ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 4, 2014
Guest: Tim Carney, Sam Seder, Chris Gunness, Heather Hurlburt, Anthony
EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight, we are ALL IN.
The Israelis and Palestinians agreed to a three-day cease-fire as the
VALERIE JARETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: You also can`t condone
the killing of all of these innocent children.
KLEIN: We`ll go live to Tel Aviv for the latest.
Then, fear-mongering over Ebola, as an American doctor stricken with
the virus is improving near the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going above and beyond what`s necessary to
contain this virus.
KLEIN: Are the scare tactics warranted?
Plus, why Florida can take a lesson from Canada when it comes to
holding an election.
And if you missed this on Friday --
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Congressman, you`re filibustering. My
question to you is yes or no --
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I just answered. I said yes.
HAYES: Yes, you want to see them deported.
KLEIN: There`s much more where that came from.
BROOKS: This is a part of the war on whites.
KLEIN: ALL IN starts right now.
KLEIN: Good evening from Washington. I`m Ezra Klein, sitting in
tonight for Chris Hayes.
And there`s big news tonight in the Middle East where there are signs
of a potential breakthrough, with both Israelis and Palestinians signing on
to a 72-hour cease-fire brokered by Egypt. The cease-fire is set to begin
tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. local time.
It is worth saying, however, the two sides here do not have the best
record with cease-fires. A previous cease-fire put in place on Friday, it
lasted only two hours before fighting between the two sides resumed.
Earlier today, Israel initiated a partial cease-fire on its own as it
began to withdraw ground troops from some of the more populist areas of
Gaza, saying they are, quote, "extremely close to completing their mission
of destroying Hamas` network of underground tunnels."
But near minutes after the partial cease-fire begun, an air strike
hit a home at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, killing an 8-year-old
girl and wounding at least 29 others, according to "The New York Times."
That refugee camp it should be said is far from the southern city of Rafah,
which Israeli army officials said was the only urban area where there would
be fighting on the ground today.
Across the border in Israel, in what the Israeli government is now
calling a terrorist attack, a man in Jerusalem drove a construction vehicle
into a bus, flipping the bus over and killing one pedestrian. The driver
of the construction vehicle was fatally shot by Israeli security forces.
Hours later, a gunman on a motorcycle shot and wounded an Israeli
soldier in east Jerusalem.
Israel said its partial cease-fire today was intended to allow
humanitarian aid into some of the hardest hit areas of Gaza and to let some
of the almost half a million Palestinians displaced in the fighting return
to their homes in the areas where Israeli troops are no longer engaged, if
indeed, they have homes to return to.
Nearly 250,000 of those displaced people have been sheltering at
facilities run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees.
And yesterday, for the second time in a week, a U.N.-run school acting as
refugee shelter was hit by Israeli fire.
An Israeli missile struck near the entrance of the U.N. school in
Rafah where around 3,000 Palestinians were seeking shelter, killing at
least 10 people and drawing the strongest condemnation yet from the U.S.
government. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement,
quote, "The United States is appalled by today`s disgraceful shelling
outside a UNRWA school in Rafah. We once again stress that Israel must do
more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties."
Israel said the missiles meant to hit three militants on a
motorcycle. Instead, it killed 10 people at a U.N. school. This comes
after an Israeli strike killed 21 people at a UNRWA school at a Jabaliya
refugee camp less than a week ago, provoking an emotional response from the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS GUNNESS, UNRWA SPOKESMAN: The rights of Palestinians, even
children, are wholesale denied and it`s appalling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: An examination of that Israeli barrage by "The New York
Times" suggests that Israeli troops paid little heed to warnings to
safeguard such sites and may actually have unleashed weapons inappropriate
for areas despite rising alarm over civilian deaths.
Joining me on the phone from Tel Aviv is Chris Gunness, spokesperson
for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
Chris, I appreciate you being here.
GUNNESS (via telephone): My great pleasure. Thank you so much for
having me on your program. Much appreciated.
KLEIN: What is your response to "The New York Times" reporting that
Israel may have ignored warnings about the location of one of the schools
and fired artillery shells into a dense urban area?
GUNNESS: Well, let me say first of all we in UNRWA made 33 calls to
the Israeli army, telling them there were people in the school, 3,000,
telling them of the precise GPS of that school. The last of those calls
was put through an hour at 09:45 yesterday morning to the Israeli army, and
in spite of that, we still had this terrible instant in which five children
were killed between the ages of 3 and 15.
Now, it`s interesting, you quoted quite accurately, extremely
accurately the State Department`s statement and elsewhere in that statement
the State Department made it clear to Israel that simply being, having a
suspicion that there are militants on a motor bike would not justify a
strike on an installation where there are 3,000 people. There is laws of
war the principle of proportionality, and you simply can`t because you hope
you might kill a militant put at risk the lives of thousands of people in
that school. And sadly, because that risk was taken, children died.
KLEIN: So, you said 33 calls?
GUNNESS: We made 33 calls to the Israeli army. That is correct.
Notifying them of the exact GPS coordinates of that school and the last
call before the fatal strike was put in an hour before.
And, you k, this isn`t the first time. As you said in your
introduction, in the school in Jabaliya, it was 17 calls informing them of
the exact coordinates.
Now, I`m not accusing the Israeli army of making a direct and
deliberate hit. What I`m saying is that there are questions which I think
needs to be answered. And that is why we are asking for an investigation
and interestingly, the State Department has also said there should be an
investigation. We owe the families of those killed, those children between
the ages of 3 and 15, and others, an explanation because if you`ve ever
grieved in a situation like this, I can tell you one of the first steps you
need if you`re going to move toward some kind of closure, is the truth.
And we owe it to those people.
Just as on the other side, the people who lose members of their
family, for example, in the Israeli army, it`s important that they should
find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones. So, on the
other side, it`s important that people should know what happened. That`s
why we say we want an investigation. That`s one of the many reasons why
there must be an investigation.
KLEIN: Israel blames the civilian casualties in Gaza on Hamas which
it says uses civilians as human shields and fires rockets and stores arms
in heavily populated areas. What`s your response on that?
GUNNESS: Well, we are very clear, we condemn in the strongest
possible terms the rockets that fly out. It is absolutely condemnable,
absolutely unacceptable that 6 million Israeli civilians are terrorized by
these barrages of rockets that fly out.
On the other hand, it is -- there is no evidence whatsoever in any of
the schools that have taken direct hits by Israeli shelling so far, there
is no evidence whatsoever that in any of these instances there were any
militant militants using our facilities either to fire rockets or, indeed,
to store rockets. There have been examples of militants going into
schools, most closed down by the summer, where our staff simply didn`t have
a presence. There are examples, three examples, of militants doing that.
On all those occasions, we proactively came out and condemned it, but
that is not -- the fact that there are militant rockets that have been
found by UNRWA in our regular inspections in schools elsewhere in the Gaza
Strip does not justify attacks on schools where people are taking shelter.
We simply cannot put civilians, children, women, at risk in that way.
KLEIN: Given the recent record in the cease-fires that have been
struck so far, are you optimistic about the 72-hour cease-fire that has
been agreed to tonight?
GUNNESS: Look, I can say that this cease-fire simply has to work
because there is a human displacement catastrophe which is unfolding,
270,000 people are in U.N. shelters, UNRWA shelters tonight, and that
figure will simply rise further unless we have a cease-fire. It must end.
And can I also say that beyond a cease-fire, there must be a
permanent peace because it is utterly unsustainable to have a situation
where every couple of years civilians in Israel are terrorized by these
barrages of rockets, and also 2 million civilians, nearly 2 million in
Gaza, are subjected to the wholesale denial of dignity and the wholesale
denial of rights.
We`ve all seen the pictures of what`s been going on in Gaza. We all
know that civilians have paid an inordinately high price. It`s
unacceptable for this to happen again. When the final guns fall silent, it
is important there`s serious engagement with addressing the underlying
causes of the conflict in Gaza, and that includes the blockade because I
think everyone in Israel, everyone in Gaza that`s been through this
experience can realize it must never, ever be allowed to happen again.
KLEIN: Chris Gunness from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
-- thank you for being here tonight and thank you for the work you`re
GUNNESS: My pleasure, sir. Thank you so much for having me.
KLEIN: The State Department`s condemnation of Israel`s strike on the
U.N. shelter yesterday is only the latest sign of fraying U.S./Israel
relations over the course of this conflict. And now, top officials in the
Obama administration are adding their voices to the growing chorus
expressing concern over the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power issued a statement calling
yesterday`s attack on U.N. school, quote, "horrifying," while White House
senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said it was indefensible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT: Israel absolutely has the right to defend itself and we are
Israel`s staunchest ally. But you also can`t condone the killing of all of
these innocent children. And so, we`re very concerned. We`re monitoring
the situation closely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: The United States wasn`t even present for the cease-fire
negotiations in Cairo today, which may or may not have anything to do with
the absolute shellacking Secretary of State John Kerry got from the Israeli
press and its political class the last time he got directly involved.
But now, German newspaper "Ders Spiegel" is reporting that Israeli
intelligence eavesdropped on telephone calls by Kerry during the Mideast
peace talks and used the information obtained from the calls during the
Joining me now is Heather Hurlburt, a former White House official in
the Clinton administration and now a fellow at the New America Foundation.
Heather, thank you for being here.
HEATHER HURLBURT, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Ezra, thanks for having
KLEIN: What do the revelations in "Ders Spiegel" about possible
spying on Kerry -- not that America has such a clean record on spying on
allies, itself -- mean for the U.S./Israeli relationship right now?
HURLBURT: Well, I`m tempted to say it can`t get much worse than it
is. And also, I`ll say that I`m quite sure that Secretary Kerry`s
delegation assumed all the time that the Israeli government was trying to
do that. So, in some ways that may not make things worse because it lets
the U.S. go and say, yes, we knew you were doing that, what`s it gotten
you? So, actually I think that`s a sideshow.
KLEIN: You said a moment ago that it can`t get much worse. Explain
that for a minute. Has there been a serious deterioration in the relations
between the two countries? And if so, is it something that will last
beyond the end of this conflict?
HURLBURT: Well, we have to differentiate the relationship between
the countries and relationship between the governments. I think it`s fair
to say that it`s been a couple of decades since relations between two
governments were as bad as they are right now. On the other hand, you
know, defense cooperation remains at unprecedented high levels. One could
argue that the reason Israel has suffered such a tiny number of civilian
casualties despite the unprecedented number of rockets that have been aimed
at it is the ramping up of cooperation of Iron Dome and the anti-missile
systems that occurred under this administration.
So, the picture is complicated, as you said, Israeli public opinion
left, right, and center in recent days has been united in saying whatever
that is wrong here, it`s John Kerry`s fault. So that is a serious problem
that Israel is going to have to get over.
I also think if you look at American public opinion polls, younger
Americans are taking a dramatically different view of Israel than older
Americans are in part because a generation that`s grows up on the kinds of
pictures we just saw as opposed to people my age and older who grew up with
a very different image of what was going on in the region.
So, so long term, there are questions about the relationship that are
much bigger than Netanyahu and Obama.
KLEIN: One of the things that happened the last couple of years was
that Secretary Kerry, I think to some degree out of sight of a lot of the
U.S. political class, really put a tremendous amount of personal energy,
personal capital into trying to broker a peace deal. And now, we`re at a
point where Egypt is hosting these talks for long-term truce between Israel
and Hamas and the U.S. is basically at this point not involved.
I wonder to what extent you`re seeing a -- might continue to see
after the fighting has resolved, a shift in attention, a sort of exhaustion
on the part of American political leaders that steps forward can actually
be effectively taken?
HURLBURT: Actually I think you`re going to see the opposite, for two
One is that this horror that we`ve seen over the last few weeks, the
casualties on both sides, the changes in public opinions on both side,
levels of fear, and despair, and disgust that you`ve seen. You know,
people are going to understand a little better why John Kerry was going
around saying, look, we can`t let this go. We can`t just let it sit there.
Something he was widely mocked for in the U.S. So I actually think there
will be something of a resurgence of attention.
The other thing, Cairo is hosting the talks, but remember, Hamas and
Cairo barely talked to each other. So, in point of fact, it remains the
case to, you know, whether you like this, whether you don`t, that the U.S.
remains really the only party that everybody talks to. Now, everybody
talks to the U.S. in order to heap abuse on us and tell us what John Kerry
is doing wrong, but point of fact, it remains the case that not Egypt, not
Russia, not Turkey, not the E.U., not the U.N., there`s nobody else who has
So, as every president before him, Obama`s going to find himself sort
of stuck right in the middle of this.
KLEIN: One of the features of this conflict has been particularly in
Israel a tremendous unanimity in public support for the offensive in Gaza.
And I`m curious what you think in terms of what will happen after, if there
will be any cracking in the Israeli position on what is best to do in Gaza
going forward? I`m thinking particularly of the blockade of what is done
in terms of Hamas.
What do you think the sort of status quo after the operation on the
tunnels is completed will be?
HURLBURT: Well, again, you really have to differentiate because
there`s been tremendous support for the operation but a collapse in support
for the Netanyahu government. So, I think that`s actually the first place
you`re going to see a potential seismic shift in Israel and you`ve seen,
frankly, some jockeying among parties in Netanyahu`s government that`s made
the job of Kerry and other outsiders much more difficult. So, there`s
going to be that.
The second problem, the Israeli public for entirely understandable
reasons wants to see Hamas punished, wants to see Hamas completely removed
from the political scene. But, frankly, that`s who the Israeli government
has to talk to, to get the cease-fire.
And if there`s one thing that comes out of this, it is that the
Netanyahu government`s effort to frustrate the coming back together of
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will probably have failed. So, the
Israeli public is now going to be stuck with having Hamas in its universe
in a way that frankly it was better able to ignore Hamas before this
happened and before everybody was reminded of just how appalling a force
So, that`s the other sort of seismic shift that I see.
KLEIN: Heather Hurlburt, thank you very much for being here tonight.
HURLBURT: Thanks for having me.
KLEIN: Why the Ebola outbreak that happened in Africa will never
happen in the U.S., and it is not for the reasons you may think. We`ll
KLEIN: When you try to talk about getting things done in Congress,
there`s one word you hear over and over and over and over again --
gridlock. But tonight I`m going to tell you why that is a terrible
metaphor for what is wrong in D.C. politics. Stick around.
KLEIN: Today brought a flurry of terrified headlines and tweets --
tweets -- when word got out that New York City`s Mt. Sinai Hospital was
treating a man for Ebola-like symptoms. A few hours later, doctors
announced it was unlikely the patient had the disease.
The latest round of Ebola scare-mongering, like this fear headline in
the "Drudge Report" -- look at that -- had long since gotten under way.
There is a very simple test for how worried you should be, you at
home, should be, about contracting the Ebola virus. It is so
straightforward that it actually fit in a tweet -- there it is again -- by
a guy with a coffee mug as his avatar.
So, here`s the test. Are you exchanging bodily fluids with someone
who has contracted Ebola? No? Settle down.
Ebola is a terrifying illness if you catch it. There`s no question.
It has killed 887 of the more than 1,600 people who have caught it in this
latest outbreak. That`s according to the World Health Organization`s
But the other thing about Ebola is it so far as these things go, it
is kind of hard to catch. This is not an airborne disease like the Spanish
flu which killed an estimated 30 million to 50 million people in 1918 and
1919. The only way to get Ebola, the only way is to touch a patient`s
bodily fluids. You aren`t going to get it by being on a plane or in a
public space with somebody who is infected.
And in the U.S. and Europe, there are health care practices in place
to keep diseases like this one from spreading quickly.
The problem is, in many countries in Africa, nearly four decades
after Ebola was discovered, a lot of these very basic public health
protections and practices simply don`t exist despite the best efforts of
genuinely heroic aid workers. Ebola has killed 646 people in Sierra Leone,
where the streets were largely empty today as people mourn the dead. That
outbreak does not reflect the triumph of an unstoppable disease. It
reflects a failure of economic and human development.
In some African countries, less than $100 is spent on health care per
person per year compared to more than $8,000 in the U.S. That is just
money that is not being invested in good health care practices.
On the ground in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, aid workers say
they simply don`t have access to the basics needed to protect not only
their patients but also themselves. Meanwhile, money that could be used to
find a vaccine or cure which comes mostly from the private sector is spent
instead in the areas where companies can make the most profit.
Right now, more money goes into fighting baldness and erectile
dysfunction than hemorrhagic fevers like dengue or Ebola. While there is
no cure for the diseases, there are some signs of hope.
NBC News reports the two American aid workers who were infected, Dr.
Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were treated with an experimental drug made
in San Diego. A drug developed with government funding, by the way, which
led to a significant improvement in the condition of both.
But that right now is of no help to the hundreds of Africans who`ve
been infected with the disease.
Joining me now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the National Institutes of
Doctor, it`s good to have view here.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Good to be with
KLEIN: Walk me through a little bit of how afraid and worried people
should be, that there is Ebola, there`s a victim of Ebola in hospital in
America, and also at least some people going into hospitals to get tested.
FAUCI: Sure. They shouldn`t be worried at all.
As you said very correctly, we have the health care system in place
now to be able to isolate people, to have the people who are taking care of
these people with the personal protective equipment to protect them.
As you said, the only way you get Ebola is by coming into direct
contact with bodily fluids like blood and feces and vomit, when people are
really, really sick.
So, the fact that somebody`s in a hospital under the right conditions
is no threat to anyone else. And people ask the same thing, what about
being on a plane or in a physical space with someone? That`s not the way
this virus is spread.
KLEIN: And just on the contagion point, one other question, when is
Ebola contagious? You remarked on this a second ago, but I think for a lot
of people, there`s an impression maybe it can be caught when people are
FAUCI: No, no, there are some viruses that, in fact, can be
transmitted for a short period of time before people actually get symptoms.
That`s not the case with Ebola. Ebola is transmitted essentially when
someone is sick, when one is really taking care of them. When the person
is, in fact, bleeding or vomiting, or what-have-you, and you touch that, as
you said very correctly, that`s how you get it.
KLEIN: Talk to me a little bit about the experimental drug that was
given to the two Americans. It`s not a drug on the market. It`s not a
drug you can go and purchase in a hospital. But what are we looking at
here? Do you think it`s promising?
FAUCI: Well, certainly the animal experiments were promising. It is
in, strictly speaking, a drug. It`s an antibody which is a protein that
the body makes that you and I make naturally when we get infected or when
we get vaccinated that tends to block viruses. What the intervention was,
was a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies that were developed
artificially and infused into the two patients.
Now, the reports we`re getting from Emory is that Dr. Brantly is
doing well and seems to be associated with the administration of the
cocktail of these monoclonal antibodies. When you have only one patient,
it`s tough to say.
But the animal studies, the monkey studies that have been done on
this prior to giving it to a human are really quite impressive. So, we`re
looking forward to further information on this. As you said, this was an
intervention that was developed first by federal funding from my institute,
the NIH, and then now it is in the possession of a company which is trying
to scale it up because interestingly, there are only right now as we speak
three treatment doses available.
So, it isn`t like there`s a lot of it available. So we really have
to scale it up.
KLEIN: And so, this is not much of a help for people in Africa who
are getting sick.
KLEIN: What can be done there in terms of basic public health
practices? Something people don`t think about as clearly as maybe they
could is that you don`t always need a giant advance in drugs --
KLEIN: -- or antibodies. You can often do a lot through better
practices. Is there an effort to scale that up in Africa right now and the
FAUCI: There is. The CDC is sending 50 of their health officers
there to help out with contact tracing and the trouble is that the social
conditions in those three countries, the complete lack of a functional
health care delivery system, superimposed and compounded by the fact that
the traditions and the customs of individuals about how they distrust
authority and distrust the health workers so that instead of bringing
someone to the hospital where you can isolate them properly, they`re taking
them back into their homes, infecting other members of the family and when
they die, you should treat the same body with the same sort of isolation,
making sure you have personal protective equipment.
They have the customs of touching the body when they prepare them for
burial. Unfortunately, that`s compounding that. So, we need a massive
turnaround of societal awareness of what it is that`s propagating this
pandemic. That`s very difficult to do. The people that are over there now
trying to do this are really challenged.
KLEIN: Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health --
thank you very much for being here.
FAUCI: Good to be with you.
KLEIN: So, today, a Republican congressman went on conservative
Laura Ingraham`s radio show and said something so totally outrageous even
she wasn`t buying it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: Congressman, don`t you -- that`s a
little -- that characterization is a little -- a little out there.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KLEIN: Who said it, and what he said, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS, (R) ALABAMA CONGRESSMAN: The democrats, the border
security problem is really a question of where they come up with the money
for the welcome mats and the happy meals.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST OF "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES": OK.
REP. BROOKS: That is a big contrast.
HAYES: Are there happy meals in the legislation?
REP. BROOKS: There is everything the president can give away, free
food, free clothing, free shelter, free health care, free education. He is
doing so. And, then he wonders after he is enticed the illegal alien
children to America, how in the world do they come and why do they come?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CO-HOST: That was Republican Congressman Mo Brooks
with Chris here on Friday night. But, it turned out that Congressman
Brooks was just warming up for what he was going to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BROOKS: This is a part of the war on whites that is being
launched by the Democratic Party, and the way in which they are launching
this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It is a part of
the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012 where
he divides this all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those
kinds of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: The war on whites. Even radio host Laura Ingraham have
responded by saying, quote, "That might not be the best choice of words
there." But, the fact check the Congressman`s allegations of this, quote,
war on whites, let`s take a look at some actual numbers that might show
what is happening in the war, like average family wealth over the last
That blue line is the average for a white family. And as you can
see, there has been a consistently very large gap between that and the
wealth of black and Hispanic families. It is strange that the war on
whites has not done more about this, or how about income? Here is median
household income over about the past 40 years.
As you can see, white families bring in nearly $20,000 more a year
than Hispanic families and almost $24,000 more than black families. And as
for the poverty rate, well, poverty rate for black households is nearly
triple the rate for white families.
Unemployment rate, black and Hispanic unemployment has consistently
been much, much higher than the unemployment rate for whites over the past
40 years and black unemployment is currently more than twice as high as
And, then there is incarceration rate. In the last 50 years we have
dramatically increased rate in which we imprison all folks in our
population, but the rate at which we incarcerate minorities has sky
rocketed and it far outstrips the rate in which we incarcerate whites. If
this is what it looks like, when the democrats running the government to
declare a war on white people then I would hate to see what it will look
like if the government declared war on non-white people.
KLEIN: My other job at vox.com, one of our favorite pastimes is
explaining stuff, the kind of stuff that is really important to know but
does not often get explained. For example, here in 2 minutes is everything
you need to know about gerrymandering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN (voice-over): There are some things in life that Canada is
just better at. Putin, for instance, being polite, appreciating Robin
Sparkles, and these days, elections. America does something very weird in
its elections. The way elections are supposed to work is voters choose
their politicians; but in American, politicians often get to choose their
The word gerrymandering comes from Elbridge Gerry, who is governor of
Massachusetts from 1810 to 1812. After he took office, his party redrew
the map of the state senate districts in a shockingly partisan manner. The
aim was to help his party win as many elections as possible by creating as
many districts as he could or at least 51 percent of the voters would favor
That is basically what gerrymandering is. We got 435 congressional
districts in this country. Somebody needs to divide them up. And,
amazingly, most states let politicians divide them up. The results are
totally predictable. See how this works in North Carolina. Democrats won
50.5 percent of the house vote in 2012. Republicans won nine house seats
for the democrats` four.
If you want to see why, just look at the map. Look at district
number 4. It kind of looks like two legs running away from this whole
mess. Look at district 9, which is getting punched in the neck by district
5 and kicked in the gut by district 12. Damn, look at district 12. It is
like a little worm wriggling away from North Carolina.
These districts may look weird, but they are what political
scientists call efficient. They cluster the state`s democratic voters into
a few districts where they have huge majorities and they spread the state`s
republican voters into more districts where there are slimmer majorities.
So, district 12, the democrat won by almost 60 percent. No
republican won a district by more than 30 percent. That meant they could
win more districts and more house seats in total. And, that is what
happens when you let politicians choose their voters.
This is how Canada did it, too, but then in the 1960s they took the
power away from partisan politicians and gave it to independent
commissions. America could do this, too, if it wanted and now we could
stop feeling bad about how much better Canada is in elections and instead
feel good that we get to wear such as a nice plain country as a hat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Now, if you want an example of why you should know about
gerrymandering, about what Canada was trying to solve, just look at Florida
where on Friday a judge ruled that state legislature needs to redraw their
congressional map, so that it adheres to the state`s constitution.
Specifically, the judge wants a new congressional redistricting plan
drawn for Florida`s fifth and 10th congressional districts, which
represented by Democrat Corrine Brown and Republican Daniel Webster
Earlier this summer the judge ruled the districts are illegal writing
the quote, "Republican political consultants or operatives did, in fact,
conspire to manipulate an influence in the redistricting process." The
ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the league of women voters
at Florida and other groups.
And, over the course of that suit, the judge found that republican
operative posts as unbiased citizens at public hearings to discuss maps,
that -- wait for it, had been drawn in secret. Very nice. And, now it is
up to Florida`s republican legislature to fix the mess. The republicans
were just found to have illegally manipulated.
The judge gave them to weeks to submit a new proposal. But, even he
was not sure whether the whole map mess would be fixable by the midterm
elections in November. We will be right back.
KLEIN: How congress not doing anything in Washington can actually
lead to some big things happening. That is next.
KLEIN: Gridlock. You have heard of gridlock, right? Like really bad
traffic? This gridlock, what you are seeing here, is from outside Beijing,
100 kilometer traffic jam that lasted for nine days. People got out of
their cars and just wandered. There was nothing to do. There was nowhere
for them to go.
And, when you look at those pictures, it is easy to see what is
happening. Nothing. Nothing is happening. Nothing is moving. People are
just waiting. That is what gridlock is. It is what happens when nothing
moves. That is a metaphor we have chosen in Washington for what happens
when congress cannot pass legislation. We call it congressional gridlock,
and it is the wrong metaphor.
There are roughly 12 million unauthorized immigrants in America.
There is tens of thousands of refugee children massing on the border trying
to escape drug gangs in Central America. Last year the senate passed a
comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have toughened the border,
rationalize immigration laws and given the roughly 12 million people, at
least many, a path to legal status and even citizenship.
But, the house did nothing. The bill is caught in congressional
gridlock. That happens. Now, President Obama is considering doing
something on his own and he has the power to do it. Since there are way
more laws being violated on any given day than the federal government can
possibly track or investigate, the president has a lot of authority to tell
federal agencies what crimes to prioritize and which to deprioritize. That
is why the Irs does not spend all its time auditing the poor.
And, it is how Obama effectively legalized many dreamers back in
2012. The rumor right now is that he will use that authority to
effectively legalize or at least free from the threat of deportation many
more unauthorized immigrants, millions more of them.
In "The New Republic" Chicago Law Professor Eric Posner argues that
this would in effect be simply admitting reality. He writes that,
"Millions of illegal immigrants have lived in the United States for decades
under a semiofficial policy that allows them to stay as long as they do not
commit serious crimes and that in many cases, even allows them to obtain
The main effect of Obama`s proposal would be to officially recognize
current practice. Again, I want to emphasize, there is no proposal yet.
But, writing in "The New York Times," Ross Douthat is more concerned. He
argues, this would be something new in the analysis of presidential power
writing, quote, "It would be lawless, reckless, and a leap into the anti-
Congressman Steve King has said yesterday that if Obama use with
further executive action to legalize more undocumented immigrants,
impeachment would be on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You are saying that if he were to
do that, then impeachment would be on the table?
STEVEN KING, (R) IOWA REPRESENTATIVE: I think then we have to start
to sit down and take a look at that. Where would we draw the line
otherwise? If that is not enough to bring that about, then I do not know
what would be. We have never seen anything in this country like a
president that says, "I am going to make up all immigration law that I
choose and I am going to drive this thing regardless of the resistance to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Supporters of the idea argue there are precedents for the kind
of move Obama is contemplating. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter used his
pardon power to pardon hundreds of thousands of people who have dodged the
draft. Some argued that went further than what Obama is considering.
Carter did some of good efforts for sue them on hold. He forgave
them their law breaking altogether. Even so, all this goes to a deeper
point about what happens in congressional gridlock and why that metaphor is
so long. What happens when congress is gridlocked is not nothing? Because
if justice congress is too divided to do anything, it is also too divided
to stop the other parts of government from doing something.
Congress cannot pass a law solving the immigration crisis but it also
cannot pass a law stopping Obama from trying to solve it. Sometimes
congress will even admit this when house republican leaders realize their
bill to address a child migrant crisis would not pass originally. They
pulled it from the floor and Speaker Boehner put out a press release
saying, quote, "There are numerous steps the president can and should be
taking right now without the need for congressional action." We cannot
act, so you should.
We are in a period now where polarized parties are the norm, and so,
too, is divided government. It is getting easier for democrats to win
presidential elections, but geography and redistricting give republicans a
hammer lock on the house that is not likely to lift until at least the
So, there is going to be a lot of gridlock in congress, but that does
not mean that nothing is going to happen. It means more of what will
happen will happen through executive orders, through the courts, and the
Federal Reserve. It means, in other words, our political system is going
to become less democratic and more dysfunctional.
The leap into the anti-democratic dark is not just the president
doing more. It is congress doing less. Joining me now is Tim Carney,
Senior Political Columnist at "The Washington Examiner" and Sam Seder,
MSNBC Contributor and host of "Majority Report." And, after the break, I
am going to get their take on all of this, and we will be right back.
KLEIN: We are back and I am here with Tim Carney and Sam Seder, and
we talking about how things get done these days in Washington or not. Sam,
actually, I want to begin with you because this question of executive power
is an important one for liberals to deal with.
At "The National Review," there was an example, said liberals should
think of George W. Bush failing to pass a tax cut and then directing the
IRS to simply not enforce penalties for those who decide to not pay over 25
percent marginal rate. So, how is this any different than that?
SAM SEDER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, I think if the argument
was that the IRS did not have the resources to collect those taxes, I think
the president might actually have a decent argument. I would not
particularly like it, but this is really just a question of allocating
resources. I mean, we know that there is not enough money to deport 12
million people in this country.
And, we have enough money maybe to do a half a million a year, if
that. And, so the bottom line is, there is going to be a lot of people who
are not going to be deported and simply rationalizing that, making that
processes rational, makes all the sense in the world.
KLEIN: So, Tim, to what Sam says, in a world where congress is not
going to match the resources and the actual law, and in a world where we
are letting many, many undocumented immigrants live here, why should not
the executive branch bring some order and be clear about what the
TIM CARNEY, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER`S" SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST:
Now, again, we do not know what Obama --
KLEIN: Yes, this is all a little bit --
CARNEY: -- But, the premise is upsetting when I hear this, just
because I hear, well, if congress does not act, that is sort of the words
Brian Boitler uses in some of the articles.
KLEIN: Right, of "The New Republic."
CARNEY: -- in "The New Republic," that is some of the frame that you
are putting here, but that really just means if congress does not pass
something that is agreed on by the White House. And, I know it looks like
it is a bigger sort of agreement on immigration, because you have not only
the White House, you got the chamber of commerce. You got all these
And, that seems to be why Obama thinks he can get away with doing
something because you have a unanimity among the power elite. But, just
because the republicans do not agree with them does not mean they are not
doing anything. There are bills that could pass both chambers that would
address some of these problems, but they would also have to not have sort
of a big influx of immigration.
It would have to take care of some of the conservative concerns about
massive immigration. So this idea, oh, well, they are not doing anything,
so we have to act. It really means they are not doing something Obama
would like, so we have to act. And, that is when we start to worry about
it being undemocratic. It is saying if you do not do what I want you to
do, I will do it myself.
KLEIN: Sam, does not Tim have a point there? Is not this really the
White House saying that if there is not a legislative compromise that is
agreeable to them, they will stretch executive powers to almost make that
compromise fact before it is law?
SEDER: Well, I think what the White House is doing is just simply
being, you know, exercising politics. I mean the bottom line is the White
House could have done this three years ago. They could have done it four
years ago. They could do it at any time.
I mean, so we can argue -- we can say, and Tim can say that, "Well,
President Obama is not being very polite about it, or he is being a little
bit trolly about it." And, that very well may be the case. But, that does
not change the fact that it is certainly within his powers to do this, and
frankly, there have been activists who have been asking him to do this for
years and when he said a couple years ago he did not have the authority to
do it, in fact, he did have the authority.
He just from a political standpoint did not want to upset the
republicans. And the republicans have shown that it does not matter if you
upset their feelings at all, they are simply not going to pass anything
under any circumstances. They have said now the reason why they will not
is because they are afraid that President Obama will not actually execute
the laws that they pass, which we all know does not pass the test. So,
yes, I guess the politics are a little bit disturbing to conservatives, but
I mean that is just -- the reality is he has the power to do it.
CARNEY: No, but it is disturbing because we see a continued march of
Obama doing what Bush did before, which is steadily expanding executive
power. President Obama went to war in Libya without even a vote.
Remember, Bush had a vote in Iraq. Obama did not have a vote in Libya.
And, then you saw the enforcement of the affordable care act again and
again, especially expanding the employer mandate, extending the deadline --
KLEIN: Let me ask you something very specific on this.
CARNEY: -- We see him expanding executive power and sort of taking
over congress` job. He thinks he is still a senator or more like a
KLEIN: Let me ask you a -- let me try to draw one distinction on
this. Because, under Bush, Bush did a very similar thing on Medicare Part
"D" where he delayed and waived penalties for certain periods of time
unilaterally. Why is there so much Republican concern over Obama now when
there was not in the Bush years?
CARNEY: Well, as far as the Medicare Part "D" that was a situation
where he passed a bill that was sort of more amendable to what the left was
aiming for. And, so that is why the left did not push back on --
KLEIN: On Bush.
SEDER: Why did not the right? Why did not the right push back on?
Look, the bottom line --
CARNEY: I did not want that bill to pass in the first place. I
pushed back on Bush when he was expanding --
SEDER: An entire theory -- the unitary executive authority. Listen,
I agree with you in terms of Libya, but congress did nothing in that
instance. And, if they wanted to sue the president, that would have been a
great time to do it.
KLEIN: Sam, this is a great conversation. I will have to cut it off.
Tim Carney from "The Washington Examiner" and MSNBC Contributor Sam Seder.
Thank you, guys, both for being here.
CARNEY: Thank you.
SEDER: Thank you.
KLEIN: That is "All In" for this evening. I am Ezra Klein. You can
read more of my work at vox.com or at facebook.com/ezraklein. "The Rachel
Maddow Show" starts now with Steve Kornacki sitting in for Rachel.
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