Skip navigation

All In With Chris Hayes, Monday, June 16th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Monday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
June 16, 2014

Guest: Ben Jealous, Elana Schor, Richard Kim, Tara Dowdell, Jen Psaki,
Gregory Meeks

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
President Barack Obama has notified Congress pursuant to the war powers act
of the deployment of 275 U.S. troops to Iraq. Officials say 170 soldiers
and Marines will deploy to provide additional security to the U.S. Embassy
and facilities in Baghdad.

Another 100 security personnel will provide airfield management security
and logistics support. Approximately 160 of these 275 troops are already
in Iraq. This after a weekend in which a U.S. aircraft carrier and other
warships arrived in the Persian Gulf and just this morning yet another city
in Iraq falling to the radical Sunni insurgent group, ISIS.

This morning in Tel Afar, Iraq, a town of 200,000 people was overtaken by
ISIS, the Jihadi insurgents after a two-day battle sending yet another wave
of residents fleeing while further buttressing the ISIS dominated corner
connecting Syria and Northern Iraq. In 260 miles southeast of Tel Afar in
Baghdad, about 100 American soldiers and Marines arrived overnight to
provide additional security for the U.S. Embassy and to assist in any
evacuation of the embassy if necessary.

In the aftermath of an overnight car bomb explosion in Central Baghdad,
some U.S. Embassy staff members were transferred out of the city. American
aircraft carrier the "USS George H.W. Bush" and two destroyers have arrived
in the Persian Gulf. All this as ISIS` latest high-profile atrocity
according to ISIS is the execution of 1,700 Shia members of the Iraqi army
who are captured in Tikrit last week.

These images purportedly show government soldiers round up by is held
militants. One of them was later killed, a video which we will not
broadcast. Shiite civilians in Baghdad began forming militias in
anticipation of a showdown with the Sunni insurgents against whom the Iraqi
government has so far been no match.

Iraqi forces have reportedly hit some is targets in a counterinsurgency
effort and the Iraqi government is now tightening control over its own
citizens in the face of is fighters and the challenges to the state`s
authority. Shutting down the internet in five key provinces ordered by
Iraq`s ministry of communications to contain ISIS propaganda and
recruitment.

This graph shows how dramatically internet traffic to Iraq dropped off
yesterday. Earlier today, I spoke with NBC news foreign correspondent,
Ayman Mohyeldin in Iraq.

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Tense in various cities
across the northwest part of the country. In fact, the ISIS fighters
continue to take territory that was once under the control of Iraqi army.
Today alone they managed to take the town of Tel Afar, which is just north
of the city of Mosul. They`ve also captured the Iraqi military`s most
senior officer in that region.

Now, in addition to some of the territorial gains or expansion they have
made, they`re also trying to consolidate their grip and power grip on what
they already control. The city of Mosul they established a local governing
council. They`re going to appoint a governor that`s going to be loyal to
ISIS in the coming days.

They`re trying to get the city back up and running to give people a sense
of normalcy and new reality they are now in control of the city and other
territories. But as a group they now control four different governors
across the country of Iraq, which is a very substantial size of territory.

HAYES: So there`s two different sort of areas in where there`s response.
I want to focus first on where you are in Kurdistan in the Kurdish north
where they are battening down the hatches for any possible incursions.
What preparations is the Kurdish government making now and is there any
going back to any fiction of a unified Iraq after this?

MOHYELDIN: Well, some people are saying that this is too late that Iraq as
it once was known can no longer be saved in the same format. That even any
new change to the government or any new reconstitution of this state is
going to have to allow for more federalization to give more autonomy to the
various regions along ethnic lines.

You were talking about the Kurdish regional government and the semi-
autonomous area where we are. For the past several years the Kurds have
consolidated the territories. They are watching the situation very
closely, reinforced positions along their border. At one point the Kurdish
paramilitary force here that secures this area used to be in direct contact
with the Iraqi army.

Since the Iraqi army melted away, they have a 1,000-kilometer border that
is now essentially under the control of ISIS fighters. They`re very much
concerned about that. They have beefed up security. They`re not letting
in all of the Iraqi refugees that want to come into the Kurdish area.
They`re allowing some to enter for medical treatment, but allowing
organizations to set up camps to help with some of those refugees.

But for the time being, one of the issues that was a major concern for
Kurdish officials are the amount of weapons that have now fallen into the
hands of is fighters. A senior Kurdish source told me there have been
about 30 military bases including four once occupied by the U.S. military
when they were here that are now firmly in the hands of ISIS fighters in
northwest Iraq.

HAYES: That is worrying that the government, meanwhile, in the Nuri Al-
Maliki government which is Shia dominated, we`ve been hearing reports out
of Baghdad they are essentially preparing to defend the city and not just
the Iraqi army, but we are seeing a renaissance, if you will, of the Shia
militias which are now issuing calls to arms. You been hearing similar
reports?

MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. I mean, it`s all over the Iraqi media. It`s very
widely documented that some of Iraq`s most senior Shia clerics including
the ultimate authority on all religious affairs in the country have called
on young Shia men to join the ranks of militias to defend their countries.

Now, the concern obviously for that is once you have these militias
operating outside of the purview of the state, they can run wild and, in
fact, what we`ve seen in the past in Iraq, given its sectarian tensions is
many of these militias become effectively kill gangs and go out and
effectively kill political opposition groups and in some cases obviously
the Sunni opposition.

The concern is that it`s going to spill into a whole full-blown civil war
along sectarian lines. A lot of that, people say, is precisely because of
Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and the kind of sectarian tensions he has
been inflaming over the course of the last several years.

HAYES: Finally, I mean, what is the next move here from where you`re
standing? I mean, it just seems that there is -- we are watching the
country break apart. It`s very unclear what any of the outside parties can
do to prevent that from actually happening.

MOHYELDIN: Well, there are few different scenarios that could unfold and
it`s almost impossible to game out because of so many variables, but on one
hand, you have Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki saying he vows to launch a
large-scale military operation to try and reclaim these territories. The
United States is saying that it is willing to consider helping the Iraqi
government.

Iran has also ironically said it is going to help the Iraqi government. So
you have this kind of scenario where the enemy of my enemy is my friend and
that is what seems to be unfolding among these traditional foes between
Iran and the United States. But in addition to that, you also have a lot
of questions being raised by ISIS in terms of where they want to take the
fight next.

Do they want to try to push on to Baghdad, do they want to try to
consolidate their power and their control over these territories and not
advance any further? So there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. There`s
also some questions as to whether or not Nuri Al-Maliki, the prime
minister, could survive this. Can he stay in power?

Could, perhaps, the Iranians and the U.S. nudge him out of power to bring
in a new prime minister who can try and reconstitute a new more pluralistic
government under a different constitution than the one that currently
exists?

HAYES: NBC news foreign correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin. Thank you, Ayman.

To Ayman`s final point there, there is also reliably controversy today over
the Obama administration`s handling of the crisis. It was ignited after
this exchange between Secretary of State John Kerry and Katie Couric.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: At this moment, I think we need to go step
by step and see what, in fact, might be a reality, but I wouldn`t rule out
anything that could be constructive to providing real stability, a respect
for the constitution, a respect for the election process, and a respect for
the ability of the Iraqi people to form a government that represents all
the interests of Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That created a right wing mean that Kerry had stepped in it,
despite the fact the previous day, Senator Lindsey Graham of all people
reluctantly acknowledged the possible necessity of coordinating with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Deal with Stalin because he
was not as bad as Hitler. We need to coordinate with the Iranians and the
Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game,
form a new government without Maliki, but, yes, I don`t want Iran to
dominate Iraq and that`s where they`re headed. Don`t let the Iranians save
Baghdad. Let us save Baghdad so there will be a chance at a second
government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Less than three hours after Kerry`s comments, the Pentagon issued a
series of statements. Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, told NBC News, the
U.S. has no intentions and no plans to coordinate or consult with Iran
militarily. Joining me now is Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Hi, Chris.

HAYES: How are you? Can you first let us know the significance of the
announcement from the White House today about 275 American troops moving
into Iraq? I think there`s a lot of people who worry deeply that this is
the beginning of essentially what will be a next Iraq war, a reinvasion, a
kind of quicksand that we have found ourselves in before.

PSAKI: Sure. Chris, let me lay out for you what this is and what this is
not. No one is talking about combat troops on the ground. Troops on the
ground. The president made that clear last Friday. But we take the
security and the safety of our men and women serving overseas in Baghdad,
everywhere around the world, very seriously. And we take every precaution.

We made an announcement yesterday about plans to move some of our staff who
are currently based in Baghdad to other parts of Iraq and to neighboring
country of Jordan, and these military are supporting that effort to do
that and keep our people as safe and secure as possible.

HAYES: Do you think or are you planning currently as a contingency inside
the State Department, for the contingent possibility of the embassy in
Baghdad falling?

PSAKI: Look, Chris, we are focused on analyzing day by day. That is not
what we`re looking at. Not what we have our eyes on at this moment, but I
can promise you that we evaluate what is best for the men and women who
serve on a daily basis. Now, I will -- the important point here is that
our ambassadors on the ground, our senior team is on the ground engaging
closely with the Iraqis. They met with Prime Minister Maliki today.
They`re engaged with a range of groups and our work is continuing and our
operations are ongoing.

HAYES: With respect to discussion about Iran and the secretary`s answer on
that which seemed to me fairly cautious, Lindsey Graham`s pronouncement as
well, given the fact that there`s confirmed that Iranians, fighters are on
the ground in Iraq coordinating with the Maliki government on how to repel
is incursions.

Given the fact you have ISIS on one side and the Iranians on the other,
describe to me how it could possibly be the case the U.S. would intervene
in this in any way in which it wouldn`t be essentially allied with one of
those two sides?

PSAKI: Well, we certainly don`t think of it as allied, but I -- the
diplomacy is not black and white, and we have a shared concern about the
threat of ISIL, about the stability of Iraq. That`s a concern the United
States has, Iran has. Many countries in the region have. And so engaging
with Iran and having a dialogue about what they`re thinking about, what
they`re planning, as well as many other countries in our view makes a great
deal of sense.

HAYES: Are U.S. officials at this moment talking to Iranian counterparts
about the situation in Iraq?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, it came up on the margins of the P5 plus 1
negotiations that are ongoing in Vienna today. We expect we`ll continue to
engage with a range of countries in the days and weeks ahead including
Iran.

HAYES: What do you say to people who say that Iran, itself, has been a
destabilizing force in Iraq and has helped to bring the situation to the
crisis that we now appear to be facing?

PSAKI: Our view is the overflow of violence from Syria and the crisis in
Syria is a leading factor that has led us to where we are with the
situation in Iraq. So we would agree with that, but, again, diplomacy is
not black and white, and we need to engage and confer with a range of
countries, those where we have strong disagreements as we do with Iran.

HAYES: Jen Psaki from the State Department, thank you for your time today.

PSAKI: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, with Iraq in the news again, have you noticed how many
neocons discredited during the first go-around are back in action trying to
tell us what we should do? Well, a prominent politician just told them off
in the most satisfying way imaginable. We`ll have that next.

Plus, Democrats have a secret plan to win the midterms. What it is and
whether it will work. Ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Are you looking for good news in a bleak news environment?
Breaking news from the sports world, the United States soccer team just
beat Ghana in the team`s opening game at the World Cup. The U.S. Team was
not favored to win this match, but after the sixth fastest goal in World
Cup history from Team Captain Dempsey and late header from Brooks, America
edged out Ghana 2-1.

Next up for uses, one of the lawmakers who actually got it right on Iraq
the first time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Ever since this crisis erupted in Iraq, we`ve been treated to
pearls of wisdom from the same people who brought us bloody and expensive
debacle that was the Iraq war. They`re all over cable news and the Sunday
talk shows.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is more than just an obscure Shia/Sunni conflict.
This is al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a disaster, unfortunately made possible, certainly
made more likely by our ridiculous and totally --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need air power immediately to stop the advance
toward Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we learn anything, you can`t fire miss and then turn
around and come home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I`m not in favor of sending combat forces into Iraq
at the moment, but I can well imagine that we would have to have some
troops on the ground.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Those insights aren`t enough, you can learn more from the
architects of the war at a seminar this fall. Who wouldn`t want to talk a
study in decision making with Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Scooter Libby, who
leaked Valerie Plame`s identity? There were two key voices we had not
heard going into the weekend, the two people probably the most responsible
for getting us into that war.

A semi obscure painter in Texas by the name of George W. Bush and the man
known by many of his former henchmen, Tony Blair. This weekend one of the
two men broke their silence on the Iraq crisis for the first time. Tony
Blair posted a lengthy essay on his website refuting the idea the war in
Iraq may have had a little something to do with the current situation in
that country. Spoiler alert, the essay basically goes like this.

OK. So it wasn`t exactly that monologue, but Blair did say, quote, "We
have to liberate ourselves," liberate, "liberate ourselves from the notion
we have caused this. We have it. We can argue as to whether our policies
and points have helped or not and whether action or inaction is the best
policy.

There`s a lot to be said on both sides. But the fundamental cause of the
crisis lies within the region, not outside it." That prompted Boris
Johnson, the conservative mayor of London who actually voted for war to
respond in way that should truly be a model for politicians. Here in the
U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can understand that he feels very, very shattered and
guilty about the whole thing, but I think my general message would be just
to put a sock in it really and paper bag on head time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Paper bag on head time. It should be paper bag on head time for
everyone who got it wrong on the Iraq war, especially the ones who think we
can do the same thing all over again and expect different results. Tonight
we`re going to talk to someone who got it right on Iraq, someone who told
the truth and stood by it.

Joining me now, Congressman Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York, member
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and voted against going to war in
2002. Congressman Meeks, good to see you.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Good being with you, Chris.

HAYES: My first question to you, your reaction from the White House
tonight about 270 military personnel moving into Iraq to provide security.

MEEKS: As long as it`s for security of the personnel so if we have to move
them out quickly, we`ll have the personnel there to get them out to safety
and move them. It`s day by day I`m sure. They`re monitoring the situation
on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis. We want to make sure our personnel is
protected and if we have to get them out, they have to be there.

But no troops on the ground as the president has said. We don`t need to --
you know, we`ve been there, done that. In the incorrect way. Won`t do
anything to help us long term. But to protect our interests and personnel,
we have to do what we have to do to make sure that is taken care of.

HAYES: As someone who lived through the first part of this debate in 2002
and 2003, and the run-up to the war who voted against the war, what is your
reaction as you watch this unfold in Iraq, both the real human tragedy
that`s happening there, and also the political discussion here in which
people who were the architects of that war are opening about what we should
do?

MEEKS: Well, I`m amazed. I`m amazed because it seems as though they got
it wrong the first time, they don`t want to acknowledge they got it wrong
the first time and saying do the same thing. The same thing is to go into
Iraq without any forethought or any understanding what the culture is, what
the people is and what`s actually happening on the ground and just go in
and bomb.

You know, it reminded me people have forgotten already that a few days
after the ill-advised and what I voted against Iraq war we had President
George W. Bush on a carrier saying mission accomplished like that was it.
And that showed they didn`t know what the heck they were talking about.

HAYES: Right. Do you sense the mood in Washington right now on the
capitol is different than it was in 2002? Strikes me it is. Strikes me
the appetite for intervention is low and the voices that we`re hearing from
the early part of the last decade who called for it don`t represent
necessarily the congressional mainstream right now.

MEEKS: On the Democratic side it`s absolutely true. Even some members who
voted for the war now says that`s the one vote they regret most in
Congress. So they don`t want to make that same mistake again. They are
concerned about what`s taking place on the ground. They look at it as a
sectarian war that is taking place now and a Shiite/Sunni adventure.

So therefore just going in and engaging and bombing without any end result
or knowing what an end game is as what they did in 2002 is not something
that`s tolerable to them. Unfortunately, what I`m hearing from some of my
Republican colleagues, as you noted on the Sunday shows, they don`t seem to
have learned the lesson of 2002.

HAYES: Can I ask you a personal question?

MEEKS: Yes.

HAYES: Is your office getting called to come on television to talk about
Iraq?

MEEKS: My office getting called?

HAYES: I mean, are people saying Iraq`s in the news, you know who we
should talk to, we should talk to Congressman Gregory Meeks.

MEEKS: No. They`re calling saying, don`t go to war. You got it right the
first time.

HAYES: There are not bookers knocking on the door of Congressman Gregory
Meeks saying here`s someone who took a tough vote, let`s remember that was
a tough vote in 2002. Who took a tough vote who was right about this 12
years ago? Maybe he should come on TV and talk.

MEEKS: Which amazes me why each and every time they go right to John
McCain. I don`t know when John McCain has had it right. Thank God the
American people were smart enough not to elect him president of the United
States. We would be in war every place around the continent right now.
Why does the news media go to John McCain to ask him any time there`s
anything happening because you know he`s going to be, go to war, send
troops, just doesn`t make sense.

I would like to hear the other individuals, there`s plenty on the Hill, who
have a contrary view. They should be interviewed and asked about which way
to go because they did get it right. I think they`re looking at it in a
broader scope as the president is right now.

HAYES: Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, thank you, sir.
Coming up, a surprise twist in the ruling that struck down teacher tenure
laws in California. It tells you everything you need to know about the
battle over education and education reform. I will tell you what it is,
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: A fascinating development in a story we first brought you last
week. The sweeping decision by a California judge striking down the
state`s teacher tenure rules. Some of the country`s strictest. It reads
like it was written by Michelle Ree, school reformer, savaging the teacher
protections and putting the blame for America vastly unequal education
system on bad teacher shoulders.

Well, one particularly important hinge in that decision was an empirical
finding about just how many bad teachers there are in California. The
judge writing that there is, quote, "no dispute that there are a
significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in
California classrooms."

Dr. Berliner, an expert called by state defendants, testified that 1
percent to 3 percent of teachers in California are grossly ineffective.
Given that the evidence showed roughly 275,000 active teachers in the state
the extrapolated number of grossly ineffective teachers ranges from 2,750
to 8,250." Well, that`s a lot of teachers. At least one person had the
smart idea to get to the bottom of where that figure came from exactly.

"Slate`s" Jordan Weisman called up the expert behind that statistic who,
I`m not making this up, literally said, "I pulled that out of the air.
There`s no data on that. That`s just a ballpark estimate based on my
visiting lots and lots of classrooms."

He also never used the words "grossly ineffective." So there you have it.
Key empirical finding on a sweeping decision on teacher tenure rests on
part on a totally made up statistic. Fortunately this ruling has not gone
into effect since the judge stayed his own decision pending an appeal.

In his ruling the judge noted there was, "remarkable consensus between the
prosecution and defense on the fact that California`s tenure policy are far
from best practices," which suggests both sides were expecting some form
of change to the policy. I don`t think any of them expected that evidence
which played a determining role in the judge`s decisions isn`t actually
based on any real fact. That`s something both parties can grapple with
during the appeals process. But it`s a good caution.

In the fraught context of the teacher wars, if a statistic sounds too good
to be true or, in this case, too bad to be true, it very likely is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Here`s one of most important and underappreciated truths about
American politics right now.

Some of the reddest states in the entire nation have the highest number of
blue voters just sitting on the sidelines. In a groundbreaking report out
today, former NAACP President Ben Jealous shows how progressive activists
could change the balance of power in the so-called solid Republican South
by engaging just a portion of those potential voters.

Next week, our new recurring series "ALL IN America" returns, and one of
the stories we will be bringing you takes you inside one of those red
states, and the progressive plot to turn it blue.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES (voice-over): It`s a simple matter of arithmetic. Ben Jealous,
former president of the NAACP, walked me through the math.

BEN JEALOUS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: There are 600,000
unregistered black people in the state and 230,000 unregistered Asians and
Latinos on top of that. And if we could just sign up 750,000 of them, it
would be almost impossible for the Republicans to win again.

HAYES: In 2008, John McCain won the state by 204,000 votes. In 2010,
Republican Governor Nathan Deal won by 258,000 votes. In 2012, Mitt Romney
won the state by 304,000 votes.

Organizers say there are roughly 830,000 unregistered voters of color in
the state. If they can register 90 percent of them, and 50 percent of
those people vote, that`s just over 370,000 votes. That means Nathan Deal
loses in 2010, Barack Obama wins the state in 2008 and again in 2012.
According to that math, Georgia turns blue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: And joining me now is Ben Jealous, a partner at Kapor Capital and
senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, as well as former
president and CEO of the NAACP.

All right, Ben, I think people think about the South and they think, well,
it was the solid South. It was Democratic. It was run by Dixiecrats for
years. Southern strategy came along with Nixon. In 1994, the Gingrich
wave pushed a lot of the old Democrats out. 2010 pushed the last remaining
ones out. And it`s just going to be a solid Republican portion of the
country for a generation. Why is that not true?

JEALOUS: What we need to really internalize is what many Republicans in
the Deep South know, which is that every demographic trend is against them
for the foreseeable future.

And that`s why they have invested so heavy into voter suppression, because
they understand that the numbers are just not in their favor. But what we
also have -- in addition to sort of owning the kind of dormant power that
we have, what we also have to really be clear about is that we have had the
antidote to massive voter suppression for at least 50 years.

And what we learned from Freedom Summer, and what we learned from Chaney,
Goodman, and Schwerner, who were killed 50 years ago this weekend, was that
the antidote to massive voter suppression is massive voter registration.

We as progressives have to get back into having that conversation, that the
time has come for us to invest in massive voter registration again in the
South, because not just the numbers of unregistered black voters, but
unregistered brown voters, unregistered Asian voters, and also increasingly
young voters...

HAYES: Right.

JEALOUS: ... young whites, who just simply are not as kind of hung up on
race, you know, perhaps as their grandparents or their great-grandparents.

HAYES: What is the lesson to you about Freedom Summer?

For folks that don`t know what happened there, like, what did it actually
mean? What did Freedom Summer actually mean and why is it a model that you
think we need to look back to as we think about conducting politics in
2014?

JEALOUS: Freedom Summer was young people across racial lines, Jews and
Christians, coming together, going into the South, and saying the time has
come to sign up every possible voter that we can, and, in particular, to
end the virtual ban on blacks voting.

I was talking to Courtland Cox this morning, who had been with SNCC in
Lowndes County. There were four black voters in Lowndes County, which was
a majority black county when they showed up.

HAYES: Wow.

JEALOUS: There were thousands when they left. And black folks have
controlled the politics of the county ever since.

But what`s similar now is that we have, first of all, hundreds of thousands
of black folks state by state who are not signed up to vote still and we
have increasing brown populations and Asian-American populations. And if
we just invest, we could change things dramatically.

You look at the state of South Carolina, the Tea Party governor won by
60,000 votes. The average in the state I think is about 80,000 any given
race, you know, statewide. There`s 350,000 unregistered black folks there
right now.

HAYES: Wow.

JEALOUS: And what we`re talking about, Chris, is, you know, maybe $6
million, maybe $7 million, to sign up virtually all of them. It would
change the state forever. And that`s the one thing we have to internalize
that Yankees typically don`t get is that the light switch in the South has
no dimmer.

It`s -- when it comes to politics, it`s either on or off. And just because
it`s off now doesn`t mean it can`t be on in five minutes.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Ben Jealous, did you just call me a Yankee on my show? Did you
just call me a Yankee? How dare you?

(LAUGHTER)

JEALOUS: I suggested that you might talk to some frequently.

HAYES: I do. I do actually associate with some Yankees.

Very quickly, when you say $6 million to $7 million, you`re talking
dollars. That`s it; $6 million to $7 million, that`s all?

(CROSSTALK)

JEALOUS: That`s it. And that`s the part that really frustrates me about
our presidential politics, if you will, is, look, you know, this time
around, the Democrats spent $1 billion and they couldn`t afford the $12
million, maybe $14 million it would take to take back Georgia?

HAYES: Wow.

JEALOUS: Are you kidding me? And can you imagine the conversations we
would be having now if Nunn`s campaign was a slam dunk? I mean, she may
win. Don`t get me wrong. She`s running a brilliant campaign, but, you
know, the...

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Well, if she had 300,000, 400,000 more voters who were voters of
color, it would be very different.

JEALOUS: Oh, my gosh, it would be a walk, and then we`d be talking about
South Carolina and Mississippi and all these other states we should be
talking about.

HAYES: Yes.

Ben Jealous from Kapor Capital, thank you, Ben.

JEALOUS: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, would you believe there actually could be another
government shutdown on the horizon? We will talk about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Coming up, remember the government shutdown of 2013?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, breaking news from Washington. The tempers are
flaring at a memorial honoring our nation`s heroes. Fed-up military
veterans are rallying today over the government shutdown that closed their
memorials.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Now Republicans may have a new thing to shut down the government
over. And I will tell you what it is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they`re asked about
climate change, they say, hey, look, I`m not a scientist.

And I will translate that for you. What that really means is, I know that
manmade climate change really is happening, but, if I admit it, I will be
run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a
liberal plot, so I`m not going to admit it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president is on offense on climate right now, both in his
policy and his rhetoric. He is on offense. That is something that we have
not seen, frankly, in years. Indeed, there appears to have been some
fundamental shift that`s led president to stop pulling his punches that has
never been more obvious than it was when he gave the commencement address
at U.C. Irvine over the weekend and he got laughs for unapologetically
mocking climate change deniers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s pretty rare that you will encounter somebody who says the
problem you`re trying to solve simply doesn`t exist.

When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number
of people who made a serious case that it wouldn`t be worth it, it was
going to be too expensive, it was going to be too hard, it would take too
long. But nobody ignored the science. I don`t remember anybody saying
that the moon wasn`t there or that it was made of cheese.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The context for all this, of course, is an announcement by the
Obama administration at the start of this month that it would move to cut
carbon emissions at existing coal-fired power plants by 30 percent by 2030
and would do it without going through Congress.

That move was supposed to be a major albatross for Democrats in the midterm
elections, but other than some predictable GOP pushback and complaints from
a few coal country Democrats, including Kentucky Senate candidate Alison
Lundergan Grimes, the politically outcry over that announcement has been
remarkably muted, which could have something to do with the fact that fully
70 percent of Americans said in a poll this month the government should
limit greenhouse gases.

Nonetheless, Republicans are now plotting about how to stop the EPA`s push
to regulate carbon, which was endorsed as legitimate by the Supreme Court
in April. Two House Republicans told Bloomberg they may move to block the
rule by denying EPA funding in a spending bill, a move that could
potentially lead to a government shutdown over climate change.

And if I`m Barack Obama, and I look at the politics of that fight, I have
two words for those House Republicans: Bring it.

Joining me now, Elana Schor, staff reporter at Greenwire.

Elana, do you agree with me that something shifted in the fundamental
politics and political conversation on this?

ELANA SCHOR, GREENWIRE: Absolutely, Chris.

And I think that has a little bit to do with Tom Steyer`s $50 million-plus
investment in midterm election spending defending Democrats who support
this rule. And a lot of it has to do with the president believing that
this is a major part of his legacy. He wants to see this rule cross the
finish line before he leaves office and he`s willing to, for the first
time, perhaps, kind of sacrifice some political capital to it.

HAYES: As someone who was substantively rooting for the EPA announcement,
and I think it could be even tougher, actually -- I think it probably
doesn`t get us where we need to go.

But I was worried as a political analyst about the politics of it. I
really did think it would lead to some bad political consequences for some
vulnerable Democrats in the midterms. And I have really been amazed at how
little political backlash there has seemed to be to this announcement so
far.

SCHOR: Well, I think you`re looking at a fundamental difference from
Obamacare, where everything happened very fast. This is a proposed rule,
Chris. It won`t be final for another year and states won`t have to decide
how they will cut these emissions for another year.

So, we might have a different conversation in 2016. But I think now you`re
looking at some states, some red states realizing they might actually like
this rule because they`re getting a pretty easy time. So, it`s much more
complicated than health care.

HAYES: Do you think we are going to see further kind of attacks from
Republicans? I mean, this idea that they would shut down the government
over funding here seems somewhat farfetched to me, but, of course, shutting
down the government the first time seemed farfetched in that summer and
then it happened.

Can you imagine a situation in which they actually bring us to that?

SCHOR: I can`t, just because I thought so many Republicans realized how
much they suffered politically from doing what they did in October with
that shutdown.

But, to be honest with you, after Eric Cantor`s defeat, I think
conservatives are very emboldened right now, so they definitely will try to
block this rule in their version of the government spending bill.
Obviously, Democrats control the Senate. Harry Reid is not going to let
that happen. But we could very well be looking at a replay of last year,
maybe not to the finish line, but close.

HAYES: It would really be -- if that were to happen, it would really be
the first time if I`m not mistaken that you ever had this issue take front
and center.

I mean, it`s been sort of there. It`s been in the background. It was a
priority. It was talked about in 2008 election. You had Waxman-Markey
pass in the House. It probably cost a few Democrats their seats or helped
cost them their seats. But something where you had an actual just full-out
partisan brawl of this issue, I personally think would be good and
clarifying for the issue in terms of raising it in the public`s
consciousness.

SCHOR: Yes, and I think it will really allow Democrats to kind of test
those polls that you mentioned.

HAYES: Yes, exactly.

SCHOR: To kind of talk about the EPA as a good function in people`s lives,
not this arbitrary, arcane notion of climate science, but actual people
making sure your air and water are clean is a political concept that hasn`t
been tested on this level.

And I agree. it could end up being a really net positive for them.

HAYES: Republicans are shutting down the government because they don`t
want the EPA to regulate pollution. That doesn`t sound like a great thing
if you`re on the other side.

Elana Schor from Greenwire, thank you so much.

SCHOR: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, another offensive move by the offensive White House --
offensive, not offensive -- offensive -- an executive order in the works
that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT employees of federal
contractors. We will talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Coming up, a weekend in which President Obama went on offense on
climate change. Today, he brought an offense on another hot-button topic
that until recently put Democrats on their heels.

The White House made it known that it plans to draft an executive order
that would ban workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender employees of federal contractors.

The move, which could protect 60 million people from being fired for being
LGBT, comes as a Republican-led House refuses to act on the Senate-passed
Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would make it illegal to
fire someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Now, six months out from an election, the president doesn`t have to do
this. As Paul Krugman noted in "The New York Times" today, based on the
success of Obamacare and other areas, the president`s already having a
seriously good year when it comes to policy. When you look at his
willingness to stay on the offensive, there are two ways to interpret it.

One is that this is a man who just doesn`t care anymore about the politics,
because it`s legacy time. The other way to look at it is that the politics
around these issues have changed so much that good policy has become good
politics.

Joining me now, political consultant Tara Dowdell and my colleague at "The
Nation" Richard Kim, who is executive editor of TheNation.com.

Richard, this announcement on the -- they have been -- activists have been
pushing on this and prodding. Chris Geidner, I should say, at BuzzFeed has
done incredible reporting on this.

RICHARD KIM, "THE NATION": Excellent work, yes.

HAYES: So, shout-out to him on that.

But what do you make of it? Do you make this it`s just, hey, it`s time to
do this or like the politics have come around so much?

KIM: They have come around. Activists have been pushing for two years on
this. There are really two big things though that I`m interested in
seeing, because we haven`t seen the actual text of the executive order.

I want to see if there`s a religious exempt that`s going to be carved out
there. This would allow Catholic Churches, hospitals, charities to
discriminate. And this is not insubstantial. Groups like the Salvation
Army, all the groups that get money under faith-based clauses, this could
exempt them from following this.

And then the outcome of the Hobby Lobby case...

HAYES: Yes.

KIM: ... is going to be really important here.

If corporations, I`m not talking churches, corporations are allowed to say
that they have a religious...

HAYES: Religious conscience, then it`s very hard to see how this applies.

KIM: Exactly. It could blow a lot of this out the water.

HAYES: In terms of the politics of it, this is the kind of thing that just
recently if a Democratic president did this, you would expect -- you would
just -- if you were a reporter on Capitol Hill, what you do is you would go
and get the statements off the Web sites of everyone on the Republican side
denouncing it. It would just be a thing you did in your writeup.

Here`s Sam Stein from Huff Post saying, "Have not seen one GOP statement in
opposition to Obama`s ENDA executive order news. Am I missing something
here?"

We looked. There were not -- there were very few. It was basically
crickets today.

TARA DOWDELL, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I do think that the politics have come
around. I think that dynamic does in fact exist.

So, you don`t see the pushback from the Republicans because they are
realizing that this is actually popular, even in their own party. When
they denied gay rights groups who are Republican from speaking at events,
they have gotten pushback, particularly from the libertarian wing of the
party.

HAYES: And it`s not just -- it`s not just the popularity. It`s actually a
wedge issue.

It`s actually something -- it`s one thing to say, well, we`re not getting
pushback and we can all kind of do this and go around. I think there`s
good polling to support that people believe in nondiscrimination and that
you could actually go on offense on something like this.

KIM: Yes, you know, I mean, look, there`s still all the House Republicans
who are refusing to vote on this, even though 10 of their Senate
colleagues...

HAYES: Right, but that`s what I mean. They should be put on the spot
about that, as opposed to be letting it just die.

(CROSSTALK)

KIM: Right.

I think the new line is going to be about the religious exemption. You saw
Orrin Hatch actually came out today and said, who voted for ENDA in the
Senate -- he was like, OK, I can get behind this executive order, but it
has to include the religious carve-out.

DOWDELL: You will see that.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: And you have seen the politics of this issue sort of -- like, they
kind of retreated to this fallback position, which is they`re not
contesting anymore, but now it`s the religious exemption position is the
fallback.

DOWDELL: And that gives them cover, right? So you make it about religion,
so then they can say, oh, we just want to protect religion, we want to
protect people. We want to -- you know, that`s what gives them cover.
That`s why they`re falling back to that position strategically.

HAYES: When they talked about, when the president talked about this year
of action theme that was going to be -- I thought it was basically like the
conceit for the State of the Union and would not -- I mean, because it`s
like, you know, the structural factor is still the same. He still doesn`t
have the House. He`s still got the filibuster in the Senate.

It has been remark -- I mean, it`s been surprising to me that it really has
been so far. From a domestic policy executive order position, it has been
a very aggressive agenda so far.

KIM: This executive order is going to impact a lot of people.

You know, many corporations already have their own nondiscrimination
policy, but ExxonMobil does not. They will have to comply with this order
in order to continue to get federal contracts. So it is a very aggressive
move. Again, the religious exemption is an important thing. What happens
to ENDA is a also very important thing.

HAYES: part of it, too, is if you`re looking at the -- there`s been some
reporting about the president`s relationship to Congress in terms of
congressional Democrats up for reelection this year.

He`s been doing a lot of fund-raising. But people feel like he maybe
hasn`t done enough on messaging or things like that.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: It does strike me that right now the Democrats have a pretty good
economic message around raising the minimum rage, Elizabeth Warren on the
student loans.

DOWDELL: Right.

HAYES: I`m really curious to see if you can turn something like climate
into an actual thing to attack your opponent with, because it`s not
something we have been able to see in recent memory, and it feels to me
like the worm is turning a little bit on that.

DOWDELL: I think you can. But we have to do a better job, again, what you
mentioned, messaging. We need to talk about it in terms of protection, not
regulation, protection.

When I was growing up in New Jersey, you literally would go to the Jersey
Shore and syringes would wash up on the shore.

HAYES: Right. Right.

DOWDELL: That changed because of the EPA. The EPA has made people`s lives
better when we talk about asthma, when we talk about -- we talk about
things that appeal directly to people, that people can understand. And we
need to build coalitions in these communities like New Jersey where we have
these issues and get them on board.

HAYES: And the other part of this, Richard, that I think has been very
interesting is, I think the president has been doing a pretty effective job
recently of turning climate denialism into a kind of symbol of
backwardness, basically, that is -- it`s almost a kind of culture war
appeal to voters.

Like, you don`t -- like, you know, you`re a smart moderate Republican who`s
an engineer. Do you want to associate yourself with these people?

KIM: You know, I think the same thing is true about gay rights and..

HAYES: Yes, very similar. It`s a similar kind of rhetoric on this.

KIM: Exactly.

And the generation gap here is I think really the main thing, both on
climate change and on LGBT rights.

HAYES: Yes. Exactly.

KIM: They are kissing -- the Republicans are kissing a whole generation
bye-bye if they continue to go down this route.

DOWDELL: Right.

HAYES: And I think that, right now, obviously the salience I think on LGBT
issues is higher than climate, but I think has that same kind of threshold
effect.

It`s like, can you be with a politician who is X, right? And I think
there`s a lot of voters, increasingly young voters, who say I just can`t
support a president who doesn`t -- I can`t support a politician who don`t
believe in marriage equality.

I think you`re going to start seeing people say the threshold is, you just
accept the science on climate, right? That`s just like a threshold issue
about what kind of person you are that I might vote for.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWDELL: Absolutely. And I think -- and one of the things I think the
president doesn`t get enough credit for -- I have said this before.

The Democratic base is very hard to govern. We`re a very distinct group of
people within one big coalition. And the president has really moved the
black community on LGBT issues. He has really moved it. Remember when
Proposition 8 was -- when, you know, that was our -- black people polled
sort of not so well on that issue.

And that is changing. And I really attribute that in many ways to younger
people, but also to the president. I have seen a change, even in my own
family. So I do think that we`re starting to see the coalition of the
Democratic Party start to gel around these issues. And that`s helping,
too.

HAYES: That idea about a coalition gelling, that is the big political
question for me about the political legacy of this president, as well as
the policy one, which is whether the Obama coalition, as a kind of
demographic fact, as a kind of cross-ideological fact, can outlast the
president in office. That`s the big question.

Political consultant Tara Dowdell, Richard Kim, my friend, colleague at
"The Nation," all right.

That`s ALL IN for this evening.


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

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


Sponsored links

Resource guide