Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Real State of The Union

Excerpt from
Analysis of the Attorney General Controversy;
Aired March 20, 2007 - 18:00 ET

Read the entire show transcript at:

DOBBS: Congressional Democrats rejected the White House's offer to allow those officials to talk about the firing of the attorneys not under oath. Democrats demand that current and former administration officials must testify under oath and in public. The White House offer of talks behind closed doors with no transcripts and not under oath, not satisfactory. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, just before the president came out into the Roosevelt Room and made that statement, we did get a formal statement from the Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, and he did flat out reject the White House proposal that came forward today on this whole issue of whether top Bush officials will testify. He said it's not constructive, and it's not helpful to be telling the Senate how to do our investigation. That came after back-to-back meetings. The president's top lawyer was here on Capitol Hill offer in hand.


BASH (voice-over): White House council Fred Fielding would not comment as he left a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting trying to navigate the crushing scene, but Democrats did.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), JUDICIARY CMTE: We are disappointed.

BASH: Clever but incomplete at best is how one top Democrat described the White House offer to make Karl Rove and other Bush aides available for a private interview, but not public testimony.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It's sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them, but not giving us the opportunity to get to the bottom of what really happened here.

BASH: Democrats say their biggest problems with the White House proposal are that Bush aides would not be under oath and there would be no transcript of their answers about why federal prosecutors were fired.

SCHUMER: And with no transcript, with no oath, with private conversations that can be contradicted, recollections can fail, you're not going to get very far.

BASH: The demand for Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies to testify came from Democrats and Republicans. One senior GOP lawmaker came out of the meeting and said he thought the White House laid out a fair deal.

REP. CHRIS CANNON (R), UTAH: I'm a very zealous guardian of the prerogatives of Congress, but I expect the president to be a zealous guardian of the executive branch as well, and I think it's a great offer.


BASH: Now, Democrats say they are going to regroup, try to come up with a counter offer. In the meantime, Lou, tomorrow morning the House Judiciary Committee, they are expected to vote to authorize the chairman there to issue subpoenas. They'll do the same thing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. That just in case these negotiations collapse. That is exactly the kind of thing that the president just said that the Democrats should not go forward and do.

DOBBS: Well the president has said what the Democrats shouldn't do. The Democrats are saying what the president shouldn't do. At the end of the day, we know why those people were fired, because the e- mails reveal much of the story.

We also know that this president was hardly candid in his comments just a few moments ago talking about incomplete and confusing statements from the Justice Department. They were flat inaccurate, if not outright lies. So what is the point of this partisan nonsense?

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Excerpt from
Aired March 20, 2007 - 20:00 ET

Illiterate America

We were just stunned when we heard this: One-third of the people who live in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, are functionally illiterate. That means they can't read and write English well enough to figure out bus schedules, or even look at maps, or even fill out job applications. It is a national embarrassment.

And it goes, unfortunately, well beyond the city of Washington.

Lisa Sylvester has more on the frightening price millions of Americans pay for failing to make the grade.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are adults back in school again in Washington, D.C.

Shirley Ashley is 58 years old.

SHIRLEY ASHLEY, STUDENT: I could only read, like, small words, you know, like cat, bat, sat, you know? I wasn't a very good speller. And now I can read a whole paragraph.

SYLVESTER: In the United States, one out of every five adults is functionally illiterate, a total of 40 million, according to the National Coalition for Literacy. That means they cannot fill out a job application or understand the directions on a prescription drug bottle.

In the nation's capital, the numbers are even more disturbing. One out of every three adults falls into this category.

RITA DANIELS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LITERACY VOLUNTEERS: They come to us because they need help with filling out applications. They need help doing homework with their children and just maneuvering through day-to-day life.

SYLVESTER: Forty million falling through the cracks, that has enormous implications for the U.S. labor market. American workers are now forced to compete globally.

PETER WAITE, NATIONAL COALITION FOR LITERACY: Compared to many of our colleagues in Europe, particularly Scandinavian countries, for example, we are considerably below the literacy rates of those countries.

SYLVESTER: Illiteracy is high in the black and Hispanic communities. Two-thirds of those lacking basic language skills were born in the United States, and English is their native language. More than half of the functionally illiterate actually graduated from high school, even though they could not read the words on their diplomas.

WAITE: Students who do fall behind have an enormous ability to be able to fake and sneak their way through those cracks.

SYLVESTER: Many keep that secret in adulthood. Co-workers, friends, even spouses are not aware, making illiteracy one of America's hidden national problems.

(on camera): Those 40 million people have the lowest level of reading proficiency. But millions more are just getting by.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, only half of the U.S. adult population has reached what's called a level-three proficiency. That's what many state organization consider to be the minimum standard to be successful in today's labor market.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.

No One is Protesting Black on Black Crime

ZAHN: "Out in the Open" tonight, the shocking amount of black- on-black violent crime in the U.S. It is something we rarely hear about. Back to our "Out in the Open" panel now. Amy Holmes, Republican political strategist. CNN contributor Roland Martin. And Air America radio host Rachel Maddow.

As a black man when you hear that 93 percent of black murder victims are killed by other blacks, do you think that blacks are their own worst victims? MARTIN: Yes. and they are doing the work of the Klan. That's exactly what's going on here. And let me deal with this -- with Reverend Sharpton's comment for a second. So let me take the CNN contributor hat off for a moment. I've been the editor of three black newspapers, the editor of a black Web site, commentator for a black cable network, and I've also been the editor of a black magazine.

And I have not covered a single rally where 50,000 African- Americans were protesting on black-on-black crime. See, when you talk about protesting against police brutality, that's an easy one, that's an institutional system there where you have white officers, black victim, let's protest.

African-Americans must stand up and be accountable and on my radio show on WVON, every time somebody black gets killed, we talk about it and I say when is enough enough? They are doing the work of the Klan. And they might as well own up to it. This is worse than what happened with lynching.

ZAHN: Why are you upset with what Sharpton had to say?

MARTIN: Well, because you're shifting the blame. Again, I want to see...

ZAHN: And that is when he placed the focus on police brutality.

MARTIN: Yes. Now he is correct that there are community leaders out there on a small scale who are doing what they're doing. But again, I want to know where are they in terms of calling for those marches, calling for mass mobilization to cut the crime in black neighborhoods.

Stop saying, well, the media doesn't cover it, no, most of them don't do it. If you have 50,000 black folks marching against black- on-black crime, trust me, the media will be there.

ZAHN: Well, why aren't they? Is it the embarrassment, the humiliation?

HOLMES: I think it's a number of factors. And first, I want to tell you, it's so good to hear you talking about this "Out in the Open." And I think there has been a conspiracy of silence around it. There's fear obviously of sort of airing the dirty laundry, Remember when Bill Cosby, you know, gave a very candid speech and he was jumped all over by black leaders saying that you shouldn't be telling white America what's going on in our communities.

But we can't solve the problem if we don't identify it in the first place. And that is what Roland is talking about here. I think it also plays on this sense of white guilt, that white reporters and journalists are much more comfortable reporting on what they consider civil rights cases than what's going on in the inner city with black- on-black crime.

MADDOW: But how did Al Sharpton become the bad guy in this story? Al Sharpton is not saying I'm in favor of black-on-black violence, or I don't see a problem with it, what he's being taken to task for is organizing against stuff that isn't that, too. I mean, this doesn't make me any less mad about Sean Bell being shot in New York City. I mean, this not a situation where it is a zero sum of outrage, that we all have to get some out of.

MARTIN: Rachel, it is called, what is equal. And ask somebody who has worked in the black press for more years than I have worked in mainstream, it offends me when African-Americans will get angry at police brutality and not equally as angry at black-on-black crime. Trust me, there is no difference, somebody is dead.

And so I'm not -- the criticism is not in terms of Sharpton protesting police brutality. What I'm saying is what is the value of a black life? Is the value of a black life greater when a cop takes it or is the value of a black life greater when somebody else, African-American, takes it?

They have to stand up and say, enough is enough. And so you have to have the anger but not just that, say, how are we going to deal with it? Are we going to go into the communities and say, hey, you don't want a snitch, turn him in, turn your cousin, turn Pookie, turn Junebug in who kills somebody else because they deserve their butts to be in jail as opposed to simply just passing it by and letting it go on.

ZAHN: Why are so many black men killing each other?

HOLMES: Well, we know that there is high crime rates in urban communities and then that crime is focused on the people who live there. So if you had high crime rates in a white community, it would be white-on-white crime. I think what we are talking about is moving towards solutions. And one of the solutions that was decried over and over by the black community was the Bush administration's attempt at faith-based outreach.

And we know from studies, James Q. Wilson at UCLA showed that a community faith-based outreach starting from the first families moving up is another way to tackle this.

MADDOW: Making churches part of the government is not getting at the problem here.

MARTIN: And not only that, in the black community, we have got lots of churches, but what we have is weak leadership. That's where it all begins. You have got to challenge people at the heart. So what I want to see National Action Network, Rainbow/PUSH, National Urban League, where are our black relief funds when it comes to turning people in, in terms of putting up rewards.

Don't just have corporate America do it, say, hey, a thousand bucks, turn this person in because we want to stop the crime. That is where it has to start.

HOLMES: Why would you be giving more power to these national organizations...


HOLMES: ... who are ignoring the problem?


MARTIN: I want them to stop the crime and if that is a we to do it, then go ahead and start it. Stop talking about it, and say, raise the money, let's stop it. But enough with all of this stuff criticizing them, let's get it done.

ZAHN: All right. Roland Martin, Rachael Maddow, Amy Holmes, thank you all.

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What is the US exporting these days?
and finally......

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