tv The War Room Current June 25, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
>> michael: coming up five of the most cloistered men in the entire world decide that voter discrimination no longer exists. it's a sad day for america. i'm michael sure. you are in "the war room." [♪ theme music ♪] >> michael: today marks a major step backwards in our country's long-fight for civil rights. one of those days where i am quite simply ashamed of our country. the supreme court decided to strike down part of the voting rights act. the law that has been called the
most important piece of sil right right -- civil rights legislation ever in its passage. and the country that brought today's case to strike down the law, in the 60s protesters endured t fire hosts, bombings and beatings to protect voting rights. after the president signed the law into law, he spoke about the impact he hoped it would have. >> today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield. they came in darkness and they came in change and today, we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and
ancient bonds. >> michael: martin luther king reportedly cried as he heard that. the act sought to remove the last shackle by mandating that certain regions like alabama had to preclear any voting laws with the federal government. it determined which counties and states were included in stade's case shelby county said it should no longer be required to clear its laws with the federal government because the act was outdated. >> they are still using the same criteria to determine whether these 16 states that are covered -- they are still using the same tests that they used in 1965. >> what is wrong with that? >> what is wrong with that? things have changed in the south. >> michael: the facts show that he is wrong. unfortunately things have not really changed. the states that have seen the most voter discrimination
lawsuits in the last several years are mostly the same states covered by the voting rights act. and they bought alabama's claim that the law is outdated writing quote . . . shame on john roberts. even in his early days he wrote memos as a white member in order to curtail the voting right's act. today it was mission accomplished. his court and the decision that he wrote undid a law that was written to stifle racism in this country. in response, justice ruth bader-ginsberg wrote a discent.
she said because of the decrease, conservatives can argue that the law is unnecessary, and she had harsh criticism for chief justice robert's decision writing . . . attorney general eric holder who has spent much of his term working on voting rights issues also expressed outrage. >> these problems have not been confined to history. they continue to exist. their effects are real. they are up today, not yesterday, and they corrode the foundation of our democracy. >> michael: the law now going to congress for revision, and washington is already gearing up for a fight. the senate has scheduled hearings for july. this battle a lost but the war is far from over. look at the what the five of them gave us today, or i should
say took away elections matter folks. i'm honored to introduce our first guest, joining me in "the war room" is julian bond, former head of the naacp. thanks so much for being here. >> great pleasure. that would be former chairman? >> what did i say president? >> you said president. >> michael: how about current chairman emeritus. is that good? >> yes, any title is good. >> michael: president let's talk about how big of blow this decision was to the long fight for civil rights and what would you come fighter. andrew coen compared it to dredd scott. would you go that far? >> i wouldn't go that far. a friend of mine in atlanta i was talking to about this she said we face more than that then, we can face this now.
so even though this is a terrific blow roberts must be chord elling in his boots, because as you said she has been working on this since he was in the region justice department. but it is undoable. and can be undoable if we put our shoulders to the wheel. >> michael: julian in talking to you -- and you were talking to your friend in atlanta who said you faced must worse then but there was greater mobilization then too. do you have any fear that the fight to right to vote is something that doesn't have seem coalesced right now? >> no i don't. because i look back at the most recent election we had, where there was great mobilization among civil rights groups, but evening beyond that ordinary
black americans by themselves found their way to the polls in record numbers, in numbers we have never seen recorded before and they accomplished the reelection of the first black president the united states has ever had and they did it mostly by themselves, so i have a great trust in people. i believe they can do it. i'm not a foolish optimist, but i am optimistic about this. and it's not just black people but white people and brown people, yellow people, all of the people who believe in democracy and fair play we can get this done. >> michael: that's a great point. it could be looked at as an instrument of mobilization as it was in 2012. what do you say, julian to the argument that the law is no longer necessary because voting infringements have declined? >> well, sure they have
declined, but they haven't declined enough. they still exist. and they exist in shelby county alabama. they had to be taken to task during this past election cycle. and they brought the complaint. there are other ways that states and jurisdictions can get out of under control of this law, they could have applied to be released from it but shelby county didn't do that because they knew they were guilty. in their history only two black people have ever held office. so they had to go this way, and good for them they won. >> michael: and one of those people switched parties because he found the situation there so untenable. we call our series that you have been so gracious as to take part in, our civil rights series, the march goes on but this seems to show that it is never ending.
what specifically has to happen now to win this fight? >> ordinary americans, not just civil rights organizations and the naacp and other groups not just jesse jackson and people like that, ordinary people have to say i'm tired of this. i want this to go away. i'm talking to my congressman and senator, and telling them if they want to be reelected, they better get this done. i'm going to do everything i can to talk to my neighborhoods, friends, people down the street, and get them registered to vote and on election day we are going to turn out in record numbers. and say if you are for the voting right's act, good for you, we'll support you. if you are against it, we're going to make sure you never hold office again. >> michael: being in mississippi and registering voters in 1964,
being there and getting people to the polls who had never been to the polls before when that was akccomplished did it seem like the fight was over? >> i had no idea that these people like justice roberts would just keep coming back and back and back. i never believed that he was so hostile to the idea of black people registering to vote i didn't dream that. he didn't seem to me to be that kind of person but obviously he is. he did what he could when he was with ronald reagan and he did what he could when he got to a position where he could really take care of it. he did it today. i didn't dream that would happen. >> michael: yeah, it surprised me too and i think there were some people who were thinking after the health care vote maybe roberts is going to be a
little different than what we thought he was going to be. i think we woke up this morning and realized that is not at all the case. you have been an outspoken person in seeing gay rights as civil rights. now that we know this about this ruling, and we know there are some big decisions coming tomorrow on gay rights. if those do go well, are you afraid it could overshadow what we have lost today? >> not really, because enough people are outraged at this to do something about it. i'm just amazed -- i'm talking to you from washington, d.c.'s the nation's capitol, and this is where people tend to pay attention to these kind of things but i'm amazed at the number of people who are mad about this and swear to do something about it. >> michael: and how -- how is the issue -- you know, there's so many things that progressives
talk about these days secrecy, the nsa, immigration, all of these issues. how do we convince -- how do we make the judiciary a big part of elections? because as we said in the intro, these are about elections. these are to get to people that get to the supreme court never go away. >> well, as you said in your opening, elections count and they do count. and we had to make sure everybody who is not registered becomes registered and everybody who is registered turns out and votes on election day. it's as simple as that. it's hard work but it's not as hard as it used to be or as hard as in years gone by and if you are serious about it you can join in, people are doing it right now, and you can get it done. >> michael: so where do you
join? >> you call -- you -- you call your local naacp for one. if that one in your town is dormant go to some other. you can find some civil rights agency in your community that is doing this. you can go by the local league of women voters even and find out what they are doing. there are a multitude of organizations that are doing this. coming up on august 24th is the celebration of the anniversary of the civil -- of the great march on washington where dr. king made his wonderful speech. that would be a good beginning for people to come to washington on august 24th to say i'm here because i want to see the voting right's act reestablished. that would be a good beginning for people. you can go to the courthouse the state capitol, stand up to the elected officials, and say,
listen, buddy, i want you to do something about this and do the right thing, and i want you to do it now. >> michael: and these words are coming to us from someone who absolutely did just that. and you started your own little movement. maybe there will be a march on washington that was different than what was anticipated. thank you for coming in talking to us tonight. julian bond, former head of the naacp, thanks for being here. dan kildee's district is one of the areas affected by today's decision. we'll join us with reaction from capitol hill as well. and he'll tell us what last week was like, because that was the week that he lived on snap assistance to prove a point. and the president has not received the highest marks for his climate change strategy. we'll find out if today's speech changed all of that.
♪ >> michael: some areas of the country will feel the effects of today's supreme court ruling on the voting rightest act more than others. when you look at a map of affected areas, the south stands out. but there are some unexpected areas sprinkled across the country as well. california as a couple of affected spots, and buena vista township in michigan. they may no longer have the voting right's act to protect much-needed educational sources. this is a district that struggles with poverty. almost 25% of the households depended on the supplemental new tradition program, also known as food stamps to feed themselves.
that puts them among the 25 top districts reliant on the program. but $4 billion will be cut out of snap. 26 members of the u.s. congress challenged themselves to live on a feed stamp budget that is $31 a week. i said that right, $31 a week. joining us from washington, d.c. is dan kildee kill dee is one of the members of congress who took part in the snap challenge. welcome into the "war room." >> thank you. it's good to be on. >> michael: i do want to talk about the voting right's act, because it is on everyone's mind today. why is it so important in your district specifically? >> well, for our district and it's not unlike other places around the country where there
have been cases of discrimination and cases of the voting righting taken away from folks, we have got to have the law behind us. and the congress for 40 years has stood behind the voting right's act and more than that. and bipartisan support has been consistent. i think we had 33 votes against the last reauthorization. what we have is a supreme court or a majority of the court that on one hand continues to strengthen the hands of corporate interests by making money speech, and give corporations the right to even greater access to the political process meanwhile diminishing the powers of the government to protect the rights of people who may be disen franchised the right to vote.
>> michael: yes, congress did with the senate 98-0 passed the voting rights act reauthorization. but now it comes back to the congress, as i presume it will with a very sort of different background. is there any reason to feel different about this now that it is going back into the hands of congress. >> if the democrats were in charge, i would be much more confident that we would have a strong ability to respond to this, and send back to the senate and the president a voting right's act that is workable. but i have seen nothing to believe there is any reason to be hopeful that they would take this up at all. or that it would take us towards greater protection on rights. i share julian bond's concern. this is not good news and there's not anything on the immediate horizon that gives me
a sense that the congress would be willing to act. >> michael: yeah, and it strikes me that they could go a long way this leadership if they played their cards right. considering this does not just effect black and white americans it affects latin americas too. and in this country, new citizens of this country, it could be something that helps them. it is also the right thing to do. but they are completely frustrating, and i -- but let's talk about those frustrating lawmakers. you have been outspoken about a medicaid expansion plan that was tabled to the michigan senate could take a break. you had this to say . . . tell us how this is going to hurt michigan. >> well, the affordable care act has one of its basic tenants
that we would increase eligibility for medicaid to increase the pool of people who have coverage to get the preventative care they need. it's a part of this overall approach that is really critical, but requires the states to act with increased medicare coverage. and the governor a person with whom i have many disagreements, and he understands the math and favor it the majority of the republicans decided they would be better off starting their two-month vacation without taking this up and leave 450,000 michigan citizens that could be covered with health care without that coverage and throw the entire health care system in michigan into a tailspin. it's unconscionable. i'm asking them to come back. july 3rd is a session day in the
senate. i'm calling on them to show up. all 12 democrats will be there. >> michael: has even one member said to you, all right, i'll be there? >> well, i know all the democrats will. i have not heard from any of the majority republican senators if they will show up or not. frankly i'll challenge them to come on july 3rd, even -- they have a moral obligation to address this. >> michael: yeah. i want to talk to you about a compelling story you now have. you participated in the snap challenge as we mentioned, living off of a food budget of $4.50 a day. what was the hardest thing about feeding yourself on such a small budget. i can't get over that number. i think what is the difference
between a tall and grande at starbucks. >> there were two things that struck me about it. number one how we all take food for granted. but when you are living on a budget of $31.50, you have to be conscious of everything you eat, and you have to make sure you have something that you can rely on for basic nourishment. and folks living on the food stamp diet, they don't have the money they need to get fresh fruit and vegetables that's why i proposed a bill that would double the amount allowed for fresh fruit and vegetables. but they allowed other amendments to come to the floor, which lead to it failing.
you know, nobody who thinks they know about food stamps really knows about it until they take a little bit of time and try it. i learned a lot about myself and this program just by having to live on $31.50 for a week. >> michael: this seems like a naive question, but because hunger in our country of all of this wealth and excess occurs were you hungry? were there times when you were just so hungry but you didn't have enough to break your budget? >> i was hungry but i didn't experience hunger like i other people do. i always had in the back of my mind, i just have to get to saturday and then i could go back to my normal diet. while there were times i wish i could have something, i knew it was only a week and i could get through. and it made me sad that as tough
as it was for me it was nothing compared to people who depend on their government to make sure they have enough to survive. >> michael: yeah. and have you got incriticism that this was just a publicity stunt or people that are skeptical on the other side. >> i did. a lot of folks back home said you are just trying to do this to raise publicity, and they are absolutely right. my attitude is if they are talk about the snap program, i don't care what gets them talking about it if they are mad at me and it gets them talking about the snap program, then it worked. hopefully people are more aware of how important this program is. we got criticism, but the
criticism was for a good reason. >> michael: congressman dan kildee it was a noble thing that you did. we thank you for experiencing that and being able to share it with me. now get out there and get on the floor of congress and try to get people to overturn this ridiculous ruling if you can. >> thank you. i appreciate it. >> michael: the president gave an hour-long speech on climate change and the major media barely gave it lip service.
carbon pollution comes from our existing power plants. here is some of what the president had to say. >> obama: right now there are no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution that those plants can pump into our air. none. zero. we limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, and sulfur in our air and water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. that's not right. that's not safe and it needs to stop. >> michael: in his plan the president established the first-ever federal regulations on carbon pollution for new and existing power plants. the right-wing quickly voiced their opposition shock of shocks. john boehner said . . .
>> michael: and just this morning, the coal industry announced that it will kick off a multi-million dollars campaign this week to counter obama's plan. joining us from washington, d.c. to talk about the president's speech is michael brune, executive director of the sierra club. and we are very appreciative of your time in coming into "the war room" today. thanks so much. >> hi, michael. thanks for having me on. >> michael: the president prom mitted to act on climate changes in his inaugural address. let's listen to that. >> obama: we will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that failing to do so would betray our children and future generations. >> michael: will he now push this issue forward, or is his speech just a way to appease
environmentalists? >> no, i thought his speech was great. and it's ancation -- an indication that fighting climate change will be a priority for him. in contrast to the supreme court, today was an uplifting experience in terms of climate change. he said fighting climate change is a priority, and he is going after the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions with a smart set of policies that will accelerate a transition to clean engive. >> michael: did you get the feeling that he couldn't say these things in the last campaign, he could don't be into ohio which was a swing state, and this was part of the wink
and nod? >> i don't know. we know for a fact that the president didn't talk about climate change that much during the campaign, but it's also clear that there is a majority of americans now who support strong action on climate change, and there's a supermajority of americans who want to see us transition to clean energy so whether it's people who have been effected by drought in more than half of the country, or people effected by wild fires, or the people like my parents who were kicked out of their homes because of superstorm sandy, or the people now working in the solar and wind industry there is a strong majority of americans who really want to see our country face climate change head on and develop smart solutions to what really is a challenging problem. >> michael: yeah, and that did come through today and i think he was speaking to everybody, to the masses of people who are
starting to come around on this issue or have been on board since the get-go. what is the president doing about carbon tax? >> it's great news. the reason why the sierra club has been working on this is that in addition to the water pollution, and the health impacts of this dirty oil on native communities in canada and communities around the refineries here in the united states, tar sands oil is a big loser when it comes to climate change. we cannot fight climate change sincerely and build this massive pipeline from the tar sands. so the president through down a marker, and he said if this pipeline were to be found to exacerbate climate change to increase greenhouse gas emissions, then it is not in our
country's national interest and the pipeline will be rejected. so we're confident it would be built. >> michael: let's hope this red line is a little more declined than syria. the u.s. is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter, michael after china, in the whole word. did he go far enough to reduce carbon emissions today? >> no. no. the president's policies are strong. it's encouraging to see him speak forcefully and passionately eloquently, the suite of policies that the president developed, will contribute to significant reduction of greenhouse gases, but we have to go a very long way. and what we heard from the president today is a down payment on a long-term coordinated plan to reduce
emissions. this fight is just beginning, and we have a long way to go. >> michael: i agree, and i'm glad there are people like you and the se s -- siera club. let's listen to this. >> obama: i don't have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. we don't have time for a meeting of the flat earth society. [ cheers and applause ] >> michael: so another line being drawn. he is out there on the forefront of this issue challenging the people and calling them flat earthers. how important is this tactic? >> it's important. we can't solve our problems as a country, whether it's environmental, social or economic problems if we don't admit that they exist.
as the president said burying your head in the sand a dangerous thing to do when the seas are rising. i thought the president was very powerful in saying we can come together as a country. we need engineers developing new solutions, new biofuels, and we need farmers to grow them. we need all segments of our society contributes to the solutions. when we do that we can grow the economy, create more jobs and protect public health but none of that can happen when we have almost an entire political party who refuses to acknowledge that this problem exists. >> michael: yeah, three out of four americans are now believing in global warming, where they weren't before, so thanks to this dialogue we're moving down the road in the right direction.
♪ >> michael: the political front is a crowded battlefield today from the fight over voting rights to the so-called irs scandal and the push to save our planet. with us now to break down absolutely everything is veteran democratic strategist donnie fowler. he is the ceo of his own firm dogpatch strategies. and we're also joined pakman in springfield, massachusetts. he is the host of the "david pakman" show. welcome back to "the war room," both of you. i want to go donnie to you first on the this scotus ruling today. what does this ruling on voting
rights that we have been talk about for the whole show really, what it means to democratic campaigns in these districts? >> for campaigns this makes the fight that they have already been fighting a little bit more difficult. we all know republicans and conservatives are making it harder for americans to vote. long lines at the polls. not enough voting machines. unnecessary voter id requirements. all of this litany of things. in nine states plus parts of other states these kind of changes to the election process had to be approved before they took effect. now they don't need approval at all. they can just happen. it is going to make the job for republican conservatives easier when they want to make it harder for american's to vote. >> michael: your state of south carolina already the attorney general is saying we want to get rid of the entire voting right's act a to z.
>> because we liked the it was 50 years ago when only white people could vote. >> michael: yeah. david i want to ask you, a national review called the ruling a victory for civil rights. let's get your take on that. >> yeah it is the typical backwards projection we have been seeing for a while. there are parts of the country where things have changed. and the idea that things have gotten so good means this is a victory for civil rights. but there are parts of the country where this is still needed. were parts that weren't even covered by section 4. so it's the same type of backwards rhetoric but we desperately need that new formula, which was talked about. >> michael: and that's such an interesting point too.
we think about the already existing states, but there are places that it hasn't even applied yet, but they need it. this is something that would actually help. in states like south dakota. i think that is something that was clearly lost on the court. and that's an important part of this. we have covered the voting right's act a lot today. but i want to move to president obama's latest push to stop climate change. >> obama: i want to be clear. i am willing to work with anybody, republicans, democrats, independence libertarians green peace, anybody to combat this threat on behalf of our kids. >> michael: donnie, first of all the president -- of course -- so hot in washington, rolling up his sleeves to talk about climate change, that was good -- >> good thing it wasn't snowing
in june this year. >> michael: yeah. so what now? how -- he says we have to move past bipartisanship. in this current political climate. how much can he get done really? >> the climate issue has become very much like an the abortion issue. if you are on the wrong side of it, you will lose an election. so republican politicians understand they cannot be for climate change solutions. there is no way we're going to see any new laws. what the president has done is looked into his toolbox and taken the tools he has, and said i'm going to do everything i can as president under existing law and try to fix as much of this problem as possible. nothing is going to happen in congress. >> michael: that's amazing too, because 75% -- >> yes 75% of americans say they want a climate change
solution. that's a little bit higher than it was a few years ago. but when you say what is the most important issue? climate change is still not the most important issue. so it's important, but not urgent. that's the trick now, the task on this solution. they have to take it from important to urgent with the american people. >> michael: and maybe that's what bringing the president into this dialogue will do. the president has lost a little bit of his mojo. is adding climate change to his list a good political idea for him? >> i don't think it's bad in the sense that there's a possibility of progress right? the president can do more than one thing as once. he has plenty of staff that can help with this. but at the beginning of his first term, we had a bunch of republicans meet and say we're just going to get in the way anywhere we can. it oop plies to social issues
and science and the environment as well. so i don't think it's a bad idea to try to tackle it it's just a question of whether there is going to be progress. and donnie made a good point as much as people are coming around to the idea that it should be done, the idea of making it urgent is still not there. >> michael: yeah, and i think that's really important. and that's tricky too on how to get people to make that a priority. >> let me offer a quick idea. when we as americans, roll down your window after eating a hamburger from the drive through and role down your window and toss your trash out the window the police will give you a ticket. as we toss pollution outside of our tail pipe, no one is making us pay. these big multi-billion dollars
companies are not paying for that. >> michael: and he said all right. we're not going to win jay rockefeller's seat in west virginia now but we take some sacrifice. president obama with a profile in courage. i want to turn now to the irs, david. we have a new acronym to add, bolo. or be on the lookout. but it also includes liberal terms such as progressive, occupy, and marijuana. this may prove that the so-called irs scandal may have just been good old fashioned shortcuts. >> the reality is i have covered this story probably eight or ten times, and every single time it is less scandalless and more and more
boring especially with the revelation that the manager in the cincinnati office who put out a bolo on tea party and patriots and 9/12 is a self describes conservative. >> michael: i'm going to ask donnie this question, because i know david being as young and hip as he is knows, do you know who yolo means? >> you on the lookout? >> michael: yeah. that's the old one. today john kerry, the bid for john kerry's seat. what do you see happening there? >> massachusetts is a blue state. it is a democratic state. it doesn't like tea party people most of the time. marquee -- markey will be the
♪ >> michael: it's once again time for our epic political trivia of the day. the supreme court stuck a dagger into the voting rights act % today, but if you think the modern republicans are prone to infighting, you should have seen the democrats in 1965 when the act was passed. getting the bill through the democratic-lead house was the job of new york representative, emmanuel celler. he chaired the judiciary committee for a record 11 terms. smith the author of "the
southern manifesto," tried to stifle the bill at every turn. fortunately he failed. harold dogs summed it up like this . . . well said by that rare and endangered species, a southern congressman with courage. you know who says things well? i guess it says that brett ehrlich does but i don't know if that is true. >> it actually says things good. >> michael: oh really? gooder that boggs? >> gooder than boggs. okay. let's talk about rick santorum who we all know is the vested man who ran for president this last cycle. well, now he is a businessman, and he has taken his talents to
sort of hollywood. he is now the ceo of echo light, which is a film production company. they are weeks away from closing a $20 million film fund deal, which means they have enough to create 1/10th of the most recent superman movie. >> michael: that's good. he reeks show business. >> he reeks. i wouldn't go so far as to say show business, but he definitely reeks. but they want to make more wholesome films. so i was looking through the films that they have coming out. here is a look at an actual trailer. ♪ >> maybe you shouldn't trust strangers so much ma'am. you never know what they have lurking in their past. ♪ [ laughter ] >> michael: well isn't that just
wholesome. >> that was a gun fight that literally starts with a gun fight. so well done. and i was just thinking what kind of films do they make in the future taking rick santorum and what he stands for and translating that into future films or maybe remakes? i was thinking instead of, you know, taxi driver they would turn it into taxi driver who speaks fluent english. >> that's a great idea for a rick santorum movie. or it's a wonderful life. what about it's a wonderful pro life. >> i like that. how about instead of men in black. he would make a movie called men who are not black. >> michael: right. he would like a movie like that. remember what he wore all the time. >> vests. >> michael: right, he could do men of steal wool sweaters. >> i like that. i was thinking instead of three
men and a baby i was thinking three men and three babies and the three women who stay home to raise those babies. >> michael: i like that. i think we have made the point that this is a great career move for rick santorum. >> right. all of these other ones i'm ashamed of. >> michael: quickly. >> inside of inside man, inside woman but after marriage. this has to do with international relations, in south africa this group was on a safari, and they had a run in or a run away from a giraffe? you have to see this. >> michael: let's take a look.
>> hey! hey! [ laughter ] >> michael: that was about -- almost as violent as a sanatorium movie. >> yeah, it was amazing. it felt like a scene from jurassic park where they were driving away quickly and i don't know what language they were speaking. but that one giraffe was chasing them towards the other two giraffes, you didn't even know were there. does anyone know that line from jurassic park? >> michael: no. >> that's my fantastic interaction with the world -- >> michael: brett ehrlich having you here in person is as they say a distinct pleasure. not for me but for others. thank you for joining us here in "the war room." it's time to fight the supreme court once again.
♪ theme ♪ >> it goes without saying that we are deeply disappointed by the supreme court's decision today. >> i am deeply disappointed. >> a dagger in the very heart of the voting rights act. >> this is a dark day for the supreme court. >> it is deeply disturbing. cenk: down goes the voting rights act! down goes the voting rights act. ladies and gentlemen, they got us. so, the supreme court justices, 5-4, and a bitterly divided ruling said