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Examining the President's Cabinet; More on California School Shooting; A Look at Jack Lew; China Trade Way Up; Discussing Oscar Nominations

Aired January 10, 2013 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The Obama Cabinet is losing another woman with the impending departure of Hilda Solis, the president's labor secretary. She announced her resignation just yesterday, the same day it just so happened that this photograph appeared on the front of "The New York Times."

Take a look with me. Take a good long look, all men, or so it appears, at this fiscal cliff meeting convened by the president late last month. You look closely enough, and you can actually see the leg, the leg of White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. That is Valerie Jarrett's leg, obscured by the man in corduroys here.

Either way, people are asking all kinds of questions. And, today, New York Democrat Charlie Rangel -- have you seen this? He is quoted as saying, "It is embarrassing as hell," embarrassing the emerging shape of President Obama's second term inner circle, not enough women.

Gloria Borger is our chief political analyst and, Gloria, a lot of talk about all of the sudden. You have Hillary Clinton leaving, being replaced by a male. Lisa Jackson leaving the EPA. Hilda Solis, as we mentioned, leaving labor.

You have, you know, these huge, huge cabinet positions apparently going to men. Is this a problem for the president?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the picture you showed where Valerie Jarrett was sort of hidden by communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, is not the kind of optics this White House would really like.

And, when you talk to them in the White House, they are quite defensive about it as one would imagine. And they throw out sort of the statistics which are accurate, which is that about 50 percent of the White House is female. Two of the three deputies are women. This is a president, 47 percent of his judicial nominees that have been confirmed the. He's nominated two women to the Supreme Court, on and on and on.

This is a real problem for them, though, because that was photograph and the choreography, I would argue, of all of this transition has been handled not as smoothly as they would probably like.

Because you had the fiscal cliff in the middle of things, right? BALDWIN: Well, right ...

BORGER: So, all appointments did not move the way they wanted. They didn't get Susan Rice as they would have wanted and they didn't put Michelle Flournoy in at Defense as some wanted.

BALDWIN: OK, so, would have, could have, should have, it didn't happen.

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: You talk optics. You know, we talked about the photograph that sparked the conversation, but let me share another photo because, you know, this one, this was the original photo that was published in "The Times" that was taken December 27th. Really, this is the all- male or seemingly all-male photo.

The White House countered with the second photo. Same chair for the president, but now you've got one, two -- you can spot them here -- three ...

BORGER: Where the girls are.

BALDWIN: ... three women there. This is the Oval Office. And, as you point out and you talked to the White House, right, Gloria, they are defensive here.

BORGER: Yeah, they are. Look, they are defensive about it. It's clear that they don't like the pictures that don't show a lot of women.

They argue, also, that women have a lot of input, that they're important and, of course, by the way, Janet Napolitano runs Homeland Security. Kathleen Sebelius runs the Health and Human Services Department and you still have Susan Rice over at the United Nations. So, it's not as if this is a vast wasteland without women in this administration.

My sources tell me, though, Brooke, that they still haven't filled that Commerce job.

BALDWIN: OK, that's a possibility.

BORGER: Commerce secretary, important job, and they're really looking for a woman for that.

But then you put somebody in the situation of, OK, say a woman is appointed to fill Commerce, then the question is asked, well, did she get that job because she was a woman?

BALDWIN: Because she's a woman or is she the best qualified?

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: Right, right, right, right, right. BORGER: You don't want to have that conversation. I mean, I think the people are obviously qualified, so, hopefully ,that conversation would not occur. But, you know, this is just not chatter they would like to have right now.

And, I think, by the way, today when we saw Jack Lew be nominated as treasury secretary, I think one of the reasons we didn't see the array of the economic team is because it's male.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

BORGER: They didn't wanted to add to it.

BALDWIN: Thank you, lady. Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

BORGER: Thank you, ma'am.

BALDWIN: We appreciate that.

Want to take you back here, seriously, on the subject of the school shooting in Kern County, California. It happened this morning. A student apparently shooting another student in the science building. News conference happening now. Let's listen in.

SHERRIFF DON YOUNGBLOOD, KERN COUNTRY, CALIFORNIA: 911 calls started coming in of shots -- possibly shots fired at Taft High School.

Taft police department was the initial responding agency. They had two units on scene within 60 seconds. There was an active shooter that had -- didn't show up for school this morning for the first period. He then interrupted the class halfway through it armed with a shotgun.

He fired the first round, striking another student. That student is at the hospital, a 16-year-old who is in critical condition, but stable at this point.

He then tried to engage a second student that he named and tried to shoot him and missed.

The teacher at that point was trying to get the students out of the classroom and engage the shooter who had numerous rounds of shotgun shells, a 12-gauge shotgun, numerous rounds in his pockets and he engaged the student -- the suspect with -- in conversation.

A campus supervisor showed up, was outside the classroom and, together, they engaged in conversation with this young man and, at one point, he put the shotgun down and police officers were able to take him into custody.

During the melee of people trying -- the children trying to get out, we had one student that the shotgun was fired very close to her ear. She's at the hospital with possible hearing damage.

Another student fell over the tables trying to get out and she received some minor injuries. That's where we are at at this point. And I'd like to introduce the chief of police, Ed Whiting.

BALDWIN: Another school shooting, this one in Taft, California. As you just heard, a couple of injuries, one student airlifted and others, minor, there at Taft High School in California and the shooter, a student, is in custody.

Back after this.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: From the CNNMoney Newsroom in New York, I'm Ali Velshi. This is "Your Money."

Jack Lew is a perfect pick for Treasury right now. China trades goes way up. What you need to know about the debt ceiling and California teachers say no to guns.

But, first, President Obama has just nominated Jacob "Jack" Lew to be his next treasury secretary. Lew has been the White House chief of staff and he's described as a budget wonk and a consummate Washington insider.

Lew's also done two stints at the head of the Office of Management and Budget, the OMB, under Presidents Obama and Clinton. An old colleague of his from the OMB told me why the experience there makes him the perfect choice for the job right now.


KENNETH BAER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE HARBOUR GROUP: OMB has been described as the central nervous system of the U.S. federal government. Everything of consequence goes through it.

So, it coordinates the entire executive branch for the president. It's almost like the chief operating officer role.

So, in that, Jack has been exposed to every type of policy concern, every issue, every regulation. And, you know, it's a really -- it's a huge gamut of issues and terrain that he is actually an expert on. It's really amazing, the depth he can bring on a number of issues, especially on economic policy.


VELSHI: So, that makes Lew more than qualified to negotiate the upcoming debt debates and the spending cuts with Republicans in Congress, but apparently, Wall Street doesn't like him so much. So, who cares what Wall Street thinks? To many Americans, that should actually make him more palatable.

Four years ago, the president made the right choice with Tim Geithner at Treasury because the world was teetering on edge of financial collapse. Geithner knew the ins and outs of Wall Street and commercial banks and global credit, so he could hit the ground running.

Today, the debate is about the debt ceiling, sequester and budgets. No learning curve there for Lew. I don't know if he's the best pick for the long-term, but he sure is qualified to take on the budget battles that are about to engulf Washington right now.

All right, on the money menu, China sees trade soar in December. Now, before you change the channel or wonder, why do I care, understand that China's gain is a sign that things are picking up right here in the United States.

China exports jumped 14 percent at the end of the year compared to 12 months ago. That's important because China's economy has been slowing down for seven quarters largely because of economic malaise in Europe and here in America, which of two of China's biggest customers.

Now, I have been saying things are starting to look up for the U.S. economy in 2013 and a boost in imports from China is one of the indicators that tend to confirm the sentiment.

But the one thing that could ruin this is the upcoming debt ceiling battle on Capitol Hill. The last time around, Democrats and Republicans resorted to scorched-earth tactics that cost the U.S. its iron-clad credit rating. The markets tanked and the economy suffered, as you recall.

This time around, President Obama will want the tax revenue hikes to any spending cuts that Republicans insist on. Now, to do that, lawmakers would have to tap into some politically sensitive tax deductions.

Now, for some perspective, the deductions and exclusions cost the government $1.1 trillion a year and most of those cuts benefit individuals, especially those in the middle class. It's something you need to know as the debt ceiling debates unfolds and it's something we will be watching for in coming months.

All right, finally, the backlash to the gun industry over last month's mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut is growing. Yesterday, it was Walmart that took a beating over its initial decision to dodge the White House's invitation to talk about guns today.

Now, one of the largest public pension funds out there, the one for California school teachers says it will divest itself of investments in makers of firearms and ammunition that are illegal to purchase or own in the state of California which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Christine Romans has been following this story. Christine, what's the latest?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ali, the largest retirement fund for teachers in the world, the California teachers' retirement system, will now sell its stock in gun manufacturers. You might recall that after the Newtown shooting teachers in California were shocked to learn that their investments, their retirement investments, were in the very manufacturer of the gun used to kill those students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.

Here's what CalSTRS says now. "This latest incident which occurred at a school and involved fellow educators and the children we cherish is a tipping point for CalSTRS and speaks to the correctness of our actions.

"This is not only the right thing to do, but positions us to deal with the financial pressures we anticipate this sector of the industry will face."

In fact, Ali, some of those gun manufacturing stocks have been down today, down because you've got Washington very focused now on these task force hearings about what to do about gun violence in America.


VELSHI: All right, Christine, thanks. Christine, stayed very focused on the issue of money and guns.

For more in-depth coverage, tune in to "Your Money" this weekend, Saturday 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Sunday 3:00 p.m.,, Eastern.

From the CNN Money Newsroom in New York, that's it for me. Same time tomorrow. I'm out.


BALDWIN: Drum rolls please. Reaction is pouring in today on the Oscar nominations.

"Wreck It Ralph" got nominated for best animated feature.

Here is actress Jane lynch talking tough in this movie. She plays the voice of Sergeant Calhoun.


JANE LYNCH, ACTRESS, "WRECK IT RALPH": Fear is a four-letter word. You want to go pee-pee in your big boy slacks, keep it to yourself.


BALDWIN: She's tough talking in a lot of places, apparently, and we have Jane lynch on the phone with me now from Los Angeles.

So, Jane Lynch, hello. Congratulations to you and your movie.

LYNCH (via telephone): Well, thank you.

BALDWIN: What is it like getting an Oscar nomination? What's the first thing you do after you see that? LYNCH (via telephone): Well, you know, I'm really just a cog in this big wheel of this animated film, so I'm thrilled to be in the company that I'm in.

There is a bunch of animators and geniuses behind the scenes that aren't getting any of the glory and deserve a drop of the hat today.

I'm really glad to be a part of it. Not to minimize my role in it. I mean, the voice, of course, is very, very important, but we are -- you know, it was a real team effort and I'm so proud and honored to get the nomination and I'm glad that the people at Disney invited me to do this.

BALDWIN: Yeah, well, we know you and we love you on "Glee" for sure.

Have you ever done anything like this? Been part of an animated film or a TV series or anything like this before?

LYNCH (via telephone): You know, when I was -- before "Glee" happened and the Christopher Guest movies happened for me, I was a voiceover artist. I did commercials and television, you know, radio and television commercials. Just the voice.

So, I have been at this type of game for a while and doing an animated film was always the brass ring for us.

And, you know, you get to be a bit of a celebrity and known as an actor and they start handing you these things.

So, it's really great. It's kind of unfair to the people who are toiling away, just doing the regular voiceovers.

But it was a huge honor to be in a Disney film, of course, just added to the joy that this job has been.

BALDWIN: And you have played another role, as well, Miss Lynch, that being the host of the Emmys last year. You did a fantastic job and, of course, we now know it's going to be Seth McFarland hosting the Oscars.

What's, you know, your number one "do" and your number one "don't" for advice for him?

LYNCH (via telephone): Well, I don't -- I would never be in a position of giving advice to Seth McFarland, but one of the things -- well, maybe this was something I would say to him. Don't sweat it.

One of the things that I wish, if I could go back in time, I would have relaxed a lot more about it.

And it's a live show which adds a lot of pressure, so don't compound that pressure by stressing out over it.

And your job is really just to keep it moving along and catch some really good jokes. And I'm sure he will be able to do that because he's hilarious. BALDWIN: He is hilarious. And speaking of voices, he is incredibly talented as well. Right? Right?

LYNCH (via telephone): Extremely talented. Yes. Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Jane Lynch, thank you and good luck. We will look for you on Oscar night.

And I want to keep the conversation going with Jenn Hobby who is now with 101.5 here in Atlanta. So, good to see you again. Congratulations.

JENN HOBBY, RADIO HOST, KICKS 101.5 COUNTRY RADIO IN ATLANTA: Thanks for having me back. Thanks.

BALDWIN: So, let's talk first -- you are following all these movies. The surprises? The biggest surprises today?

HOBBY: Yeah, I think some of the biggest surprises fall under the acting categories and I think the first is Joaquin Phoenix getting a nomination, Best Actor, for "The Master."

I mean, he had some really choice words to say about the Oscars back in October and really said that they weren't important to him.

BALDWIN: You're being nice.


BALDWIN: He didn't exactly phrase it that way.

HOBBY: He didn't phrase it that way. But, yeah, so, pretty big surprise that he was on the list.

I think some of the other surprises are in the Best Actress category with the oldest woman ever nominated in history for an Oscar at 85- years-old, Emmanuella Riva, for "Amour," nominated and a pretty interesting story there.

And then, also, I'm pretty surprised with the young one, Quvenzhane.

BALDWIN: Quvenzhane, we all will be saying this name.


BALDWIN: Say it again, Quvenzhane.

HOBBY: Quvenzhane, we've been practicing that all day to get it right, right? But she is the star in the indie film, "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and nominated as the youngest woman ever for an Oscar.

BALDWIN: And never acted. Picked to do this at five years of age?

HOBBY: Yes. So, she was shooting at five-, six-, seven-years-old and then, now, she is 9, so the youngest ever nominated for an Oscar. Very exciting stuff. BALDWIN: Exciting for them. As far as for the non-excitement for the people who were snubbed.

HOBBY: Yes. Well ...

BALDWIN: Pretty big directors.


BALDWIN: What actors-slash-directors?

HOBBY: Right. Ben Affleck for "Argo." Everyone was predicting that Ben Affleck actually could have been the frontrunner to win in the Best Director category and, now, not even with a nomination.

Katherine Bigelow, as well, for "Zero Dark Thirty," everyone thought she was a shoo-in in that category. Both of them snubbed.

And I think that we learn, again, that the Academy is not the biggest fan of Leonardo DiCaprio because, again, he was left out of the Best Actor category for "Django Unchained," and certainly an incredible performance there, so kind of a big surprise, again, that Leo was left out.

BALDWIN: I've said that. I loved "Argo." I'm totally surprised about the whole Ben Affleck thing. But I'll let that go. I'll let that go. Great film. Great films nominated.

Jenn Hobby, thank you.

HOBBY: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: And, as we've been following here, much more on the breaking news, this high school, just several people injured. For the majority, minor injuries. One person was air lifted. This is Taft High School in California.

We have Kyung Lah there on the scene. We'll talk to her right after this.


BALDWIN: All right, developing story here. We want to get you up to date with what's been happening in Taft, California.

We had heard from a couple of the authorities in the area after this school shooting that happened right in the 9:00 hour, Pacific time, there.

We have Kyung Lah there on the ground. She was listening in.

And, Kyung, one of the things that helped sort of clear up what you and I were talking about before as far as injuries, this one student was shot. That was the student that was airlifted, but they explained some of the other minor injuries? KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The student, according to this press conference, that's actually still going on right now, what the authorities are telling us is that the student shot that first student, a fellow student, and then aimed at a second student, but missed.

They don't know exactly how many rounds were fired in the building. And that building is right over my shoulder. It's the sciences building right here.

They don't know exactly how many rounds were shot, but between two to four from a 12-gauge shotgun. What authorities are telling us is that the student had missed first period and showed up halfway through the first period and then started firing.

And what the authorities also is commendable is that the reason why there weren't more fatalities -- excuse me, more injuries -- there are 28 student in this classroom -- is that the teacher and a counselor were able to convince the student not to hurt anyone else.


BALDWIN: Thank goodness for those two.

Kyung Lah, thank you. I know you're watching. We'll watch for more on "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer.

We will be right back.


BALDWIN: Tech junkies from all over the world have descended upon Vegas this week. They are there for an up-close look at the annual convention.

Digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong is there, too.


MARIO ARMSTRONG, DIGITAL LIFESTYLES EXPERT: We're at CES 2013. Over 150,000 people from 110 different countries, 30-plus football fields full of exhibit space, all with the latest technology right here in Vegas.

CES is all about the evolution of television and this year the hot new trend is something called 4KTV.

All of this is digital help here at CES.

So, how are people really using these devices?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anybody who wants to be a little more healthy. They make small, every day changes to add bigger results.

ARMSTRONG: TVs, laptops, computers, smartphones, but what is really cool is when you bump into something wacky and unexpected. UNIDENTIFIED: This right here is the Z Board. It's a weight-sensing electric skateboard. That means you lean forward on this foot pad to go.

ARMSTRONG: But that's not all. Over the next several days, we are going to cover this conference from corner to corner and we're going give you as much information as we can.


ARMSTRONG: Mario Armstrong, thank you. The world's biggest electronics trade show runs through tomorrow.

And before we go here, here is some good news for these 11 killer whales that were once trapped by ice. They are apparently free.

Take a look as they were desperately trying to surface just to breathe, get some oxygen. They were in this ten-foot hole there in the ice. You see them swimming around.

A group sent to break up that ice says there is no sign of them, which is good. They say they think a change in weather conditions has cracked the ice allowing them to swim into open waters.

And that is it for me here. I'm Brooke Baldwin at the CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Check out my blog for all of the latest interviews on the show.

Now, we send you to Washington. "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer starts right now.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Brooke, thanks very much.