ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 27, 2013
Guests: Eliot Engel, Julia Ioffe, Tamara Alrifai, Ben Domenech, Arthur Caplan, Seth Mnookin
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Tonight on ALL IN:
We are told that a U.S. military response in Syria is imminent. The
U.S. defense secretary says the military is ready to strike. Syria`s
foreign minister says his country is ready to defend itself. What will
happen and when? That`s coming up in a moment.
Also tonight, summer vacation is wrapping up for Congress, so they`re
revving up the obstruction machine for a triumphant return to Washington in
the never-ending quest to defund and destroy Obamacare.
Plus, a Texas megachurch where ministers push faith healing over
vaccinations is now at the epicenter of a measles outbreak. Why science is
being ignored and kids are now paying the price.
All that ahead.
But we begin tonight with the drumbeat for U.S. military strikes
against Syria. In just the last 24 hours since we last talked to you, a
consensus among the United States and its allies has hardened remarkably
quickly and it is apparent there will be military action against Syria
possibly by the end of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s no doubt
who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria -- the
Syrian regime. The president believes, and I believe, that those who use
chemical weapons against defenseless men, women and children, should and
must be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was, of course, Vice President Joe Biden, who used a
previously scheduled speech before the American Legion to make those
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney was in day two of setting
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is not our policy
position to respond to this through regime change. We will take an
appropriate response, and we are evaluating, the president and his team are
evaluating the options available to them. And the president will make an
assessment and an announcement in due time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made clear that U.S. military
forces are ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Suffice to say the options are
there, the United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those
options. If that would occur, that would occur also in coordination with
our international partners.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if the order comes, you`re ready to go, like
HAGEL: We`re ready to go, like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, our closest allies are lining up in agreement.
British Prime Minister David Cameron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Now, of course, any action we
take, or others take, would have to be legal, would have to be
proportionate. It would have to be specifically to deter and degrade the
future use of chemical weapons.
Let me stress to people, this is not about getting involved in a
Middle Eastern war or changing our stance in Syria or going further into
that conflict. It`s nothing to do with that. It`s about chemical weapons.
Their use is wrong. And the world shouldn`t stand idly by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: French President Francois Hollande says this chemical massacre
in Damascus cannot go without a response. France is prepared to punish
those who took the vile decision to gas innocent people. The 22-member
Arab League said today that he Syrian government is responsible for the
chemical weapons attack, but the league stopped short of full agreement on
what action should be taken.
Amid all of this, one thing is certain, the Pentagon and other
government sources are offering specifics about just what U.S. military
action would look like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS: A minimal number of targets, according to
officials we`re talking to, against those assets that could be used to
deliver chemical weapons such as airplanes, artillery rockets, and no
apparent serious regime targets are included in that list and they believe
the strikes could take maybe two to three days to hit all targets they want
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Congressional reaction has been cautious and muddled, while
Senator Chris Murphy said on our show last night the president should come
to Congress here for a vote. There`s hardly, of course, consensus on that
point. Of course, Congress is out of session.
So, today, Congressman Steve Cohen suggested President Obama wait
until congress returns on September 9th. Then, Congressman Cohen all but
dismissed that idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: I think we could wait until
September the 9th or thereabouts to take action.
In many ways, I defer to the president`s prerogative and trust the
president to do what`s right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Congressman Eliot Engel, Democrat from New
York, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has been an
advocate of the U.S. intervention in Syria.
Congressman, as best as you can articulate, as someone who I
understand supports increased U.S. intervention and military strike here,
can you explain to me and our viewers what the concrete mission here, what
the concrete goal is of any kind of military action?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, I assume the concrete goal, of
course, it hasn`t been decided to do this. If seems imminent. But I think
the goal would be to say to Assad and other Assads of the world that crimes
of this violent nature cannot go unpunished. If we stand by and watch the
murder of innocent men, women and children, children gasping for breath and
foaming at the mouth and don`t take action, I think it encourages other bad
players to do the same thing.
So I think at the very least, it`s saying that you`ve gone too far,
and we`re going to make it hard for you to use your air force or weapons to
continue to do this.
HAYES: If it`s to send a message both to Assad and to other leaders
who may be contemplating current or future use of chemical weapons, in the
case of Assad, is it not true he`s currently locked in an absolutely
existential fight for his life, his survival and regime`s survival, and if
he makes the calculation using chemical weapons helps in that, why do we
think we can change the set of incentives with two or three days of air
strikes when what he`s facing on a day-to-day basis is far worse than
anything that we`re planning?
ENGEL: Well, if he`s fighting to save his regime, I think there are
other ways to fight other than to gas your own people and murder your own
I think there`s -- you know, the president drew a line. I think he
was right to say there was a red light, and beyond that red light, we would
take action. I just don`t think that the world can sit idly by and watch
innocent children be gassed to death. Not in the 21st century.
They`re fighting a civil war. There are other ways to fight it. It`s
not with the gassing of innocent children.
HAYES: Let me just say -- I mean, I share your and I think any decent
person`s horror at the images we`ve seen of children being gassed.
Absolutely, complete, total moral revulsion. It is evil, unquestionably.
What, to you, is the principle that separates the death of those
innocent children from the 100,000 civilian dead who come before the
chemical weapon strike? What is it about that strike that puts it on
different terrain than the routine horrific slaughter of innocents that
we`ve seen duration of this civil war?
ENGEL: Well, Assad in my estimation has been slaughtering his people
from the start of this war. This is not something new, but the chemical
weapons, the use of chemicals is new. And I think that that is just
horrific. All deaths are bad. War is bad.
But when you turn gas on to your own people, I think that`s just going
a bit far. And I think the world has a right to express its revulsion.
You know, I liken what`s happening in Syria today to 1999 in Kosovo. There
you had an endangered population which was being murdered by its own
government, and NATO intervened with strikes, air strikes, and turned
I think you have an endangered population now, and I think Assad needs
to know that there is a line that he cannot cross, and I think the West is
going to show him that line. Now, it`s not just the United States. It`s
our NATO allies. The Arab League today seemed to agree. And I just think
HAYES: Well, they seemed to agree the chemical weapons were used by
the Assad regime but did quite pointedly stop short of endorsing any
action. In the past for instance, in Libya, they explicitly endorsed the
U.N. and allied bombing there.
HAYES: Congressman Eliot Engel, Democrat from New York -- thank you
for your time tonight.
ENGEL: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Joining me now is Julia Ioffe, senior editor at "The New
Republic", who`s been covering this story, had a great write-up today about
the thinking internally in the White House. What struck me here is there`s
this bizarre kind of goldilocks evaluation being done about what this
response looks like, not too strong to tip the balance of the civil war,
but not too weak so that it actually means something to Assad.
What is the thinking about the calculation of what this strike should
look like inside the White House?
JULIA IOFFE, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Well, I think, you know, it`s as
Jordan`s King Hussein once joked, Obama is between Iraq and a hard place.
He is very much haunted by the mistakes of the previous administration that
rushed into two wars that have really tired out the country and emptied our
coffers. He`s not rushing to get into a new one.
I think the fact that, for example, that Secretary of State John Kerry
spoke first, but we haven`t heard from President Obama yet, is significant.
I think he`s taking his time, but he also wants to show that he will do
But it doesn`t really make sense. You can`t really take the chemical
weapons attack out of context here. I mean, it is part of this whole war.
So, you know, however many people died in this attack, but as you said
yourself, 100,000 people died before using conventional weapons.
HAYES: Well, here`s one of the things that came across in what you
wrote and reported today is that even though the specific responses to a
chemical weapons attack, even though Prime Minister David Cameron says the
goal has to be to degrade and deter the possibility of chemical weapons
attacks, it`s essentially impossible for us to strike any chemical weapons
stashes for the risk of making things worse, by blowing a whole bunch of
nerve agents that you then send spiraling into the air.
IOFFE: Well, it`s not just that, you destroy the depots and then
people can come in and loot them, you know, the containers that aren`t
exploded. That is really a surefire way to set these things loose on the
world. You don`t know where they`ll go after that.
But in terms of, you know, setting up a sense of consequence, OK,
we`ll hit him in a few places, we won`t hit him too hard so it will be a
slap on the wrist so he`ll know he can use chemical weapons on a smaller
scale, because we haven`t punished that before.
It doesn`t -- I understand the impulse not to get involved in another
war in the Middle East. We have Egypt next door spiraling out of control.
Syria has been a mess for three years. But at this point, you either -- I
feel like you have to do everything or -- it doesn`t make sense to just hit
him a little bit.
HAYES: Julia Ioffe from "The New Republic" -- thank you so much.
HAYES: Joining me now is Tamara Alrifai, advocacy and communications
director of Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.
She`s a native of Syria.
The head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, I`ve been following him
on Twitter. He has been incredibly strong in condemnations of the behavior
of the Assad regime, particularly as it pertains to the use of chemical
weapons, indiscriminate slaughter of civilians. What is your feeling about
the imminence of this military strike that is being justified quite
explicitly on humanitarian grounds as a way of enforcing an international
norm that human rights and I both -- Human Rights Watch and I believe in,
which is the prohibition of chemical weapons?
TAMARA ALRIFAI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, for us, at Human Rights
Watch, if the objective is humanitarian, meaning you do not gas your own
people like you just said and everyone`s saying. Then the effects of this
attack will be judged by how it prevents subsequent, such horrific attacks.
We will only be able to judge whether this was successful if we see a
real halt to the atrocities the way they`ve been conducted over the past.
HAYES: What is your calculation about whether we have either the
military capability or the will to do that, or whether we can do that in
this way being described now, which is there`s this single surgical moment
of punishment that enforces the norm and then we stop, then we just let
them get back to the civil war?
ALRIFAI: It`s a very complex situation that`s witnessed so many
abuses. This is not the first abuse Human Rights Watch has documented.
It`s been going on and on including the use of ballistic missiles and many
kinds of arms that cannot distinguish between civilians and combatants,
Now, what will come out of this particular attack if it happens is
just speculation today.
HAYES: OK, but that is exactly the speculation that anyone engaged in
this policy has to deal with. What do you say to the congressman,
Congressman Eliot Engel, who makes the argument those in support of
intervention have made, been making a while now, which is the world cannot
sit idly by and watch such atrocities? As someone from Human Rights Watch,
how do you respond to that?
ALRIFAI: We have not advocating for or against the intervention. But
if the intervention really is to happen, like it looks like it will, then
for us, all parties at war must respect the law forward. They should not
target civilians. They should not use weapons that are prohibited. They
should not give either part parties to this conflict, cluster ammunitions
or anti-personnel land mines that have effects over years and years.
So, there are rules to war.
HAYES: Does that include international law about when it is OK for
the U.S. to strike in any fashion? Does it need to go through the U.N.?
Is it not in the view of Human Rights Watch a legitimate exercise of force
if it doesn`t go through that process?
ALRIFAI: The U.N. Security Council should allow -- is the party that
allows or not an intervention. Now, we know from experience and history
there have been attacks that were not --
HAYES: As the congressman noted.
ALRIFAI: Now, the problem with the Security Council is apart from
this military intervention, it has failed to put together or to bring to
the table measures that could have prevented such atrocities, such as
sanctions or having Syria handled by the International Criminal Court.
HAYES: In your most honest opinion, having watched all this unfolded,
people talk about previous decision points in the unfolding of this
horrible tragedy, that is the Syrian civil war -- is it the case it could
just be the case there`s nothing anyone can do outside of Syria to halt
what is happening there?
ALRIFAI: It`s difficult to say there`s nothing anyone can do now or
could have done earlier. Of course there are measures that could have been
taken earlier on to prevent the large-scale atrocities. Again, the
handicap at the level of the Security Council because of Russian and
Chinese vetoes, to any measures that could have been put in place is the
real reason why we`re here today.
HAYES: Tamara Alrifai from Human Rights Watch -- thank you so much.
ALRIFAI: Thank you.
HAYES: John Boehner is getting ready to drive the country off a cliff
this fall if he has his way. We`ll explain ahead.
HAYES: A ferocious wildfire is burning its way right now through
Yosemite National Park, over hundreds of miles, destroying historic areas
and causing millions of dollars worth of damage. We`ll get reports from
the scene both from the ground and from the air, straight ahead.
HAYES: The instructions were simple, the invitation broad and
Calling all freedom-loving Americans to a rally at Speaker Boehner`s
office. Tea Party activist joined forces today outside John Boehner`s Ohio
office to demand the Republican leader use the looming budget battle to
defund the Affordable Care Act or else. Or else they`ll start calling it
Boehner-care. How do you like that?
Right wing radio host Mark Levine rallied the troops around a re-
branding effort last week.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARK LEVINE, RADIO HOST: Rather than calling it Obama-care, we should
call it Boehner-care. So I think I`m going to call it Boehner-care, if I
can remember from time to time. Certainly more often, because Boehner
won`t even fight. Boehner, he`s just -- is the word pathetic appropriate?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: So far, Boehner has remained noncommittal to the planned
championed by the Ted Cruz wing of the party, one that risks a government
shutdown or outright default. And the Tea Party has taken notice. One
Boehner-care rally leader telling "The Washington Times," "If he funds it,
he will own it."
So, when the Tea Party tells John Boehner to dance, John Boehner
starts dancing. At a fund-raiser in Idaho, Boehner said when it comes to
the debt ceiling, GOP will agree to raise it if they get more spending
cuts, warning of treacherous waters ahead. "The president doesn`t think
this is fair. Thinks I`m being difficult to deal with. But I`ll say this
-- it may be unfair, but I`m trying to leverage the political process to
produce more change than what it could produce if it was left to its own
devices. We`re going to have a whale of a fight."
Boehner`s tough talk comes on the heels of, quote, "ugly House GOP
conference all as members of his caucus are still mired in town halls back
home." "The National Review" offers up one example of the division among
the party`s elite, and Boehner`s advisory council. A letter calling on
line to use the continuing resolution to defund Obama-care authored by
Representative Mark Meadows split the so-called Jedi Council, a secretive
group of top conservatives helping Boehner sketch a debt ceiling strategy.
In the meantime, the Treasury Department has warned lawmakers the country
will hit the debt ceiling earlier than expected. Sometime in mid-October,
raising the possibility of an unprecedented default.
As our own Suzy Kim reminds us on the ALL IN blog, Boehner`s threats
of a stand off might just be bluster. His whiff on the debt ceiling once
before, Boehner has already shown himself willing to let his instinct for
political survival overrule the right wing flank of his party.
Joining me now is Ben Domenech, a research fellow at the think tank,
Heartland Institute, managing editor of "Healthcare News." He co-founded
"Red State", a conservative blog.
Ben, I find the internal battle over the looming defund Obamacare
fight fascinating. And it seems to me that Boehner is in a pretty tough
spot in the right flank aren`t going to go quietly. They`re not going to
be rolled and not going to be bait and switched.
What do you think is going to happen?
BEN DOMENECH, THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE: I think the right wing is
tired, Chris, of seeing these sorts of issues come up again and again and
feeling an unwillingness on the part of both Boehner and Mitch McConnell to
stand up to the president and to really fight on it. So, there`s a lot of
buster to sort of compensate on that.
But I just have to point something out that`s a little bit different
about the situation. The fallback from my perspective for John Boehner
isn`t any more realistic than the sort of things the Tea Party is pushing
him to do right now when it comes to defunding Obamacare versus delaying
it. I think that`s one of the issues that really we have to understand is
not the typical the elites are being realistic, the Tea Party is being
unrealistic divide because I don`t think you have the votes for either of
those things in the U.S. Senate, which sort of makes it a moot point from
my perspective, whichever strategy, whichever leverage John Boehner is
going to try to use in this situation, I think you`ve already seen the
redline from Secretary Lew when it comes to the way that these negotiations
are going to play out.
Frankly, if the president is even willing to come to the negotiation
table on these sorts of things is going to be an issue. I think that`s one
of the challenges that faces Boehner here in the coming weeks.
HAYES: Let me argue from the other side of this. So, everybody says
on this network we say this and conservative elites Karl Rove say it`s
going to be a disaster, you can`t have a standoff over the debt ceiling
limit. But from where I stand, lefty that I am, opponent of austerity,
that actually the most successful thing the Tea Party`s ever done was the
first debt ceiling standoff. That gave us the Budget Control Act, and
Budget Control Act gave us the supercommittee which failed which then gave
us the sequester, which we now live with until this day.
And you can ask the kids who aren`t getting Head Start and seniors not
getting Meals on Wheels, and the researchers at the National Institutes of
Health. Did that thing actually happen? They`ll say, oh, yes, very much
So, why shouldn`t they hold up the Obama administration from the
purely ideological tactical perspective over this debt ceiling fight?
DOMENECH: I absolutely think that they should. And one more point to
go to your case, which is that the lowest point of President Obama`s
polling came during that whole earlier fight over the debt ceiling.
I think one of the things you`re going to see here is a situation I
think that the ideologues are right, in the sense that having this argument
is actually a good thing for the right to do, particularly in the context
when the president, himself, delayed portions of the ACA. It creates a
handy argument for the right to make, which is that essentially he`s
exempting employers, he`s exempting his friends but won`t exempt the
But to think that any of those things are actually going to become
policy is foolish.
HAYES: OK. Just so I`m clear on this, this argument which is you`re
talking about is the Boehner fallback position here, which is not to defund
it but do something like delay the individual mandate a year. Of course,
anything like that to get back to your original point, it`s pulling the
thread on something that would make the whole thing fall apart. Obviously,
the president, sensibly, since it`s his signature domestic achievement, is
not going to let that happen.
DOMENECH: Exactly. I mean, compromise is one of those things we give
a name for for Republicans doing things together at this point. I don`t
think there`s any compromise to be had here.
The reality is, though, that`s the one area, the one aspect of the law
that is really unpopular across partisan lines. Seventy-seven percent of
Americans are favor delay or repeal of the individual mandate, 65 percent
even of Democrats favor that.
HAYES: No one likes the idea of the individual mandate in the
abstract. This is precisely the reason that candidate Barack Obama got
such wonderful traction out of opposing the individual mandate all through
about 4 billion primary debates with Hillary Clinton.
Ben Domenech from the Heartland Institute, thank you so much.
DOMENECH: Great to be with you, Chris.
HAYES: First, it was the whooping cough which I don`t have, though it
sounds like it. Now, there`s a measles outbreak in Texas. What`s behind
the sudden resurgence of diseases we thought we conquered? That`s coming
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ICON: I have a dream that
my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not
be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the famous "I Have a Dream"
speech on August 28th, 1963, 50 years ago tomorrow.
And tomorrow night on this program, we will commemorate that
anniversary with a very special edition of ALL IN, in which we will present
that speech here in its entirety.
The clip we just saw is so famous you`ve probably seen it dozens if
not hundreds of times. But the full speech is so rarely seen. So, having
the opportunity to televise it here tomorrow night is very exciting.
One of the things that is so striking about his speech that day when
you have the chance to see it and hear it in its entirety is just how
forcefully radical the speech really was -- uplifting, to be sure,
inspirational, and inclusive. But this speech was a pivotal moment in
years of struggle.
The march on Washington was, therefore, a reason to make demands of
those in power. "In a sense, we have come to our nation`s capital to cash
a check," Dr. King said. "The architects of our republic wrote the
magnificent words of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence,
they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall
heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as
white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness."
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note
insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this
sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check
which has come back marked insufficient funds."
Tomorrow in this hour, on the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march on
Washington, we will present the full unedited "I have a dream" speech
presented with limited commercial interruption. We do not want to miss
that. OK. Coming up, how do you fight a wildfire that is bigger than the
city of Chicago? We`ll go live to California where they are trying to do
just that. Next.
HAYES: It is the size of a major American city. It has already cost
the state of California $27 million and as of this evening, it is only 20
percent contained. The massive rim of wildfire is burning hotter and
faster than any in the modern history of the Sierra Nevada region, which
includes Yosemite National Park. The fire is so big it`s visible from
space. As seen here in this NASA photograph.
The smoke and ash produced by the 200-square-mile blaze prompted San
Francisco to temporarily shut down hydroelectric stations for fears the
city`s drinking water could become contaminated. NBC Miguel Almaguer
viewed this unrelenting force of nature from 10,000 feet above.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It is roughly 230 square miles,
bigger than the size of the city of Chicago. And, all along these ridges
we can see more spark fires. There is no doubt this fire is growing. It`s
certainly quickly on the move.
And, you can see from the fuel load down here, there are just hundreds
of thousands of acres that could still burn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: And, we`re actually going to make our way
down to the south side for better visibility. Looks like everything is
going up to the north.
ALMAGUER: This fire has been burning for about a week and half. And,
there`s no doubt this fire could burn for weeks longer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: All right. Let`s go.
ALMAGUER: Crews may not be able to access so much of this terrain
down there. It is very rugged. It is very rocky below. And, from the air
here, you get that unique perspective. You can understand why they can`t
drop fire fighters into the burn zone.
They have put crews down on the ground down there. There`s nowhere
that they would be able to run. There are no escape routes. So, on this
blank of the fire, they simply have to attack it from the air.
The DC-10 is one of the biggest assets crews have on the ground. This
plane could drop nearly 12,000 gallons of fire retardant. It can stop
flames dead in its tracks. You can see just how hot this fire is burning.
Behind all of these smoke and ash in the air, you can see there are
hotspots. There are flames towering hundreds of feet into the air. The
blaze here is still very active, still burning very quickly and, of course,
very, very dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now from California, at the scene of the
wildfire, NBC News correspondent, Jay Gray. Jay, what is the latest from
the site of the fire there?
JAY GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Well, the latest
here, Chris, as you talked about, 20 percent contained and those images
from the air that Miguel provided us really stunning. The view from the
ground for the almost 4,000 fire fighters on the frontline, overwhelming at
this point still.
Look, 80 percent of this fire is still raging and still growing. It
swallowed more than 30,000 acres again last night. Again, last night, it
is still climbing through this rugged terrain, and there are areas where
these fire fighters cannot get. They can`t get in to fight the flames.
There are towns like this one in the potential path of the fire.
And, right now the crews that are out working 24-hour shifts on the
frontline are making these towns their home. This is a base camp right
now. They come back, try and get a couple of hours` sleep. Get a hot meal
when they can, then right back at it because they know the fire
is still escalating here.
HAYES: We saw that incredible footage from Miguel`s package there.
If you can`t get into the actual part of the forest where the fire is
burning, how do you go about even fighting it?
GRAY (on camera): Yes. Well, that`s why they have crews out ahead of
this fire where they can. Digging out containment lines, cutting down
trees, dragging out the dried out brush that is there fuelling this fire,
trying to draw a line literally in the forest, if they can.
The problem is the winds, Chris, keep kicking up. Sometimes gusting
over 40 miles an hour, shifting the flames. So, it`s running in every
direction. And, pulling these embers out of the fires, throwing them
sometimes a mile away, starting a spot blaze that can really extend the
fire and that`s been a major issue.
HAYES: You`ve been covering wild wildfires across the country this
summer. At one point, there were 50 wildfires burning at the same time in
11 different states. How bad has this season been, and why is it so bad?
GRAY (on camera): You know what`s amazing, Chris, is right now the
acreage burned is not nearly as bad as it has been in other seasons. The
problem is these are explosive fires, again, driven by these winds that
jump around and really require more manpower, more power from the air wind
possible to put them out.
So, it`s really stretching things, including as you discussed earlier,
the budget to its limit. So, it`s been a tough go. It`s only predicted to
get rougher, not only here, but the season is still in full swing. One
fire fighter telling me a couple days ago, we`re really just at the peak of
all this. They expect to be fighting fires for a long time.
HAYES: Do we have the capacity we need to deal with seasons like this
and seasons that we may see in the future as we may see more wildfires?
GRAY (on camera): Yes. And, I think a lot of people are of the same
thought that these fires are going to get worse as we move forward. What
they`ll tell you from the level of administrators, all the way to the guys
on the frontline, is we will do what we have to, to put these fires out, to
get them in control and put them out.
But, you have to wonder at some point, Chris, where does it all end?
How far can they go? Look, even when this fire was 100 percent contained,
and just this one, one of, like you said, dozens burning right now. It`s
only contained. It`s not out. That`s going to take a long time. In
certain areas, they`ll be working well through the fall to get this thing
out and mop things up.
HAYES: NBC News correspondent Jay Gray. Thank you so much.
GRAY: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Reporting from the frontline of the climate disaster era.
Kids in this country are getting diseases that doctors haven`t ever seen
because they were supposed to be wiped out by vaccinations years ago.
Well, that`s all changing. We`ll be right back with that story.
HAYES: There`s a measles outbreak in North Texas that has infected at
last count 25 people. And, the epicenter of that outbreak seems to be a
mega church called Eagle Mountain International church.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: It was a diagnosis so uncommon in
the United States Dr. Karen Smith had to consult a textbook.
DR. KAREN SMITH, FAMILY MEDICINE: We were aware of it for two weeks
and doing everything we could behind the scenes, unofficially, to contain
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Before the release of the measles vaccine in 1963, hundreds of
thousands of people here in the U.S. contracted the virus, which can cause
a rash all over and pneumonia and in some cases even death. But, due in
large part to high vaccination rates, measles, until recently, had been
eliminated here in this country more or less, meaning there was no longer
any year-round epidemic transmission of the virus.
But, over the last ten years or so, amongst certain religious
groups and secular skeptics based on disproven and dubious science, many
parents have either stopped or delays vaccinating their kids. According to
"National Geographic" parents who delayed or refused vaccinations rose from
22 percent in 2003 to nearly 40 percent in 2008.
It does not only imperils the lives of those kids but imperils anyone
such as newborns, who are not fully vaccinated. In the case of Texas,
someone not fully vaccinated against measles traveled overseas then brought
the virus back with him.
And, the reason for the outbreak is that Eagle Mountain International
Church is a community that advocates faith healing over vaccinations. The
church is part of the ministries of televangelist Kenneth Copeland and that
is led by his daughter, Terri Copeland Pearsons.
And, although Pastor Pearsons has since encouraged her congregation to
get vaccinations, the church`s website suggests that they, quote, "First,
seek the wisdom of god, about what to do about various medical conditions.
This would include vaccinations, immunizations." While her father has not
exactly encouraged followers to get their recommended shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH COPELAND, MINISTERAT EAGLE MOUNTAIN INTERNATIONAL CHURCH:
"All of these shots and all this stuff that they wanted to put in his body
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Yes.
COPELAND: And, him this big. You know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: New born, just a new born.
COPELAND: And, I got to -- Well, I got to looking into that, and it
was -- some of it is criminal. You`re not putting a Hepatitis -- what is it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: B.
COPELAND: In an infant? That`s crazy, man. That is a shot for
sexually transmitted disease. What? In a baby? As parents, we need to be
a whole lot more serious about this, in being aware of what is good and
what isn`t. And, you don`t take the word of the guy who is trying to give
them the shot about what`s good and what isn`t."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s pretty clear. Vaccines are one of the greatest success
stories of modern medicine. One that remarkably finds itself under threat
in the 21st century from denialists across the political spectrum.
Joining me now is Arthur Caplan, professor of Bioethics and director
of Division of Medical Ethics at New York University at Langone Medical
Center. And, I suppose I should start in case we have introduced any doubt
in the minds of anyone watching this segment about the current state of
science on this matter. So, can you give us -- get us started there. Is
there any reason -- reasonable reason, to not get your kid vaccinated?
ARTHUR CAPLAN, BIOETHICIST AT NYU LANGOME MEDICAL CENTER: There`s a
tiny set of reasons, Chris. Maybe your child has an egg allergy, your
child may have an immune disease and in some instances your child may be
getting treatment for a disease that doesn`t allow them to build an immune
response; say, cancer therapy, or maybe they have had a transplant.
Outside of that, the argument for vaccination is overwhelmingly positive.
HAYES: So, we`ve seen now in this case a faith community, which has
folks that are not getting vaccinated, and I wanted to talk to you because
we have an interesting intersection here between people that have some kind
of religious commitment, in the case of Christian scientists, for example,
there`s actually a very intense spiritual commitment to not having doctors
minister to them.
In this case, it doesn`t seem quite as strong. How should we as a
society react to a story like this when we see people whose faith
commitments are possibly endangering infants and newborns all over the
CAPLAN: Well, you know, Chris, there`s no major religion that opposes
vaccination. The bible is silent on the subject. In fact, vaccination or
its early forerunner, inoculation, didn`t really start until the end of
the 19th century. So there isn`t much said in any of the holy scriptures,
Koran, any place also, that`s anti-vaccination. That`s sort of a modern
development in and of itself.
But, when you see outbreaks like this, I think what we have to realize
is, is it`s very important to protect your child. They can`t protect
themselves. The vaccination is also about protecting your neighbor. When
you did that report about the fellow who went overseas, he got exposed to
measles. He hadn`t been vaccinated. He came back and gave it to a bunch
more people who hadn`t been vaccinated.
Vaccination is about the community. It`s about taking care of one
another. It`s about a religious outlook that the community counts and
we`re going to protect the weak and the vulnerable. When I hear people not
vaccinating, I think of it as selfish.
HAYES: We also -- we also saw some -- another case of measles in
Brooklyn`s Orthodox Jewish Community, just so we`re sort of equal
opportunity here. New York City health authority saw a sudden rise in
measles cases in several densely populated Orthodox Jewish communities. A
department traced the outbreak to a person, who I concluded brought the
virus from a trip to London. The outbreak started in the small group of
families with members who refused vaccines.
I want you to just make this point, again, because I think it`s an
important one, right? I think it`s easy for people to make a calculation,
well, what happens if my one kid doesn`t get vaccinated? Everyone else is
vaccinated. But, there`s a concept of herd immunity, right? That you
actually -- critical mass of people to snuff out these very insidious
CAPLAN: Well, there`s two ways that vaccine vaccines protect us. One
is they give each one of us some protection. Although, no vaccine is 100
percent. But, if I get vaccinated and you get vaccinated, it is hard for
the virus to find any place to get a total hold or foothold. That`s herd
If we can get vaccination rates above 94 percent, 95 percent, 98
percent for the flu or for measles, or mumps or whooping cough, we can
really get much better protection. So, again, I come back to this point. I
think people are thinking, well, I don`t have to get vaccinated, everybody
Well, everybody else may not, and where we`re seeing the outbreaks is
when we get pockets of people deciding not to do it. Overall, the public
does support vaccination, but we do see these sort of small pockets around
the country where they`re not vaccinating and the diseases are erupting.
HAYES: And, those pockets may be relatively isolated. But, we got
some incredible data about the trends here. We have seen something in the
last 15 years in which pop culture in America has been infected by the
disease of denialism when it comes to vaccinations. We have someone who
literally wrote the book on this topic, right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNY MACCARTHY, AUTISM ACTIVIST: Evan was diagnosed with autism in
2005. Without a doubt in my mind, I believe vaccinations triggered Evan`s
autism. We do believe, because we were the witness with our child, our
firsthand witness after we came home from the doctor`s office and saw this
regression of a child that was perfect and then slowly fading away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Jenny McCarthy spouting some anti-vaccination nonsense. She
will now have an opportunity to spout that on the "View" where she will be
joining in just a bit. Bioethicist Arthur Caplan is with me. And, joining
me now is Seth Mnookin MIT Assistant Professor of Science writing and
author of the fantastic book "The Panic Virus: A True Story Of Medicine,
Science And Fear."
Seth, I want to show you this data. Jenny McCarthy is the most
prominent spokesperson for this essentially conspiracy theory that
vaccinations lead to autism. But, it had real traction, real effect. Look
at the data on whooping cough cases over time. 1922, you got over 100,000.
1934, 265,000. And, you see a drop-off and you see basically none from
about 1970 to 2000, and then you see it go up. You`re up to 25,000 by
2004. What the heck happened?
SETH MNOOKIN, MIT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SCIENCE: Whooping cough is
actually a very interesting case because unlike measles where really
virtually every case we`ve seen in the United States over the last several
years has been the result of people who are deliberately unvaccinated
coming back into the country and affecting people.
With pertussis or whooping cough, what we`re seeing is adults are
under immunized. So, adults are not getting pertussis boosters either
because they don`t realize that they need them or their doctors don`t
recommend it for one reason or another. And, so the incredible spike
in whooping cough cases that we`ve seen is not as directly attributable to
people who are directly unvaccinated --
MNOOKIN: -- what I think it does highlight is why it`s so important
to vaccinate our children, because a couple years ago when there were
11 whooping cough cases in California of children who were 6 months old or
younger -- I`m sorry, 11 deaths in California, of children who were 6
months old or younger, what we see there is the reason why it`s so
important for our children to be vaccinated is because that is when they
are most vulnerable. That is when they are most likely to really have
serious harm because of a vaccine preventable disease.
HAYES: So, Seth, tell me how did this idea -- I mean people didn`t
20, 30 years ago, I don`t think there was any kind of pop cultural
misgivings about vaccinating your kid. Where did this come from, and how
did it get traction? And, has it been stamped out?
MNOOKIN: Well, it really -- it had been around for a while, but in a
very sort of low-grade form. And, I think the reason for that is that a
lot of developmental disabilities first get diagnosed when a child is 2 or
3 or 4 years old, which is also the same period of time, obviously, when
they`re getting a lot of vaccines.
In 1998 , there was one specific paper that was published in a medical
journal called the "Lansid" that was a case study of a dozen children that
claimed to have just found a connection between the measles virus and a gut
disorder and then that gut disorder and autism.
That paper has been, not only completely disproven, the person who
wrote that paper has lost his medical license. The paper has been
retracted. So, there is -- that notion has been refuted as soundly as it
could possibly be. I think what we have seen here, unfortunately, is that
it is much easier to scare a population than to unscare them.
MNOOKIN: Once you have infected a group of people with this
information, it`s very, very difficult to then get them to stop thinking
HAYES: And, part of this -- and part of this, Arthur, speaks to me
about the way that we think about medical authority, and I think there`s
a fine line between healthy distrust of medical authority -- healthy
distrust of necessarily what, for instance, the pharmaceutical
industry wants you to believe about, for instance, restless leg syndrome or
whatever new malady they have made up to sell drugs and full out quackery.
And, the line between healthy distrust and full-out quackery is not
that clear a line, because frankly I`m not a doctor. I have to go into
this, you know, this medical marketplace and try to make these decisions
and all I`ve got is the internet and that doesn`t certainly help things at
CAPLAN: There`s not much of a line on the internet, that`s for sure.
Everything seems to be treated equally. And, as Seth pointed out, once you
cry fire in that theatre, it`s really hard to stop the panic. So, you can
see a slew of misinformation exploding across the internet.
You can also see it in the media. I mean I think it`s still morally
objectionable, when people come out and say, "There`s two sides of this.
There is a vaccine opposition and then there is the pro-vaccine medical
scientific community and the rest of the planet earth." --
HAYES: And, part of it --
APLAN: -- I mean -- you know this isn`t a two-sided issue.
HAYES: Part of that, Seth, as a journalist, you read about this in
the book, about the way the press is not equipped well to say there aren`t
two sides of an issue.
MNOOKIN: Well, and especially I think you see that in politics and in
medicine and science. You don`t see it in business. I mean, if I said,
"Oh, guess what? Apple is going to go out of business tomorrow." No one
would say, "Well, on the one hand, Seth Mnookin says Apple is going to go
out of business. On the other hand, they have the largest market cap in
But, science and politics because ---for -- I think for different
reasons because reporters don`t want to be seen as partisan and science
because they don`t always understand the situation, tend to be situations
where you do unfortunately see that other one hand on the other hand.
HAYES: Bioethicist Arthur Caplan. MIT Professor Seth Mnookin. Thank
you so much. That is "All In" for this evening. And, the "Rachel Maddow
Show" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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