Entries from Dec 2014
Mike Barnicle on the recent fallout between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio a...

“There is now some sympathy for Mayor de Blasio among people, including police officers, and that sympathy was not there a week ago,” says Mike Barnicle of the recent fallout between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Pat Lynch, president of the city’s largest police union. Hear the rest of Mike’s observations only on Morning Joe.

Mike Barnicle asks Greg Feith about the process of investigating the AirAsia pla...

On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle asks Greg Feith, former NTSB investigator, about the process of investigating the AirAsia plane crash now that debris has been found. Hear the details here.

Mike Barnicle asks “Can anyone emerge as the Left’s alternative to Hillary Clint...

“Can anyone emerge as the Left’s alternative to Hillary Clinton?,” Mike Barnicle asks Mike Allen of Politico addressing open questions on the political landscape for 2015. Watch the conversation on Morning Joe.

Mike Barnicle and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations

Mike Barnicle and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, discuss the relationship between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in the aftermath of two slain NYPD officers. “We’re on the verge of a major debate in this country about policing,” says Richard Haass. Watch the discussion here.

On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle talks with Anthony Roman

On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle asks Anthony Roman, CEO of Roman & Associates and an FAA-licensed commercial pilot, why the recently missing AirAsia plane did not contact air traffic control. “Communication is the very last thing you can do,” says Anthony Roman. Hear the rest of the conversation here.

Mike Barnicle puts the recent police shootings in perspective on Morning Joe.

“The police department in any city has to be ‘us’ to sustain itself, and I think they do it admirably in New York City,” says Mike Barnicle highlighting the diversity of the NYPD amid systemic racism across the country. Hear Mike put the recent police shootings in perspective on Morning Joe.

“No parent has faith and confidence that their children will do better in this c...

As part of the Morning Joe team’s year-in-review, Mike Barnicle addresses the economic inequality also at the heart of recent protests and outrage against police. “No parent has faith and confidence that their children will do better in this country,” says Mike. Hear the rest of his comments here.

Mike Barnicle’s conversation with Father James Martin

On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle shares his personal Catholic experience and reaction to Pope Francis’ leadership of the Church. Watch Mike’s conversation with Father James Martin here.

For The Daily Beast: Any Outrage Out The...

Will those who protested Eric Garner’s death rush to the side of Rafael Ramos’ two sons, or Wenjian Liu’s widow, married only two months?

Any Outrage Out There for Ramos and Liu, Protesters?
Now, in New York City, where tourists are often surprised by the relative sense of safety on streets and subways, it is Officer Rafael Ramos, 40 years old, and his partner, Wenjian Liu, 32, who cannot breathe. They are dead, executed for the clothing they wore to work on a Saturday in December, four days before Christmas.

Liu, Asian, and Ramos, Hispanic, were shot to death by an assassin named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, African-American, who began his day miles south of Brooklyn in Baltimore, a gun in his hand and a diseased dream in his mind of killing police officers, posting his goal quite publicly on Instagram, writing “They take one of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.” His success later in the afternoon has staggered a nation and sent two families reeling from heartache that never diminishes.

By now the details are grotesquely familiar: Brinsley, career criminal, arrived in Brooklyn with, what else, a semi-automatic handgun and target opportunity, Liu and Ramos, seated in a patrol car parked on a borough boulevard in the middle of the day. In the time it takes you to snap your fingers three times, two New York City police officers were gone, the cruiser splattered with blood, the city they represent quite shaken, and the department they belong to outraged at what it feels is a distinct lack of either support or understanding from a recently elected mayor, Bill de Blasio.

For months, nearly every police department in the country has been alert to tension after the July death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, shot dead by a police officer who apparently had all the training of a mall cop, left shot and dying for hours on a street like a dead dog. There was a grand jury and there was no indictment issued. Riots ensued. Fire lit the Missouri nights.

Weeks before Brown was killed, Eric Garner died on a Staten Island sidewalk after being grabbed around the neck and wrestled to the ground by a squad of New York cops, the entire scene captured on cellphone video. Garner’s “crime” was selling cigarettes by the handful. Again, a grand jury was convened. And again no indictment.

The weight of both decisions ignited protests across the land. Each day and almost every night people took to the streets in largely peaceful demonstrations decrying the apparent indifference of a judicial system that seemed to ignore eyesight along with evidence.

In New York the marches could have been used as training films for other police departments. The cops were restrained and respectful. The men and women wearing the uniform were more diverse than the crowds they protected as they helped them proceed along streets, displaying their grievances. All of it, with only a few exceptions, was peaceful.

Simmering beneath the surface though was the clear divide between a patrol force recognized as the finest in the country, if not the world, and a mayor, de Blasio, who has by word and action divided himself from the one municipal department that provides citizens with something necessary to keep a city breathing and moving forward daily: a sense of security.

Most cops are not looking for understanding. They work in a world filled with a sense—real or imagined—of danger lurking around each corner and every hallway. Most cops are merely looking for respect.

Unlike other professions—doctor, lawyer, teacher, journalist, sales clerk, stock broker—when a cop makes a bad mistake it could mean someone is dead. They take home mental baggage unlike anything carried in almost every other job.

Now, two of them are dead. “Assassinated,” in the words of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

So who will hit the streets to galvanize support and express rage over the execution of two young men killed because of who they were and what they did for work? How many of those who protested will rush to the side of Rafael Ramos’ two sons? How many will be there for the young widow of Wenjian Liu, married only two months?

Saturday, when Ramos and Liu began their tour of duty, neither man expected it to end in their death. They were where they were because they stood, like so many others in uniform, as a blue line between order taken for granted and the potential disorder always there.

Both men, homicide victims like Brown and Garner, were not unlike the thousands of others sworn to protect and serve all of us, no matter our race or religion. They knew each day brings danger. They knew they might see things that will disturb them, but could not deter them from their duty. And they knew that only a few truly understand the world they lived and worked in, other cops who wear the same clothing that cause them to become targets for any deranged individual with a gun in his hand, demons in his head, darkness in his heart.

Now, during Christmas week, many of the politicians and phony posers who have labeled all cops as dangers because of the behavior of a few, will pay their respects to two who died in Brooklyn, ambushed, never even drawing their service revolvers. They will do this without realizing the tragic irony involved in paying respects to the police who rarely ask much more than exactly that: respect for what they are asked to do and what they represent to a society seeking order and peace.


Mike Barnicle, the Morning Joe team, and special guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning h...

Mike Barnicle, the Morning Joe team, and special guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, discuss the current state of presidential campaigns and political dynasties in America. “Nobody’s happy being what they are, they’re just looking at that next step ahead, which is a terrible thing,” says Doris Kearns Goodwin of the constant campaign cycle. Watch the discussion here.

Mike Barnicle with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd on the discontent felt...

“With all the internal rage that so many people feel toward politics in general, but specifically the Democratic Party, what’s the plan to deal with this constituency group, which used to be the core of the party?,” Mike Barnicle asks of NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd in regard to discontent felt among the American working class toward Democratic economic policies. Listen to Chuck Todd’s response here.

Mike Barnicle with Bruce Klingner, former Chief of CIA operations in Korea

On Morning Joe today, Mike Barnicle asks Bruce Klingner, former Chief of CIA operations in Korea, about the likelihood North Korea acted alone in the recent hacking of Sony Pictures. Hear their conversation here.

Mike Barnicle asks Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) about the most immediate benefits the p...

Mike Barnicle asks Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, about the most immediate benefits the people of Cuba might receive from the agreement to open up U.S.-Cuba relations. Listen to the discussion here.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) tells Mike Barnicle “To lift the full embarg...

“To lift the full embargo, you need congressional action… and I think we all understand that is not going to happen in the short run,” Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) tells Mike Barnicle on whether a timetable for approving medical assistance and similar benefits to Cubans can be determined. Hear his comments on the U.S.-Cuba agreement only on Morning Joe.

“We deal with the Iranians, why not deal with the Cubans?,” says Mike Barnicle...

“We deal with the Iranians, why not deal with the Cubans?,” says Mike Barnicle in response to The Washington Post labeling the easing of U.S.-Cuba relations as a bailout for the Castro regime. Watch Mike’s reaction on Morning Joe on MSNBC.

For The Daily Beast: Dick Cheney’s Creep...

A new movie and a visit to the 9/11 memorial remind us what’s at stake when America doesn’t live up to its ideals.

Dick Cheney’s Creepy Torture Bravado

On a Saturday buffeted by a cold December wind, thousands strolled with somber step through one of New York City’s two historic cathedrals. Outside, hundreds more waited patiently in a long line to enter; once inside, their voices were muted and the very young, holding a parent’s hand, would be told about a brilliant, cloudless September morning when America changed forever.

This was the National September 11 Memorial Museum over the weekend, a place that documents our vulnerability as well as the nobility of so many among the dead. It is miles from St. Patrick’s, and Saturday the distance between the two sites was quite congested, with about 25,000 marching along Sixth Avenue in orderly protest over the recent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two events that have also altered the country.

This was also the week when the United States Senate Intelligence Committee released an indictment that declared beyond doubt that the CIA tortured some captured during the war that began on that horrific September day 14 years ago. In all three locations—the museum, the Fifth Avenue cathedral, the streets and sidewalks of the world’s most famous city—prayers for the souls of the departed resonated.

Surrounding all of these places and hundreds of others you could see the season’s lights brightening store windows and you could see the mobs of tourists pushing against each other to take pictures of the enormous tree standing in splendor above the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. Here, in the middle of the warped excess that is the heart of Fifth Avenue windows, there seemed to be no sadness and little memory of the defining event of our century.

At the memorial museum, it is the eyes of those taken by terror that speak softly, silently, to visitors. Portraits of most of the 2,977 victims on September 11 are displayed on the walls. They died for simply going to work that morning, killed by religious fanatics, homicide victims all.

The eyes of people like Thomas Patrick Cullen III, firefighter, Squad 41, husband, father, 31 years old. The eyes of Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana, Boston College graduate, equities trader at Sandler O’Neill. The eyes of Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, dead at 45, and the eyes of Amy Sweeney, another flight attendant on Flight 11, wife, mother of two, gone at 35. And so many more.

We have been at war for a long time and the fight promises to continue well into the future. We are a huge, complex, diverse country still offering freedom, opportunity and hope. Nobody is knocking on the door of places like China, Egypt, India, Poland, Mexico—you can keep going—for a shot, a chance, to start a new life. For millions on the outside looking in, this is where they want to live, America.

And that’s why the semantics, twisted logic and debate over what is and what isn’t torture is so disturbing. We can concoct all the false rationales available. We can construct excuses based on the evil that occurred September 11th. We can go back and forth about the unknowable: Was torture effective? And we can listen to the pathetic, creepy bravado of a former vice president, wrong on nearly every decision he made. But all of it cannot erase the fact that our country is a 250-year-old testament to ideals that became blasphemy in the hands of a few while the nation reeled in a fear ignited on a single morning in September.

And if you want proof of what the country is really all about, just walk through the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Here it is, in the faces of the victims, in the stories of bravery, in the souls and memory of the survivors, the next of kin. The honored dead came from all over the world, from different lands, spoke different languages. They were rich, poor, black, white, brown, Asian, Hispanic, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant. They were waiters, millionaires, stock brokers and salespeople, secretaries, firefighters, cops, young, old, their hopes, dreams, frustrations and futures incinerated by those who were and are twisted in their desire to destroy what all of us hold and too often take for granted.

During the week I happened to see a movie, Unbroken. It’s the film version of an incredible life splendidly captured in Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller about the staggering story of Louie Zamperini.

He was a young Army Air Force lieutenant whose plane crashed in the Pacific in May 1943. He spent 47 days on a raft and survived only to be captured by the Japanese. He then spent two and a half years in various prison camps in Japan. And he was tortured repeatedly, brutally, and mercilessly by his captors. And he survived again, returning from the barbarism of war and the obscenity administered by others to rebuild and live a life once shattered by the horrific reality of what human beings are capable of doing to each other.

A couple of summers ago I sat with Zamperini at a ballgame at Fenway Park. He was a little guy, small in stature, but that was not who he really was because his heart, his being, his experiences, and the light in his eyes made you know he was actually the best of us: a believer in redemption, the future, the idea that we are all bit actors in the great American story where the strength of the country is stronger than any opposing force.

Zamperini died July 2. He was 97 years old. He lived through World War II, lived across all the decades in between, a time when we seemed to be constantly at war; the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, generations of battle.

Too bad he is not still with us. I would have liked to hear what Louie Zamperini had to say in response to Dick Cheney’s declaration that torture was OK with him, a vice president of the United States of America.


Mike and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. on Morning Joe

How can police departments be diversified and improve community relations, Mike asks of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D – MI). “We want more resources… and I see these tragedies as an opportunity for a national discussion the depth of which we’ve never had before,” answers Rep. Conyers on Morning Joe, where he appeared with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) to discuss their call for federal hearings on police practices.

Mike and Sen. Dick Durbin

Mike asks Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) whether he supports calling for the resignation of CIA director John O. Brennan in light of the release of the 500-page CIA torture report. Listen in on the conversation here.

Mike and the Morning Joe team respond to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) protest ...

Mike and the Morning Joe team respond to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) protest of provisions in a must-pass spending bill that would roll back gains of the Dodd-Frank Act. “She is giving us a preview of what’s going to happen every day in the next Congress… which is the Republican majority favoring things Elizabeth Warren has been fighting against her entire career,” says Mike. Hear the discussion here.

Mike makes a guest appearance on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect

Mike makes a guest appearance on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, where they talked about a recent poll on the popularity of football in America. The poll highlights the discrepancy between football’s ongoing popularity among viewers and an increasing hesitance among parents to let their kids play the game. “The violence is an aphrodisiac for the telecasters. They love it. They want more of it. They show more of it. And it’s scary,” says Mike of player collisions shown during televised games. Watch the full segment here.