All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, December 19th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
December 19, 2013
Guests: John Nichols, Jeff Merkley, Deanna Zandt, Clay Johnson, Jessica Flanagan
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
Republicans close out their year on Capitol Hill, suddenly invested
with a new sense of swagger and braggadocio. Everywhere you look,
Republicans are threatening fights to come. The price Democrats will have
to pay, for example, for a debt ceiling extension early next year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I doubt if the House or
for that matter, the Senate, is willing to give the president a clean debt
ceiling inquiries, every time the president asks us to raise the debt
ceiling is a good time to try to achieve something important for the
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We, as a caucus, along with our Senate
counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what it is we want to get out
of the debt limit. We don`t want nothing out of this debt limit. We`re
going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What all this amounts to is what an old basketball coach of
mine used to call down the block tough. You`re familiar with the concept
of down the block tough, if not the phrase. Down the block tough is when
you start jawing with someone or get into a little fisticuffs and once it`s
all over and you`ve walked a block away from that person, you say, yes, and
This is what the statements the Republican luminaries amount to,
because keep in mind, what has happened in the last three months to them.
They got their clock cleaned by the shutdown, saw their approval ratings
tanked, and had to capitulate fully and completely to the initial offer,
having gained essentially nothing but a lot of bad feelings from the
And the disaster of that incident completely discredited the central
tactic the GOP has been using since the big fight back in 2011, with the
first Tea Party Congress, which was to use deadlines and manufactured
crises as bargaining chips to extract ransoms from the president.
Republicans try it one too many times, it stopped working, and now
that particular kind of leverage is gone. And if you want to see how much
it`s gone, look at the roll call vote that just happened on the budget
So, Republicans leave 2013 impotent and neutered. But even though
their bullying and hectoring is mostly false, it doesn`t mean they still
don`t have the power to kick people who are down. They can`t make the
White House do what they want it to do, but the one thing they can do, the
one thing they are successful at doing, the thing that they deliver
reliably is screwing over poor and working people.
Just ask the 1.3 million people on unemployment insurance, whose
checks will run out three days after Christmas.
This, this was the big concession Republicans got out of the Democrats
on this round of budget negotiations. Democrats wanted to include the
unemployment insurance extension, so the big thing Republicans won for the
people they represent is screwing over 1.3 million unemployed people for no
That`s not all. House Republicans voted to cut food stamps by $40
billion, and in the Senate, Republicans have pushed through a proposed $4.5
billion in food stamp cuts, setting up a negotiation position in which, no
matter what happens, people will almost certainly be screwed over who get
And Republicans have managed to keep 12 million desperate people in
legal limbo, by failing to bring a comprehensive immigration reform bill to
the floor in the House. They really aren`t even trying to push a positive
agenda. What they can still do, what they still do have the power to do,
what they do reliably is to stick it to people who are already getting
And the more Republicans talk about how they feel about working
people, poor people, people in need, the more it seems like this is not an
accident. This is actually the agenda.
Just take a look at Congressman Jack Kingston, now running for Senate.
This is what he has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: One of the things I`ve talked to the
secretary of agriculture about: why don`t you, you know, have the kids pay
a dime, pay a nickel, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such
thing as a free lunch.
Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria, and, yes, I understand that
would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably
lose you money, but think what we would gain as a society in getting
people, getting the myth out of their head that there is such thing as a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Poverty as punishment. This is what the policy agenda of the
Tea Party Congress has reduced itself to.
Joining me now is John Nichols, my colleague at "The Nation" magazine,
where he is Washington correspondent.
John, there is this strange, weird equilibrium we`ve arrived at, in
which Republicans are impotent to enact their agenda. They`ve gotten some
of the austerity they wanted, the one thing they have the power to do and
they keep doing is basically screwing over constituencies that don`t have a
lot of political power.
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: It`s absolutely true, Chris. And it`s a
particularly de-Keynesian moment we`re in -- the notion that coming into
the Christmas holiday, you would fight to your last breath to prevent an
extension of unemployment benefits.
The metaphor is so powerful, but it goes way beyond that. We talk
about 1.3 million, and I suppose for some people, that doesn`t sound like a
lot of folks, but what you need to understand is those 1.3 million folks
who are getting the unemployment benefits when are people who were
employed. They tend to have a family. They`ve got people who need
support. So, you extend those numbers out, then you talk about the food
Chris, on the food stamps, we`re talking, over the next decade, about
tens of millions of people who could be affected by these cuts.
This is -- this is ugly stuff. And it is, as you suggest, a politics
of going for the low road. There`s so many areas where the Republican
Party really could go at costs, could go at expenses of government. People
who are unemployed and people who need food stamps are hardly the problem
with our budget.
HAYES: And what`s amazing to me is to sort of imagine, and I don`t
think this has necessarily been highlighted in the way it should, but you
had a budget negotiation, and each side is saying, I want this and I want
that, and there was some coming to the middle ground, basically, the budget
deal that got passed was a kind of mutual non-aggregation pact. We don`t
go over Medicare and Social Security to the Republicans. Democrats say
we`re not going to raise taxes. Those are the big things our caucuses care
But this was the thing Republicans say, no, we`re not going to pass it
unless you kick these 1.3 million people off of long-term unemployment
insurance three days after Christmas. That is a nonnegotiable. That needs
to be -- people need to understand that that is what this party went into
the negotiations, what they fought for and what they want.
NICHOLS: You know, Franklin Roosevelt used to read sections of a
Christmas carol to the American people on Christmas Eve. And he would
choose out the section where Ebenezer Scrooge realized that it was a pretty
bad thing to refuse to care for the poor. A pretty bad thing to say to
those two gentlemen who asked, what can we put you down for, to respond,
And what Roosevelt was trying to do there was a political act. We
have to understand it. He was trying to say that, at a certain point,
human beings wake up to the cruelty that they`re engaging in.
And what troubles me is, it`s not just Republicans in Congress.
That`s too easy. What we`ve really ended up, Chris, is an austerity
politics in Washington, where the beginning of the discussion is, we can`t
NICHOLS: And then it extends into, well, no, we can`t do any good,
but maybe we could do a little bit of harm. And that`s something that
needs to be broken. And I don`t want to let the Democrats off too easy on
HAYES: No, let`s be clear, the Democrats -- I mean, the Democrats
capitulated, right? This was the big thing the Republicans wanted was to
kick this piece on unemployment insurance and the Democrats gave in. The
Democrats didn`t want to do it, it wasn`t the thing that they started out
to their negotiating position, but they did. They voted for it. The White
House is signing off on it.
I mean, the Democrats capitulated on this. In terms of psychology we
were just talking about, I think there`s a really, really key thing here,
and it`s captured if that Jack Kingston quote we just played, which is,
that it`s not just that we have austerity and we have cuts, because we`ve
spent too much money, but it`s actually that there is a part of our
politics, there`s a constituency in the House Republican Caucus and Tea
Party base who believes that punishing people, that squeezing people, that
making people more miserable is virtuous, that it actually teaches them a
lesson, that this hammer is being brought down on people so they will
understand the error of their shiftless ways. This is an intentional
engineered policy to make poverty punishment for people.
NICHOLS: And I think it`s important for people who watch that clip to
understand two things. Number one, Jack Kingston is thought of us as one
of the more thoughtful and reasonable people in the Georgia delegation.
That`s number one.
Number two, he`s running for the U.S. senate. He is in a primary
contest with folks who have staked out more extreme positions. And so what
we begin to realize here is that within the Republican Party, even folks
who have reputations as being relatively thoughtful, if they`re going to
get ahead, they have to play this politics of harm and --
HAYES: And there`s an audience for that. There`s demand for that.
John Nichols --
NICHOLS: Yes, and the demand is varied.
HAYES: It is. John Nichols from "The Nation" magazine, my friend and
colleague, thank you.
Joining me now, Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat from Oregon.
Senator, you`re going to go back to Oregon, shortly, I imagine, for
the recess. What are you going to tell the people in Oregon who are long-
term unemployed? What is your explanation about why they were cut off from
benefits three days after Christmas?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, I still have this very slim hope
that the Senate and House will come to their sense, because delivering 1.3
million lumps of coal across the country, kicking people when they`re down,
is certainly absolutely wrong.
And -- but barring that, I`m going to have to explain to people that
there is a caucus in the United States Senate and in the U.S. House, that
kick them when they`re down has become their official motto. And we`re
going to keep fighting against it in every way we can, but it`s a difficult
HAYES: Should Democrats have gone to war over this? Should Patty
Murray and the rest of your caucus said, no. No, no, no. No deal, no deal
unless these people are included?
MERKLEY: Well, do understand that the Budget Control Act creates a
default position, even worse than the one that Patty was able to negotiate.
So we`re trapped into that default, and that is a huge mistake. That
is a budget box that is with us for eight more years. Patty Murray did a
tremendous job by changing some of the sequestration and we need to come
back after the break, if we don`t get it before the break, and we need to
renew this fight, insist on a vote on the floor, and try to carry that vote
to the House and restore this unemployment.
I mean, in Oregon alone, it`s 17,000 folks. As you mentioned, 1.3
million across the country. Not only is this a program that provides
significant funds that immediately strengthen the economy, but it is
carefully calibrated, so it only adds additional weeks in areas of high
HAYES: That`s right.
MERKLEY: Yes. If unemployment is low, then you go back to the
regular 26 weeks. And so this was calibrated with a Republican president.
It adjusts automatically, and stripping it away is terrible policy and
really cruel policy.
HAYES: That`s a great point. The way this was crafted, and it was
started under George W. Bush, as the recession started to pick up steam,
the way this was crafted was to avoid the pitfalls of perverse incentives,
You want to keep people in the labor force. You don`t want to keep
out in the sidelines. You don`t want to keep people on unemployment if
they can`t get jobs. But it actually was crafted to avoid all those
What we`re seeing now is simply, it seems to me, punitive. What do
your colleagues, your Republican colleagues, how do they defend this to
MERKLEY: Well, their general notion is that people should just go
find a job. And I must say, I think they are living in gated communities
and some kind of a bubble, because if they were in my working class
community, they would realize that people get up every day. They want
jobs. A job is the very best thing for them and their family, and not just
for the income, but certainly for the structure in their life and the sense
And they pound the pavement. When there are a hundred people applying
for every job, your chances are slim. Only one person is going to get that
job. The other 99 are out of luck.
And so, this is -- this is just an unreasonable view of the world that
somehow folks are on unemployment because they are just aren`t making an
HAYES: Senator Harry, Majority Leader Harry Reid today tweeted,
saying, Republicans are holding unemployment insurance extension hostage,
to an unreasonable demand. We withdraw all pending votes on nominations
first, which is ridiculous and unreasonable. And then later said, pleased
that Senators Dean Heller and Senator Jack Reed insured a three-month
extension of unemployment insurance. I should note Senator Dean Heller is
a Republican from Nevada, it should be passed.
So do you think, there hope that you`ll see the caucus come around,
the Republican caucus, you know, not be uniform in this and actually maybe
take this up, maybe retroactively pass it when you get back?
MERKLEY: I do have hope that that will happen. When people go back
in the holidays and see in their communities the reaction to what Congress
has just done -- I mean, three days after Christmas -- taking people and
throwing them out in the cold. When you lose your unemployment, it`s
basically, you may not be able to make your house payment. Now your house
is in foreclosure, you may lose your home.
So this program is good for the overall economy, but it`s certainly
critical to those families, and it`s certainly fairly calibrated for areas
of lower and higher unemployment.
HAYES: We are smashing people`s lives to bits for no reason. Senator
Jeff Merkley, thank you very much.
MERKLEY: You`re welcome.
HAYES: Coming up, an unimaginable sentence for a nonviolent drug
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they literally gave him life without
parole, it literally killed me. I didn`t even exist anymore, because I
couldn`t understand. I said, how in the world could these people sit here
and just take a young man`s life away like that? Twenty-three years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The young man she`s talking about is Clarence Aaron, and
today, after 20 years, some incredible news for Clarence Aaron. We`re
going to tell you about. You`ll want to stick around for that, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Clarence Aaron was accused of conspiring with friends to
distribute crack cocaine. He went to trial and was convicted. He was
sentenced to three concurrent life sentences without the possibility of
CLARENCE AARON: When he said that, I was thinking to myself, why in
the world where do you start at doing three life sentences? Where do you
start, in the middle? And you find out where. I couldn`t believe this was
occurring to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Clarence Aaron. He`s been in prison for 20 years.
To fully understand the great news that Aaron got today, you have to
go back to 1993. That year, Aaron had some friends from his home in
Mobile, Alabama, who were, as he puts it, quote, "in some type of drug
Aaron introduced them to some college friends he had in Louisiana, who
were also into drugs, and for the introduction, he got paid $1,500. When
his friends were finally caught dealing drugs along with Aaron`s first
cousin, they all testified against Aaron.
All of these men had prior criminal records and were facing long
prison sentences. Aaron was the only one without a criminal record and was
neither the buyer, seller, or supplier of the drugs. All of the men who
snitched on Aaron were prosecuted and received light sentences.
Today, they are now out of prison.
Aaron, on the other hand, who was never caught with any drugs
whatsoever, it must be stressed, was sentenced to an extraordinary three
life sentences for his role in abetting a nonviolent drug deal. Thanks to
the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, you didn`t need to get caught with drugs
to get a life sentence. Meaning mandatory sentences intended for so-called
drug kingpins could be applied to a drug conspiracy charge. According to
the Federal Bureau of Prison, within six years of that happening, the
number of drug cases in federal prisons jumped by 300 percent.
Remember, Clarence Aaron was serving life for a nonviolent offense.
The ACLU estimates there are more than 3,200 others just like Aaron serving
life without parole for nonviolent offenses.
Well, today, Clarence Aaron found out that after pushing for
commutations since 2001, he was finally given one by President Obama. And
he wasn`t the only one. Seven other nonviolent drug offenders had their
sentences commuted by the president today. Each of them had been behind
bars for at least 15 years and six, including Aaron, are serving life
sentences. They should all be released within the next four months.
Aaron`s case had become the focus of a whole lot of concerted
attention and activism, due in no small part to the excellent journalism of
former "ProPublica" senior reporter, Dafna Linzer.
And Dafna joins me now. She just recently became managing editor of
You work in the building. It`s great to have you here.
Congratulations on the role you play on this. Your reporting on this
case has been really exceptional.
DAFNA LINZER, MSNBC DIGITAL: Thank you.
You know, as you reminded everyone, Clarence Aaron was an interesting
case to begin with. He got this incredibly overly long sentence, a life
sentence, refused to snitch.
LINZER: That fact alone made him an interesting case. He garnered
support. He had interesting lawyers who agreed to represent him for free,
to try and help him get clemency. And there was a lot of interest in his
What drew me to his story was something else, which was a concerted
effort inside the pardons office to prevent Clarence Aaron from succeeding.
And that`s really the story that we set out to tell, and that`s really what
changed the stakes for Clarence Aaron.
HAYES: Yes. So, you have this -- you have this snapshot of the drug
war gone awry, and like the ACLU says, there`s 3,200 people, life sentences
for non-violent offenses. Clarence Aaron is one of them.
What did you, when you started doing investigations of what was
happening with the pardon attorney, with this case, what did you find?
LINZER: So, what we found was an interest in his commutation, a
sentencing judge that supported it. This was five years ago. A
prosecutor, this was a Bush-appointed prosecutor, in Louisiana, who
supported his commutation, and a White House that was interested in
He was a great case. He was a terrific candidate. As you said, he`d
already served 15 years, he had been a terrific inmate, a clean record.
They wanted to give him a commutation.
The pardon attorney, a guy named Ron Rogers, said no. He gave the
White House a record that didn`t include the facts the sentencing judge
supported it. That didn`t include the fact that the prosecutor supported
it. In fact, he wrote a recommendation that suggested otherwise. That
suggested there was no support and that it was far too early and that he
needed to be incarcerated for quite a bit longer.
HAYES: And in fact, this pardon attorney, who was at the Department
of Justice, this is a career position, right? This pardon attorney was a
career position, not an appointee, was called out and dinged by the
inspector general of the Department of Justice for the way that he handled
LINZER: Exactly, for deliberately misleading the president, in fact.
And he remains there today.
HAYES: So this is also part of a larger trend, aside from the war on
drugs, is this shocking decline in presidential pardons and commutations.
This is an amazing power the founders gave to the executive branch. In
some ways, it`s a kind of final check and recourse on injustice, right?
That the president has this un-appealable, unilateral power to pardon
or commute any sentence. It`s an incredible power. And there you see a
chart of its decline over time. In the last year of office, Bill Clinton
had 218 pardons. In 2012, President Obama had 12. Now, of course, that`s
not an apples-to-apples comparison. That was the last year in office. You
face no political ramifications for your pardons.
Why are we seeing this huge decline in pardons?
LINZER: Right, apples-to-apples, President Obama is still very, very
low, compared to any modern-day president at this point in his presidency.
And I think a number of things happened. One is, we saw some abuse,
or what people perceived as abuse, in the pardon system, and I think that
frightened other presidents.
You know, Bill Clinton had a problem at the end of his presidency with
Marc Rich. People saw it as a quid pro quo.
HAYES: Marc rich was someone who was extremely wealthy, his wife was
very connected in Democratic politics, donated a lot of money. He was, I
believe, on the lam, right? This is not someone who had faced justice and
done time. This is someone who had fled from justice when a fugitive, and
who on the last day, if I`m not mistaken, got a pardon with the president,
which people were not -- I think understandably not happy with.
LINZER: Exactly. And a similar thing actually happened to Bush.
Also very near the end of his presidency, he didn`t actually go through the
pardon`s office. Someone came directly to him, a lawyer ho had previously
worked in the White House, with what seemed like a great case. Turned out
the guy`s dad was a huge donor to the Republican Party.
And Bush did something unprecedented. Also, he withdrew the pardon.
LINZER: So this makes people nervous. And if you`re an adviser to
the president, if you`re in the White House Counsel`s office --
HAYES: It`s all downside, no upside. It`s you`re going to pardon
someone who`s going to get a backlash. You`re going to pardon someone
who`s going to get out and commit a crime. You`re going to pardon someone
who turns out to be connected politically and you`ll get bad press. Not
pardoning people doesn`t get you bad press, basically.
LINZER: It doesn`t get you bad press. And yet that`s not why the
Founding Fathers gave the president his only sole unchecked power. It was
exactly, as you said, to right injustices, and there are many in our
justice system today.
And one of the things we looked at in the original pardon series that
led us to Clarence Aaron was the fact that white applicants were four times
as likely than all minorities combined, in fact.
HAYES: We have these numbers. This was published in 2011, through
George W. Bush. And you see that white applicants, 12 percent, petitions
granted. Black, 2 percent to 4 percent.
I mean, so you have a criminal justice system that creates deep and
abiding racial disparities. And the check on that criminal system, the
available recourse of mercy or corrective itself re-inscribes the same
LINZER: Right. And Clarence Aaron is a guy who had, as we said, so
many people in his corner, and still, he could not get a commutation.
Really, until the pardon`s office was exposed, until this wrongdoing was
exposed, until an I.G. report was written, until congressional members of
Congress asked the White House to get involved.
HAYES: People at home, I mean, Clarence Aaron is a very, is a unique
case in many ways, but there are thousands of people who are people doing a
lot of time for carrying a boyfriend`s luggage with drugs, or introducing
someone else to someone else who sold drugs and got nailed on a conspiracy
There are a lot of people in prison doing time on career criminals
snitching on them when they didn`t snitch, because they were too naive not
to roll over first. We are producing a system that produces so much bulk
injustice, that the pardoning system isn`t going to be the thing that
But tonight, a little, small amount of justice -- it`s really an
amazing story. I feel so happy for Clarence Aaron and his family.
Thank you for all your incredible work on this, Dafna. Dafna Linzer,
managing editor of MSNBC Digital -- thank you.
Coming up --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women are like Labrador retrievers. They all have
quirks. The first prerequisite for marrying a woman, can she cook? If
your woman cooks better than your mama, you got one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Men are cooking, too. It`s not just going to be
ladies watching --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Girly men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That clip was titled by A&E, "Phil`s Way of Life", and there
are plenty more gems where that came from. If you haven`t heard what is
Phil`s way of life -- well, we`re going to catch you up on it, next.
HAYES: Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, a who`s
who of right-wing superstars rushing to offer support to a 67-year-old
duck hunter from the backwoods of Louisiana, who told the reporter he does
not understand by any man who want to have anal sex.
Quote, "But, hey, sin! It is not logical, my man. It is just not
logical." That is not all "Duck Dynasty" star and patriarch, Phil
Robertson was asked by reporter for GQ, what in his mind is simple and here
is what he had to say, quote, "Start with homosexual behavior and just
morph out from there, bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that
woman and that woman and those men."
He did stop short of personally condemning all gay people to hell,
saying, quote, "We never ever judge someone on who is going to heaven,
hell. That is the all mighty`s job. We just love them. Give them the
good news about Jesus whether the homosexual, drunks, terrorists. We let
God sort them out later. You will see what I am saying."
"Duck Dynasty" is the one of the most watched reality show on cable
T.V. 14 million people tune in every week to watch the adorable hygiene of
the Robertson family as they run incredibly successful business, selling
duck calls and spend their free time shooting stuff and blowing stuff up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL ROBETSON, STAR OF "DUCK DYNASTY" REALITY T.V. SHOW: Fire in the
WILLIE ROBERTSON, REALITY T.V. PERSONALITY: Pretty scary, huh?
Fire it up!
I am fixing to go crazy redneck up in here.
WILLIE ROBERTSON: What you drinking? A 12-pack before he came out
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The entire premise of the show, and its appeal, centers around
watching the haphazard adventures of a bunch of long-bearded dudes who call
themselves rednecks and bible thumpers. So, it is perhaps not the most
shocking thing in the world to learn the family`s fearless leader has some
really nasty things to say about gay people.
Of course, from those comments became public, gay rights group glad
condemned the comments and the show saying, quote, Phil`s decision to push
vial and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and it`s sponsors who needs
to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT
people and families.
Now, they will ultimately put Robertson on indefinite hiatus from
filming, a mood that naturally precipitated the backlash of the backlash,
which is now playing out in predictable culture work fashion with
conservatives like Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz rushing to
And, weirdly on this one, I find myself siding with Jindal and Palin
and Cruz, which is sad to say, I agree at all with the contemptible content
of Phil Robertson`s beliefs. But, like the Tea Party stars, I disagree
with the course of action A&E is taking. Here to talk about with me is
Richard Kim, my colleague at "The Nation" magazine, where he is executive
So, here is my feeling about this like these are vial, contemptible
beliefs. This person is ostensibly a star in a reality show, in which this
is a person, he has these beliefs. And, so it seems to me the message is
being sent here is that he should just shut up about them, right? He told
a reporter honestly what he believes. So, you either get rid of the show,
which is making you a whole lot of money --
RICHARD KIM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR AT "THE NATION" MAGAZINE: Yes.
HAYES: -- which is based on these folks that have these adorable
characteristics that people love and also these bible beliefs, or you just
say, like "That is what we are doing. We are showing these people."
KIM: This is more reality than A&E can actually handle.
HAYES: That is exactly the point!
KIM: If you have reality T.V. premised on finding buffoonish
characters, cartoon characters, manipulation, cruelty, you will probably
get a lot of homophobia, and misogyny and racism in there somewhere too.
And, I think it actually would be great to show that on air more.
HAYES: Well, that is even a step further, which is like if you are
going to show them, like show the whole thing.
KIM: Show me the context.
KIM: I mean he is a member of the Church for Christ movement, and so
what is that about and you know -- Why does he have these beliefs? And, so
I think that is what they should have done, shown he has beliefs in
context, that he lives them.
HAYES: That is funny that you say that, because I think my first
thought was like look, this was not something that I would object if it
were on air, because then you are kind of pushing this stuff out to 14
million people. But, if he is talking to a reporter, a reporter asks him -
- I mean, I just do it, like -- the problem is the world view itself,
HAYES: That is the problem. So, do you want this person to not have
this world view? Yes. Is that going to happen? Probably not. So then,
where -- what are you left with? What does hiatus accomplish?
KIM: Right. I always have a problem with this outcome. In that, I
feel like we are in "Groundhog`s Day" that we have seen this before. There
is like a pasta executive or a chicken sandwich magnet, or a T.V. star who
says something homophobic. The Internet kind of gins up the outrage
machine and they demand someone get fired, so apologizes on air. And, when
that happens, it can feel like a victory, you know? It can feel like a
show of force. And, there is some --
HAYES: Right. So, we are saying, this is not acceptable, which these
are not acceptable views in my mind --
KIM: But, homophobia is a political structure. I mean, it is
supported by institutions and laws. And, whether or not "Duck Dynasty" is
-- I just do not think has a whole lot to do with the impact on that
position of homophobia.
HAYES: Let me also say. Amazingly, and Alexa Romberg, I think who
was it, I think progress -- you know, the things he said about civil rights
were every bit, if not more, offensive. This is him talking about pre-
civil rights era Louisiana South.
"Never with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not
once. Where we lived were all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers.
I hoed cotton with them. I am with the blacks, because we are white trash.
We are going across the field. They are singing and happy. I never heard
one of them, one black person say, `I will tell you what, these doggone
white people,` not a word. Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say, were
they happy? They were Godly. They were happy. They were singing the
blues." Fact check, people were singing the blues, you know?
KIM: Yes. So, that is not only I think more offensive but more
insidious, right? Because, it is --
HAYES: It is an old mythology in American life.
KIM: -- This is narrative of contempted slaves.
KIM: You know? Before the Welfare State and Lincoln or whatever came
in and ruined this beautiful plantation system. And, you know, Paula
Deen`s words have you know similar effect there. And, you know, this is a
view that a lot of people share and is being really, carefully manufactured
by conservative forces in this country to erode the welfare state.
HAYES: This is Bobby Jindal tweeting his support. I was actually --
I had to say, I was a little surprised. He said, "I remember when T.V.
networks believed in the first amendment. We should point out that the
first amendment does not guarantee anyone to a cable news show or a cable
show, or network show --
HAYES: -- Or any appearance on television, anyway that is not
guaranteed by the first amendment" despite with Bobby Jindal`s seems to
think. But I was a little surprised given how vile the comments are.
HAYES: Given the very rapidly shifting norms about how people feel
about love between people of the same gender, right? That the right-
wingers sort of lined up so quickly behind him.
KIM: Yes. And, you know, I think one of the really funny things
about the comments was just the sort of anatomical crudeness of them -
KIM: -- like he said that a vagina is more desirable than the anus,
and it is sort of like, has he tried the anus, because maybe if he did, he
would like it more. You know, to reduce something that is complex as human
sexuality to which orifice is better --
HAYES: That is a great follow-up question which I wish I would find
the GQ assignment as that is a debate that I really look forward to Bobby
Jindal and Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, everyone of course engaging in -- Yes, I
mean I think there is also this thing where it is now being -- he is being
attacked for his Christian beliefs, right?
HAYES: This is a kind of like, reverse liberal political correctness
in tolerance. Their tolerant views, except this. And, there is a point
insofar as, basically every republican, prominent national republican
believes what he very crudely articulated.
KIM: You know, I actually think Sarah Palin is totally right on that
point, you know? That there is, you know, this is a view that his church
shares. He cites his interpretation of the bible for it. There are many
evangelicals who believe this way. So, let`s have a conversation about
KIM: And, why these views exist and are there other Christian
alternatives to these beliefs, and is there a different interpretation of
the bible, rather than just sort of gunning for this guy getting fired.
HAYES: Well, he is not getting fired. He is going to come back and
he is going to do the show, people will watch it, make a lot of money, and
it will all be wrapped neatly in a bow. Richard Kim from "The Nation."
KIM: Thank you.
HAYES: Another big story in the news today, target got hacked. And
if you shopped there in the last month, odds are good. The hackers got
your credit card info. We will talk about it, next.
HAYES: Last year, "The New York Times" brought us an amazing anecdote
for the information age. A man walked into a Target store outside
Minneapolis, told the manager he was outraged with his daughter who was
still in high school who had been spent coupons for baby clothes and cribs.
He asked the manager, "Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant."
Target was not trying to encourage her to get pregnant, unlike her
father, the store had already figured out she was. It Targeted the girl
based on a pregnancy prediction score developed from her buying habits.
With just one small taste of the world of big data in which we now find
ourselves, where companies and criminals can access the most important
details about us.
When we come back, we are going to talk about today`s incredible news
of Target`s massive failure to protect our data and while the shadowy world
of data brokers may be even scarier than the NSA.
HAYES: Big, disturbing news for pretty much everybody who has shopped
at a Target store since Black Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC HOST OF NIGHTLY NEWS: 40 million Americans who
shopped at Target stores between Thanksgiving and December 15th may have
had their information stolen and now may need new security pins, passwords,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You did not mishear that number of stolen credit and debit
cards. 40 million people and while full details are not out yet. Sources
tell Brian Krebs, who broke the story. There was stolen from the magnetic
stripe of cards used to Target stores. It appears that thieves hacked into
the checkout system for 1,800 Target stores across the country, given them
access to card number, pins and other data.
Think about for a second. What would you do with data from 40 million
credit and debit cards? You do not use that yourself. You sell it to
people who want to make fake cards or otherwise make a profit. The cards
are not hard to buy. Bloomberg reported in 2011 that stolen credit cards
could be purchased at an Amazon-like online bazaar for just $3.50 each.
There is a massive underground market for this stuff.
And, the target hack is just the latest big theft. Back in 2007,
thieves stole data from up to 90 million cards from T.J. Maxx and other
chains. Since then, data has been stolen from an online video game network
and a payment processor, among many others.
In July, prosecutors charged six foreign nationals of stealing 160
million credit card numbers, resulting in losses in excess of $300 million.
And, while this criminal black market is incredibly disturbing, it is not
the whole story. Indeed, the illegal market is probably dwarfed by the
semi-legitimate market, but maybe even more troubling one, involving so-
called data brokers, which collect your data, package it, and can sell it
to pretty much anybody.
On Wednesday, the senate commerce committee released a report on the
industry. One common practice is to sell least of the most financially
vulnerable consumers, who are grouped as rural and barely making it, or
ethnic second city strugglers and who have done things like seek out pay
The list seemed designed to appeal companies as so high-cost loans and
other financially risky products to population more likely who need quick
cash. And, that is arguably not even the worst of it. Look at these
companies can buy list of erectile dysfunction sufferers, as well as list
people suffering from alcoholism or aids. Get 1,000 names from either
group from a cool 79 bucks.
And, then there is this one. A list of rape suffers, described here
as people who have been reported or identified by specific illnesses,
conditions, or ailments relating to rape. Those names can be yours for a
little less than $0.8 cents each. Now, it is good that the congress has
its marketed sites. Reality, is that the world of the data brokers is the
wild west of little or no oversight.
Companies operate behind what congress calls a veil of secrecy and in
many cases went this close, how they get their data and who buys it even
the commerce committee. As Senator Jay Rockefeller put it yesterday, the
industry makes the NSA look relatively benign. The National Security is so
secure in it`s protection of privacy as compared to this group we are
talking about. These data brokers, it is not even close.
Joining me now, Media Technologist Deanna Zandt. She is co-founder
and partner of Lux Digital, a digital strategy agency; Clay Johnson,
founder and CEO Better Technology, a firm that designs and builds software
for government, and Jessica Flanagan, a Cybersecurity fellow for Center for
National Policy of Think Tank.
Clay, let`s start with you -- In Layman`s terms, let`s start with this
target hack. How do you pull this off? I mean how do you get -- I
genuinely do not understand. How do you get 1,800 card readers across the
country just to start feeding you their data?
CLAY JOHNSON, BETTER TECHNOLOGY FOUNDER AND CEO: This is a really
sophisticated operation. It is one -- you know, I have been studying the
history of this for some time now, and the way that they did this is pretty
significant. Nobody knows quite sure how they did it. I mean, was it
hardware? Was it software on the chip readers?
What we do know is they operated sort of out of band, which means that
they were able to get more data off of the credit card than even Target
itself was storing. And, so that means that they had at least some form of
access to the physical card readers inside of the store, whether they had
physical access or software access, we do not know yet.
The other part of this is that these credit card hacks take very few
people to run. So, you know, you just mentioned one that cost -- or that
had 160 million people in it. You know, George Clooney needed 10 other
people to rob the Bellagio --
JOHNSON: That 160 million -- that only took five people.
HAYES: Jessica, what do you know in your long experience who was
prosecuting cyber crime, looking into this, who are the suspects in this
kind of thing. What kind of groups or entities are pulling off things like
JESSICA HERRERA FLANAGAN, A CYBERSECURITY FELLOW FOR CENTER FOR
NATIONAL POLICY OF THINK TANK: Given the sophistication and what we are
seeing in terms of it being credit cards, it could be organized crime
groups. It could be individuals in other countries, who are looking to
further their efforts to make money in various ways. It is hard to say.
We just do not know until we get more information on what kind of
tactics they used. I mean we have seen even teenagers trying to get into
the market of selling credit cards at a certain time. So, you just do not
HAYES: I want to talk about, Deanna, the kind of gray market for your
personal market. The illegal version and the legal version, which in some
ways is even more chilling and this senate commerce committee report after
we take this quick break.
HAYES: We are back. I am here with Deanna Zandt, Clay Johnson and
Jessica Herrera Flanagan. There is the black market where people steal
stuff and there is the grey market where companies acquire personal
information about people, they sell it. It is unclear how they acquire it.
How big is this? How much -- how worried should customers be?
DEANNA ZANDT, CO-FOUNDER AND PARTNER OF LUX DIGITAL: Yes, it is huge,
actually. And, we should be really worried. Everything from the way that
we search for information online is collected. Data that we input into
different websites, when we sign up for things, our credit card
information, and all of those different databases, this is the troubling
part to me, are bought individually and then matched up with one another to
create these profiles.
And from there, all kinds of stuff can happen with that information,
from you know the targeting that you have mentioned, marketing wise, which
kind of makes sense in some regards, but is really, really creepy.
HAYES: Right. Well, there is certain -- It seems to me there is a
distinction, right? Between you are the kind of person that likes to buy a
lot of shoes. And zappos.com would like to know that information about you
and so it seems relatively harmless, if you are -- the fact you like to buy
a lot of shoes sold to shoe companies.
ZANDT: That`s the slippery slope about it, though.
HAYES: Right. So, where does that go, right? I mean I guess it goes
to rape suffers.
ZANDT: It goes to rape suffers and other medical conditions. There
is all kinds of stuff, you know, you can think about here. People who do
not need or want their medical conditions publicized for one reason or
another. People are having all kinds of access to that information.
HAYES: There is three big firms, axing on the data logic and epsilon
and Facebook has recently entered into a partnership with them. Facebook
of course is a gold mine of personal information. It is the biggest
consumer asset they have. The reason they can advertise and make so much
money is because they know so much about you.
ZANDT: Well we are the product that is why Facebook is free. And,
anytime that we --
HAYES: Not paying, you are the product.
ZANDT: Yes. If you are not paying, you are the product. Exactly.
HAYES: Those watching at television at home are not paying for it --
I mean, you are, you are paying for cable.
ZANDT: So, whenever we have these kinds of situations where they are
they are overlapping with one another, even axiom released a website, where
people can look up and see what data they have on them. And we do not
know, actually, how accurate that information is. We do not know what else
they have on us that they are not releasing. Because the regulations and
the oversight around this, as you mentioned are pretty flimsy.
HAYES: Yes. So, Jessica, what kind of regulatory framework are we
dealing with? What do companies have to do to protect your data? What are
things they can and cannot do with it? What does target or banks have to
do after stuff get stolen?
FLANAGAN: There are a lot of the requirements are what the FTC
requires in terms of protecting consumers and letting consumers know what
is happening with your data. And in certain cases, there are requirements
regarding whether or not you have to opt in or opt out of programs.
So, those are things that companies are looking at. Unfortunately, a
lot of it is murky. People cannot really say for sure how much security
should be around, what is done with your data or even what security
measures they need to have in place. The FTC has looked at certain
companies that have had huge data breaches and said, "Look, you did not
have enough. You did not protect consumers. You were malicious in some
ways in what you did and we are going to go after you because of that."
And, that is what new company is kind of worrying about and said, "We are
not sure what to do, but we know we need to be doing something."
HAYES: Clay, there is a weird way in which I found it recently had my
bank contact me and said that my credit card has been compromised and it
looks like it was one of these grocery store or ATM cards. Scam artists
will install a reader in there, they will take the number off, put it on
another card. They will go try to buy stuff.
The banks have gotten pretty good fraud protection. I mean they have
got algorithms and know when you do something out of the ordinary. There
is a weird part of me that thinks, by the logic of the law of large numbers
like I would rather be in a group of 40 million people who had their
numbers stolen than in a group of ten. It is like, everybody is getting
stolen and everything is out there anyway. Does this end up coming back to
buy consumers or is it just like the world we live in now as the same
person breaking to your house.
JOHNSON: Well, you know, fortunately, consumers are usually
protected, you know? We are not generally liable for fraud that is
happening with our credit cards. By the way, I am really sorry I stole
your credit card. It was my bad. And, I got busted. You dirty rascal.
But, you know, security is a moving target and so, you know? As
technology continues to develop, I think we are going to see more and more
stuff like this happen. And, it is going to be up to the card providers
and the payment processors to equip consumers with better ways to protect
themselves, so that primarily, we can protect the targets of the world from
their bottom lines because they are the ones who are ultimately liable for
their security breaches.
HAYES: Deanna, we are going to enter a new world. The scariest thing
is the information that comes from searches, right? Things like that.
But, I think that there is a difference between your credit card number and
your subconscious, and it is the subconscious I am most worried about.
Media Technologist, Deanna Zandt; Clay Johnson from the department of
Better Technology, Jessica Herrera Flanagan from the Center for National
Policy, thank you all. That is "All In" for this evening. The "Rachel
Maddow" show starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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