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tv   The Cycle  MSNBC  January 20, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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the suggestion that anyone would hold back sandy relief funds for any reason is wholly and completely false. >> hoboken mayor dawn zimmer fired back, saying, quote, i am genuinely disappointed that lieutenant governor quadagno has lived up to her promise that she would deny linking hoboken's application for sandy hazard mitigation with expedited a private development project, then adding, i stand by my word, willing to testify under oath and i'll continue to answer any questions asked of me by the u.s. attorney's office. this is the latest allegation to surface after the george washington bridge scandal. a news of a federal audit of hurricane sandy aid used for a tourism campaign featuring the governor. kelly o'donnell explains the breakdown of the new allegation, another that team christie
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vehemently denied. >> only brief glimpsed of governor christie coming and going from florida republican fund-raisers this weekend, but a once supportive ally, the democratic mayor of hoboken, made a series of tv appearances and allegations against christie's administration. >> it's not fair for the governor to hold sandy funds hostage for the city of hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer. >> dawn zimmer released a statement sunday night saying she met for several hours at their request with the new jersey u.s. attorney's office. and promised to provide any requested information and testify under oath. zimmer claims that last may, new jersey's lieutenant governor told her that hurricane relief money would be delayed unless the mayor supported a particular developer's project. >> she pulled me aside in the parking lot and she said, i know it's not right. i know this thing should not be connected, but they r and if you tell anyone, i'll deny it.
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>> christie's office forcefully rejected the allegations as cotgorically false and argued that hoboken has received $70 million of federal aid. in line with what other communities got. and that more relief money is expected. further adding that the $100 million zimmer requested was for future flood control, not sandy relief. christie supporters including rudy giuliani, pointed out zimmer has changed her story. >> mayor zimmer just shortly before she made this revelation said she didn't believe any hold-up in the funds had anything to do with any kind of retribution for not indorsing the governor. >> zimmer explained why she had not come forward sooner. >> i didn't think anyone would believe me, i really didn't. >> our thanks to kelly o'donnell for that report. let's take it to the table and talk about what we learned and what the context is. obviously, this story if you're tuning in on monday, is significantly different as to the charges against the christie administration, than it was when we left on friday. that's largely due to this mayor
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speaking out, first to steve kornacki here, and then speaking out forceally elsewhere, as we saw. i think the largest context is important. people say, oh, is this politics as usual? no, but it may be crimes as usual in the sense that there is a history of doing politics this way, leading to criminal acts in new jersey. we don't have all the facts on this yet, but we were looking back today, just at chris christie's period as u.s. attorney, about a six-year period, and there were 175 prosecutions for people related to political crimes, 200 when you count in the state prosecutions done by the state attorney general. what does that tell us about what's going on here? it tells us there is an unfortunate pattern of officials in executive and local office who do do business this way, but it doesn't make it politics, it makes it criminal. it's why chris christie, interestingly in the story, interestingly why chris christie came to greater political
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acclaim and attention, because he was going after that corruption. the question we have to look at now in the investigation first and then to the politics obviously as a piece of the story is how are people conducting business? and were people in the governor's name with or without his knowledge, putting on this kind of pressure, whether it was on the front end, we want you to do something, or on the back end, retribution some any of the things, it suggests a violation of state law because there's an official misconduct act. and that's why it's so bad for the christie administration. whether or not it reaches him, at this point, there are not documents directly linking him. he has people on his team who are now exposed and who he has apologized for conducting themselves this way. >> to that point of, is new jersey different in levels of corruption? steve kornacki was asked that question this morning. and he covered new jersey as a local reporter for a number of years. he said, you know, it is different, and it's because of the development and it's because of the power and the money associated with that
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development. and also the fact that you do have this very powerful governor and very powerful mayors, but i have been thinking about this same thing, this politics as usual? and the allegation that he would hold up funding for flood mitigation for sandy in order to essentially do a favor for buddies of his who are linked to this development project, that is way outside of the norm of what happens with politics. this is no sort of pet project, earmark, you support me on this bill and i'll get you your bridge in your community. this is something entirely different. and it goes to the core of who chris christie has represented himself as being. it goes to the core of his leadership on sandy. it goes to the core of him as this truth teller. and i went back and read some of his victory speech from when he became governor again this year. and it is so starkly different from the way that we're viewing him now. let's take a listen to a little
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bit of what he had to say about the way sandy changed his approach to the job. >> on october 29th of last year, that job changed. it's no longer a job for me. it's a mission. and that mission, that mission is to make sure that everyone, everyone in new jersey who is affected by sandy, is returned to normalcy in their life, and i want to promise you tonight, i will not let anyone, anything, any political party, any governmental entity, or any force get in between me and the completion of my mission. >> and that is the image that he built around himself and really coasted to re-election on, and i think this sandy gate scandal calls into question everything that he has been saying to the public. >> you bet. >> at the end of last week, like friday, i got the sense that this story, bridge gate, was
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sort of dying, and that chris christie had weathered at least the worst, beginning part of the storm, and that he would live to see another day. and then i woke up saturday morbing and i watched this interview on up with steve kornacki, and i thought, wow, this is a big deal, and this could potentially be even more problematic for the governor than bridge gate. two reasons. this hits at the heart of how, of what many people know about chris christie. that he was the guy that helped the state survive this superstorm sandy. and two, the person that is linked in this scandal is not the deputy chief of staff, is not the campaign manager. it's the lieutenant governor. if there's one thing i remember having grown up with my dad as governor, the relationship between the governor and lieutenant governor, they do pretty much everything together. they're very much in sync with their message and what they're trying to get done with the state. so we don't know how this is going to end up. what i do know is this is not a murky situation. somebody is lying here. and if this end up being true,
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what the mayor is alleging, i don't see how chris christie survives this one. i don't see how he can walk this way out of this one, especially when you don't haconservatives rallying behind him. i would love to get your take on this as well. >> first off, i'm incredibly proud of steve kornacki. he did an incredible job on the story. his team as well. and there's certain moments sometimes in the news cycle when you're just glad that a certain person is in the media to be able to put the right perspective on something or to do that level of reporting that nobody else would do, and this is an incredible moment for steve kornacki. the story would perhaps be different if he was not in the news media at all. so, you know, kudos to him. incredible moment for him. but more than that, yes, as you guys are talking about, dawn's story is devastating for someone. either for chris christy if this is true, or for her if it's not true, because if she has lied to the u.s. attorney, then she's in
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deep trouble. but you know, she is the one who is willing to take reporters' questions, willing to talk to attorneys. we have item quadagno who gave a prepared statement and didn't take questions and has not yet spoken to the u.s. attorney. you start to wonder, who do you think is telling the truth? right now, the sort of the balance tips definitely toward dawn. there's an interesting arc with this thing because when obama landed in new jersey and chris christie hugged im, and chris christie at this point was a national hero reaching across the aisle, working in this bipartisan way. >> now we see how that's going. >> and yes, and now we're sort of -- so sandy sort of leaps him up this national hero status, and now we're coming down to this idea that maybe he's using sanda funds in this despicable, politicized way to control people and, i mean, like nothing could be more disgusting, i think, than having this money from the federal government to
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save your towns, to save a town like hoboken, and then you sort of use it to try to itenrich on particular private developer, who is probably already rich, or a group of rich people. this story stinks. it's going to go on for a while. and this moment will be the destruction of somebody's political career, either chris christie's or dawn zimmer's. >> you mentioned as the u.s. attorneys meet again, she met again with the u.s. attorney. they don't often do sunday interviews. it goes to the fact they wanted to get in and talk to her right away while the allegations were fresh and before she does other meetings. >> which speaks to the seriousness. >> the u.s. attorney's office views it seriously, and she has a burden to be truthful and could get in a lot of trouble if not. >> absolute re. we'll have much more on this story to be sure. up next, as america marks the legacy of dr. martin luther king's dream, a new interview with the president. we'll tell you what it says, as
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it's dr. king's birthday, a federal holiday, but we here at "the cycle" are hard at work like many others trying to make martin luther king's dream a reality 50 years after his death. from prayers to parades to marches, americans are marching king's life with service project. as he once said. life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others? the first family picked up on
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that theme by helping prep meals to be distributed at local shelters. barry bacon is the political editor and he explains in depth while in a second term, obama is changing the debate on race, class, and inequality. you write the president is increasingly using his pulpit to talk about broader issues of race in america. what's different in his second term is obama is shaping these debates in his terms. in the debate and his first term, he was doing these tough love on black folks speeches and he would apologize when race was brought up and it got a little confusing for people. in the second term, civil rights leaders go to him and say this is the agenda we would like you to pursue. defend affirmative action, reform the war on drugs, and the president is saying, hey, already on my agenda. what's changed? >> what's changed is two things. first of all, we are in a second term. there is more freedom to do things. and i think the second thing
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that has changed is when you're president, you learn to do things better. early on, the white house really was a little bit too -- a little too easily say anything about race, like when someone was arrested, the poliresident saide police were behaving stupidly. they realized that was a mistake. you should be very thoughtful about it. when he went down to talk about trayvon martin last year, he had thought about it, talked to advisers about it. he had really had what he wanted to say and how he wanted to frame it. and that's what they have done now. on policy and when he speaks about race, he's grounded in data. he really wants to make a point each time he talks about it. >> i want to do a comment and a question. my comment is you've got a deeply reported piece that makes a lot of tinteresting thoughts n what the evolution has been. you look at what toure had mentioned, the idea that the president seemed to be, quote, lecturing certain
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african-american audiences, the morehouse speemeech, and in the second term, that hasn't change said. he's not doing this for politics, if he was, it would have changed. his rhetoric has always looked to some degree to transcend race, whether or not that works. that point was really well made and reported in the piece. the question i have is specifically on the area that we would call racial justice initialatives, because there are things that have to deal in the law as a factual matter, have to deal with race. that's where we have seen hesitance. you say in a meeting with civil rights leaders last year, the president urged them not to speak as if the entire voting rights act had been struck down by the supreme court, which might have led people to believe there was no way to defend their right to vote. you say that was for pragmatic reasons. i was speaking to the white house today. let me read your their starment on the new voting rights amendment act. he has called on legislation in
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response to the court's decision. we look forward to reviewing this bill, and basically, yada, yada, yada. i asked the white house whether they thought they could say at this point that it deserves a floor vote, and they said they have nothing more on that. the president at times has held back on pressing these issues with moral authority. something we should think about on martin luther king day. don't you think they could do more on these issues to put them front and sistcenter. >> here's what the white house would say. they would argue if a bill is going to a vote and the president could meaningfully affect the results, he would no doubt speak about it. they argue this is a guy who you know is a constitutional lawyer who really cares about the issues. he's very supportive of expanding voting rights. he's very supportive of lawsuits to stop voter id laws. they would say he wants to make sure there's a real purpose to get behind it. once he talks about an issue, it becomes obamaicized, meaning
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republicans who were opposed to it become even more opposed to it. what they like to see is congress sort of work its will first and see if there are a few more republicans to join on. then, if there's a last push, the president could jump in as opposed to jumping in now. you could argue that may not be the right approach, but that's kind of how they see things. >> switching gears a little bit, i want to get your take on the recent new yorker piece titled on and off the road with barack obama. it's a long piece, but i encourage people to read it. it's a good read. it really gives you a sense of who obama is, how he feels about the past few years in office and what he hopes to still accomplish in the office. and david wrote the piece, spent a lot of time with president obama, and he spoke about it on this week yesterday. let's take a listen. >> after 2014, no one cares what obama does because the race for the successor begins to consume all of the media air time and all our energies. but this year is crucial and last year was awful.
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awful. and the health care rollout was a self-inflicted wound. it's an unusual thing to hear a president sitting in office admit to the limits of power, and this is a habit of mine to barack obama whether it has to do with the limits of power of the united states in the middle east, which we're not used to hear. we usually talk in grandiose terms or limits of power of the president himself. >> what we get the sense of from the administration and the president is this year is the most important year for them. they're sick of nothing getting done. they're sick and tired of gridlock, and president obama saying, screw it, i'm going to do it on my own. my question is how much can you get done by simply overriding congress. >> let's make clear. dave said you can't do anything in the last two years. george w. bush bailed out the financial companies in 2008. the presidency is not over in 2015, to be clear. but you can do very little in a year like this. because congress at the end of the day needs to approve most
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things. the president has really read a lot of political science data on this and talks about it all the time. he knows the limits of the office and he knows he's going to try things through executive orders like considering maybe raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers assuming congress blocks a larger increase in the minimum wage. that's one idea on the table. they're going to push these ideas strongly. >> i thought there was a common theme between your piece and david's piece. in your piece, one of the themes is that the president has sort of tried and failed in a way to transcend race. and one of the themes in remnic's piece is he's tried and failed to transcend politics in washington. do you think he's given up on that latter mission, or do you think he holds out hopes he's going to get john boehner to the negotiating table and they're going to have some sort sof a big deal he can add to his legacy? >> i don't think he's thinking john boehner is going to come to the table. you do hear a tone of resignation in remnic's piece.
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also, he told remnic something as well when talking about race. he very frankly acknowledged for the first time ever, i think, that the opposition is driven by race. he basically said that some people don't like me because i'm black, which he usually tries to avoid. that does tell you he is not going to unify the country the way he talked about in 2004. i think he knows that now. >> and then he quickly turns around and says there are some people who probably like me because i'm black. >> toure? >> look, perry, let's get back to dr. king for a second, a lot of the battles that he cares deeply about and spend his life fighting, we're still fighting in terms of voting rights, poverty, war. have we failed king's legacy? >> i don't think so. i mean, if only because what we just talked about. we do have a twice elected african-american president who extended health insurance to millions. when martin luther king was -- at the time he died, he was talking about a poor people's
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campaign. economic justice. when you listen to what president obama is doing, a lot of talk about inequality, a lot of talk about helping the middle class. i think he's really in the same zone that dr. king was, and it's hard to say. you know, toure, you and i are on a television show right now, and we have nice salaries and great jobs, great opportunities. it's really hard -- >> speak for yourself, perry. >> we don't want to underestimate the progress we made. >> all right, perry. we'll have more on dr. king's poor people's campaign. great piece by you. thanks for coming on. how are you honoring the legacy of dr. king? let us know on our facebook page using the hash tag #growing hope. >> i can't stop talking about yesterday's games that sent denver and seattle to the super bowl in new jersey. we'll look back at the action. >> peyton manning two plays. he gets to pick the one he likes. >> fake to the end zone. touchdown, damarius thomas.
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>> there's not many guys who can make a play on this ball. richard sherman, a wide receiver at stanford, out of position, but he's able to turn and get his left hand on the ball just to keep it from being a touchdown. >> on the intercepting team, number 25. is a deliciously tender and crunchy kibble blend. with 20% fewer calories than purina dog chow. isn't it time you discovered the lighter side of dog chow. purina dog chow light & healthy. did you run into traffic? no, just had to stop by the house to grab a few things. you stopped by the house? uh-huh. yea. alright, whenever you get your stuff, run upstairs, get cleaned up for dinner. you leave the house in good shape? yea. yea, of course. ♪ [ sportscaster talking on tv ] last-second field go-- yea, sure ya did. [ male announcer ] introducing at&t digital life. personalized home security and automation. get professionally monitored security for just $29.99 a month. with limited availability in select markets. ♪
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weather is once again in the news cycle this week. it's not a polar vortex, but the arctic hammer is coming down on the eastern united states once again. several inches of snow will usher in frigid temperatures that can hang around for a week. and washington, d.c. is on track to see its biggest snow storm in years. >> temperatures in sochi, russia, will be about 30 degrees warmer than here today. what's wrong with this picture? that's not the only concern. there's a new threat from a known islamic terror group operating out of iraq. putin has repeatedly promised any athletes taenlding the game will be completely safe.
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>> super bowl xlviii is now set. denver going up against seattle. the best offense in the nfl against the best defense. denver outclassed tom brady, bill belichick and the patriots. it was all manning all day long. he threw for 400 yards and shredded the patriots defense. the final score was 26-16, and for all who watched like me, that score was a lot closer than the game actually was. the seattle/san francisco game was better, and closer. and went on a lot longer. san francisco on the legs of qb colin kaepernick broke out ahead early. seattle came on late. the two key plays, fourth and seven in the fourth quarter. russell wilson hitting a 35-yard td pass, and at the end, less than 30 seconds left to go, a tip pass in the end zone was intercepted by linebacker malcolm smith. the final score, seattle, 23. san francisco, 17. by the way, the early line has
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denver favored by just one. the last time there was a one-point spread in the super bowl, 1982, the niners were faved by one against the bengals. >> you can't touch my hawks. >> there you go. all right, big sports fan. continuing to sports theme, a military mom in texas gave her 13-year-old son the most memorable moment he will probably ever have on the basketball court. she just returned from a tour of duty in kuwait, having missed football season and the holidays, but she was not going to miss the chance to score a big surprise on her little boy. >> the plan is to call a fake tech on the coach, and then we're going to have her go to the line for two free throws and that's when we'll have his mom come from behind with the surprise. >> i'm nervous because i don't know what his reaction is going to be. i'm thinking he may say, mommy, and give me a hug. we're at a basketball game. his friends are here, girls are here. maybe he'll cry but then he'll
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be mad at me. >> that's all right, derrick. he cried a little bit. that's okay. >> that is amazing. mom says derrick's reaction is exactly what he expected and there was barely a dry eye in the room for the fans who watched it unfold. >> that was a great story. we were talking about mounting frustration for the president, mainly that nothing gets done in congress. a big reason for that is what some have dubbed the senate veto, or as you know it, the filibuster. if just 41 senators are willing to filibuster a billering it's dead. nat option is nothing new, but its use, of course, has skyrocketing, republicans have filibustered more under obama, but both parties treat his obstruction increasingly as the new normal. tomorrow, lawyers for common cause are heading to federal court and trying to get the filibuster thrown out all together. they argue it's simply unconstitutional, as used today.
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joining us, steven spalding. welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> absolutely. this lawsuit, you argue, is basically important. people should care because you're saying we have actually seen a total shift in the constitutional balance of powers between the president and the senate. explain that and what you're hoping to achieve. >> sure, well, you know, it's almost tbecome cliche to talk about how unpopular congress is. the latest polls i think had cockroaches polling more popular than congress. there's a lot of reasons for that, but that's because americans expect their government to be responsive and it hasn't been responsive. there's been complete and utter gridlock. there's a lot of reasons for that. the corrosive influence of big money in our politics. in the heart, partisan gerrymandering, but the sharpest weapon, the sharpest tool in the tool box of senator mcconnell and the republicans is this filibuster rule, which is incredibly undemocratic and
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turned democracy on its head, as you said, because 41 senators overrule 59 senators and have complete control over the government. but we think this 60-vote rule is unconstitutional for two reasons. first of all, if you look at the constitution, article one lays out when a supermajority is required. it's required to override vetoes, to ratify tre ifify tre it impeach the president. passing and nominating affirmies is not on that list. it's really interesting because the founders considered a supermajority requirement in the senate, but they rejected it. and alexander hamilton -- >> i think the founders wanted a more egalitarian system where the minority wouldn't be able to tyrannized by the majority. i'm incredibly frustrated by the filibuster and the way it's been used, but i also know eventually in a long enough time line,
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republicans will be the majority in the senate again. and the power it gives to the muim yoert part to not be trampled, don't you like that leveling force. isn't that what makes the senate the cooling branch that it is? wouldn't you want that tempering force to be there when the other side that you don't support is in power? >> tote -- i appreciate that point. the senate is supposed to be the cooler saucer, but it's not supposed to be an ice block, a freezer. that point about hamilton and what he said was, it would be used by a minority of senators by corrupt to destroy the energy of government and embarrass the administration. in the words of senator harkin who has been in the minority and the majority, he said to that point, i'm not afraid of democracy. if folks want to try to repeal health care, if folks want to privatize social security, we should have that debate on the senate floor. the way the filibuster has been
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used, you know, people have this myth that it's mr. smith goes to washington, that there are senators rallying on the floor as a matter of principle, you know, senator cruz's fake filibuster reading dr. seuss's green eggs and ham. but turn on c-span2, and you're more likely to see an empty chamber. they're not debating. >> i want to jump in there because there are many cases where the courts will say, look, if it's a political dispute, we're not going to solve that. no matter where you stand on this issue, couldn't you make the argument that this is up for the senate to figure out? >> the senate has been making that argument, but what's interesting, if you look at supreme court case law, they have ruled multiple times in at least four cases while the senate and house can adopt their own rules, and they can call this filibuster rule a rule of debate, even though we know it's a minority veto, the supreme court has said you can adoct your own rules, you can't adopt unconstitutional rules. it is the duty of our courts to say what the law is and define exactly how broad is the
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senate's rule-making power. could they pass a rule that requires 99 votes to pass legislation? what about 67? now we're at 60 votes. it used to be the filibuster was the exception to the rule. it's now become the rule itself. it's been used to lead to this cynicism about government. notice it's used most by the party that most wants government frankly not to work. >> and that goes to the points that you guys are making in court. i'm going to use a television term, which is we're going to go to cloture and cut off debate for this segment. a filibuster joke, steven. >> i got you. >> you got it? just something we could do together. steven from common cause, thank you so much for joining us today. up next, an issue that even grover norquist and toure could agree on. i'm serious. stay tuned. [ male announcer ] they say he was born to help people clean.
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prison sentences reform. representing a stunning example of reaching way, way, way across the aisle. tea party favorite mike lee and dick durbin and texas republican john cornyn and vermont democrat patrick leahy are all working together on this. in her latest article for the national review, reporter and friend of the show betsry woodruff writes that for the past decade, conservatives have been quietly crafting a reform strategy, and they're now going public. using this state that i'm in right now, texas, as an example of how criminal justice reform can cut cost and lower the number of repeat offenders. betsy, criminologists have told us prison is crimnuogenic, it causes crime, and the real way forward is to incarcerate fewer people. i never thought that would
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resonate in texas. why here and why now is it working? >> to be honest, it comes done to dollars. in 2007, the department of corrections told the state legislation they were going to add 17,000 new beds. if there's one thing that gets them to move is a fiscal hawkishness. they put together policy that worked both to change sentencing laws and also to provide incarceration alternatives. and the fallout was phenomenal. instead of adding 17,000 new beds, they have been able to close prisons and cancel plans to build new prisons, and most importantly, this year, texas crime rates have significantly dropped. they're at 1964 levels. it's hard to argue it's been anything but an astonishing success. >> you argue that the fiscal case has been compelling, but you have also seen social conservatives getting on board with prison reform? >> yeah, it's hard to argue you're pro family if you support
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legislation that tears apart families and damages communities. tony perkins' organization has been supportive. heritage action has been supportive, because from a compassionate conservative side, it's hard to make a case you should keep the laws in place when they're so hard on members of our society that are most disadvantaged. >> i interviewed tim lynch and he said the sentences are far too harsh. this is something where libertarians can agree with progressives. how do you go and take that sentiment there from cado, a libertarian leader, and look at what's happening in congress and go beyond a couple progressives and libertarians and get more of a real political alliance. >> the alliance is fascinating. it's not just bipartisan. it's transidealogical. mike lee and dirk durbin have been talking for a few months about it, putting together legislation. cornyn has legislation that mirrors texas' reforms and rand paul and senator leahy, hard to
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find two senators with less in common, are also working on prison reform. what i'm hearing is we should expect one prison reform bill to come out of the judiciary committee. >> most recently, presidents are opening up, at least about legalizing marijuana. the new yorker piece, and i'm sure you have read it, but i want to get your thoughts on it. this is how aboma put it when he was asked about legalizing marijuana. i view it as a bad habit and a vice. i don't think it's more dangerous, though, than alcohol. we shouldn't lock up kids for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks writing the laws have probably done the same thing. i mean, it used to be a war on drugs. and now you have presidents on both sides of the aisle evolving on this issue. i feel like this not only changed the stigma here but also helps people sort of evolve on this issue as well. >> it's enough to walk the cuckals of our wonky little hard
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hearts. it's quite a change. especially when you think -- >> absolutely. >> when you think about the fact that so many of our, you know, commanders in chief have used these illegal substances, it makes it a little trickier to argue that smoking pot ruins your life and therefore that you should be thrown in the lockup forever if you do. >> does make it tricky. >> well, the jury is still out on whether or not bill clinton actually inhaled, but betsy, thank you very much for a great report. up next, a look at the series that takes viewers inside one of america's most secretive and tight knit religious communities and the struggle to get out. >> i once tried to report my father's abuse to the marshal. he made me feel like the guilty one. >> what you're saying about your father -- >> i couldn't believe that even the police were unwilling to help me. at that moment, i knew i would never again trust any of the flds authorities. [ male announcer ] if you can clear a crowd but not your nasal congestion,
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for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap. ♪ [ female announcer ] no matter the occasion..., your home's the place everyone gathers. so be ready with a stouffer's lasagna. it's the mouthwatering recipe that keeps them coming back. stouffer's. made with care for your family. in polygamy, the women are commodities. they are currency, and because there is an overabundance of males, the boys are liabilities and as a result, the boys get pushed out. >> in its new series, tlc takes viewers inside one of the most secretive communities in the country. the flds is a world of unquestioned authority, arranged marriages and little contact with the outside world.
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it continues to be led by its president and self-described prophet, warren jeffs, although he is behind bars for two counts of child sexual assault. they follow two former members as they try to help others looking for a way out. flds is not related to the current church. flora is an activist, a former flds child bride, and author of "church of lies," a reacting of her life. and brandon jeffs left the church. they both join us now. i want to start with you, flora. you left flds at the age of 16. help people and crystal and myself understand what the first 16 years of your life were like and what gave you the kurjs to leave? >> growing up in the flds was hell on earth. when the pain gets -- we were
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thought we were the only people god accepted, and that was heaven. when the pain gets so bad in heaven that you're willing to consciously damn yourself to hell for eternity, is where i was at. and i chose hell over heaven because of the pain that i was suffering. and it was very tough, because i had to walk away from everything i knew. my family, my mother, my brothers and sisters. everything. and it was -- i lived on the streets. there was nobody to turn to. and for years, it felt like i would tell people where i was from and they would tell me, you're crazy. that stuff doesn't happen in america. it does. it happens every day. >> and brandon, you're a big part of the series as well. i know this is day time television, but this is really heavy stuff. i want to warn our audience, and you open up about being molested as a child. i want to play a little bit of the series. take a look.
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>> okay, i'm done. i'm done. >> listening to that tape of him raping a young raping a young girl brought back a lot of painful memories because that's exactly how he spoke to me when he did that to me. >> warren jeffs is your uncle. how emotional was it to relieve this? >> i didn't really understand the emotional trauma that was still there. just watching that again now, it brings back a lot of emotion. >> it's really tough. it's really hard because we have to go back and we have to walk back through. but in order to -- in order to fight for the kids we fight for today, it's important that we both conquer the demons that we
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were raised with. >> and when you speak to people who are still in the community, i mean, when you're trying to convince women and young people to leave -- >> i don't ever try and convince them. >> they have to come to you? >> yes. they have to come to us because they're the ones who have to make that choice. they are the only ones that can decide when enough is enough. and if you try and take somebody out of it, it never works. >> brandon, warren jeffs is in prison, but he still has tremendous influence over this community, correct? >> yes, he definitely does. he's still running it from prison. i would compare it definitely to organized crime or the mafia. he gives direction from the prison and they obey blindly and they do whatever he tells them. >> if there's one message that you have for folks who are still
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living this life, what message would that be? >> my message would be that it's okay there's an outside world. not everybody outside the lds community is bad. there are people who want to help you and show you the real world. there's oceaneducation you can . we want to get the message that it is okay to come forward and ask for help. most of the children and the kids who leave with conditioned not to asking for anything. they think if they leave the flds community, they're going to burn in hell. when i left, i bought a car from my older brother and left. i was fortunate enough to have an apartment to go to when my
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two brothers left. one was a heroin addict and a coke addict. unfortunately, both of them have passed away since. >> so much courage to be here with us today and to talk about this and to do this series, it is such an emotional series. >> i want to say one thing to victims everywhere. become your own hero. don't make somebody else your hero. fight for yourself. >> that's great advice. up next, tori reminds us about a lesser known part of dr. king's message. [ female announcer ] with five perfectly sweetened whole grains... you can't help but see the good. 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.
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today many of these people
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are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to fall and they are the very people telling the black man he ought to lift himself by his own boot straps. this is what we are faced with and this is the reality. now when we come to washington in this campaign, we're going to get out check. >> the campaign king was speaking of there's the poor people's campaign, which was the focus of the final months of his life. he said, quote, the curse of poverty has no justification in our age. it is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization when men ate each other. the time has come for us to
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civilize ourselves by the abolition of poverty. he proposed an economic bill of rights that would make sure every american had a concrete amount to spend each year. he meant for government to ensure every american. government would also have the responsibility to create jobs. the point for king was to attack the root causes of poverty. his poor people's campaign dissipated with his death. in the decades since, we've had some success with the war on poverty. without safety net policies, the percentage of americans in poverty in 2012 would have been 29% instead where it is 16%. children who grow up with access to food stamps grow up healthier and more likely to finish school
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than kids without food stamps, yet there is so much more we can do, that we must do to help those least fortunate among us. intergenerational class mobility is not possible in america. go the rich of course have their own safety net. the poor are set up to fail. we cannot truly be a great nation when 50 million of us live in poverty. that's not what king dreamed america would be like decades after his death. >> there's opportunity to help bridge the gulf when the haves and have-nots.
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what is is new is we have now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. and the real question is whether we have the will. >> i don't really know if we have the will as a nation, but i pray that we find it. that's it for us on "the cycle." christie's moto is stronging than the storm, but now that he is at the very center of it, how long can he keep holding on? it's monday, january 20th, and this is "now." >> the crisis for the governor is escalating. >> any suggestion that sandy funds were tied to the approval


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