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tv   Disrupt With Karen Finney  MSNBC  November 23, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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including carbsteady ultra to help minimize blood sugar spikes. it's the best from glucerna. [ male announcer ] new glucerna advance. from the brand doctors recommend most. advancing nutrition for diabetes. hello, disrupters. i'm karen finney. and the best thing of the week that was, democrats said enough is enough to the gop cob instruction and it's a fact that despite the hype gop governors might not be the viable candidates in 2016 that people think. >> speaking of game changers, disrupters. >> daring attack, the break-up that could change the course of this political war. >> obstruction. >> obstruction. >> obstruction. >> obstruction. >> deliberate and determined effort. >> no more 60-vote requirements to get the president's appointments confirmed. >> disrupters. >> write the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the snth. >> enough is enough. >> it was a brazen partisan abuse of power.
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>> today's pattern of obstruction, it just isn't normal. >> i think what we really need is an anti-bullying ordinance in the senate. >> should be marches in the streets with peasants and pitch forks and torches. >> time to change the senate before this institution is obsolete. >> you may regret it sooner than you think. >> enough is enough. >> what a difference a day makes. obstruct, delay, defund, block, repeal, shut it down. filibuster. just a few of the destructive tactics from the gop playbook since president obama took the oath of office. they've attempted to undermine his presidency at every turn from health care to judges to job creation. and you know? at times it felt like godzilla marching through washington leaving a path of destruction in the wake but this week democrats said, enough is enough.
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president obama and senate majority leader harry reid both went on offense this week calling out republicans for their shameless blocking of presidential nominees and their unabashed plans to take health care from tens of millions of americans. it's a call to arms for democrats and it is a warning to republicans who think they can just claim victory by just being against something. joining me now, ryan grim, washington bureau chief of "the huffington post and clarence page for "the chicago tribune." thank you to both of you for joining me. >> thank you. >> thank you, karen. >> i loved seeing harry reid get throughout and say enough is enough. you wrote a bit about this, ryan, sort of the going nuclear. tell us a little about your reporting. >> well, we have been hammering this since i guess about 2009 or so. you know, democrats, you know, were using 60 votes as the reason that they couldn't do "x," "y" and "z" and natural for
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people to push on why do you need 60 votes in harry reid was the fiercest defender for years and even as recently as 2012 he worked against efforts to, you know, to reform the filibuster. and beat back, you know, but he just got fed up and i think partly to do with the calendar because republicans have decided that they have a decent chance of taking back the senate. therefore, they're not going to approve anybody until 2014 and taking the senate then nobody until 2016 and that's intolerable. >> we have a graphic i want to show i don't terms of the number of clo cloture votes and 50% of all under president obama. i mean, that is pretty astounding. you know, clarence, of course the right called it an abuse of
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power and all of this. you know, not to mention they would have done it if they felt like they needed to but the point is we got to a point where everything had become so just kind of stuck that i think that's what finally pushed harry reid over the edge and decided to do it. but for the republicans, to then blame it back on democrats, without taking any accountability. >> yes. and i love your analogy to godzilla because that was the impact this week. and folks outside the beltway may not be as fascinated by this unless maybe they're fans of jimmy stewart and his mr. smith goes to washington and the importance of the filibuster. in legislation, that a minority does not like. this institution is around for a long time what makes this fight so tragic is shows the breakdown of trust that's occurred here in washington, breakdown of comedy,
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cooperation, consensus and the democrats certainly used it. i know the end of the bush administration no question about that. but not as much as you say about half the filibusters of all-time against presidential nominees have been against barack obama. >> right. >> and it's kind of a fehr fekt sto perfect storm and reflection of troubles in the republican party right now. >> clarence, i challenge you on one thing. yes, democrats used it with bush but in that instance, it was specific judges where there were specific concerns about those individuals, not, we are just going to do this because we feel like doing this because we don't want this president to get anything done. >> that's a very good distinction because the current -- >> thank you. >> -- filibustering done has nothing to do with the actual nominees. >> right. >> it has to do with trying to put roadblocks in the way of democratic policies and programs and like the federal judges, for
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example. in the d.c. court. they are being held up because republicans are saying that there's too many judges there already. >> right. >> which is ridiculous. >> right. and not enough work for them. >> right. and besides, there's a constitutional right of the president to be able to nominate his or some day her own people. and this is just obviously another example of pure gridlock. >> yeah. you know, ryan, i have a full screen of a comment that norm ornstein gave this week. given that the republicans decided the affordable care act, where they lay down and have the fight, the thing about it is as he points out, the structure around expanding and now -- changed the page on me, anyway, the point being a lot of the policies that are in the president's plan, in the law, were republican ideas that republicans actually agreed with
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until barack obama put his name on those ideas. >> right. and there's a simple reason for that because if you think that you're trying to seriously reform the health care system in a way that provides affordable health insurance to people but you want to, you know, cue closely to the free market principles that folks like the heritage foundation uphold, what they, you know, what mitt romney did and what obama did, that's basically all that you can come up with. you mandate people who aren't buying insurance to buy it from the private sector. >> right. >> and then give a government subsidy to people on the lower side of the income scale. >> right. >> you know, that's a -- you can see why it would be -- why it would come out of heritage foundation. >> sure. >> if you're old school new deal democrats, expand medicaid and medicare. >> which democrats did actually say that. >> right. that's actually the part working
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most effectively. the politics are jamming up medicaid in a bunch of states but where it's implemented it's working. >> again, you know, clarence, what is so infuriating is that this is not about, okay, what's the best way to deliver health care reform in this country or health insurance reform in this country. i mean, this little playbook, 18-page playbook they sent home is all about hate. it is all about destruction. it's all about fighting the obama care which is a law, by the way. it's all about, you know, furthering the lies about obama care. and has nothing to do with bringing forward any ideas. i got to tell you, what infuriates me about this is in 2006 when i was at the dnc, we thought it was important to say what we would do and these were the principles that we agreed on. the house, the senate, the dnc, the governors. everybody said, okay, we want the american people to know
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we're for something. not just against all of these things. >> yeah. that was the dnc. >> yeah. >> the republican strategy is to be against. before obama care came along as a big issue here recently, just the name obama alone was enough to galvanize republicans. they're so divided among themselves and that's a unifying force and saw that in the presidential campaign and elsewhere. and which the line is not toward what should we do but what john boehner himself at one point said, don't judge us by what -- >> what we don't do. >> for what we don't do but the legislation that we stop. as you just mentioned, they are using -- well, obama care itself is based on republican ideas. that was a good faith concession. president obama made as a candidate knowing that, you
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know, well, single payer plan or other kinds of -- left progressive ideas wouldn't get through and so let's borrow from the republicans themselves. well, as soon as obama's name gets attached to it it's dead on arrival. >> you know, ryan, i mean, again, you know, we can talk the policy but the politics of this are really what i think is just so disturbing to most americans and i hope what most democrats are inspired by is that finally as you have pointed out, as you have been pointing out, we changed the rules. we are going to try to get something done and actually fight back. >> right. and there's actually a nice connection there between, you know, why republicans aren't presenting anything and their opposition to the become care. the thing that they could have presented they already are on record now hating and saying is unconstitutional and tyranny and there's really no other free
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market rooted health care market system to produce. you're right. you will start to see things moving at a quicker clip in the senate. and obama can actually now he has some flexibility with his -- might not be good for kathleen sebelius if the rollout doesn't improve and now fire her because he can get in a new hhs secretary. before he was stuck with the people that he had because there was no way he could -- the republicans were going to allow him to appoint nick else.demarc >> an open enemy of the administration. >> that's an important one. >> there's no way that the white house could get him out of there and implement a housing finance policy that they wanted which, you know, whether you agree with it or not is their right because they won the election. now they can do something about ed demarco. >> it goes to the point that they don't believe that the president is legitimate and they've been trying to do
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everything to undermine him and seeing more of it. i'm glad that the democrats took back an important tool. thank you to ryan and clarence. >> thank you. >> thanks, karen. next, i talk with rising democratic star senator gillibrand just after the filibuster rules change and the senate adjourned. that gives her more time to get the 60 votes she needs to change the way that the u.s. military handles sexual assault cases. customer erin swenson ordered shoes from us online but they didn't fit. customer's not happy, i'm not happy. sales go down, i'm not happy. merch comes back, i'm not happy. use ups. they make returns easy. unhappy customer becomes happy customer. then, repeat customer. easy returns, i'm happy. repeat customers, i'm happy. sales go up, i'm happy. i ordered another pair. i'm happy. (both) i'm happy. i'm happy. happy. happy. happy. happy. happy happy. i love logistics.
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another crucial piece of legislation was postponed due to gop obstruction this week. new york senator gillibrand's proposal to take the decisions of prosecuting sexual assault cases in the military out of the chain of command.
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it is a common sense and necessary reform to give our military men and women the same protections the rest of us enjoy. the right to decisions based on evidence, not job performance or assumptions about personality or behavior and it gives the right to seek justice without fear of retaliation. it's not just senators that care about the problem. the majority of brave men and women that serve our country recognize the need to address this issue. i sat down with senator gillibrand in the office at the capital to talk about it and the move this week to stop obstructionism in the senate. >> i think this reform is long overdue and grateful that senator harry reid has such strong leadership and put the american people first because the filibuster was never intended to be used the way, unfortunately, the republican leadership has used it in the past few years. filibusters used to be used once or twice a year, once or twice a week they were being used. the real business of the american people wasn't getting done and i think that leader
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reid said, enough is enough. we have important work to do. president obama's entitled to have a full set of officials in his administration. he's entitled to nominate judges and this obstructionism prevented the regular work of the senate from being done. >> obstructionism has been sort of just another tactic almost i think of the gop. there's a law they don't like, a candidate they don't like. this is the strategy rather than trying to fix it, modify it, bring other arguments to the table. >> i agree. and you know, we saw a small moment talking about sexual assault in the military where the senate was working properly. you had members of both parties coming the floor, debating an issue they felt passionately about, offering a wide range of solutions and talking about something that needs to be fixed and doing our i don't know to offer those solutions and that's the way that the senate should work. then we find ourselves grinding to a halt because a few senators say, no, we don't want to proceed and it doesn't work that
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way. so we have to be able to debate issues, debate them, you know, heartily and then make decisions and move forward and get to vote and i think 51-vote threshold is appropriate. >> let's talk about military sexual assault because, you know, there was supposed to be a vote this week and now obviously this is changed. the timing on that, do you think the additional time frame, does that give you more of an opportunity to get more votes or are you concerned that that may make your job harder getting the votes? >> i think it gives me more of an opportunity to get more votes. we are closer to 60 every day. a number of colleagues announced support last week and this week. senator reid, additional republicans, senator heller, corey booker. we are beginning to develop a chorus of growing support amongst senators and also military leaders. we have had a letter published, some of the highest ranking generals and officers within the military supporting the reform because they have been working on this for decades and not fixed and they believe this
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large-scale structural reform where you're putting objective, trained military prosecutors in charge of this one decision making point, whether or not to go to trial, will make the difference. creating the transparency and accountability that's lagging today. >> there's a case i was interested in. there's a two-star general in japan up far major promotion and actually ended up being suspended because he failed to properly report or investigate an allegation of sexual assault and at the time the intimation was that would have tarnished the record. he was up for a big promotion and seems to me to be exactly at the heart of what you're talking about with your amendment. talk a little bit about that. >> that's what the victims told us over and over again. there were 26,000 sexual assaults, rapes and unwanted sexual contacts last year alone. sadly 3,000 victims reported because the vast majority, 23,000, said they didn't believe their command would do anything. that's the number one reason
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they gave. they didn't believe anything would be done. they also feared or witnessed retaliation within the ranks for those who reported and what we know is those that did report 62% were retaliated against. >> right. >> so if you're raped in the military and you report that rape, you will likely be retaliated against for reporting that crime. >> does it also suggest, though, within the army, within the military, there's still kind of a rape culture that's a little bit like the 1950s or an idea of a legitimate rape or sort of not really trusting the victim when she says or he says they were raped? >> a couple of things are going on. you have a vast misunderstanding of the crime of rape. you have had members of the military, senior officers say, oh, this is just because of the hook-up culture. we have heard members of congress talk about hormones. you know, rape is a crime of violence. it is a crime of dominance. it is not a -- even a crime of romance or sex. in most cases. it is usually about dominance and power. the second issue we have is that
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the decision maker may well be biassed. if the decision maker knows the victim or knows the perpetrator or has a reason to shove it under the rug to make sure no one knows about the rape because it makes them look bad, that bias is undermining reporting because what victims told us, when i told my commander, he said it's your own fault. i'm not going to do anything. >> one thing that struck me is this image of you and senator rand paul listening to testimony from one of the victims, i have heard her speak and it's heart wrenching. and i'm wondering if that is the thing that really turns people in terms of listening to the real experiences that people have and not just -- you know, it's one thing to look at the data and facts and generals and that picture of all of those generals sitting there trying to defend their position but when you take it down to the level of a human being -- >> yeah. >> it's a totally different conversation. >> that's what motivated me to do something about this issue. when i heard the stories of men and women who are so brave, who will literally gives their lives
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for our country and not only brutally assaulted and raped but then to have their commander turn their back on them, that was the violation of trust. that was the breach of trust that devastates these men and women. they look at the military, not just as a career but a family. as a unit, as a group of people that they all share the same mission, to defend this country and defend our values and when that is breached because a commander says to you, it's your own fault you were raped, it is destroyed and that breach of trust is why justice isn't possible for so many of our survivors. >> one of the things i have heard you talk about is how just women at the table in some of the conversations litd rally means you might think of something discussing a piece of legislation that the men just would not occur to them. >> right. >> that's how positive change is being made with women in the senate. >> well, i agree with you. i think with the fact of 20 women in the senate transformed this issue. every woman senator has authored part of the reforms that have
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already been passed through the committee into the base bill. every woman in the senate feels passionately about this. and together we have elevated the issue. we actually are -- it is a number one national issue across the country. so women's voices matter and that's why i spend so much of my time politically asking women to participate, to vote, to be add voluntary cats and then help women get elected. they bring a life experience, that sensibility, that extra emotional intelligence to an issue where they may see a different part of the solution and that combination of male and female voices reaches the right result. i think women by nature more often than not consensus builders. we like to listen to all different views and find where the common ground exists and in a place as broken as the u.s. senate, that really makes a difference. >> my thanks to senator gillibrand for her time this week. coming up, we need an outsider. we need a game changer. we need a governor.
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accomplished by the people on this stage and our other colleagues opposed to what's going on in washington, d.c. >> you look at when's not happening in d.c. but one place to go in this country and see conservative principles being applied is across state capitals, across the country. >> the solutions are -- they're not going to be found in washington, d.c. they're going to be found in capitals. >> now, that's just a sampling of the spin we heard from possible gop presidential contenders this week as they gathered for the annual republican governor's association conference. it is fact since chris christie's winning re-election and congressional republicans plummeting in the poll, the inside the beltway 2016 chatter shifted with a new mythology that governors may be the party's saving grace and the key to the 2016 presidential contest. you know, we hear at "disrupt" say not so fast yea of conventional wisdom. look at the fact based look.
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the states where the governors hail from are incubators most of the extreme right-wing policies, policy that is majorities of americans disagree with and it's a fact there's not this kind of backlash at the wisconsin capital two years ago if governor scott walker hadn't ran through the legislation stripping unions of collective bargaining rights. a law that's since been ruled unconstitutional and a fact in north carolina we wouldn't have seen the moral monday movement a to be a force to be reckoned with. down in texas, wendy davis wouldn't be a household name if it wasn't for rick perry's extreme law attacking women's rights. so when's the bottom line? it is a fact the extreme right wing policies being pushed by the gop in washington are pretty much more of the same being pushed by gop governors in the states. when's the difference? most of the governors seem like
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they're leading effectively but they outnumber democrats in the legislatures. joining me in washington, editor of "the national review robert costa and correspondent for "the national review" -- i'll let you say your name. >> asahi. >> thank you. oh well. all right. let's take a look at these guys one at a time starting with scott walker. on health care, a half because he tried to come up with a little bit of a hybrid method there. women's rights, not so good. ultrasound there. and worker's rights, not so good as we just talked about. anti-union. opposed equal pay for women. voter i.d. not so good. on immigration reform, he's kind of wishy-washy. robert, give me your thoughts on scott walker. i know you talked with him this week. >> i sat down with governor walk they are week and on social
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issues he is a traditional republican with socially conservative views and doesn't lead with abortion and marriage and told me that and leads with fiscal reforms and the thing with walker, as much as he is a conservative, he was able to win election in a purple state not only in 2010 but under a recall election last year and so we goes into 2014, again, looking at probably another election victory in wisconsin so, yes, he is conservative but he has found a way to win in a moderate state. >> i want to push back a little bit that part of the recall, people disagreed but didn't necessarily think that he should be recalled so i'm not sure -- i know he spins that as a victory but given the fact that his policies are unpopular, i still think it's kind of 50/50 for him there. >> yes and no. i think he did win so he was able to win. i think you are right that people were fed up with the recall process in wisconsin. but i think walker has found a way with the american manner to appeal to moderates and
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independents even if he does have a very conservative agenda. and that's kind of walker's magic. that's what he's promoting promoting the book this week in washington and elsewhere. >> we'll look at number two. chris christie. everybody's favorite now. so health care, again, i give him a half. he did take the medicaid money. women's rights, not so good. made cuts for women's health. when it comes to worker's rights, he vetoed the minimum wage legislation and later passed and signed -- passed by the people of the state. voting rights. vetoed a two week early voting extension and immigration reform, then again kind of wishy-washy n. terms of top issues, again, chris christie holds positions that i don't think are going to appeal to a national audience. >> well, chris christie's an interesting situation when you compare him to the other republican governors who are being floated as potential 2016 candidates. because christie has to deal and run a state where the democrats
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control the state house so if christie had very conservative views, it's not like christie is ever going to really have the opportunity to sign into law a 20-week abortion ban, for example. so in a sense his democratic legislature kind of limits him or kind of insulates him from some of the much more conservative particularly social views. >> right. >> they drop the challenge on gay marriage when it was clear that they were going to lose. so he can hold the very conservative views but it is not like all of the reforms coming out of his state house and out of his state are going to necessarily reflect that. >> although chris christie did cut $7.4 million from family planning. even though he didn't -- it's a different situation with the legislature, certainly in terms of things he can control, he has a far more conservative record than he's being -- than is being recognized at this point. >> yeah. >> kand number three, robert,
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that's good old rick perry. >> hmm. >> on health care, not good at all. women's rights, do i even need to mention worker's rights? not so good. opposes equal pay. voter rights, the state is being sued for their voter i.d. laws. interestingly enough, immigration reform is the place where he i give him kind of half a mark because he had a moment during the last republican primary where he tried to talk about compassion and immigrant children eligible for college. and was totally shut down by his own base. >> that's all true. and when you look at walker, christie, governor perry, you are seeing socially conservative governors. i don't think any of them are trying to posture themselves as moderates on social issues and running in 2016, they'll run as social conservatives. but the reason the governors are getting such buzz, at least in conservative circles, is because compared to the shutdown crowd
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in washington with senator cruz and others, because they have the balanced budget amendments in the states, they're passing balanced bugtds, getting fiscal reforms done and giving conservatives amidst divided government and anxiety in washington on capitol hill among the gop the success of the governors on fiscal economic issues seems like a winner and touted for 2016. >> here's the thing about that. i get that in comparison to washington, it surely seems like far more rational, things are getting done, but it whees you take a look and the point to make here at what's being done by these governors, these are socially conservative records, positions not popular with the majority of the country so when i hear this rhetoric that, you know, governors may be -- that's going to save the day, let's remember, also, and a lot of cases they actually have majorities in their legislature.
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>> yeah. i mean, i think comparing to washington republicans, i mean, you can take certain positions in washington and they're not necessarily going to result in your agenda and enacted. in washington we saw the government being shut down for two weeks and in these state houses i don't think that there's this same kind of attitude of let's burn everything down in the name of the agenda that we want to enact. so, what you're seeing is in a number of states, conservative agenda's being enacted and whether those align with outline and ideology and philosophy, this's a separate question. right? but the fact is anyone that runs in 2016 will have to appeal to a significant conservative base in order to prevail, not just in the primaries, but perhaps in the general and that's really the question if you can do both. >> robert, final question to you. what's interesting is you're also seeing the governors making a big play to kind of stick together in their, like, we're not those guys and it was sort of interesting hearing the washington crowd trying their best to say, we are not that
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bad. it is kind of -- now there's a fracture in the party. >> it is true. the governors, especially with christie to be head of the republican governor's association, almost a club and they think of themselves as winners, as the successful bloc within the gop but i think you see some cog any sans with the house. there's a sense that, you're right, karen, on women's issues, immigration, social issues, the republican party has a reputation not helpful in 2014 or 2016 and though they're not moderating policies, at least for the moment they're moderating the temperament. >> i would say coming to poverty they're not moderating the ability of the poor people to have access to a social safety net. a lot of those positions are also very unpopular. but thank you to robert costa and aliha isaday.
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[ ding ] i sense you've overpacked, your stomach. try pepto to-go. it's pepto-bismol that fits in your pocket. relief can be yours, but your peanuts... are mine. ♪ okay. disrupters, it is time for fyi, some of the news you may have missed this week. first, look for a plain g.i. jane? you heard me right. as part of a pr strategy designed to integrate women in combat roles, a female u.s. army colonel suggesting using pictures of quote more average-looking women in the materials. the colonel wrote an e-mail saying, in part, quote, in general, ugly women are perceived as competent and
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pretty women as having used their good looks to get ahead. according to politico, she thought photos like this one are not sending the right message. she has since stepped down. next, a new report from the white house counsel of economic advisers found that u.s. health care spending increased by an average of 1.3% since 2010 and that is the smallest growth period ever in a three-year period. now, if we keep up with that pace, it is estimated this could lead to a drop in unemployment levels. just one more positive talking point to have in your pocket when uncle gus starts badmouthing the affordable care act. and finally, a look back at a female first. yesterday marked the 50'd anniversary of the kennedy assassination and that day sarah hughes was also the first and only woman to swear in a u.s. president when lyndon johnson took the oath of office aboard air force one. and that is this week's fyi. we'll be right back. but first, i wish my very dear
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friend kimberly ann cubine a very happy birthday. i'm sorry i can't be there with you but i have to disrupt. ♪ ♪ you get your coffee here. you get your hair cut here. you find that certain thing you were looking for here, but actually you get so much more. when you shop at these small local businesses, you support all the things that make your community great. the money you spend here, stays here. in this place you call your neighborhood. small business saturday is november 30th. get out and shop small. diarrhea, gas, bloating? yes! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap each day helps defend against these digestive issues... with three strains of good bacteria. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'.
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when the president and mrs. kennedy stepped off the plane at love field in dallas, texas, some 50 years ago it was considered hostile territory for the president. deeply divided over race, america was undergoing major changes. a gallup poll last week found almost three quarters of americans believe that he'll go down in history as an outstanding or above average president. but during his presidency, the anti-kennedy caucus was alive and well. there were even protesters on love field on that day. before his assassinatiassassina
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approval rating was down from 74% just a year earlier. and yet, to this day, he's still inspiring people across the political spectrum. joining me now, john seganthaler, a former kennedy adviser and doug drinkly, historian for cbs news. thanks to you both for joining me. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> john, i'd like to talk about when i kind of went back and did some reading it was interesting to obviously the civil rights movement was very contentious in the country. and it was a real risk for president kennedy and it was a very contempt wous time in his poth sy. >> it was. indeed. it was difficult to go back and 50 years and think of a time whether the country was quite as divided along racial lines, and a time when any mention of changing the laws in the south would result in a massive
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reaction among southern politicians. too much of the south was satisfied with the racist attitudes that dominated at this i'm and it was reflected in congress where most of the southern congressmen held committee chairs in the influential congressional committees. >> right. you know, doug, it is interesting that, i mean, i've heard mary wright ettleman refer to president kennedy as a reluctant civil rights activist and yet he really took major steps and i think we can argue that the step that is he took really set us on the path to major changes in this country. >> there's no question about it. i mean, he was very sickened when evers was killed in jackson, mississippi. another one of the great leaders assassinated in that period and then famously kennedy stood out and gave a national televised address telling george wallace to stick it.
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this country is for civil rights. you know? and i was struck this week that dallas now, i think, has dealt with the kennedy legacy very well. that museum used to be odd and cities in the south like birmingham's built a great civil rights museum and montgomery dealt with rosa parks and memphis with the king and i think dallas now shouldn't be stigmatized but dealt with the 50th anniversary very well. >> you know, john, just thinking about alabama and the the challenges -- i know, you know, you were sent down at one point to help with the freedom rides. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about that because your story is incredible and paints a picture of what president kennedy was facing at the time. >> yes. you know, that day at the bus terminal in montgomery, it was a riot. and i don't believe i've ever or will ever again see human beings
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when they were more animalistic. i mean, imagine a parking lot packed with screaming, angry, passionate people who are yelling kill him and women holding the hands of children. it was -- it was a violent time. and a time when we almost lost john lewis and a man named jim swirg. both of them beaten to unconsciousness. it was a tragic time and i really have difficulty today thinking back to that time and realizing just how brutal it was. >> what was it about that experience or about john f. kennedy and robert kennedy, john, that made you -- willing to go and take on that role? >> well, you know, for me, it was an assignment. the president, the attorney general said go down and try to
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get the governor to provide safe conduct. and so, i went. we worked out an agreement and then the chief of police in montgomery, alabama, violated the agreement and permitted a mob to have 25, 30 minutes just to -- just to beat the hell out of these freedom riders and young men and young women, college students both were badly mauled and beaten that day. john lewis and gym swirg most severely but it was a tragic time. >> you know, doug, as we think about that and you think about if you're president kennedy sitting back in washington, you have, you know sent john down there to deal. you have sent, you know, the national guard. you are, you know, trying to make this right. how do you navigate the politics of this, also knowing that in congress, as you pointed out, you've got, you know, quite a built of opposition to what you're trying to do? >> remember, in 1960, the
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african-american vote turned to kennedy. used to be very republican. the party of lincoln attracted african-americans. kennedy was the game changer in that regard. and so, he knew he had a constituency he would need in 1964. a lot of his embracing of dr. king, he was skeptical about the march on washington, kennedy, but then embraced it. taught the african-americans the federal government is on your side and the key showdown was at ole miss and the administration dealt with it just brilliantly and that point on civil rights because of kennedy became part of the parlance on our country. yes, lyndon johnson deserves credit for the voting rights and civil rights acts and the anniversary is coming up but kennedy got the country on the track to put civil rights as a front page news story. >> very quickly, doug, it also strikes me it was all rooted in moral values and the role of government in people's live that is really mote vatded people and
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stayed with people in terms of thinking about the legacy. >> no doubt about it. john f. kennedy was a catholic and brought the church and voters into the movement fold. many jewish americans became very involved with civil rights, also. it used to be the rockefeller family, republicans were the ones helping african-americans. kennedy shifted that to the point now where barack obama has, what, 90% of the african-american vote on his side. >> right. >> he was the game changer. >> john, doug, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your thoughts. >> thank you. >> good to be with you. >> that does it for me. thanks so much for joining us. don't forget to share your thoughts. you can find us on facebook and tweet us. tomorrow, the conservative war on thanksgiving and liz cheney. carpetbagger or serious candidate? we'll see you back here at 4:00 eastern. [ woman ] i've had it with my moderate
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