tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg February 23, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." jon: good evening. i'm jon meacham, filling in for charlie rose. we begin this evening with politics. on tuesday, the trump administration announced sweeping plans to report undocumented immigrants, including those without a criminal background. president trump also indicated that a revised travel ban would be issued very soon. on monday, lieutenant general h.r. mcmaster was named national security adviser, replacing the controversial michael flynn. the pick was regarding by many as stabilizing to an otherwise turbulent administration. thus far, turbulent seems a more than fair description, given that trump has exploded so many
of the historical norms that have long governed the conduct of the presidency. the question now is whether we are living in the new normal of chaos or whether the president and his evolving team have both the capacity and the will to run the country in a way that preserves some sense of order at home and abroad. joining me now to discuss, from washington, is andrea mitchell. she is the formidable chief foreign affairs correspondent for nbc news. here with me in new york is a veteran journalist and editorial director of "time, inc." i am pleased to have them all on this program. it welcome. andrea, you've done this for a while, as have we all. has this first month been about what you would have expected, a little worse, a little better, when you were coming out of the surprise of the election and through the transition into the inauguration?
andrea: i think it was as expected, if you looked at the campaign, at the rhetoric, at the transition. but it is certainly not a traditional first month in office for a president of the united states. that's not to say there have not been bumps along the way for others. certainly the clinton team in 1993 was a very rough transition into the presidency in the first couple of months. but this one has been particularly difficult because, in part, the president's use of social media, the tweets in the middle of the night and early morning, contradicting cabinet secretaries, failing to even nominate 90% of the confirmable appointees. you don't have deputy secretaries in key posts, undersecretaries, or assistant secretaries. you have a secretary of state traveling to mexico, leaving home alone. the lack of staffing at the nsc, which are not for confirmable post. the departure of mike flynn so
soon, which many people think was a good sign. the departure was within the first month of your national security advisor. there's a lot of catching up they have to do. jon: mike, when you talk to people around the country, are you seeing that this is getting beyond the bubble, getting beyond the mainstream press, the mainstream political class? do you think that folks in boston -- i share andrea's viewk -- andrea's view. i suspect you do, too. do you think folks do, too? >> i think folks are exhausted by what has happened over the course in a little over a month of this presidency. obviously people who voted for donald trump are somewhat pleased because they regard everything that has happened as something he had promised would happen. he is conducting his presidency in that manner. the level of exhaustion in the country -- it is every day is
full of a niagara of surprises or statements that sometimes shock or offend. i wonder in talking with people when that level of exhaustion will peak and what happens to the body politic when it does peak. jon: any analogous moment you think to that level of exhaustion in the country? >> not that i've experienced. nothing like that. i think it will be a level of not just exhaustion, but dissatisfaction with the results. usually what makes people unhappy isn't so much the tempo, but the product. i don't think you said at the top -- a sense of order. i don't think order is their goal. chaos is not their goal. i think disruption is their goal. they were consciously trying to come in and change as many norms as they could. maybe they did not all share all the norms being disrupted, but they wanted to toss a bunch out and they wanted to do it flamboyantly, and
have some of them on fire when they did that. they have accomplished that. but at a cost. you can see this week with the hiring of mcmaster, the relatively stabilizing munich security conference with mattis and pence basically saying the right thing -- it has quieted a bit. you can kind of tell they are trying to back into a restart here. presidencies don't really get a restart. you get a transition. that's the time you're supposed vet and prepare and plan. they weren't ready to go. they are having to do it on the fly. andrea, do you see particularly , on the foreign policy front, mike mentioned the munich trip, where you had foreign leaders asking, should we believe vice president pence and his reassurances, or should we believe the president and his
avowals of disruption? what do you think the world is thinking about this now? andrea: the world is confused. the president said he wanted to be unpredictable and he has been. that does sow confusion in the minds and hearts of allies around the world. it was not only munich. it was also brussels and nato. a bbc reporter bluntly asked the vice president of the united states, who should we believe, you and your reassurances about nato or the president of the united states in his latest tweets or his comments at a news conference? i think the news conference last week was disturbing, the 77 minutes sort of stream of consciousness conference was unprecedented, unparalleled. that concerned a lot of people. ambassadors here writing quick updates home. people in foreign capitals wondering what the heck is going on. you've got this mexico foreign trip by tillerson and the homeland security secretary, and
they are going right into confusion and dismay over the deportation guidelines that have now been issued. basically they say that it's up to the mexicans on their side of the border to take in all these people who are now subject to immediate deportation. that is a change. that was always the law, and it is within the president's right to do this. a lot of these people that are going to be deported are central americans, not mexican citizens or mexican nationals. these are people coming through mexico to the united states. they now have to figure out how to handle them. andink secretary tillerson the homeland security secretary are getting a whole lot of blowback from a mexican colleagues. one of the great insights and jim maker -- jim baker made under president bush 41, was that there was never any doubt that there was daylight between
jimmy baker and george bush. henry kissinger talk about how -- talked about how he spoke to richard nixon three or four times a day. that was contrasted with hillary clinton who checked in with president obama about once a week sometimes. where on this scale from baker to -- let's say bill rogers and nixon, who were not exactly close. where does the tillerson-trump relationship rank? >> does tillerson speak for the president? >> not yet. he has no staff to help him speak for the president and the united states of america when he travels abroad. in munich, he was relatively alone, staying at some trailer park about 45 minutes outside of the conference. >> that is a boston attack on trailer parks. i think andrea will bear this out. prior to the inauguration, i think secretary tillerson had very little contact with the existing state department undersecretary of state john kerry.
after the inauguration, i think he had not as much contact with the white house as he would have wanted. i don't aware he was during the visit by mr. abe or prime minister netanyahu. so, part of it is the staffing. does he have to go through the white house to get permission again for an undersecretary or deputy? he's had one knocked off. jon: you mentioned baker and bush. it was pretty much baker who suggested tillerson. tillerson came out of the gates, the texas troika. you might be talking to them. jon: wouldn't you think that the thing -- the thing that baker would have said to him would be, the key thing for you is you have to be this close -- this is what jim baker does when he describes it.
do we have any sense that tillerson has attempted to forge this relationship with the president? is the president reluctant? is it just chaos? andrea: i would vote for chaos, just based on my reporting. jim baker and bush 41 had such a tight relationship. that was almost unique, really, in the annals. george schultz and ronald reagan had a pretty close relationship, except for the disputes that were coming in from the pentagon in those days and the u.s. and soviet relationship. condi rice and 43, obviously a very tight relationship. when she was secretary of state. less so 43 and colin powell. there's always a bit of space between the secretary of state in recent years and the white house. national security advisers have been reigning supreme. that said secretary tillerson's , deputy was vetoed by the president after his staff at the
white house told him that abrams had written a critical column in the weekly standard in may during the primary, not even the general election. that is unprecedented. the fact that he cannot choose his deputy, choose his undersecretary, that there are minders in every cabinet agency from the white house -- sean spicer was defending that again just hours ago, saying you would expect that if people are not in line with what president trump campaigned on they should , not be in the administration. there is no tolerance for dissent or for other points of view at the white house. that is really affecting the ability to put people in these positions. jon: that gets to another interesting dynamic shaping up. we now have three men to watch who are recently or currently active duty military in current positions. former general mattis, general flynn at dhs -- excuse me, kelly.
all of whom are in their own personal histories and relationship with their uniformed services not go along, get along guys. they are tell the truth, their -- very candid counselors, still working in the chain of command underneath the commander in chief, but working in an environment where second-guessing and criticism -- we don't have a pattern of that being welcome. it's an interesting dynamic that he has gone to uniform -- sometimes in the case of mcmaster, active duty guys, like colin powell serving in these very important national service roles, where part of the job is to say, no, you're wrong mr. president we have to do it , this way. will that come naturally to guys in uniform, guys who have generally been truth tellers? >> with limited knowledge of each of the three, one more so than the others, all three, i
think, are men who are more than willing to stand and look the president of the united states in the eye and say, "you are wrong, sir." jon: you were incredibly well versed in the obama years, particularly on the national security side. are you hearing any whispers about reaction as the former national security team watches what is unfolding? >> leading the members of the former security team under obama and the state department under obama, again come i would defer to andrea on this, i think they were greatly encouraged either by the hiring of general mcmaster, as they were by the hiring of mattis and kelly. i had one person formerly in the obama administration tell me the employment of general mattis as secretary of defense was greatly encouraging, because this person
viewed it as general mattis accepting the job in order to, quote, save the american military from donald j. trump, unquote. jon: there's a general sense of relief that flynn is gone. there was as much anxiety about flynn as there was about everyone else combined. that was borne out in what took place in the 30 days. his departure has been a tonic for those who have been watching it. >> to protect the american military, not save it. jon: we have to talk about russia. andrea, what are you hearing about the current state of the congressional inquiries, fbi inquiries? where are we now? andrea: the most important thing that happened the fbi director , comey briefed the intelligence committees and the committee members said this would be a really serious inquiry. then there were letters written to a number of agencies, including to the white house, saying preserve all materials. do not erase anything, don't
shred any papers. this is a serious thing. it is into russia's hacking, russia's involvement before and during and after the campaign. parenthetically, mike flynn and his contact with the russian ambassador. he's not a target of this, as that is swept up into it. he's not a target of this, as far as we know, but he's part of the investigation. the russians themselves are reporting from nbc from moscow that the russians are getting a little unnerved by some of the push back now from president trump. some of the signals are not as friendly as they might have wished. as some of the language is moderated. they want to know what is really going on here and what kind of relationship they can predict with president trump. what they are hearing from mattis and pence is different from what they heard from the president himself. jon: what do you make of the theory that the russian government has something on president trump and has somehow
or another during the campaign sent word and that has shaped his public posture toward moscow? andrea: i just don't know. what is inexplicable is why donald trump has said so many positive things about vladimir putin, given all the public records, the killing and jailing of other opposition leaders and journalists, the invasion and holding of eastern ukraine, the fact that the world rose up in condemnation of russia for incident after incident. the kgb/fsb background of this leader. why he would be so friendly in all this rhetoric about vladimir putin, all the evidence notwithstanding, is just inexplicable. i don't know what is going on. i can't presume to understand that. we don't have really hard
evidence at all. i do also think that this is partly connected, possibly, to the critical statements about u.s. intelligence. that was deeply disturbing to a lot of people. i've covered the intelligence community for 30 years, and i can tell you that the workforce is not political. they are not partisan. they are really concerned about this rhetoric. >> it's an indication also that the president wasn't paying attention to his party with respect to russia in a very significant way. russia at the moment is leaning heavily and invasively into places like libya and the baltics, not to mention syria, and the balkans, not to mention eastern europe and all the former soviet bloc countries, and into the electoral tissue of western europe. these are not trivial challenges to the western alliance or the united states. they are existential in some ways. all those republican senators --
people like lindsey graham, john mccain, richard burr -- do not take this lightly and do not want a commercial relationship with the former soviet union. they want an adversarial one. it's basically still a competition. though the economies are very different sized and the military's don't compare, it's still very much a competitive mindset. there's no interest in a commercial relationship with russia. but you get the sense that the president's entire prism is commercial. >> and that is just not where his party is ever going to be. let's go around. andrea, what are you looking for the rest of this week, the rest of this month, what is most concerning to you? what should folks be paying attention to? andrea: i'd like to see how general mcmaster takes control of the national security process they are supposed to have their , first real meeting with the president and the cabinet secretaries on friday.
does he take the step of trying to reverse the presidential memo that puts steve bannon at the principal table? it was extraordinary unprecedented and deeply , disturbing to those who follow it. how does the national security council staff shape up? how do they interact with the other cabinet secretaries? does the secretary of state ever get a deputy and start nominating people for these other positions and get up to speed? >> i think the focus shifts to the hill. we are getting to the point where it is time for the republican party, which controls both houses of congress, to do something. they have not done much yet. they're looking at a tax reform bill that is in trouble now because of the border adjustment tax is running into problems in both houses. that is the revenue measure on which everything hangs. the wall the trade deals, the , tax deals. maybe obamacare funding. that is in trouble and everyone knows it. that is a problem, that is the linchpin. there is no clarity about what
they plan to do about infrastructure. and we will see what kind of steps both sides take in order to get a supreme court nominee through. that is probably the easiest of the three. but they are running into problems inside the republican party, in terms of finding the votes, simply to get things done on a party line vote. >> mike? >> andrea and michael, clearly big issues. i am more looking at and thinking about, wondering about the reaction at gas stations and barbershops and supermarkets where they have the tv on and donald trump is a constant presence. i am wondering when and if the public tires of the voice. it is fearful of embarrassment. he is the president of the united states and we have a vision of the presidency as a people. and we do not want the president obviously to embarrass us in front of the world. i am just wondering if that will
fastest growing network of public charter schools in new york city. success academy students have significantly outperformed regular public school students standardized tests. the achievements, however, have not been free from controversy. she has butted heads with the teachers union and new york city mayor, bill de blasio. i am pleased to have her on this program. welcome. eva: thank you for having me, nice to be here. jon: let's start with the news. i believe mr. trump, president-elect trump, did he reach out about being secretary of education? were you offered the job? how did that happen? eva: he did reach out and i did meet with him. but, i decided i have a tremendous commitment to success and education reform. and i really needed to stay put. and, make a fundamental change
here in the educational services i was offering. jon: with betsy devos in place, she is a strong supporter of charters, do you see the climate as being more welcoming in washington and around the country for the kind of work you do? eva: president obama was very, very pro-school reform, and certainly pro-charter. i do not know if there is a sea change there. but i do believe, and i think president obama and arne duncan would agree that the changes they put in place were not finished. american school kids are fine. jon: talk about success, where jon: talk about success, where you started, where you are now, what's been your biggest surprise. eva: it's been quite a journey.
i started, opened our doors august 21, 2006, with one school. i was the principal of the first school. we now are serving 13,500 children across 41 schools, we are k-12. we have our first high school -- we are opening a second high school. what i've learned is that children can reach the highest heights if you give them a chance to do so. and that chance not only has to do with the academics you provide, but children need to love coming to school. they need to fall in love with school. so the art and the music and the sports and the chess and the coding and the debates, those are not ancillary to education. they are actually pretty fundamental to the project of educating children. i think we've been successful in part because we view the child holistically. jon: right.
a lot of people still in this debate wonder what you just said is intuitive. i can't imagine anyone disagree. -- disagreeing. and yet it is so difficult to replicate in the ordinary public school system for too many people. why is that? eva: i think it's a complex -- it's a hard question. the answer is complex. there is a level at which it is not hard to replicate, if we had the will to do so. part of it is we have to make a very, very different kind of commitment to children and apportion the resources very differently. for example, we are able to afford the arts, the music, the dance because we have large class sizes. in new york state, we are committed to very small class sizes.
in fact, in poor schools, it's quite small. that means it becomes very hard to afford the arts, the music, the dance, the science, five days a week. it's a set of choices that you have to make. we are not always willing to make those choices. another example would be a principal's tenure. if you are going to give lifetime job security to management irrespective of performance, quality might decline. jon: adam smith had something to say about that. eva: he certainly did. jon: on the academic side, your students are doing how well compared to kids who are not in success academy? eva: they are doing extraordinarily well. our kids in math are in the top 1% of the state of new york, even though the vast majority of our kids are poor.
about 20% of them are special needs children. in reading and writing, they are in the top 2% in the state of new york. jon: one of the criticisms which goes back to 25 years or more, back in the bush 41 years, this was kind of an early one, is that an objection to charter schools and magnet schools even was preening. you take students were from ordered families who have support, whose parents, relatives, caregivers have the capacity and wherewithal to go through the process. but the kids in the more disordered families, disordered backgrounds simply won't have that option. fair, unfair? eva: we admit by random lottery. jon: but you have to get to the
lottery, right? eva: but in our communities, we are finding 70%, 80% of the age eligible kids are applying. if you look at the demographics of the population, take the school in the south bronx. 90% of the kids are below the poverty line. and yet they are ending up in the top 1%. in math. frankly, it's actually easier to apply to a charter school, because all you have to do is fill out a one-pager. in a district school, you have to go to an office. there's got to be a person there to receive you. you have to bring three documents. access wise, charters are very easy in new york. jon: fascinating. you talked to a lot of people around the country. are there other places that you
envy or you want to learn from? are there particular bright stars out there? eva: as an educator, i really think that learning is utterly critical. i went to china to look at how they educate kids in china. i visit dozens of schools a year. because i think whether it's a district school or parochial school or independent school, you can learn the craft. i always get ideas. i send my principals -- and my educators, in this week alone they were in the metropolitan area, trying to learn from other schools. there are many great educators in this country. jon: you started out in the academy, in higher education, then you went into politics. eva: for a brief period of time. jon: then i hope you sobered up. just kidding.
talk about that journey. you've gone from looking at a political dais to being in the trenches. what was the trigger on that decision? eva: well, i started out in academia, both because i loved historical research, i also thought the life of the mind was important. i also loved teaching. i took my teaching responsibilities very seriously as an academic. and i did that -- i published rather than perished. i really honed the art of teaching both history and of writing. but i always felt compelled by the fact that k-12 was not what it should be. i grew up in harlem myself. i went to district public
schools. when i was in elementary school, i was the only white child in my school. i went to school with lots of kids who were as capable as i was. they did not have parents that could educate them at home. the schools were not doing a very good job of educating them. i felt a profound sense of unfairness. why shouldn't every kid get an equal opportunity? why is access limited by zip code? i went into politics not because i was interested in politics more broadly, that because i wanted to solve the problem of public education. new york city -- jon: a small ambition. eva: i thought it was easier than solving international affairs. jon: little did you know. [laughter] do you still think that?
eva: no, i actually don't. it seems naive. but it seemed like a problem that could be solved. i also thought -- also naively -- that we could all agree that science five days a week was important for kids. i thought recess -- that every child should have free play, that that seemed like a given and it would not be this controversial thing. then when i ran for office, i began to understand that it was the third rail. i got myself into some amount of trouble because i thought it was important to look at the teachers union contract. this is a document which, all told, is 800 pages. i thought that the public, because it was paying for the
agreement, had a right to know what was in it. and i didn't totally understand what i was getting myself into. but even if i had, i'm not sure if i would have done things differently, because i think that it's important for the public to understand. that was sort of the beginning of my education. the teachers union vowed to take me out when i decided -- jon: you are in the academy, then you ran for? eva: i ran for new york city council. i lost the first time. i ran the second time. and i won. i am a diehard democrat, everyone in my family comes from the realm of education. i was lucky enough to become the chair of the education committee. i tried, i had 100 plus hearings on every subject from art education, science education. i even investigated toilet paper.
why was there no toilet paper in the new york city school system? i tried to fix the system. it was very resistant to fixing. it was also a highly -- and still is -- highly segregated system. very unfair how it was all apportioned. if you lived in a certain neighborhood, your district schools were good. if you lived in a poor neighborhood, your district schools were terrible. i did that for six years. i decided instead of after the teachers union kicked me out, i decided instead of trying to fix what is fundamentally broken, maybe you could start afresh and get it right from the get-go. you could build a school system that really nourished children not only academically, but in terms of their character, in
terms of social and emotional growth. i really believe in science five days a week, discovery. i believe in chess. i believe in games. we do not play enough games in schools. my children have played games there and told -- whole life, monopoly. at our schools, we play games on wednesday for an hour and a half. everyone stops and we play. jon: what's your assessment of the role of the unions in terms of both doing good and doing things that are blocking needed reform? eva: i think, historically, unions have made an incredible contribution in terms of wages and benefits, in terms of health care. but -- there is a way in which they are right. i think management is not so great either. it's almost management and labor sometimes conspire against children.
you have this massive bureaucracy that is not very responsive to teachers, parents, and kids. the bureaucracy is also a problem. that's the single argument that the unions make, that i think is true. i think the solution to that -- to the unresponsive bureaucracy is to have a non-monolithic system, which the unions of course opposed. i agree that that is a problem. but i think the solution to that is to have some level of competition. an alternative. jon: do you think public opinion is moving in your direction with any speed? eva: i do. jon: there's public opinion and there's legislative policy. eva: there is a gap there. i think parents -- and i say
this as a mother of three. i have found in not only my 11 years of doing this work, but when i was a city councilmember, where i did hundreds of parent meetings, i have found parents just want a good school. they really don't care what it's called. it doesn't matter whether it's district or charter or parochial. they want a great school for their kid. all of this venom in the debate and parsing things, it's not really relevant. and so, i think that there is a level of impatience with the system -- a highly segregated system where affluent people move or send their kids to independent school or parochial school or moved to the suburbs if the local district school is not good. it the only people who truly suffer are the people who don't
have that ability. jon: who don't have the means to get out. why are so many schools falling short? eva: i think it's complicated, again. i think there is -- i think it's harder to educate kids now than it was 50 years ago, not that that's an excuse. but i think that the expectation on schools is that we are supposed to solve poverty, we are supposed to somehow solve housing, all of these other challenges, which are real. jon: family dysfunction. eva: it's kind of on the school. 7% of our kids are living in homeless shelters. we've got at any given moment 10 to 15 kids in psychiatric care. the number of social challenges that come through our door are very overwhelming and large. i think it is a little harder. i also think that schools have
gotten away from some really basic things. take the teaching. you can't teach kids to read without thought. phonics is not the whole program. but phonics became taboo. you are not going to teach children to read if they don't have phonemic awareness. a good reading program has whole language and phonics. you don't ask wealthy parents to choose between the two. you want kids to master mathematics, they need to know their times tables and they need to have mathematical reasoning. not one or the other. we've gotten away from some very basic principles of educating students that make it incredibly hard. you, i'm sure, have read -- the mayor has reversed himself. he eliminated suspensions for k-2. really quite remarkable. the mayor of new york says you may not suspend a child in
kindergarten, first grade, or second grade for any reason from here on in. he recently reversed himself. we have very violent children who are threatening to kill grown-ups and other children. you take that tool away, it would have been unimaginable 50 years ago that a child is allowed to threaten to kill someone else and there is no consequence for that. i think we've gotten a little impractical. obviously, you want to make sure that suspensions are only one tool among many. but if you start to say this is off the table, this is off the table, this is off the table, it's very hard for teachers to teach when they've got potentially one violent child in a classroom of 32. by the way, what message does that send to the other 31 children? jon: sure.
it's often been talked about that you might want to run for mayor. i think you've taken yourself out of the next one. eva: i have. jon: does that continue to be of ultimate interest? eva: i believe in public service and i obviously believe in elected office. i've done it for six years. but, i also have a tremendous commitment to building this alternative system of k-12, and it takes, frankly, right now, every ounce of my energy to get this right. jon: what would be a piece of advice he would give the new secretary of education as she takes on this enormous task? eva: i think spending some time learning what the state of affairs is. you can learn from the data, we know from the data that things are in serious crisis. but i would want her to spend a lot of time in districts,
charters parochials, independent , schools across the country to really understand what it's going to take to move us forward as a nation. i think you can rush into action a little bit too fast. that's just one piece of advice. i think understanding there are incredibly talented and thoughtful educators around the country in many not particularly well-known places, and you have defined the best educators, the most thoughtful group of people and get them thinking about larger solutions. jon: founder and ceo of success academy charter schools, the largest and fastest-growing in new york city. thank you. eva: thank you. jon: we will be right back. ♪ jon: jack spencer is here.
he is a fine art photographer who has published a new book "this land" is the product of , nearly 13 years of work beginning after the attacks of september 11 and on the eve of the iraq war. the imagery grapples with america in the 21st century, capturing the extraordinary diversity of the american landscape. the result is a national portrait that spans 48 states and 80,000 miles. i have, full disclosure, written
the book's forward. i'm pleased to have jack spencer at this table for the first time. welcome, my friend. jack: good to see you. jon: tell us how it began. jack: it started whenever we invaded iraq, right after 9/11. i was not pleased about that. there was a lot of jingoism, a lot of people going crazy. let's go bomb everybody in the world. i was going to do a show -- i did a show in sun valley at a gallery out there. i was going to fly out, but i decided to drive instead. jon: from nashville. jack: from nashville. and just start with this idea of photographing america. it started out as kind of a spec of an idea. i didn't know how it was going to end up until it was finished. it started out with this idea of photographing america and the
land. 13 years later and 80,000 miles later, we ended up with almost 500 images. we edited it down to about 150 for this book. jon: show us rushmore, if you would. it doesn't get much more american than that. jack: it doesn't, although that's not going to be on any postcards. the initial photographs that i made of america were kind of dark. they were kind of distressed, beat up. i was not real happy about it in the very beginning. eventually that calmed down a , little bit and i started seeing america as this vast place. some of them were raw at the very beginning. that's from mississippi, called one tree.
wild horses on cumberland island. jon: cumberland island, georgia. that's distressed. jack: it is distressed, but not in the same way. the earlier ones were pretty dark as well. they had -- they were torn and tattered and all kinds of stuff. jon: what did you learn as you went along? jack: i think what i was trying to do was to increase my awareness of the land that we live on. i think it was kind of what the body of work -- the purpose of the body of work is to make people more aware of what a remarkable country we live in. on this little speck of a planet floating around out in the universe. i think that a lot of people don't even see it. i think one of the things that i
was appreciative in your forward about was the line in there that it taught you how to see. i think that's kind of the purpose of it. at one point along the way, i thought about renaming "this land" and calling it "the kingdom of heaven." i'm not a religious person, as you know. but there's a line in the bible that says "the kingdom of heaven is spread across the earth but men do not see it." i don't think most people are aware of where they live and how wonderful it is and how incredible it is, and they don't see it at all. they are too distracted by all of the shiny objects that come onto the scene every day. that's in livingston, montana. that's the yellowstone river. jon: one of the strengths of this, it seems to me, is this is
not really about people. it's about the land. the shiny objects we were chasing when you started was war, vengeance, justice, depending on your point of view. you're publishing into a climate in which the phrase "chasing a shiny object" is "chasing a president with a twitter feed." jack: and his definition of uranium is amazing. jon: [laughter] jack: i don't know. i think that this works for the american people, but it works for people all over the world. i think -- there's 7.5 billion people, is that right, living on the planet? led around by 1000 small men in big suits, who kind of dictate what their outcome is going to be.
and they're just not -- i think that there's a kind of yearning to be more in control. i think that's the current political situation happened. they want something to happen, even if it blows us to smithereens. i think it's appropriate for people worldwide to understand that we live on this delicate planet that swirling around out in space. people are not even cognizant of that fact. jon: and that is what? jack: that's bethlehem steel. in bethlehem, pennsylvania. jon: that's today. that's us. that's who we are. i suspect that's an abandoned factory. jack: it is. jon: and that's why donald trump is president. you didn't know that.
jack: no, but i had a feeling. this last trip that i took last summer, i drove from toledo up to detroit and around michigan and to youngstown, western pennsylvania, western new york to niagara, across new york to the hudson river valley. on that trip, i saw thousands of trump signs. i did not see any hillary signs, until i got to new york and there was a sign that said "send hillary to prison." but thousands of trump signs. quite a few bernie sanders signs. but it was -- it was not a big surprise for me whenever trump actually won the election. jon: where's that? jack: that's in needles, california. jon: it looks as though it is a nostalgic, retro image, but that's of us in our time. jack: exactly. jon: so, we are just too busy,
too much getting and spending to pay attention? jack: i think so. and, i mean, i was happy that obama, through presidential decree, was able to claim a lot more lands, but people don't seem to care about that that much. i think people are locked into their cocoons. they fly over america, they do not see it. jon: what do you hope people come away with? this is cumberland island. jack: that's cumberland island. it's hard to say. if somebody is inspired by it, great. i'm very proud of the book. i think it makes a bold statement. i think it might inspire people to get out and see america, feel differently about america. this is dearborn, michigan. there's a lot of that out there. it was something i didn't quite realize. i had heard the stories and read about detroit being
such a wasteland and i do not have any clue until i got there about how much of a wasteland it was. it was shocking. for miles and miles and miles of just devastation. dearborn was once a thriving community with the ford plant, a lot of industry around there. a lot of that was ubiquitous. jon: to me, one of the fascinating things about this is you are not a journalist, and yet you have captured a country in transition from agricultural and industrial to information age. with fairly bleak images in some cases and redemptive ones in others. jack: it follows that entire gamut. it goes from total desolation to absolute beauty, from that to yellowstone river to yosemite.
i have an update of the top stories. u.s. treasury secretary steve is doing as he review of foreign exchange markets to decide if china is manipulating the yuan. he told bloomberg to not expect an announcement before april. he brandedrump said china a currency manipulator his first day in office. shares grow after fourth-quarter $6.2 billionted and $665 million active among users. ceo robin lee has