tv American Voices With Alicia Menendez MSNBC January 16, 2022 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
this hour, honoring the legacy of dr. martin luther king jr. fight for voting rights in washington and state capitals throughout the country, where does it go from here. also, follow the money. new details about the billionaires behind the brain trust. plus hopeful signs the omicron variant may have crested. but that doesn't mean america's hospitals are out of the woods. and from box office hit to owning the internet, the magic of disney's "encanto." imagine today, 296 days before november's midterm election we're actually having a conversation about expanding ballot access. tomorrow, martin luther king jr. day, the family will lead a march for voting rights in washington. they want congress to pass the freedom to vote act that would
make election day a federal holiday and expand mail-in voting and early access to the polls. this legislation would truly double down on our democracy. but instead, republican-led states want to make it harder to vote. 19 states have passed 34 restrictive voting laws. kyrsten sinema defends the senate filibuster, however, those like james clyburn are not giving up hope. he sent this message this afternoon. >> we're going to be steadfast in this. this is worth doing. not just for african-american voting rights but hispanic-american voting rights. i don't understand how any senators can look at what's going on in georgia and florida
and texas and 16 other states and not know that this fragile democracy of ours is teetering on collapse if we do not stop this foolishness. >> meantime, in a column for the "washington post," former vice president mike pence accuses democrats of attempting a, quote, federal power grab over state elections. truth is the real power grab is coming from republicans at the state level, and it's not just ballot access. gop-led states have passed new laws to control the process of counting and certifying votes. republicans are also proving unfair district maps to dilute voters of color. "mother jones" writes it is part of a national strategy that goes far beyond previous efforts to undermine democratic influence. fueled by the big lie, this
effort picks up where last year's insurrection left off by putting if place pieces in steal future elections by systematically taking over every aspect of the voting process. joining me, my guests. and his new book "allow me to retort" is out march 1st. senator sinema drew a line in the sand letting us know that the math is not going to be there to get this across the finish line. >> i think we need to continue to put pressure on her and others. there are those who say she doesn't care. we have to put pressure on her to make her care. this isn't just about manchin and sinema. while both of them have been disappointing, they've been
disingenuous, at one point she voted for, she said that john lewis was her hero. but here she is standing in the way of the very thing he gave his life for. she is a hypocrite, dishonest and lacks integrity. we need to held her to account. in arizona people are very, very upset with her. and i think the path forward is not just we have to focus on, we have to focus on all of the senate, the 16 republican senators that actually voted fort authorization of the voting rights bill. what has happened from that time to this time that they are powerless in the face of a big lie that has taken root in this country. we've got to hold them all to account. >> republicans are also approving unfair district maps, while recruiting trump loyalists to oversee elections. talk to me about how all these forces build on one another to
undermine our democracy. >> well, first off, thank you for having me on. as secretary of state my job is to make sure that every eligible voter, republican, democrat and independent alike has access to safe and secure elections, and i'll continue to do that, but the senate has to recognize the coordinated takeover of voting rights and elections that is happening right now. since 2021, on the heels of the insurrection we've seen fake audits, vitriol toward election workers, causing them to consider and think twice if they really want to do their jobs, all while people like steve bannon and insurrectionists are running for secretary of state positions in every swing state in this nation. so the urgency is now. and if the senate wants to prevent another january 6 they
need to act immediately. >> the mother of martin luther king's granddaughter had this to say. >> our daughter, yolanda, is the only grandchild of martin luther king jr. and coretta scott kungs. king. she was born in 2008. in 2021, last year, one of the states that has passed these voting rights laws were passed in our home state. when you think about it, she and her peers are today sitting with less voting rights than the day that they were born, and i always think, i can't imagine, is that the dream that martin luther king jr. and coretta scott king had for their granddaughter. >> rather than talking about how we expand access we're fighting
over the bare minimum. >> people like joe manchin and kyrsten sinema, these are the white people that martin luther king jr. warned us about. these are the white liberals who have no sense of commitment or integrity when it comes to the progress of justice m the country. that's just a fact. i don't know if they can live with themselves with that, but that is the reality of the situation. the other reality here, and bernice mentioned in that clip the chief architect of this assault on voting rights is not mitch mcconnell, not david duke, not whatever boogeyman you think is hiding under the closet, the chief architect is chief justice roberts. from his very first job out of law school, which was to oppose the 1982 amendments to the voting rights act. it is john roberts who
eviscerated section five. it is john roberts in 2020 swung wide the doors toward gerrymandering and provided the crucial fifth vote in a decision last year. it is all done by federal society conservatives. and until we stop them, until we do something about the court. you want to pass your freedom to vote act, that's a great bill, i think we should pass it. i think we should pass hr-1. but they are waiting to strike down whatever laws we put forward. as long as you let republicans control the supreme court, you cannot have a fair and equal just society. >> as all of this plays out at the federal level, it's a lot of state organizers on the ground who are going to have to figure
out how they organize state voters around some of these limitations. i've heard from many organizers who've said there is no amount of organizing that is going to get us around these obstacles, and still the work will continue. how are you approaching it in the state of georgia? >> listen, we're going to have to continue to work on the local level. we're seeing in the state of georgia with the passage of sb-202 from last year the republicans are already attempting to take over election boards. here in fulton county, they're attempting right now, currently, as we speak to take over that board. lincoln county, which is a rural county has a 30% african-american population, there's an effort being led by republicans right now to close all of the polling sites in that county with the exception of leaving one. and there are no public accommodations available. what we're a seeing all across the board, they're instituting it on all levels, which is why
we need federal legislation. as we that i about going forward, that's a short-term solvent. we need to rethink about the supreme court. the supreme court should be expanded. we should have a senate more reflective of the country, we need d.c. to have statehood, puerto rico to have statehood. why are we accepting taxation without representation. in order for us to have the kind of democracy laid out in the constitution we need real structural changes. >> you want it to be narrowed as far as how votes are counted, which is where moderate republicans may be willing to come on board, is that enough to safeguard our democracy? >> absolutely not. the people need access to vote. this is making sure the people of georgia and texas have just
as much access as coloradans, as they should as u.s. citizens. what this comes down to is some republicans do not want the american people to choose their representation anymore. they're willing to strip away voting rights to keep their own power. one of the most un-american things that can happen. and it's incumbent upon all of us, the activists at the local level who need to organize to make sure americans can have their voices heard. the code red that is happening right now. but also voters are going to be faced with a big task. there are people running right now to oversee elections that do not believe in democracy. it's going to be so important in 2022 that voters are paying attention to the candidates running at the local level and for secretary of state. democracy is on the ballot in 2022. and for this country to continue, we need people elected to these positions who will uphold the will of the american
people. >> thank you all for getting us started. next, new reporting that reveals who has used cash to help keep the big lie alive. the rolling stone reporter who uncovered it joins me. plus america's fight against omicron and new reporting that rural america has yet to see the worst of it. first, richard lui is tracking the other big stories we're watching here. >> a major winter storm hammering the south as it heads to the northeast. the carolinas and virginia already dealing with some icy roads and power outages. nbc news confirming saturday's hostage taker at a synagogue in texas entered december 29th through jfk airport. there were no irregularities with his entry to the country or his planned travel. all hostages made it out safely. and ukraine says it has
evidence that russia just conducted a cyber attack on them, a day after microsoft detected malware in dozens of computers in ukraine. more "american voices", right after this break. ukraine more "american voices", right more "american voices", right after this break each year just for filling at cvs pharmacy. with voltaren arthritis pain gel. more "american voices", right after this break my husband's got his moves back. voltaren is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel for powerful arthritis pain relief. voltaren, the joy of movement. it's your home. and there's no place like wayfair to make your reach-in closet, feel like a walk-in closet now that's more your style. make the morning chaos, organized chaos. and make sure everything's in it's place.
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already. we were doing recon last week. we will be inside and armed. >> that was oath keepers' founder, stewart rhoads. he was charged with seditious conspiracy. he has indicated he will immediate not guilty. prosecutors say the far-right militia planned to take over the capitol and had more outside d.c. we have more on who's funding the big lie. rolling stone out with information that betsy devos has raised millions. clairemont's top scholar is john eastman, the ex-trump attorney,
detailing how to overturn election results. joining me now, andy kroll, and jill winebanks. andy, talk us through your reporting. why are betsy devos and other wealthy conservatives donating to the clairemont institute? >> before the last year you would get a los angeles stare or they would tell you, oh, yeah, it's that liberal arts college in southern california, which it's not. the clairemont institute has become a central cog, if you will, almost a kind of brains behind what, around the january 6 insurrection was the legal argument to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and now going forward, looking toward 2022, 2024, you are seeing the clairemont institute
play this central role, become this home for legal theorists, operatives for activists who are trying to change the electoral process with an eye toward '22 and '24. what i found are some of the biggest names on the right. the devoses and bradley foundation. >> the january 6 committee has already subpoenaed john eastman. what does that mean for the clairemont institute, which has employed him for over two decades? >> it is another link to them as the cause of all of the bad news that we're getting. the insurrection is a result of lies. and those lies started with
donald trump, but then he had help. and eastman was part of the help and fostering that is the clairemont institute, which is funded by all of these foundations that have some of the wealthiest members of american society putting their money into it. and i'm happy to report at least one part of one of those foundations has turned its funding to animal protection, and i'm very happy to hear that they won't be spending it on the conservative causes that they have done for years. we have to stop the lies. and the only way to stop the lies is to get at these organizations and hold them accountable in some way for what they're doing wrong. and stop the lies that way. >> andy, your colleague at rolling stone reports the oath keepers have a new leader. what can you tell us about stewart rhodes' replacement? >> a long-time ally in the
movement. steward rhoads' arrest being a big part of that, but also a whole bunch of scrutiny from the justice department and january of committee, i think you're seeing the oath keepers here really not backing away from this role they have tried to play as a para military militia group that has taken the big lie and run with it. this announcement about the leadership change there really isn't much of a change of direction for the oath keepers, and i don't think you're going to see law enforcement authorities or investigators in congress back away or take less of an interest in the oath keepers as we go forward and as these criminal and legislative commissions play out. >> one of stewart rhoads' attorneys said it is a work in fiction. >> my main concern in responding to how to defend this is i want to see the entire conversations.
>> getting through this, we aren't getting through this without a civil war. too late for that. prepare your mind, body and spirit. this is what he was telling other oath keepers >> right, that doesn't mean he's the one starting the civil war. i believe that, too. but i don't think that people are going to be held responsible for the civil war. >> i want to know what you make of that defense particularly that we have that video from before tuesday before january 6 detailing his plans. >> he is detailing his plans in public. i agree with you completely. the lawyer was inarticulate and did not express what i consider to be any valid defense. the evidence that is publicly available, that's laid out in the indictment, which i recommend all of your viewers to actually go online and read the indictment, it is brilliant,
laying out all the links from his first texts to the actions that happened on january 6 and that continue to this day. and while there may not be a change in leadership in terms of it being a meaningful change in direction, i think there may be some civil suits that will follow and that will make this a bankrupt organization and drive them out of business. that could have that effect while some of the past leaders spend their time in jail, which is where this case is head heading right now. >> jill, i love when you recommend a little light late night reading. next, while feeling sick and tired actually makes us more sick and tired as a country and new warnings for rural america with omicron on the rise. and later, a dual threat to democracy that only we can address. that and more ahead on "american voices." and more ahead on "amen voices."
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now to efforts to combat covid and new fears about what could be in store for rural america. medical experts fear rural parts of the country have yet to see the worse effects from omicron. from tennessee to wyoming, some rural hospitals have no icu beds available. and this these areas, vaccination rates are not nearly high enough to reach herd immunity. with me, dr. patel. this mirrors a lot of what we've seen through the pandemic. the wave sweeps through parts of the country first. when the numbers go down there we see numbers rise in other parts of the country. what are your fears for rural areas? >> it's interesting. this is such a different strain.
but the pattern is still holding true. it goes through new york and the urban cities first, and then we are seeing declines in the northeast united states, but what this means for rural parts of america, this is a long, hard winter ahead of us, with likely no peak even until potentially february. because of the rural nature and the fact that the lowest vaccination rates happen to overlap with these areas. >> so, when we look at that graphic that's up right now, right, walks us through a variety of states. we see the weekly cases per 100,000. and then you see what is the truly startling number. icu beds available, zero in lewis county, tennessee. tell me about that number and what that number actually means. >> yeah, so that number means that there are zero icu beds available. let's be clear, there weren't tons of icu beds available to
start with. this is why pregnant women, when they have complicated deliveries will have to drive literally, potentially 1,000 miles to get to a hospital that handles complicated maternity cases. zero means not just that the covid cases don't have an icu bed, but the other things. there is a growing move on social media to try to place doctors them in neighboring states and it's literally a game of whack a mole, alicia. as they get the surges that we are recovering from. all the reasons that everyone has to stay vigilant. we can be happy when we see cases coming down in parts of the country, remember that's not the entire united states. >> vivek murthy was asked about
the mandate. let's take a listen. >> the news about the workplace requirement being blocked was very disappointing, martha. it was a setback for public health. what they are for is not just protecting the community at large but making our workplaces safer for workers and customers. so the good news though is there is nothing that stops workplaces from voluntarily putting these requirements in place. in fact, many in place. >> the good news is, and i want to focus on the good news, this is a major tool in the white house's arsenal. without it, it becomes much more challenging. in the absence of this test or vaccinate mandate, what is left to do? >> yeah, what's left to do is
not only encouraging the private sector but taking more approaches from state and federal government. the supreme court ruling on the medicare program for enforcing mandates gives us an open window to encourage and actually have administration put out guidance for discrete types of professions. you could imagine essential workers in grocery stores, anybody that's in contact, education. so there is an opportunity to do that. and i'm going to just say it, because mandates have become so ugly, but i think we're going to have to start being more transparent. a lot of businesses have allowed for only patrons that are vaccinated. across the country, even internationally, we're getting more used to the fact that we need to demonstrate that we're immunized to come into a place of business. >> at this point i think there are a lot of us who are very, very grateful for your level of
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this is a time of testing. we've faced an attack on our democracy and untruth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis. america's role in the world, any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. but the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation one of the gravest responsibilities. >> that was president biden a year ago this week, laying out the challenges we face during his inaugural address. when it comes to the attack on democracy over the past year, 19 states made it harder to vote
despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud. then there's the climate crisis. 2021 tied for sixth hottest year ever in the hottest seven years on record all happened in the last seven years. climate change also leads to more extreme weather events. in the last year, the united states had 20 separate disasters, it cost nearly 700 lives and cost $145 billion in damage. our next guest says you can't fight climate change without standing up for our democracy. i want to begin with a column you wrote for "the hill." our inability to make progress on securing our right to vote is directly tied to our inability to act on climate. you won't have a functioning democracy without climate action. we won't have climate action without a functioning democracy. we have to tackle both or else
we have neither. tell me more. >> no, you're exactly right, alicia. the reality is that right now we are seeing so many obstacles to our right to vote and gaining access to the vote. black people, brown people, indigenous people, young people are the same exact communities targeted by voter suppression efforts. so what we're seeing is this sort of dual function of people unable to cast their ballots and their inability to pass any meaningful legislation on the climate crisis. >> climate scientists have been sounding the alarm well before many millennials, all of gen z were even born. for those voters who may be very interested in one piece and not the other, how do you tie those issues together? >> yeah, and it's a good point, because i think right now we're seeing a mass mobilization of young people around the climate
crisis. one of the most biggest existential crises that our world is facing. and young people recognize that with so much moral clarity. what i do with my organization is mobilize those same exact communities to get out the ballot and vote. i think that young people are becoming more and more energized and also more and more tired by these empty promises that we're seeing from our politicians who continually make these really large claims on the sanctity and the right to vote yet consistently, administration after administration, seeing to action on either. >> you know, we often talk about how other countries are in this moment looking at the united states and both in terms of our democracy and what is on the line when it comes to the sanctity of our elections. and also when it comes to action and inaction around client legislation.
when you think of other countries and the way they are watching america in this moment, what is the message that we are sending? >> i think that america likes to tout itself as a global leader on climate change and on climate policy. instead, we haven't been able to pass anything meaningful in the last few years. president biden rejoined the paris accord. let's go back a little bit, shall we? once president obama entered us into the paris agreement, the unite did virtually nothing on climate change. then president trump took us out of the paris accord. and now what has been done? nothing. it's just a talking point for nations across the world. even this past year, you mentioned that it was the past seven years have been the hottest on record. the last year we also saw a 6% increase in carbon emissions.
is that what climate leadership looks like? i don't think so. >> saad amir, thank you for joining us. my next guest, a poet is using hate for good. plus, what's made "encanto" such pop culture gold. but first a preview of what's ahead tonight. but first a preview of what's but first a preview of what's ahead tonight. among my patients, i often see th ave teeth sensitivity as well as gum issues. does it worry me? absolutely. sensodyne sensitivity & gum gives us the dual action effect that really takes care of both our teeth sensitivity as well as our gum issues. there's no question it's something that i would recommend. maybe it's another refill at your favorite diner... or waiting for the 7:12 bus... or sunday afternoon in the produce aisle.
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neuriva plus fuels six key indicators of brain performance. more brain performance? yes, please! neuriva. think bigger. whether it is about appearance or politics, just about every woman knows what it's like to receive unsolicited feedback. but we recently sat down to discuss how you can turn sexist messages into new poems. the new book, you take both exchanges you have had online and also public statements that have been made and by redacting pieces of it, you turn it into poetry. i think there's no better way
than to show people one of those. i'm going to read a dm that you received and you're going to read the poetry. good morning kate, i'm hoping for female leadership in the next white house, and i'm concerned that gender is now your only criteria. i'm not against women in leadership positions. however, just any woman? we need women to love god and the country, who respect the family structure as a wife and mother, working to keep it safe. women who will commit to those suffering in poverty and illness. the persecution women claim today is mostly fantasy. men want what is best for women. more importantly, god wants what's best for women, which is why he will have a hand in this next election. who better to lead us than god's own chosen one. i wish you the best as we move into the coming days. you take this, and you write
this. >> i have seen women love this country while suffering from its persecution. who better to lead us into the coming days. >> it is as much a poem as it is a retort. >> yeah. yeah. it really started as a party trick, and it started to pick up and people were really responding to it. i've been getting messages like this for ten years, even when i had a baby blog, maybe 25 people, my mom was reading, i still would get random strangers, this is kind of my turf, you don't need to be here. i was deleting them. it wasn't until george floyd was brutally murdered that i was looking at my messages a little bit, and the words kind of rearranged to me in a different way. a woman was pretty upset with me about my ideas on police reform. so i took a screen shot and hid her identity and used the little erase your tool in instagram and
made a poem out of it, and people really responded to it, and there are so many of us at odds with other people on the internet and even more at odds with people we actually know. >> when you do talk about police accountability. when you talk about trans rights, black lives matter, there's always someone who writes back, don't become political, just stick to motherhood, as if motherhood is not inherently political. motherhood is somehow not worthy of literary critique and honor, also not worthy of being considered political. >> yeah. how many coming of age stories have you read about baseball? how many books have we read where it's like, okay, this is supposed to be some universal experience, when motherhood is such an ultimate universal experience. we've all had a mother, for better or worse, we all come from a mother. so to classify motherhood writing as niche is ridiculous.
>> you said this process was cathartic and abundantly sad. >> sometimes people call these revenge poems, especially men in my inbox talking about my body. of people, that is when i really lost some hope for humanity in those times. >> what have you done to claw that back? >> spend time with real people, get off the internet. get off instagram. delete all the apps on my phone and just see real people. and find connection in people that i know who we don't agree on everything. to see the nuance behind people and not just, you know, put everything in this black and white way. >> our thanks. to author kate baer. her book is titled "i hope this finds you well." next, the magical hold on the internet. nbc's helen rosenblatt and i
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we could not end the weekend without talking about the smash hit "encanto." box office buzz is one thing. the way this film has taken off on social media another. post after post showing how many people see themselves in the film's diverse character lineup. kids so pumped they're posting pictures of the characters they most look like. the movie also taking off for the message it holds centered around a magical colombian family whose powers are threatened, forcing them to contend with generational trauma. nbc news internet culture reporter helena rosenblatt has been reporting on this and joins us now. i have been trying to find a way to talk about this movie so thank you for giving me an in. the #encanto has been viewed more than 7 billion times on tiktok. you've talked to tiktokers who use the hashtag. how did the film end up finding a whole new life on tiktok so quickly? >> well, i think it's really easy to see why this is so popular.
young people who have never seen themselves in the forefront of a film are seeing it for the first time especially in an animated film. i spoke to one young person who said in mirabell's face, i see my own, my own round features, my freckles, my curly hair. young people have not had a film, animated film especially like this one that just represents people that they look like and see in their own lives. the other facet is it tells their story not to sort of borrow a phrase from the writer lin-manuel miranda who wrote the music, but this does tell their story. and it tells the story of intergenerational trauma in a beautiful way that's accessible to a lot of people. i just think it's this representation in this film has made it such a smash hit on tiktok and people are so stoked to have this film. >> one of the things that is fascinating to me about tiktok is the way it is very often used to amplify music, right, that you'll see some of these what i as a geriatric millennial
consider very strange challenges and i'm like what is happening here and then i'm like oh, this is a way of popularizing a song. that something becomes popular on tiktok before it actually becomes popular off tiktok it drives people to it. can you explain to us sort of the life cycle here, the way in which posting videos on tiktok drives people back to the film? >> oh, absolutely. so think about it this way. if you were to hear me talk about bruno over and over and it's stuck in your head you'll go to spotify and probably want to hear the whole song and once you're into that song you may want to hear the album and go see the film. it's the repetition of challenges, including certain music that sticks in your head to the point of where you're like i have to figure out where this is from. separate from encanto if you go on spotify there are whole play lists just dedicated to tiktok songs. it's the same with encanto, with the music's popularity.
people cannot get enough of the music. i was jamming out to it in the commercial break. i know you were as well. it's just so happy. and tiktok is a perfect vehicle for music like this. >> for those who do not have a 5-year-old and 2-year-old at home who you are relying on desperately in order to get through this omicron surge by watching encanto over and over again i joke that my theater credits now include being the lighting director on my kids' living room presentation of this. one of my favorite songs called surface pressure is about the plight of the older sister luisa and the amount of pressure she feels under to be of service, to perform, be a high achiever. i think it is relatable to lots of older siblings. talk to us about some of the most popular songs from the film and the ways in which the message is resonating with tiktok users. >> yeah, as you mentioned surface pressure is a great example of that. i spoke with one young person who told me that she related to luisa who is the middle sister and sings surface pressure because she had to take care of
her younger sibling and eventually when they were in and out of foster care ended up adopting them and she really felt the story of surface pressure and also says she feels she looks a lot like luisa which helped but really that song of her story. and that is what is also connecting with a lot of people. plus, there are songs like we don't talk about bruno which are just pure bangers. they are ear worms. i've been singing it to my dog whose name is nacho. we replaced bruno with nacho. it is just, i mean, they are so catchy, but they also tell a bigger story. >> and one of the stories is about intergenerational trauma which is not necessarily what you would imagine that a children's film would go after. >> yeah, absolutely. i spoke with the directors of the film and they told me this was a really important element to include in this story. they wanted to make sure they included intergenerational trauma which is exactly what it sounds like when trauma is passed from one generation to the next.
in this film i don't want to give any spoilers but there is a trauma that happens to alma and she passes down sort of pressures and expectations to her children. i spoke with a lot of tiktokers who loved this film and told me that's my story. my family came from this place and we were, you know, my parents have certain expectations for me. that is just one of many facets as to why people are so clued into this film and love it so much. >> helen rosenblatt, bring it in. good talk. thank you. that is all the time i have for today and this weekend. i'm alicia menendez. i'll see you back here next weekend 6:00 p.m. eastern for more "american voices" but for now over to mehdi hasan. hi, mehdi. >> thank you so much. have a great rest of your night. tonight on the mehdi hasan show, democracy is on the line but do americans care? kyrsten sinema certainly doesn't. how about long covid as we play down the threat from omicron? are we ignoring the dangerous after effects of this virus?
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