All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
June 4, 2014
Guest: Eric Boehlert, Ryan Grim, Travis Childers, Laurence Tribe, Neil
deGrasse Tyson, Ann Lee, Joseph Romm
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
Today, we saw for the first time the dramatic video of the moment that
Bowe Bergdahl, who had been the last American prisoner of war in
Afghanistan, was returned to American custody. The video provided to NBC
News by the Taliban shows the Taliban fighters surrounding Bergdahl, who
sits in a pickup truck, wearing traditional Afghan robes.
And then, minutes later, an American helicopter descending to pick up
the prisoner of war. This is the moment the exchange takes place.
After a quick handshake with Bergdahl`s Taliban captors, the Americans
return quickly to their helicopter, one walking backwards, so they can keep
an eye on the Taliban fighters.
Earlier in the video, one of those Taliban fighters can be heard
telling Bergdahl not to come back to Afghanistan, because he, quote, "won`t
make it out alive next time."
Before Bowe Bergdahl is taken aboard the American helicopter, a man
can be seen patting him down. The copter takes off a short time later,
roughly one minute after touchdown.
Meanwhile, in Bergdahl`s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, citizens have been
hoping and praying for the army sergeant`s return. Town officials today
canceled a rally celebrating Bergdahl`s release, as critics attack the 28-
year-old army sergeant as a deserter and a traitor.
Town officials have been deluged with angry calls concerning Bergdahl,
who is recovering in a military hospital in Germany after five years in
Taliban captivity, a man who has yet to tell his side of the story, we
Bowe Bergdahl may have walked away from his post with the intent to
desert, as his critics charge. We don`t know all the facts yet. In fact,
there`s a whole complicated set of issues around his capture and the
decision to exchange him for five Taliban fighters who had been held at
Guantanamo Bay, seen here in amateur video that reportedly shows their
homecoming or at least release back to Qatar.
But the reality is divorced from the insanity of the backlash of the
decision to bring Bowe Bergdahl home. On Twitter today, an amazing
spectacle as blogger Matt Binder documented multiple examples of just
regular rank-and-file conservatives completely changing their tune on
Bergdahl after the full Drudge Report/FOX News freak-out.
Twitter Lemontree46 (ph), before the release, "Why has Army Sergeant
Bowe Bergdahl left behind and practically forgotten by the Obama
administration?" Then Lemontree46 after the release, "This hope pro-
Bergdahl by Obama is just another example of the Obama terrorist
appeasement policy, impeach."
This from George Macquedo (ph), before, "Thank you for the opportunity
to sign the petition to bring home Bowe Bergdahl, Semper phi." Same guy,
after, "Army wanted to shoot Bergdahl and in my opinion, he should be.
Stand him against the wall with Obummer."
Twitter user, Patriot, before "Bring Bergdahl home. I will shout from
the mountaintops until he comes home. Retweet to all and all vets, let`s
roll, people." Same Patriot after, "Bergdahl`s a traitor and he should be
executed. Obama should be impeached for derelict of duty, negotiates with
It goes on, "Will this administration do anything to bring POW
Bergdahl home? Bring back Bergdahl". Same person, three weeks later,
"Where`s the petition to hang the traitor?"
Twitter user Hawkeye posted a picture. Last week, "Please pray for
return of Bowe Bergdahl. Bring Bowe home." Then, three days later.
"#Bergdahl, the traitor, I agree, Obama being so reckless with American
Honestly, there were so many, I could have done that all day long,
which is what Matt Binder did, actually. Thank you, Matt Binder.
The point here isn`t the hypocrisy of a bunch of folks on Twitter, you
can find that any day. But it`s that the right-wing freak-out here is
being driven by the messages being sent by right-wing media telling people
that this whole thing was treacherous, even though it revolves around,
amazingly, the return of an American POW.
As I was watching this develop the other day, I joked on Twitter, that
for maximum absurdity, we should get Oliver North to weigh in on the
Why Oliver North? Because Oliver North was at the center of the
biggest negotiating with nasty regime scandal involving hostages in the
history of the American republic. He was initially convicted of three
felony counts, which were later vacated for his involvement in the Iran-
Contra affair, which members of the Reagan administration secretly
negotiated with the Iranians, who themselves had been taking American
hostages and sold weapons to that same Iranian regime toward to get
American hostages held in Lebanon released.
Let me say that again, they sold weapons to help arm a regime that had
taken American hostages. The regime that they now say the single biggest
threat on the planet, the mullahs -- they sold them weapons in order to
free American hostages. They then took that money and funded a secret war
in Nicaragua, which they also were barred by Congress from doing. That is
a whole other part of that story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: A few months ago, I told the
American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and best
intentions still tell me that`s true, but the facts and the evidence tell
me it is not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And after all that, the narrative on the right wasn`t that
Oliver North was a bad guy who negotiated with terrorists or that Ronald
Reagan need to be held to account -- no, it was that Oliver North was a
hero to selling weapons to the mullahs.
And now my joke tweet, that we need the conservative hero to weigh in
on the Bergdahl situation has, of course, become a reality with North
bringing America what he calls the real story on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVER NORTH: Does this president realize that having announced the
terms of this exchange, every American, not just those on the battlefield,
every American traveling overseas becomes vulnerable to kidnapping and
being held for ransom?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Elsewhere, north demanded to know whether there was a ransom
paid that could finance a terrorist organization in order to get Bergdahl
back, which is a topic he, admittedly, knows a lot about.
Joining me now, Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters.
I got to say those tweets today were really something. And what they
put in my mind was that if God forbid, God forbid, this young man had died
in Afghanistan --
ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS: Right.
HAYES: -- the absolute freak-out over that. The just charges of
treachery that would have been leveled at the president by the same people,
it`s just obvious that that would have happened.
BOEHLERT: Yes, and two points. We have members of Congress who are
deleting tweets that they have sent out over the weekend, you know,
offering conventional sympathy --
HAYES: Thoughts and prayers for Bowe Bergdahl`s family.
BOEHLERT: Then they realized, they watched FOX News for a little
while, they realized, oh, we`re not doing thoughts and prayers, we`re doing
the other thing where we`re going to smear not only this prisoner of war
returning, we`re going to smear his family, too, from the small town of
So, this is -- this is not normal and that`s why we`re seeing these
flips. But, right. What if the script had been flipped? What if word
leaked in a couple of months that Obama had a real offer on the table to
get the only prisoner of war.
HAYES: Who was ailing and in ill health, which is what the words that
be said from the administration. I don`t know if they`re telling the
truth, but I suppose they probably are about that detail -- yes, exactly.
There had been an offer on the table and the administration had not done
it. And he had died in the hands of the Taliban.
BOEHLERT: Obviously, there would be articles of impeachment within a
week, right? So this was a --
HAYES: And that`s the tenor, that`s what was so interesting about
those tweets. The tenor of the activism around Bowe Bergdahl, in the
beginning, was he`s being left behind by the traitorous Barack Obama,
right? That Barack Obama doesn`t want to bring this guy home. Let me say
BOEHLERT: Now, he`s been saved by the traitorous Barack Obama.
HAYES: Now, people are saying, now that these new facts have come to
light -- Michael Hastings, may he rest in peace, wrote an incredible
article about this whole story in 2012, which was published in the liberal
media, "Rolling Stone", I read then, a bunch --
BOEHLERT: Right, right.
HAYES: He talks about being disgruntled with the war walking off-
base, seemingly unclear why, possibly to desert, possibly to walk to
Pakistan, all those facts were known then.
BOEHLERT: Yes, and if you talk about that town that had to cancel its
celebration, and the Chamber of Commerce president said for five years, no
one said anything about us. We had no complaints. There was no hate mail
HAYES: Right, for five years, the town has been holding vigil for
this young man to come back.
BOEHLERT: That information has been out. There`s been questions
whether he deserted. There`s been questions whether he walked away.
The other very interesting piece of information from the Hastings
article was, there were point people in the administration trying to get a
release. They were told in 2012, by members of Congress, if you swap a
release during an election year, we`re going to launch a Willie Horton-
style smear campaign. We are going to paint you as a Taliban appeaser. We
are going to play politics with this.
So, they`ve had this blueprint in the drawer since 2012. And now,
they`re using it.
HAYES: In 2009, back when he was first taken, a guy by the name of
Ralph Peters went on FOX News and basically said, if he deserted, we should
-- the Taliban can save us hassle. On air, said this, about a POW.
HAYES: Twenty-three members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats,
wrote to Roger Ailes, took the extraordinary -- basically saying, you
cannot have someone saying this. His implied suggestion that the Taliban
should simply kill Private First Class Bergdahl to save us a lot of legal
hassle and legal bills was repulsive and deserves to be repudiated by your
That guy who said that, here he is last night on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH PETERS: I`m sick of hearing people, even on fox, instant
experts who never served a day in the military, saying, well, we always
went after our deserters and our troops and bring them home, even if
Megyn, throughout much of our history, we did go after deserters and
when we got them, we shot them or hanged them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: If I`m not mistaken, there has been one person executed for
desertion in history, in World War II. One. This is not something --
HAYES: But, also, I mean, one of the key things here is you see this
where this fact pile gets built up. We still don`t know what kind of
medical condition he`s in. The fact that there was a briefing to senators
today, Mark Kirk saying, I saw a proof of life video and I understand now
why they felt they had to move quickly.
There`s an article in "The Washington Post" today about villagers who
thought he was high or out of his mind in some way, because he seemed so
disoriented. We do not know the facts and yet there is just this
remarkable rush to absolutely destroy this guy, destroy his reputation,
destroy his family`s reputation, destroy the reputation of anyone who would
defend him in his hometown.
BOEHLERT: Yes. And so, the way FOX News wants to do it or the way
the echo chamber wants to do this is not to have a debate. So, no one has
talked to this person in five years. Nobody knows what happened. And
that`s the way they want to do it. They want to close the window on any
HAYES: Eric Boehlert for Media Matters, thank you.
A week ago, the biggest scandal in America involved evidence of
systemic book cooking and mismanagement at the Department of Veteran
Affairs, with many veterans facing excessive waits to see a doctor and the
evidence being covered up. And then, Eric Shinseki, the head of the V.A.,
resigned, and suddenly the V.A. story disappeared, just disappeared, fell
off the map.
At the time, we asked, what happens the day after Eric Shinseki
resigns? How does this get fixed?
Today, Ryan Grim has an amazing piece in "The Huffington Post"
explaining some of the roots of ongoing problems at the V.A.
And joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of "The
Ryan, this is a great piece of reporting. You talk about the veteran
affairs committee in Congress and why it has done a bad job of providing
oversight to this very important part of the government. What`s the main
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Right, it`s quite simple, if you`re a
member of Congress, your number one priority is to raise money. In order
to raise money, you want to get on committees that oversee industries that
are going to give you money. That`s energy and commerce, that`s financial
services, which oversees banks, ways and means, which writes taxes, and
that`s basically it.
Veterans Affairs oversees the V.A. There is no money in that. So,
nobody wants to be on it.
For instance, Huelskamp, who Boehner kicked off all of his committees
for trying to overthrow him in a coup, is still on the Veterans Affairs
HAYES: Wait a second.
So, he basically says, I`m going to punish you by taking you off the
other committees, but I`ll leave you on Veterans Affairs, because being on
Veterans Affairs is so low status and so hard to raise money off of, that
you can stay there, even though you`re being punished?
GRIM: It might even be more of the punishment. In fact, Democrats --
so there are only 11 Democrats on the entire committee. Eight of them are
freshmen, which means that last Congress, everybody fled. And I was told
by a source on the Hill that they were actually one person short this year,
so they had to cajole Tim Wallace, a Democrat from Minnesota, to waiving on
to the committee, only allowed to be on so many committees. He agreed to
do an extra one so they could fill out the roster. That doesn`t mean that
everybody shows up for them, but at least they have now their full 11
And, Chris, the Financial Services Committee, for instance, has 61
members. Whereas, veterans affairs has 25.
HAYES: And they are put there -- let`s be clear about the Financial
Services Committee. That is the place you can raise the most money,
everyone wants to be on that committee. It`s huge, partly because, you can
go raise money for the financial services industry.
GRIM: That`s exactly right. And the average person on that Financial
Service Committee raises about twice as much as the average person on the
Veterans Affairs Committee.
Now, the people on V.A., they still have to raise money, because they
have to run every two years. That just means they have to work all that
much harder to try to keep pace with everyone else, which means they have
even less time.
And they`re also not invested. As soon as they get some seniority,
they`re out of there. So it`s not like they`re going to sit down and
really learn, how does the V.A. work? I talked to Jim Cooper, one Democrat
who said, most of the people on that committee don`t know the names of the
people below the secretary.
HAYES: You`ve got a situation in which the scandal has moved on once
Eric Shinseki resigned. The problems still remain. And I haven`t seen a
whole lot of blueprint.
John McCain talks about introducing some kind of privatization
legislation, may have introduced it already. Bernie Sanders had a meeting
today that they called productive with him. And John Boehner has sent a
letter. John Boehner`s letter, am I right, it didn`t even include the
chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee?
GRIM: That`s right. And from the reporting that I was able to do,
that wasn`t an intentional snub. It`s just, you know, you don`t actually
need to go to the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, because that
committee doesn`t really have any pull within the institution.
So, you know, and there was also a very telling line in there that
said, look, they asked the White House, please tell the V.A. system to
start responding appropriately to the Veterans Affairs Committee when their
request for documents and other requests for transparency.
In other words, you know, really sticking up for their little sisters
in the Veterans Affairs Committee, even while they`re not even, themselves,
signing the letter. It`s a really pitiful state of affairs.
HAYES: Ryan Grim from the "Huffington Post" -- great reporting.
Thanks so much.
GRIM: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, yesterday, in what we`ve called the
craziest race in America, the Republican primary in Mississippi, the night
apparently ended with a Tea Party official, with close ties to the Tea
Party candidate, locked in a courthouse alone with the ballots at 2:00 in
the morning. We will explain, next.
HAYES: Coming up, we`ve got one more little bit of our interview with
astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for you tonight and it relates to a
Republican flip-flop of cosmic proportions. Stay tuned for that.
HAYES: This is the flag that was flying over Mississippi in 1894.
It`s got a feature you might recognize. It`s the Confederate battle flag
right there in the corner. And this is the 2014 version. That`s not a
production error. The stars and bars remain on Mississippi`s flag to this
The presence of that symbol might give you a tiny glimpse into what
the politics of Mississippi are like. And it might tell you how in 2014,
just how difficult it might be to get a Democrat elected there. It is,
after all, the most polarized state in the Union.
Now, Democrats used to get elected to Mississippi pretty routinely
thanks to that flag. In fact, Mississippi Democrats had a lock on the U.S.
Senate until Thad Cochran. In 1978, Cochran was the first Republican to
win a Senate seat in Mississippi since reconstruction. But after six
terms, Thad Cochran is now fighting for his political life after an
unbelievably close Republican primary last night over Tea Party challenger,
Neither candidate got over 50 percent of the vote, quite possibly
because of the scandal in which four McDaniel supporters were arrested and
charged in an alleged conspiracy to break into the nursing home where Thad
Cochran`s ailing wife lives. The fact that neither of them got 50 percent
means we`re now in a runoff, and a lot of people are expecting Cochran
can`t pull this off. Which means, could it be possible a Democrat could in
Joining me now is that Democrat that could do it, former Congressman
Travis Childers who just won the Democratic nomination for Mississippi
And, Mr. Childers, do you have a favorite in the runoff between Thad
Cochran and Chris McDaniel?
FORMER REP. TRAVIS CHILDERS (D-MS), SENATE CANDIDATE: Oh, Chris, I
don`t know if I have a favorite. I certainly have no control over their
primary. I`m just pleased to have gotten my primary behind me and I am
very honored to be the Democratic nominee.
HAYES: Do you have any response to the shenanigans that have been
going on in this race? You got these four people arrested. One of them
was breaking into the nursing home. Last night, we had this.
Hinds County Republican executive chairman Pete Perry told "Talking
Points Memo" he received a phone call around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday from
Janice Lane, president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party, who said she
was locked inside the Hinds County courthouse, that would be where the
circuit clerk and primary election office is and ballots are located.
What is going on down there?
CHILDERS: Well, I`m not sure about that particular incident, Chris,
but I will tell you this. It`s been a real rough and tumble campaign for
Mississippi. It`s, quite frankly, been an ugly primary. I think at times,
quite frankly, it`s been unfair. And it has been very unproductive for the
state of Mississippi and those entities, those groups have come into
Mississippi and spent millions of dollars, special interest groups, making
our state look bad and quite frankly, the ads have just been terrible.
You know, I feel really bad about that. Quite frankly, I`m
embarrassed for our state. We are a better people than that in the state
HAYES: Could you convince me that a Democrat can win statewide in
Mississippi, in the year 2014?
CHILDERS: Oh, sure I can. I was elected five times. I won five
elections, rather, in the year 2008. We won four special elections, or
either led the ticket in the special election. We won in November of 2008,
a full term, and served until January 2011.
Certainly, we can win in Mississippi. We probably have one of the
highest numbers of local state and county municipal officials of anywhere
in the country. And let me say this. I think the people of Mississippi
are far more interested in their candidate and what that candidate is
willing to do for Mississippi and stand up for Mississippi, than they are
for the party, quite frankly.
HAYES: And what is that for you? Is that a higher minimum wage? How
do you feel about the Affordable Care Act?
CHILDERS: Well, here`s what it means for me. I think that I share
the values of my fellow Mississippians quite frankly more so than those in
the Republican primary.
I`m a small town native. I`ve always lived in a small town. I`m a
product of Mississippi public schools, a Mississippi community college, a
Mississippi public university.
I understand the issues that are facing Mississippians today. I know
the fears that my fellow Mississippians are dealing with. And quite
frankly, then we see a primary that is as rough and tumble, as nasty as
this Republican primary has been.
And quite frankly, Chris, that`s why people distrust Washington.
That`s why my fellow Mississippians distrust Washington.
HAYES: Well, you`ve got people breaking into nursing homes, that`s
Travis Childers, thank you so much.
CHILDERS: Thank you very much, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, we`ve been causing a little trouble for the NRA
lately, but not nearly as much trouble as these guys, taking their guns
into restaurants and other public places. We`ll bring you their latest
inappropriate show of force, ahead.
HAYES: We played you a great little snippet from the NRA`s propaganda
channel yesterday. In fact, it was so entertaining and I think revealing,
we need to take a little more time with it.
As we`ve reported on this show, open carry activists, the vanguards of
the movement that bring their assault rifles into places like Chiles and
Chipotles are a real life demonstration of what the NRA`s view of the
Second Amendment is.
People have the right to be able to carry any gun anywhere any time
they want. It turns out, people don`t like it when they see it in the
flesh, leading to a major backlash.
Now, Friday, the NRA issued the most sensible statement I`ve ever seen
from them. In fact, we thought they have been hacked when the NRA called
open carry`s displays soft assault rifles, quote, "weird and said the
spectacle can be downright scary and make folks who might normally be
perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the
motives of pro-gun advocates. More to the point, it`s just not
Well, that sentiment, that didn`t last long. See, the NRA can`t
afford to write off open carry activists, because even though they`re on
the fringe, they`re part of the core of activists the NRA depends on for
mobilization. The NRA is driven by their most extreme members and they
cross them. So if you`re the NRA, how do you get out of that corner?
Well, what you do is send your executive director on to your own
propaganda network to be interviewed by your own propaganda host, in an
awkward, quasi-Soviet exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An alert that went out that referred to this type
of behavior as weird or somehow not normal. And that was a mistake, it
shouldn`t have happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, in other words, this wasn`t a policy statement
by the NRA involving the open carry of rifles --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- down in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ken, the National Rifle Association
unapologetically and unflinchingly supports the right of self-defense. We
apologize, again, for any confusion that that post caused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I wonder how the NRA`s "Cam & Co" show was able to book the
head of the NRA. That`s really well done. Open carry Texas applauded
Chris Cox and the NRA for their clarification shortly after.
And today, these images came out. These are images of open carry
activists brandishing Oreos and their assault rifles in Target stores.
These pictures were released by the groups, Moms Demand Action for Gun
Sense in American.
Along with the petition today asking Target to take the same stand as
Chipotle and Starbucks and not allow these guns in their stores. Now,
pictures like this, those are pictures of the NRA. Remember, the NRA,
quote, "unapologetically and unflinchingly supports that."
So when you see that, think of the NRA.
Again, I would love to talk to them about why they do, but the NRA
refuses to come on this channel and talk about it. So, how about I come on
yours? If you don`t like away games, how about a home game?
That`s a real offer. Today, my producers called your producers over
at NRA Channel, offered an interview with me. So, whether it`s my place or
yours, Chris, I`m ready to talk guns. It`s been 30 days and counting.
HAYES: Yesterday, Alabama had a primary, and their Democratic nominee
for governor is a guy named Parker Griffith.
And I saw that and I thought to myself, Parker Griffith? I remember
him. He was formerly a Democratic congressman, until he switched parties
and became a Republican congressman, until he was defeated twice by the Tea
Now Griffith is back in the Democratic Party, and primary voters have
chosen him to face down Republican Governor Robert Bentley next fall.
That`s a snapshot of the state of the Democratic Party in Alabama right
And yesterday was also the first Election Day that Alabama`s new voter
I.D. law was in effect, requiring one of a handful of approved forms of
identification at the polls.
And as NBC`s Zachary Roth reported, people were actually turned away
because of the new law, including a 93-year-old man named Willie Mims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE MIMS, ALABAMA VOTER: I didn`t get a chance to vote.
I went down there, though. I went down there. And they told me I had
to get my -- something with my name on it. I said, I don`t know how to --
how to go -- but, anyway, I decided to just let it alone. And I come on
back here and lay down and took me a nap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: According to the voting rights group Empower Alabama, Mims
doesn`t have a license because he can no longer drive, and he was not given
a provisional ballot, contrary to election rules.
Until yesterday, Willie Mims had been voting regularly since World War
II. Not content to simply drive people away with a new voter I.D. law, the
Alabama Republican Party is also putting out a $1,000 reward for tips on
voter fraud that lead to a conviction.
Now, let`s be clear. The Republicans run this entire state. That
includes the governor`s mansion, 63 percent of the legislature, and all but
one of the state`s congressional delegation. There is no imminent threat
of their dominance being challenged, especially not from voter fraud.
We called up the Alabama GOP and they said they had three promising
tips they were looking into. We will see how that goes when they release
the results next week. But all that, that`s just the tip of the iceberg in
terms of what Alabama Republicans are doing to try to maintain control of
elections in the state.
Just this week, the Supreme Court decided to take a case challenging
the district map for the entire state on the basis that it violates the
Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs allege that
Alabama`s latest redistricting scheme stuffs black voters into
supermajority black districts, with the intent of preserving the maximum
amount of majority white districts, and thus diluting black voters` power
in the state.
The case will go before the same court that gutted the Voting Rights
Act last week. It will be a high-stakes battle with potentially huge
implications for the way redistricting and Voting Rights Acts are used in
Joining me now to discuss it is Laurence Tribe, professor of
constitutional law at Harvard Law School and author of "Uncertain Justice:
The Roberts Court and the Constitution."
The Roberts court`s racial jurisprudence has been quite controversial,
I think, as an amateur -- I`m not a lawyer -- quite bad. How do you
describe what this court has done on these key issues of race, particularly
in the Voting Rights Act case?
LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, it has gutted
the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act on the very strange
ground that states have a right to be treated equally.
It`s an odd interpretation of the equality principle. And as some of
the dissenting justices made clear, it was made up out of whole cloth. The
question is whether they`re going to gut the rest of the act and the basic
principle that even intentional discrimination is going to be invulnerable
And I`m hopeful that this case will show that there are limits to how
far the court is going to go to basically dismantle racial justice.
HAYES: That point you made I think is just such an important one,
before we move on, on this case.
The opinion in the Voting Acts Right case rests on the idea that the
Voting Rights Act, as currently, with some states have to be subject to
what is called pre-clearance and others don`t, is it violates a principle
of sort of equality between the states, and that principle is nowhere
articulated in the Constitution.
TRIBE: Right. Well, that fact alone doesn`t end the debate. There
are a lot of things, like the right of privacy, that isn`t articulated.
TRIBE: But not only is it not articulated. It`s hard to reconcile
with our constitutional history. The states are not equal. They come into
the union on an equal footing, but if they have a different history, it`s
reasonable for Congress to take that into account.
And the basic reasoning of the court in that case, which we criticize
in "Uncertain Justice," was that, because we now have less racial problems,
we can afford to basically put away the shield.
HAYES: That`s right.
TRIBE: I mean, Ginsburg was brilliant in explaining what was wrong
with that logic.
She said, it`s like going out in a storm with an umbrella and saying,
because it`s kept you from getting wet, you can get rid of the umbrella.
HAYES: Right. That`s right.
And they make -- and that`s why this applies I think to this case that
is going to come before the court in this Alabama redistricting.
HAYES: There`s basically a factual determination that`s found in that
Roberts court opinion that racial discrimination is not really that big a
deal anymore. There`s a kind of determination about where we are in the
history of racial progress.
And there`s a very different division among the justices. They`re
divided along lots of issues, often not along partisan lines, but this one
does look pretty partisan, and that is some members of the court think we
have basically gotten to the promised land in terms of ending racial
discrimination, and that if we just pretend there`s none of it left, it
will go away.
And Roberts really -- by saying that the way to end discrimination is
to end discrimination.
HAYES: The way to end -- stop people from discriminating on the basis
of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
TRIBE: Is to stop discriminating, right.
It`s not exactly a syllogism. It`s a tautology.
TRIBE: He`s basically using a definition.
The question is, what does it mean to discriminate? It`s like Anatole
France saying like that the majestic equality of French law forbids poor
and rich alike to beg in the streets and sleep under the bridges of Paris.
Treating everybody the same, when they`re not the same, is a violent form
HAYES: And that is the question that the court will take up in this
case. I mean, this seems to me a real uphill battle to win this one.
TRIBE: Well, it`s an uphill battle, except, for a change, there`s a
powerful record showing that the racial discrimination is intentional...
TRIBE: ... that it`s not simply the result of history...
HAYES: De facto.
TRIBE: ... and de facto, that it wasn`t by accident that all of these
racial groups were packed and stuffed, as you put it, into a limited number
And I think it may give the court an opportunity the show that it is
not ready to dismantle everything.
HAYES: That is a great point, because intent comes up in a line of
cases around some voter I.D. stuff.
HAYES: Where intent is absent, the court says, look, there`s no
intent here, it`s fine. There does seem to be some pretty good factual
basis for intent here.
HAYES: Laurence Tribe, the book again is "Uncertain Justice."
TRIBE: It`s great to be here.
HAYES: Coming up: Nobody has ever accused Republican members of
Congress of being scientists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a scientist.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m not qualified to
debate the science.
REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: I`m not a scientist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m no scientist either, but Neil deGrasse Tyson is, and he
has something to say to those Republicans ahead.
HAYES: A reminder: We will be bringing you a special presentation of
"ALL IN: On the Road in the Conservative Heartland," this Friday night, a
full hour of stories and reporting from our "ALL IN America" series,
including new reports you haven`t seen. That is this Friday at 8:00. Be
HAYES: We have been getting a ton of reaction to our interview this
week with renowned astrophysicist and host of "Cosmos" Neil deGrasse Tyson.
In particular, a clip we played last week as a tease to the full
interview sparked interest, because Dr. Tyson spoke of Abraham Lincoln and
the modern Republican Party`s relationship to science.
Here`s the full remark.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, HOST, "COSMOS": Abraham Lincoln, perhaps best
known for the Civil War and freedom and slavery, he founded the National
Academy of Sciences. Not many people know that.
Not many people know there`s such a thing as a National Academy of
DEGRASSE TYSON: Let`s start there.
So he said, our country would benefit from advice given to Congress
and to the White House for the emergent discoveries in the fields of
science. And the National Academy of Sciences has been around ever since.
It started out with a few different members, now has a couple
thousand. And they`re tasked with writing reports, based on their survey
of what`s going on in the scientific community.
If you, as Congress, are just going to cherry-pick that, Abe Lincoln
would turn in his grave if he knew that his descendants, his political
descendants -- if I remember correctly, Abe Lincoln was Republican -- if he
knew his political descendants were cherry-picking political results, I
don`t know what he would say. I`m pretty sure he would be disappointed.
What you should be doing is, recognize the scientific results. Then
have the -- let the political conversations be about what kind of
legislation you might need to put into place that might serve your
HAYES: That`s right. Right. Exactly.
Once you accept that, right, you can say -- I say this all the time.
You can have a totally left/right values-based conversation about how you
deal with the facts of a warming planet in all kinds of different ways.
DEGRASSE TYSON: Correct.
HAYES: There could be libertarian arguments. There could be statist
arguments. There`s all sorts of ways you can do it.
DEGRASSE TYSON: In fact, I think the Republican Party is missing out
on occasions to shape legislation in the face of climate change that could
favor their interests going forward, because, right now, there`s so many
that are busy trying to stand in denial...
DEGRASSE TYSON: ... of an emergent scientific truth.
HAYES: The problem, of course, is that so many Republicans today are,
in fact, in denial of an emergent scientific truth.
And yet when I interviewed Congressman Michael Grimm from my "Years of
Living Dangerously" episode, I thought I had clearly found a Republican not
afraid to recognize the emergent scientific truth.
Not so fast. Congressman Grimm is now predictably and sadly
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIMM: Do I think the climate is changing? Yes, I think so.
But my argument has always been -- and some people have taken words
out of context, but I have always been pretty consistent. I`m not a
scientist. But I do know that the world evolves. And Mother Earth has
You know, we had an Ice Age, and that wasn`t manmade. So my point is,
should we be stewards of our environment? Absolutely. But we have to do
it in a way that makes common sense and doesn`t destroy all our industries,
only to send them overseas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That New York One report even referenced my interview with
Grimm. Here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIMM: The vast majority of respected scientists say, you know, that
it`s conclusive. The evidence is clear. So I don`t think the jury is out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, that`s me talking to Michael Grimm in "Years of Living
So Grimm is now trying to pivot away from that, saying that the
climate is changing, but that some people took his words out of context. I
wonder if the exchange went on after that clip. Let`s see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIMM: The vast majority of respected scientists say that it`s
conclusive, the evidence is clear. So, I don`t think the jury is out.
HAYES: The basic story of, we`re putting carbon in the atmosphere,
the planet`s getting warmer, that`s going to make the sea levels rise, the
basic story to that, you pretty much agree with, right?
GRIMM: Sure. I mean, there`s no question that the oceans have risen,
right? And the climate change part is -- is a real part of it.
The problem that we`re going to have right now, there`s no oxygen left
in the room in Washington right now for another big debate. That`s the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You heard that "sure," right?
Well, he did go on there, didn`t he? But now, clearly Congressman
Grimm has forgotten -- gotten the memo from the central office to use this
latest term of art: "I`m not a scientist."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIMM: I`m not a scientist.
BOEHNER: Listen, I`m not going to -- I`m not qualified to debate the
science over climate change.
QUESTION: What is your take on global warming? Climate change?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a scientist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The Republican Party has moved from complete denial to, don`t
ask me, don`t ask me, I`m not a scientist, I`m just a dude in a suit by a
microphone, for the love of God.
All right, just to bring this home, let`s ask a scientist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEGRASSE TYSON: It`s just that these thousands of years over which we
created our civilization took place over a kind of climate that we are
exiting right now, a climate range that we are exiting.
And we are responsible for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: When conservatives aren`t dodging climate change questions by
saying they`re not scientists, their other big dodge is that whatever we do
doesn`t matter, because China will screw it all up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Look, the government can`t change the
weather. I said that in the speech.
No, we can pass a bunch of laws that will destroy our economy, but it
isn`t going to change the weather, because, for example, there are other
countries that are polluting in the atmosphere much greater than we are at
this point, China, and India, all these countries that are still growing.
And they`re not going to stop doing what they`re doing. America is a
country. It`s not a planet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: America is a country, not a planet. We looked into that.
That claim is rated true. Sounds a little silly, but actually that is at
least a much more sophisticated argument than, I am not a scientist,
because there is really a bigger issue with just how a big a slice of
carbon emissions come from China specifically.
Looking at the gray band down there at the bottom, that is China`s
contribution to carbon emissions. The increase in the rate of carbon
emission particularly from 2005 to 2011 is indeed being driven largely by
So if the U.S. takes action, but China doesn`t, we still have a real
big carbon problem. But here`s the thing. If we do not act to reduce our
own carbon emissions, you can almost guarantee China will not. If we do
act, there`s a possibility they might.
And, in fact, this is how it appeared to play out this week. EPA
seeks 30 percent cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030. That was
Monday. China said on Tuesday it will set an absolute cap on its CO2
emissions from 2016, just a day after the United States announced its new
targets for its power sector.
Now, on day three, a Chinese adviser who made the relevant comments at
a Beijing conference is walking it back a bit. "What I said today was my
personal view. The opinions expressed at the workshop were only meant for
academic studies." He said, "What I said only represent the Chinese
government or any organization."
Nevertheless, coming just before a global meeting on climate change in
Germany starting today, it still proves a point. Sooner or later, China
will have to respond to a growing global consensus about the need to reduce
carbon emissions. And the U.S. is the single most important player in
forming that consensus and applying that pleasure.
Joining me now, Ann Lee, adjunct professor at New York University and
author of "What the U.S. Can Learn From China." And Joseph Romm, he is
founding editor of ClimateProgress.org and the chief science adviser for
"Years of Living Dangerously," a Showtime documentary series I`m also a
All right, Ann, China has been really interesting on this issue. They
have been hugely increasing emissions. They`re building lots of coal-fired
plants. They`re also doing a lot to subsidize solar and try to get on to
And they have also basically had their own domestic politics to deal
with, in the same way that we do. I mean, it`s a very different kind of
structured government. It`s not a democracy, but there is domestic public
opinion where people say, don`t kill our economy by not letting us emit
ANN LEE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Oh, absolutely.
There are very powerful interest groups in China, just as we have very
powerful interest groups as well. And so it has been a tough reform for
the Chinese government. They actually had passed laws as early as 1990 to
clean the environment. And recently they passed new amendments to try to
put more teeth into it, which are more compliance issues, so that they will
start fining companies that violate...
HAYES: Is there a reason to believe that they`re going to do that,
though? This is the big question. Right? People are saying, well, you
can`t get -- we will do it and China`s just going not to do any of it. Is
there a reason to believe that there is genuine interest inside the Chinese
government to get serious about reducing emissions?
LEE: No, they absolutely will be serious.
This is part of their five-year plan. They are feeling a lot of
pressure from their domestic -- all the citizens have been protesting about
this. And so...
HAYES: Because of the air pollution coming from all the coal, right?
LEE: Absolutely and water pollution and soil pollution. They know
that this is not sustainable. And if they don`t do anything about it, they
will have a revolution on their hands. And so they will work on this.
HAYES: Joe, what about this argument, I mean, the argument,
basically, that you`re just squeezing the balloon, and that people are
going to emit, and we can kill off our industry here and ship jobs out of
here, but other places, even if it`s not China, it will be India, if it`s
not India, it will be sub-Saharan Africa? What about that argument?
JOSEPH ROMM, CLIMATEPROGRESS.ORG: Well, I think there`s two things
wrong with that.
First of all, the Chinese are suffering under tremendous air pollution
and they know that they are going to suffer from global warming much more
than we will. So they are going to peak emissions. And that`s what this
comes down to.
We know we`re going to get off of fossil fuels. I don`t think there`s
any question of it. So the issue is, if you`re a leader in the transition
to clean energy, then you`re going to be the leader in one of the biggest
job-creating industries of the century.
The other sort of tragic thing about this is, yes, we`re going to get
off of fossil fuels. If we do it smart and quickly, we will avoid
catastrophic global warming. If we dawdle for another 10 years, we`re just
going to be struck with rising sea levels and droughts and superstorms and
HAYES: I saw this really interesting piece about Tesla CEO Elon Musk,
who said on Tuesday he`s thinking about doing something fairly
controversial regarding the company`s patents.
Some think that he may be about to release the patents, so that people
can make electric cars other places. And it got me thinking about a lot of
people have been arguing that we need to bolster technology transfer to
China, that one of the ways to essentially make them see this as not a zero
sum game is to basically give them some intellectual property around the
development of green technology.
LEE: I think that is quite wise. I mean, this is not the first time
an American company has basically opened their technology to China. We
know that there have been lots of technology transfers. And Microsoft even
let them just use their code and copy outright...
LEE: ... and thought that, hey, it`s the razor blade model, so, you
know? So if they buy the operating system, they will just keep buying
But I agree that it shouldn`t just be about company profits. We`re
talking about the whole globe. And, so, you want to make clean energy as
cheap as possible to the end user.
LEE: That`s really the big endgame. And so if the Chinese government
is subsidizing solar panels or doing whatever, we should do the same thing.
HAYES: In fact, there`s a piece today. The U.S. Department of
Commerce announced an internal investigation concluded solar panel
components imported from China were being imported so heavily, American
competitors are being damaged.
They have now hiked import tariffs on solar cells.
Joe, that seems like a bad idea to me. What do you think?
ROMM: Well, it is a challenge. We certainly want to have a domestic
industry, and some dumping by China has certainly been a problem.
So, I think the Commerce Department has tried to thread the needle
here, and preserve some domestic solar industry, while allowing prices to
keep coming down. And the thing to remember about solar power, it`s come
down in price 99 percent in the past 25 years.
HAYES: It`s the most incredible thing.
I think the biggest story right now is the precipitous drop of solar
power, the cost of it. You have solar is going to be competitive with any
other form of energy in Hawaii right -- starting right now, and that`s
going to spread across the country. And that same threshold point can come
to China too.
And when we get there -- we have got to get there fast. And when we
get there, I think things are going to really turn around politically.
Ann Lee, the book again is "What the U.S. Can Learn From China."
Joseph Romm from ClimateProgress.org, thank you both.
LEE: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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