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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  March 11, 2013 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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managing editor at "fortune," lee gag gere is with us and retired u.s. army captain and author, wes moore. as chuck hagel returns to the u.s. following his first official visit to afghanistan, america's forever war still show no sign of ending. an afghan official opened fire this morning, killing two u.s. soldiers in eastern afghanistan. the taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack. although hagel's trip was intended to underscore a responsible transition of forces, his trip highlighted chaos and deep uncertainty as he arrived in, on saturday in kabul, two suicide bombs rocked the country, killing 19. the taliban claimed responsibility for ate tack in a nationally televised speech the next day, afghan president hamid karzai accused the u.s. and the taliban of conspiring together to destabilize the country. saying yesterday's bombings in the name of the taliban were aimed at serving the foreigners and supporting the presence of the foreigners in afghanistan
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and keeping them in afghanistan by intimidating us. needless to say the turmoil in the region is not the only national security issue on president obama's plate. on friday, the white house went through with its decision to try osama bin laden's son-in-law, abu gaith, on american soil, rather than in a military tribunal in guantanamo. reuniting the debate over civilian versus military courts. unlike when mayor bloomberg objected to the trial of khalid sheikh mohammed in new york city, the powers that be seem to be on board. last week bloomberg voiced his support for the trial, saying quote i don't want to make the president's job any more difficult. indeed, the president is not letting past defeats get in his way on more than one front. the "washington post" is now reporting that susan rice is the front-runner to be president obama's national security adviser, a position that does not require senate confirmation. while president obama may not be able to control the chaos abr d
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abroad, it looks like he's making progress on national security at home. it's all teed up for you and your debut on the show, tommy vetour. let's talk about security in afghanistan. something we don't talk about enough in american media in terms of confidence and building confidence that when we pull out of the country, when forces are drawn down, it's going to be any, it's going to be in any way stable. let alone better off. i think the activities and the action and the violence we've seen in the last weekend are real cause for concern here. >> well, yes. afghanistan is still a war zone. it's still a violent place and it will be for some time. we have a plan in place to transition to full afghan security lead by the end of 2014 and they're executing on that. to get us there we built up an afghan force of 352,000 troops that will take ownership for their own security and we're moving through a set of issues to begin the transition. now you know, violence will
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occur, these horrible glean on blue incidents are going to continue to occur. as a nation we need to know that and be ready for it. >> ha do you make of karzai coming out and saying that the u.s. is colluding with the taliban. in terms of having a regional actor in place who is going to at least if not advance american interests, have some amount of a positive diplomatic relationship with us, that wouldn't seem to bode very well. >> these comments are outrageous. and they're completely inaccurate and absurd. and if i were a u.s. service member in kabul or helmand province, i would be offended. we didn't go to afghanistan for hamid karzai. i think what's happening here is their whole set of sovereignty issues, including the transfer of aid to a detention facility, to the afghans that he is upset about because it's not necessarily going his way and he lashes out. so for all of karzai's weaknesses, he's actually a very good afghan politician and he you know, uses the u.s. for a foil from time to time. it's infuriating.
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>> wes, as a former serviceman. we tog about the legacy of these wars and i will point out the cost, the war, $470 billion spent. nearly 2100 americans killed, 18,000 americans wounded. dexter filkens writes in the "new yorker" last summer, but i don't think the situation has changed, the war in afghanistan haas come to this, the u.s. is leaving, mission not accomplished. by the end of 2014 when the last americans are due to stop fighting, the taliban will not be defeated. a western-style democracy will not be in place. the economy will not be self-sustaining and it's a good bet in some remote valley, even al qaeda will be carrying on. ha do you make of that? >> and first, it's not like the costs are even going to end once the conflict ends. the va just put out a report saying they estimate around 20 veterans a day commit suicide. even when the fighting ends for the people overseas fighting, the war just begins for a lot of them when they come back home. in addition to that, it does come down to -- and this is a very important point about, who is the partner we're working
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with on this the only people to come out faster to condemn president karzai's comments were the taliban who came out and said these are ridiculous comments, we're not courting the americans. so karzai is ending up having two very difficult positions. one they've got elections coming up, where president karzai will not be the president of afghanistan going forward. and the second is you cannot come up with a larger afghan national consensus, that does not involve a lot of disparity sections to include the taliban that's going to have some say at the table and he's never been able to reconcile that or spread out his influence. and the problem is the people left holding the bag have been the coalition forces, much of which have been the american soldiers, sailors and marines, fighting. >> that's the problem, this is american blood and treasure that's being expended on war that people by and large do not agree with they want us out of there. the question is what does the
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president do and who does he listen to. on some level, can you even win on the foreign policy front? do you not have to look at this as a political issue. the "washington post," foreign policy had a pretty sharp assessment of how president obama's foreign policy has been developed lately. which is to say, the president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign policy decisions through a small kabul of relatively inexperienced white house advisers whose turf was strictly politics. their primary concern was how any action in afghanistan or in the middle east would play on the nightly news or which talking point it would give the republicans. >> well, you make a very good point. this is a highly, highly delicate time and the "new yorker" today points out that if chuck hagel's confirmation had not been so drawn out, his trip first trip there, which is a major test for him, might not have coincided with hamid karzai's public anger fit. which is an interesting thing to think about. there's no doubt this is going to be complicated and with us for a long time.
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it's tricky. but you know, the president now has, he has chuck hagel. we'll see ha happens with susan rice. i mean he is going to be surrounding himself with a close counsel of people who know what they're doing. >> rick, i guess the question is, does he need, does he need a measurably different foreign policy strategy on afghanistan? there is at this point so little public support for getting engaged any further, staying any longer. does this not need to just be a political decision at this point? >> probably so. i mean this, you begin to wonder when our country is going to learn that is a mug's game to go and try to run afghanistan. you know, the british learned it, the russians learned it, now we've learned it. the countries that are closest to afghanistan, like china and india, they know well enough to keep out. there's no good way out of this. and i think that the president has reconciled himself to that.
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and getting out is one way or the other, is a priority. and it's not going to be pretty, no matter what he does. >> and that increasingly seems to be sort of the position. which is things are not, the president wrote in and i want to pivot a little bit, to the question of guantanamo and civilian versus military tribunals. the president wrote in with this idea that you know, we would have more transparency, we would have you know, the executive privilege, we would not see an expansion of executive privilege over national security or executive power over national security concerns. tommy, what we've seen is a president that's had to deal with reality. a war that's messy. it has no sort of end point. he has to create one, if artificially. i think we need to talk about gitmo. the likelihood of gitmo closing, basically it's not going to happen. what is the alternative to that? i think the fact that he was, is trying osama bin laden's son-in-law in civilian court in new york city, is a big deal. and probably one that he hasn't got enough credit in terms of
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moving forward on that. >> really quickly on afghanistan to the article you were mentioning, our goal and our strategy and our objective is not to destroy every last vestige of the taliban, nor is it to fix afghan's economy, it's to destroy al qaeda's senior leadership and we've done an extraordinary amount of work towards that goal. i want to make sure we right-size our objectives in the reason to gitmo, i totally agree with you that congress has put up every possible obstacle to prevent guantanamo from closing, it's bizarre, because this wassen issue that people basically agreed on before we got into office and it became politicized and the republicans decided this guy is good on foreign policy and so let's make his flank these detention issues, we've got guys that have been sitting in a prison for a decade. and we drop him in the southern district of new york where there's great precedent and judges who know how to deal with these cases and he'll likely see a long, long prison sentence. >> if you look at the efficacy
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of military tribunals versus civilian courts. new york courts have convicted alleged terrorists at a 100% success rate. less than 1% of alleged terrorists have been tried at the military courts in guantanamo. gitmo exists as a tool for radicalization for folks abroad. >> it highlights the larger impression of president obama's legacy when it comes to foreign policy. i mean when you think about the fairness, the last time that a democrat has had an advantage on the foreign policy angle has been harry truman. i mean we're talking decades have gone on. that you have not seen, you've not seen a con ssensus where th american people will trust a president over foreign policy issues. when you think of what the president's intentions are. by the end of his term, he'll have ended not one, but two wars. in addition to that, have not gotten the u.s. into any new wars and then still will arguably leave with a higher impression on foreign policy and
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dealing on foreign policy than republican predecessors, it's pretty amazing. >> it's interesting, you have rand paul on the floor of the u.s. senate railing against u.s. detention policy. but the fact that is that that is where one wing, a powerful wing of the republican party is headed. in the context of where they've been on national security would seem to be a major departure. i will say part of the reason the administration, and i would love to know your thoughts on this, tommy, the administration seems to have stepped up the drone strikes, because at the end of the day, given how congress has tied the president's hand on getting folks back here, getting them to court. the drone strikes are an easier option in some ways, i will read an excerpt from politico. it says congress needs to untie the hands of the president and allow him to close guantanamo as a first step. in addition congress should roll back the provisions that constrain detainee transfers inside and outside afghan, with fewer restrictions on his
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ability to assess the feasibility of capture with clear eyes and an aim toward the collecting the vital intelligence that can be obtained only through the interrogation of live detainees. that's the question. >> that's not right. yes, we do need to change some of the things congress has done with its higher hands. but we evaluate -- i keep saying we, i no longer work there, the administration -- >> wraek tbreak the shackles. >> on a case-by-case basis. and people sit in a room and say what is the feasibility of capture. they debate these things with vigor. when you're operating 87 miles from the capital of yemen. where the yemeni security forces don't go, there's not a lot of feasibility of capture. you'd have to put boots on the ground. >> the legal question, "the new york times" had a very in-depth analysis this weekend about the legal justifications for killing anwar al alacki and there is collateral damage.
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people that go down in these targeted drone raids. the question is to what degree is that legal any more. to what degree is that not sort of taking an executive privilege and expanding it beyond your actual, the constitutional rights? >> right. i mean well, on the legal question, the domestic foundation for all our alm. congress passed a law that allowed us to take action. internationally the legal foundation is our inherit right of self-defense, especially in countries unwilling or unable to do it themselves. i feel like the administration's counterterrorism policies has firm legal footing. what's important for people to understand is people at the white house don't sit around in a room and say hey can we kill this guy legally, yes, all right, let's go. it's not policy. >> i don't think there's a suggestion that people are sitting around in a white house saying hey, can we kill this guy. >> rand paul suggested can we kill a mom at a cafe who is a noncombatant. the debate got out of whack. >> i think there's a concern
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that we're taking the route that's the quickest and perhaps most quote-unquote effective and perhaps not the one that provides us with the best intelligence or constitutionally the most prude ent. >> fair. when you step back and look at where these people operate, these are, the issue here is tierry of distance, these people are operating at some of the most remote and dangerous places on the planet. when you have a drone that can orbit for 12 hours and have eyes on the target the whole time and make sure there are no women and children in the area, and then take an action, you know, that is an option that you can use to limit collateral damage and make sure that innocents aren't hurt. it's not necessarily feasible to send someone into a really remote place in yemen and capture somebody, it's very difficult. >> the feasibility of the brave new world. i don't think we've caught up to the technology in any sort of moral or perhaps constitutional sense. but we have to take a break on that light note. a pathway to citizenship?
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a guest worker program and of course, the thorny issue of republican support. we will discuss the pieces in play on comprehensive immigration reform next on "now." i'm the world's worst cleaning lady. i'm here in your home, having a pretty spectacular tuesday. ♪ but i don't notice the loose rug at the top of your stairs. and that's about to become an issue for me. ♪ and if you got the wrong home insurance coverage, my medical bills could get expensive. so get allstate. [ dennis ] good hands. good home. make sure you have the right home protection. talk to an allstate agent. when i first felt the diabetic nerve pain, of course, i had no idea what it was. i felt like my feet were going to sleep.
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i believe in the idea of an nesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though some time back they may have entered illegally. >> ronald reagan, believed in amnesty prior to passing immigration reform. but since then the very mention of the word has come to symbolize republican resistance, could the political winds be
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shifting? last week, jeb bush found out the hard way. >> for years you supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. now apparently according to your new book, no longer support that. you support a path to legal residency in this country. why have you changed? >> well first of all, i haven't changed. i support a path to legalization or citizenship so long as the path for people that have been waiting patiently is easier and costs less, the legal entrance to our country, than illegal entrance. >> momentum for reform continues to build. over at the white house on friday, president obama met with faith leaders to discuss reform efforts, meanwhile according to the a.p., the gang of eight in the senate has been meeting several times a week and may have a reform bill ready as soon as early april. the "l.a. times" reports that their draft will be several hundred pages long. and that the wait for a green card will likely be ten years or longer.
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undocumented workers would be required to register with the department of homeland security, file federal income taxes for the time they've been in the u.s. pay an as-yet undetermined fine and have a clean law enforcement record. but what, what america of the lower chamber, the raucous caucus of house republicans. yesterday the gop's top vote counter, kevin mccarthy sounded cautiously ocht optimistic. >> i wouldn't underestimate the house's ability to pass an immigration bill. >> but as nate silver points out, the vast majority or 142 of 232 republican house districts are less than 10% hispanic. given that, silver concludes that if house speaker john boehner abides by the dreaded hastert rule, house legislation overhauling the immigration rule will have to rely on mostly white districts.
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>> i feel like once multiple times a week. and the question is, there seems to be an acknowledgement inside republican ranks that they have to do something on immigration reform. it's a demographic challenge, a social issue, an economic issue. you look at the political calculus, in numbers of the house districts, i have a hard time believing you're going to get republicans to go across the aisle and work with democrats on this issue and move the ball forward. but maybe i'm just a pessimist. are you an optimist? >> maybe a little bit more. the number of districts in the figure, the number of republican districts that have more than 10% hispanic was actually a bigger number than i would have guessed, if i had been made to guess. yeah, they want to make sure that if there is a bill, that there won't be any actual voters coming out of it for a decade or far into the future. it will be ten years, it will be longer than that before any, before any undocumented alien is going to be able to actually vote. >> cast a vote presumably for a
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democrat. >> so the goal is to soften the hostility. but not actually go all the way. and i think this is one where the hastert rule could go by the boards, it's happened before. particularly when it's an extensiex existential issue. >> the "new yorker," rick's paper, paper, magazine, we've been here before, writes william finnigan, president george w. bush had bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. but neither party was able to keep its legislators in line. jeff sessions was one of 37 republicans who abandoned his own president bush. after sessions told "times" that talk radio was a big factor in derailing the immigration bill. supporters in the bill wanted to pass quickly before rush limbaugh could tell the american people what was in it. i don't think things are that much different in terms of talk
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radio and how it can polarize people on this. >> one thing that's different, it goes down to the number of 71, which was the margin of victory that the white house had with the hispanic voters. and you cannot look at that number any other way than this is a huge impediment to progress for the republican party. and i think everybody knows that. and you look what happened. after the election, lindsay graham called chuck schumer, let's get the band together, the gang of eight. this is the one place we're seeing cooperation. >> lindsay graham and john mccain are senators, if you look at the naughty house republicans, they have, they have these districts where thus far west they have put their own re-election, their potential primary challenges ahead of the national party and its interests. i wonder whether this time it will be different. because as the mood nationally is different. >> i think it is going to be different this time and for this reason -- because there's some other numbers that also matter in the larger conversation. one is the fact that when we talk about comprehensive immigration reform. we're not just talking about h 2
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a and h 2 b visas. we're talking about larger comprehensive reform. it's not just about seasonal workers, but also about people coming to get advanced degrees and are forced now to go back to their home countries. >> it's a huge deal in the tech industry. and in fact the cap on the h 1 b visas is lower now than it was in the late '90s, early 2,000s. the question is will that have an impact? >> and i do think it will, because we're going to start seeing business involvement in a way we've never seen business involvement before. take a look at the tech communities and silicon valley. 52% of all new tech companies are started by immigrants to this country. 25% of all u.s. patents currently right now are being patented by immigrants. this is something that is incredibly important. not just in terms of the seasonal workers. but when you talk about larger companies, technology companies, silicon valley. this is a huge part of our national economy. so business is not going to let this fall through, either.
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>> we talked about talk radio. i will play a choice piece of sound from ann coulter. the misinformation and stereotypes that need to be combatted in a short period of time if they're talking about getting this thing on the table in april. let's hear what ann coulter had to say about sucking off the federal government. >> of course you start with enforcement first, but it has to be enforcement first, not legalize them first and then act as if, the one thing they want is citizenship. no, they want to live here illegally, it allows them to collect government assistance. >> so ann koult certificate making the case that all of these illegal immigrants don't want to be become citizens. why would you want the right to vote. you just want to get federal government benefits. which isn't actually happening. but there's a perception out there that you're letting all of these people in, they're taking our social security, our medicare, medicaid. how do you change that in literally a couple of months? this is being echoed across the right wing media and in conservative circles and
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actually move the party forward from within. >> you make a very good point. the capacity for house republicans to act irrationally in their own, not in their own interests is enormous. but this is an existential question for the party. and they have seen the ground move beneath their feet since the election and with the demographic changes. even jeb bush is probably thinking i should have written an e-book. so the good news here is there's this bipartisan group in the senate working in good faith. and actually like on their best behavior. and the white house is letting them do their work. but they've been clear that we'll put forward our own plan. >> so you think the shame of going against what is actually a very goodwill effort on this might be enough to sway them? >> i think there are at the end of the day smart political operatives that look at numbers and demographics and say look, guys, we've got to move on this or we'll be obsolete. >> rick, this is interesting to me. they asked fox news asked republicans and democrats
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whether they favored or opposed a pathway to citizenship with back taxes and background checks. 82% of democrats supported a pathway to citizenship. 63% of republicans also favored this. the numbers there aren't a great mystery. broadly speaking, nationally speaking. it comes down to the individual house representatives. >> there's two things that have to happen for this to go. you know one is the hastert rule has to go by the boards. because the what's an existential threat to the national republican party, the opposite can be an existential threat to an individual legislator who is worried about the challenge for his right. the other thing is the ann coulter clip you played was from fox news. fox news is another factor here. because if they go pro do something, and there are signs that they might, there's ann coulter on fox news, but there's a lot of other people on fox news saying the opposite. and rupert murdoch is fairly well, who is after all, an immigrant, is fairly well known,
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his views are fairly well known. and they're not those of ann coulter. >> they are not those of ann coulter. >> and you have to think that at some point, the smelling salts will be waved underneath -- they don't have to worry about primary challenges, right? this is just about the future of the conservative movement and the republican movement and maybe that will shake them out of the stupor and the wanton disregard for actual facts relating to immigration. >> if you know that fox news has your back, it's not as important that rish limbaugh is sticking the knife in your front. >> that's the ultimate test. >> if you look at people who have started to peek their head out about 2016 already, whether it be jeb bush, marco rubio. there's something that a lot of them have in common -- they're all very much so in front on this issue. they get it. >> we shall see. early april, people. coming up, you knew, you knew he loved clearing brush. but were you aware of his skills with an actual brush. we will discuss george w. bush's lesser known artistic side.
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. thai selassi is making waves
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in the fiction world, garnering the support of literary giants, including toni morrison and salman rushdie. it touches on her own struggles and african-american immigrants forced to confront their roots. parents from ghana and nigeria who raise their children in america and struggle with cultural assimilation. looking to the windows of other homes on their block. the daughter describes the feeling. there was the sense in her house of an ongoing effort. a thing being built, a successful family with the six of them involved in the effort. all striving for the common goal, as yet unreached. the families in the windows were successful families already, had finished the heavy lifting generations ago, were not building or straining or making an effort. the goal had been reached. but besides performance, the portrayal of a successful american family never becomes a reality. instead, a tragic series of events splits the family apart
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and leaves the members alienated, the home life fractures. tai selassi the author of "ghana must go," welcome. i also had the support of toni morrison on a short e-book that i wrote. i'm a first generation american on my mother's side, she came over from burma and the notion of cultural identity is powerful intoxicating question as we think of our road forward, we're talking about immigration reform and what it means to become an american. what was the sort of overarching message you wanted to deliver or the thesis for this book, if you will as far as cultural assimilation and identity in modern america. >> it's a wonderful question, i should say i dropped out of my ph.d. program to get out of the thesis business. that there is a single thesis,
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nor in this novel or any other. but certainly there is something to be said, i think or there was something to be said about an immigrant family that bears no resemblance to the one that ann coulter just described. in so far as this is, these are people who want nothing more than to succeed. they have given their very selves, their very identities, their blood, sweat and their tears to the project of simply being successful. they lose a lot in the process, but i think if there's anything that i think this family represents, indeed my own, it's that immigrants to this country be they from burma, ghana, nigeria, china, mexico, for the most part, are here to do well. and that's what this family loses itself and finds itself again in the process of doing. >> i think you know, to bring this into sort of the cultural lens, we talk a lot about these voting blocs, we talk about the hispanic voter, the latino vote or the black vote. and you look overwhelmingly, president obama won 93% of african-americans.
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71% of latinos, 73% of asians. and yet that sort of puts people of color into these verticals. that inherently are false. the black experience as written about in "ghana must go" versus your black experience in america, they're wildly different and how we speak to communities of color is often incredibly simplistic. >> you'll hear people make an argument, even about marco rubio. they need to add a latino on to the ticket. first of all without understanding that a cuban is viewed very differently from a mexican or a puerto rican or a dominican or et cetera. just by adding a person of color on to a ticket does not necessarily mean that the policies are changing, which is really what people are more embracing. i tell you, you can go back to "ghana must go" one thing i thought was fascinating about it was something that delves into the larger dynamic we discussed, the idea of exceptionalism. and what exactly that means to be first generation burmese,
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first generation jamaican, and ha it means to succeed, to excel and what that component means to the larger conversation about immigration and ex-essentialalism. >> you talk about these monolithic blocs and i never fail to chuckle and how reductionist that practice is, to talk about black people in america. of course there's a common struggle and i never tire of saying that. black immigrants to this country, be they jamaican, or west african, there's no doubt about it, we are standing on the successes of the african-american who is have fought for integration and rights before us. at the same time, though, if one is willing to parse these identities, one will see that west indian immigrants, west african immigrants are flying through the universities and metriculating at astonishing rates. and that conversation does not happen. i think it's sort of obscured by a conversation that pairs immigration and poverty in the
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first place and pairs poverty and unintelligence in the second place, two false linkings even uncle sam would agree. >> the role of literature is so important, i think in portraying the immigrant experience, whatever it be. if you look at there's wonderful writers, one of my favorite writers is edwin of the haitian experience and another book about the native american experience, obviously a different story. but i just think this is a way to bring these stories to people in a rich way that is just completely separate from the political conversation. >> and i also think with africa in particular, there are so many cultural stereotypes about african sort of refugees, i'll read an excerpt from the book. the mother in the book talks about her father. she sensed the change immediately and the tone people took when they learned that her father had been murdered by soldiers, in the way that they
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nodded as if yes, te all makes sense. she stopped being herself and instead became the generic native of a war-torn country. >> i wrote warn-torn nation, what i hear more often discussed is the war-torn continent. as if in fact it were one nation and not 54. the stereotypes are so familiar, they're so unoriginal and quite frankly at this point, so uninteresting that i almost hesitate to give any more breath to the subject. but it is true, that you ask i'm doing a documentary right now on young people in africa. and you know, i asked just a numb of people, when you think of a 20-something in any african country, a 25-year-old in ghana, 30-year-old in nigeria. 31-year-old in south sudan. ha do you think of? crickets. i mean no one, the things that come to people's minds are -- the child soldiers. or the rebel, or --
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>> the woman who has been raped. >> or the starving child. >> literally, these are very smart people that i call my friends. and no one could really think, well what does a 25-year-old who has gone to college and graduates in kenya or tanzania or south africa or egypt, what, what does that person do? >> well the idea of africa's sort of intellectual class, that is not something that is talked about or discussed at all. in the west. but i'm sure it's something that you two, both oxford graduates, you slackers, it's amazing you've made it this far and old friends, talked about at length when you were in school together. taie, helping you land a wife. >> it is true that i wrote wes's emails, his early emails to his now wife. >> this is why you are great. that is why this book is here. thank you. >> dawn, it's me. >> thank you, taie selassi. the book "ghana must go" is on stands now. pick audiotape copy immediately. coming up, where there's
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smoke, there's a new pope. we'll have a black-and-white discussion about this week's papal conclave, live from rome, that's next. [ washer and dryer sounds ] for the things you can't wash, freshen them with febreze. febreze eliminates odors and leaves a light, fresh scent. febreze, breathe happy. that's not much, you think. except it's 2% every year. go to e-trade and find out how much our advice and guidance costs. spoiler alert: it's low. it's guidance on your terms, not ours. e-trade. less for us. more for you. departure. hertz gold plus rewards also offers ereturn-- our fastest way to return your car. just note your mileage and zap ! you're outta there ! we'll e-mail your receipt in a flash, too. it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz.
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last-minute preparations are under way in vatican city. tomorrow 115 cardinals will sequester themselves in the sistine chapel to choose the new head of the catholic church. this weekend, a chimney was affixed to the roof of the chapel where the world will watch for white or black smoke, indicating whether or not a new pope has been elected. this is the balcony where as soon as tomorrow, a new pope will emerge for the very first time. joining us now from the vatican is msnbc's chris jansing. chris, "the new york times" is describing this sort of conclave as the romans versus the reformers. that's lot of pomp and circumstance going on where you
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are. can you tell us about the politics underneath all of that? >> it's fascinating, alex. the romans are the cardinal who is work within the vatican. you would think they would want one of their own. but the word is, they're coalescing behind cardinal shiror from brazil, who would be the first latin american pope. there are reformers who think the vatican bureaucracy needs to be revamped and are concerned about the sex abuse scandal. you would think they would want someone outside of italy. but the word is they're behind the cardinal from milan, scola. i think what you have to watch is for a surprise, look at the american cardinals, 11 of them. they could be the surprise power brokers. will they, coalesce around one of their own? that's the question being asked in rome here today. >> chris jansing, you are our very own nate silver of the papal race. thank you so much, enjoy the roman weather, it looks beautiful, thanks for the upset. the president as president, he may have been more her bert
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hoover than abe lincoln. but as a painter, is george w. bush more bob ross than vincent van gogh. the canvas of "w" next. do we have a mower? no. a trimmer? no. we got nothing. we just bought our first house, we're on a budget. we're not ready for spring. well let's get you ready. very nice. you see these various colors. we got workshops every saturday. yes, maybe a little bit over here. this spring, take on more lawn for less. not bad for our first spring. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. get three bags of earthgro mulch, a special buy at just $10. than a whole box of this other stuff... and that much freshness is gonna take some getting used to... [ sniffing ] yep. it's amazing what a single scoop of gain freshness can do.
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we first got to see george w. bush's artistic side last month when a hack of his sister's email revealed two of his self-portraits. now a georgia art teacher reveals the former president spent a month with her learning how to paint. she described the six-hour daily sessions to fox 5 atlanta. >> he picked it up so quick. it just was amazing actually. you know, his whole heart is in it. >> he started off painting dogs. and i think he said he's painted 50 dogs. he pulls out this canvas and starts painting dog and i said, oh, my god, i don't paint dogs. >> according to flood, bush is
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quote going to go down in the history books as a great artist. rick, we're not sure how bush is going to go down as a president in the history books. i think those paintings are pretty good. >> well the ones they're showing are look like greeting cards, i mean they're, the dog pics. they're not in the great artist category. the ones that are in the artist category, even, because the dogs really aren't art, exactly -- >> are we really ones to say what is art and what isn't. but continue with your point. >> we know it when we see it he paintings he did of himself in the bath. those are the ones that are just rivetingly interesting. a picture of him in the shower, his back to us. with a little shaving mirror up there and you can see his face in the shaving mirror. these go way beyond other presidential paintings, you can look at jimmy carter's paintings, you look at eisenhower's paintings, they are rural barn stuff like that here
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is bush painting something that is revealing. that's daring. >> and art critic jerry salz, i though you're a big fan of the painted medium, talks about those paintings and talks about a sense of loneliness that's pervasi pervasive. that's a point of view. if only george bush, had stuck to the painting and the baseball and the path of the country could have been so radically different. >> i'm going to disagree slightly with rick. i want him clothed and i like the choo choo train conductor smock that i saw there, six hours, that's a lot of time to put into anything, good for him. have at it. >> when did bush put six straight hours into anything. it's unclear. this may be his magnum opus. >> he signs his works 43. whether it's writers or actors, artists need to tap deep wells to channel the creative output. you wonder where he's going. >> let's sho america the barney shot and wes can comment on it.
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do a little -- look at that there's something in that dog's eyes that speaks to -- i don't know, the american experience, wes? what do you, are you a fan? >> the american experience? you know, listen, it's good art and i think if anybody puts six hours for that amount of time -- >> i couldn't paint that in six hours. >> actually i think you could, six hours for that long period of time? >> maybe for an oxford graduate who wears many hats, six hours of painting class is all you need? this kid is doing stick drawings. >> winston churchill who was the great political painter, he called depression the black dog. so maybe we -- >> there we go. >> maybe this is a message. message in a bottle or message on a canvas. >> tied a bow on that one. >> i think they're good. >> i'm on the record of saying they're good. thank you to rick, tommy, lee and wes, that's all for now, i'll see you back here tomorrow at noon when i'm joined by the nation's katrina sarandonheuvel.
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and many more, andrea mitchell reports is coming up next.
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