tv PBS News Hour PBS June 20, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: the federal reserve offered a dim forecast for jobs and economic growth and extended a program aimed at bringing down longterm interest rates. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the "newshour" tonight, we look at the central bank's actions and what effect it may or may not have on the deteriorating economy. >> brown: then, what's behind the contempt of congress charge against the attorney general? ray suarez asks two house members-- republican john mica and democrat dennis kucinich. >> ifill: organized labor reaches a political crossroads, as the nation's largest public sector union debates new leadership.
>> brown: poetry and the preservation of a native american language. we profile mojave writer natalie diaz. >> dreams are coming to the kids, but maybe they're coming in mojave and maybe they don't understand that. and so they're not going to know what their gifts are. they're not going to know what they should be doing because they don't speak the language. >> ifill: and margaret warner has a conversation with author andrew nagorski about his new book, an account of hitler's rise to power, as seen through the eyes of americans living in germany. >> what did they know, when did they know it, and what did they get wrong and why did they get it wrong, because even in getting it wrong, you began to understand why something like this could happen, and the world not necessarily wake up to it in time. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> growing up in arctic norway, everybody took fish oil to stay healthy.
when i moved to the united states almost 30 years ago, i could not find an omega-3 fish oil that worked for me. i became inspired to bring a new definition of fish oil quality to the world. today, nordic naturals is working to fulfill our mission of bringing omega-3s to everyone, because we believe omega-3s are essential to life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
>> brown: the nation's economic outlook is looking worse now than just two months ago. the federal reserve issued a sobering new estimate today, in the face of a weak job market and trouble in europe. all eyes and markets looked to the federal reserve as it wrapped up its two-day policy meeting. when it was over, the central bank lowered its estimate of growth this year by half a percentage point to 2.4% and said it expects the unemployment rate to remain at least 8% through 2012. >> the outlook has changed. like many other forecasters, the federal reserve was too optimistic early in the recovery about the pace of the recovery. >> brown: chairman ben bernanke said the fed's leaders understand the need to provide further assistance. >> we are prepared to do what's necessary. we are prepared to provide support for the economy. >> brown: that support takes the form of extending "operation twist" through the end of the year. under the program, the fed sells
short-term treasury bonds and buys longterm bonds to drive down interest rates. the effort has involved some $400 billion since last september. the extension will involve another $270 billion. bernanke left open the possibility of doing more, if the job market worsens. the economy added just 69,000 jobs in may and unemployment rose for the first time in 11 months. >> i wouldn't accept the proposition that the fed has no more ammunition. it's our intention is to do all we can to make sure this doesn't go on indefinitely. if we don't see continued improvement in the labor market, we'll be prepared to take additional steps if appropriate. >> brown: the chairman also warned that europe's debt crisis is a worsening drag on the u.s. economy. and he appealed for action abroad. >> we think that the policymakers in europe have very strong incentives to get this right. and we're very hopeful that they
will get it right. we're in close contact with them as they work on these issues. but again, it's also important for us to be prepared for any further problems that might emerge from europe and we have been doing that. >> brown: that issue took center stage at this week's annual group of 20 meeting in mexico. but the g-20 leaders stopped short of making any major decisions to remedy the situation. grep ip, u.s. economics editor for "the economist" magazine, was at ben bernanke's press conference this afternoon and joins us now. >> well, greg, the fed doesn't always speak so clearly but certainly a lowering of expectations for some time to come. >> well, the fed it's a lot happening in the last three or four weeks to worry them and lower the expectations of how the economy is going to perform. we had a couple bad job numbers, employment growth of 69,000 in may. we've had the situation in europe worsen notably, where now spain is in the cross hairs,
there are real fears that spain will be end up defaulting on its debts and more recently people getting concerned about the fiscal cliff here in the united states, a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that could well up the economy at year end if nothing is done about it. >> brown: so the firm step, extending the program, t so-called operation twist, tell us a little bit more about that and is it still effective? what is it intended to do at this point? >> what operation twist does is basically the fed has a balance sheet with roughly $2.5 to $3 billion in bonds. they mature in five or three years. they're selling shorter dated bonds and buying longer term bonds. the reason they're doing that is that by purchasing long-term bonds they push their prices up and their yields down and that affects all sorts of bow roars. if you get a mortgage, for example, you should benefit from that because as the treasury bond yields come down so should mortgage rates. the idea is if they do enough of this this will have a beneficial
impact on the economy. >> brown: long-term rates have been so or will already so the question is how much impact can something like this still have? >> it should have some impact. studies suggest the previous rounds of programs similar to this have brought down long-term interest rates anywhere from 50 to 100 basis points. that's a half to full percentage point but you raise a good question. a lot of the people who can take advantage of the low interest rates already have. a real problem we have now is that so many people simply can't because, for example, their houses are worth too little and they can not refinance. >> brown: now ben bernanke said repeatedly, i was watching the press conference, that the fed is prepared to do more and i saw you and others pushing. why not more now? what exactly is he waiting for or looking at to decide on what further steps to take? >> i think there's two possibilities. the first is that things are still very muddy. the recent weakening of the economic data has been fairly sudden and the fed is still trying to figure out how much of that is real and how much might reflect things like the fact that there was a warm winter.
and also europe. nobody really knows what's going to happen with the crisis there, whether it will be resolved or get worse. i think the fed would like more clarity on both those things before it decides it has to do more. the second issue is well, if they do more, how will they do it? by the end of the year they will have run out of short-term bonds to sell in operation twist. they could then go a more rad cat step and do what they've done before which is called quantitative easing where they go buy bonds and pay for them by printing the money but what they worry about is that if they print too much money it will be very hard to soak up the money later on when it's no longer needed so it's a step they would take fully with great care. >> brown: we ran that clip of him saying "i wouldn't accept the proposition that the fed has no more ammunition." and this is exactly the point you're speaking to is a lot of people wonder what is left to do. that's a rather dramatic step. >> it is. but the point he's making is yes we have ammunition but we're aced from of it blowing up. we're doing other unintended consequences if we use it. the other problem-- and he didn't say this-- but when the fed has done quantitative easing
in the past they've gotten a lot of political flak, especially from republicans in congress and countries overseas who think the fed is trying foist america's problems on other countries and that's got to be a consideration when fed officials think about the cost and benefits of any action they take. >> brown: even more so in the midst of a political campaign, right? he's taken some pressure from republicans not to do some steps like that. he's got some pressure from other side to do something to stimulate the economy. they're aware of this, right? >> they're aware of this but it's not new that the fed finds itself in the political cross harris. even in the old days they would get beat up on both sides either about raising interest rates too much or cutting them too much depending on which side of the aisle people were coming from. what makes it more difficult this time is that tools you're using are so much more unconventional when they go there and do quantitative easing by buying bonds they are accused of essentially trying to enable
bigger government deficits. >> brown: just to epicoo it in the political context, there's not much more for them to do before the election, right? when's the next meeting? a couple more months? >> they have another one in a couple more months and they could act then if the economic outlook has deteriorated significantly but it's interesting to note that with today's announcement their current plan runs until the end of the year which is when the so called fiscal cliff hits. hopefully, whether it's a coincidence i don't know, but the positive thing for their point is if they need to take more action at least it will no longer be an election issue. >> brown: greg ip of the economist, thanks so much. >> thank you. >> brown: online, we have several prominent economists, including more from paul krugman, weighing in and debating ben bernanke's moves to prop up the economy. >> ifill: still to come on the "newshour": attorney general holder held in contempt of congress; a powerful labor union looks to it's future; poet natalie diaz on saving her native american language and how americans in germany viewed the rise of adolf hitler. but first, with the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan.
>> sreenivasan: the federal reserve's pronouncements didn't do much for wall street. stocks struggled as the forecast of slower growth undercut any momentum. the dow jones industrial average lost just under 13 points to close at 12,824. the nasdaq rose a fraction of a point to close at 2,930. a new leader took control in greece today, supporting the country's international bailout, but vowing to negotiate easier terms. the head of the conservative new democracy party antonis samaras was sworn in as prime minister. later, he sought to reassure the greek public. >> we will do everything in our power to lift our people out of the crisis as soon as possible. this is what i'll be asking for when i see the new cabinet tomorrow morning: hard work so we can give concrete hope to our people. >> sreenivasan: samaras and his three-party coalition face huge challenges. unemployment in greece now tops 20%, and thousands of businesses have closed.
there were new disclosures today on the computer spy virus known as "flame" that targeted iran's nuclear program. the "washington post" reported the u.s. and israel jointly created flame and used it to map and monitor iran's computer network. the goal was to gather intelligence that could slow iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon. the existence of the malware surfaced publicly last month. more than 20 americans and afghans were killed in a suicide bombing in eastern afghanistan today. the attack in khost killed three u.s. troops and their afghan interpreter. 17 other afghans were killed as well. it happened near a mosque, when a bomber rammed his motorcycle into a military convoy. women and children were among the dead, and more than 30 people were wounded. in northern nigeria, a curfew failed to stop muslim-christian violence that's killed nearly 100 people since sunday. it started sunday, when the islamist group boko haram bombed three churches. that triggered a wave of reprisal killings. some of the worst bloodshed came
in the city of damaturu. police said at least 34 civilians and six police and soldiers have been killed there. british police warned today they will arrest wikileaks founder julian assange, if he leaves his refuge at ecuador's embassy in london. officials said he violated terms of his bail by going there. supporters gathered outside the embassy, where assange is seeking asylum. he hopes to avoid extradition to sweden on sex crime allegations. a wikileaks spokesman said it is unclear what will happen next or how long it will take. >> this is going to be contemplated by the ecuadorian authorities. they are getting information from julian and then seeking information from the swedish, the u.k. and the u.s. authorities before they take their final decision. >> sreenivasan: assange has voiced fears that if he is sent to sweden, he could, in turn, be extradited to the u.s. for leaking thousands of secret government documents. but in sweden, the lawyer representing assange's accusers in the alleged sex crimes dismissed the asylum request. >> well, it never ceases to
amaze, all his different efforts to postpone the trial, or at least the legal proceedings and investigation in sweden. but, i am convinced that it is doomed to fail this time as well. >> sreenivasan: so far, assange has not been formally charged in either the u.s. or sweden. the drama surrounding former egyptian president hosni mubarak took a new turn today. his lawyer told the "new york times" that talk of a health crisis was false, and that mubarak had merely fallen in his prison bathroom. the 84-year-old mubarak was transferred to a military hospital yesterday, amid reports that he had nearly died. officials claimed today he was slipping in and out of a coma. meantime, egypt's election committee said it will not announce the presidential run- off winner tomorrow, after all. the group said has to review hundreds of complaints about the voting. the parliament of kuwait has been dissolved by the country's constitutional court. the court ruled today that elections last february were unconstitutional. the islamist-led opposition party won control of the legislature in that vote.
but today's decision re-instated the old parliament, elected in 2009 and seen as more supportive of the government. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: a congressional panel passed judgment on attorney general eric holder today. ray suarez has the story. ( gavel pounds ) >> the committee on oversight and government reform will come to order. >> suarez: house republicans came to today's hearing ready to cite attorney general holder for contempt of congress. at issue: his refusal to turn over additional documents on "operation fast and furious," a botched gun-smuggling probe in arizona. but shortly before the hearing started, president obama invoked executive privilege to justify withholding the documents. in a letter to committee chairman darrell issa, a top holder deputy wrote: "we regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the committee's concerns." but issa said the committee would not be deterred. >> more than eight months after a subpoena and clearly after the question of executive privilege
could have and should have been asserted, this untimely assertion by the justice department falls short of any reason to delay today's proceedings. >> suarez: democrats urged issa to reconsider. elijah cummings of maryland and others argued the contempt proceeding is a partisan witch hunt. >> it seems clear the administration was forced into a position by the committee's unreasonable insistence on pressing forward with contempt despite the attorney general's good faith offer. mr. chairman, it did not have to be this way. it really didn't. >> suarez: the road that led to the looming confrontation goes back a year and a half, and the start of the committee's investigation. under "fast and furious", federal agents let drug smugglers buy thousands of guns,
so law enforcers could track the weapons. instead, they lost track of the guns, and many were used in crimes, including the 2010 killing of a u.s. border agent. so far, the justice department has handed over 7,600 pages of material, and holder said tuesday, that should be enough. >> i have to say given extraordinary nature of the offer that we made and given the extraordinary way in which we have shared materials to date, that i think we are involved more in political gamesmanship as opposed to trying to get the information they say they want. >> suarez: but republicans, including utah's jason chaffetz, insist they've not been told everything. >> we have hundreds of dead people in mexico, we have a dead united states border patrol agent and we have a government that's withholding information so that we can not only get to the bottom of it but that we can fix it and make sure it never ever happens again. >> suarez: in the end, the committee voted along party lines to recommend that the full house hold the attorney general in contempt.
after the 23-17 tally came in, republican house leaders promised a full chamber vote on holder next week. for his part, attorney general holder called the vote divisive, unprecedented and unnecessary. and insisted his department had tried to cooperate with chairman issa. and now we hear from each side. we're joined from capitol hill by florida republican john mica, and ohio democrat dennis kucinich. both representatives are on the oversight committee. and representative kucinich, rhett me start with you. by common agreement there were ongoing negotiations over the document turnover. were the two sides close in could today's vote have been avoidd? >> i think it could have been avoided if there was no intention to push the issue of contempt. once you start to get into con democrat there's momentum that develops towards that regardless of what's being offered. the fact of the matter is there were thousands of documents
produced by the justice department. the attorney general himself has appeared before congress many times on this matter. it's hardly been hiding. and i think that even at this late date there still should be a way to divert from a process where congress itself has to vote on in contempt citation. >> suarez: this was an unprecedented vote. why was it important to the majority to cite attorney general holder? >> we have tried to work with him. as mr. kucinich said holder wasn't hiding himself, what he was doing was hiding the document documents that we're seeking because, again, the department of justice concocted a scheme too send weapons to mexican drug dealers, of which one of those weapons at least killed a united states
enforcement agent you heard there were several hundred others that were killed by this whole scheme that went sour. we tried up to last night, last night they made an offer to give give us a dribble or more documents. so far we've got about 7% or 8% of the documents that exist but the deal last night was we had to close down the investigation so selective presentation of evidence in a case in which an agent was killed and others were slaughtered and all resulting from the actions of the department of justice is not acceptable. >> suarez: representative kucinich, how do you respond to that? the core issue here being very important about houses of weapons ending up south of the borders in the hands of criminals. >> mr. mica is right. you can't argue whether or not congress has a right to look into this. we have an obligation to look
into it. the question is what purpose does it serve to push the contempt issue before the entire house? we also know that after that meeting this morning the administration has asserted executive privilege which doesn't just mean the president, any executive branch privilege that is asserted with respect to its deals with the legislative branch so at some point you're looking at a court fight here. i would prefer that if there was a way to proceed that it be done civilly rather than a criminal matter involving the attorney general. >> suarez: representative mica, does this have any force? any teeth or is it mere lay congressional bloody showing its displeasure with a member of the executive branch? >> it's the one means we have. now we've tried first getting information voluntarily. that went on for 11 months now. understand that for 11 months
the department of justice denied any involvement. then we issued subpoenas eight months ago. those have been ignored. no one wanted to take this step today to hold for the first time an attorney general of the united states in contempt. now he still has an opportunity to cooperate before the action before congress and i hope he will. it's in everybody's best interest we do a full investigation. the family today of agent terry pleaded for the administrations to produce the documents. can you imagine your loved one having him killed with weapons supplied by the department of justice and not having a full investigation? this is just not fair under the american judicial process or allowing us to exercise our congressionallor sight and investigation authority under the constitution. >> well, congressman michael, let me continue. what about the invocation of
executive privilege? you're a long-term veteran member of the house. >> i've seen it used. >> suarez: there are obviously separation of powers issues here. is this a legitimate use of that power? >> both dennis and i have said on the panel we've seen it used and there are instances where it should be used. in the past if we're dealing with national security issues that might be appropriate. you don't want the president to have to disclose... there were some political instances, dennis, remember, where it's a little political game some of the thing things that is going . but this isn't a game, this is where someone was killed. the department of justice is the chief prosecutor arm of the united states government. and to have again an agent killed... i don't know how many others estimated, hundreds slaughtered by guns that were supplied in this plot that went sour it does deserve the investigation. i think the president should be
cooperating with us. everyone should be cooperating and get this behind us and get it fully investigated and hold people responsible. that's part of what we're trying to do. >> suarez: representative kucinich, same question. you, too, are a veteran house member. are you made wary by the use of executive privilege in a case like this where a branch of government just doesn't want you, a member of the house, to see what it's got? >> i think we have to look at the totality of the constitution here. congress has a right to compel the production of papers and to compel witnesses before the committee. that's article i. at the same time, the administration, article ii, has the right under the constitution to say, look, we're invoking executive privilege. that doesn't just mean the president, the executive branch privilege and say we're not going to produce that for our own reasons. now, the next step, then, would be to go to the court. and i would hope that if we can
not resolve this that the one concession that would be made is that we not pursue by resolution a criminal matter, we can pursue a civil matter, have a court make a decision saying okay, produce the documents and then we come back to the court enforcing a resolution of congress. i'm concerned about making this a criminal matter, especially when the attorney general himself hasn't personally been implicateimplicated in any of t. this is a very serious matter to put it on an individual whon't it can't be said that this was his personal responsibility. >> suarez: gentlemen, before i let you go, both of you have talked about the seriousness of the core matter here, the investigation into gun walking. what is it at that this point, a year and a half into this investigation you still feel like you don't know? >> well, we don't know who's responsible. i don't know what eric holder knew when. we don't... you know, again, the terry family sort of summed this
up today. how would you like your loved one to have been killed by a scheme that was concocted by people in the department of justice and which are... again, your loved one was murdered with weapons supplied by that agency. please. this should be fully investigated. if eric holder is innocent, find him innocent. if others are guilty and con conducted this scheme and were responsible for the death and, again, this whole scheme going sour, they need to hold them accountable. >> suarez: let me get a quick response from representative kucinich on that same question. >> the action that congress has taken, and this committee, essentially is the form of an indictment. you know, we can find out later on if he's guilty but actually we should find out if there's reason to charge him with contempt and i don't know that we've pursued that and i do want to say where i agree with you is that we owe it to the families to get to the bottom of it first
and i also think we owe it to the families to reform the process so gun walking and gun running doesn't occur again. >> but he is guilty of contempt of congress. >> by virtue of the fact that congress did that but it doesn't necessarily... >> we subpoenaed records and he is held in contempt for not producing them. >> the congressman doesn't make the case for contempt. >> suarez: thank you both. >> thank you. >> ifill: as local governments roll back employee pensions and benefits, the nation's largest public labor union prepares for an internal battle that could shape its external mission. >> you shouldn't be vilified! you provide the safe neighborhoods. you provide the hospitals. you provide the roads. you provide the ability for people to live a decent middle class life! we owe you! >> ifill: speaking before one of the democratic party's most important constituencies, vice president joe biden issued a rallying cry yesterday to the nation's largest public sector
union: the american federation of state, county and municipal employees, afscme. and its outgoing president issued this call to arms. union members welcomed those fighting words, as public sector unions engaged in a series of battles around the country-- over jobs, benefits and bargaining rights. only a few weeks ago in wisconsin, where a.f.s.c.m.e. was born in 1932, republican governor scott walker survived a union-driven recall attempt. the bitter vote came after walker signed a bill to end collective bargaining rights for most public sector unions. on the same day in california, the labor movement also lost two, smaller skirmishes, as voters in san diego and san jose decided to cut city workers' pensions. it was a setback from only last fall in ohio, where public unions beat back an attempt to scale back collective bargaining rights. these very public debates have now led to a vigorous internal
one as well, as afscme tomorrow elects a new president for the first time in a generation. the race pits lee saunders, the current secretary treasury, against danny donahue, head of afscme's new york state branch. saunders-- who would be the organization's first african- american president-- pledges to increase the union's membership, which, including retirees, now stands at 1.6 million. donahue wants to shift the union's focus away from national campaigns and back to grass roots political organizing on the local level. afscme is expected to spend as much as $100 million on campaigns this year, including the presidential race. but labor's role in politics may be impacted by its dwindling membership. more than a third of public sector workers are unionized, compared to only 12% of the nation's overall workforce. is the balance of power shifting as well? for that, we turn to two journalists who have been following that story. steven greenhouse covers labor
issues for the "new york times." he joins us from los angeles where the afscme election will be held tomorrow. and alec macgillis is with the "new republic." he's reported on the battles in wisconsin and elsewhere. steve greenhouse, you're out there in los angeles. what's your sense of how critical this vote is tomorrow? >> i think both candidates, mr. sanders and mr. donahue, are going to try to build up the union, make it stronger but they realize that the tide is in ways going against them after these votes in wisconsin, after these votes in san jose and san diego. i mean, they think that the public misunderstands them. they say public sector workers are not making nearly as much as wall street bankers, make of them make $30,000, $ 50,000 a year and they think the public misunderstands them, they think conservatives in trying to shrink government have made public sector unions a target. especially because as you said, gwen, they are a pillar of the democratic party and if you weaken public sector unions you also help weaken the democratic party. >> ifill: there also seems,
alec, to be a disagreement whether this money should be spent on the national level. whether the term checkbook unionism is rampant now. >> mr. donahue feels like too much of the money has gone to the washington politics. he was very upset about a big ad buy that afscme made back in january against mitt romney down in florida where they spent a million dollars against romney in florida, wondering if that was the best use of money. there's some question of whether some of his rhetoric now, mr. donahue's rhetoric, might be for the purposes of the campaign. if he really gets into the office as the head of afscme is he going to pull back on national spending as much as he says. >> ifill: didn't they spend a lot in wisconsin? >> oh, they did. they spent a lot of money this time in wisconsin and before to stop walker in the first place. donahue's argument seems to be less about money and more about should we be talking more to republicans who are at the local level as they come up the ranks of local government. basically to try to get it to the point where they don't dislike us and are not as out to
get us as they seem to be. he's in a position to say that in some sense because he's from a state, new york state, where you have still some republicans who will not visionally antiunion and there's some question of whether that would work more broadly. >> ifill: steve, do you hear that, too? that afscme and unions like it are seriously thinking maybe we're allying too closely with the democratic party? >> i hear that more in other unions than with afscme. i think afscme is generally very pro-democratic. you hear that more, gwen, with the firefighters and the police and national education association, other big public sector unions which have a long tradition of working with moderate republicans, especially cops and firefighters. afscme is a union that, you know, strongly believes in f.d.r. and the new deal traditions and lyndon johnson great society and they're fighting very hard to maintain the social safety net and they see that the democrats are trying to do that and they generally see the republicans as opposed to that.
so in the 2008, 2010 and now twelve campaign i think afscme will overwhelmingly back democratic candidates partly because they think democrats are not going to try to chop public sector unions into piece it is way we've seen happen in wisconsin and in ohio. >> ifill: alec, let's talk about wisconsin because 38% of the voters, union voters, voted not to recall the republican governor. so this wasn't so easily divided. >> no, but that's sort of in line with generally about a third of union voters vote republican so that was not so unusual. i do think with wisconsin we have to be careful not to overstate it too much what happened there. eight months ago in ohio there was a very similar issue up for vote in a more conservative state that's more important to the democrats' prospects and the law to do away with collective bargaining rights lost by 23 points, by 60,000 more votes than john kasich had been elected by the year before. that was on exactly this question whether to take away collective bargaining rights.
>> ifill: so maybe the problem in wisconsin was the idea about the recall? >> exactly. the context was not ideal for the democrats so i think it's a very tough time for unions, obviously, but we have to be careful not to overstate their plate. >> ifill: steve, in san jose, san diego where we saw these kind of rollbacks, are they another sign? is that a canary in a coal mine or are they also separate and unique? >> well, i think it's all related, gwen. whether in wisconsin or in san diego and san jose i think a lot of the public think that public sector unions have it too good and clearly in san jose and san diego the voters thought we're being squeezed by recession, we're being squeezed by higher taxes, we think one way to help hold down our taxes is to reduce pensions for public sector workers. i was interviewing a professor here in california who said, you know, when the labor movement was really growing in the 1950s and '60s at general motors and u.s. steel a lot of private sector workers said it's
great that unions want health coverage, that they want great pensions and three and four week vacations because we, the nonunion workers, will get a lot of the same thing. but now the mentality has changed. a lot of private sector workers seiji, we no longer have pensions why should government workers have pensions. we no locker have generous health care, why should government workers have good health care? and the public sector unions and workers are saying we think everyone should have good pensions. we want to serve as a model to help other people get good pensions. and one big difference between san diego, san jose and wisconsin is san diego and san jose, they're not trying to take away collective bargaining. they're not trying to destroy the public sector unions. they're saying, look, guys, we think you have it too good, we want to clip your wings somewhat on pensions. but we're willing to negotiate with you and work with you in the future. >> ifill: alec, absent this
incredible stressed economy, would there will be this re-examination of mission? would there be this naval gazing going on in public sector unions? >> no, they're under the stress because we we're all under the stress. steve makes an important point. the fight will be drawing the line between giving up some tensions, health care benefits at the bargaining table which they've shown willingness to do across the country and actually losing their rights and actually losing their numbers because what scott walker set out to do was to undermine them institutionally. keep them from collecting dues, basically eviscerate the union as a hole because it's a big foundation of the democratic party and supporting the democratic party and so i think what you'll see going forward is other attempts to undermine their actual rights and their numbers. they're going to have to try to hold the line at that while still probably giving up some dollars at the bargaining table which, again, they've shown willingness to do. >> ifill: and perhaps
tomorrow's election will give us some sort of guide of which direction this union's going to go, at least this one. alec macgillis of the new republic and steve greenhouse of the "new york times," thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you, gwen, nice to be here. >> brown: next, a story of poetry, basketball, and the preservation of a native language. it begins with a trip down the colorado river. >> haykwirr iithoo. >> what's that? >> rattle snake fangs. >> if you look at those rocks, they look like rattle snake fangs. >> brown: for mojaves, this part of the colorado river-- california on one side, arizona on the other-- is nyev-thee nyuh-vie, the place where the spirits live. and on our early morning boat trip, before the heat of the desert reached 105. we saw big horn sheep, wild donkeys, sharp cliffs and rock
formations that are part of the mojave story-- its creation and other myths. >> the people who change into the mountain. >> brown: so they're standing up there forever? >> see, they're standing there. >> brown: but if the stones continue to stand, the stories and the mojave language itself are in danger of being lost. and that's the reason for these trips: to bring young people together with elders like 85 year old hubert mccord. one of a handful of fluent speakers left in the fort mojave indian tribe. the language preservation effort is being organized by 33-year- old natalie diaz. >> they are constantly reminding us of the time crunch. you know, we have this many years and we're supposed to do this, this, this and this. how are we going to get there? >> brown: it's a race against time? >> it definitely is. one of the most crushing moments for me was listening to hubert. he said, "what are we going to do?
what are my people going to do?" meaning, when he's gone and he's not going to be able to help and teach them anymore. >> brown: diaz herself only heard bits of the language from her grandparents as a child and has no formal training in linguistics. in fact, this calling-- to preserve her native language-- is a recent one. 16 years ago, she left the reservation here to pursue a completely different passion: basketball. first at old dominion university in virginia, then professionally in women's leagues abroad. >> it was my way to navigate between the different cultures. on the reservation, if you were good at basketball you could do anything. you know, fit into any group. and then off the reservation as well. >> brown: at old dominion she also began to write poetry.
>> for me writing is a way to explore why i want things and why i'm afraid of things and i worry about things. and all of those things represent a kind of hunger that comes with being raised in a place like this. >> brown: diaz' first book, titled "when my brother was an aztec", has just been published, with many poems that deal with the harsh realities of reservation life-- poverty, teen pregnancy, and the meth- amphetamine drug addiction that plagues many young people, including one of her brothers. >> now he's fresh-released from rancho cucamonga-- having traveled the mojave trail in chains, living with your parents, and you have come to take him to dinner, because he is your brother, because you heard he was cleaning up, because dinner is a thing with a holler upstairs to your brother to hurry.
he won't come right away. remember how long it took the minotaur to escape the labyrinth. >> brown: so that's a way of processing real experience, but through a minotaur myth. all kinds of things. >> yeah. there's more truth in myth than there is in truth. i mean, i can sit here and tell you, "you know jeff, this is terrible having a brother like this. it's really bad. it's awful." but that's not going to register with you. but for me, poetry allows me to kind of break down images and see what they're made of. and so i'm able to reinvent images and colors and sounds and you know all these senses come together to give you a more truthful picture of what's happening. >> brown: two years ago diaz decided to return home and work to revive a language that's been in decline since the late 1800s.
even into the 20th century, native children were put in a government-run school near here that was intended to take and even beat the language and culture out of them. some of the elders today can still recall those days. >> oh, yes, my mother could tell you that. they came around with horses and took them to school. and you're not supposed to talk mojave anymore. if you do, you get punished. ( singing ) >> brown: hubert mccord, one of the last of the tribe's bird singers, has watched as the language drained away over several generations, from men leaving the reservation for work, extended families no longer living together and handing down rituals and, of course, the bombardment of media and culture from the larger anglo society. >> so we'll get you mic'd up then. >> brown: he and several other elders are now working with natalie diaz to record words, stories and songs.
helping her create a talking dictionary for students to use on computers. >> how do you say creation mountain? >> ( answers in mojave ) >> yep. so that's one of the most important places you have as mojaves. >> brown: some of those students join the elders in a weekly workshop. it's a small program, still in its infancy, but one that's striking a chord. are you surprised these young people are interested? >> i am surprised! and in my heart i feel good. ( singing ) >> brown: natalie diaz says that for her this effort is really part of a much larger re- connection and sense of identity for young people in the tribe. >> in mojave, everything passes through your dreams. all your gifts come from dreams
so, in one of our workshops, they discussed that maybe the dreams are coming to the kids, but maybe they're coming in mojave and maybe they don't understand that. so they're not going to know what their gifts are. they're not going to know what they should be doing because they don't speak the language. >> brown: the next step is a larger summer workshop, where elders including hubert mccord will continue to pass on mojave words and songs of the river, the rocks and the birds. and there's more online, where you can watch natalie diaz read several of her poems on our art beat page. >> ifill: finally tonight, the never before told story of a group of americans in berlin who had a front row seat at the rise of hitler and the nazi party. margaret warner has our book conversation. >> warner: in the aftermath of world war one, germany was in economic shambles. but the capital berlin was a
vibrant cultural hub, home to avant garde artists and actors like marlene dietrich and to a decadent cabaret life. but as early as the 1920s, a dark cloud was gathering, as adolf hitler and his nazi acolytes gained strength. by the 1930s, the cloud was enveloping the nation, and threatening europe. hitler's rise was witnessed not only by the german people but by some 150 american diplomats and correspondents who had the job of informing their own government and the american public about what was developing. other prominent americans passed through berlin or stayed for a time. author sinclaire lewis, aviator charles lindbergh, a young john f. kennedy and singer josephine baker to name a few. much has been written about american expatriots in paris and london between the wars but very
little has been chronicled about these americans in berlin. former "newsweek" journalist and author andrew nagorski has set out to correct that with his new book "hitlerland: american witnesses to the nazi rise to power." it's the story of a handful of americans who were the first to take the measure of hitler and his followers, showing how difficult it is to see the future when caught up in the present-- even in the eye of the storm. i spoke with andrew nagorski about his book and the times. andy nagorski, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, margaret. >> warner: paint a picture for us, first of all, of berlin, in the '20s and '30s. as hitler was rising to power, what was it like... what was it like for the americans there? >> warner: first of all, you have to remember, this was a country, a city that was totally devastated after world war i. the germans had lost something like two million men, the economy was in shambles, we've all heard the stories about wheelbarrows full of money because of hyper-inflation. people were very demoralized.
but at the same time, there was an incredibly vibrant scene. there was new freedom in the arts, in politics, in every aspect of life. even sexual life. it was a crazy party town. and the americans coming in, they saw all this and they were excited. >> warner: now a lot of what you looked at, though, were the writings and the words of diplomats, of journalists, of people whose business it was to study the journals. what question did you want answered? why did you delve into this? >> in retrospect, it seems perfectly obvious that everyone should have known what was coming. that this was, after all, the rise of the biggest evil mankind had ever seen. but when you put yourself in the shoes of these diplomats, journalists, writers, casual visitors as i did, it paints a very different picture. history is always perfect in hindsight. it's not perfect at the time. so i wanted to know, what did they know, when did they know it, and what did they get wrong
and why did they get it wrong, because even in getting it wrong, you began to understand why something like this could happen, and the world not necessarily wake up to it in time. >> warner: give me an example of someone who got it wrong. >> well, most famously, for instance, dorothy thompson, the renowned woman correspondent of that era. she goes in to interview hitler in 1931, in late 1931, when his party's really on the rise and everyone is expecting him to take power. and she interviews him, and she comes out and writes the first sentence of her article, which says, "i was expecting to meet the future dictator of germany. in 50 seconds, i realized i was not, because i saw the startling insignificance of this man." and she goes on about what a weird character he is. >> warner: a little man. >> a little man, somewhat effeminate, quote-unquote, which is something that several americans remarked upon.
and somehow not able to stand up to the serious politicians in germany. >> warner: then there was this young diplomat at the embassy, he was the assistant military attache truman smith. even early in the '20s, when hitler was just, and his brown shirts, and his national socialist party down to a very he saw something. >> and he meets hitler in munich when he's this local agitator. and he sees that he is, yes, he's a fanatic, but he's a highly organized fanatic, and he knows how to play a crowd. he says, this guy can go very far. in bavaria, he may even aspire to be the dictator. that's as far as the imagination went there. but at a time when many people had not even heard of adolf hitler, that was a pretty good prediction. >> warner: now there were also americans there who actively sympathized with him, consorted with him, helped him. >> yes, yes. there were. most famous was this german- american. his father was from bavaria. his mother was from a famous bostonian family. his name was putzi hanfstaengl.
he went to harvard, class of 1909. among his classmates, teddy and he becomes very close to hitler, as does his wife. and it's an astonishing relationship. and he becomes the conduit for many americans seeking to meet hitler. >> warner: and why? what was it about hitler or this putzi man. what was the appeal? >> putzi was a very entertaining character. he was a very good piano player, and he even played harvard marching songs for hitler. you can imagine these scenes where hitler's sitting there, putzi is playing harvard marching songs and hitler is saying, "wow, that will really work at our rallies and for some of our s.s. troops." >> warner: if you get to the early '30s, remembering that hitler became chancellor in 1933, even then, it seems, you chronicle, there was a split among the trained american observers about whether he was a rising power or a fading one. >> yes, there was a big split. there were people like council
general george messersmith who said the german politicians who think they're going to and there were people like edgar mauer who was a correspondent for the "chicago daily news" who was actually warning jews, german jews, get out of this country. and then there were other americans who thought they were more concerned in many cases about the communist threat-- a coup from the left. because remember, there were radicals from the right and left. this is not too long after the bolshevik revolution. >> warner: one of the things i found fascinating about your book was that after hitler i mean, there was a social life, there was an interaction among at least some of the americans with the senior figures in the regime. >> that americans had access to germany in a way that, for instance, americans in the soviet union did not have access to the elites. and even traveling into the country was a lot easier. so you had people like, again, truman smith, this young military attache, who comes back in the '30s as a senior military attache. and he's hobnobbing with senior german officers. he actually comes up with a plan to plant the idea with hermann
goering's air ministry to invite charles lindberg to germany, not because lindberg is considered a german sympathizer so much, that's a different issue. but because hermann goering is going to want to show off his air force to lindberg, which in fact happens, and lindberg provides a lot of good intelligence. >> warner: bottom line, how good a job did particularly the american diplomats and the american writers and journalists of all types, radio as well, do in alerting ordinary americans to the menace that was building, to the fact that probably, eventually, the u.s. would be drawn into this conflict. >> it's mixed from start to finish, but the best ones really did try to get the word out. but remember, america was not very receptive to this message. nobody wanted to contemplate another global conflagration like world war i. so whether you were an isolationist, or kind of a middle-of-the-roader or a liberal, f.d.r.-guy, this was not welcome news that was being sent by the most perceptive of these american journalists or
diplomats from germany. >> warner: so on balance, what did you conclude about what it takes for an individual, human being, when they're caught up in an historical moment, to grasp the enormity of it, even when they're living through it. >> you have to be very knowledgeable about the present situation. but that very knowledge may make it hard for you to break out of the framework, a frame of reference of that situation. so when we look back, any of us looks back and says, oh, i would've figured everything out, i wouldn't be so sure. >> warner: andy nagorski, thank you. >> thank you. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: the federal reserve offered a dim forecast for jobs and economic growth and extended a program aimed at bringing down long-term interest rates. a house committee voted to hold attorney general eric holder in contempt of congress, as republicans demanded more
documents on a failed gun- running investigation. and a new prime minister took office in greece. his coalition government will try to rescue the country's ravaged economy. on our website, you can hear my conversation with former president jimmy carter on egypt's elections. hari sreenivasan has the details. >> sreenivasan: the former president said if the egyptian military goes through with their plans to write a new constitution, it would have the same effect as a military coup. find the interview on our world page. also there, we have another dispatch from margaret warner in mexico. this one from mexico city about a shopkeepers confrontation with criminal gang. and on our politics page, perhaps signs of a bipartisan congress? if only on the softball diamond, representative jean schmidt is on the congressional women's team taking on female reporters tonight in washington. >> we are here on the battlefield trying to beat the press corps tomorrow but most importantly to raise money to help women beat their disease of breast cancer.
>> sreenivasan: you can meet the congressional team and see them practice for the game on our politics page. all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at the major decisions coming from the i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
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