updated 3/5/2014 11:20:09 AM ET 2014-03-05T16:20:09

ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
March 4, 2014

Guests: Simon Ostrovsky, Michael Cohen, Charles Pierce, Evan Smith, Rev. Al Shapton, Mia Jones, Niaz Kasravi

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes.

And at this hour, tensions remain extremely high in Ukraine. Russian
soldiers continue to blockade and occupy Ukrainian military facilities in
Crimea -- early today, firing warning shots in the air as unarmed Ukrainian
soldiers sought to regain control of a contested airfield.

As Ukrainian soldiers and their Russian counterparts stared each other
down in tense standoffs, Russian President Vladimir Putin finally broke his
silence on the unfolding situation, accusing the U.S. of treating
Ukrainians like lab rats and insisting the Russian troops in Crimea wearing
unmarked uniforms are actually local defense forces.

What happens now is anyone`s guess.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, what`s going on?

(GUNFIRE)

(CHANTING)

HAYES (voice-over): The first shots fired today, luckily just warning
shots as an extraordinary moment unfolded in Crimea this morning when
Ukrainian troops led by their colonel decided to march to the airfield they
used to man until the Russians arrived last week. There, unarmed, and
singing the Ukraine national anthem, they confronted the Russian soldiers.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: The standoff lasted five hours, with Russian snipers at the
ready. Finally, the Ukrainians backed down.

JAMES MATES: The order is given. Return to barracks.

With great dignity and showing full military discipline, they decided
enough is enough and march off back to their base.

HAYES: The standoff was an incredible scene in itself, but it also
revealed how quickly geopolitical stakes are escalated in this crisis.

Listen to this moment, again, as Ukrainian troops marched toward the
Russians.

"America is with us."

It`s hard to argue with that statement as Secretary of State John
Kerry arrived in Kiev today, laying flowers at a tribute for those who died
in last month`s protest and pledging to help the new Ukrainian government.

That help will come in the form of a billion dollars planned loan
guarantees and other economic support, as well as an ongoing attempt to
isolate Russia.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: If Russia does not choose to
deescalate, our partners will have absolutely no choice but to join us to
continue to expand upon steps we have taken in recent days in order to
isolate Russia politically, diplomatically, and economically.

HAYES: And as the U.S. picked its side, Russian President Vladimir
Putin finally broke his silence on Ukraine.

REPORTER: "What can be the reason to use our armed forces?" he asked.
"This is, of course, the last resort."

The audience was by invitation and Russian only, and each reassurance
came laced with a threat.

"If we see lawlessness in the east of Ukraine, and we are asked for
help," he said, "We reserve the right to use all options at our disposal to
protect those citizens."

HAYES: This afternoon, President Obama dismissed that.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What`s happening there
is not based on actual concern for Russian nationals or Russian speakers
inside of Ukraine but is based on Russia seeking through force to exert
influence on a neighboring country.

HAYES: Meanwhile, at the bases in Crimea, the standoff continue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Joining me now on the phone from Sevastopol in Ukraine, in
Crimea, is Simon Ostrovsky. He is a correspondent for Vice News and filed
an amazing report yesterday.

Simon, what is the situation where you are in Crimea like right now?

SIMON OSTROVSKY, CORRESPONDENT, VICE NEWS (via telephone): Hi. Well,
I`m in Sevastopol, and there is a Ukrainian naval base here. It`s the high
command for the whole of the Ukrainian navy, and it`s been under siege for
the last three days or so. That`s the base that I managed to get into
yesterday by climbing over the wall because it`s surrounded by pro-Russia
protesters as well as Russian troops and some of the Russian troops are
actually inside.

But the sailors inside of the base haven`t yet sort of laid down their
arms or switched sides, which is what the Russian troops and the sort of
pro-Russia supporters are trying to get them to do and that`s what Russians
are trying to get Ukrainian military officers across the Crimean peninsula
to do and essentially what their strategy so far has been a sort of war of
attrition, where they`re trying to wait them out and make it difficult for
them to get food and other stuff into the bases and they put pressure on
them and ask them to pledge allegiance.

They`ve been pledging allegiance to the people of Crimea instead of to
Russia, itself, when they do give up, and I think that`s part of a strategy
where Russia is trying to stay arm`s length from what`s happening here
while being at the same time very involved.

HAYES: You said Russian troops, and today Vladimir Putin contended
that they are not, in fact, Russian troops. Is there any doubt on the
ground where you are that these are, in fact, Russian troops?

OSTROVSKY: Well, not to me, and not to anybody who`s in Crimea, I
think, because first of all, a lot of the trucks that they arrive on have
Russian license plates on them, Russian official military license plates.
And then a lot of the soldiers, themselves, they`ve already been here for a
few days now have started talking to locals because they`ve been standing
outside of the space and openly admitted to people that they`re from Russia
and that they are Russian soldiers.

And, then, of course, the Ukrainian military officials that they`ve
been negotiating with and they`ve been putting pressure on to lay down
their arms have been speaking to people and saying these are
representatives of the military, of the Russian federation.

And, you know, off the record, some of the soldiers that I`ve spoken
to outside of a Ukrainian base in (INAUDIBLE) told me that they were
Russian.

HAYES: You mentioned before -- local civilians, Russian-speaking
citizens of Crimea who are there. Every time I`ve been seeing images and
file footage and reports out of there, there are people standing around who
are not uniformed. Who are these folks, and what are they doing?

OSTROVSKY: Well, there`s a number of different groups. I think
probably some of the people standing outside of the bases are genuinely
just concerned local citizens who support the fact that Russia has brought
troops to the Crimean peninsula because traditionally there are a lot of
Russians who live here and who support Russia, but also there`s sort of a
thuggish element to it. It seems like there`s supporters of political
parties that are aligned with Russia -- local political parties that are
aligned with Russia who`ve been brought out in force to stand outside the
bases and blockade their gates.

I spoke to the leader of a party called Russian bloc earlier today
who`s got groups of people outside of the naval high command as well, and,
you know, they`re explaining their presence by saying that they`re trying
to prevent what they`re calling provocations or I suppose, you know,
surprise attacks from what they`re calling extreme nationalist and fascist
elements from Kiev. But there`s not really been any evidence that such an
attack is being planned, and I think they`re just sort of setting that up
as the excuse for having the Russian presence here now.

HAYES: Simon Ostrovsky, thank you for the excellent reporting from
Vice News. Thank you very much.

OSTROVSKY: Appreciate it. Thanks.

HAYES: Joining me now, Michael Cohen, a columnist for "The Guardian,"
where he has been covering this story.

Michael, I thought it was really interesting today -- Vladimir Putin
explaining this. There`s a lot about this that is strange. At one level,
this is a very old school brazen grab of, you know, he sent his troops into
a place, his troops have surrounded and laid siege to other countries`
troops.

And yet at the same time, he`s been very careful about kind of keeping
this arm`s length distance and then justifying the actions in these
humanitarian terms. This is him talking about this as a humanitarian
mission at his press conference today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a
humanitarian mission. It is not our goal to conquer somebody, to dictate
to somebody, no. But, of course, we will not remain indifferent if we see
those people are being destroyed, humiliated, killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: It`s almost a through the looking glass version of things
we`ve heard from the West about humanitarian intervention before.

MICHAEL COHEN, THE GUARDIAN: Absolutely. There`s nothing
humanitarian about this. This basically is old-fashioned power politics.
This is an effort to dictate the Ukrainian government that is pro-Western
at this point, that is not on terms with Russia, sort of saying, let`s not
go too far in the direction away from Russia.

HAYES: But from Putin`s perspective, and I`m not saying this is the
correct evaluation of the facts, but from his perspective -- the Libyan
intervention by NATO, which is by NATO, which is, you know, sort of
adversarial relationship to, was sold as a responsibility to protect.
There are humanitarian reason to stop these people from being slaughtered
and resulted in bombs and regime change and he says, you in the West, this
is how you do it. You use your power of politics and guise of military
intervention, so I`m doing humanitarian --

COHEN: Absolutely. I mean, the difference of, there, you had U.N.
Security Council authorization for that intervention.

HAYES: And a genuine threat of a massacre, I would suppose, as posed
to zero reports as far as I can tell of actual cleansing or violence.

COHEN: Except for shots being fired at people`s heads, appears to be
very little violence so far.

In Libya, the U.S. went in on this idea of protecting Benghazi from
the massacre and ended up sort of pursuing a policy regime change. This
upset the Russians.

HAYES: Yes. In fact, there`s a report that Putin is obsessed with
this. He`s obsessed with Gadhafi`s demise.

COHEN: I don`t blame them in a sense for sort of feeling tricked in
supporting this, they didn`t support regime change and ended up happening.

Having said that, what`s happening here is nothing to do with that.
This is old-fashioned power politics, Putin trying to influence the
government in Kiev.

HAYES: The big question I think everyone is focusing on in the White
House has been sort of consistently sending this message about de-
escalation, de-escalation. At the same time, you`re looking for de-
escalation, you`re looking for an off-road, there`s also turning the
ratchet of pressure. John Kerry flying to Kiev today.

How do you deescalate here?

COHEN: I mean, this may come from Kiev, as opposed to coming from
Washington. It may come from the government in Kiev offering conciliatory
gestures toward Russia. I mean, Putin did this in large measure because he
saw his ally in Kiev forced out of power. He saw pro-Western government,
Ukrainian nationalist government take over.

HAYES: He saw essentially a revolution on his doorstep.

COHEN: Exactly.

HAYES: That was an elected government. It had, I think, in many ways
forfeited the legitimacy of the state by firing on its own people.

COHEN: Shooting your own people.

HAYES: Yes, absolutely. But from his perspective, this was a
revolution on his doorstep.

COHEN: Absolutely. The leadership change is one that`s not good for
Russia.

So, this is an effort, my perspective, seems an effort of coercive
diplomacy. Not aggressive coercive diplomacy, but coercive diplomacy, and
trying to sort of, you know, get the Ukrainian government to be
conciliatory to Russia, maybe not go along with the E.U. pact at the center
of the controversy.

I don`t see what the U.S. and the West can do really to sort of force
Putin`s hand on it. You`ve seen this already, where the European
governments have basically said they don`t want to go along with sanctions.

HAYES: Yes, getting resistance from the British government,
resistance from the Germans. So, a sanctions push seems to not necessarily
a sure bet at all for the E.U.

COHEN: No, you`re not going to get anything from the U.N., because
the Russians will veto it, and the Europeans are probably going to go
along. So, you have very few levers to change their opinion.

HAYES: Very good point.

Michael Cohen from "The Guardian" -- thanks so much.

COHEN: Sure.

HAYES: The weird, uncomfortable thing that some conservatives have
for Russian President Vladimir Putin, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Hi, I`m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such -- wait.
Try that again. Hi, my name`s Chris Hayes. You may remember me from ALL
IN WITH CHRIS HAYES and the Netflix drama "House of Cards." Guess what, my
next dramatic turn comes in the hit NBC program "Revolution", in the show
premiering tomorrow night, you`ll see me as myself in a unique episode that
takes place in an alternate reality, where the blackout apparently never
happened. It`s March 2014. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually need this now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t feel like it now.

HAYES: Nanotechnology, Dr. Matheson, what does this mean in practical
terms?

DR. RACHEL MATHESON, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: First and foremost, no
collateral damage. We have honed these machines to the point where they`re
able to deliver pops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know her. I know her. How do I know her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMAE: Aaron, I`m not going to lose you. Aaron. Aaron.
Aaron.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: You don`t want to miss that, so set your DVRs right now.
"Revolution" tomorrow night on NBC.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Have you noticed the way certain prominent conservatives have
been talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin? There`s something a
little off about it. Sure, they condemn him and see him as a foe, the
United States` biggest geopolitical foe. In fact, they`re talking about a
new Cold War.

But underneath that condemnation, there`s something, I can`t quite put
my finger on it, something that sounds oddly like admiration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: Putin decides what he wants to
do and he does it in half a day, right? He decided he had to go to their
parliament, he went to their parliament. He got permission in 15 minutes.

He makes a decision and executes it, quickly. Then everybody reacts.
That`s what you call a leader.

President Obama, got to think about it, he`s got to go over it again.
He`s got to talk to more people about it. Going through the whole, like,
Syria thing, again, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That`s what you call a leader. It`s strange it almost sounds
as if they would make the Obama/Putin trade if they had a world leader
fantasy team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Look it, people are looking
at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our
president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.

We are not exercising that peace through strength that only can be
brought to you courtesy of the red, white and blue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: There`s a reason we don`t play a lot of Sarah Palin`s analysis
on the show, but to listen to Senator John McCain today, it`s almost as if
President Obama is too weak to even recognize the strength and the
provocation of a president the caliber of Vladimir Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This president does not understand
Vladimir Putin. He does not understand his ambitions. He does not
understand that Vladimir Putin is an old KGB colonel bent on restoration of
the Soviet of the Russian empire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Now, the ideological lines here don`t break down in any clear
way. Liberal/conservative, reactionaries and radicals who said from
everything from Putin is being unfairly vilified and misunderstood, to
Putin is a monster.

Those three examples I just played, though, they suggest an
understanding of foreign policy and geopolitics in which strength is a
supreme virtue and weakness is the supreme vice, and the winner is the one
who exhibits the most strength.

That framework is one Vladimir Putin seems to have, and it`s a
framework that too many prominent people on the right seem to share.

Joining me now is Charlie Pierce, writer at large for "Esquire"
magazine and political blogger for Esquire.com.

Everything I`ve been hearing for the last 48 hours from the right has
revolved around feckless, feckless, weak, indecisive, feckless, weak and
indecisive.

CHARLES PIERCE, ESQUIRE.COM: Yes, the conservative right seems to be
confused as to whether Vladimir Putin is the new Stalin or a guy they want
to ask to the prom. I`m not exactly sure.

The shirtless horseback riding photos have won him an audience,
though.

HAYES: I think there is a case to be made that folks in the American
media, and I would include myself in this, and I think liberal and
conservative, that part of what is misguiding I think the way we`re talking
about this crisis is how much we have inflated the personage of Vladimir
Putin because he`s such a compelling character that everything seems to
revolve around the psychodrama of Vladimir Putin, himself, and sets up this
kind of easy strength/weakness Cold War kind of drama.

PIERCE: I mean, he`s a lot more compelling than the communists I
remember from my youth. I mean, Khrushchev was kind of a roly-poly guy.
And Andrew (INAUDIBLE) was a ice sculpture and Brezhnev as like he died 20
years earlier. Until I got to Gorbachev, he didn`t have one with
personality.

This guy`s got personality to spare.

HAYES: And that personality I think is part of the weird kind of
authoritarian charisma that seems to be -- you know, I don`t know,
appealing to certain people that are observing this. I think also tend to
see this as a square-off between the personality of Barack Obama and
Vladimir Putin as opposed to a very complex set of geopolitical
calculations that are being made on both size.

PIERCE: I think you right, because, you know, we`re a bit -- because
the media in this country, mostly the corporate media has cut back so much
on foreign coverage, we don`t really know what`s going on over there, so we
set up a nice troupe to understand it through the prism of our president
and their president.

I mean, Rudy Giuliani is impatient with democracy because he was bad
about it when he ran for president.

HAYES: That Giuliani quote was really amazing. It was like I can
imagine the management book that you get in the airport, like management
tips from Vladimir Putin, how to get your war authorization through the
Duma in 15 minutes.

PIERCE: Yes, I mean, you know, at least Vladimir would have been
smart enough not to make Bernie Carrick homeland security secretary. But I
guarantee you, the leadership sequence of Vladimir is already on somebody`s
story board at a major publishing house.

HAYES: Someone is pitching that as we speak. I also think -- I want
to shout out Dana Rohrabacher who I rarely have occasion to do that for.
This is what he had to say about Putin yesterday. He said that while he
doesn`t support Russia taking military action in Ukraine, that doesn`t mean
Putin and pro-Russia forces in Ukraine are in the wrong.

Now, I tend to disagree. I think they are in wrong side clearly. But
we were going to play Rohrabacher as someone else falling sway to this
admiration impulse, but I actually think what he`s saying is distinct,
right? There are people who are saying there are interests of the Russians
to be recognized in evaluating this and that`s very different than
affection for the strength and virility of Vladimir Putin.

PIERCE: Yes. As much as he would like to think he is, Vladimir Putin
is not Russia, OK? As much as he wants to personify the nation, and got to
do it for two weeks while people were skiing all around him, he really
isn`t.

There are -- as you said, there are serious geopolitical issues and
longstanding strife in this particular part of the world. My God, we`re
going to have a -- you know, we`re on the verge of having another Crimean
war, half a league onward.

HAYES: And one of the things I think that`s driven a lot of this
before this crisis and part of the Sochi coverage is the fact for a certain
generational cohort, there is this impulse towards Cold War frames. I
mean, you`re seeing everyone, it`s like the dam has burst. People have
been holding back for 20 years for being able to run through their "Red
Dawn" scripts. And now, this comes out and you start seeing it everywhere.

PIERCE: Oh, yes. It`s easy. I mean, for people, I think I`m
probably at the low end of the age thing as far as that particular
generation, but it`s probably the only group of that generation I am at the
low edge of.

But I think that, you know, it`s very easy to understand the world
that way. It was very easy to understand the world. We were good, they
were bad. We had nukes, they had nukes. You know, we`re all standing off
and we didn`t do anything when the tanks rolled into Prague in 1968 or
Budapest in 1956, because we all knew better. Now, we`re not sure.

HAYES: Right. Yes.

Charlie Pierce from "Esquire" -- always a pleasure. Thanks a lot.

PIERCE: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: 2014 election season begins today, people. Right now, people
are voting in the great state of Texas and, oh, boy, are there some
characters on the ballot down there. I will tell you about some of them,
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: We don`t have to question Greg Abbott`s courage
because he invited me here today. He understands that God gave us all
individual rights and that we wrote them down in the constitution of the
bill of rights. I have a feeling there`s some undercover agents here
somewhere. We welcome you, too, because we love sharing the truth with
those that don`t get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That is how voting season in Texas began this year. With the
man who once referred to President Obama as a, quote, "subhuman mongrel",
campaigning alongside the front-runner for the Republican nomination for
governor in that state. And today was election day in Texas.

And as hard as this might be to believe, Ted Nugent`s cameo was one of
the least nutty parts of the Lone Star State`s primary season. Despite
causing a minor controversy in appearing alongside America`s rockingest
political troll, Greg Abbott appears set to sail to an easy primary
victory.

Also looking to catch an easy win today, two-term Republican Senator
John Cornyn who seemed for a sliver of a moment like he just might have a
serious Tea Party insurgency on his hands when Congressman Steve Stockman
declared he would challenge Cornyn in this year`s primary. Oh, yes, Steve
Stockman of "If babies had guns they wouldn`t be aborted" bumper sticker
fame.

Steve Stockman among the loosest cannons in the U.S. House, which is
saying something. But Stockman did not run a heck of a campaign. And that
is a grave understatement.

Tea Party activist from his very own state called it, quote, "lazy and
unethical." Things started looking bad very early on when Texas officials
shut down his campaign headquarters, which was actually a former motorcycle
shop left to ruin and disrepair. Check out the hot tubs, where, quote,
"various campaign staffers and volunteers were working and sleeping."

Things got worse when Stockman disappeared for about two weeks missing
17 consecutive house votes, doing no campaign events, informing no one in
the press of his whereabouts. Eventually, Stockman was kind enough to
clarify by tweeting, "Where am I? Find out Monday." It turns out he had
been in Egypt, Israel and Russia. But, that is not all. He is now
embroiled in a dispute with opposition groups and media outlets over
publishing a more than 30-year-old mug shot and arrest report.

Stockman says he was never convicted of any charge and that the
documents were supposed to have been destroyed in 1978. And, now, he is
threatening to file criminal complaints against anyone who publishes the
record. To paraphrase Karl Rove, when your candidate is threatening to sue
reporters over his mug shot, he is losing.

But, no, seriously, Steve Stockman is not even the biggest train wreck
in the Texas elections today. That award goes to Kesha Rogers who is
actually not an electoral train wreck it appears. In fact, she has been
leading in the democratic senate primary, but she has a train wreck for
national democrats because of her views, which she draws from perennial
fringe provocateur Lyndon LaRouche are just that leave it outside the
Democratic party mainstream. For example, at a Tea Party event last month,
she said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KESHA ROGERS, TEXAS, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: What we are looking at
with the fact that you have a puppet in the White House, President Barack
Obama, who is a stooge of a Wall Street British empire, who is about to
take the nation to the brink of thermal nuclear war. That is what we need
to be concerned about right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now is Evan Smith, CEO and editor in chief of the
"Texas Tribune." Evan -- I do not know where -- where do I want to start.
Can we -- let`s start with the bizarre spectacle of the Steve Stockman
campaign in which I gather even folks in Texas are having a real hard time
making heads or tails of.

EVAN SMITH, TEXAS TRIBUNE CEO: Right. Well, we know Stockman as well
as anybody. He has been elected two different times. Nonconsecutive terms
to the congress from Texas, and we have watched him up close and we have a
sense of who he is. I do not even think those of us who know who stockman
is and what he has done and how bizarre relatively speaking his behavior
has been in the past expected anything like this.

When he got into this race on the last day of filing, in the last
second of the last hour of filing day, we thought, "Wow, Cornyn may
actually have a legitimate Tea Party challenge." There had been some
discussion of whether Cornyn was adequately loyal to Ted Cruz, whether he
embraced the Ted Cruz view of the world. And, Stockman might be the one to
exploit that and separate some conservatives from the Cornyn campaign.

Not only did it never happen, but I think everybody began to wonder
whether the Stockman campaign, as I have said before, was a prank. It
seemed like something that the Cornyn campaign created just to make him
look awesome.

HAYES: Yes.

SMITH: Because the fact is this Stockman campaign was one of the most
bizarre periods I think we have seen in modern Texas political history.

HAYES: I have heard it referred to as an Andy Kaufmanesque
performance art piece. I have heard it referred to just as a straight-up
grift, a con --

SMITH: Yes.

HAYES: -- meant to essentially create a kind of exit into -- I do not
know, some sort of Tea Party lecture circuit in the future, but everyone
seems to be scratching their head. What should be noted, though, is the
fact that Ted Cruz refused to endorse in the senate primary. He said, I am
not supporting any of the senators from my party or their opponents, which
I got to imagine relationships with him and John Cornyn are not super
awesome right now.

SMITH: Well, I can tell you that a lot of Cornyn supporters in Texas
cannot figure out what Ted Cruz is up to. It would not have killed Ted
Cruz, they say, to say a few nice words about John Cornyn, to endorse him,
senatorial courtesy, tradition and all that. He did not do it.

It looks like Cornyn, as you said in the setup piece, he is going to
win without a runoff, will return Steve Stockman to the private sector and
this period of time that we witnessed in the last couple months will go
down in the history books. It will be fondly remembered but ultimately
from a political standpoint not very relevant to Texas right now.

HAYES: OK. On the democratic side, Kesha Rogers. Now, the polling -
- polling in these kinds of situations I think can be a little --

SMITH: Very fluid.

HAYES: Yes, it is very fluid and a little unsteady.

SMITH: Right.

HAYES: I mean, the ground condition here, right, is that it does not
appear democrats recruited anyone into this race sufficiently big enough to
command a lead such that this eventuality was foreclosed upon.

SMITH: Right. This is a red state, Chris. You know that. No
democrats have been elected statewide in 20 years. And, the numbers and
the turnout really not there except in the case of some precipitating event
for a democrat to be truly competitive in a race like this, and so a whole
lot of high-profile democrats decided not to get into this race and they
were left with people who are willing to run as opposed to people who
should run.

There is one candidate who has a fair amount of personal wealth who
has played in politics as a donor, has run before unsuccessfully. A
dentist named David Alomeel from the Dallas area, who may ultimately win
this nomination. He may come in first or second today. We do not really
know, yet.

HAYES: And, he has been endorsed by Wendy Davis, who of course, at
the top of the ticket.

SMITH: He has.

HAYES: He got -- I think has spent somewhere around $3 million of his
own money or pledged to spend that.

SMITH: He does.

HAYES: The problem, though, is the system there is that if no one
clears 50 percent, there is going to be a runoff and that runoff could
include this candidate, Kesha Rogers, who we played sound of earlier.

SMITH: Right and you are going to have a much lower turnout and
runoff as you always do relative to primary day. And, the fact is not many
democrats even turn out on primary day. So, you are talking about a subset
of the subset that would turn out and decide this race.

I cannot figure out why Kesha Rogers -- I mean you hear a lot about,
"well, does she have a good ballot name? Is that maybe why she is rising
to the top of the polls?" I doubt it is on the strength of her views as
you played earlier and the ones she has articulated, "We are going to
impeach President Obama." That is not a very popular position --

HAYES: Yes.

SMITH: -- at least in the Democratic Party in Texas. Maybe people
think they are voting for Ke$ha, the singer.

(LAUGHING)

HAYES: Right. Although --

SMITH: I am not entirely sure how to explain it, otherwise.

HAYES: We should know Ms. Rogers does not spell her name with a
dollar symbol --

SMITH: With a dollar sign.

HAYES: Evan Smith from the "Texas Tribune." Thank you so much.

SMITH: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up. You would think after all the insanity the stand-
your- ground law in Florida has caused the state legislature would be
thinking seriously about repealing it. But, it is the Florida state
legislature, so not so much. I will explain, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The autopsy for actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been
released. And, while there was early speculation that a bad batch of
heroin is what killed him, the official cause of death is described as an
accidental, quote, "Acute mixed drug intoxication." In other words, a
bunch of stuff, not just heroin was found in his system.

Now, according to data from the drug abuse warning network, this is
typical of deaths attributed to heroin. The day after Hoffman died, we had
a neuroscientist on the show who has been studying drugs for more than 20
years and we talked a little bit about heroin overdoses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CARL HART, NEUROSCIENTIST: If we just focus on our public health
information education campaign, just tell people if you are going to use
opioids, do not combine it with another sedative like alcohol. If we do
that and we really get that message home, now we can save a lot more
people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: After that night`s program, I ran into the hallway to continue
my conversation with that guest, Dr. Carl Hart, because I felt like he was
just blowing my mind about the way I think about drugs and chemicals and
the brain. And, so I asked him in the hallway to sit down with me again.
I wanted him to come back. And, this time around, he blew my mind even
more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: This is so anathema to the way we think about this. It just
feel like it does not jive with what I have seen. When you are saying that
to me and I still do not believe it. There is just part of me that is like
that cannot possibly be true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Well, it is true. Really looking forward tomorrow to bring
you more of that interview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Today, the Florida State legislature is back in session, and
you will never guess what is one of their top items on their agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROTESTOR: Please file it up.

CROWD: Cannot take it no more!

PROTESTOR: Please file it up.

CROWD: Cannot take it no more!

HAYES (voice-over): Today, people gathered in front of the Florida
State Capitol for the second day in a row protesting the legislature`s
conservative agenda on this, the first day of the state`s legislative
session.

AMANDA MERCED: Since stand-your-ground was put in place back in 2005,
26 states have adopted stand-your-ground laws or doctrines.

HAYES (voice-over): But it looks like for now stand your ground is
here to stay. Last year, lawmakers voted down a bill that would have
repealed stand your ground, and Florida governor Rick Scott has reiterated
his support for the law.

RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I am not going to call a special
session. I believe in our stand-your-ground and self-defense statutes.

HAYES: And, now in their new session, legislators are poised to pass
not a repeal of the law, but an expansion of it or as some lawmakers would
tell you, a clarification. It`s been nicknamed the so-called, "warning
shot" bill. And, today it was voted out of the senate`s judiciary
committee unanimously.

It passed out of the house committee earlier this year. The bill
would empower a judge to grant immunity from Florida`s mandatory minimum
gun law to someone who displays a gun or fires a warning shot in self-
defense.

GREG EVERS, (R), FLORIDA SENATOR: A person with a firearm, a citizen,
a person without a firearm is a victim.

HAYES (voice-over): And, the so-called "Warning Shot" bill was not
brought forth to address Trayvon Martin`s killing or George Zimmerman`s
acquittal or Jordan Davis` slaying or even to address the jury`s deadlock
on the first-degree murder charge for the man who killed Davis, Michael
Dunn.

No, the bill gained momentum in response to a third stand-your-ground
case out of Florida. That of Marissa Alexander, a woman with no criminal
record who fired what she says was a warning shot near her allegedly
abusive husband and his children in 2010.

But, Alexander was charged by the Florida state attorney Angela Corey
with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Her lawyers
mounted a stand-your-ground defense insisting that Alexander thought her
life was in danger. A judge rejected that defense and she was sentenced to
20 years in prison.

Alexander had since been granted a retrial, after a court found the
judge gave the jury improper instructions. Now, Angela Corey`s office is
looking to put her away for 60 years. Marissa Alexander`s case is being
used to sell Florida`s expansion of stand-your-ground, but stand your
ground did not provide justice to Marissa Alexander the first time, what
makes us think a small legislative fix will make any difference the next
time?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now, my colleague the Reverend Al Sharpton from
Florida this evening. Rev, it is good to have you.

REV. AL SHARPTON, AMERICAN BAPTIST MINISTER: Thank you, Chris. Good
to be with you.

HAYES: So, you are going to be participating in a rally, I believe,
on March 10th around some of these issues having to do with stand your
ground. You spent a lot of time in Florida since the Trayvon Martin
killing. What is your response to the Florida legislature`s moves?

REV. SHARPTON: Well, I think that it is a very cynical move because
what they are doing is using Marissa Alexander`s case, which many of us
feel is an egregious case, but they are using it to continue to use the
fact that people can fire weapons, can have guns, and it is an unusual
alliance of the NRA and some members of the legislature.

Let`s not forget, Chris, when Governor Jeb Bush who was then-governor
in 2005 when the stand-your-ground law was signed by him, standing behind
him was a representative of the NRA. So, this, in many of our opinions
that want to see self-defense laws changed or repealed is a shrewd way of
trying to act like you are doing something because of one case but in
effect not changing the basic problem and that is guns and shoot first and
ask questions later and just throwing in a little caveat saying, "Oh, do a
warning shot first" but then the rest of it is the same and that is
unacceptable.

HAYES: You know, one of parts of the legislation that`s proposed
which would sort of get rid of the mandatory minimums is 10/20 life for
people who were in the situation of firing a warning shot, connects to the
idea that one of the ways that we have ratcheted up gun laws in this
country, those of uses like you and I who think -- who want to see less gun
violence and want to see more gun safety, is through mandatory minimums
that are attached to the use of guns, which tend to fall disproportionately
on young men of color when they get into the criminal justice system.

REV. SHARPTON: No doubt about it. Any number of studies say that no
question that young blacks are disproportionately the ones that get
involved in the system. Again, it is a Trojan horse kind of legislation.
It is being sponsored by the people and supported by the people that gave
us stand-your-ground in the first place. So, it is adding in many ways
insult to injury.

Yes, many of us want to see what happened to Marissa Alexander
addressed, but we do not want to see it in a way that is cynical and
manipulative and does not help all people, not only in Florida, but in over
20 other states now that have stand-your-ground laws.

HAYES: The prosecutor in Florida who oversaw the prosecution of
George Zimmerman, which was unsuccessful, the prosecution of Michael Dunn
who killed Jordan Davis, which was successful on several counts but not on
first-degree murder is also the same prosecutor in the case of Marissa
Alexander and has signaled, she is going to go hard at her in the retrial.
They are going to go retry her and she might be facing 60 years. What is
your sense of what Angela Corey is up to here?

REV. SHARPTON: It is very interesting to me that Angela Corey and
this county is the county that we had Jordan Davis` case that failed to get
a conviction or an acquittal, did not get any decision on the first count.
She did get that against Marissa Alexander as she was a special prosecutor
that went to Sanford on the George Zimmerman case.

So, one has to wonder when you are looking at a scorecard like this
whether Angela Corey is really, really aggressive and competent, or is
there something else going on here, as Lisa Bloom raises in her book? I am
more concerned about changing the legislation and dealing with the
legislators, but I must say that I am more than curious about how Ms. Corey
seems to have a perfect batting average of zero on these cases.

HAYES: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you so much. You catch the
reverend`s show at 6:00 p.m. eastern on MSNBC.

Coming up, I will talk to a member of the Florida state legislature
who supports this controversial law. So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Joining me now is Florida State Democratic Representative Mia
Jones who represents Jacksonville and Niaz Kasravi, Director of the NAACP
Criminal Justice Program. Representative, I want to begin with you because
you do support the proposed legislation that would expand stand your ground
to include warning shots.

MIA JONES, (D) FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, I do. I support
that legislation mainly for the reason that, and Marissa Alexander`s case,
Marissa, if found guilty again would be able to apply for clemency to the
executive branch and then have the opportunity to not serve the 20 years
that she was previously given.

HAYES: Do you worry, though, about the unintended consequences of
expanding this legislation? We know that there are already racial
disparities in states with stand-your-ground laws when the shooter is
white, and the victim is black, the justifiable homicide rate is 35
percent.

When the situation is reversed, the shooter is black, the victim is
white, shootings are ruled to be justifiable, only slightly more than 3
percent of cases. So, does this statutory change address what seems to be
a more structural injustice in how these laws are applied?

REP. JONES: I would have to say, no, it does not address that. And,
that is why I filed house bill 103, which would have done what we really
need to be doing here in the state of Florida, which is removing mandatory
minimums and allowing our judges to do what they have been placed on the
bench to do and that is to listen to the facts of each case, to look at
what actually took place and then to make a decision based on those facts.

HAYES: Niaz, I imagine you agree about mandatory minimums. Where are
you on the stand-your-ground legislation?

NIAZ KASRAVI, DIRECTOR OF THE NAACP CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROGRAM: So,
absolutely --

REP. JONES: I do not support --

HAYES: Sorry, Niaz, go ahead.

KASRAVI: The problem -- That is OK. The problem with the Marissa
Alexander case is not so much, it is the mandatory minimums.

HAYES: Right.

KASRAVI: So, absolutely, that piece has to be removed. I do not
think there is a way to begin to address how to see justice done in the
Alexander case without repealing the mandatory minimums. But, I think this
law, even though in theory, it might be good, we do have to worry about the
potential unequal application of these laws that we have seen, which are
systemic of a larger problem of institutional racism in the criminal
justice system.

So, that is one thing we have to be wary of. And, you know, this law
I think is in no way compromise or a solution to stand-your-ground laws,
which have huge problems including the fact that, you know, they provide --
you know, no duty to retreat for people who can safely do so from a
situation before firing their weapon and often they provide automatic
immunity even for people who are the initial aggressors.

HAYES: Right.

KASRAVI: So, those are the problems we need to address and this law
has really nothing to do with any of those problems.

HAYES: Representative, Reverend Al Sharpton is pointing out before
the NRA of course is, also, pushing for this legislation. What is your
response to people who say, "Look who is on the same side as you, how can
you possibly be in alliance on this?"

REP. JONES: One of the things I would say is that when you are
dealing with putting laws on the books, we oftentimes say it is like making
sausage. You have to accept the small steps that you can take and then
continue to fight in order to make sure that you get to where you need to
get to and to get across that finish line.

And, so, we as a Democratic Party, we are committed and we stand
firmly on the fact that we believe that stand-your-ground should be
repealed. We recognize that the legislature is not in a position to accept
that and to move forward on that. And they have made that very clear.
Just as they have made it very clear that they do not want to give judges
the ability to make the decisions that are necessary.

HAYES: I think we are all in agreement about mandatory minimums and
the evils of mandatory minimums. Niaz, quickly, one of the things this
highlights something I talked with the reverend about is the ways in which
gun legislation, particularly sentences attached to gun crimes can have the
perverse effect of essentially increasing the incarceration rates of young
men of color.

KASRAVI: No, absolutely. You know, like all other mandatory minimums
in this country, there is racial disparity to be found in the way that they
are applied because they do take the discretion out of the hands of judges
to look at cases and make decisions based on the merits of the case --

HAYES: Yes.

KASRAVI: -- but, they do put a lot of discretion in the hands of the
prosecutors, which I think we are seeing happen here in Florida with the
Marissa Alexander case.

HAYES: Florida State Democratic Representative Mia Jones and Niaz
Kasravi from the NAACP, thank you very much. That is "All In" for this
evening. "The Rachel Maddow Show" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.


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

Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,