just to show you -- we were talking earlier about how sticky people
can get. when my parents put an application for my passport and i was ready to leave, it was august that i was going to leave. they -- a group of, i do not know who they were, but they were some sort of authority. they were in uniform. they came into the house and inventoried my room because everything that was in my room at that time had to be there when i left. we could not dispose of it, even though it was not mine. it was my parents'. a 16-year-old did not own much of anything. that is kind of the power-hungry that people get. finally, we get a telegram that says, you got an exit for the day after tomorrow leaving in
san diego, cuba -- santiago, cuba. that was on the southeastern part of the island. we had to go to havana so we have to hightail it. and my parents dropped me off at the airport. they would not let them go in so they just dropped me off. so i walked in and went through check in, and i left, landed in miami. by myself. fortunately, there was a group of churches and organizations that had gathered together, and they were the ones that were collecting all these cuban kids who would come out themselves. at 16, i was on the older side of the kids that would come out. i was on the older side. there were some that were 5, 6 7, and they would try to find a place for them to stay and to be placed until the parents or their relatives would come out. so that was, i still remember
walking out of the airplane, and somebody is asking me, do you have any family in miami? i said no. so come over here. there were about five or six of us. there were some boys and girls and the girls went on one van to some camp and the boys went to another van to another camp. walter: you ended up being very successful. explain how that happened. mike: fortunately, things just happen. we went through within three weeks of being in this camp, i get a call to come to the office. i walk into the office and there was a suitcase with a heavy bolt on top of it and i said, i am in trouble. and an airplane ticket to philadelphia. i was going to wilmington, delaware, and they were giving
scholarships to cuban refugees high school in wilmington, to go to high school. so i landed in philadelphia. there was somebody waiting for me, took me to wilmington, and i went to high school in wilmington, delaware. i graduated from there, and it is just one thing after another. we as parents sometimes think kids listen to what we are telling them -- do not listen to what we are telling them, but they are. i did not have my parents telling anything to do. i kept going back and saying what would they tell me to do? so if you are a young parent just keep doing what you are doing. some of it will stick, i can guarantee you. so eventually i went to finish high school and eventually i went to albuquerque, new mexico, where they were also giving
scholarships at university to cuban refugees. i graduated from there. i met my wife and the rest is history. walter: tell us about the role what made you passionate about the role of education in creating opportunity? mike: it certainly did because when i graduated from high school, i did not have my mom and dad to tell me, you have got to go to college, you had to do this so it was up to me. , i thought with coming to america with a high school degree, what else do you need? that was until about a year and a half into some tough jobs i decided, maybe i need to go to university. the decision was -- and after
having done that and obviously you are in the middle at that point, i did not realize how important it was. it was years later in looking back, having that education is something that once you have that, nobody can take it away from you. they can take your property, they can take your cars, they can take your business, but that education is yours to do with it what you want and utilize it. so that is -- it became something that both my wife and i and our kids are passionate about. education. walter: we have been talking about rights, liberty, freedom the economic rights, liberty. the political rights and freedoms. as somebody who left a place where suddenly those were withdrawn from you, when did you first become aware of the american system of rights and liberty, and how did that affect you? mike: i became aware very early
on. in that the moment we started placing our kids in public schools, it became a realization that my gosh, public schools in this country are an institution that is -- i do not think it is duplicated in very many places. it is an unbelievable gift we have and we do not really think about it. we take it for granted. and so, it was -- in most other places, you have to be of a certain economic class or have a certain job in order to get an education. the amazing thing about -- one
of the amazing things this country offers is education for everybody. unfortunately, there have been some bumps along the road but it is there. walter: do you think we are moving away from that notion of the k-12 education being the great equalizer? mike: we have been moving away from it, and there is no reason for it. there is absolutely no reason for it. that is one of the driving forces for us in our family foundation, is to try to get act -- get back to leveling the playing field. you guys talked about it earlier on. as long as the opportunity is there -- and this is what i had -- this is what i found -- i had the opportunity given to me in this country. whether on purpose or by fewer luck, it worked -- by pure luck, it worked for me.
i want to make that available for as many people as i can, remove as many obstacles as possible from having that same opportunity that we all had. walter: how are you using your philanthropy and other things to do that? mike: the foundation -- i will give you a quick background -- just back up a little bit. my oldest son, jeff, we lived in columbia and i was there with work. we get a phone call from him saying, i'm thinking of opening a bookstore on the internet. i need some money. we said -- he had a sweet, sweet job on wall street. it was a wonderful job.
i said, why? what is the internet? [laughter] mike: that was kind of the second question. his mother said, can you do this on weekends and nights? do not quit your job. we were fortunate enough we have lived overseas and had saved a few pennies, so we were able to be an angel investor, and the rest is history. when that became, when we were blessed with that fallout, which was one of the things that jeff did tell us is, i want to -- i want you to know how risky this is. being in business, startups fail 80% of the time, but he said, i want you to know how risky it is because i want to come home for dinner at thanksgiving and i do not want you to be mad at me. fortunately, it turned out quite
well. [laughter] mike: so he is invited for thanksgiving anytime he wants to come. [laughter] mike: going back to your question, the one thing that became obvious, we formed the foundation. our three kids -- we have three children. there are three spouses. my wife and i are the directors of the foundation and when we formed the foundation, there was no question as to the fact that education was going to be the primary focus. and we zeroed in from age zero to 18. that is our sweet spot, with a great emphasis on zero to five. we really feel that if we can get it right in 0 to 5 many of these issues we have been talking about -- incarceration for one thing -- will not go
away but will be reduced. that is what we are trying to do. we have many different programs throughout the face, the ages of zero to 18. we also get involved in teaching colleges, high-quality teaching colleges with good teachers coming back into the pipeline. that is our involvement in education field. again, it is public schools, which charters are included. that is how we are kind of thinking in terms of making it as available to everybody as we possibly can. walter: let's go back to the
emigrant experience. how did you feel about the way the united states is debating and handling immigration these days? mike: it is probably not any different than the way it has been handled many times before. i remember in the 60's when the cubans were coming in, trying to get away from castro. same thing was going on in south florida, what are we going to do with all of these people coming in? of course, a lot of us do not want to be there to start with but that is where we ended up. so the conversations about immigration has been around for a long time. and i am not going to -- my problem is not so much how people get to this country. what i am concerned is what we do with them once they are here. they are here, the last thing we want to do is keep them down. i think that what we need to do is for them to become as
american as i am, as american as everybody else is. that is what i believe that we need to do. i will let others worry about how they get here, either they should have, should not have all that. i am not going to get into that. walter: tell me your thoughts with the opening to cuba. [laughter] walter: you have family there, you keep in touch. mike: i do. i do. i do. i do. walter: you have not been back. mike: i have not. i have not been back. you know, it is funny, since last december when the major announcement about approaching cuba was made, the first questions were for my own kids. what do you think? i told them, give it time, it is too early.
it is way too early. ask me this question in a year and then we can discuss it. i still feel that that is way too early. we have not seen anything on the other side. it has all been one-sided. it has all been from the united states' side, the willingness to open up. you can open an embassy, there's nothing wrong with that. i think that is well-founded. we need to see what the reaction is from those in power in cuba and whether what is going to happen, what is going to be done is going to be done for the right reasons. whether it is going to be done -- it should not be done for getting american tourists in cuba to smoke cigars and drink rum and dance to cuban music. that should not be the reason for it. the reason should be to create a better way for those folks that
are still left behind. once we get to that point, i am all for it. there is no reason why not. i just wanted to mention that i was thinking about this the other day. when i was in high school in wilmington, delaware, it was right after -- i left in october -- july of 62, and october of 1962 was the cuban missile crisis. i could not go back to cuba, my parents could not come out. we did not see each other for a number of years. during the missile crisis, everybody in my civics class at high school -- that is when we had civics class -- everybody in the class had a subscription to u.s. news & world report. if there was anything about cuba
in that magazine, it was given to me to read it and then to stand up and give a report. the same thing is happening now. [laughter] mike: i need to get back up. i do not mind at all but, yeah. walter: move back to education. if you could list the seven or eight, or five or six things we could do to improve 0-18 education, what would they be? mike: oh my goodness. one of the things in 0-5, that we are trying to do is to reach the parents. we have done a lot, we have funded a lot of brain research
on babies, nonintrusive, high-quality brain research using an e.g. machines -- meg machines, that registers depending on how the babies are reacting, what parts of the brain are being engaged. as an example, they have this baby, eight months old or nine months old in this huge thing. it looks like a hairdryer from mars. the babysitting there. the parent is right in front of the baby interacting so the baby is not threatened in any way. from the baby looking at a screen where there is someone doing puppets or talking on a tv screen. on a monitor and the baby is just fascinated, looking at that monitor, glued to the monitor.
they are registering what is happening in the visual and auditory, and how those connections are being made. then a couple of days later they bring the baby back, but this time they bring the person from behind the monitor and sits in front of the baby. they go through the same interaction. but the results are unbelievable. the brain activity is manyfold in terms of the connections that are being made, the synapses that are being connected. it is unbelievable. we are using that brain research to demonstrate that if we can get -- not to demonstrate, but to convey to parents who are too
busy to have this information that they are brain builders from the minute that that baby is born. a lot of things that we as parents have taken for granted the way we raise our kids, there are a lot of parents, the parents that we are trying to reach that do not have that information. they themselves have not been brought up that way. they feel like, there is nothing i can do. the babies will learn when they go to school at five years old. by then it is way too late. that is where there is a huge gap. actually they are finding out , that the gaps begin when they are 18 months old, in terms of the number of words. it is not the number of words, it is the quality of words that are spoken and interactions, whether you are looking at the baby in the eyes, you are touching the baby. we have come up with a way for a busy parent that has two jobs
and we say, you do not need any more time, the time you have is all you need when you bathe the baby, change the diaper, feed the baby. these are the interactions you need to have with the baby so that is what we are trying to do at that age. obviously, at different stages of the curriculum, we have different programs. as you know, in high school, our emphasis is in leadership. the programs we do with the aspen institute, we think those high schoolers, we just do not challenge them enough. just mentioned he was fascinated by how well they reacted when you ask them to do something. the problem is we do not ask them.
we just say, you do not want to do it, do not do it here it i think that is part of -- i'm not answering your question, not giving you one, 2, 3, 4 items. but i am just saying that high schoolers, we need to challenge them and make sure that they get involved, that they put their education to work, that they can see what they are learning is going to yield something. they a result right away, and that is where the aspen challenge is designed to do. it is one, we will help you along the way, you pick a challenge and we will help you. then you have to -- and for those of you -- i am jumping around, but it is like water quality or constitution, whatever. walter: different projects? mike: different projects they
have to work on as a team. one of the first things they have to learn to do is compromise, work as a team select which challenge, decide which way -- which is the best way. we are trying to teach them a little bit of what real life is like. but at the end of the project, it is amazing the transformation, the quality of the projects they come up with. in terms of helping or training concept, an idea to the local community, the neighborhoods or the school about that particular subject, they did a great job at the end of the process. they only have seven weeks to do this and this is in addition to their regular schoolwork. these are regular kids. these are not selected.
they are very random, randomly selected. walter: for my last question, i want to try to tie together a few things i heard you say. and see how, to you, it ties in to what america is all about. in your last answer you talked about making not just good projects but making civic leaders, kids who thought about something a little bit larger than themselves and had to work together for the civic in common good. likewise when we talked about education. you talked about the opportunity for everybody to get more involved instead of starting off with an unequal playing field. in some ways, throughout it all, you have talked about this notion of what a civic society is. we do not teach civics anymore but in some ways that is what this whole day has been about. what is civics to us? i mean, what is our civic common
ground? how do you think about all of that having come to america and getting involved with making sure the next generation can have the opportunities you had? mike: i think it was also mentioned earlier, to me civics is civility. it is being able to understand that even though we are, we have differences and we have different desires, we need to be aware that our private feelings do not get in the way of others' feelings. we have to have it, like it or not we are in this together. how to get this done is something that is not easy. it takes a little training, if
you will. we have to train ourselves. i think we complain about the lack of movement in washington d c, in terms of getting things accomplished. a lot of that happens, starts at the kitchen table. if we have a conversation at the kitchen table in front of our kids that says, it is very one-sided, that child is going to pick up on that and is also going to be one-sided. so at the kitchen table we need to be aware that there years -- their ears are listening to what is going on. it goes all the way from that point as they grow up. by example, we are the ones who need to lead that effort. again, i am not sure that i answered your question
specifically but it is getting along and knowing to compromise. i think there is a lot of that that needs to be done. which i to get that into the kids' minds as early as possible. walter: michael bezos, thank you very much. [applause] mike: thank you. my pleasure. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: next, a capital here ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. after that, attorneys take part in discussions on court cases involving religious liberties. then, another chance to hear mike bezos. announcer: our road to the white
house coverage continues monday. candidate hillary clinton outlines are economic agenda at the school in new york city. we will have that live at 10:00 a.m. on the span, and also scott walker is expected to announce he is entering the republican presidential race at an event in waukesha wisconsin, beginning at 6:15 p.m. on c-span3, our coverage. announcer: next weekend on c-span's road to the white house, the only place you can watch or listen to these events in their entirety, friday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern, we will be live in cedar rapids for the hall of fame dinner, marking the first time that all of the democratic presidential candidates share the same stage and then at 11:00 a.m. eastern, we will be live at ames, where
nine at leading republican candidates are expected to speak, and on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. we take you there. announcer: this week on first ladies, influence and image, we learn about lucretia garfield and educated woman and a believer in women's rights. when her husband was assassinated, she returned to ohio and in short of their legacy by making their home into the early version of the presidential library. a way to work becomes president and they establish white house social etiquette used by first ladies for decades. this sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's original series, first ladies, influence and image, with their influence
on the presidency, from martha washington to michelle obama sundays on american history tv on c-span3. announcer: congressional leaders held an event wednesday, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war with speakers john boehner and mitch mcconnell, as well as democratic leaders nancy pelosi and harry reid. we also heard from defense secretary ashton carter and former secretary chuck hagel. this is about one hour, 20 minutes. announcer: ladies and gentlemen the former and current secretary of defense and the speaker of the house of representatives.