All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 22, 2014
Guests: Hakeem Jeffries, Josh Fox, Dan Dicker, Christine Todd Whitman, Jon
Ralston; Jelani Cobb, Halley Potter, Ted Shaw
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
The 44th Earth Day is being celebrated here in the U.S. today.
Because it`s Earth Day, I want to talk this evening for a second about
money. Because the things we know about Earth in this current moment and
the things we know about what Earth might look like in the future all comes
back to money.
Here`s what I mean: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
United Nations body, basically says we really, really have to try to not
warm the planet in this century more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees
If that sounds like not that much to you, think about the complicated
system of the human body and the difference between being 98.6 degrees and
102.6 degrees. Adding just four degrees doesn`t seem like a lot, but if
you`re running a 102.6 fever, how are you feeling? What if it lasts for
For Earth, no one knows exactly what happens if we add more than 2
degrees Celsius. But the consensus is, it`s much more than melting
glaciers. It is bad. Very bad. Phrases like "uninhabitable planet" or
civilization not existed in recognizable form start to enter the picture at
the tail end of risk.
Now, here`s where things get interesting. If we want to stay below
that 2 degrees Celsius threshold, there`s a limited amount of fossil fuel
we can burn. I mean, we know more or less how much fossil fuel raises the
temperature a certain amount. And the amount of carbon contained in the
proven fossil fuel reserves on the planet right now that we can get out
with current technology is 2,795 gigatons.
And if we want to stay in that zone of not exceeding the global
temperature increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius, we can only use 1/5 of
it, 20 percent. That means 80 percent of the known fossil fuel reserves
that are on the books that companies like BP and Exxon know about along
with oil reliant nations like Saudi Arabia, 80 percent of it needs to stay
in the ground. Eighty percent of the fossil fuel needs to stay in the
And this is why I want to talk about money, because that stuff that
needs to stay in the ground, 80 percent that`s in the books, the fossil
fuel companies, the oil-producing nations, that stuff is worth a ton of
money. Best estimates are the ballpark of $20 trillion. And so, the only
way this works out is if we somehow convince these giant energy companies
and nations with entire economies built on fossil fuel extraction to
somehow leave it behind, to give up their claim on $20 trillion of wealth,
to leave that money in the ground.
What do you think the chances are of that happening? It`s not an
optimistic prospect. In fact, in all of history, there`s really only one
time anything even remotely like that has ever happened, 1865, the end of
the civil war and the liberation of the slaves.
Now, before we go any further, I am not comparing slavery to the
burning of fossil fuel. The evil of slavery: specific, distinct and
incomparable. The only thing comparable to slavery is slavery.
This isn`t about that. It`s about the basic question of political
economy. What does it take to make concentrated powerful interests
relinquish their wealth on this scale?
In 1860, slaves which were considered property in the South, in fact,
represented 16 percent of the total household assets of the entire country.
They represented nearly half the total wealth of the South on the eve of
Historian Eric Foner told me, in 1860, slaves as property were worth
more than all the banks, factories, and railroads in the country put
together. In today`s terms, a stunning $10 trillion.
Again, I`m not talking about the moral price tag which is
incalculable. I`m talking about what the slavery meant to the economy of
Southern slave owners.
And that economic value was about $10 trillion. And those
slaveholders, the slave power feared they were going to be forced to give
it up. What followed was the bloodiest conflict this nation has ever seen,
and 600,000 people dead.
So, where are we now?
Well, here`s why you should not be feeling completely hopeless,
completely pessimistic faced with this single lone precedent. There may be
ways to get to the point where leaving trillions of dollars of fossil fuel
in the ground doesn`t seem like such an impossibility. The good news is
getting fossil fuels out of the ground happens to be extremely expensive.
It takes a ton of capital investments, billions and billions of dollars to
get it out. And that -- that is the Achilles heel.
One way to attack the Achilles heel is put a price on carbon that
makes it not worth anyone`s while to take that out of the ground. Another
is to work to create cost competitive alternatives to make the fossil fuel
sitting in the grounds increasingly worthless.
Solar energy which we discussed is becoming a more viable alternative
To bring about the day when that stuff stays in the ground, what you
are seeing is a movement including today`s Keystone protest in Washington,
D.C., seeking to attack that weak link, to disrupt the chain of doom that
is the fossil fuel energy by preventing them from making the investments
they need to get the stuff out of the ground. That, that is what the
Keystone fight is about.
It`s about the pipeline in the tar sands, but it`s about way, way more
than that. It`s about the point at which we stop -- we stop pulling the
stuff out of the ground. It`s about the point at which we say this stuff
needs to lay there. It needs to stay there. We cannot take it out. It is
the red line.
In this case, the reason the pipeline is so important is that without
that investment, without that capital expenditure to build that pipeline,
it doesn`t make much sense to take all the stuff out. That`s the weakness.
That`s the weakness being attacked and that needs to be replicated times a
thousand. So, happy Earth Day.
Joining me now Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat from New York.
Congressman, one of the reasons I love talking to you is you`re
relatively new to Capitol Hill. And so, you retain a little bit of an
outsider`s view on it.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Yes, I do.
HAYES: What is the Keystone fight about from where you stand
operating Capitol Hill as you do?
JEFFRIES: I think you did a great job of laying out the stakes, but
as far as I`m concerned, in terms of climate change, it is a reality that
we have to address. And we have to address the reality that is closely
connected to the fact that big money interests do stand behind Keystone
pipeline, as well as this entire debate.
And on first glance some who deny climate change may deny it in ways
that some of us may think is simply irrational based on a mountain of
JEFFRIES: And some have been accused of being descendents of the same
people who once believed that the Earth was flat.
But that is not really the reality behind the concerted effort
connected to things like Keystone. It`s the economics of the situation and
the fact that if we move in a different direction, if we try to
meaningfully reduce our carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas
emissions, that there`s economic interest that will suffer as a result, and
that`s essentially what this fight is all about.
HAYES: And do you -- is that the reason? I`m amazed by how profile
this fight is. I mean, it was one thing when activists decided to pick
this battle, right? But now you have the news this week they`re going to
further delay final decision on Keystone largely due to this court case in
Nebraska. And immediately every Republican, you`ve got John Boehner,
Cantor, Karl Rove going on FOX. I mean, it is a huge central thing.
And what you`re saying is, the money on the line is the reason it`s a
JEFFRIES: The money on the line is absolutely the reason it`s the big
issue. But I think there are other things that have to be considered.
Communities I represent in Brooklyn and Queens were hit hard by superstorm
Sandy -- a storm that was an extreme weather event, the type of which have
become increasingly more frequent as a direct result of climate change.
Superstorm Sandy alone cost $65 billion. It cost more than 100 lives.
More than a thousand people were displaced. Those type of events will be
replicated all across the country. Not just in Florida and in the Gulf
States. This occurred in the Northeast at the end of October.
And I think that that type of reality may help change the terms of the
debate on the other hand because it`s clear that we as Americans both in
terms of the human cost and eventually in terms of the economic toll that
these type of storms take on our economy and the disruption in day-to-day
life can no longer afford to absorb it.
HAYES: So, that`s the interesting idea, which is the way that you
overcome the big money because that -- I mean, the whole point of that
intro is that concerted wealth, that`s real wealth people are sitting on,
they don`t want to give up.
JEFFRIES: That`s right. And they`re in the fight on Capitol Hill.
I`m sure you see it everyday. So, the question is how is that overcome?
HAYES: Right. And I think that part of the way that it`s overcome is
that as Americans increasingly become educated about the fact that their
well-being, their lifestyle, their livelihood will increasingly be put at
risk as a result of our failure to deal with the realities of climate
change and if we don`t move to more sustainable cleaner forms of energy
use, solar, wind, geothermal, that eventually, the devastation that hit New
York City, New York state, and New Jersey through Superstorm Sandy may
become a reality that strikes them at some point.
And hopefully that will collectively shake America into action and
rise up to fight those very entrenched economic forces that also once
existed in this country in the 1800s, as you`ve eloquently referred to.
HAYES: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from New York City, it`s always a
pleasure. Thank you.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you.
All right. Joining now, environmental activist Josh Fox, director of
the Academy Award nominated documentary "Gasland" and the sequel to
"Gasland Part 2", and Dan Dicker, an oil trader and author of "Oils Endless
All right, Dan, when I was researching this piece I wrote for "The
Nation" which makes a similar argument, one of the things that blew my mind
was the idea that fossil fuel companies spend $1.6 billion a day, a day,
looking for new fossil fuels. Despite the fact that what they know is out
there, the stuff they already have, they can`t burn all of it.
DAN DICKER, OIL TRADER: Let me give you some more bad news. It`s
never been more profitable to be an American oil company than it is has
been right now. It`s not only because of the fracking of natural gas that
we hear so much about and your other guest Josh Fox will talk about I`m
sure. But also fracked oil inside the Bakken, the Eagle Ford.
HAYES: In North Dakota, that`s the huge oil rush that`s --
DICKER: And in east Texas, in the Permian, in east Texas.
And remember the state laws on getting the stuff out of the ground are
entirely different in Texas than they are here in the Northeast. You have
Canada who`s becoming an oil sands power. You have the Mexicans who have
decided to open up development of their own resources to outside entities
for the first time in decades. And that is going forward in their senate.
So, the reason all of this is moving forward and why some of these
anti-fracking arguments are not having a lot of weight right now is because
as you say economically speaking it`s incredibly profitable to be an oil
company right now. So the way you attack this problem, at least to me, is
to find an alternative way for companies to make the profits they`re making
inside the oil industry.
They`re very agnostic when it comes to profit. They make money --
HAYES: Yes, if you can give them -- I mean, this is and that`s the
point. This is about money.
HAYES: It really is about money.
DICKER: And difficult to tackle unless you attack it from a money
HAYES: Josh, one of the arguments you hear, we might say kind of
enlightened skeptics of the liberal regime on climate is -- well, natural
gas is the solution. It`s the bridge fuel. It`s lower carbon emissions
than carbon and actually, it`s the thing helping drive down our emissions
year over year. And you, Josh Fox, and your demagogues trying to get rid
of it, you`re going to burn the planet.
What do you say to that?
JOSH FOX, DIRECTOR: That is scientifically untrue. We know so much
methane leaks out of this process that it actually offsets any benefit in
carbon dioxide. But the real problem is there that I`m standing -- I`m
actually in Washington, D.C., what you see behind me is the largest
fracking site in the world. The oil companies tamper with our forms of
In fact, Princeton University just did a study that showed that
America is not actually a democracy anymore. America is now an oligarchy.
I prefer to think about it as an oil-garchy.
But it`s Earth Day, so can I give the good news?
HAYES: Yes, give the good news.
FOX: The good news is that actually it is possible under today`s
technology, the wind and the sun and other forms of renewable energy, to
get to 100 percent of our power generation needs.
I have started a nonprofit called the Solutions Project which work
with Stanford University scientist Mark Jacobson to map out how you get to
100 percent renewable energy, how much wind, how much sun, how much you
need. And it`s within our grasp technologically.
So what we`re talking about is exploitation. It begs the question,
you know, what is money worth when there`s no civilization?
HAYES: That is the question I think about --
FOX: That only operates within a stable civilization. It`s not worth
anything. We must make this transition as you laid out so beautifully.
And what`s amazing about this is we actually have the technology to do it
DICKER: Well, we have the technology, the problem is that the oil
industry employs millions of people, people that rely on it. And the
technology that Josh talks about is a heck of a lot more expensive than the
infrastructure that`s already in place.
HAYES: We have a huge cost problem, right? When you think about all
the stuff that`s been built, there`s this infrastructure --
DICKER: And you don`t turn it around on a dime, especially when you
have as you say these very politically active and money spending oil
companies supporting their interests in Washington and politically forcing
a president for example to pump the Keystone idea down the road, instead of
making what would be a positive step and barring it right off the bat.
HAYES: But isn`t there also -- there is this investment problem,
right? I mean, the fossil fuel companies, that is their -- they need
investment constantly to -- that`s the fuel that they run on.
DICKER: But you`re not -- what you don`t want to try to do is
recreate what happened with the tobacco industry where you shunned a lot of
investors into tobacco and created a juicy investment for certain people in
DICKER: Is everybody a moralist when it comes to money?
HAYES: Of course not.
DICKER: No one is. In fact, you have a lot of poor people who are
saying they`re going to deny the oil companies money but all the really
rich people are waiting for a good opportunity to invest in that.
HAYES: Which comes back to the point, Josh, that ultimately a price
on carbon -- this is a means to an end of achieving that. But that is the
FOX: That is one goal, of course. But let me bring up the fact that
deploying renewable energy can help heal our democracy. As I go all around
the country and I visit people from the Gulf of Mexico or the people who
were harmed by Sandy or the people in the 34 states -- you know 15 million
people in America live right now within one mile of a fracking well. And
that fracking campaign is in its infancy.
We can work with those grassroots groups across the country and there
are thousands of them who are reinventing democracy on the local level and
deploy renewable energy in a democratic context. We don`t need -- I don`t
want solar panels and wind farms from Shell or ExxonMobil.
FOX: I have a feeling how that would go. I want that to be sourced
within the thing that`s going to heal our democracy. We can take back our
power as we take back our power.
DICKER: When your son reaches his 30th birthday and he takes his
hydrogen hovercraft to go to work, it will be filled at ExxonMobil station.
This I guarantee.
DICKER: Hang on, Josh. They have a stranglehold on the energy world.
And, in fact, what you have to move them, incentivize them to deliver those
renewables in the same way that they delivered the stuff from fossil fuels.
You step that down in some ways through natural gas because it does have a
lighter carbon form.
HAYES: Right, I want to clarify the debate between you Dan and Josh,
DICKER: Remember, I`m the most left wing energy guy we`ll find.
HAYES: Yes, I know. You are the most left wing energy we`ll find.
That`s why we love you. That`s why we have you on.
But to sort of clarify the issue here is the path forward basically,
we`ve got to find a way to buy these interests off or do we have to
basically break them up, right? And is breaking them up I think that`s
what Josh is advocating. Or draining their power is impossible.
DICKER: Well, short of a civil war that you talk about in your piece,
I think that`s what you`re trying to get at. You don`t want a civil war
over something like this.
HAYES: No, no, no.
DICKER: So, what we want to do is, if I can take the analogy even
further, you want to subsidize the new labor that`s going to come in when
you free the slaves. Somehow you`ve got to incentivize the new labor.
FOX: I`m not talking about civil war. I`m talking about
civilization. And when we`re looking at the United States, where the
richest 400 Americans have more money that the poorest 50 percent, we have
a problem. And part of that problem is energy.
FOX: We are addicted to a system that actually renewable energy can
help us break out of is what I`m trying --
HAYES: This is a really key point.
Concentrated wealth and concentrated energy are not unrelated
problems. In fact, they are essentially different sides of the same coin.
Environmental activist Josh Fox, oil trader Dan Dicker -- gentlemen,
thank you so much. Happy Earth Day.
FOX: Thank you.
DICKER: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, for all their talk, there`s a simple
two-word phrase some members of Congress haven`t uttered on record in four
years. I will tell you what that phrase is, next.
HAYES: Something remarkable is happening in the country right now.
Movements in churches and campuses across the U.S. to divest from fossil
Join me tomorrow on Twitter at 4:30 p.m. Eastern when I`ll be joined
by one of the leaders of that movement, environmental activist, writer and
founder of 350.org, Big McKibben. I want to hear from you, so start asking
your questions right now using #msnbcgreen.
Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. It`s going to be really
interesting. Come check it out.
HAYES: Today is Earth Day, but don`t expect to be hearing that from
certain members of Congress.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: You know, if you own the land,
every day`s Earth Day.
REP. CHRIS CANNON (R), UTAH: I`m (INAUDIBLE) today on Earth Day, to
introduce legislation that will clean up the significant environmental
problem in southern Utah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is when you approach Earth day and you
celebrate a much cleaner environment for America --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is -- has been Earth Day this week and Earth
Week people talk about saving the environment.
HAYES (voice-over): There was a time when Republicans, even ones who
fought against environmental regulation, paid at least a little lip service
to Earth Day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me compliment the House of Representatives on
this Earth day 1999 on a bipartisan basis.
HAYES: Those days are over. In fact, according to a search of the
congressional record by the Sunlight Foundation, Republicans in Congress
haven`t uttered the words Earth Day since Senator Lamar Alexander said it
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: Mr. President, today is Earth
HAYES: And that`s just a small glimpse of a much larger and more
dangerous trend. The Republican Party marching backwards on the
environment and climate change, because it wasn`t always this way. As far
back as 1988, Republican vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle promised a
Republican ticket would deal with the dangers of climate change.
DAN QUAYLE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The greenhouse
effect is an important environmental issue. It is important for us to get
the data in to see what alternatives we might have to fossil fuels.
HAYES: The next year, Congressman Newt Gingrich co-sponsored the
Global Warming Prevention Act that warned the Earth`s atmosphere is being
changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human
George H.W. Bush signed the U.N. framework to prevent further global
warming, promised U.S. leadership.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: We all know human activities are
changing the atmosphere in unexpected and in unprecedented ways.
HAYES: In 2003, then-Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney wrote that
power plant pollution is harming the climate and hailed Massachusetts as
the first state to enact a cap on CO2.
Even George W. Bush said that humans were causing climate change.
G.W. BUSH: I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and
that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to
HAYES: And by 2008, the GOP platform called for the party to address
the risk of climate change based on sound science. John McCain dedicated
an entire speech to the topic.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The facts of global warming demand our
urgent attention especially in Washington.
HAYES: Addressing climate change was genuinely a bipartisan issue.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: We don`t always see eye to eye, do
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: No. But we do agree our
country must take action to address climate change.
HAYES: And then Barack Obama was elected and the Republican Party
started running backwards, trying to override the president to speed up
offshore drilling, fighting Democrats on cap and trade and basic EPA
regulations, even uniting against light bulb standards championed by George
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: There should be self-examination from
the administration on the idea you favor a woman`s right to an abortion but
you don`t favor a woman or a man`s right to choose what kind of light bulb.
HAYES: With Obama as president, Republicans no longer had the guts to
say the very obvious truth. The world is warming because of human
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: My view is that we
don`t know what`s causing climate change on this planet.
GINGRICH: I actually don`t know whether global warming is occurring.
The vast majority of the National Academy of Science says it is. A
minority says it is not.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Climate`s always changing. That`s not
the fundamental question. The fundamental question is whether manmade
activity is what`s contributing most to it.
HAYES: The question is why? There`s a lot of possible answers. This
2013 headline could have something to do with it. Because as the great
Upton Sinclair once said, it is difficult to get a man to understand
something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Joining me now, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator,
former Republican governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman.
So, what accounts for this kind of rollback, reversal we`ve seen
particularly I would say in the last six years from Republicans, even just
on this basic thing is manmade climate change happening, is it real? And
then we can ask a question about what to do about it.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I think it`s all
part of an overall trend that we`re seeing of every issue is looked at
through this partisan prism. What could give me another advantage in the
election? If we make this another third rail, we can use it.
And it`s hard for people to understand. You saw the latest Pew poll
that came out today that fewer and fewer people are willing to accept that
human activity is in any way contributing to climate change. So, they`re
responding to that. They`re responding to this, we don`t want government
to do anything, we hate EPA because it`s a regulatory body that will come
in and try to take away our rights and they`re playing to a base that has
gotten them the votes that they needed to control the House and they`re
hoping to control the Senate.
And so, that`s the problem we have here. Both sides are starting to
do this more and more. We`re just looking for a political advantage not
trying to solve a problem.
HAYES: But there`s a specific issue here just in terms of the both
sides, right? And obviously both sides look for political advantage, but
there is this basic thing of is this thing that scientists say is
happening, isn`t happening, right?
And when you have conversations with Republicans off the record, what
do they say to you? Do they say, no, Christine, I don`t believe it, it`s a
fraud, it`s a hoax being perpetrated on us? Or do they say, look, what do
you want me to do, I`m going to get primaried?
WHITMAN: Well, it depends who you talk to.
The ones who actually read science and think about science acknowledge
it`s happening. I mean, I think the environmentalists did a bit of a
mistake in the very beginning when they were so definitive saying humans
caused it because it gave an opening to those who don`t what to believe to
say, hey, there was an Ice Age, and that went away, when we weren`t around
to mess that one up.
So, you have to say that climate -- yes, climate`s always been
changing. The Earth`s climate is changing since it was formed. But it`s
happening now at such a rapid rate, you have to look at what human activity
is doing to exacerbate that natural trend.
And you know what? We`re all going to be better off if we start to
slow that down. And I`m starting to move away now even from talking to
people about climate change as a major issue and, say, how about clean air.
If we can get rid of some of the pollutants and greenhouse gases contain
some of those very pollutants that we recognize as being harmful to human
health, mercury, carbon, and say, let`s say just for no other reason, I
don`t want to argue with you about whether humans are the cause of it or
not. I happen to believe we are contributing mightily to this both for
what we`re putting into the atmosphere and also for how we`re changing our
land use by paving over open space, by cutting down trees.
All those things are having a major contribution. Let`s just talk
about having a healthier life because we`re cleaning up the air.
HAYES: This is -- this is fascinating to me. What you`ve said is I
don`t even think -- I can`t talk to people about this because it`s become
so entrenched. I`m just trying to run around it and talk about clean air.
We don`t want mercury in the air.
And I guess my question is like we`ve got to undo that knot somehow.
I don`t know what the answer is --
WHITMAN: Oh, I agree.
HAYES: -- but that can`t be the long-term sustainable debatable thing
to do a bait and switch on the politics of this and talk about clean air.
WHITMAN: I agree with you. But it`s not entirely a bait and switch,
because those are pollutants.
HAYES: Right, no.
WHITMAN: That`s one of the reasons why EPA is taking the action it
is. I`m just trying to find a way to get the average person to feel that
they have some stake in this, because when you talk about climate change,
it`s so big. When you`re worried about whether you`re going to be able to
make your mortgage or whether your kids are going to get a decent
education, whether you`re going to have a job. The fact the climate is
changing around you --
HAYES: It seems remote. Yes.
WHITMAN: -- you think, what can I do? It seems very remote. So,
we`ve got to start to bring it down to the level of how it impacts you as
an individual and your child having asthma or you having asthma, or you`re
having heart problems in the summertime when we have bad air quality, those
kinds of things are things to which people can relate.
HAYES: Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator,
Christine Todd Whitman, thank you so much.
Coming up, he`s been a frequent guest on this show and is on the
ground as it breaks reporting, and help us better explain the conflict in
Crimea and Ukraine.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
SIMON OSTROVSKY, VICE NEWS: It`s a really interesting time to be here
and see these things play out, but there is a lot of aggression on the
streets between supporters and opponents of what`s happening here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Vice News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky reporting
from Crimea last month. Tonight, he is being held in eastern Ukraine. An
update is coming, next.
SIMON OSTROVSKY, VICE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Time to be here and see
these things play out, but there is a lot of aggression on the streets
between supporters and opponents of what is happening here.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST OF "ALL IN WITH CHRIS": That was vice news
correspondent Simon Ostrovsky reporting from Crimea last month. Tonight,
he is being held in Eastern Ukraine. An update is coming next.
HAYES: Tensions remain high in the Eastern Ukraine as according to
one report, men in green who are Russian agents continue to occupy various
facilities. One person in that very dangerous place is someone familiar to
our viewers. VICE News Reporter Simon Ostrovsky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSTROVSKY: A lot of the soldiers themselves, I mean they have already
been here for a few days now. I have started talking to locals because
they have been standing outside of the space and they have openly admitted
to people that they are from Russia, and that they are Russian soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Simon has done some of the most outstanding journalism from
Ukraine since the crisis erupted. We have been relying on his reporting
and today we got the extremely worrisome news that he had been detained and
is being held by local authorities in Slavyansk.
Before he was detained, he attended a press conference given by this
man, the pro-Russian, self-proclaimed mayor of Slavyansk. Ostrovsky`s last
tweet reads, "Now, he is not letting reporters leave the press conference.
You will go as you came in, in a group. That is one way to guarantee
Five other journalists were also detained. All have since been
released except Simon. VICE news issued a statement saying they are in
contact with U.S. State Department and other appropriate government
authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague.
A Russian media outlet reported that Slavyansk`s self-appointed
people`s mayor held a press conference where he claimed to call Ostrovsky`s
parents to assure them their son was OK. Nobody abducted him. Nobody is
holding him hostage he reportedly said. Suggesting Ostrovsky might nearly
be embedded with pro-Russian forces now.
However, at that same press conference according to a reporter who was
there, the mayor of Slavyansk and his press secretary have confirmed, Simon
Ostrovsky is in custody in Slavyansk. Two competing versions. In one,
Simon is there of his own accord. And, another, more likely one I have to
say, Simon is being held against his will.
We do not know all the details of the situation of Simon Ostrovsky,
but whoever is holding him, know this. You cannot detain him and expect no
one to notice, because we right here on this show, in this country and
around the world are all watching. We are all watching what you do and we
will all continue to watch until you release him, which you should do
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have surrounded by some of the best Americans
that ever been produced in this country. And, I have told them they may
not go home to their families and they darn well know it. But, you know
what? Our freedom is worth fighting for and worth dying for. Would rather
the other guys die trying to take it, but if that sacrifice needs to be
made, by God we will make it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: People continue to be very passionate about the right of
Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who refuses to pay the $1 million he owes
to federal government and cattle grazing fees. In fact, that guy from the
tape we just played drove 3,000 miles from New Hampshire, so he could stand
with Cliven Bundy against what supporters see as the tyrannical forces
trying to collect Bundy`s cattle. Bundy is resting his refusal to pay the
federal government for grazing rights on his claim that his family has
ancestral rights of the land, which is now managed by the bureau of land
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: He argued that his ancestors, they
worked this land since the 1870s, long before the bureau of land management
was formed granting him the rights to the property.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, a reporter with KLAS in Nevada decided to do a little
digging. It turns out those ancestral rights do not go back very far.
While, Cliven Bundy does have a maternal grandmother who was born in Nevada
in 1901 may have helped settle the town where the ranch is located, Bundy`s
parents did not buy the ranch until 1948.
And, the Bundy family`s cattle did not start grazing on the land until
1954. So, Bundy`s claim of ancestral rights over the Bureau of Land
Management seems pretty darn tenuous seeing as the BLM was formed eight
years before Bundy`s family`s cattle started grazing on the land. So, with
that being reported, I guess everyone is just going to go home now, right?
Joining me now, Nevada political journalist, Jon Ralston, host of
Ralston Reports, which is broadcast on Nevada NBC affiliates. Jon, it
strikes me that this guy is a bit of a kind of, you know, local colorful
eccentric who has now become the rallying point for all these folks. Do
they realize just how legless the claim is?
JON RALSTON, NEVADA POLITICAL JOURNALIST: Well, of course they do
not. They are all there for different reasons. You had that guy who was
saying all kinds of nonsense. This is not about freedom. But let me tell
you this, Chris. What if he is right? What if his rights go back to 1877?
There were rights there before. You know who those rights belonged to
on that land? I do not hear Cliven Bundy saying he is giving the money
back to the Indians because that is who really has the rights to the land.
Again, as I have said before, this is a phony issue.
He is not a freedom fighter. He is not standing up for state
sovereignty. He is a guy trying to get away without paying fees that many
other ranchers including hundreds of other ranchers in northern Nevada pay
HAYES: Jon, you make a great point. It is suddenly, a Pandora`s Box
if we are going to start opening up land titles questions of who owned what
land in the United States of America in 1870.
RALSTON: Right. Right. Exactly. And, this has nothing to do with
that. This has to do with a guy who has been grazing his cattle illegally
on federal land. The feds came in to round up the cattle. The money thing
I think is secondary here, Chris. Yes he owes a lot of money, but they
were not bill collectors.
RALSTON: This is how Michelle Fiore, the assemblywoman, you had on
and was shooting our mouth off all over the place wants to make people
think. That is what those folks up there want people to think that these
are armed feds coming in to collect the bill. That is not why they were
there. They were there to round up the cattle. The trespass fees that he
owes, completely different issue.
HAYES: So, then what happens next? I mean you basically have this
standoff. And, the question is, well does Cliven Bundy continue to kind of
lawlessly do his thing? What is the next move there?
RALSTON: Very, very delicate situation, because you still have some
of those folks and they are armed. The BLM does need to do something, but
for two decades the BLM let him do this. And, fearing there would be some
kind of armed confrontation and maybe bloodshed. I have no doubt that
Harry Reid and others have talked to law enforcement, federal, state, and
local and that there will be a plan.
But, I do not think it is going to happen today. I do not think it is
going to happen tomorrow. I think they are going to wait awhile, Chris.
But, they will do something. They have to do something lest this precedent
be set for other ranchers. It just will not happen.
HAYES: Yes, and that is a good point. And, I think it is the kind of
thing where you let the air come out of this bubble a bit and then maybe
proceed about just sort of enforcing the most basic form of law. Jon
Ralston, host of "Ralston Reports". Always a pleasure, Jon. Thanks.
RALSTON: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, the Supreme Court is slowly chipping
away at the infrastructure that has helped to try to end racial
discrimination in this country for decades. What the court did today is
big news. We will talk about it, ahead.
HAYES: Very big news today coming from Chief Justice Roberts Supreme
Court in a 6-2 decision. The court upheld Michigan`s ban on affirmative
action in public university admissions today. Justice Anthony Kennedy
joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito wrote the
controlling opinion saying, quote, "This case is not about how the debate
about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about whom may resolve
it." Which is a nice way of saying the state of Michigan has every right
to end affirmative action as we know it in their public university
In a 58-page dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, quote, "My
colleagues are of the view that we should leave race out of the picture
entirely and let the voters sort it out. It is a sentiment out of touch
with reality. Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long
history of racial minorities being denied access to the political process.
Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society, and
race matters for reasons that are really only skin deep. That cannot be
discussed any other way and cannot be wished away."
Today`s court decision is just the latest in a series of victories
conservatives have won at both the state and federal level against a legit
affirmative action. Michigan is just one of eight states that will not
allow race to play a factor in the admission process for public
universities. And, if you want to know what those victories against
affirmative action look like, look no further than Michigan.
Since banning affirmative action, public colleges through a ballot
initiative in 2006, black enrollment is down about 30 percent at the
undergraduate and law schools. Or take UC Berkley for example. The
African-American share of the freshman class decreased by 75 percent
between the time California banned affirmative action in 1998 and 2011.
The purpose of affirmative action is to try to counterbalance the
continued persistent unfair disadvantage to cons being born black and brown
in this country. And, today`s decision by the Supreme Court sets those
efforts back in a major way. The question we have to ask after today`s
decision, the question I will ask my panel is after a ceaseless campaign of
a thousand cuts, just how dangerous is the idea of a post-racial America?
Stick around. We will talk about it.
HAYES: We are back. Joining me now Jelani Cobb, Associate professor
of history and Director of the Institute for African-American Studies at
University of Connecticut; Halley Potter, Policy Associate for Century
Foundation and co-writer reporter there on affirmative action and higher
education and Ted Shaw, professor at Columbia Law school, former director,
counsel and president at NAACP legal defense fund. And, Ted, your reaction
to today`s decision from the high court?
TED SHAW, FMR. PRESIDENT, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Well, my reaction
was that, you know, it was not a good day for civil rights proponents, but
it was not a surprise. I did not think this was a case that civil rights
opponents were likely to win. The decision is a complex one and that there
is no one majority opinion with the rationale and so the opinion that is
written by Justice Kennedy is an opinion not the opinion of the court.
And, what is remarkable about this decision, perhaps more than
anything else -- first of all, this is not a case that is really
technically about affirmative action. And, I think all the justices are
pretty clear about that. Although affirmative action or race conscious
submissions actually diversity more accurately is what it is all about.
But, what is really interesting about this decision is this face-off
between Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sotomayor.
HAYES: And, that face-off is to me it seems, Jelani, it is at the
core of the jurisprudence on race. Which is the idea basically and you saw
it in Shelby county voting rights act and you see a bunch of things, the
famous Justice Roberts. Just the most color blindness argument you hear in
college freshmen dorms.
SHAW: And, Justice Sotomayor goes right at it.
HAYES: Goes right at it. Saying race matters, race matters, race
JELANI COBB, DIRECTOR AT UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: You see, the
thing is that pernicious about this is we can see the trajectory talking
about race and racism. And, you know, that one phrase that we here again
and again, lingering effects. And, that kind of told you where things were
headed as if there were no kind of ongoing dynamic racial interactions in
this country that really impacted people of color in a negative way.
COBB: It is now we have gone to the conclusion of this. Lingering
effects. Now we are not talking about lingering effects anymore.
HAYES: The idea that is embedded is that there is this radioactive
waste deposited somewhere that has a half-life. And, it is just every year
it gets a little less. It is a little less poison. At what point is it
safe to drink the water and Roberts wants to basically declare like, "Well,
it is been long enough. Let is all take a drink."
COBB: Meanwhile, there are people glowing.
HAYES: Exactly. They are radiated people and three-eyed fish, every
where you look. For instance, this study that blew my mind on a fictional
legal brief that if you give someone a sort of traditional black name and
white name that you get reviewers finding more spelling errors.
HAYES: Right? In briefs admitted by people with black names. And,
this bring me, Halley, the piece you wrote with Rick Kahlenberg, which is
basically, well, can we replace race based affirmative action with class
based affirmative action? What is the case for that?
HALLEY POTTER, CENTURY FOUNDATION: In an ideal world, universities
would be able to use both. But, socioeconomic status provides a number of
tools for increasing diversity. And, I think a good example to look at is
University of Colorado Boulder. So, when they were faced with the ban on
affirmative action in the state, they came up with a socioeconomic
affirmative action plan that they now use along side their race based plan.
What they found is that, that socioeconomic affirmative action plan
which looks at relative disadvantages students and then also over
achievements compared to students that face the same obstacles than they
did. That has actually increased race -- the admissions race of
underrepresented minorities compared to race based affirmative action. So,
it is actually increasing those race.
SHAW: Right out the box. I am in favor of class based attempts to
admit students from poor backgrounds, et cetera.
HAYES: Of all races.
SHAW: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think there is a huge issue in the
21st century is going to be of the class line, you know? Economic
disparities. Having said that, let is be clear about what this decision
was about and what it was not. The court still has allowed the notion that
institutions, colleges and universities can consider race as one factor
among many that is -- up to stand.
SHAW: This decision today does not touch that. This is about whether
or not the political process can be changed.
HAYES: That is right. But, it has whittling away at the
justification. And, the justification lingers on now.
SHAW: Well, these folks are not -- they are not going to go away.
HAYES: No. But, that is the point though, right? Let me respond to
you, Halley, then I want you to jump in. You know, Texas basically tried
to do this, right? And, Texas said, "OK, we are going to substitute this
new thing where you are the top of your class in your high school and
because we got a super segment in the school system, this will work as a
proxy for race." And, what happens, they got their system challenged in
the court too. Right? I mean, it seems to me you cannot win by placating.
You cannot say it is class based affirmative action. The opponents are
still going to come for you.
POTTER: Well, the answer to that is to change what you think about it
in terms of diversity. You are looking for diversity of life experiences.
And, race is a part of that. But, you are valuing socioeconomic diversity
for its own right as well.
COBB: But, even diversity, the language of diversity is a concession
to the idea that racism is not an actual dynamic force that needs to have
some sort of counterbalance and public policy. As I said before, only
thing the diversity can achieve is adding people of color to an
overwhelmingly white institution. It cannot challenge the fundamental
reasons of levels institutions of overwhelmingly white in the first place.
HAYES: I just want to highlight this distinction for folks. It is
key to the jurisprudence on what affirmative action has been, right?
SHAW: I spend a huge portion of my professorial life talking about
what happened in Berkley. I have defended Berkley, you know? I was in the
Michigan cases in multiple ways.
HAYES: Berkley is the first in these line of cases.
SHAW: That is right. I defended it. It gave us diversity. But,
Berkley at the moment it was decided it was a loss for African-Americans.
And, diversity was the second best alternative with respect to trying to
address this long history of discrimination that Justice Sotomayor talks
And, so the remedial rationale and still the strongest rationale, but
that was thrown under the bus by the Supreme Court. And, that is left was
diversity, effectively and even diversity then was attacked. And, one
other thing about economic -- you know, as I said I support that. It is
not a complete fit right, you know? And, we could say a lot more about
POTTER: Yes. One thing, I would say is that it is never going to be
a complete fit, but I think it could be so much better than it is now.
And, if you look at things like the income gap based on race and the wealth
gap, if you are just looking at income, you are only accounting for one
part of what we see in terms of racial disadvantage that a lot of people
are experiencing. If we did a better job of adding more socioeconomic
factors, we could capture more of the disadvantage that plays across --
HAYES: I want to just make sure this points clear because it is a
fascinating one. It is a jujitsu, which basically says, "OK, well, you
cannot use race." Well, how about we use the fact that there is this
massive racial inequities and we will talk about inequities. Ad, if you
look at something like wealth, you get it as a proxy for race because the
inequality is so profound. Jelani Cobb from University Of Connecticut,
Halley Potter from the Century Foundation, Ted Shaw from the Columbia of
Law School. It is a great pleasure. Thank you all. That is "All In" for
this evening. "The Rachel Maddow Show" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. And, thank you for
accepting the onesie from my mom.
HAYES: It is the cutest most adorable thing in the universe. I
cannot wait. I am going to run home and show it to Kate when I put it on
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