tv MSNBC Live MSNBC June 2, 2013 11:00am-2:01pm PDT
next minute i'm in the back of an ambulance having a heart attack. i was in shape, fit. i did not see it coming. i take bayer aspirin. [ male announcer ] so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. see your doctor and get checked out. this sunday, national security versus freedom of the press. the tension and the political fallout as the attorney general appears to backtrack. republicans have their sights set on attorney general eric holder. did he level with congress about whether he sought to criminalize the work of journalists? >> with regard to the potential prosecution of the press for disclosure of material, that is not something that i've ever been involved in or hord of, or would think would be a wise policy. >> holder reportedly regrets the treatment of the press in recent leak investigations and tries to reach out. has it worked?
how should the administration balance the protection of secrets and the free flow of information. we'll ask the chairman of the house intelligence committee, michigan congressman mike rogers, about that. and the expected nomination of former bush administration official jim comey as director of the fbi. also, the president back to business and tries to shake off scandal. will the irs investigations undermine work on job creation and immigration reform? with us democratic senator from new york, chuck schumer. later, our political round table. what michele bachmann's exit means for the tea party. does the president have an economic plan for the second term? and a discussion of the new study this week that shows more and more women are the primary breadwinners in american families. >> announcer: from nbc news in washington, the world's longest running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. good sunday morning. news this weekend foreshadowing another bad week ahead for the irs. as an inspector general report
is expected to reveal lavish and wasteful spending at irs conferences around the country. we want to start with another political distraction for the obama administration. the attorney general eric holder under fire for investigating leaks to the news media. he pledged to reassess some of the justice department guidelines. he has now also become a political target for republicans. joining me now, former senior adviser to the obama re-election campaign, now an nbc news senior analyst, david axelrod. republican congresswoman from tennessee, marshablackburn. also author jonathan alter, republican strategist ana navarro and tom friedman for the "new york times." i want to get everybody's impressions of the attorney general under fire. david axelrod, my question is, is this a holder problem or is it a president obama problem at this juncture? >> well, i think that, you know, look, the sport, the civic sport of washington, d.c. is human
sacrifice. i know whenever there's a controversy like this, und underneath all of this that i think we have to resolve as a country which is there are things that you have to keep secret for the security of the people who are risking their lives out there. and for national security, how do you balance that against the public's right to know, which is a very sacred principle as well. that's a discussion we should be having. >> i think part of the discussion we have to be having is also a question of leadership. if that's what it is. there's obviously going to be a political target for holder, for republicans and the media that are going to target him, but i'm focused, too, on the president. and the idea of making no apologies and then appearing to make apologies about all of this. here was the president middle of last month when he came out -- when the seizure of the a.p. phone records first surfaced. this is what he said. >> leaks related to national security can put people at risk. they can put men and women in uniform that i've sent into the
battlefield at risk. >> yet then within a week he's changing his tune. this is what he said now. >> i'm troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. >> tom friedman, was this a president and attorney general, do they think they overreached and alienated people normally that were with them, and that's the news media? >> that's what makes this case interesting. because there was overreach maybe on both sides to some degree. red lines were crossed. clearly red lines were crossed at the department of justice, in effect, krimmelizing reporting. at the same time, you know, you look at that fox report about north korea and other people i respect a lot, walter peyton and jack schafer made this point. you do have to scratch your head about, what was the news in there there justified we had a
source in the korean leadership? to me clearly the doj went too far. you saw the president, i think, reflecting that. i do think, i share david's view, we got to talk about this. not everything that's secret is news. what should be news is malfeasance, misbehavior, lying. not the fact we have a source in the north korean leadership. >> congresswoman, do you think the attorney general needs to resign at this point? >> i think that the attorney general has definitely lost the trust of the american people. when you are out in my district, people feel betrayed by the conduct of this administration and this attorney general. and, you know, it is an issue of leadership. just as david sets the standards and decorum for his department and his classroom, the president sets that for the administration. and people are wanting answers. they don't want excuses. they want accountability. they don't want evasion. they have lost the trust.
i think it'll take a generation to rebuild trust in the federal government at this point. >> let me bring in tom brokaw who's with us from new york. special correspondent for nbc news, of course, and tom, you've talked about this. this week you've covered and lived through a lot of these in washington. you were struck and tom friedman just mentioned it, by something that walter pinkus wrote in the "washington post." i want to put a portion of it up for some context here. he wrote, when will journalists take responsibility for what they do without circling the wagons and shouting that the first amendment is under attack when the first amendment advocates say rosen, meaning james rosen of fox news, was falsely characterized as a co-conspirator? they do not understand the law. when others claim this investigation is intimidating a growing number of government sources, they don't understand history. is this is a leadership issue, tom, for the administration? is this purely a press versus government issue? >> walter pinkus is one of the most serious and senior investigative reporters in
washington, d.c. just that statement touched off a moot court debate on the internet. i think it's a combination of all those things. the problem with how you determine whether something is in the public's right to know when it is classified in some fashion doesn't have the law of physics attached to it. it's very subjective. everyone has a slightly different opinion. but in most cases when a news organization like the associated press or rosen, it begins a dialogue with the government. the burden is on them. obviously the administration is scrambling to clean all this up. but it seems to me that on this sunday morning after last week that eric holder still is in the cross hairs here. what did he know? when did he know it? what did he do about it? and that will play out this week. >> do you think this is a real olive branch to news organizations? an off-the-record meeting to discuss changing the guidelines for how leak investigations are pursued? >> i think the burden is on both the government and the press to
work out a more clear set of guidelines, both for their exchanges with each other and then so that the public can be involved in this as well. as i said earlier, the problem always is that the first amendment, "a," is not unconditional. but at the same time, the burden is on the government. it can be very murky in terms of what the impact is. i talked over the weekend to a very, very senior ex-intelligence official from the united states government. and he laughed. he said, look, this administration and all prior administrations have used classified material when it's been to their political advantage. and he was astonished, by the way, that eric holder, the chief legal officer of the united states, has recused himself in the associated press case. so we still have a way to go here, david. >> do you think -- you've seen these kind of investigations before. meaning the judiciary investigation, committee investigation of the attorney general, this could be elongated? you have this morning on "the
new york times" government officials talking off the record or on background about his effectiveness. does he stay in the job? >> boy, i think it's tough to see how he does at this case. but that's up to the president. what we're seeing "new york times" in the today is that familiar washington two-step. officially getting the endorsement of people like david axelrod and the spokesman for the president, but at the same time, there's another part of that two-step that is going on which people are saying it would be better if he left. it would be better for the president to get this cleaned up. he has become obviously the lightning rod for a lot of the criticism just on this panel. and certainly in republican circles. from a political point of view, one of the ways that you can measure the impact of all of this and the fairness of it, is, think of this, if this had happened in the bush administration with john ashcroft as the attorney general. you know full well the democrats and the left would be going very hard after them with these issues that are in play. >> tom brokaw, thank you very much. we'll see you coming up on thursday nights this summer on the military channel.
your special series of iconic moments in history appropriately called "the brokaw files." thanks very much for spending a couple minutes with us this morning. >> thanks, david. >> david, reaction to that. tom's reaction on holder's future. >> i think those two issues live together. i think you can at once say we have to protect these classified matters as tom said that have grave consequences and cannot be in the public domain. on the other hand, we have to find a set of rules and laws -- >> jonathan alter, can you imagine a republican president doing what this president did? i mean, they came out there and they said, no apologies. these are serious crimes. we're going to investigate them. a few days later they said, you know what? maybe we overreached here. >> i can't imagine mitt romney doing that because he wrote a whole book called "no apologies." have a policy of not apologizing.
people in that party have a policy of not apologizing. what's missing here, david, is a distinction between investigating leaks, finding out who was betraying secrets and prosecuting journalists. these are two different matters. in the past presidents have been very frustrated by leaks. ronald reagan said, i've had it up to my keister with leaks. this debate goes all the way back to the adams administration when they put in the alien and sedition acts. so this is not a new debate. what's new and what's different is this idea of criminalizing the reporting part of it. look, in world war ii before the battle of midway, the "chicago tribune" released the u.s. battle plan. the roosevelt administration decided we're not going to prosecute the tribune for that in the middle of the war. >> who's been prosecuted -- >> i was very uncomfortable and i think it was wrong to use the term co-conspirator. that's a legal term. what journalist was prosecuted? i totally agree with you. you shouldn't criminalize
reporting. but the fact is no journalist was prosecuted. >> no. but if you have the fbi saying that the journalist is a, quote, co-conspirator, using that kind of language, that is starting to move down that road. >> quick comment here and then we'll move on. >> the administration went too far. >> clearly. >> i think that's very clear. i think the president recognized that a week later. but i think it'll be a shame if all this comes down to is just eric holder and we don't use this as a real teaching moment. >> right. >> when somebody goes too far, there also needs to be consequences. you know, what we saw this week was the cyag meeting. cover your ag. at the same time you see there's news media that chooses not to go. i've never been to an off the record meeting that's announced previously. it seems like an oxymoron to go discuss the freedom of the press in a closed door meeting. >> we're going to move on from this. chuck schumer, welcome back. >> nice to be with you. >> let me start on this issue of
the future of the attorney general. we have seen whether it's the huffington post or jonathan turley, law professor, writing in "usa today" that he should resign, senator roberts saying he should resign, tom brokaw saying this morning hard to see how he could hold on to his job with all this pressure. do you think the attorney general should keep his job? look, there have been all kinds of accusations, but i haven't seen anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job. let's not forget, for about two years many of our hard right colleagues spent a lot of their time on fast and furious and i'm sure there were calls for holder to step down. he continued to do his job well. then the ig exonerated him on fast and furious. so obviously if there's wrong doing, we should find out who did it. but the president has confidence in holder and i believe he's going to stay. >> and you have confidence? >> listen, yes. the -- as i said, i haven't seen a single accusation that prevents him from doing his job.
>> what about whether he committed perjury in front of the house committee when he says he's never been involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist yet his own affidavit names james rosen of fox news as a co-conspirator for getting classified information. >> yeah. i don't think there's perjury. there's been no prosecution or attempted prosecution of any journalist so there can't be perjury. the warrant is a tool to get information. i don't think the two were contradictory. i don't think any good criminal lawyer would say there's a scintilla of evidence of perjury. >> if there is a long investigation by the judiciary committee into the attorney general, is that a good thing for the country? >> look, we should investigate and find out what went wrong. particularly with the irs situation. i think the other two on the media shield, we need some new laws. that's for sure. and we need an independent arbitor as your panel pointed out. it's one big mess. you cannot have the justice
department be both the player and the umpire. so the bill that lindsey graham and i have proposed, where there'd be an independent arbiter, judge, to balance the two very real needs of freedom of the press and preventing leaks is the way to go. in terms of the irs -- sorry. >> this doesn't cover national security issues, does it? >> yes, it does. >> how so? >> obviously it provides more leeway on national security as it should than other kinds of leaks. but in three ways. first, if the administration is saying it's national security, you have an independent arbiter determine if it is. second they can determine the ambut. for instance, in the a.p. the judge could say maybe getting the phone records of four of these a.p. reporters has to do with national security. the other 16 don't. finally and maybe most importantly, it requires there be notice to the news organization. so a.p. or fox news would get notice. and could go to court and try and suppress it. >> let me ask you about the irs.
new information coming out about lavish spends at some of these conferences. eve an new video produced of irs employees getting together preparing line dances for conferences. they're spending a lot of money on producing these kinds of videos. a lot of companies do this. we're talking about government employees. in the context of everything that's happening this has got to be the last thing the irs needs. >> absolutely. and the new director, the acting director of the irs said he would put an end to it. it's outrageous. any kind of wasteful spending like this must be put down, beforely l before -- particularly at these times. >> you talk about the irs investigations and the targeted conservative groups. you lobbied the irs to look into these groups. you didn't specify conservative groups. there are those on the right who say you and others effectively did. you were really targeting conservative groups not to be given that tax exempt status. >> no, that's absolutely not true. first, our letter came a year and a half after they started targeting the tea party. so it couldn't have caused it, that's for sure. second, look what our letter says.
it says form a bright line and determine how much political activity a so-called social welfare organization can do before they lose their tax exempt status. our letter is actually the solution. i would propose that we say -- we pass legislation that more than 10% -- if more than 10% of your activity is political activity, you lose your tax exemption. if you had a bright line it wouldn't be up to some bureaucrat to make their own determination, perhaps wrongly based on political needs. it would be the same standard for all groups, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican. that's what we need. our letter is actually the solution to the problem. >> you're obviously focused on immigration reform. you're part of the gang of eight. this is a question about the president's agenda in light of all of these scandals and controversies that the administration faces. i talked to one of boehner's top guys this week who said, look, if senators say they can get
republican votes in the senate and it's automatically going to transfer to getting votes in the house, they're wrong. it's going to be a long slog in the house as well. >> first, we're going to put information on the floor starting on june 10th. i predict it will pass the senate by july fourth. we're hoping to get 70 votes, up to 70 votes which means a lot of republicans. we're willing to entertain amendments that don't damage the core principles of the bill but improve the bill just as we did in committee. we came out of the committee very strong. our gang of eight stuck together and we picked up orrin hatch's vote as well. but let me say this about, in general. these so-called scandals have not diverted us one iota. you have on the gang of eight three of the people who have been most critical of the president on some of these other issues. but i think the eight of us realize how important this is more important than any of these scandals for the future of america, for job growth, for the middle class, for the straightening out this system. it hasn't interfered one iota. we are moving forward because we believe in a bipartisan way this
is so vital for america. we'll have a good bill. congressman boehner is in a box. there are about 60 or 70 of his people who are against any immigration reform. but at the same time, he knows that the republican party will be consigned to a minority party for a generation if they're anti-immigration. my advice to him, let's see what happens in the senate bill. if we can come out of the senate with close to a majority of the republican senators and almost every democrat, that may change the equation in the house and the thinking in the house among mainstream republicans. and they may want to go for our bill. >> do you have a warning for republicans who want to make the irs and personal issues affecting the president the main theme of 2014? >> my warning to the republicans is look at 1998. all they did is spend their time on the impeachment of bill clinton. and for the first time the incumbent president didn't lose seats in the house. certainly there should be investigations. and of the irs, which i think is the really serious one of these three. the others are serious, but we
haven't seen wrongdoing. the press shield area is a mess. and you need independent legislation, as i mentioned, but if they go too far, they will lose. and the -- looking into these investigations is no substitute to focusing on the economy, jobs for the middle class. republicans are right to want to look into these things, but if they emphasize it too much they're going to pay a price at the polls in 2014. >> senator shoop. thank you very much, as always. >> nice to talk with you. more with our roundtable in a moment. a new study out this week that more and more women are becoming the primary breadwinners in american families. some equal pay issues with that as well. also the impact. first, we're going to talk to the house intelligence chairman mike rogers of michigan. get his reaction to it leak story, plus -- the alarming report this week that chinese hackers gained access to the nation's highly classified defense system. that's coming up after this short break. short break. hey, look! a shooting star! make a wish!
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our roundtable. they're still here. we'll get to that in a moment. first, staying on the topic of national security, news this week that the president plans to nominate former bush administration official jim comey as the new director of the fbi. after the break, reaction from a man at one time considered to be a candidate for that job himself, former fbi agent, now chair of the house intelligence committee, mike rogers. coming up right after this. this is kevin. to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again. and now i've got to take more pills. ♪ yup. another pill stop. can i get my aleve back yet? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap.
we're back. joining me now republican congressman from michigan, chairman of the intelligence committee, mike rogers. congressman, welcome back. >> thanks for having me, david. >> let me ask you about these intelligence leaks, the news leaks and the investigations. you have been among the most outspoken saying some of the national security leaks have been very damaging to the country. in light of the a.p. story and the seizure of those telephone records. at the time the attorney general defended what he did. this is what he said last month. >> i have to say that this is among if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that i've ever seen, that put the american people at risk. >> that was his defense for what he was doing. now they're talking about changing the guidelines and trying to offer an olive branch to the press. are you concerned that the attorney general has folded on this? >> well, listen, as a former fbi agent, certainly as the chairman
of the intelligence committee, keeping classified information secret is incredibly important for our national security. however, i think that dragnet that they threw out over those a.p. reporters was more than an overreach. and it really is not very good investigative work. as a matter of fact, you normally want to target -- you narrow that list down. then you might be able to go for someone's phone records or e-mails. but that dragnet approach i argue is a little dangerous when you talk about first amendment protections for a free press. same with the co-conspirator issue. that just defied logic to me. it almost seemed like someone wanted to get around the notion that they had the shield protection law. if you look at the law and you look at what they did, it would have been exempted from that. there's, i think, a lot of questions that need to be answered there. but at the same time, we do need to remember that these leaks are serious and for those folks who are leaking information that may lead to the death of sources or people who are cooperating with the united states or men and women who are serving in combat,
there should be consequences for that. >> do you think that the attorney general leveled with congress, with the judiciary committee, with your colleagues, when he said that he was never involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist given that he named as a co-conspirator a journalist in the affidavit? >> certainly the timing is, i think, problematic for the attorney general. i think that has to be thoroughly investigated. i think you need to lay out exactly what the testimony was, exactly the timeline when he signed and checked off that they should move forward with going after -- naming him as a co-conspirator, then find out what reconciled that with his testimony. i think all of that needs to be tone. but this pattern of deception administration wide is starting to become concerning. when you look at the irs and you look at the benghazi issue and you look at the a.p. issue, i think the trouble here isn't even the individual specific scandals. it's this broader notion that there's a pattern of this activity. i think that's what concerns people.
because what you don't want to have happen is americans lose faith and trust in their institutions. that, i think, is what's at risk here. we better get this back in the box so americans can rest easy at night knowing we're working for them and not against them. >> bottom line, do you think the attorney general should keep his job? should he resign? >> yeah. i think that's going to be up to him. i think how he handles this moving forward is critically important. i've argued from the beginning they just need to lay it out on the table. americans are more forgiving if you tell the truth up front. this notion that you're going to leak some things out, hold some things back, administration wide on these issues, i think has been damaging to them, certainly damaging to the public trust. again, i think it's gogsz ing t up to him. there should be a thorough investigation. those facts should go where they should go. including the fact that it takes it back beyond the attorney general to make that determination. one of the thing we've got to do here is restore that faith and that trust. that only happens when the truth comes out and people who -- who
have gone beyond the pale of the law are held accountable. >> let me ask you more broadly about national security. we're talking about in the context of leaking that kind of information. the president talking recently about the state of the war on terror and how that should be rethought as we move forward both in his administration and for future presidents. he in his speech recently declared an end to the war. susan rice, who appeared on this program in september, said al qaeda was decimated. we know there is a trove of information that was recovered when osama bin laden was killed from that compound. not all that information has been released. you've had a chance to review some of it. do you agree with the assessment that the administration has made about the strength or lack of of al qaeda? >> i think it is -- we are in a wrong direction here if we think we can pull back and let this thing go. you have over 500 schools have been closed in afghanistan. majority of girls schools. last week the taliban poisoned 74 girls trying to go to school.
the boca haram in northern africa area have killed some 3,000 people. these are islamic extremists. that's revamping up. you have the problem in mali. in algiers. in libya. all with al qaeda extremists. in may of this year 1,000 people were killed in extremist violence in iraq. you have 90,000-plus people killed in syria over what is a growing sectarian problem, which is now becoming a regional problem. saying that this thing is over and we can all just rest easy and start to change the policy to try to address this i think is dangerous to our national security. i don't think it fits the facts on the ground. whatever our politics are, republican or democrat, conservative, liberal, doesn't matter when you're talking about national security. >> do you want to the see more of those documents released? >> we're going over the documents. again, i think the week -- first week of june. my committee is going over and having folks up again for a review of the documents. we should take a look at what
can be released and what should be released. i think there is some value in some of that information retaining its classifications for national security reasons. i don't think it's the majority of it. i think we ought to seriously give consideration to allowing more than a 17 documents that were selectively picked by the administration to be made public. i think that doesn't probably tell the whole story. >> a couple of quick ones. jim comey now is going to be announced, former bush administration official, for director of the fbi. you were once up for that job. people pushing for you. what do you think of it? >> listen, i think it was a very safe, logical choice for them. he has a good reputation for prosecutorial work in new york. i think that's good. i was fortunate enough to have the working men and women of the fbi who were advocating for that selection. i'm humbled by that experience. the bureau is going to be a very key player moving forward. what we've already seen, the extremism and violent jihad, has approached the shores of the united states in ways we haven't seen before.
that means that the fbi is front and center of that fight. and we've got some problems to work through. this notion of an intelligence-based investigation versus a criminal-based investigation and what that means in the confines of the law. getting this right will really mean the difference between life and death for americans. that challenge, i think, has to be met here in the months ahead. >> case in point, this florida shooting of the apparent friend of tsarnaev, the boston bomber who was killed by authorities, shot by the fbi. should there be an investigation into the circumstances as it turned out he was unarmed after he was shot and there was talk of a scuffle there? are you concerned about this? >> absolutely. every shooting is investigated and should be investigated. we should get to the bottom of it. you know, i always -- there used to be a saying when i was in the fbi. it's better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. you ask these individuals to go into these meetings and some of these folks are violent. and it's their job to come home at night as well as to enforce
the law. and if they're going to make an error, i hope they do it for their families. now, that does not give them the excuse to go beyond the bounds of the law. that's what that investigation should determine. we need to make sure that it was all done in accordance to the law. again, monday morning quarterbacking, if someone appears to be violent, knowing that this individual has violent extremist ties, i think that agent has to make a decision in an absolutely fraction of a second. we all should consider that also in the course of that investigation. >> all right. chairman rogers, we're going to leave it there. more to discuss. we're out of time this morning. thank you, as always. >> thanks for having me, david. back to our roundtable. i want to widen some of this out. talk about politics in the president's second term. david axelrod, you wanted to make an additional point about these irs investigations. to what extent they are undermining what the president wants to do. what his big ideas here are for a second term. >> well, first of all, the point i want to make on the irs, you heard senator schumer say these 501-c4s, these are the groups the irs was looking at, should have a
standard that no more than 10% of their activities be involved in politics. but someone has to make that judgment. i think there's something peculiar about all that. the whole concept needs to be looked at. groups applying for axing exemption and to keep their donors secret. that's the benefit they get from that. how do you decide what's political and not political? you're inviting this kind of problem. i think that ought to be looked at. in terms of the issue itself -- >> congresswoman, respond to that point. >> see, the problem with this is, they were going after the conservative groups and not after liberal groups. so there was a targeting mechanism that was built into that. and then individuals, conservative individuals that seem to be going after. it is the irs using their position for political intimidation. david, i can't imagine -- >> congresswoman, i think it was an idiotic thing to do. but i will point you to the inspector general's report that said it wasn't done for a political reason.
they were flooded with applications. >> you know what, david, that's tough to swallow. when you're a republican it's hard to swallow it wasn't done for political reasons when the words chosen were conservative, tea party, when you have a -- a group supporting -- the 2007 group freedom watch we saw yesterday come out where donors were getting audited and targeted as well. not just the groups. this is just -- it's very hard -- >> their work -- >> it's very hard -- it's very easy for your side to say it isn't political. it's very hard for our side to accept it when we're the ones being targeted. >> it was the inspector general -- >> i've said this many times. if there was somebody political involved in this it never would have happened. because it was the stupidest thing you could imagine. i don't think can was necessary or smart. >> chairman camp has worked on this for two years. we've been getting anecdotal evidence for two years. they would say, no, no, no, no. you look at what lois lerner did.
you know there had to be an agenda. 157 visits? by commissioner -- >> let me get in here for a second. >> when bush was president, how many times did he visit them? >> i don't think it was 157 times. >> let me get in here for a second. david, and congresswoman, let me get in here for a second. this is part of a bigger issue that the president faces. which is, where is his agenda left in all this? i want to show something. you wrote about how to get a job this week which got incredible response. here's a poll from quinnipiac. what should be a higher priority? investigating benghazi and a.p. at 22%, people said, relatively low. the economy and unemployment was at 73%. clearly a much higher priority as you look at that poll. the president is coming under fire for losing his scope effectively in a second term to rebuild america. to usher in economic restoration. >> well, that's the tragedy for him. it's a tragedy for all of us. because we are in the middle, i would argue, david, of a huge
inflection where two points i would make about this moment. one is that the -- the thing that sustained the american middle class for 50 years was something called high wage middle skill jobs. there is no such thing anymore as a high wage middle skill job. there's only going to be a high wage high skill job. so every decent middle class job today is actually being pulled in three directions at once. it's being pulled higher. it takes more skill to have. it's being pulled out. more software, robots, automation and people around the world can compete for it. and it's being pulled down. it's being outsourced to history, to the past, being made obsolete faster. up know, i had an experience of this a couple weeks ago. i had to deal with hertz for a pretty complicated change in reservation. for the first time i did the entire transaction with hertz without any human interaction. this was a complicated interaction i had. it really made a point of that. what's been happening to blue collar jobs, that kind of pac-man of automation outsourcing and digitization is now coming after white collar jobs as well.
this requires a huge strategic response for the country. >> jonathan alter, you write about this in "the center holds" in your new book. you write this about the president's economic legacy and how it impacts him politically. it was impossible, you write, to predict how obama's agenda would fair. fights over the debt ceiling and 100 other issues laid down the road. he would almost certainly be judged during and after leaving office on whether the american economy finally shook off and began to thrive again. if the economy revived more quickly democrats would likely do better than expected in the 2014 mid-terms which would allow the president to make more progress on his agenda. if economic growth stalled he would be seen as more of a lame duck. how does he seem now? >> this is how presidents are judged. right now the economy seems to be moving forward. there's been some good economic news. you can imagine that if mitt romney had been elected, and this is one of the reasons the stakes were so big, david, that right now everybody would be saying, well, the economy is doing better again because we slashed taxes on the wealthy and
we slashed regulations, we slashed programs for the poor. so this last election, i argue in the book, was hugely, pivotally important. if romney had won it would have validated the entire conservative argument for what to do about the economy. and it would have discredited things like infrastructure, which is critical for getting these folks that tom was talking about employed. and education. because the ryan plan and other things slashed funding for education, medical and scientific research that creates a lot of jobs. so what the president i think needs to do is to get back on the beam with the big things the big themes that got him re-elected. the first person -- first president re-elected twice with more than 51% of the vote since dwight eisenhower in half a century. so the point is that he has to focus on college completion. because if they don't get a college degree, they are road kill in the global economy.
and he has to focus on rebuilding america and bringing the republican party, the party of lincoln, who is a big infrastructure man, built the railroads, teddy roosevelt, big infrastructure man, bring the republican party back to its roots, come together on a big infrastructure plan. >> ana, looking at the democrats from where you sit, you're seeing democrats who are critical of the president. saying, look, the second term is getting away from you. things you've tried, you've made a big stand on, like guns and such have not panned out. you've got to get back to jobs. >> look, i think absolutely he's got to focus on jobs. and we all have to focus on jobs. the entire government has to. but we've got to walk and chew gum at the same time. we cannot look the other way when you've got things like government overreach. when you've got the criminalization of important government agencies like the irs. you just cannot look the other way. that's what makes our country great and what makes our democracy so strong. that there are checks and balances. and that we do have mechanisms
to be able to detect when there are these abuses of power. if there are abuses of power going on, they need to be addressed. >> david, can the president, will he be seen as somebody who fixed the economy? >> i agree with everything everybody just said. i think tom's right. the challenge of our time, the president would say that if he was sitting here, how do you push back on the forces -- marginized so many people -- >> and government and their jobs. >> -- and so that's why he has a budget, and he's pushing for early childhood education. more college entry. research and development. infrastructure. all of these things are important to do exactly what tom's talking about, and that's what -- i do think that he needs to focus on those things as the fall comes and we have this big budget debate. that is really what's at stake. >> here you have this question with michele bachmann retiring this week, the staying power of the tea party which is going to
argue, that sentiment is that government cannot be the driver of all these things. >> well, and government can't be the driver, but the biggest impediment to jobs growth in this country right now is the implementation of obama care. the 29 1/2 hours, getting under 50 employees, health care becoming too expensive to afford. this program is too expensive to afford. it was to be $800 billion. now it's $2.6 trillion. come on. people are not hiring. when you look at the labor force participation rate, being where it was in jimmy carter's day, and you look at people coming out of college in your 18 to 24-year-old group, where you're at 50% -- i mean, 13% unemployment? you've got problems. >> let me take a break here. i want to come back. i want to check in with tom friedman about what's royaling the middle east now and what the president can do about it. but then i want to widen our discussion, too, to talk about a
new issue that came up this week. more and more women, obviously it's been happening for more than just this week, becoming primary breadwinners in their families. how is that impacting families around the country. the discussion about work/life balance a lot of men are talking about as well. we'll come back with our roundtable right after this. news this sunday morning (announcer) scottrade knows our clients trade and invest their own way. with scottrade's smart text, i can quickly understand my charts, and spend more time trading. their quick trade bar lets my account follow me online so i can react in real-time. plus, my local scottrade office is there to help. because they know i don't trade like everybody.
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news this sunday morning "new york times" in the, the sectarian violence that's spreading from syria throughout the middle east. 1,000 people killed in iraq in may alone. we're back with our roundtable. tom friedman, you've been traveling through the region including turkey. it makes it very difficult to see how the united states can
have a positive impact on this region. >> david, we're seeing the breakdown basically of almost a century old political -- back to world war i when the middle east was divided up into these states. it was done under -- the brishtish, french, somewhat russian -- >> i've got a copy of that. >> you can bring it up. what we're seeing now is the new do it yourself version. this will not be done by imperial powers from the top down. it will be done by the people from the bottom up. i think the issue the president is struggling with and what we're struggling with as a country is what to do about syria. i've just come from syria and yemen and turkey. and i would say, you know, what i seem to see in the debate here is no one saying what is the outcome we want? the rebels are being hurt, you know, and lord knows that resonates with me. but we've got to say what is the outcome we want? do we want a multiethnic unified syria? if that's the case, not only arm the opposition, once they
topple, two more civil wars coming. between sunnis and others and sunnis and sunnis between seculars and islams. so if you want to arm the rebels to topple this regime to produce a unified syria, you're going to have to have international peace keepers on the ground. if your goal is just to bloody iran and syria, our opponents, feed the rebels arms. let them defeat hezbollah, all these bad guys. then the issue is going to have to be you're going to be ready for the breakup of syria. lastly, if you're arming the rebels just in order to create a stalemate so they'll negotiate, ultimately there's no deal assad and the rebels are going to reach that, again, won't require international peace keeping force to somehow maintain. so, please, do not will the end without willing the means. we tried that in iraq. it didn't end well. >> it's daunting. a head snapping segue. i want to segue from that to something that is back home here. a big issue for a lot of families, something that caught our attention this week from the pew research center. look at the percentage of the mothers as the sole or primary
breadwinner in the families. back in 1960 if you look at this chart, 10.8%. and now here we are in 2011. it's at 40.4%. ana, there's a lot of discussion within marriages now that's a bottom line discussion. about who should be working based on who's earning. >> i think that's where the discussion should be. amongst marriages. there has been an evolution in the american family. you know, i think what we have to be as a society is accepting of what couples decide to do for themselves. there are some people who want to lean in. there are some people who want to lean back and be on a rocking chair drinking a mint julep. whatever works for every couple is what we should -- >> enough about your sunday afternoon. >> when i say in my house i want to be a kept woman, the answer i get back is i want to be a kept man. you know, that's not working. it's not working in my house. but i think it's -- what chairman rogers was just saying i think makes a very important point. he talked about what girls go through in so many other parts of the world to be able to go to school.
here we encourage girls and women to reach their potential. when they do, when we do, then we want to do something about it. i think we, women that work, need to be not judgmental of women who don't. i think men who are mister moms need to be accepted by those who are the alpha male breadwinners. i think it's got to be whatever works -- for different folks -- >> marsha, we talked about this before around this table. first of all, what is the impact of this as a data point? that now you have, you know, research backing up what so many of us know. which is, that this is a new reality? >> yeah. it was so interest ing. the day this came out i was doing a roundtable discussion at the middle tennessee girl scout center with 20 affinity group leaders from corporations in tennessee. and one of the things that everybody seemed to agree on was that as we go to an economy where your -- your intellectual
property, your thoughts, all of that is geared -- we're an information economy. women excel in that area. you're going to see more women move forward as breadwinners. but it is up to companies to make certain that there is a level playing field and that women are not shortchanged as they try to get on that ladder to success. >> it's interesting, too -- >> it goes beyond up to companies. i would love to see our party have many or of you. we as republicans have got to do a better job. >> in the political arena, you're exactly right. >> it will make us a much better party. >> i say we need to be the great opportunity party. that's what -- >> how about pay equity loss to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace? >> i think that more important than that, it is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. you know, i've always said i wasn't -- i didn't want to be given a job because i was a female. i wanted it because i was the most well qualified person for the job. and making certain that
companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want. >> what about -- >> they don't want the decisions made in washington. they want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions. >> jonathan, isn't it interesting, too, it's also a question of what men want. i was struck, bloomberg business week has this cover story out. working dads want family time, too. talking about lean out. something there, something in there talks about younger men. certainly true in my life, in my generation, who are coming out of college. if they are. or starting on their work life. and understanding that they want things in their careers. they understand that their partner is going to want those things, too. so they look at responsibility at the home including child rearing as a total partnership. >> absolutely. you know, there's a line in that story that i think all of us have reflected on. it's an old line. that nobody -- no man in particular on his deathbed says, i wish i'd spent more time at the office. >> right.
>> people from both sexes want that family time. they should get that family time. marissa mayer, head of yahoo! set off a huge debate recently when she said that there should be less flex time, more people coming into the office. when it turned out she had child care for herself there, you had a huge national debate. but both men and women should get that flex time that technology now allows. but what i'm worried about with men is that they're not graduating from college. women now make up more than 25% of college graduates greater than men. they are women. i'm confusing the statistics there a little bit. >> i worry -- >> women are dominating -- >> you're right. >> men have -- disproportionate with the impact of the changing economy in terms of job opportunities. but as a parent i must say, i
spent an awful lot of time when i was young on my career, traveling. my wife was home. my kids -- i had one sick child. three kids. and the greatest regret of my life is that i didn't apportion more time to my family in those early years. and you can't get that time back. so to the extent people are making those decisions differently now, i think it's a really positive thing. >> got to get a break in here. we'll come back in just a minute. [ male announcer ] running out of steam?
we're out of time for today. i want to thank all my guests. before you go see this week's press pass with "kite runner" author khaled hosseini. he's out with a new book. "and the mountains echoed." i love this looks. that's at meetthepressnbc.com. also on our website, an excerpt of jonathan alter's new book, "the center holds." jonathan will be sticking around for a take two conversation. that will be up on our website this afternoon. that's all for today. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."
\ s 3p m \ e and a good sunday afternoon. i'm craig melvin. you're watching msnbc. the place for politics. what's happening -- >> the shelter saved our lives. i wouldn't want to ride a storm out like that above ground. >> very hard to describe. i'm still not processing it very well. >> and fortunate but familiar ritual of late is under way again in the heartland as the death toll climbs. they're sifts three debris and starting to rebuild after this weekend's burst of storms. meanwhile, as we watched that severe weather move east now, a look at how all of this bad weather has now forced drastic changes to mandated job cuts.
also ahead, decision day. the supreme court cot start handing down its major rulings tomorrow. how the justices might be leaning and how those decisions could affect you. >> one of the things we want to find out is whether or not the fbi followed through on all of the information given to them. >> and word from russia. six congressmen went to investigate the boston bombing mayor did did botchan marathon bombings. what they found and why some of them now say the attack could have been stopped. first, though, right now, new and dangerous flooding in the areas devastated by this weekend's storms. meanwhile, we now know three people were killed in missouri in addition to the ten killed in oklahoma. among the dead in oklahoma, three storm chasers. carl young, along with meteorologist paul samaras and tim samaras died chasing tornadoes year el reno. a short time ago we got -- this new video of the massive
sinkhole caused by the heavy rains yesterday. high water and flooding affected about 157 homes nearby. more than two dozen families stayed in local community centers last night, and that weather system that reeked havoc on the area this weekend now moves towards the northeast where it's expected to dump rain and possible hail, but as they pick up in the country's midsection, it's flooding. flooding is still a major concern there. right to the sarah in an area that sustained a lot of damage this weekend. sarah, el reno was also where those three storm chasers died. can you tell us a little more about them? >> reporter: yeah. these were three men who dedicated their lives to learning and studying tornadoes so that people could be better warned, people in their path, like the family here behind me. these three worked together a very long time. tim samaras, his longtime storm chasing partner and best friend
paul young and samaras' son, just 24 years old, paul, a videographer and environmental photographer. say >> sarah, what's the biggest problem folks are dealing with on the ground? >> reporter: i was talking to the homeowner of this house behind me a few minutes ago. she said right now her biggest concern is getting back on her feet, getting a place to live, finding the basic necessities, getting clothes, food and going through all of this rubble to find what is left of her home. she is not in an area being freeded. the concerns for those in the flooded areas are right now are dealing with the water. >> precisely where are the flooding concerns right now where you are? >> reporter: they're all over various parts of oklahoma as well as in arkansas where it was very bad earlier, killing three people there, including a sheriff who was attempting a water rescue when he was swept away. thanks to this warm weather, we're getting today, though,
floodwaters are receding. the rick is lessening a bet but we are expecting more rains on monday and tuesday. and it's going to be very important to keep eyes on the rising rivers as well as the potential for additional flash floods. >> the big story yesterday, one of the big stories, at least, the sheer number of people who were without power in and around oklahoma city. what's the latest with regards to power outages? >> reporter: the latest numbers we've seen are in the metro area about 32,000 people still in the metro area without power. a different company works in the rural areas. we're looking for numbers from them. some power restored and crews out here working to put the poles back up and restore electricity, something these people need. soon as the sun goes down, work has to stop simply because they can't see. >> quickly, before i let you get out of here. where is that storm heading now? where is that storm system moving? >> reporter: yeah. the storm has left us and is headed east, actually, to you guys. it's going to be from about
washington, d.c. up to maine. 40 million people at risk of severe thunderstorms. there's also going to be some risk of tornadoes and large hail there. >> sarah, on the ground for us there in el reno. sarah, thank you. let's get to our headlines now. in the wake of recent tornadoes in missouri and oklahoma, noaa, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, reportedly cancelled plans to furlough spr 12,000 workers due to s sequestration. a move that latest storms "remind us how important every single employee within noaa is to the health, safety and well-being of this nation." congress heads back to work after a week-long recess. the first item of business, immigration reform. on "meet the press" this morning, senator chuck schumer, a member of the senate so-called gang of eight said they were undeterred from their cause, despite all the controversy surrounding washington right
now. >> these so-called scandals have not diverted us one iota. you have on the gang of eight three of the people who have been most critical of the president on some of these other issue, but i think the eight of us realize how important this is. important parn probably thimpor than any of these scandals for straightening out this system. and who knew what in the irs controversy that rages on on cnn this morning. house oversight commit daryli darrellize darrell ize issa, targeting conservative groups it came from washington, and said something about white house spokesman jay carney. >> the administration is still, they're paid liar, their spokesperson, he's still making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue. there's no indication. the reason that lois learnrner
tried to take the fifth, it's because this was a problem coordinated in all likelihood right out of washington headquarters. with more now, the um nfoldg layers of the controversy. i'm joined by a panel, start with you, jackie. we heard darrell issa go over jay carney calling him a paid liar. how repairable is the lack of trust that republicans have with this white house, and is it catching on across the aisle yet? >> i think it has a potential to catch on quite a bit. there's a report coming out this week having to do with new information on the irs scandal. there seems to be something unfolding every week. the white house has done, wrapping up the scandals, then something out comes out. when you already had some of the is a stisuspicions about holder other issues by republicans,
these scandals are fueling the fire. i don't see any of this abating any time soon. >> and new polling out this week showing that while americans do care about the irs scandal, they care more about the economy, a lot more, in fact. president obama's former senior adviser david plouffe talked about that this morning. >> these are going to be looking through thoroughly, as they should be. the question is, is that all congress is going to do? just obsessed with scandal and trying to score political points or the american people cannot be screaming anymore loudly. worry about us. work on the economy. >> so how do politicians especially republicans right now, how do they reconcile wanting to get to the bottom of these controversies, but also appealing to the american public? >> well, i mean, they want to appeal, obviously, on their oh agenda and programs. that was a real wilderness period after mitt romney won the election. they did not think president obama would be re-elected.
many were very surprised and so they got together. you saw an effort by some, governor bobby jindal, others, er eric cantor, is to be talking about what wee take away from the green eyed budget forecasts and tell the american people what we'll do to make their lives better. you see this in an attempt to pass immigration reforms and these different investigation willing going on and yes, good for the president to say we have new economic news that's good, consumer confidence, best in five years. evidence of new hires. but republican party is going to go into the midterm election saying, this administration didn't know how to run an efficient and effective government, never really got jobs back for us, and now they've run the government into such a conflagration of
disasters, they don't know who's doing what. they're not accountable. and that is going to be a powerful message for americans still suffering from economic anxiety, and worry that nobody is minding the store. >> bill, the justice department itself. also under fire for alleged unethical treatment of journali journalists. david gregory talked about that this morning on "meet the press." >> you have this morning in the "new york times" government officials talking off the record or on background about his effectiveness. does he stay in the job? >> well, i think it's tough to see how he does at this case. >> so, bill, the white house continues to maintain that it adamantly stands behind holder. let me ask you. can he survive these scandals? >> well, it's going to be difficult, and there's some criticism coming anonymously out of the white house. he says he's going to leerave o his own terms. an investigation is going on. held if contempt of congress over the operation "fast &
furious" botched effort to stop gun sales in mexico. to mexico. and now he is being threatened with prosecution for perjury, because he said that he did not sign off on the, on a warrant to prosecute a journalist at fox news. well, the democrats are saying, he wasn't signing off on prosecution. it was an investigation to get information, and it's gotten to be legalistic and technical but he's under an enormous amount of pressure, which is not unusual for an attorney general. the republican bs are determine to go after him and fixated on this. >> you wrote, president obama values loyalty and holder has been nothing if not loyal but it is high time obama accept what he has place add premium on in this presidency hasn't always brought success or results. what kind of message is president obama trying to send by digging in his heels so much and defending holder so vehemently?
>> that's a really interesting question. as we know into five years of president obama, he has the long view, and it's frustrating to many of his greatest supporters because they want him to address controversies and political storms as they come up and he takes to tend the long view down the road, in the big picture, everything is going to work out. he is a good friend of eric holder's, told him not to leave in the past. eric holder has been given permission to stay until he wants. we expect that to be through this year. maybe just one year into the second term. but if you think about it from a practical standpoint, it's difficult for president obama to replace him. it means another firestorm of confirmation hearings, who is that person going to be? can they find someone with a clean enough record? in a way it's probable mutually agreeable for both to stay a little longer. >> jackie, at what point does this situation become a tenable? >> another good question. i mean, if the -- if the president's -- i'm sorry.
the house has already held him in contempt. if they approve, they prove he lied in front of congress, some republicans are asserting now, that's another lay perp lining a jenga game. these things are pulled out, stacked up. we don't know what's going to make it fall, but i think a.b. is right. there's a great article in the "new york times" today about how close holder is, not only with obama but also with michelle obama, and his wife is close with michelle obama. so there is a lot of beyond politics, closeness, between these people. so i think it's going to take something -- it will take a lot. the short answer. >> thanks to all of us. an alleged al qaeda plot on the united states foiled. what officials say they found. plus, survivor, part ii. two of his sons take ton a deserted pacific island. but why? you're watching msnbc. [ female announcer ] introducing new olay fresh effects
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today members of the u.s. congressional delegation to russia are talking about their fact-finding trip. they went to talk about the boston marathon bombing. some saying they believe the bombings could have been prevented in there had been better cooperation between russian and u.s. intelligence officials. a group of six lawmakers spent a week in the russian capital meeting with russian government and intelligence officials. an nbc news terrorist analyst. good to have you, sir. congressman dana warbalker. we we'll talk about it on the other side. >> had better relations and should have had the more expansive interaction between
our intelligence communities on both sides that would have -- that would have prevented it. that would have threatened it -- that would have let us know what the threat was and we would have been able to thwart that attack smplg . >> is that true? would closer cooperation between russian and u.s. intelligence officials have stopped the boston attack? >> maybe. maybe. i mean, this is really -- this is such monday morning quarterbacking. i don't think you can even -- look, the russians provided us with information. that information did not distinguish itself from other information. they talked about a guy interested in going to dagestan to fight there of dagestany back groou background. nothing that suggested he would blow a bomb in boston and that's the problem with all the retrospective thinking. we're looking at this in retrospect. it's a needle in a haystack, a needle in a stack of needles
that these guys would. >> do you think the delegation learned anything important on the trip to moscow? >> maybe one important fact. apparently the russians are interested in tamerlan sarn tsarnaev, because he was interested in palestine to fight against the israelis's we didn't know that before. it's not clear whether or not they told the fbi that before the boston bombings took place, but if that's the case, maybe there is more there. maybe the russians did know something more than just he was sympathetic to the cause of chechen nationals. >> also at that news conference this morning, iowa republican congressman steve king said that russian officials told him that radicals from the chechen region are now more often than not moving to the united states and moving to europe. if that russian information is true, a big "if" i suppose, what's steps should we be taking in this country? what realistically can be take that we aren't already?
>> i don't think this is new information. there have been chechen separatists that moved to the west for years. russians complained bitterly we've allowed them to raise money and engage in support activity, but i really think we have to be really careful about demonizing people because they're chechens or because they're from dagestan, these folks have suffered under, you know, a lot of things by the russian government that are not necessarily pleasant and i don't think necessarily the u.s. government would endorse those or the american people would endorse those accesses. so let's be careful about demonizing people because they're from chechnya or dagestan. the russians have in particular perspective, borne of fact of a long-standing insurgency there but their politics and our politics and approach to these issues are not the same. >> law enforcement and intelligence officials in this country, do they have the resources at their disposal right now that they need to track and i guess in some cases even prevent potential attacks?
>> the answer, no, they don't. the worst part about it, this is all taking place in the midst of the sequestration. we see agencies like the fbi struggling now to make their budget. struggling to keep their personnel on tap and unable to acquire new technologies to potentially stop these people or allow the fbi to find these people because they don't have the cash. that's the saddest problem. congress complaining the fbi isn't doing their job but they're not giving the fbi the money they need to do their job. that's part of the hypocrisy of these trips to russia. the real thing that would have stopped this would have been given the fbi and other government agencies the financial resources to acquire that kind of technology. >> sounds like you think this trip to moscow might have been more of a junket. >> a political venture. great they found out this information, but ultimately it's up to the fbi and justice department to pursue and investigate this case. those are the people i'm most interested in seeing what they come up with. >> always a pleasure. appreciate your insight. thank you.
>> thank you very much. when we come back, we'll go into the political playground. >> you were intending to sacrifice all that vis great about our country and that is why i'm here to thank you. >> sarah palin gave a commencement speech to a class of less than 30 grads witts. what she said about small town america. you're watching msnbc.
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my mouth is so clean my dentist almost didn't know what to do. i was like "that's it?" he was like "yeah, that's it!" [ chuckles ] because all these whole grains aren't healthy unless you actually eat them ♪ multigrain cheerios. also available in delicious peanut butter. healthy never tasted so sweet. so some lawmakers are meeting with constituents, arizona senator jeff flake took a separate trip to to a deserted island during his congress' recess. he companions, his two youngest sons, 15 and 13 years old. his office announced earlier he was taking the trip but did not tell where. mostly for security reasons. in the interview, senator flake
said, "we came back a little thinner, maybe a little wiser. we had an awesome time." and into the political playground we go on a sunday. sarah palin is used to large crowds, so this may have been her smallest audience yet. she accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker yesterday and palin took surprise gift as well. $1 for each of the 27 graduates at the school along with a message. >> you've got to get off your butt to make a buck! never have found that had they not taken the time to look for it. i want them to take this the wrong way, but i would hope that's the last dollar someone just hands them, just gives to them. >> she accepted the invitation after the students launched an aggressive social media campaign to get her to come. we're told she did not charge
anything for the speech as well. and here in new york city, just a few hours ago, a big parade. tell you about that later. this, though, is angelina jolie. new pictures, her first appearance since the double mastectomy in february posing with her husband brad pitt at the premiere of his new film. may 14th, of course, announced that op-ed in the "new york times" she'd had surgery after being diagnosed with a gene that put her at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. a few hours ago here in new york city, hundreds of people lined up on fifth avenue to celebrate the annual israel day parade, and marching along with mayor michael bloomberg and governor andrew cuomo. there he is. new york's mayor's candidate, anthony weiner. you might recall, he resigned from congress after sending lewd photos to women on twitter, now in the mix to be the next mayor of new york city. we'll talk about that coming up
in the next hour. ard coulding to a new poll, only about one-third of americans new the chief justices were coming off some of the major decisions from the supreme court that could start coming as soon as tore. we'll break them down. this, a dazzling display in the night sky. see more of the amazing video of the northern lights as well straight ahead. this is msnbc. ♪ [ male announcer ] the distances aren't getting shorter. ♪ the trucks are going farther. the 2013 ram 1500 with best-in-class fuel economy. engineered to move heaven and earth. guts. glory. ram. the new ram 1500. motor trend's 2013 truck of the year. the new ram 1500. ok s o i' motor trend's 2013 truck of the year. 've been havingm 1500. with greek nonfat yogurt, loaded with protein 0% fat
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that huge brush fire in southern california is still burning, and spreading this afternoon. the wildfire is just north of los angeles. it's destroyed at least six homes and burned almost 20,000 acres. so far nearly 1,000 other homes have been evacuated and close to 1,000 firefighters are trying to contain that thing. the fire broke out thursday at a hydroelectric plant knee los angeles. i'm craig melvin. a quick look at other stories making news on a sunday afternoon --
five men arrested in iraq for allegedly planning to carry out chemical weapon attacks on targets here in the united states and europe. an iraqi official says the five men confessed to the plot and admitted they were taking orders from an offchute of al qaeda. federal investigators trying to figure out who sent the ricin laced letters to president obama and new york mayor michael bloomberg. investigators seen searching a house in new boston, texas, earlier this wook and reportedly questioning the man who lived there friday. take a look at this. check this out. this is a spectacular view of the northern lights this weekend from minnesota. we have not altered this video by the way. people all over the northern part of the united states were able to see the beautiful colors fill the sky. solar storm, a solar storm made this possible. the aurora borealis happens when highly charged electrons from
the solar wind interact with the elements of the earth's atmosphere. really cool. all right. there aren't many hints how the supreme court will rule on their docket this week. we won't be waiting much longer. starting tomorrow every monday in june and perhaps some thursdays the supreme court will rule on five key cases. they could make some sweeping changes to same-sex marriage, affirmative action and voting rights. our justice correspondent pete williams now with the breakdown of those and other key cases the court is expected to decide this month. [ chanting ] >> reporter: rulings on the hot button issue of gay rights dominate the list of what's left to decide. two gay couples in california are challenging that state's proposition 8 passed in 2008 banning same-sex marriage there. >> i don't see how our getting married would impact anybody else's marriage negatively in any way. >> reporter: defenders of prop 8 say it protects the traditional
notion of families. >> the institution of marriage and marriage laws are designed to attach mothers and fathers to each other and to the children that they may create and raise in the best environment. >> reporter: the court will also rule on a challenge to the defense of marriage act passed by congress in 1996. it blocks the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the states that allow it. in the two months since the court heard the case, legislatures in three more states have agreed to permit gay couples to get married bringing the total to 12 states along with washington, d.c. it's impossible to know whether or how that development will influence the justices. the court will decide the fate of the most important civil rights law ever passed. the voting rights act. it requires states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing how they conduct elections. >> it deters and blocks voting discrimination in places in the country where that discrimination has been the most persistent and adaptive. >> reporter: shelby county,
alabama, south of birmingham, says the law is so outdated it's no longer constitutional. >> the america that elected barack obama is not the america of our parents and our grandparents. >> reporter: another racially charged case challenges affirmative action in school admissions. the university of texas says considering race is one factor gets more diversity on campus overall and within minority groups. the supreme court ruled a decade ago schools can consider a race to get a critical mass of students. overwritten by sandra day o'connor who retired. the court seemed to find than too many vague. >> what is the logical end point? when will i know you've reach add critical m al mass? >> reporter: and whether anyone arrested for a crime can be forced to give dna to check against records of past crimes?
peter williams, nbc news, washington. >> thanks. anyhow, a constitutional expert and an attorney argued several cases before the high court. the husband and wife team are co-founders of scotus blog, which writes about the supreme court. we don't get a lot of husband/wife duos here on the broadcast. good to see pyou. thanks for being with me. california's prop 8, that law approved by voters in 2008 which banned same-sex marriage in california. last year a federal appeals court ruled it was unconstitutional. prop 8 supporters appealed to the supreme court. that's where we are. based on oral arguments, what can we glean, if anything, from how the justices are leaning right now? >> well, it's always dangerous to predict, but i would say that gay right supporters who went for, really, not just a home run but a grand slam, there's a constitutional right to same-sex marriage may be disappointed.
i don't think the supreme court will set back their cause and say, no, we'll never recognize such a right, but it looked like the key center justices in the court were trying to find a way out of the case so they might not have to rule anything about that very basic question. >> amy, do you agree with your husband there? >> i do, as a matter of fact. >> let's talk about prop 8s national implications. let's say that -- say that the justices go the other way. what would be the practical effects? >> well, i think that if the justices were to recognize this right, it would be a really dramatic change in america. maybe one that gay rights supporters would really regard as for the good, but the great majority of states as pete was pointing out don't recognize this right. it's been a really contentious question, but it would bring uniformity throughout the country. that's probably more likely, there's going to be some disformty. maybe ledge slaecher by sledge
laicher that har to make the decision or voter by voter referendums and state by state. >> they'll kick it back down. amy, the other case, the defense of marriage case, doma, preventing the government from recognizing same-sex marriage when it's already league in other states. it seems at times the justice was atad bit annoyed this case was even before them. what are the chances the justices focus on something procedural versus something substantive? >> there was a procedural question when they decided to review the case. the justices asked everyone involved in it to brief the question of whether or not they had even the ability to hear this challenge to doma when the federal government wasn't defending the law anymore. the paul clement and a group of representative house republicans leaders were defending the law. the obama administration had joined the challengers to doma. there were questions about the oral arguments about the court's ability to hear the case, but
this case actually seems like one in which the court is going to go ahead and rule on the merits. again, with the caveat it's dangerous to go on the oral argument, it seemed like there was support from five of the nine justices to go ahead and strike down doma. four of the court's more liberal justices seemed inclined to rule that doma was unconstitutional because it treats opposite sex married couples and same-sex married couples differently, just as antony kennedy, thought as the swing hoet vote or the court and particularly in this case didn't seem to be going along with that point of view. what his point during the oral argument was this was a violation actually of states rights. that marriage is something that states have traditionally regulated, and for -- congress can't go in and make these regulations about marriage. so you could have -- you have five justices joining together to strike down doma, even if they don't agree on why it's unconstitutional. >> and voting rights act now.
the court deciding a key provision of the act, a part of the law requiring states with histories of discrimination in the polls to get permission from the government before making changes about how elections are run. a shelby county, alabama, this is shelby, they say the law is outdated. what's the likely outcome here, tom? >> i think the law's going down. the supreme court sent a shot across congress' bow a couple of years ago in another case saying, look, it's really about time for you to update this list. you came up with this list of jurisdictions that have to ask permission to change voting systems in the 1960s. the country has changed some. civil rights advocates say, look, it's incredibly hard to make new launch changes to the list. this is congress' job. when they reauthorized this law they made a decision that the list should stay the same, but the conservative supreme court seems unlikely to agree. >> i want to make sure we get to the affirmative action case here. the case brought by a white student against the university of texas, fisher v. texas,
saying she was denied admission because of her race. even justice antony "swing vote" kennedy seemed worried about the formula being used during oral arguments. could the roberts court, could it be the court that strikes down affirmative action and admissions as we know? >> justice kennedy, you have to remember, we often think of him as the swing vote, but back in 2 2003, ten years ago, the court heard know case and opinion by justice sandra day o'connor, now retired, the university of michigan could consider race at its law school deciding on applications for law school. he was actually in the dissent. he would have voted the use of race was unconstitutional. we wouldn't necessarily expect him to be the swing vote. it seems like he could be the swing vote here in the sense that we could very well have the four of the conservative justices saying, get rid of
affirmative action altogether and he may be poised to perhaps say that the university of texas use of race is unconstitutional but there still may be some role for the consideration of ration by universities. >> tom, if the high court decides to scrap affirmative action as we know it, or change it in some dramatic way, what would be the practical effect of that? >> well it would have practical effects in a lot of places. first, public universities. a lot harder for them to have affirmative action programs that say we're going to give a bump to minority applicants but then implications for other as i understand of affirmative action. for example, lots of governments have contractor set-asides or bonuses to help minority business, and then probably a spillover even to private universities that aren't technically subject to the requirements of the constitution what this case is about, because they are subject to federal civil rights law. so there would be at least 10 or 20 years of litigation about when it is you can have
affirmative action in america, if the decision goes in the direction it's likely to. >> amy, tom, the husband/wife couple that runs scotus. enjoyed it. thank you for your time. >> thanks for having us. >> thank you. senator john mccain, talking about that separate trip to syria. >> there's no good options here. the options were better a year to two years ago than they are now, and every day it gets worse. >> and now russia is sending new weapons to help the government destroy the rebels there. what it all means for the balance of power in the civil war. also, britain's queen elizabeth ii crowned exactly 60 years ago today. next -- how she's marking the occasion today. have a good night. here you go. you, too.
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more than 3 million people, in fact, all tried to catch a glimpse of the new monarch in her gold-plated coach as she made her way between westminster abbey and buckingham palace. the first coronation broadcast on live television. 27 million people in britain watched the 27-year-old monarch take her oath. the queen will mark this year's anniversary privately at windsor castle, which will stand in stark contrast to last year's diamond jew baly. featured about 1,000 boats. what the queen had to say about rededicating herself to service last year. >> we are reminded here of our pa past, of the con newtie of our national story and the virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance which racreated it.
i have been privileged to witness some of that history and with the support of my family rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people now and in the years to come. >> and more exciting news to come for the royal family. in case you hadn't heard, kate middleton, duchess of cambridge, is apparently expecting pt. the future king and queen are due next month. can the united states work with russia to solve this crisis? next minute i'm in the back of an ambulance having a heart attack. i was in shape, fit. i did not see it coming. i take bayer aspirin. [ male announcer ] so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. see your doctor and get checked out.
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what's your policy? there are new concerns in the middle east that syria could soon start receiving new shipments of anti-aircraft missiles the from russia. russia has long been an ally of syrian president bashar al assad. i want to bring in msnbc mideast diplomacy analyst, ambassador dennis ross. he, of course, was a middle east envoy for president bill
clinton. ambassador, always good to have you. >> nice to be with you. >> senator john mccain just returned from syria. while he was there, he met with rebel leaders. he provided a stark assessment this morning of the strategic outlook for the syrian opposition. take a listen. >> we are seeing, unfortunately, a battlefield situation where bashar al assad now has the upper hand and its tragic, while we sit by and watch. >> do you agree with senator mccain there? does he have the upper hand, totally? >> well, he doesn't have the upper hand totally throughout the country. he has it in a slice of the country. he rules over a rump syria. today, syria, as we know it, historically, doesn't exist. he can gain greater control over an important enclave, certainly, the part that stretches syria to the coast and next to lebanon, but his ability to regain control over all of the country i think is quite problematic. >> how would syria having these russian missiles, how is that
going to affect the balance of power? >> well, the problem with the s-300 is, it is a long-range defense air missile that could intercept aircraft that could be operating actually maybe up to 200 miles away, from syria. israeli aircraft operating over their own air space could actually be vulnerable to the s-300. so from an israeli standpoint, it could absolutely affect the options they have available to them, not only vis-a-vis syria, but over lebanon as well, and israel has made it very clear, there's a red line for them, which is no transfer of qualitatively new weapons from syria, from iran, to hezbollah in lebanon. and if the s-300s are going to change that reality, then it seems to me there's a very high probability the israelis could actually act to prevent the s-300s from actually being operational. >> the united states continues to appear to be counting on russian as a partner in creating a new syrian government. secretary of state kerry met in
washington yesterday, with the german foreign minister. this is what the secretary had to say after that meeting. >> we are both committed to working with the russians and with others in order to try to bring the parties together in geneva, to implement geneva one, which is a formula for a transition government, by mutual consent, with full executive authority. >> those talks have been delayed now until july at the earliest. what affect will the russian arm sales have on those meetings, have on the overall peace effort? >> well, they raise a big question about what the russian purposes are. secretary also said yesterday that this becomes a test to the russians. are they really prepared to work on a political process of transition, that inevitably means that bashar al assad will no longer be president of syria. if they are, that's one thing. but the provision of arms that they're sending right now is
clearly affecting bashar assad's calculus. he thinks he's winning. he certainly thinks he can hold on. the more the arms are coming, the more he's likely to think that he can do it. and we're seeing an effort by the russians, by the iranians, and by hezbollah, to change the balance of power on the ground in advance of any such meeting. and in effect, they're trying to negotiate by improving their position on the ground. so it really does, i think, raise basic questions about what the russian purposes are, and as the secretary said yesterday, this will become a real test. are they serious about a political transition? we'll know that pretty soon. >> business and political leaders, meanwhile, met in jordan last week. "the washington post" reports that a group of israeli and palestinian business leaders are pushing for peace now too. the group includes corporate heavyweights from the left and right, religious and secular, who don't agree on the details, except that there should be a state of israel, and a state of palestine, both living peacefully and side-by-side. i want to pivot here. are these the types of private
initiatives that can bring pressure on those governments to act with regards to some sort of settlement in the mideast? >> well, it can change the context. they represent a very unusual constituency. historically, the business community in israel and among the palestinians have not been in the forefront of pushing for peace. what this initiative is doing is, you have people from the private sector, israelis and palestinians alike, who are trying to send a message to the leaders. and they're saying, we're the kind of people who have never been a part of any kind of peace process. and what we're saying to you is, we'll support you. if what you want to know is people who matter and who can help underpin the economy are going to be there with you, you now know for the first time, we will be. so it is an unusual step. you know, i wouldn't say by itself it's going to transform the situation, but it can certainly help. >> ambassador dennis ross, thank you, sir. coming up next, a
heartwarming cereal commercial sparks a heated discussion over modern families. what caused the internet backlash? also, student loan interest rates set to double in less than a month. and the president once again pushing congress to push those rates down. will it work twice? you're watching msnbc. was a record collection. no. there was that fuzzy stuff on the gouda. [ both ] ugh! when it came to our plants... we were so confused. how much is too much water? too little? until we got miracle-gro moisture control. it does what basic soils don't by absorbing more water, so it's there when plants need it. yeah, they're bigger and more beautiful. guaranteed. in pots. in the ground. in a ukulele. are you kidding me? that was my idea. with the right soil... everyone grows with miracle-gro.
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so i'm doing fine... but she's still going to give me a heart attack. we're more than 78,000 people looking out for more than 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. good sunday afternoon. i'm craig melvin. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. here's what's happening right now. >> too many people knew that this wrongdoing was going on before the election and at least by some sort of convenient benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election. >> starting tomorrow, the republican-led house puts the focus back on the irs. this as new twists emerge in the targeting of conservative groups. >> what are you going to do now? >> clean it up and try to decide what i'm going to do. because i don't know. >> difficult decisions after tough times in oklahoma, but those tornadoes are only part of the story, as that severe
weather moves east. and the cost of college. student loan interest rates are set to double in just weeks. we'll talk to the nevada congressman, who's forming a student task force to try to put even more pressure on congress. first, though, a look at our political headlines on this sunday. despite the latest set of storms, which killed 13 friday, oklahoma's governor, mary fallin, remains resolute. on cbs this morning, she insisted her state has a lot to offer and will come back strong. >> i just want people in america to know that oklahoma's a great place to live. you know, just like states have wildfires in california or earthquakes or they may have other tornadoes in other areas of the country, you know, this is really a great, great state, our economy's doing beautifully, and the people are wonderful, so i hope they are able to come back and see us when we have one of our up moments and we are very strong and we're going to come back strong. >> the white house is trying to highlight positive economic news today, in saturday's weekly
address, president obama touted 7 million new jobs created over the past 38 months. and also, noted recoveries in the auto and housing industries. but tennessee's marsha blackburn says, not so fast. >> the biggest impediment to jobs growth in this country right now is the implementation of obama care. the 29 1/2 hours, getting under 50 employees, health care becoming too expensive to afford. this program is too expensive to afford. it was to be $800 billion. now it's $2.6 trillion. come on. >> and there's new buzz around congresswoman michele bachmann's announcement that she's not going to run for re-election. on abc this morning, the gop strategist karl rove did not sound like he's going to be at her going-away party. >> actually, it will be an opening for the tea party. michele bachmann was the chairman of the congressional tea party caucus and in that position did nothing. now the position is open, someone next year will accept
the chairmanship of it and they may do something with it. and on friday, a new video was submitted to congress. it shows irs workers making a "star trek" and "gilligan's islands" spoof using taxpayers' money in 2010. this new video comes as lawmakers are still trying to get to the bottom of how and why certain irs workers in ohio targeted certain groups for investigation. nbc's peter alexander is at the white house with more on this. and pete, first of all, has anything new come to light indicating that the white house had any knowledge or involvement in these irs controversies? >> craig, it's a good question. and the white house insists it had no knowledge of any of this before it was made aware of it. and to give you a better understanding of that, right now over the course of this day, we heard from the house oversight committee chair, darryl issa, who said from testimony, from interviews with some of those individuals, those irs
employees, who worked at the irs office in cincinnati, ohio, he has learned what he believes is the fact that they say that there is a connection back to washington. that, in fact, washington was directly doing the ordering. but just within the last hour or so, we got this statement from issa's democratic counterpart on the house oversight committee, and we'll put up on your screen very quickly his response, where he referred to this as the lobbying of unsubstantiated conclusions. cumming said specifically, chairman issa's reckless findings today are inconsistent with the findings of the inspector general, who spent more than a year conduct his investigation. craig? >> peter alexander, thank you so much. do appreciate that. peter from the white house for us on this sunday afternoon. student loan rates, again, are set to double in a month. that's why president obama is urging congress to extend the current rates, but republicans are rejecting the president's approach as needlessly partisan. the president has called on congress to extend the low 3.4%
federally subsidized student loan rates past the end of june. if nothing happens come july 1st, those rates automatically double to 6.8%. joining me live now, congressman steven horseford from nevada. he's been holding roundtables in his district to try to tackle this issue. congressman, thanks for being with me. >> thanks for having me. >> what are you hearing from your constituents about student loans? what's the predominant solution you're hearing from them? >> well, what i'm hearing, i just met with a group of students in my district, formed a task force on this issue, in fact. because student debt in college loans is now over $1.1 trillion. it's actually more than credit card debt in america. and what i'm hearing is the fact that, literally, i have college students who are homeless, who are sleeping under bridges in order to try to afford college. i have a young lady who has a
son who wants to attend college. she, herself, is trying to go back to become a nurse. and she's struggling to pay her mortgage now. and so the republican house plan is not a solution. it actually will increase the cost of college loans and not give any predictability for students who are trying to better themselves by getting a college education. >> this is what president obama said about student loans friday. he was talking about the bill. let's take a listen and talk about it on the other side. >> we've got to make sure that federal student loan rates don't double on july 1st. now, the house of representatives has already passed a student loan bill, and i'm glad that they took action, but, unfortunately, their bill does not meet that test. it fails to lock in low rates for students next year. that's not smart. it eliminates safeguards for lower income families. that's not fair.
>> so, what do you think, congressman, is going to be the future of congress' student loans plan? >> well, the president is exactly right. the house republican plan is not fair, it's not right, and it will not work. it's a variable interest rate. in a state like nevada and a lot of other places, during the housing crisis, it was the adjustable rate mortgage that caused so many people to lose their homes. now the house republicans want that same type of plan for college students. i find this to be hypocritical. when they say they don't want the next generation to go into debt or to have to burden the december of this generation, but, in fact, that's exactly what they're doing with their college savings loan rate increase. >> you were talking about the house and you were talking about house republicans specifically, but there hasn't been any activity in the senate, which is, of course, controlled by democrats. why no activity there? why no action? >> well, it's my understanding
that senate majority leader harry reid is planning a vote in the senate. and i'm hopeful that the plan, like senator elizabeth warren, which will cap the rates at the same interest rates that big banks are getting will be what we extend the college student loans rates, so that college isn't more expensive for the generation that's trying to improve themselves. >> here's the thing. a lot of folks suspect that you guys are do what you typically do, which is solve this thing at the 11th hour down in d.c. but why has there not been as much of a conversation about the true drivers of skyrocketing college costs. why these student loans, why these student loans cost so much in the first place. where's that conversation? >> you're right on point. and that's the larger fundamental comprehensive discussion we need to have on making college more affordable. college loans are one part of it. but it shouldn't just be about
student loans in order to be able to pursue a college education. we need to talk about increased investment in pell grants. we need to be talking about forgiveness of student loans for serving in underserved communities, and giving back -- >> congressman, all those things may be true, but where's the conversation about bringing down the cost? >> well, the cost of college is increasing in large part because of state budgets having to cut back on higher education. and what that has resulted in is increased tuition. and that's the larger debate that we need to be having, is how we can make college more affordable. when the president sets the goal of having more americans graduate by 2020, we need to make sure that they can afford to graduate and not to go into debt to do so. >> congressman steven horseford from nevada, congressman, thank
you. >> thank you for being on your show. let's turn now to the new and dangerous flooding in the area s devastated by this weekend's storm system. we now know those storms left at least 13 dead in oklahoma, three more in missouri. the cover of the oklahoma newspaper says it all, "and, again." the people of oklahoma have to rebuild after this latest storm tore up areas, a lot of those areas near hard-hit moore, oklahoma. that area hit by a monster tornado just 12 days ago. among the dead in oklahoma, three veteran storm chasers. carl young along with meteorologist paul smairs and tim smairs. they died while chasing tornadoes near el reno, oklahoma. the weather system that wreaked havoc on the oklahoma city area this weekend is now moving toward the northeast, where it's expected to bring heavy rain and possible hail as well. right now there are flight delays reported at several major airports throughout the northeast. the weather channel's chris
warren is in albany, new york, right now. >> reporter: craig, this storm system, this overall storm system, craig, what you were talking about, hitting oklahoma on friday, really got going on tuesday, pounding parts of the plains, including oklahoma, had a few days of it. it just turned out that friday ended up being the absolute worst with the tornadoes and then the nonstop rain, which led to the flooding. where i am right now, here in alba albany, new york, we're getting a little bit of a break from the showers, but that same storm system has brought severe weather into parts of eastern new york, now into new england, and that's where the strongest storms are right now. and where they're expected to be through this evening, until 8:00, there's a severe thunderstorm watch in effect. that means conditions are favorable for the development of these strong storms, possibly damaging winds, and there have been reports already of trees down, power lines down, large hail also a threat. there has been reports of that. ping-pong-sized hail has also been reported with some of these
strong storms. of course, as you mentioned, leading to those flight delays. we're still seeing these storms developing. albany, north, there are some dark skies. but we are expecting for now, those storm are to the north of us and moving off to the east. another line is developing. we're watching this threat. really, it's along the east coast, we're seeing those showers and some thunderstorms. but it's new england and eastern new york right now, where we're seeing those strong storms. and again, this whole system came from tuesday, starting off in the plains, pushing through into the midwest. we saw all of that flooding. of course, in oklahoma and then pushing into st. louis and then into kentucky. now we're dealing with the leftover of the flash flooding, which happens immediately. we have the leftover of that, and now we're dealing with a lot of river flooding, including along the mississippi river. so this big system, craig, has been causing some big problems for several days, and finally, it's moving out and it will bring some relief to the heat in the northeast as well. >> chris, i understand that there is perhaps more bad
weather in the forecast for the plains region coming up. what can you tell us about that? >> well, craig, the plains will get a little bit of a break tomorrow, but then by tuesday and wednesday, there's another chance for some storms. it does not look, at this point, like it's going to be one of those major outbreaks we saw this past week, but it definitely means we do have to keep an eye on it, definitely with the saturated ground. there's still going to be a chance for some tornadoes and the strong winds and hail can also cause some problems. a brief break for the plains, and it will be tuesday and wednesday. >> chris warren on the ground in albany, new york, where that severe weather may be headed next. chris, thank you. up next, chemical concerns. after fiery train derailments and a chemical plant explosion, how often, how often does dangerous cargo move through our neighborhoods and cities? it may surprise you. also ahead, the trial of george zimmerman, the case that set off civil rights rallies all over the country heads to court in
just days. the latest fights over what evidence will be allowed and will not be allowed. this is msnbc. i'm in my work van, having lunch, next minute i'm in the back of an ambulance having a heart attack. i was in shape, fit. i did not see it coming. i take bayer aspirin. [ male announcer ] so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. see your doctor and get checked out.
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something that happened tuesday evening in baltimore, maryland, probably happens a bit more than you realize. a freight train collides with a garbage truck, the train derails, an explosion and fire follow. that fire then rages for ten hours. on board the train, toxic chemicals used in paper production. mike elk is the labor reporter for "in these times" magazine. mike, good to have you back. thanks for being with me. >> great to be on the show again, craig. >> in the baltimore derailment, the driver is the only person
hurt. the fumes were not dangerous, but how common is it for dangerous chemicals to be transported through heavily populated areas? >> it happens every day, and most people don't know about it. the ap this week came out with a big investigation that showed that 600,000 people lived within a quarter mile radius, a blast zone radius of plants that had as much ammonium nitrite on site as the west texas one. many people are living close to these facilities and have no idea. >> 600,000? >> yes. >> and most of these people live in densely populated areas. >> also, a lot of these chemical plants typically are concentrated in low and middle-income communities, particularly communities of color. >> there was a norfolk southern train that derailed back in 2005. it released chlorine gas. nine people were killed there. 5,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes. i actually covered this one when i worked down in south carolina. the railroad pays a $4 million
penalty for that spill. what are regulators doing to force railroads, to force truckers, for that matter, to make sure they transport dangerous cargo safely? >> well, you know, it's actually quite interesting, because while there's so much more dangerous chemicals going through so many neighborhoods, a lot of railroads now are going with single-man crew rail cars, which means that there is only one operator on the entire train. one guy who's running everything on the train, who's looking out, who's monitoring the engine, and a lot of railroad workers complain this is a very unsafe situation. so a lot of railway workers i talk to, particularly railroad workers are very adamantly opposed to single-man trains. >> is that purely for cost saving? >> yeah, to cut out an extra worker on the railroad. >> railways are federally regulated. is there anything that individual states can go to set guidelines to control toxic cargo shipments?
>> well, young, i think what needs to happen, for instance, first off, there's a big issue right now with the right to know laws. since 9/11, a lot of states have now told local communities that they do not have a right to know about the chemicals coming through their neighborhoods, because, you know, it's a potential terrorism threat there. >> did not know that. "mother jones" magazine reports, quote, some companies and municipal water systems have already started phasing out the use of deadly chemicals like chlorine, but it would take a stronger regulatory push to make a larger switch happen. given the political in washington, d.c., how likely is it that any new regulations would be adopted. >> i think it's highly unlike, particularly in the wake of industrial explosions. even if you look at the west texas fertilizer explosion, the chemical safety board is the organization and the u.s. government tasked with investigating accidents at chemical plants. the atf has blocked the chemical safety board from coming in and
investigating the west texas disaster. they're treating it like it's a criminal investigation. so the top agency that m cos up with recommendations on how to fix problems at chemical plants haven't even being allowed into the west texas plant. they're not even being allowed to interview witnesses by the atf. there was a story that came out in the testimony of the head of the chemical safety board, that the atf on may 7th showed up in a parking lot and prevented a plant employee at the west texas plant from talking with the chemical safety board. so there's not even a real big investigation that the workers are able to do right now to even come up with solutions to this problem. >> you mentioned west texas, i know you followed that story closely, while i have you here, let me ask you, any updates on that investigation? >> none so far, the one thing that did come out of the atf's report, which is a big deal, only one fifth of the fertilizer that was on site at that plant exploded. the explosion could have been dramatically worse. a lot of people are lucky it wasn't worse than it was. >> mike elk, labor reporter for
"in these times" magazine, mike, thanks. see you soon. up next, our flashback, 80 years ago today, the white house was transformed with the addition of a swimming pool. but today, the pool is empty. why? answers ahead. you're watching msnbc. i have low testosterone. there, i said it. see, i knew testosterone could affect sex drive, but not energy or even my mood. that's when i talked with my doctor. he gave me some blood tests... showed it was low t. that's it. it was a number.
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the principles that made this nation a great and powerful leader of the world have not lost their meaning. they never will. we know we can bring this country back. i'm mitt romney. i believe in america. and i'm running for president of the united states. >> yeah, you remember that guy! it was this very day in 2011 that mitt romney announced he was running for president, for the second time. let's flash back even further, to this day, 1933.
it was on this day that the white house got its very first swimming pool. the indoor pool was built to give president franklin delano roosevelt some relief from his polio. and do you recognize the room that it was built in? take a close look. you should. because in 1970, president nixon put a floor over the pool and he turned it into the white house press room as a way to accommodate the growing television press corps. today, the white house press secretary stands at a podium located, perhaps, appropriately, over the deep end of the old pool. up next, internet backlash over that cheerios ad. why it sparked a new conversation about biracial couples and their kids. also, a massive wildfire is burning in california right now. firefighters are trying to contain the blaze. it's threatening a thousand homes. we'll take you there. you're watching msnbc. mine was earned in djibouti, africa. 2004. vietnam in 1972.
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i'm craig melvin. good sunday. here's a quick laook at some of the top stories making news right now. an enormous brush fire just south of los angeles is spreading and burning. so far, 20,000 acres, it's destroyed at least six homes, nearly a thousand firefighters are trying to contain that blaze. right now, almost a thousand homes have been evacuated. the fire broke out thursday at a hydroelectric plant near los angeles. a close call for iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad. iran's state media is reporting a helicopter carrying ahmadinejad and other government officials was forced to make an emergency landing early this morning. there was some sort of malfunction aboard the aircraft. no one was hurt. and days before olympic runner oscar pistorius is due back in court, there's been a big leak in that case. friday, a british television station published some pictures of the bloody boyfriend where pistorius' model girlfriend was found. now pistorius' lawyer is
demanding that police explain how those photos got out. pistorius is accused of shooting and killing reeva steenkamp in their south africa home on valentine's day. trayvon martin's father says his family is bracing for a rough road ahead. in just over a week, george zimmerman will go on trial for the shooting death of the 17-year-old. the judge has denied zimmerman's defense team's request for a delay in the start of that trial, set to begin june 10th. zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. he's pled not guilty. he plays that he shot martin in self-defense. also, the judge ruled that the defense will not be able to mention a number of details about trayvon martin's past in their opening statements. zimmerman's lawyers claim that those details will shed light on martin's character. they include alleged marijuana use, suspension from school, and some text messages as well. lisa green is a legal analyst. before we get started here, i want to go ahead and mention to
our viewers that george zimmerman has sued nbc universal for defamation. the company strongly denies those allegations. lisa, good to have you. this week, of course, the judge ruled that martin's past, ruled that the alleged marijuana use and other details will be left out of opening statements. this is what george zimmerman's attorney, mark o'mara, had to say on al sharpton's "politics nation" about that. have a listen. >> if the state goes into george's past, then i get to go into george's proper and positive past. they say he's aggressive, i say he's peaceful. if they go into trayvon's past, trayvon is peaceful, i might be able to say trayvon is aggressive. i truly hope none of that gets into a courtroom, this was a six-minute event. but as a good criminal defense attorney, you have to be ready. i've got a lot of arrows in my quiver that i really hope they all stay there. >> lisa, what do you make of
that strategy? how can the defense use this information to their benefit during the trial? >> this is all about one word, craig, character. and the judge has to navigate a very delicate balance here. there are certain circumstances, as the lawyer says, where it's admissible for each side to bring in negative character evidence about the other, particularly if the other side goes first, and especially in a self-defense case, which this is. but nothose rules are very carefully cabined, and that's why we saw the judge last week make a lot of sort of, save it for later decisions about information like that. >> this week, the contention will be focused on that 911 call. the state's audio expert sayses the trayvon martin screaming for help in the background. let's take a listen to that tape as well. >> it sounds like a male. >> and you don't know why? >> i don't know why. i think they're yelling "help," but i don't know. just send someone quick, please. >> does he look hurt to you? >> i can't see him. i can't want to go out there, i
don't know what's going on. they're sending them. >> so you think he's yelling "help"? >> yes. >> what is your -- >> there's gunshots. >> what's the dispute here and how damaging could it be for the state if the judge were to dismiss the audio expert's testimony? >> this is all about scientific evidence and then validating experts. it's a very disturbing call to listen to. but the really important question is, whose voices are on the tape saying what, when, and can an expert validly proclaim to a jury, i, in my scientific expert opinion, think it's this person or the other. and the judge wants to hear more evidence about that this week, it's obviously critical to the case. >> why did the judge decide to bar information about trayvon martin's past, only for opening statements, and not for the entire trial? what would be the reasoning behind that? >> the opening statements are an opportunity for each side to present a preview of what evidence they plan to present to the jury. the jung is saying, i'm going to
need more time to decide that delicate issue of character evidence, so let's not get ahead of ourselves in the trial. >> trial starts june 10th. we're expecting some 500 potential jurors to line up for jury selection. what's that process going to be like down in florida? >> well, i mean, obviously, enormous attention focused on that courtroom, the jurors, there was a defense motion to sequester them, that motion was denied. they won't be named publicly, and they'll be subject to a barrage of questions about all sorts of potential prejudices, so each side can decide what their ideal jury panel will look like. >> based on what we've seen and heard so far from the judge, who's presiding in this case, can we glean anything about what we might see going forward in terms of how she's going to be handling the case? >> i think what we see so far is a judge who wants to be extremely careful about what the lawyer alluded to in the tape we heard earlier. anything besides that six to nine-minute window in which this event happened.
obviously, each side may have motives for bringing that extra seven-day in and the judge will have to make careful rulings to stay within the four corners of florida's evidence law and run a fair trial. >> legal analyst lisa green, thank you. let's pivot here. let's move to another racially charged issue. a lot of folks are talking about this this week. and i want to bring in the sunday brain trust, angela rye, bob franken, of course, a syndicated columnist for king features, and peter suderman. hey, you know what, guys, and you probably have already seen this, but for our viewers at home who have not, i want to play a snippet of it before we start talking about it. this is that new cheerios commercial that was recently posted on its youtube page. >> mom? >> yes, honey. >> dad told me that cheerios is good for your heart. is that true?
>> it says here that cheerios has whole grain oats that can help remove some cholesterol and that's heart healthy. >> jan?! >> it's a pretty clever commercial, i think. it's had nearly a million and a half views. cheerios had to pull that thing, they had to pull the comment page, because of a string of racist comments. angela rye, let me start with you. does this reflect on our attitudes towards race or does it reflect son just internet users' attitudes about race? >> well, craig, we know that racism is still alive and well in america. what that commercial demonstrates to me and i think to maybe a lot of americans is
the fact that the american family and the construct of the american family is changing. so the fact that there is a biracial little girl, you know, talking to her mother and then trying to do something, what appears to be nice in keeping her father healthy, is a reality for a lot of us. the unfortunate reality, again, is that racism is still alive and people will, you know, utilize every possible opportunity to demonstrate their racism. >> especially, many of the cowardly nuts who spend a great deal of their time being mean on the internet, i suppose, bob. >> absolutely. >> bob, despite the internet backlash, the "new york daily news" quotes a spokesman for the brand, general mills, "consumers have responded positively to our new cheerios ad. at cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all." bob, is this forward thinking by cheerios and its parent, general mills? are they going to benefit from this ad? >> well, paradoxically, they just might. you have to comment that just
when we thought we were beyond something as evil as all of this in the united states, we find that we haven't made as much progress as possible. also paradoxically, i mean, this has caused quite a bit of impact for cheerios, which is one of the things, of course, that any company that advertises wants to do. but if they were really brave, they'll show a gay couple. >> and you know what, bob, i'm sure someone's probably working on that ad right now. >> don't bet on it yet. >> really, you don't think so? >> i don't think we've come as far as we'd like to believe we have when it comes to this issue. >> peter, multi-racial families in this country have become quite commonplace. the census data reports it every ten years. is this a reminder, as angela suggested, of the not-too-distant past, where in some states, inter-racial marriages were against the law, not so long ago. >> i think it's actually a sign of what we can expect in the future. you know, i would really love to see the market research that
provided the backing for whatever ad exec or whatever brand manager made the decision to run this ad. you've got to imagine that what they've decided, what they saw is that there were enough people who are accepting of this, enough people who think it's perfectly normal, not even unusual in any way, that we're going to do better by playing to them and by featuring their faces in our commercial than by, you know, being a -- doing the traditional, the thing that has been done so often, which is, you know, families in commercials that are, you know, just a single race. so i think that's a good thing that we're seeing from cheerios. >> you know, one of the things, guys, that really bothers me, and it's not just about this ad. this really, i think, speaks to a lot of the cowardly bigots, the narrow-mooinded folks who spend a lot of time on the comment sections of a lot of websites and stories, and it really does, it really, it annoys me to no end, angela rye, because the internet, it's free,
it's anonymous, and folks who spend a lot of time on it like we do, you see this sort of thing a lot more often than you'd like to. >> there's no question about it. we call it e-courage. >> i like that. >> more tweets from people who are willing to call me out of my name in ways that would shame my parents behind you know, their heman or skeletor images and it's always like angry conservative christians. those things don't even align to me, so i don't understand how that works. but it's a huge problem and one we definitely need to overcome. >> we've talked about this before, craig. the good thing about the internet, it's available to everybody. the bad thing about the internet, it's available to everybody. and i think that that is the dark side of what you get with the internet. >> let's take a quick break and reset. when we come back, we'll spend some time talking about anthony wiener. in case you haven't heard, he's running for mayor of new york city. the latest polling shows he's
gaining some ground despite that twitter scandal. but what's motivating some of his supporters. we're going to talk about that. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. there's a reason no one says "easy like monday morning." sundays are the warrior's day to unplug and recharge. what if this feeling could last all week? with centurylink as your trusted partner, it can. our visionary cloud infrastructure and global broadband network free you to focus on what matters. with custom communications solutions and dedicated support, your business can shine all week long. humans. we are beautifully imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world. that's why liberty mutual insurance has your back, offering exclusive products like optional better car replacement, where if your car is totaled, we give you the money to buy one a model year newer.
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[ male announcer ] the citi simplicity card is the only card that never has late fees, a penalty rate, or an annual fee, ever. go to citi.com/simplicity to apply. the brain trust is back. angela rye, bob franken, peter suderman. bob, let me start with you. in case you hadn't heard, anthony weiner is running for mayor of gotham city. there are some who think that the architect of the weiner campaign, his wife, huma abedin, close aide to former secretary of state, hillary clinton, this is what "the new york times" has to say about her role. a surrogate daughter to bill and hillary clinton, who have seen firsthand the cleansing power of campaigns, miss abidibedin has t into her husband's effort, conferring with staff members,
helping to hire staff members from her long history with the clintons. is this a new york mayoral race? >> only in new york would you find this kind of situation so soon after the alleged offenses -- not the alleged offenses, the offenses that anthony weiner conducted. this is a guy who is going to be a unique politician in new york, as long as he stays in politics. for instance, he's been advancing in the polls and some people attribute it to not just being in spite of his prickly personality, but because of it. this guy is never going to be a many congeniality, which is what new yorkers seem to think they want. >> peter, there has been some speculation that some aides may have even joined the weiner campaign to get closer to huma abedin, and by extension, hillary clinton and bill clinton. do politics really work like that at all? >> oh, sure. whether or not it does in this sna instance, unclear, but it does, and people always want to be
close to centers of power and individuals who can hold power and give other people power. and the clintons are certainly a people who can do that. and the clintons will be a big force in democratic politics. i have to say, just on the weiner -- on weiner's candidacy, in particular here, it's going to be really fun to watch. and weiner actually has an advantage, which is that you know what his big secret is. it's not a big secret. this is not somebody who has skeletons in his attic. his skeletons are out on the front lawn. >> and here's the thing, i guess to his credit, pras, or to a certain extent, he's embracing it. it's not like he's running from it, angela rye. this is something i found interesting, maggie haberman was running about the campaign and wrote, it took only a few stops on the trail to make this much clear, the new anthony weiner bears an uncanny resemblance to the pugnacious, hard-charging
anthony weiner of old. is the post-scandal anthony weiner the same anthony weiner as the pre-scandal anthony weiner? >> he's the same, and 53% of new yorkers want to give anthony weiner a second chance. he's gained some in the polls, running a close second to christine quinn. time will only tell, but we know that new yorkers will continue to love their elected officials. we saw eliot spitzer who had a far worse scandal, at least some would argue, ended up with a tv show. >> and we should point out that, christina quinn is not exactly known as miss personality in new york. and let's face it, that would cause a lot of people to conclude something about new yorkers in general. >> what are you about to conclude, bob? >> either of them could probably work for the new york hospitality bureau. >> we're going to take a quick break and when we come back, the brain trust.
bob, you know what i love about you, bob, you do the same thing that president obama does sometimes, when he says something funny, you beat the crowd to the laugh. you deliver the line and get the chuckle. >> i think i better, because maybe nobody else is going to. >> sneak peeks on the other side of this break. this is msnbc, the place for politics.
the brain trust is back. angela rye, bob franken, peter suderman. this could be a very busy week. congress returns, the supreme court could start issuing some long-awaited decisions. so brain trust, what were your headlines for congress and the supreme court laook like this week. peter suderman, we will start with you. >> i think for congress, it will be "immigration reform proceeds as scandals loom." and i think for the supreme court, it's going to be "supreme court rules narrowly on affirmative action and same-sex marriage." >> narrowly in which way, pete? >> i think particularly with
affirmative action, what we're going to see is that the court, the most likely, you know, this is always hard to predict, but the most likely thing here is that the court is going to look for the smallest possible ruling, but it's going to be a conservative majority ruling, saying that this particular instance, this particular type of affirmative action may want be allowable anymore. >> angela rye, let's come to you for your headlines. what are we looking at? >> sure. i think that we're going to see congress continue the gridlock. meanwhile, the supreme court will rule on the liberty injustice remains for some. by that, i just mean that the supreme court will likely find that gay marriage is constitutional. i do not think that it will be very tough for them to uphold the affirmative action policies that so many of us continue to rely upon, particularly because folks continue to look at president obama as the person who has elevated race relations so far. >> we've made it! >> exactly, and everybody else is find, which, of course, we
know is not the case. >> bob, before we get to your headlines, i want to pick up where angela just left off. do we think that the high court is going to effectively end affirmative action as we know it? >> yes, to the point that in many institutions, they're already coming up with a different emphasis, with the emphasis being on economic reformation. >> and what do you think happens with immigration reform this week? the markup starts, we're going to start to see a little bit more, hopefully, some more conversations, specifically about the details in the legislation. >> well, i think what we're going to see is more of a display of the differences that still remain. i mean, people have been back in their districts, particularly the conservatives, and they've gotten an earful. and i think we're going to see that reflected in congress. >> and now to your headlines. >> the house convenes, immediately celebrates the announcement by michele bachmann. and the supreme court ruling,
the same supreme court that ruled that corporations have human rights will rule that gays don't. >> really? you think that the high court manages to sidestep this one? >> that, i think, is exactly the best result, which is that they sidestep it, as opposed to ruling in the negative. >> kick the can down the field. the michele bachmann announcement, we heard from karl rove this morning on abc. it sounds like they've all just kind of, good-bye, good riddance. >> well, there are many people who would like to say the same thing to karl rove, but that's for a different time. >> angela ry, you know, folks have been, for the past few days, there have been a lot of folks who have said that, yeah, we're sad to see michele bachmann go, but for democrats, my michele bachmann was probably their greatest shot at winning that seat. >> craig, you're absolutely right. i think folks are hoping that she would stay in the race, but i think that the writing was on the wall. i know she said it had absolutely nothing to do with the ethics challenges and investigations and it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she just barely
won this seat. but, in fact, it had everything to do with that. and democrats certainly would have preferred her as an opponent. she is the best pinocchio around here, per politifact, and everything else. so i don't know what we're going to do without her being in the race. >> she wasn't -- i'm sorry, she wasn't that popular with her colleagues. i mean, they thought of her as a hot dog. now, remember, when you're talking about politicians thinking one of their own is a hot dog. >> before we get out of here, peter suderman, i always like to speak from the vantage point of a journalist that from time to time we need things to talk about, and for that, she never disappointed. there was always something to talk about it. we always need material. >> now we're going to have anthony weiner and his campaign to keep going for a while. >> you did say that. you noted that earlier. angela rye, impact strategies, syndicated columnist bob franken, "reason" magazine's peter suderman, big thanks to all of you. and a big thanks to you as well.
thanks for spending part of your sunday afternoon with us. i'll be back next saturday, 2:00 p.m. eastern, sunday as well. ed schultz is standing by. i wish i could show you his pre-show routine. we can't show it to you, obviously, but he'll be with you on the other side of this break. hey kevin...still eating chalk for heartburn? yeah... try new alka seltzer fruit chews. they work fast on heartburn and taste awesome. these are good. told ya! i'm feeling better already. [ male announcer ] new alka seltzer fruits chews. enjoy the relief! [ susan ] i hate that the reason we're always stopping is because i have to go to the bathroom. and when we're sitting in traffic, i worry i'll have an accident. be right back. so today, i'm finally going to talk to my doctor about overactive bladder symptoms. [ female announcer ] know that gotta go feeling? ask your doctor about prescription toviaz. one toviaz pill a day significantly reduces sudden urges and accidents for 24 hours. if you have certain stomach problems or glaucoma,
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at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. if you're caring for a child with special needs, our innovative special care program offers strategies that can help. . good evening, americans. and welcome to "the ed show" live from new york. if it's sunday, john mccain is running his mouth about syria. blossom, he's whining about the irs. and marsha blackburn thinks the best way to create jobs is to repeal obama care? we've got a dandy. this is "the ed show." let's get to work. ♪ we're seeing progress. >> the economy is going to go up and down. >> the gears are starting to turn again and we're getting some traction. >> government can't be the driver. i think, absolutely, he's got to focus on jobs. >> the good news is today our