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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Has President Obama Kept Promises on Gay Rights?; Democratic Congressman Under Fire Over Tax Evasion
Aired October 8, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, more allegations of corruption on Capitol Hill. The ethics investigation into one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington just got bigger.
Charles Rangel, who heads the committee that writes tax laws, admits he didn't pay all his taxes for years. And his excuse? It's not one the IRS would let you get away with. The "Raw Politics" tonight.
Also tonight, President Obama, he promised to be a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans, but did he deliver? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And "Crime & Punishment" and a type of music you may not have heard of, but your kids probably have. It is called horrorcore. The lyrics speak of torture, rape, and murder, but do they lead to it? Four savage killings are leading people to ask.
We begin first up with the growing trouble for Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel. He's the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He helps write our tax laws, but has admitted to not paying his own taxes. Turns out he has property in the Dominican Republic, this House. It's quite nice. He's been renting it out for years, and not paying taxes on the money.
His excuse? He says he didn't know if the property was earning money because his real estate agent kept speaking Spanish. By the way, as columnist Gail Collins pointed out today in "The New York Times," Congressman Rangel's congressional district is 50 percent Hispanic.
In August, he said to failed to report half-a-million dollars in assets on his $207,000 disclosure forms, effectively acknowledging his net worth is roughly double what he has claimed. Yesterday, Republicans tried to strip him of his powerful committee chairmanship, but his fellow Democrats blocked that.
Today, however, the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to expand its ongoing probe of the congressman. Mr. Rangel says he's the victim of a media -- a media smear campaign and is confident he will be cleared.
Let's talk it over with Dana Bash, Joe Johns, and conservative activist Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center.
So, Dana, the -- the Ethics Committee said today they're expanding the investigation. But they have already been investigating for a year. Why it is taking so long?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a question, Anderson, we're hearing more and more on Capitol Hill, not just from Republicans, but actually from Rangel's fellow Democrat, who are growing anxious.
You know, the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, they operate in a very thick cloak of secrecy. So, it's hard for anyone, us in the press or even the congressional leadership, to really know what's going on.
But we do have evidence that the committee is actually feeling the heat for taking so long, because in the statement today announcing that they're expanding their inquiry, the committee, they have actually made a point of detailing the work that they have done on the Rangel investigation, 150 subpoenas, 34 witnesses, things like that.
So, this incredibly secretive committee, they don't do that unless they're trying make a point, which I read as: We're active. Let us do our job.
COOPER: So, Peter, in broad strokes, what is he accused of doing? I mean, he has this house down at the Dominican Republic, been renting it out, I think last night on the program you said, for more than $1,000 a night at times. And he never claimed any of that? He -- he never admitted to -- to any of that?
PETER FLAHERTY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL LEGAL AND POLICY CENTER: Never reported it to the IRS, never disclosed it on his financial disclosure forms.
The Ethics Committee is looking at four other things, the fact that he has four rent-controlled apartments in New York City for which he doesn't qualify, two issues connected to the so-called Charles B. Rangel School for Public Service at the City College of New York.
Number one, he solicited gifts for that institution on congressional letterhead, which is against the rules. He also protected a lucrative tax break for company called Nabors Industries while the CEO of that company, Eugene Isenberg, was pledging a million dollars to the school.
And, lastly, the committee is looking at a congressional junket to the Caribbean led by Rangel and paid for by Citigroup. But I actually crashed and brought back photographs and recordings that are the basis for the Ethics Committee probe.
COOPER: So, Joe, when it comes to Rangel's fate, I guess a lot of it hinges on intent of what he did. I know you're looking into that.
A lot of people are very doubtful, though, understandably, that a member of Congress just forgets to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, I mean, the guy who is on the committee that writes tax laws.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.
We have been looking through Rangel's financial disclosure forms from over the years. Now, he does admit mistakes, but, even to the trained eye, it's pretty confusing. So, last year, he hired a forensic accountant to look at his finances.
And, then, after that, Rangel went in and started fixing the numbers. The problem is, like you say, he's the top guy on the committee that writes the tax laws, the chairman. So, the question congressional watchdogs and others are asking, Anderson, is, how could a guy like Rangel get his numbers so messed up when knowingly signing a false disclosure form could be considered a crime?
Some top Washington lawyers we talked to today say Rangel's problems all boil down to intent. Did he do it on purpose? And why wouldn't he want to disclose certain assets? Defenders say he was just sloppy and absent-minded.
One other -- the one other point is that Rangel's own defense when the news broke last year about that house in the Dominican Republic he wasn't paying taxes for, he actually said he wasn't aware of the situation because it was his wife who handled the family finances and talked to the accountant on -- on tax matters -- Anderson.
COOPER: Dana, I mean the Democrats, though, ran on cleaning house, on -- on draining the swamp, on -- on -- you know, how have they reacted to this? I know the Congressional Black Caucus is standing firmly behind him. But it seems like the Democrats, you know, when the Republicans tried to get him removed from his leadership position yesterday, Democrats, you know, didn't even blink an eye in just swatting that down.
BASH: That's right. There are really no visible cracks in Democratic support.
But I have got to tell you, Anderson, walking those marble halls in Congress, you can feel the tremors getting a little bit stronger, because there's no question that Republican strategy to force a vote yesterday and the Ethics Committee's announcement today that it is expanding its investigation does make many rank-and-file Democrats uncomfortable.
But I have talked to some Democratic congressmen in the past 24, 48 hours who said the reason they're willing to wait until the Ethics Committee finishes its work is actually personal to them, because they say today, it's Charlie Rangel; tomorrow, it could be them accused of something that they think is, perhaps, from their perspective, unfair or wrong.
And, so, the Ethics Committee, they say, is there to protect their innocence as much as -- as it is to root out corruption.
COOPER: Peter, does it make any sense to you that this Ethics Committee has taken a year so far?
FLAHERTY: Well, the problem is that, every time a new issue is stuffed into the Ethics Committee, something else comes out.
And Rangel himself has done Pelosi no favors. He told a reporter that Pelosi assured him that he could stay as Ways and Means chairman as long as he wanted, and Pelosi was forced to deny that report.
Now, even since these revisions were made to his financial disclosure forms in August, new stuff has come out. If you look at his -- his forms for the years 1993 to 2001, you see that he owns a six-unit brownstone in Harlem, but he reports no rent. And, if you go to public records, you will see that there were tenants in there.
So, even after he's come clean, he's still dirty.
JOHNS: ... you know, there's one other question here, and that is, how much would Rangel have conceivably gained if all of this had never gone public?
We have been trying to figure out a number. And, you know, the defenders claim that his benefit would have been minimal. But we do know that Rangel paid the IRS in New York state almost $11,000 in back taxes for that Dominican house after that oversight was spotted.
COOPER: All right, Joe Johns, Peter Flaherty, Dana Bash, I appreciate it. We will keep on it.
The Ethics Committee today unanimous, but it's just about the only example of bipartisanship all year. President Obama campaigned on a promise to reach out to Republicans. Now, Republicans say he hasn't really tried even, as they have voted no, with almost no exceptions, on every major piece of the Obama agenda.
One Democrat today, if the president had a BLT sandwich for lunch tomorrow, Republicans would try to outlaw bacon. But how does the public see it? Who do they blame for what is going in Washington/
Well, tonight, with key votes on health care just days away, new polling suggests some trouble ahead for the Democrats.
Tom Foreman is in Washington and crunching the numbers -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, that's exactly what shows, especially trouble for the Democrats.
Take a look. Gallup has found a serious shift in public support. If America had to vote on new Congress members right now, there would be a virtual tie. Forty-six percent would go for the Dems, 44 percent for the Republicans. Another poll by Quinnipiac University has found something similar. They show support for congressional Republicans lower than for Dems. But Democrats have fallen much more sharply, and their lead is dwindling.
And look at this contrast. About a year ago, Democrats were riding a wave of popularity, and Republicans were in terrible shape. Some were even saying back then that the GOP was finished. Well, they're not saying that anymore, Anderson, not with all this going on.
COOPER: Yes, I want to pick up on that question of why. Why are the Democrats losing so much support? We are going to get to that when we come back.
Let us know what you think at home. Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Just ahead: When he was a candidate, Senator Barack Obama made a lot of promises to gay and lesbian Americans. Has he kept them? Tonight, we check the record -- Randi Kaye "Keeping Them Honest."
And, later, he calls himself Syko Sam. He raps about murder and mayhem. He's accused of bringing his gruesome lyrics to life and taking the lives of four people. The music is called horrorcore. You may not have heard of it, but your kids probably have. And you need to tonight -- "Crime & Punishment" ahead.
COOPER: We're picking up with Tom Foreman and new polls showing the Democrats losing support, "Raw Politics" at a key moment for the president and his party.
Tom, who are -- who are they losing, and why?
FOREMAN: Well, there are two big reasons, Anderson.
They have lost the advantage they had with independent and moderate voters who wanted Barack Obama to change Washington. Last year, the Dems had a disproportionate share of those folks rallying around Mr. Obama's promise of a post-partisan administration, where Republicans and Democrats would work together for the good of the country. Now those voters have once again pretty evenly divided between the parties.
The second reason, the Democratically-controlled Congress has spent a lot of money, while not producing obvious results that everyone can see on key issues, economy, the wars, health care, the environment. Gallup says approval of Congress is now just over 21 percent, about half of what it was last spring.
So, the new Washington looks a lot like the old one. You can argue about who's to blame for that, but, no matter the cause, Anderson, voters just don't like it.
Tom, thanks. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: More now on the "Raw Politics" and the implications, both now and next year, with former McCain-Palin adviser and Daily Beast contributor Nicolle Wallace, chief national correspondent and host of "STATE OF THE UNION" John King, and Errol Louis, CNN contributor and columnist for "The New York Daily News."
So, John, if what the numbers indicate is true, then Democrats have some real cause for concern, don't they?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Quite a bit of cause, Anderson, with the footnote that election is 13 months from now, not one month from now. So, there is time to recover.
But when you travel the country and you look at the polling, people, number one, are concerned about all the spending. Number two, even on the left, there is some concern that, what are we getting done here? Why is the health care debate so -- taking so long? Can't the president, with a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, get more things done?
Plus, there's history. The president's party almost always suffers in the first midterm election. So, it's a steep hill for the Democrats right now. How the economy fares a year now and what they do on health care, Afghanistan and other big issues, will have a lot more to say about it, though, down the road than we know the polls would show right now.
COOPER: Nicolle, do you buy the numbers?
NICOLLE WALLACE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, it's a little bit like being ahead in a marathon after mile two.
WALLACE: I mean, they're encouraging, but there's a long way to go.
And I think Republicans have heeded some of the advice they got in the wake of the, you know, rather disastrous results in '06 and '08. And that was to get back to some of these core philosophical debates, spending and big government vs. a small and lean government that only does the necessary, strong on defense vs., you know, the -- the Democratic Party's history of being more nuanced, and -- and not being as strong and tough on the war on terror.
Now, I -- I think that Republicans are on the right track. But I think it is -- it can happen so quickly that a party spins out of control.
COOPER: Well, I mean it is, Errol, a remarkable turn of events thus far. I mean, if you think back to when President Obama was first elected, everyone was talking about, you know, the Democrats reigning for a long time. Within a relatively short amount of time, Republicans seem to have found their voice. ERROL LOUIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, sure. But, you know, what people forget is that, in about 50 congressional districts where Obama carried the district, the -- the -- the party was split. I mean, the electorate was split.
And let me say it differently. There are 50 seats where the Democrat won the congressional seat, but McCain won.
LOUIS: And so, you know, it's not clear whether or not those districts are going to go one way or another. There are a lot of really divided voters out there, a lot of divided districts. And Democratic operatives, Democratic strategists are not going to sleep well between now and next November, no way.
COOPER: Nicolle, have -- critics of the Republicans say, basically, look, they have a scorched-earth policy going on right now, that they are opposing anything that President Obama supports.
Is that fair?
WALLACE: That's not fair. And it's not true.
I mean, Jeb Bush has been very complimentary of Obama's Education Department secretary so far. Today, he said he was encouraged. Bill Frist was on, you know, as a very credible voice, as a doctor, talking about the need for health care reform. John McCain is -- is a statesman's statesman. And he is providing a lot of leadership and I think productive and constructive ideas...
COOPER: But you're kind of clutching at straws. I mean, Jeb Bush and Bill Frist?
WALLACE: These aren't straws. These are certainly people that...
COOPER: Bill Frist is like, you know...
WALLACE: But these are people who could end up on the landscape in a presidential landscape down the road.
So, I think when you -- you look at Washington, sure, you look at House members. But when you look at the American public at large, you know, not all of what happens in Washington breaks through.
COOPER: So, you don't -- you don't buy Paul Krugman's argument that -- that anything the president -- that, out of spite, anything President Obama is for, they're against?
And, look, at a serious level, I think that we have given way too much attention and power to the fringe on both sides. I don't think they speak for a vast majority of people. I -- I think, you know, you can sit a Democrat and a Republican at a table, and they would probably agree on 80 percent of the problems that we face in the country. They may disagree on how to solve them.
But you put the, you know, nuts on both sides together, they disagree on 100 percent.
COOPER: Well, go ahead, Errol.
LOUIS: You have got to make the case for change, though. And this is what the Republican Party is doing that makes some sense, actually, is you have to sort of probe around. And it's not a pretty process to watch. We have got a 24-hour news cycle, so we're watching it obsessively.
But they're pushing and they're probing for the issues that are going to stick. What they're going to try and do next year is see if they can nationalize this election, the way they did in 1994, and get a whole bunch of candidates who are all running on essentially the same ticket, the way they did on the Contract For America.
And, if they can do that, then they will have a much better chance at -- at taking more seats than -- rather than fewer.
WALLACE: Well, in 2006. I mean that happened in 2006 also -- or -- or -- I'm sorry -- George Bush's first midterm elections, which would have been 2002. You know, that was definitely a nationalized midterm election. He defied history, in that, you know, the president's party, as you said, usually loses seats. He picked -- or John said -- you know, he picked up seats. His party won seats in '02.
So, you know, it can go either way. But I think Republicans are well-positioned to have these big philosophical debates with Democrats about spending, about the way forward in Afghanistan, about the economy.
KING: If it's the same movie.
In 1994, the Republican script was, this is not the change you were promised. They said Bill Clinton ran as a centrist Democrat, and then governed as a liberal. He came out of the box with don't ask/don't tell, gays in the military. He came out of the box with a health care plan that they said was way more liberal than what he ran on in the campaign. The question is, can Republicans run that script next year? They believe now, the early chapters of the Obama administration, the answer is yes.
Anderson, the groups to watch, senior citizens. They vote more than any other group, especially in a midterm election, when overall turnout is down. The president and the Democrats have a problem right there right now.
They also have a problem because the other groups that made the big difference last year, younger voters, African-American voters, also don't have a history of turning out in midterm elections. So, the math right now favors the Republicans. But, again, 13 months is a very long time.
COOPER: No doubt. It certainly is.
John King, Nicolle Wallace, Errol Louis, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Well, up next tonight, continuing our coverage of kids getting killed in Chicago -- tonight, teens, teachers, cops, and politicians square off on the stop-snitching problem.
And horrorcore, you may not know about this type of music, but chances are your kids do. And the lyrics make gangsta rap seem tame -- what you need to know tonight.
COOPER: Tonight, a 360 follow on the story that took us back to Chicago yesterday.
The U.S. attorney general and the education secretary were in town yesterday to address an out-of-control problem. It's one we have been covering, unfortunately, for more than two years: kids dying in the streets, killed on their way to and from school.
Now, these are just some of the victims. Ninety-four have kids died since the fall of 2007 -- the latest, a 16-year-old honor student whose beating was caught on videotape.
Yesterday, we asked Mayor Richard Daley for an interview. He turned us down. The invitation still stands, of course.
Tonight, a meeting between kids and cops and politicians and teachers. Did it help?
Gary Tuchman is in Chicago -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Mayor Daley had two new proposals today to address the issues of kids and safety. One of those proposals is to increase the number of police at schools patrolling when school is over, the other, to increase funding for after-school programs. Now, those proposals cam on the very same day that about 150 kids gathered at a community center one block away from where Derrion Albert was beaten two weeks ago.
And these kids were frustrated. They were scared. They were worried about their safety. Cops and politicians, local politicians, showed up at the town hall meeting. They asked questions of the cops and politicians.
The cops and politicians also posed questions for the young people. And the local alderman for the district, the alderman from the city council, asked about snitching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE AUSTIN, CHICAGO CITY ALDERMAN: Help me understand this code of silence, I mean, because something occurs and if you are aware that somebody is being hurt or going to be hurt, why don't you all tell?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another one of the issues, why people don't snitch, is because, the next thing you hear next to violence is police brutality. That's the second thing that is developing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't even want to go to the police no more. You just heard on the news this morning a police beat the kid up in a school. I mean, you don't even want to go to the police no more. You don't want to go to nobody. You're going to put yourself in harm either way you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you will snitch on the block, you get killed. You get popped. And nobody from the block, they want to be a snitch or they want to be labeled a snitch, because, like, that's the worst thing that you ever could be, is a snitch. So, tell you the truth, that's one thing you got to break right there, because that is crazy.
You ain't going to snitch on my brother because you killed my sister, but it's kind of crazy. We're killing our own people, if we really look at it. You know what I'm saying?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: We were stunned -- and I'm sure many of you were, too -- when we heard last week the Chicago police chief say that nobody had come forward who was at the scene of Derrion Albert's beating to give them information.
So, this alderman had a very interesting proposal, commonsense proposal, but interesting. She said at the meeting tonight to the kids, listen, you call me anonymously, give me information, don't say your name, and then I will be the snitch -- Anderson. COOPER: Well, we will see what -- we will see what happens.
Gary, appreciate it.
Covering a number of other stories tonight, here is Erica Hill with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, 17 people are dead, more than 60 wounded in a bomb explosion in Kabul. The suicide bomber struck outside the Indian Embassy there. The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack. A similar blast just about a year ago in the very same place killed 58 people.
There is some positive economic news today. The Labor Department says first-time claims for jobless benefits actually fell -- in fact, they're at their lowest level since January -- while retailers saw their first gains in 14 months. It was small, but even an uptick of a tenth-of-a-percent is welcome.
And, in just a few hours, NASA will bomb the moon, the space agency. Yes, it's true. And there's a good reason, Anderson Cooper. They're deliberately crashing two unmanned spacecraft into the moon's surface early Friday morning. The goal here is, the impact creates a lot of dust and then they can look inside those dust particles for possible traces of water.
COOPER: It's so cool, what they're doing
HILL: ... it's beyond me, but I'm impressed.
COOPER: Yes. It's very -- it's amazing. It's like something out of a science fiction movie. But it's cool.
HILL: Interesting. It will like science fiction in space.
COOPER: Crazy, huh?
COOPER: All right. Erica, thanks.
Welcome back, by the way.
HILL: Thank you.
COOPER: I have missed being mocked.
HILL: I'm here to help.
COOPER: All right.
Well, has President Obama broken his promises to gay and lesbian Americans? Tonight, we check his rhetoric and his record. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
This weekend, there is a march in Washington for gay and lesbian equality. We will talk to the organizer, Cleve Jones, about what he hopes to accomplish and whether he thinks the president has lived up to his promises.
And, later, music and murder -- the music is called horrorcore. The performer is accused of killing four people. Did his songs foreshadow his crimes? Hear for yourself ahead.
COOPER: This weekend in Washington, the civil rights march demanding equality for gays and lesbians, it's the first time President Obama will be faced with such a public demonstration from some of his core supporters.
On Saturday, the night before the march, President Obama has agreed to speak to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights group in the country. He may be facing a very wary and disillusioned audience.
When he was courting votes as a candidate, Mr. Obama promised he would be a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans. Those were his words. But many gay and lesbian activists say the president hasn't followed through on his promises.
We're going speak to Cleve Jones, the man behind the march in a moment, but, first, what the president promised and what he has and hasn't done.
Randi Kaye tonight "Keeping Them Honest."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to fight for gay rights. So, why, nearly a year since the election...
CROWD: Yes, we can!
KAYE: ... are so many gays and lesbians growing impatient with the president they overwhelmingly supported and helped elect?
(on camera): Barack Obama has called himself a -- quote -- "consistent and fierce advocate" of the gay community. Has his presidency lived up to that?
RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER ON SAME-SEX ISSUES: Not in these last 11 months, not yet, at least.
KAYE: "Keeping Them Honest," here are just some of the promises the president made.
Promise number one: to end don't ask/don't tell, which bans anyone openly gay from serving in the military.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that we should end don't ask/don't tell.
I have stated repeatedly that don't ask/don't tell makes no sense.
I believe don't ask/don't tell doesn't contribute to our national security.
SOCARIDES: The government is actively discriminating against us just because who we are. And this is happening on his watch.
KAYE: Promise number two: the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The president says he supports civil unions, not same- sex marriage.
SOCARIDES: President Obama has said that he wants the law changed, but he's taken no action towards doing that.
KAYE: Promise No. 3: a hate crimes bill that would make violent attacks on members of the gay community, because of their sexuality, a federal crime. Just today the House approved the measure. But the Senate has yet to.
It's taking too long for people like Pamela Spaulding, a lesbian who writes a political blog. While Pam and others realize the president also is dealing with Afghanistan, the economy, and health care, she says she's seen too many speeches...
OBAMA: Our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked...
KAYE: And too little action.
PAMELA SPAULDING, BLOGGER, PAMSHOUSEBLEND.COM: There is a long list of progressive issues that need to be acted upon. And where we fell in line was disappointing. I mean, it was almost as if we were put back into the closet and told to wait.
KAYE: Pam is especially disappointed in the president's failure so far to keep promise No. 4: to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act which would prohibit hiring and firing on the basis of sexual orientation.
(on camera) In June, the president did celebrate gay pride at the White House and he just appointed an openly gay U.S. ambassador to New Zealand. But critics call these, quote, "peripheral moves." As a candidate, the president promised them fierce action. Still the White House says the president is intent on making progress on the issues. But even supporters in the gay community say the president has made a lot of promises and still no action.
Randy Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: So disappointment with Obama is one thing. But why march on Washington? Why put pressure, effectively, on the president?
Joining me now is Cleve Jones, a longtime activist and author. He created the AIDS memorial quilt in the mid-1980s and is the man behind Sunday's march in Washington.
Cleve, do you still believe the president is a fierce advocate for gay and lesbians?
CLEVE JONES, ACTIVIST/AUTHOR: I believe that President Obama wants to do the right thing. But I believe that he, like most politicians, needs some pressure and a little prodding.
I am disappointed. I'm frustrated. I still support the president. But we need to see some action.
And, of course, it's not just the president. It's Congress, as well, and the Supreme Court. We're marching this weekend to show that we want action. But we're also trying to change the conversation. Because for too long we have struggled and fought for fractions of equality.
COOPER: You're talking about state by state action, referendums?
JONES: Exactly. State by state, county by county, city by city, and even when we win, those victories are incomplete and impermanent. They're incomplete, because the most important rights are granted, not by the states but by the federal government. And they are impermanent, because we've seen they can be so easily overturned.
So we're marching this weekend to say, first to LGBT America that we are equal, and it's time we start acting like it and stop accepting compromises and delays. We want to send a message to the president and Congress that we are full citizens, taxpayers, voters. We believe we're equal, and we want equal protection under the law in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. And that is the one demand.
COOPER: But why put pressure on President Obama, though? If you believe he, you know, wants to do the right thing, you know, there are those who say, "Well, look, he's got the war in Afghanistan. He's got the situation in Iraq. He's got the economy. He's got health care. Why put pressure on him now?"
JONES: Well, first of all, we remember the Clinton years. We had eight years of peace and prosperity under Bill Clinton, who also went to our parties and took our checks and issued proclamations and gave some of us good jobs. But during his administration, what did we get out of it? We got the Defense of Marriage Act and "don't ask, don't tell."
I think it is healthy for all politicians to be kept under pressure from their constituents and the people who elected them.
COOPER: Barney Frank, as you know, highest ranking gay member of Congress said this about the march yesterday. He said, "I literally don't understand how this is going to do anything. I don't want people to give themselves credit for doing something that's useless. No member of Congress cares whether people went to Washington or not."
JONES: Well, Barney has opposed every march we've ever had. But I do need to correct the misstatement that no member of Congress thinks this has any value. I met this afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Reid, who was very pleased that we're marching and is supporting the march.
COOPER: So does it work? I mean, do you think it actually has an impact, marching?
JONES: You know, any one thing do you isn't going to get you where you want to go. A march won't do it. Electing a friendly legislator won't do it. Writing a check won't do it. Signing a petitioning won't do it. Clicking a mouse won't do it. Picketing won't do it. Getting arrested in civil disobedience won't do it.
But if you do all of those things over and over, relentlessly, with determination, that's how we win. And marches can be very useful in energizing the base.
But also I think Congressman frank, who I do respect enormously, would be pleased to know that during this weekend we're not having any disco parties or celebrations. We're spending the weekend in trainings and workshops and seminars. And we are focused on sending people home to all 435 congressional districts to do the hard work that Barney knows does matter so much. So...
COOPER: How many do you expect?
JONES: Well, I'm not going to make an estimate. But we've got a lot of people coming. And I'm very excited about it, especially for the new young people, who should go to our Web site, NationalEqualityMarch.org, and sign up. I think we're seeing a new generation of activists who reject the old incremental approach and say, "You know, we're full citizens. We want equal protection under the law. It's the 14th amendment to the United States constitution. It's time we lived up to it."
COOPER: Cleve Jones, appreciate you being on the program tonight. Thanks.
JONES: My pleasure.
COOPER: Well, much of the battle over gay rights is being waged at the state level. So where do all 50 states stand when it comes to same-sex marriage? You can go to AC360.com to find out.
While you're there you can join the live chat happening now. The next story will also get you talking. It's disturbing. So is the music that some say inspired it. The music is called horrorcore, and the lyrics are about murder, rape and Satan. Just entertainment, or incitement to murder? You be the judge tonight.
And just when you thought Levi Johnston was only coming out of his shell to pitch pistachios, "Playgirl" called. He answered, and apparently, well, he's going to, you know, show the full monty. Details coming up.
COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, an aspiring hard-core rapper stands accused of cold-blooded murder, and many are wondering if the music drove him to kill.
This is the alleged killer, suspected of taking the lives of a pastor and three other people. He's a follower of something called horrorcore rap. A genre with lyrics that speak of extreme violence, torture and death. Tonight we're going to take you inside the underground world of horrorcore rap, find out more about the appeal and whether it really did fuel one man's rampage.
Here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might think Richard Samuel McCroskey looks like an average young man. But you'd be so wrong. On YouTube he calls himself Syko Sam. His lyrics, offensive and upsetting.
GRAPHIC: I love to hear you scream. I love to hear you cry. As I gag your mouth and I blindfold your eyes. Rape, torture, kill, you ready for a big surprise. Now it's sure time for you to die.
TUCHMAN: Far more upsetting is this: Syko Sam is now accused of actually carrying out the type of murder and mayhem he raps about.
JIM ENNIS, PRINCE EDWARD COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY: Preliminary results, the autopsies indicate that the causes of death were blunt force trauma to the head.
TUCHMAN: The 20-year-old northern Californian, suspected of brutally killing four people, had a smirk on his face as led to jail in the tiny town of Farmville, Virginia.
One of the victims, 16-year-old Emma Niederbrock, whom he met over the Internet and who invited him to stay at her house.
When a reporter asked McCroskey about allegations against him, he declared... RICHARD SAMUEL MCCROSKEY, ACCUSED OF MURDER: Jesus told me to do it.
TUCHMAN: McCroskey has not yet made a plea. The attorney appointed to defend him on this murder rap, who just visited him in this jail, says...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's deer in the headlights a little bit. I dare say he's -- he's -- I don't want to say in shock. That's a medical term. It's a big experience for him.
TUCHMAN: McCroskey has been involved in a musical genre that his lawyer and most other people know little about. It's called horrorcore. A style of hip hop music that often dwells on topics that include killings, rapes and Satanism.
This concert features a group called the Insane Clown Posse, commercially a very successful group. People we talked to within the industry say there is not a connection between these type of lyrics and real-life violence. But these two teenagers feel differently. Landon and Brandon McCeachran are twins who were both close friends with murder victim Emma Niederbrock. A photo of Emma is still on one of the teens' cell phones.
Emma was a follower of horrorcore, too.
(on camera) If she would have told you that she was inviting to her house, a guy who writes these violence lyrics about murder.
BRANDON MCCEACHRAN, FRIEND OF VICTIM: I would have been worried.
TUCHMAN: What would you have said to her?
MCCEACHRAN: I would have been worried, and I would have told her. I'm a blunt person. I would have told her how -- that somebody needs to be around her to watch her. If you have somebody that writes stuff like that, that's somebody you need to watch.
TUCHMAN: Also bludgeoned to death, Emma's mother, Debra Kelley, Emma's father, the Reverend Mark Niederbrock, a pastor at a Presbyterian church. And another friend staying with Emma, a teen named Melanie Wells.
(on camera) A disturbing sequence of events was triggered when police received a call from Emma's friend's mother. Melanie Wells' mother hadn't heard from her daughter for a while and asked police to come by this house to check out the situation.
The cops came to the door and said they were met by the man known as Syko Sam. They said he told them everything was fine, that Melanie was at the movies. But Melanie's mother still didn't hear from her daughter, called police, told them, "Please come back." They came back the next day.
This time Syko Sam was no longer here. But a terrible odor was. Police went inside the house and immediately found three bodies. By further searching, they found a fourth.
(voice-over) This surveillance tape at the Richmond airport shows McCroskey being arrested. He had fallen asleep near the luggage carousels.
(on camera) Richard Samuel McCroskey is scheduled to return to court on January 11 for a preliminary hearing. By then, he may find out if prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
(voice-over) His YouTube look was part of his act, but if the allegations against him are correct, this is how he may have really looked to four terrified people.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Farmville, Virginia.
COOPER: Wow. Let's dig deeper. Alan Lipman, a psychologist and the founder of the Center for the Study of Violence. And James Zahn is the editor of "Fangoria Musick" and an authority on horrorcore rap.
Appreciate both of you being us with.
Allen, you know, it's the easiest thing in the world to blame music for problems. Judas Priest used to get blamed. Marilyn Manson, even Elvis Presley back in the day have all been accused of inciting stuff.
This music, clearly, it's offensive and the lyrics disgusting. Does it really, though, cause somebody to kill?
ALAN LIPMAN, FOUNDER, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF VIOLENCE: Well, look, here's the way it works. We've seen this not only with the music that you cited but with comic books, video games, with other music like Ozzy Osbourne and so forth.
The fact of the matter is 98 percent of kids could be seated in front of this admittedly, very shocking horrorcore, and while they might be shocked by it, while they might be disturbed by it, they would not be violent. They just simply would not cause violence.
The problem is this: that in 2 percent of kids who already have a propensity towards violence, who are isolated, who are alienated, who are ready to act out, this is the match to the gasoline. So it provides basically -- basically a method and a means for violence. So it's those kids -- and I do think that this is a situation that where it applies -- where we have to be very careful and exposing these kids to this kind of music.
COOPER: James, do you agree with that? That it provides a language or a way of thinking to a kid who has a pre-existing problem?
JAMES ZAHN, EDITOR, "FANGORIA MUSICK": I think that the bigger problem is that they have that predisposed penchant for violence or whatnot. But I don't really feel that the music is that match. I think that entertainment as a whole -- and there's horror in many forms of entertainment -- looked at by that small percentage of people, maybe it could cause something. But I don't see it that way. I tend to think that there's entertainment and there's real life. And if you're going to do bad things, chances are you're going to do them with or without music.
COOPER: All right.
LIPMAN: That's a very reasonable...
COOPER: I want to follow up on that for just a second. We've got to take a quick break. We've got a lot more to talk about. Alan and James, we'll be right back to you.
Also ahead tonight, Michael Vick getting his own reality show. Talk about bizarre. But does that guy deserve a platform? We'll let you decide.
And the chairman of the House powerful -- the powerful House committee that writes tax laws is in trouble for allegedly not following his own rules. New pressure today on Charles Rangel. The investigation is deepening.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: He rapped about rape, torture and murder, and now this young man, who went by the name Syko Sam, is behind bars, charged with killing four people. He said Jesus told him to do it. But was the music the match that made him explode? He was part of horrorcore rap. Lyrics, clearly sickening and disturbing, the message one of mayhem and bloodshed.
With us again, psychologist Alan Lipman and James Zahn, editor, "Fangoria Musick" and an expert on horrorcore.
Alan, you wanted to follow up on what James had said.
LIPMAN: Sure. I agree with James. For most people, this is entertainment. But what we have to realize is that, for kids who are already isolated and angry this is a kid who had already been thrown out of school twice, who had already shown anger, who said, "I hate everyone and hate everything."
That when he was, as we found out, rejected and his family split up, this kind of rage, as we've seen in the Secret Service study that was done in 2002 is expressed through the method and means of what they're listening to or doing, whether it's video games or whether it is, you know, hard core violent music.
That doesn't mean that we should ban this stuff. James, you're absolutely right. The answer is to see the signs of this kind of anger and rage before it is acted out in this way. And this was a kid who was clearly showing signs of it long before these acts took place. It doesn't mean we should ban this stuff. The answer is to see the signs of this kind of anger and rage before it is acted out in this way. And this was a kid who was clearly showing signs of long before these acts took place. So the answer is vision, intervention, treatment, not banning this kind of material.
COOPER: James, I don't think most people out there have even heard of horrorcore before. Maybe they're heard of the Insane Clown Posse. That's about as close as I had heard of it. Richard McCroskey, this guy who called himself Syko Sam, when he rapped about raping, torturing, killing, is that standard fare for horrorcore lyrics?
ZAHN: It can be. One of the things with Syko Sam is that no one knew who he was before this incident. He wasn't a celebrity. He wasn't on any label of note. He wasn't out there selling tons of albums. He was very much a DIY type of independent underground artist that was doing this.
But as a whole, the genre is very much like the audio version of a really scary movie. There are all of those topics in there. Torture, murder, you name it. It's there. It's the audio equivalent to what horror films are on the visual end.
COOPER: And what's been -- what's been the reaction? And, you know, among people who like horrorcore, about this murder? About these murders?
ZAHN: Everyone has been very sympathetic. All the chat boards and message forums and all of that. Everybody has expressed condolences and sympathy for the families.
Because as Alan was saying, the norm would be not to go bludgeon people, as he's accused of doing. This is a small incident that, once again, has brought attention to a larger genre. But it's not a huge genre. But now it's mainstream news.
COOPER: Alan, you say you see parallels in this tragedy to others like Columbine and Virginia Tech. How so?
LIPMAN: Well, sure. All we have to do is walk backwards. Let's say we start -- we could start anywhere in the last ten years. But let's start with Columbine. These were angry, isolated, alienated kids who had diagnosed mental illnesses that have not been treated as the Secret Service report lays out, boom, boom, boom, boom.
They're obsessed with Doom. They immerse themselves in Doom. Now, how would they have acted out that violence if they hadn't immersed themselves in that genre? In some other way. Maybe they would have busted a window. Maybe they would have gotten into fights.
COOPER: So bottom line...
LIPMAN: This provides a direction, a means, a way of expressing the anger. COOPER: So Alan, if there's a parent out there and their kid is listening to this, and maybe this is the first they're kind of hearing it, what do you advise?
LIPMAN: Long before the kid is immersing themselves in their room, as he did for four years, from 1999 onwards, listening to horrorcore, see that when your child is absolutely distraught over your divorce, as his sister mentioned, that this is a situation that needs to be dealt with then. It needs to be intervened with then, before it blossoms into the kind of horror that we've seen over these last few weeks.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Alan Lipman, James Zahn, it's a good discussion. I appreciate both of you being on. Thank you.
ZAHN: Thank you.
COOPER: All right. Still ahead, is Michael Vick being rewarded for abusing animals? Convicted football player will soon have his own TV show, and really does he deserve one? That's next.
Also tonight, northern exposure. Levi Johnson, the thorn in the Palin family's side. He'll soon be showing a whole lot more of himself. Details of Levi's plans with "Playgirl" ahead.
COOPER: There are other important stories we're covering tonight, and there's a story about Levi Johnson. Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: First the important stories, Anderson.
An 85-year-old could face eight years in prison, convicted today of looting his ailing mother's estate of millions. A jury convicted Anthony Marshall of coercing his mother, Brooke Astor, to give him full control of her nearly $200 million estate. Brooke Astor, a longtime philanthropist, a socialite in New York, died two years at the age of 105.
A new career for Michael Vick off the field. In addition to his new gig with the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick has signed onto a so-called docu-series with BET. The eight episodes will cover not only his controversial return to football but also his past, including his arrest, conviction, and prison time for running a dog-fighting ring.
And oh, yes, Levi Johnson. It's hard to forget him, since he never really goes away. The teen who fathered a child with Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter at the time, of former Alaska governor and GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin, is back for more. You see...
COOPER: He's working out.
HILL: He's working out, apparently three hours a day, six days a week. He wants to be in tip-top shape for his upcoming "Playgirl" shoot. You see those pictures there from TMZ of him hitting the gym.
COOPER: The Palins must be just so thrilled about this.
HILL: I'm sure they're excited.
COOPER: Yet another chapter.
HILL: You know what's interesting, though: he's not the only one working out. But I think he's got a long way to go if he wants to get guns like these, Anderson Cooper.
(SOUND EFFECT: WHISTLE)
HILL: Those were also posted on TMZ.
HILL: There you have it.
COOPER: Yes. You know, it's really -- it's really nice when you're working out for someone to take a photograph from a block away.
HILL: Sorry about that.
COOPER: Lesson learned. I will never work out in front of a window again.
HILL: Forget the window.
HILL: I'm just there to help you out.
COOPER: What's happening there?
HILL: I don't know.
COOPER: Shot of my arm?
HILL: It was a shot of the gun, apparently.
COOPER: Yes. I'm not putting on a show.
HILL: Tickets for the gun show.
COOPER: You need a permit.
HILL: Tough to follow that, but we'll have to try, won't we?
COOPER: All right. Let's move on. For tonight's "Shot," the ultimate fanatic: a rabid follower of the Georgia Bulldogs...
HILL: Oh, yes, the Dogs!
COOPER: Explains why. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really know what's going on. So why don't you tell me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Dogs! This is (UNINTELLIGIBLE), baby! This is how we do it for the Dogs! Go Georgia!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you white?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting the red and black going right now. White face...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why -- why...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Base coat. We have red and then we get black going. And that's the Dogs! Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So does the white stick better?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. That is our producer Kelly Moore. Big fan of the Dogs, and he's taking a couple days off, and he's got the base coat on.
HILL: And that's where he was.
COOPER: Other than that, that guy could be a hard core rapper.
HILL: He might be. He might be.
I have to say, I lived in Georgia for five years, and I know all about love for the Dogs.
HILL: Go, Dogs. Wow, he may take the cake, that guy.
COOPER: That's -- yes. It's nice to have rabid fans.
You can see all the most recent shots -- as long as, you know, they stay within a 100 radius -- like radius of you. You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site at AC360.com.
Serious stuff ahead. Coming up at the top of the hour, tax troubles and more for the man who writes your tax laws and mine. Wait until you hear the excuse that powerful lawmaker gave for not paying. Be right back.