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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Ugliness Increases on Campaign Trail; Furor Over Palin`s Fave Store; Will Colorado, Nebraska Eliminate Affirmative Action?

Aired October 30, 2008 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, we`re just five days away from a history-making election, and believe it or not, ugly is just getting uglier.

Here are my issues. First, both sides sling every morsel of mud they can get their mitts on.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Some very derogatory things were said.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Some of the rumor-mongering and innuendoes will blow your mind.

PALIN: We have to really listen to our opponents` words.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We`ll sift through the attacks and see if the heated words will hit their intended target: you, the voter.

More shockers in the triple murder of actress Jennifer Hudson`s family. A MySpace stunner. You won`t believe who the mother of the murdered boy had listed as a friend.

And a popular Arkansas anchor woman is laid to rest as a New York man is charged in the murder of his teacher wife. I`ll explain why these crimes are just the latest blow in the war on women.

These issues and lots more tonight.

(END

VELEZ MITCHELL: Welcome to "ISSUES!" I`m Jane Velez Mitchell. We have lots of issues today, including shocking new developments in the murders surrounding Jennifer Hudson`s family and a look at how drugs and gangs are at the very center of it. The question: what should America do?

Plus, everyone where you look, there`s another story of a woman found dead. Police are still searching for the killer of popular and beautiful Arkansas anchor woman Anne Pressly. And the husband of a murdered Long Island teacher has just confessed that he strangled his wife and dumped her body.

It`s a war against women. And we will cover the issue of violence against women this hour.

But first, a slum dwelling aunt? A 1964 car accident? We are only five days away from election day, and these are some of the ridiculous stories making headlines.

Here`s my issue tonight. Just when I thought it wasn`t possible, the campaigns have gone from ugly to uglier. Today, the "Boston Globe" reported Obama`s aunt may be living in a Boston slum. And the Huffington Post is reporting other news organizations are furiously investigating what they think could be a 1964 car crash involving John McCain.

If you`re not already scratching your head wondering what the heck these stories have to do with this election, then, please, start scratching now. This is outrageous. Now is the time to throw in policy plans and economic solutions, not dirty laundry.

I do hope both Obama and McCain are wearing their emotional overcoats, because they are going to be covered in mud before this is over.

Joining me now, Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist; Joe Hicks, conservative commentator from Pajamas TV; and Andrea Tantaros, conservative commentator and columnist.

Peter, let me start with you. Did the McCain campaign open this Pandora`s box of slime by pushing the theme of Obama allegedly palling around with terrorists?

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that really did open up the -- the whole onslaught here, Jane. And I think it`s unfortunate. Because, look, you`ve got 760,000 jobs lost in the nine -- last nine months. You`ve got people whose homes are being foreclosed on. You`ve got people whose retirements are tanking. One out of every five dollars has been lost in the last several months.

I mean, the American people want solutions to those problems. They don`t want to know guilt by associations or what someone`s aunt is doing or what happened in 1964.

The real issues of this campaign are big issues. The real problems are big problems. And that`s where the American people want to go, I think.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And Andrea Tantaros, the slime isn`t working. I mean, it`s just not what the American people want to focus on. And survey after survey has said that. Why is it still going on?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Because they both believe that somehow they`re going to influence voters by throwing mud.

Look, this may have worked in past elections, but the economy is too dire of an issue to ignore and go after this ridiculous stuff. Look, I agree with my colleague on the other side. I really do. I mean, going after someone`s aunt? This is about as relevant as when we tried talking about Barack Obama`s half brother or step brother in a Kenyan slum. Look, we all have family members that have questionable -- have done questionable things. I know I do. You probably do.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, I do.

TANTAROS: Should I be making some campaign ads about our family members? It`s not relevant. It wasn`t relevant when they went after Cindy McCain`s sister either.

So I can`t blame the electorate for being fed up. This is not what we should be talking about.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And we`ve got so many examples of hypocrisy. How about this one? Yesterday, Palin and McCain were lashing out at Obama for going to a 2003 dinner attended by Palestinian professor Rashid Khalidi.

Turns out McCain has chaired something called the International Republican Institute, which awarded a grant of almost half a million dollars to the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, which was co- founded by -- want to take a guess? -- Rashid Khalidi.

Joe Hicks, why doesn`t McCain go after himself for palling around with people that he claims are terrorist sympathizers? I mean, McCain has links to the very same person he is attacking Obama for associating with.

JOE HICKS, PAJAMAS TV: Big difference here, Jane, in somebody giving somebody a grant and somebody who, in fact, with Rashid Khalidi, it`s argued, babysat the -- Obama`s kids. Here`s a guy that Obama lists as a friend of his. Here`s a guy that goes to a dinner that not only had Rashid Khalidi there, his outgoing party -- he was retired, apparently. But also Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers were at the same dinner.

This is not the same kind of thing you were saying earlier about just stupid stuff about Obama`s aunt being discovered in a slum in Boston. Very different.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, I just don`t buy it, Peter Fenn, because we`ve all gone to these big dinners. And we know how huge they are. There`s so many people there. I mean, are you going to be blamed for every single person who`s on a list of some event that you go to? I just don`t get it.

FENN: Look, absolutely. I mean, Rosalynn Carter had her picture taken with Jeffrey Dahmer, the murderer, in Chicago, you know? I mean, let`s -- every candidate in America has had associations with which -- which they had very little to do with.

And, look, the point here, Joe, is this, that this is a big election. This shouldn`t be about guilt by association. It should be about people`s beliefs. And this should be about their policy platforms, and it should be about whether or not we want to go with a change message from the past eight years or whether we want the same old kind of economic policy.

HICKS: But Jeffrey Dahmer -- Jeffrey Dahmer wasn`t baby-sitting the Clinton kids.

FENN: Listen, I don`t know who babysat -- Joe, I don`t know who babysat who here. But all I know is that, you know -- I don`t know about you, but I have friends that I disagree with quite a bit. He does not agree with the views on the Middle East. And he has said that before. But this is a last-minute deal. That`s the problem.

HICKS: Peter, I get that. I get that. But here`s the larger issue here. It`s not, you know, him going to some abstract dinner, he just showed up and oh, by the way. Here`s a guy, Khalidi.

Here`s a guy he was in a long-term association with, and it goes to the issue of the judgment of the kind of people he`s been hanging out with, between Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger and all these people over a 20- year...

FENN: No, no, no.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I think you`re lumping everybody together. Everybody suddenly has a long-term association. Yes, he had a long-term association with Reverend Wright, but it doesn`t mean he had a long-time association with this guy he appeared at a dinner with in 2003.

HICKS: Jane, you`re wrong. He said he does have a long-term association. Read the facts.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: We`re all arguing -- we`re all arguing over the facts. Barack Obama hangs out with radicals. He`s a liberal. Why are we debating this? He`s a liberal.

HICKS: It happens to be an issue.

TANTAROS: I mean, I just don`t understand why at this stage the McCain campaign is running against "The L.A. Times." "The L.A. Times" is not on the ballot. It`s no secret Obama`s a radical. It`s no secret he hangs out with radicals. This is not...

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ MITCHELL: Your definition of radical is somebody else`s definition. But, listen, on this show, you know, we`re fair. We hit both sides. We`re going to talk about the liberal-minded Huffington Post now reporting that several major news organizations are furiously seeking military records to see whether John McCain had a car accident in 1964?

I mean, Peter Fenn, are you kidding me? Isn`t this a liberal tit for tat, trying to dredge up something from McCain`s past just because Obama did it -- or McCain did it?

FENN: I`ll tell you, five or six days -- five or six days before an election, this stuff shouldn`t be out there. I mean, my guess is if there was something really that happened and someone was killed by John McCain in a 1964 accident, we certainly would know about it before now. I mean, that`s a little tough to cover that one up.

So, you know, I think this is all crazy stuff. And I think, look, the smear and fear kind of campaign at the end is not the kind of campaign that the Obama campaign is running. They are not doing it. They have denounced the Huffington Post business. They have said this shouldn`t be a part of American politics.

And, you know, Joe, I think one of the key points, if you want to go to the -- look...

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know what?

FENN: Let me just make this one point.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You can`t. You can`t, because guess what? We are out of time on this one. But we`ll have you all back to keep talking about this. Hang in there.

Yet another controversy over Sarah Palin`s wardrobe. TMZ brings us their exclusive. It`s a shocker. It`s all about the Alaskan consignment store where Palin says she loves to shop.

And it looks like drugs and a history of violence led to three grisly murders in Jennifer Hudson`s family. The latest details straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ MITCHELL: In the murders of Jennifer Hudson`s family member, the focus intensifies on 27-year-old William Balfour. Police have a gun. Is it the murder weapon? And if Balfour is innocent, why won`t he take a lie detector test? We`re going to have that for you in just a moment.

But right now, the effigy of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin that was hanging from a West Hollywood home has finally been taken down. Hallelujah. Excellent news. That effigy was just awful. Really hateful. There is no place for that.

But here`s another Palin controversy. We`re now hearing that Palin`s favorite Alaskan consignment store, Out of the Closet -- remember that? -- has California-sized problems of their own because of their name.

Breaking this exclusive, my dear friend, Harvey Levin, managing editor of TMZ.com and executive producer of "TMZ TV."

Harvey, great to have you here. Great to see you. With a name like Out of the Closet, you knew there had to be trouble. Tell us about that.

HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: This is so funny. You know, she`s spending all this money, the Republicans` money on this wardrobe, the $150,000.

So then she has to kind of do this mea culpa and say, "Look, I don`t really shop at these places. Where I normally shop in Anchorage is this store called Out of the Closet. And it`s kind of a thrift shop, and you know, I bring my kid there and we shop together."

Well, it turns out there is an AIDS Health Foundation that runs a thrift store called Out of the Closet in California and Florida. And they raise money for AIDS research. Well, when the honchos from that organization heard Palin talking about this place in Anchorage, they thought, "Hey, that`s our name." So they sent a cease and desist letter to this poor shop owner in Anchorage. And now the shop owner has to change the name of the store.

VELEZ MITCHELL: But apparently it gets worse, or better. The AIDS Health Foundation is asking Sarah Palin to donate all those $150,000 worth of clothes to them. And that`s got to be tough for her, because she`s a cultural conservative whose policies don`t dovetail with the Out of the Closet people, if you know what I mean.

LEVIN: I really don`t necessarily know what you mean. I`m not so sure that, just because she`s a conservative Republican, means that she doesn`t support AIDS research. I don`t think the two necessarily connect at all, Jane.

And, honestly, it feels to me like, look, I mean, what the AIDS Health Foundation is doing is great, but it feels like they`re really trying to kind of bludgeon her, you know, and take a moment of embarrassment and try and squeeze cash out of her. And I got to tell you, that kind of leaves a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. It`s not the way you should be fund-raising.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, I just meant that if she does make that donation, her base that she`s energized, the evangelical Christians, could be offended, because her stance is certainly anti-gay rights.

LEVIN: Well, but my argument to you is, suppose she is anti-gay rights? That doesn`t mean that you`re pro-AIDS. I mean, I don`t think the two things necessarily connect.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Right. Right. Well, I hope you`re right. And I think that reasonable people will certainly agree on that.

And it`s a fascinating story, Harvey. Great job breaking that story, as so many that you break. And please, please come back and join us again. Will you?

LEVIN: I will, Jane. And congratulations. I love your show.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Thank you. And I love your show.

All right. See you. Talk to you soon.

LEVIN: OK.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Now, the consignment store is just the least of Palin`s problems these days. The McCain campaign reportedly continuing to play the blame game with Palin, faulting her for the gap in the polls.

On Wednesday, I told you how a McCain adviser called her a whack job. Politico, in an article today, notes picking Palin was McCain`s first presidential-level decision and said it reflects poorly on McCain, who admitted he did not know Palin all that well before he chose her.

He needed some excitement in this campaign and, boy, did she deliver that. But as they say, be careful what you wish for. You may get it.

Back again is my wonderful panel: Democrat Peter Fenn, who in honor of this campaign I`m calling Peter, the Democrat; and Andrea Tantaros, conservative commentator, Andrea the conservative.

And Peter, I`m going to start with you. Your reaction to this Out of the Closet brouhaha. I mean, I think she should give her clothes to this organization, this AIDS organization. But will that anger her base?

FENN: Well, I think it might anger them a little bit, Jane, but I think that would be the smartest thing she could do politically. I hate to say it, giving advice to Sarah Palin, which I admit I`m not used to doing, but I think that would be a real smart thing for her to do.

I also think that, you know, the blunt sum of concern amongst moderates, I mean, she differs with John McCain, and she favor as constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. So, you know, she`s pretty tough on this issue. But by -- by supporting a cause like that, it could - - it could soften her and make her image better. But I think -- I think the chances are pretty slim there.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Andrea, you`re the conservative. What do you think? Will she donate her clothing to the AIDS foundation, which actually offers medicine to people who are suffering from AIDS? Or will she blow them off?

TANTAROS: No, I have no idea. I think Sarah Palin should donate those clothes to whatever charity she wants. She`s close to special needs families, you know, autism research. I can see her going in that direction. I don`t think she should donate her clothes to this organization that has a gun to her head.

But I will say this. I don`t think she`s going to upset the base. George Bush, say what you want about him, but he -- his levels of funding for Africa and AIDS research have been among the highest of any president. And that is commendable to him. I don`t often give him loads of credit, but I think that`s one thing that he`s done right. And I don`t think the conservative base, the compassionate conservative base, would see a problem in this.

As your -- as your previous guest said, just because you might not agree on -- on -- with the gay community about the issue of gay marriage, you still can have tolerance. And you`re not -- this does not mean you`re pro-AIDS.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, I certainly hope so. And that would be a big applause sign, if in terms, that was sort of an area where we could have consensus. Everybody agrees that we want to help people who are sick.

Now, here`s an area where we`re not going to have consensus, I don`t think. Sexism and Palin. Palin is not taking anything lying down. Here she is in an interview with ABC News that airs tomorrow, talking about campaign coverage of her being sexist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: I think there`s obviously been double standards there. I mean, talk about my wardrobe and never talking about the male candidates` wardrobe or the questions posed to me of how will I be able to serve in office and still raise a family. I`ve never heard that asked of the male candidates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. Peter Fenn, is she -- I mean, I think that to a certain degree she`s right. I mean, she could have refused those clothes, for example, but if this were a man, they wouldn`t be necessarily adding up the cost of all the suits. And it`s quite possible that other vice-presidential candidates have spent $150,000 in suits we`ve never even heard.

TANTAROS: Barack Obama shopped at Barney`s, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but you know that Michelle spent something like $300 on her entire outfit that she used.

TANTAROS: She wears $900 Maria Pinto suits. She wears $900 Maria Pinto suits and dresses.

FENN: I don`t even know who those are. Sorry, guys, this is all Greek to me. I don`t know what you`re talking about, you guys. No, my sense of this is that, look, if you`re campaigning as a middle-class hockey mom, that you know, taking $150,000 in clothes, having the highest-paid staff person on the entire campaign be your makeup artist that makes $22,000 over a two-week period, that you`ve got -- you know, that there is a problem there.

I don`t think that`s sexist. I mean, I think it`s a waste of money, to be honest with you.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We have to wrap it there, but I will say I agree that there is sexism in that a man doesn`t need makeup. A woman does need makeup. And I should know. Let me tell you. I know, all right? But -- no eye shadow anyway.

Thanks, Peter, Andrea.

As Jennifer Hudson`s family tries to pick up the pieces after those three grisly murders, police intensify their focus. We`ll tell you about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ MITCHELL: African-American Barack Obama could well be the next president of the United States. So is that proof that affirmative action should now end? Let`s throw it out the window?

Two states, Colorado and Nebraska, are leaving that up to the voters next Tuesday, with proposals that would eliminate preferential hiring in state and local government based on race and gender. Similar measures have already been approved in California, Michigan and Washington. So will Colorado and Nebraska follow suit?

Joining me now is Ward Connelly, author of "Creating Equal: My Fight against Race Preferences" and president of the American Civil Rights Institute. Ward, clearly, you`re African-American, and yet you are a strong opponent of giving African-Americans and other minorities a leg up in getting jobs in government. Why?

WARD CONNELLY, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Jane, I think that we need to follow the law. The law of the land is the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which guarantees that you and I and all other American citizens will be treated equally, without regard to our race or gender or ethnic background.

For years, the Supreme Court has allowed us to deviate from that, but I think that there is no more appropriate time for us to get back on track than this probably defining moment in our history with the possible/probable selection of Senator Obama as president of the country.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, you know, this is an important issue to me. I`m a minority. I`m Puerto Rican, and I`m also a woman. So it`s double- teamed in terms of impact on myself.

But you know, I look at California, because I lived in California for 18 years. And in 1998, they got rid of affirmative action, and the enrollment of minorities plummeted at the state schools.

You know, in 2006, UCLA`s freshman class, 2006, had 4,422 students. Do you know how many were black? One hundred. Now, this is a state school. There are many minorities in California paying taxes, African- Americans, Latinos. Do you feel that they should be subsidizing with their hard-earned dollars a school that won`t let them in?

CONNELLY: Well, Jane, it`s wrong to say that the school won`t let them in. We have nine University of California campuses, and I served on the board of regents for a 12-year sentence. We have 23 state colleges. We have community colleges. At Berkeley and UCLA, the ones that you`re talking about, we have very high standards.

And if, as it so happens, that there is this academic gap in black kids and Hispanics are not getting in based on merit, then that`s the way it is. They have to improve themselves.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Your whole premise is that we all start out on an even playing field, which we don`t. A lot of people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths like the president of the United States, who got his Ivy League schools and yet, you know, may have had help from dad, you know.

And so we have to look at the fact that, when you`re talking about SAT`s being the criteria for entrance, kids who are well off have all sorts of training, and they go to special classes and they get everything that most poor kids can`t afford. Most poor kids, most minority kids, are lower income.

CONNELLY: Jane, the fact of the matter is that the ones who are excelling are low-income Vietnamese kids and Chinese kids whose parents did not go to college, who`s -- who do not speak English. So it isn`t accurate to say that minority kids are the only ones suffering.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We`ll have you back to continue this discussion. Thank you so much for engaging.

These days it feels like women are public enemy number one. We`re going to discuss the war on women in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Women are taking a beating in this country. And it`s usually at the hands of a man they trust. Ladies, we need to wise up before it`s too late. I will have some tragic examples in just a bit.

It`s been almost a week since the brutal murders of Jennifer Hudson`s mom, brother and seven-year-old nephew, and here`s the shocker. Julia Hudson, the mother of the seven-year-old who was murdered, still listed the suspect, William Balfour, as a friend on her MySpace page as of today. Meanwhile, he still refuses to take a lie detector test.

Mike Walters is the assignment manager of TMZ. Mike you broke this story. Tell us all about it. It is wild.

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Yes, Jane I got to tell you, we`ve been monitoring this MySpace page ever since Julia had started posting thank yous, prayers. And she`s been telling her friends on MySpace thanks for the condolences. But here`s the shocker. The entire time, she has not taken down William Balfour, the prime suspect in the murder of her son, off of the page.

And I got to tell you, she`s posted a new photo, she`s changed her passage to a Bible passage, she even changed her mood on there, which you can change, to numb, which obviously she`s numb but, again, she hasn`t taken down "Flex" as he call himself his gang name off of the MySpace page.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And even after you broke the story, it`s still up there?

WALTERS: Yes. We put it up this morning on TMZ.com and as of right now, it is still there. And nothing has changed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, some people who use MySpace a lot tried to offer a reasonable explanation saying sometimes when you go on MySpace, all of your friends don`t pop up if you have a lot of them and that perhaps she forgot that he`s lower down. But are there photos involved here of this person?

WALTERS: Yes, actually, I`ve got to tell you, when we were first looking into this MySpace page, this is where -- actually all the media is getting a lot of photos of her son or of her estranged husband. I mean, people were looking at this page for that.

Julia knows we`re looking. Everybody around Chicago knows we`re looking. They`re looking and she still hasn`t -- Jane, he`s in the top three friends. He`s not in the friends list, he`s in the top three. There`s a list on the side column that says her top ten best friends. William is above her sister and her brother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she is married to him. So even though he was not the father of the child who was murdered, they were married and they were estranged. So perhaps we`d have to get a shrink in to try to understand the dynamics of somebody going through all this.

She is numb, she is confused and we certainly do not want to blame her in that she is a victim. She has lost a child. This is a horrific tragedy.

But it`s bizarre, Mike. I mean, there`s no other way to put it. I mean, it`s completely bizarre.

WALTERS: It is, all I can say, Jane, is I agree with you. She is a victim. I don`t want to blame anything on her at all directly. What I can tell you is that she has made changes to her MySpace page, including putting up a new photo of herself. If she did do that, then she can take down a friend, especially one that`s a prime suspect of her son`s murder.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, again, we don`t want to in any way, shape or form, this family has been through hell, but they have had a lot of trouble. And tell us a little bit about the reports that Julia`s brother, who was murdered, actually was busted even though the charges were later dropped, for allegedly in that same house where the murders occurred selling drugs to undercover officers.

WALTERS: Right. You definitely have to look at the full structure here and what`s been happening in this house since day one. We broke a story at TMZ that in 2002, Julian`s father, Gregory, and Julia`s brother, Jason, were busted for allegedly selling crack cocaine to undercover police officers.

So this stuff has been going on in this house for a while and you have to look at that if you`re going to report or talk about something that`s as tragic as this. You just have to look at it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Mike, thank you again. Great work and we`re going to have you back real soon.

There is a larger issue here. The problem as you just heard of drug violence in our country. William Balfour became a member of a drug gang, the gangster "Disciples" at the age of 11. Almost one-fifth of America`s prisoners say they committed their current offense to get money to buy drugs.

The Hudson family murders are a tragedy, but there are so many other stories out there just like that that we never hear about because it doesn`t involve a celebrity.

Lisa Bloom is the anchor of "In Session." Lisa, let`s talk big picture solutions, what do we do as a society about this drug-crime connection?

LISA BLOOM, anchor "IN SESSION": Well, it`s a great point and a lot of people think we should legalize or at least decriminalize a lot of drugs because many people are behind bars for simple possession crimes and what good does it do to lock people up for a long, long prison terms.

Now, there`s probably a line short of selling crack cocaine, somewhere in between the crack and marijuana that we could agree upon. I don`t necessarily agree that drugs are behind a very significant portion of crimes in this country. And places where they are decriminalized like the Netherlands, it seems to work, especially for lower level drugs like marijuana.

And I have to emphasize, we don`t know that drugs were involved in this killing at all. We know that there was a drug offense from June related to William Balfour. He was arrested apparently for cocaine possession.

But we don`t know necessarily that they were involved in this crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No but he has -- this man has a history of drug problems and problems with crimes dating way back as we said, he joined a gang when he was 11. And if you look at his juvenile record, it`s really astounding. I mean, from early teen, possession of rolled substance, then later possession of -- so drugs are a theme in his story.

You talked about decriminalization. I think that a lot of very smart people are suggesting that in one way shape or form, but it would have to dovetail with taking all the money that you wouldn`t use prosecuting drug crimes and putting it into recovery programs --

BLOOM: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And drug prevention programs because, let`s face it, when somebody starts using drugs at a very early age, it`s very hard to reel them back in. Wouldn`t it be better to take billions of dollars that are spent prosecuting drug crimes and put it into the schools and teach kids why drugs will ruin their lives?

And I`m not talking about, you know real for madness -- I`m talking about real programs.

BLOOM: Well, you`re right on a couple of levels. Number one, we do very little for inmates when they are incarcerated. Even for minor drug crimes, they don`t get any drug treatment certainly in prison; they don`t get any kind of counseling. And when they`re released, they`re just on their own. So it`s very highly likely that they`re going to re-offend. And that`s the big problem that we have.

Look, prevention is not sexy. When there`s a crime, everybody wants to just throw the book at somebody, lock them up for a long time.

And as you say, this doesn`t address all the other William Balfours out there. All the other inner city kids who start young and who have a lot of problems and our hearts should go out to any 12-year-old who is in a gang and doing drugs. And we should want to help them and not just throw a book at them, if nothing else, to protect the rest of us. But that`s not the approach we have in this country; we`re a very punitive country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what we`re trying to do on this show is look at solutions. Because every other show in the country is covering these crimes day after day, more crimes just like the other one, some worse than the last, and yet we don`t talk about how are we going to stop this from happening.

Now, Balfour was in a gang. We can also talk about gang prevention.

BLOOM: Well, absolutely. And that`s very important. And as you pointed out Jane, it would be great to have more programs in the schools for conflict resolution so we don`t have kids growing up with violence as the only kind of solution to their problems.

I mean, clearly we do have a problem in this country. We lock up juveniles longer than most other countries. We`re one of the few countries left on the planet that locks up juveniles for life without parole for crimes committed under the age of 18; only the U.S. and Somalia that really does that anymore.

We`re very, very punitive and we don`t look at the underlying issues, for example many people can`t get into a drug treatment program. In many inner cities across this country, people are begging for some kind of drug treatment if it can be made available to them free or low cost, but they can`t get it because we don`t make that available to them. It`s one of the first things that gets cut when we are cost cutting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know Lisa, it`s interesting, years ago I did a story about why kids all go to the mall in packs. Kids, teenagers are pack animals and they need to be in a pack when they hit puberty.

So if they`re not given a team like a sports team --

BLOOM: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or an after school program, they will join a gang. It`s that simple. It`s plain old psychology. So if we could create positive teams for these inner city kids, they would not have to join a gang.

But I`d like you to stay right there because we`re going to be back with more of this great insight Lisa, thank you for joining us. We`re going to get back to Lisa in a second.

And don`t forget Nancy Grace will have more details on the Hudson murder case starting in just a few minutes. You don`t want to miss that.

Stunning new developments after a New York teacher`s dead body turns up along the highway after shedding crocodile tears, now the husband makes a startling admission.

Plus, the hunt continues for the man who literally beat Arkansas anchor woman Anne Pressly to death. It`s feeling like a war against women out there. We`re going to talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM WALSH: She loves her children. She wouldn`t just leave them. Something had to have happened. Somebody just help us, please. Her family`s a mess. I`m a mess. I don`t know what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you say crocodile tears? That`s William Walsh pleading for the safe return of his wife, Leah. Just hours later he was arrested for her murder, the Long Island New York mortgage broker has now confessed to killing his wife. The man you just saw there. A pretty, popular, special Ed teacher who went missing Monday; police say the tragedy began with an argument.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Walsh and our victim, Leah Walsh, got into an argument. This argument escalated into a physical confrontation. This physical confrontation ultimately resulted in the death of Leah Walsh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And as we wait to see what happens to that dirt bag, I want to you remember Arkansas TV anchor woman Anne Pressly who was laid to rest today. Pressly was savagely beaten at her home in her bed. Police are still looking for suspects, but insist they do not believe she was targeted because of her high profile job. They say this horrific act of violence was a random burglary.

Here is my issue, this is not acceptable. This is a crisis. This is a war on women and it has to stop now. America`s women need to band together to say enough, the powers that be must focus on solutions and prevention.

Joining me now are my good friend, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist and the author of the "Complete Idiot`s Guide to a Healthy Relationship;" Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some," and the law professor at the New England School of Law; and Lisa Bloom, anchor of "In Session."

Let`s start with Wendy. How do women, as a group, fight back against this war of violence being waged upon them?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know Jane it`s a very important and very big question. But let me just give you two ideas that I have. And I sit on boards that deal with domestic violence. I`ve been working in this field for 20 years, it`s tough.

But I think there are two things we need to do. One is start talking about it as a civil rights issue. How is that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

MURPHY: If women were dying and they were all Muslim or for that matter all gay, we would talk about it as a civil rights issue. How about calling it a civil rights issue just because they`re all women, you know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

MURPHY: That`s a class of people worthy of that respect. We don`t do it -- we don`t do it with a lot of uniformity. Some states care about gender, some don`t. We need uniformity, we need the Federal Government to step up to the plate and call it what it is, where not there yet.

The other thing we need is men. We`ve made this as a women versus men battle. We`ve kind of alienated guys. I think guys can be part of the solution.

I recently put together a domestic violence fund-raising event where guess who was in the lead? Firefighters. They headlined the event, the Professional Firefighters Union in Massachusetts, the Boston Firefighters Union; they said we want to step up to the plate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree with you. We`re not here to beat up on men. There are many peaceful men. There are many men who fight to protect women and who fight to solve these crimes.

But facts are facts. Dr. Judy Kuriansky. Let`s take a look at some of the appalling ones. One out of every four women in the United States, one out of every four women in the United States, will suffer some kind of violence at the hand of her husband or boyfriend. What the heck is going on here?

JUDY KURIANSKY, PH.D. CLINICAL PHSYCHOLOGIST: Well, one of the issues really that`s so important here, Jane, is that the women have to pay attention to the men they choose.

Now, certainly as you said earlier, let`s not blame the women, but education for themselves about picking guys correctly and not going for the bad guy, as with Jennifer Hudson`s sister still keeping that, as you call him, dirt bag on her MySpace as a friend. He is no friend. He is an enemy.

And so women go for sometimes bad guys because they`re exciting, they have that kind of thrill. They add an excitement to their lives. And they need to band together as you even said, banding together to say I`m going to go for the nice guy who treats me well. I`m going to look for those guys who don`t lose their temper, who are not going to throttle me, who are able to talk.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re right, a lot of women like the bad boys.

Lisa Bloom, now, in this case of this husband, this New York mortgage broker who admits now he choked his wife and then dumped her body, as Lacy Peterson`s mother famously said, divorce is always an option. Why do people feel -- men feel the need to go to these violent extremes when they could just walk out?

BLOOM: Well, obviously they have poor impulse control and maybe they think they`re going to get away with it and everyone is going to feel sorry for them and it`s a lot quicker and easier than a divorce for they have to give a part of their property. The Department of Justice did a big study about how we can decrease domestic violence.

Number one, education for girls; the more educated a girl and a woman is, the less likely she is to be a victim of domestic violence. Number two, economic opportunity. If she`s got job options in her neighborhood, if she can go out and work and support herself and not be dependent on a man, she`s more likely to leave an abusive situation.

And number three, local resources like shelter and legal services that she can go to and get out of the relationship and know that she`s going to have some protection. In other words, short answer is, women and girls should not be dependent on a man for everything, for economics, for their home, for their livelihoods. If they have options, if they can get out, we should support that. They`re going to be more likely to leave.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and when you get out, get out. Go far. Don`t just go down the block to your sister`s house because you`re a sitting duck.

Now, Wendy Murphy, you`ve covered and prosecuted so many of these cases. Mostly it boils down, in my experience, to some very fundamental toxic secrets; usually sex and money, in this case that we`re fighting about his possible infidelity.

MURPHY: Yes, I mean, jealously brings out the worst in us doesn`t it? And rage is so close to the surface in intimate relationship, but it`s no excuse for violence.

Look Jane, one of the things we haven`t talked about is the failure of our legal system to redress this kind of targeted violence against women. Our laws are not there. And when they are used, they fail time and time again. You know why? We let women drop the charges. We say, oh, she didn`t feel like taking the stand, so let`s just give him a pat.

You can beat the hell out of a woman and expect not to be prosecuted. So why not? If we don`t say that to the bank robbers we don`t say, oh it`s ok, we`ll just drop the charges because the eyewitness didn`t feel like testifying. We need to send a different message in our courtrooms.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

MURPHY: And if you beat the hell out of a woman, --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

MURPHY: We`re going to take it seriously.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so many women are co-dependent in a very unhealthy way, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, where they have kind of a sick allegiance to the man who is abusing them and that is perhaps the most ominous because it`s hard to deal with when they`re resisting the help that you`re trying to give them.

KURIANSKY: Well, exactly. They do give the men a pass and they excuse them for what they`re doing and mostly because they are dependent on them.

We`ve talked now in this discussion about the legal fall -- the fall down of the legal system. And guess what? There`s a fall down of the therapeutic system, too. There needs to be more programs for men. There is one called the Merge that started in Boston that spread across even states like Alaska now that helps men with two things, anger management and dealing with their emotions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we want to talk about anger management in just a second, ladies. Hold tight. More on the war against women right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re talking violence against women and how to stop it. How about getting guns off the streets? A New York city gun buyback program just got 800 guns off the streets by paying gun owners a couple of hundred bucks.

We`re back with our panel, and I`d like to ask Lisa Bloom, anchor of "In Session," why is it that`s going across the country, gun buyback?

BLOOM: Jane, an issue near and dear to my heart. We have five times the gun violence that Western Europe has. Why, because we don`t have the political will to get rid of guns in this country. And I`ve interviewed Congressmen in jurisdictions where whackos took guns and killed people and said, can`t we at least keep guns out of the hands of mentally-ill people. And the answer is no. We don`t have the political will to do it.

The Supreme Court just ruled last summer a very big ruling against gun control although, there still can be some restrictions, but Americans, we love our guns. It`s part of our history. It`s very hard to get people to give them up even when there are mass killings and this Hudson case is a mass killing of three people including a seven-year-old. This convicted felon got a gun very, very easily.

People all over the world have crazy people in their countries, but in the United States we arm ours. I think it`s a crying shame.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Judy Kuriansky, the stats are so scary; access to fire arms yields a five-fold increase in the risk of intimate partner violence. Almost two-thirds of women who are gunned down are shot by an intimate partner.

KURIANSKY: Yes, they are shot. And guess what, Jane, there are other parts of their body like their hands that act as a weapon also as we just saw with this man choking his wife to death.

So it is certainly a matter of guns, but it`s helping men to control their hands as weapons instead of putting them around the woman`s throat, to put them behind their backs and to walk out of the room and learn how they could talk or pound pillows until they`re ready to do that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and we`re almost out of time, but I`d like to ask all of you, are you all willing to come back and continue this conversation?

BLOOM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think we, as women, and let`s see our panel, we as women have to come up with solutions, right?

MURPHY: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because nobody else is doing it.

BLOOM: Good for you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re a bunch of high-powered women and I`d love you to be involved in discussing this and having a conversation so we can get to some solutions and prevent these horrific crimes as we bury this poor anchorwoman.

MURPHY: Any time.

BLOOM: And invite a guy on, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get some guys on, too. Absolutely, a very good idea, we`re going to do that.

BLOOM: If you can find somewhere. I don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`ve got to go. And thanks to all of you.

You know, there are two kinds of conversations, one that happens on TV and the other kind happens everywhere else.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and I`m just trying to keep it real. Thanks for being a part of this. Please come back tomorrow for some real "ISSUES."

END

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