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    Episode 36: Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Martin O’Malley at Netroots Nation

    Airdate: Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks about progressive politics, SB 1070, Wall Street worries and more at the recent Netroots Nation gathering in Phoenix. Then we’ve got a Netroots conversation between Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.

    Here’s a transcript of the show:

    (Jim Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I’m Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel and this is Zona Politics. A few weeks ago, the NetRoots Nation gathering brought Senator Elizabeth Warren to Phoenix. Here are some excerpts from her speech.

    (Senator Elizabeth Warren) I know there was some controversy about being in Arizona, and it is not because it is hot enough out there to melt your flip-flops but I want to start, right off the bat, before we get any further than this, as loud as I can, no if, no ands, no buts — Arizona’s SB 1070 is a stupid law. It is stupid. It is racist, it is unconstitutional, and it should be struck down. (Applause) Yeah. And let’s say it, loud and clear to the Republicans, “If you truly want to do something about immigration, then get out of the way, get on the right side of history and let us pass comprehensive immigration reform. You bet.

    Now, last year I came to NetRoots to talk about what we believe in. Immigration reform was high on that list, along with equal pay for equal work, along with raising the minimum wage Social Security, climate change, marriage equality, Wall Street reform … it was a very long list. But if you weren’t with us in Detroit, but worried, Sarah Palin did a fascinating line-by-line analysis of the whole thing on YouTube. Deep. But look, no matter who wants to make fun, yes, we do talk about our beliefs.

    We talk about our values. We talk about what it means to be a progressive, because these are the things that define what we’re fighting for. And here’s the heart of it. We believe that the real strength of this country, starts with people, not with corporations. Yes. We believe that the economy grows when hardworking families have a chance to improve their lives. We believe that the country gets stronger when we invest in helping people succeed. Our lives improve when we reach out to our neighbors. We’re tired of a game that is rigged for the rich and the powerful. For progressives, it’s all about a fighting chance, not just for some of us but for all of us. That’s what we believe.

    Now, I hear the naysayers, the lobbyists and the public relations machines. The political pundits and the talking heads, the greased politicians and the oh-so-important experts who write off our values as too liberal, too unrealistic to be in the mainstream. They’ve spent millions of hours and billions of dollars to help create an “insider” Washington, a Washington where everything works wonderfully for those with money and power. They have built the ultimate cozy, comfy game that is rigged for the insiders. It’s the Washington where, despite all the down-home ads that run during election season, the values of the American people are mostly ignored.

    Now “insider” Washington watched one of its own representatives nearly die from a gunshot to the head just a hundred miles from here, and then refused to hear the country’s calls for common sense gun reform. “Insider” Washington worries that we’ve been too tough on Wall Street, while the American people know that banksters who broke our economy belong in jail. (Applause) (Applause) “Insider” Washington labels any idea with a hint of spunk or ambition as wacko and outside the mainstream, while millions of Americans show up for rallies or chip in ten bucks to support a democracy that represents our true values. That’s what’s happening here.

    Well I’m here to make an announcement, to “insider” Washington. America is far more progressive than you are. Yeah. When it comes to the economy when it comes to building a future, Americans across this country know the direction we should head. And if we give them a chance they’re ready to go there. So I want to just start this morning by saying “Let’s look at some facts.” I want to put some facts and we can post the numbers in the footnotes later. But look at the facts about America.

    Last November, when Democrats across the country had a truly terrible day, four Republican states voted to raise their minimum wage. In South Dakota, 55% of voters supported the minimum-wage increase. In Nebraska, 59% in Arkansas, 66%, and in Alaska 69%, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Seventy percent of Americans across this country support an increase in the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour. Now Republicans may vote to keep workers in poverty, but on minimum wage, the American people are progressives. (Applause)

    Progressives believe that students shouldn’t be crushed by debt, and the federal government should not make a profit on student loans. (Applause) And so do 73% of Americans. Beltway Republicans may vote to stomp on people who are deep in debt, but on student loans, the American people are progressives, and to them debt-free college sounds pretty darn good. (Applause)

    Progressives believe that people should be able to care for sick family members without fear of losing their jobs, and so do 80% of Americans. (Applause) Republicans may pander to their big-business pals but on paid sick leave, the American people are progressives. That’s what we have to remember.

    Progressives believe that millionaires and billionaires should pay the same taxes as their secretaries and so do two-thirds of all Americans. Republicans may support special breaks for the rich and powerful, but on tax fairness, the American people are progressives. (Applause)

    Progressives believe that after a lifetime of work people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means a commitment to strengthening and expanding Social Security. (Applause) And 79% of likely voters in last year’s election also supported increasing Social Security benefits, so Republicans may try to cut benefits, but on Social Security, the American people are progressives and they are ready to take on the retirement crisis in this country. (Applause)

    Progressives believe in trade, but not the kind written behind closed doors by corporate lawyers that leave American workers eating dirt. And nearly two-thirds of Americans favor some sort of trade restrictions. More than half oppose fast tracking trade deals. Republicans, and some Democrats, may want to make it easier for multinational corporations to ship jobs overseas, but on trade, the American people are progressives.

    Progressives believe that powerful corporations and billionaires have far, far too much influence over our politics, and their stranglehold over our government rigs the system. Nearly three quarters of America agrees. Now Republicans may cozy up to their billionaire sugar daddies, but on campaign finance and Washington reform, the American people are progressives.

    Progressives believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher legal enforcement. Yes! And five years after Dodd-Frank, it’s time to stop pretending and really end “Too Big to Fail” with rules like Glass-Steigal. That’s right. And here’s the deal, 79% of Americans believe Wall Street should be held accountable with tougher rules. And there they are. Beltway Republicans. Beltway Republicans may be willing to let the biggest banks break our economy again. But on Wall Street reform, the American people are progressives. (Applause)

    I want to make one more point. One more very important point. Progressives believe that it shouldn’t take a revolution on YouTube to drive a revolution in law enforcement. It shouldn’t take a hurricane in New Orleans or a massacre in Charleston for Americans to wake up to what is happening, what is still happening to people of color in this country. (Applause) (Applause) And it sure as heck shouldn’t take poll numbers to unite us in our determination to build a future for all of our children. That’s right. Now look, House Republicans may still want to fly the Confederate flag, and Republican leaders may cower in the shadow of Donald Trump, but the American people understand that black lives matter, and America is not a country that stands for racism, bigotry or (cheers and Applause) hatred. Yes! (cheers and Applause) (Applause) (Applause) Yep. (Applause) (Applause)

    This is a moral issue and an economic issue. To build an economy that creates real opportunity, that doesn’t lock up millions of our fellow human beings behind bars and that uses the talents of all our people. America must prove that on equality and justice the American people are progressives. (Applause) I don’t care what “Insider” Washington says. They can be oh so sophisticated, and they can tell us how our ideas are too progressive, too far left, or just not realistic but here at NetRoots Nation, we have news for “insider” Washington. The American people are progressives, and our day is coming. (much loud cheering and Applause) You bet.

    We have a presidential election coming up (crowd laughing, some shouting). You gotta control here. (commotion) C’mon, I need your help on this. I think that anyone running for that job, anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment, and every key nomination across the federal government, should say loud and clear, “We don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega-corporations. We run it for people. That’s right.

    No one is disqualified just because they have Wall Street experience, but public service is about more than serving one industry. Anyone who wats to be president should appoint only people who have already demonstrated that they are independent, who have already demonstrated that they can hold giant banks accountable, who have already demonstrated that they embrace the kinds of ambitious economic policies that we need to rebuild opportunity and a strong middle class in this country. (Applause) (Applause)

    So I want to turn that into something specific. Just two days ago Tammy Baldwin introduced, and Yeah! Let’s hear it for Tammy. Yes! Aw. Just a couple of days ago Tammy Baldwin introduced a new bill to slow down the revolving door, and I want to help out here. This bill would put an end to Wall Street banks giving multi-million dollar bonuses to their executives for taking government jobs. That’s what her bill is. No more paying people off to remember their Wall Street friends while they run out our government. No more wink and a nod working in the public interest while pocketing millions of dollars for from your friends on Wall Street. The same friends who will welcome you back once your turn through government is over.

    Now look, this won’t fix everything, but it’ll throw some heavy sand in the gears of the revolving door, and it’s a bill that any presidential candidate should be able to cheer for (Applause). So that’s why I’m here today. I’m here today because I need your help NetRoots Nation. The country needs your help. The only way that candidates for president or for any office will slow down that revolving door, the only way that candidates will say, “Enough is enough” is if you, you demand that they say it. (Applause)

    (Jim Nintzel) We’ll be right back with more from NetRoots Nation, and Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O’Malley.

    One of the special guests at NetRoots Nation in mid-July was Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, a former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland. O’Malley sat down with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to discuss his campaign.

    (O’Malley) Now look, let me give a let me give a brief introduction. My name is Martin O’Malley. I am the former governor of Maryland and a former mayor of Baltimore. Alright! Maryland in the house! And I’m running for president and I need your help.

    I believe that the genius of our country in a nutshell is this, that in every generation we find way to take actions that actually allow and empower more of our people to participate more fully in the economic, the social and the political life of our nation. That is not only the genius of our society and of our character, it is also what made us the land of opportunity through 240 years of the practice of the sort of economics that allow us to actually grow our middle class, expand opportunity and increase prosperity in every generation. Call it the American dream, if you will. Call it progress. I believe that progress is a choice, and over the last 30 to 40 years, we’ve been making mostly different choices, and they are not in keeping with that formula for progress, so as mayor and as governor I instead adopted policies that allowed more of our people to more fully participate and we’ve created a better economic model because of it.

    During my time as governor we not only became the first state to pass a living wage, we also passed the minimum wage and raised it to $10.10 (Applause) and we raised it to $12.80 in a couple of counties like Montgomery and Prince George’s and I believe, and I believe that as a nation, we should be raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour whenever and wherever we can.

    There are many other things that we need to do as well to rebuild the American dream, and rather than giving you a speech about it, we will talk about it, but one of the most other things that we need to do as well to rebuild the American dream, and rather than giving you jarring things that’s happened in our country, and I ask this question everywhere. Show of hands how many of you believe very firmly you’ve enjoyed a better quality of life than your parents and grandparents. Raise your hands. How many of you believe just as firmly that your children and your grandchildren will enjoy a better quality of life than you have. Raise your hands.

    I’ll tell you what. This is a more optimistic group than most. I ask that question in Pope County in Des Moines, Iowa, 350 people, Democrats only five people raised their hands to that second question because this is the first decade this side of World War II that wages for 75% of us have either been flatlining or going down. And if we want wages to go up, then, yes, we have to do things like putting wage policies in the center of our considerations.

    We have to return to our true selves. We have to remember that our economy is not money. Our economy is people, it’s all of us. (Applause) So, look, in conclusion, here, when I was governor, we also extended prevailing wage. We made it easier for people to bargain collectively and join unions. (Applause) We did more, not less, to improve public education and to make college more affordable for more people, going four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition. And along the way, we also found ways to do more to invest in our infrastructure. Our broadband to connect all of us, and to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay. And we also did a few other things as well. We passed the Dream Act for all of the kids in Maryland. (Applause) We passed marriage equality and defended it at the ballot box. We were the first state to do that.

    And so these are the things that a free people chooses to do, not just words, burt actions. There are many of us running in the Democratic party for president who espouse progressive goals and progressive values, but I am the only candidate in this race with 15 years of executive experience in some of the toughest places and through the toughest times, actually taking those progressive goals and values and putting them into action to achieve better results for our citizens, and that’s what we need to do as a country. New leadership to get things done and to choose progress again. Thanks.

    (Vargas) Thanks to Twitter, I really kind of want to get to this right away. The morning that you announced that you were running for president uh, mostly black Baltimoreans heckled you right, during that announcement, and they started talking about your record, the fact that there’ve been more than 100,000 arrests since 2005 you know, and ACLU actually sued and there was a settlement with the city. What do you say to people? There was a quote in another article that said “O’Malley” quote “is the father of mass incarceration in Baltimore City, and there was no great economic upswing for minorities during the time. So what do you say, you know, we can’t talk about immigrant rights and LGBT rights and not talk about Black Lives Matter, so (cheering and Applause) We can all talk about that, you know, Senator Warren, Senator Warren gave a great speech about this last night, but back to your point, no more talk–action. So, from a legislative perspective, from an action perspective how would, as president, how would you put forth and support legislation that really proves to black people, and not-black people, that black lives matter.

    (O’Malley) Here, let me unpack many of the things that are contained in your opening questions and statements, one of which is patently untrue. On the day of my announcement was probably the most diverse crowd that any presidential candidate at his or her announcement has had. I was the mayor of Baltimore for seven years, and far from being heckled on that day, we had a great crowd. In fact, one of the people that began that program was Mr. Robert Hellman and Lucy (?)

    (Vargas) Yeah, I saw that, yes. No but sir, but there were people that were definitely organized.

    (O’Malley) Yeah, there were like three or four.

    (Vargas) Oh.

    (O’Malley) From my standpoint, I think most of them were white, but if you saw more that I didn’t

    (Vargas) I saw videos, but (both talking at once)

    (O’Malley) …because look, everybody, there are very few issues in our country that are quite as painfully intertwined as the legacy of violence race and law enforcement in America. When I ran for mayor in 1999, our city had allowed ourselves to become the most violent and addicted city in America One year in that run-up, we had 352 murders and brought black (?) and most of them were young, and they were poor and they were black and if they were young and they were poor and they were white we would not have shrugged our shoulders to that.

    (Vargas) So how would you, how do you address that now? What kind of policies. You know the president has to be first.

    (O’Malley) Can I unravel a little bit of this because you had a whole lot in your statement?

    (Vargas) Alright, please go on

    (O’Malley) that I want to respond to. When I was a elected, I stood on a drug-free corner and euphemistically we used to call them free drug corners, because the commissioner used to publish the meets and the bounds of it in the paper every month as required by city ordinance but they never changed And in fact when I announced for mayor, it had been there for so long that all of the signs were yellow and fading. So I promised people, “Vote for me, and we will start rolling back the open-air drug markets that had laid siege on a 24 – 7 basis to neighborhoods of people who were of color and poor, and what we used to say that, you know, Baltimore in those days if you called from a wealthier neighborhood black or white, the police always came and they always got out of the car.

    But if you called from a poor neighborhood that was black, they hardly ever came, and they never got out of the car. So we did four things all at once. We improved policing, we improved how we police the police, we greatly and dramatically increased the drug treatment, and we intervened earlier in the lives of young people. And not all only did we put Baltimore on a path to achieve the biggest crime reeducation that decade of any major city in America but we also improved police and community relations and the three years in modern Baltimore history, where we achieved the lowest numbers of police-involved shootings, were three years that I was mayor. Another point you made was you talked about my being the father of mass-arrest policing.

    (Vargas) That was the quote, yeah.

    (O’Malley) From the first day that I announced, first day being white in a majority African-American city When I started that campaign, by the way, against two very well-known opponents, both of whom were black, one had 90% name recognition, one had 80% name recognition and with 88 days to go ? decided not to run for mayor, I started with a whopping 7% I was the first choice of a whopping 7% of my neighbors but we one every single one of those six council districts, but from the first day I announced, there were those small groups of people at home who said “If O’Malley’s ever elected mayor there’ll be riots in Baltimore.” There weren’t. but from the very first day I announced, when I was re-elected with 88% of the vote of the people four years later, because far from bringing forward the mass arrests, mass incarcerations police that you’re talking about, I actually made policing more responsive.

    (Nintzel) That’s our show for today. I’d like to thank NetRoots Nation for the footage, as well as our supporters at the Arizona Inn and Hotel Congress and our media partners at the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. If you missed any part of today’s show, you can catch us online at zonapolitics.com, and be sure to follow us on Facebook. I’m Jim Nintzel. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next time.