All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: February 3, 2015
Guest: Richard Carmona, Matt Welch, Michael Elliott, Brian Murphy, Jeff
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight on ALL IN --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The state doesn`t own your children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
PAUL: Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Rand Paul steps out on an anti-vac ledge and everyone else lines up
for their shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Absolutely, all children in America should
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tonight, how public health somehow became a political flash point.
And what happens when being anti-government and trying to run the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we should not have an oppressive state telling
us what to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Then, "The New York Times" blockbuster on the epically questionable
The marijuana windfall that could force Colorado to send rebate checks to
Untold story behind Harper Lee`s first book since "To Kill a Mocking Bird."
And never before seen pictures of one congressman`s "Downton Abbey" themed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who pays for it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, good, let`s talk about money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
And amid the worst U.S. measles outbreak in 20 years, the question of
whether or not vaccinations should be mandatory has somehow remarkably
emerged as the first major controversy of the Republican presidential
primary. It all started yesterday when our own Kacie Hunt asked New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie whether, in the midst of an outbreak that has now
sickened over 100 people across 14 states, Americans should vaccinate their
kids. Christie stopped short of saying children should be required to get
the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella, calling for a balance
between public health concerns and personal freedom.
That sentiment was later echoed by another perspective 2016 candidate,
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a former eye doctor, who trotted (ph) out some
questionable science in an interview on CNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`ve heard of many tragic cases of walking,
talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after
vaccines. I`m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they`re a good
thing. But I think the parent should have some input.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
PAUL: The state doesn`t own your children, parents own the children and it
is an issue of freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, Senator Paul attempted to walk back those comments, saying in
a statement, quote, "I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that
they were temporally related -- I did not allege causation. I support
vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated. In
fact today, I received the booster shot for the vaccines I got when I went
to Guatemala last year." Lest anyone doubt his sincerity, the senator
brought "The New York Times" along with him to document the occasion.
It is no surprise Rand Paul is now trying to do damage control. Since he
and Chris Christie spoke up yesterday, the backlash from what you might
call the establishment wing of their party has been overwhelming. "The Wall
Street Journal" editorial page, which is basically a mouthpiece for the
Republican donor class, blasted Christie`s, quote, "vaccine stumble,"
condemning him for pandering amid the outbreak of preventable disease.
While on Fox News, Bill O`Reilly and Megyn Kelly argued mandatory
vaccinations are an example of government actually doing something right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: My take is that every school district in the
country should require immunization for measles. If you don`t have it, your
child can`t go. Period. That`s it.
MEGAN KELLY, FOX NEWS: This is going to be a big issue for these
politicians going forward because it`s about big brother, but, on the other
hand, some things do require some involvement of big brother.
O`REILLY: Some things do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Speaker of the Republican controlled House, John Boehner, told
reporters, quote, "all children ought to be vaccinated." A good sentiment.
And at a hearing held by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee today,
Republican members made a strong case in favor of vaccination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important for parents to have their children
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is far too serious an issue to be treated as a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Past publications have been discredited and data was
deemed fraudulent to multiple studies say there`s no link between develop
of disorders, such as Autism, and vaccines.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I hear about counties in California that have
lower immunization rates that the Sudan and Chad, this is something that is
of concern to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For people who are listening and paying attention today,
please have your children vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, some of the other presumptive GOP candidates have weighed in
distancing themselves from the comments made by Christie and Rand Paul.
Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson both issued statements saying they put public
health first, while Marco Rubio argued pretty forcefully all children in
America should get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Unless they`re immune suppressed obviously
for medical exceptions, but I believe that all children, as is the law in
most states in this country before they can even attend school, have to be
vaccinated for a certain panel. There is absolutely no medical science or
data whatsoever that links those vaccinations to onset of autism or
anything of that nature. And, by the way, if enough people are not
vaccinated, you put at risk infants that are three months of age or younger
and have not yet been vaccinated, and you put at risk immune suppressed
children that are not able to get those vaccinations. So, absolutely, all
children in America should be vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, the personal freedom camp still has its adherence, however,
particularly among certain individuals, the predisposition, to mistrust the
government. For example, Tea Party backed Congressman Sean Duffy of
Wisconsin and Fox News` host Sean Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: And I want that to be my choice as a
parent. And, you know what, I know my kids best. I know what morals and
values are right for my children. And I think we should not have an
oppressive state telling us what to do.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I got my kids vaccinated, but I believe parents
should have the choice. I`m not trusting President Obama to tell me whether
to vaccinate my kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: While the anti-vaccination movement itself doesn`t have any
political affiliation, it appears, in some instances, at least in this
case, to dovetail with a certain strain of libertarian ideology. One that
sees any kind of government mandate as a first step on the road to tyranny.
In fact, before he was a senator, Rand Paul laid out exactly that logic in
a 2009 interview with truther and Rand Paul fan, Alex Jones, talking about
the vaccine for swine flu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The first sort of thing you see with martial law is mandates, and
they`re talking about making it mandatory. We have to weigh the risks of
the disease versus the risks of the vaccine. But I`m not going to tell
people who think it`s a bad idea that they have to take it because
everybody should be allowed to make their own health care decisions. And
that`s the problem with allowing more and more government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And mandatory vaccinations are apparently not the only type of
public health mandate that encroaches on our personal freedoms. According
to Republican Tom Tillis, newly elected senator from North Carolina, those
signs you see in restaurant bathrooms, yet another example of the
oppressive hand of government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We were sitting back at a table. It
was near the restrooms. And one of the employees just came out. She said,
for example, don`t you believe that this regulation that requires this
gentleman to wash his hands before he serves your food is important, it
should be on the books? I said, matter of fact, I think it`s one that I can
illustrate the point. I said, I don`t have any problem with Starbucks if
they choose to opt out of this policy, as long as they post a sign that
says, we don`t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the
restroom. The market will take care of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Dr. Richard Carmona, who was U.S. Surgeon General
from 2002 to 2006.
Dr. Carmona, are you surprised, dismayed, amused by the fact that in
January or February of 2015 we`re having apparently a debate about
DR. RICHARD CARMONA, FMR. U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Chris, thanks for the
opportunity. Nice to be with you again.
Yes, I am dismayed. I`m disappointed that something that`s purely
scientific has become a dysfunctional partisan political issue.
HAYES: Well, it does seem, though, that, I have to say, today there does
seem to be a kind of rush away from the position that was taken yesterday.
It does seem like there`s a kind of establishment strikes back in which,
you know, people are coming out of the woodwork across the political
spectrum to say, hey, look, this is the law of the land in most, if not
every state, except for a few exceptions where they have wide loopholes.
You know this -- it makes good common sense.
CARMONA: It does make common sense. The science is clear. For over a half a
century we`ve had experience with the measles vaccine. And when it first
started in the `50s, mothers worried every day about their children getting
measles, getting pneumonia. There was a death rate associated. A pregnant
woman could get infected as well and have complications with their births.
We don`t see that any more. Measles has almost been eradicated if it were
not for the fact that there are people today that are preventing their
children from being vaccinated, which allows their children to become
vectors and infect others.
HAYES: So you worked as surgeon general in the -- under George W. Bush.
And, you know, there is --
CARMONA: Yes, that`s correct.
HAYES: It does seem like there is some kind of point of ideological
contention here about the way in which public health often acts, which is
sometimes heavy handed, sometimes through mandates and requirements and
regulation. And some of the articulations you`ve seen from people like
Congressman Sean Duffy, that that is an imposition on freedom, it`s an
incursion on liberty. Did you have dust-up fights with the Bush
administration when you were surgeon general on that terrain?
CARMONA: Well, you know, every surgeon general has battles with their
administration on a number of issues. On immunization, though, President
Bush, Secretary Card, who was the chief of staff and others, they pretty
much gave me the free hand and my colleagues when we made suggestions,
especially about vaccinations. I went and got my small pox vaccination on
TV and I believe the president did as well. So there were other problems,
of course, so, you know, but this happens in every administration.
I think the issue here, Chris, is a real larger one. This is about
individual rights versus the rights of society. The government has a
compelling interest to be able to keep society safe. It has information
that if children are not immunized, it will not only cause death and
disability and morbidity, but it will raise the cost of health care at a
time that we`re trying to keep it down. So there`s many compelling reasons
why government should be involved.
Speaking as a surgeon general, and from my colleague surgeon generals, all
of us would hope that informed parents would make good decisions based on
the best science and so, therefore, all children would be immunized. When
and if they don`t, government does have a compelling interest to step in
and ensure the public safety. And so that`s what has to be done.
I`m disappointed at this issue becoming politicized because this is
strictly science. Those who are running for office should differ these type
of discussions to health professionals who understand the complexity of
HAYES: Are you surprised that one of the most prominent people here, I
mean, is, in fact, a doctor, Dr. Rand Paul, although today he clearly made
a show of going to get immunized with a booster shot. Does that surprise
you at all?
CARMONA: Well, it doesn`t surprise me because this is all politics. You
know this better than anybody, you`re the expert in political theater.
We`re ramping up now into the two-year cycle for the presidentials.
Everybody`s lining up. And as you pointed out, interesting, our first
platform is one about science and immunization. And it`s been politicized
right away and now those who have stepped too far are backing away from it
when really we saw this happen with Ebola just a few months ago, you
CARMONA: Where I did a lot of commentary like this about that also. There
are health professionals at the state level, at the city level, at the
surgeon general`s office who are able to address these issues in a purely
scientific manner and then those we elect should take the appropriate
action to insure that the public is safe.
HAYES: Dr. Richard Carmona, former surgeon general, thank you, sir.
CARMONA: Thank you. Nice to be here.
HAYES: Joining me now, a man I`m happy to have back at the desk, Matt
Welch, editor-in-chief of the libertarian magazine "Reason."
Good to have you, Matt.
MATT WELCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "REASON": Great to be back. Thanks for having
HAYES: All right, all right, Matt, here`s the thing.
HAYES: I -- let just say I`ve got a friend that wants to be a libertarian,
wants to join your tribe, also believes mandatory vaccination, you know,
schools essentially require it for admittance, can he get in?
WELCH: Well, if he reads Ron Bailey (ph) in "Reason" today, if he reads
Richard Epstein (ph) at The Hoover Institute today, if he reads Virginia
Postrel (ph) on Twitter, he will see three very loud voices saying that the
anti-vaccine movement rit-large (ph) has been based largely on junk science
and fears that have been debunked all over the place and that we need to
conceive a public policy to get over some of these kinds of nonsenses that
But I`ve got to stick up for my libertarian pals (INAUDIBLE) here.
HAYES: That was such a long prologue.
WELCH: Thank you.
HAYES: Drop the but hammer.
WELCH: No. I mean let`s talk about swine flu --
WELCH: Or a flu shot.
HAYES: Right. Right.
WELCH: Michael Bloomberg, one of his last acts as mayor of the city that
both you and I live in said that you can`t send your kid to daycare unless
he gets a flu -- he or she gets a flu shot --
WELCH: Before age five.
WELCH: Those are the hard questions. Hepatitis B. I had a daughter born
nine days ago --
WELCH: The hospital said, you should really get a Hepatitis B vaccine. Why?
WELCH: I mean those are high risk groups that I don`t belong to, my family
and my daughter does not belong to. So we do have probably more vaccines
than we need. The problem is, people take those kinds of objections and
think, well, let`s apply those to the mumps and the measles and other
things out there. I think there`s a really understandable and twilight (ph)
of the elite (ph) kind of moment.
WELCH: There`s an understandable distrust that people have in institutions.
HAYES: Right. That`s right.
WELCH: The same government --
HAYES: And they have -- the mistrust in the medical profession. I mean
we`ve seen -- we have seen trust for doctors, you know, plummet over the
last 20 or 30 years. Some of that is, I think, understandable. Trust in
drug companies, certainly. We saw the whole Vioxx debacles, right? There
are reasons, there are rational reasons --
HAYES: For people to just not say, well, this expert told me to do it, so
I`m going to do it.
WELCH: So the question from public policy --
HAYES: As a general rule.
WELCH: It`s easy to poke fun at the crazy people right now.
HAYES: Right. Yes.
WELCH: So the question is there, do you have opt outs? We have religious
opt outs in 40 plus states. We have philosophical opt outs of getting your
child vaccinated before going to public school.
WELCH: So what should the cost of those opt outs be?
WELCH: In California, they came up with this thing of like, OK, if you`re
going to opt out on whatever basis, sign a note from your doctor saying
that you understand the health risks associated with it, which might have
all kinds of implications later. And, as a result, they saw, finally,
because California`s been going crazy on this stuff --
WELCH: That those levels went down. These are surmountable problems.
HAYES: That`s right. That`s a great point. There is --
HAYES: So there`s -- there`s this kind of -- this public shaming that`s
been happening about, you know, this is not -- this is -- this kind of view
is outside the main stream, and I think that`s actually effective and
useful and I actually think the Rand Paul walk back is effective and useful
HAYES: In terms of the message it sends to people. You know, at the same
time, you`re right, you have to conceive of this in a broader sense of what
the policy -- I mean, look, Mississippi has -- is arguably the most
conservative state in the union, right? Has some of the strongest mandatory
requirements, right? They`ve got --
WELCH: Right, without -- without any opt outs at all.
HAYES: Yes, there are no opt outs. And it has a very high, you know, it has
a very high rate.
WELCH: No, and --
HAYES: And I don`t think -- I also don`t think, from what I`ve read, and I
was looking at this a little bit, this isn`t actually like a burning issue
in Mississippi, that folks feel like they are put upon by this --
WELCH: No. No, and it`s not a burning federal issue either.
WELCH: I mean it`s very wired that we`re getting excited about what
punitive presidential candidates -- Barack Obama today said this is
basically not a federal issue. We`re not going to pass a federal law.
HAYES: Right, yes, there are 50 states -- right. Right.
WELCH: This is local school districts, state laws. So we`re making a lot of
politics and theater about something that is essentially a state issue.
HAYES: All right. The hand washing. Where do you come down on the hand
washing, mandatory hand washing?
WELCH: Well, should there be a federal law requiring mandatory --
HAYES: There should be no federal law, but here`s the --
WELCH: That`s it. Yes.
HAYES: Here`s my favorite thing about the Tom Tillis thing.
HAYES: Let me just quickly say this. I love the fact that the regulatory
regime you would have to event to enforce the transparency requirement is
identical to the regulatory regime --
HAYES: Of the mandate, right? Like, the idea that you would just say, well,
we`ll have them say whether they opt in or out. Well, you have to check
WELCH: Here`s -- here`s what we are thinking about all this kind of stuff,
right? Every single additional nonsense regulation that you mandate --
WELCH: Discredits the ones that you absolutely need.
HAYES: That`s a -- that`s a -- that`s a --
WELCH: So we need to focus on the things that -- I mean communicable
disease is the definition of what a libertarian wants the government to be
paying attention to --
HAYES: Oh, exactly. We could -- we could --
WELCH: So, let`s do that.
HAYES: OK. Communicable disease. Watch your hands after you use the
facilities and serve food.
Thank you, Matt Welch.
WELCH: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: That`s also a controversial thing.
Some late-breaking news to bring you tonight that has meant total disaster
for people who ride the busiest commuter railroad in the U.S. That`s next.
HAYES: All right, we`re following breaking news at this hour on one of the
busiest passenger railroads in the country just over an hour and a half
ago. A Metro North train, full of commuters, collided with at least one car
at a crossing, sending at least one vehicle in flames 150 yards up the
track. That`s a shot you`re seeing there of the incident.
It happened near the Valhalla stop on the Harlem line about 40 minutes
north of New York City. Local police are calling it a mass casualty
incident. Unclear if they mean casualty in the sense of injuries or also
fatalities. At least a dozen people are being evaluated at the scene and
three people have been taken to a local hospital. A worker there describing
the injuries as definitely serious.
This is the third high profile incident involving Metro North trains in
just the last two years. December 2013, a train derailed in the Bronx
killing four people and injuring at least 63. And in May 2013, two trains
collided in Connecticut, injuring at least 60 people.
Right now, the Harlem line is closed in both directions as officials deal
with tonight`s accident. The train and at least one car are still smoking.
We`ll be right back.
HAYES: All right, we have reached the point in this new hour where I tell
you about the latest atrocity committed by ISIS. An atrocity you have
probably already heard about since news of it broke earlier today. I`m not
going to show any image supplied by ISIS of the captive before his
execution. ISIS seems to relish murder. And aside from murder and mayhem,
the thing ISIS is by far most proficient at is finding ways to beam out the
images of their murders in order to cause the maximum amount of possible
trauma for the family and the country from which the victim hails.
ISIS, of course, used this tactic against the U.S., the beheading of
American journalist James Foley by ISIS helped precipitate this country`s
entry into a defacto (ph) war against ISIS, which was not a particularly
popular notion before that event. ISIS has executed at least five
westerners, American and British citizens, drawing both of our countries
into the battle. This year ISIS murdered two Japanese hostages, causing
outrage and anger in Japan.
And today, people filled the streets of Amman, Jordan, after learning that
one of their own pilots was executed by being burned to death. The pilot,
First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, had been captured by ISIS militants
when his F-16 fighter jet crashed in northern Syria on December 24th.
According to "The New York Times," quote, "Jordanian officials attempted to
negotiate with the Islamic State, which demanded the release of Sajida al-
Rishawi, an Iraqi woman incarcerated in Jordan for her role in a 2005
bombing attack in the country`s capital. The fact, according to Jordanian
intelligence sources speaking to NBC News, three prisoners in Jordanian
custody, including al-Rishawi, were going to be swamped. All three are on
death row in Jordan. Negotiations broke down and ISIS killed the Jordanian
pilot, releasing a 22 minute video today that showed that execution.
Jordan`s King Abdullah, who was coincidentally on a trip to the U.S., met
with President Obama just hours ago. He`s reportedly cutting the rest of
his trip short.
Joining me now, NBC News foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin.
Great to have you here.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks, Chris.
HAYES: OK, why? Why did they do this? I mean, one level is, these are
monsters. They`re -- this is a sick death cult. George Pakert (ph) today
saying, "ISIS is less a conventional authoritarian or totalitarian state
than like a mass death cult." And sometimes when you read ISIS followers on
Twitter, is seems like that. It seems very cultish.
Then there`s another argument that this -- that they are essentially
rational actors, cruel, sadistic, immoral ones who are attempting to
achieve some strategic aim through these kind of atrocities. What -- what
do you think?
MOHYELDIN: Well, I think it`s a little bit of both on different levels. I
think, on a big picture of the organization, when you watch the video that
they produced today, they certainly lace it with political messaging. They
attack Jordan for its policies, they attack the U.S. for what it`s doing
across the region, they try to bury a very grotesque murder in a political
message because they know it probably will resonate louder in the region.
But at the core of what ISIS is doing is barbaric. They`re using murder to
scare people, to keep control of the territories that they contain. They
are not trying to promote an ideology beyond their borders, they are trying
to essentially bring the house down on the region so that they can control
the area in the vision that they --
HAYES: So, that`s always the question to me is like, who is the audience of
this sort of horrific kind of propaganda directed at? Is it directed
internally because if you are someone who is just a random Iraqi under
ISIS` control you think, man, these guys are terrifying, I`m going to shut
up and do what I`m told? Is it other people to recruit them into the fight
from everywhere from, you know, Amsterdam to Jordan? Like, who`s the
MOHYELDIN: Well, I think it`s a little bit both. Again, in -- there`s
certainly an attempt to recruit people. They want to recruit people. These
videos are made, they`re produced in languages, foreign languages,
subtitles sometimes in French, English, Russian. They use very slick
production. They know it`s going to appear to a lot of people on the
Internet. It`s not really made for their own kind of domestic consumption.
The fear inside the areas where these people are living, ISIS does that
with their brutal tactics.
HAYES: They threw two guys off a freaking tower --
HAYES: In an Iraqi city the other day.
MOHYELDIN: They behead people, they execute people, they lash people.
That`s what they`re using to control the area where they have power. Trying
to recruit people from abroad is through this video.
HAYES: OK. So --
MOHYELDIN: And messages to the governments.
MOHYELDIN: And that --
HAYES: Right. So that`s the other part here, right? Jordan, already part of
the coalition that has been bombing.
HAYES: In fact, the reason this fighter pilot was there is because Jordan
has been one of the most involved entities in this collision with the U.S.
HAYES: Flying these raid -- bombing raids over ISIS controlled territory.
The question then becomes, OK, right, we all agree, horrible, monstrous
murders. Then what? What? What is the policy solution? Is what we`re doing
MOHYELDIN: Well, the short answer is, it`s not really doing enough.
Certainly when you hear from the military Pentagon spokesperson today, they
have degraded ISIS. The organization is not functioning the way it used to.
They`ve made that very clear. But it`s not doing enough to actually
eradicate ISIS. And what you really need are some of these Arab countries
to do more. You need these countries --
HAYES: But do more from a fighting perspective?
MOHYELDIN: Certainly to do more from a fighting perspective. I mean when
you look at the group, something like ISIS, they don`t control their
territory by simply the weapons. I mean when you talk about countries like
Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, they have
their American fighter jets, they have the tanks, they have the technology
to fight. If there`s a real political will from some of these countries,
they can try to address this by putting their boots on the ground, trying
to clean up this mess if they really felt that this was an existential
threat. But that does -- doing that is going to open a whole can of worms
about the -- about regional geopolitics that none of these countries are
willing to step up and fight it out.
HAYES: It also -- it also just seems to me that you can`t separate the kind
of like deep, annalistic, sadistic darkness that we are seeing channel
through ISIS from the fact that they are operating in a place that has been
the site of some of the worst carnage and mayhem and ceaseless war and
destruction for 12 straight years, right?
MOHYELDIN: Yes. And there`s an ideology to this that is not being
combatted. And the ideology is separate from the battle on the actual
field, so to speak. The ideology to beat it really has a long term
strategy, and that has to do with reforming a lot in that Arab world.
You`ve got to -- you`ve got to push these countries to reform themselves,
to dry up that ideology. I mean we say it all the time.
MOHYELDIN: But at the same time, in the short term, you have to step up the
military capabilities of these countries trying to fight. I --
HAYES: You think there`s a military solution to defeating ISIS in a
military sense that involved the surrounding countries essentially stepping
MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. I mean Turkey can shut down its border. Turkey can
push troops into some of these areas in the northern part of Syria to flush
out some of these ISIS strongholds. It`s not that far away from that.
But doing so would put Turkey in a direct confrontation with other regional
politics, powerhouses --
MOHYELDIN: Iran, Saudi Arabia, the government of Assad in Damascus --
HAYES: Which they don`t want, right.
MOHYELDIN: Hezbollah. And they don`t want to do that. And that political
paralysis is why we have this situation that we see today.
HAYES: We could just clone the Kurds and let them go --
MOHYELDIN: It seems they`re the only ones --
HAYES: They`re the only ones --
MOHYELDIN: The ones willing to fight on the ground right now, right?
HAYES: They took Kobani and they -- they`re -- they have a 1-0 won-loss
record so far. NBC News foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you.
HAYES: All right, Colorado residents may be getting a tax refund from an
Plus, is Congressman Aaron Shock`s "Downton Abbey" themed office worse than
this accidental interior decorating error on "Downton Abbey." That`s a
water bottle. I think the answer is yes and I`ll tell you why, next.
HAYES: So, if you have ever visited our nation`s capital, you likely found
the Capitol Building itself is open to the public. The offices of members
of congress who are after all the people`s representatives, they`re open as
well. If you happen to be in town, you can just walk into your
representatives office. In fact, it`s encouraged. In fact, there`s
probably no more space that is public than that, which is why it seems
strange that one member of congress took great pains to decorate his office
and then refuse to talk about said decour.
It all started when the Washington Post Style section reporter Ben Terris
walked in Republican Congressman Aaron Schock`s new office. What he found
was, quote, bright red walls, a gold colored wall sconce with black
candles, a federal style bulls eye mirror with an eagle perched on top.
It turns out the color scheme was not random. According to a woman behind
the front desk it was, quote, based off of the red room in "Downton Abbey".
Now for those of you not obsessed with early 20th Century British soap
operas," Downton Abbey" is the masterpiece PBS smash hit.
The woman behind the congressman`s red room, however, is Annie Brawler, an
interior decorator from a company called -- and I`m not making this up --
And it was Brawler who offered to show the Post reporter the congressman`s
private office which was revealed, was quote, another dramatic red room,
this one with a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped by two eagles, a
bust of Abraham Lincoln, and masses arrangements of pheasant feathers.
And that`s when the calls started coming in. According to the Post,
Schock`s communications director called and asked, quote, "are you talking
pictures of the office? Who told you you could do that? OK, stay where
you are. You`ve created a bit of crisis in the office."
After that, according to a report a staff member asked the reporter to
delete the photos he`d taken. He refused. Then Congresman Schock declined
to talk about his office`s decoration, thus ensuring the decor would, in
fact, become the story.
But it`s not the bold walls that are creating problems for the congressman,
it`s how the decorator`s services were paid for, or rather, not. Schock`s
office told the Post Brawler offered her services for free but the
congressman did pay for any actual objects. House rules, however, prohibit
members of congress from accepting most gifts valued at $50 or more,
including, quote, gifts of services.
Today, a D.C. watchdog group asked the office of congressional ethics to
look into whether or not Schock violated House rules officially making red
walls the least of his problems.
HAYES: At the tale of what has been this long era of crisis and austerity
in the state governments, Colorado has a weird problem on its hands, its
economy keeps getting better. As the Wall Street Journal put it last fall,
quote, "by a host of measures, Colorado economy now outpaces nearly every
other state in the U.S." With economists predicting the state to continue
to lead the way this year in population growth, employment growth, wage and
salary growth and personal income growth.
And then there`s marijuana. In 2013, you`ll recall, one year after voters
in Colorado approved legal recreational use of marijuana, they went back to
the polls and approved new taxes on the drug intended to generate more
money, a 15 percent excise tax on the wholesale price, meaning a tax on
growers when they sell to dispensaries, and an initial 10 percent sales tax
on the retail price, a tax on consumers when they buy.
Now here`s where it gets weird. Because of Colorado`s booming economy, and
it`s windfall from marijuana taxes, the state has now found itself with
more money than it is legally allowed to have. You see, back in 1992,
taxpayers approved something called a taxpayers` bill of rights, it`s
something pushed by Grover Norquist and conservatives which effectively
caps how much tax money the state can collect, legally.
And now because of this measure, and because Colorado has been bringing in
so much money, the state may be forced to give back some of those marijuana
tax dollars to its residents.
The final numbers aren`t available yet, but the Associated Press, citing
state officials, estimated that, quote, "pot refunds could amount to $30.5
million, or about $7.63 per adult in Colorado," or 76.3 percent of a dime
And in an apparent show of bipartisanship, the AP reporting, quote,
"Republicans and Democrats say there is no good reason to put pot taxes
back into people`s pockets. State officials are scrambling to figure out
how to avoid dolling out the money."
Joining me now Michael Elliot, the executive director of the Marijuana
All right, Michael, what should you guys do with the money?
MICHAEL ELLIOTT, MARIJUANA INDUSTRY GROUP: Well, first and foremost we
want to make sure that the state has all the money that it needs for
licensing and regulating the industry and protecting the integrity of this
program. Our industry group and the industry in general endorsed the tax
campaign, you know, this campaign to increase taxes on us and we helped
fund the effort. I was one of the lead spokespeople in favor of it. And
as we were on the campaign trail we talked about having money available for
education campaigns and teen marijuana prevention, and, well, basically
whatever the state wanted that they saw as a safety issue.
HAYES: So, you to see it socked away so that it gets used. You don`t
think they should cut a check for $7.63 to every resident of Colorado?
ELLIOTT: Well, you know, our central feeling is we want to make sure that
the state licensing and regulatory program has everything it needs to work.
Outside of that, you know, this is probably a fight that we`re going to let
the state legislature and governor`s office have.
HAYES: OK, so let me ask you this, the reason that there are so many
taxes, the reason there is such tax revenue is because you guys have this
essentially regulated industry, very tightly regulated. If I moved to
Colorado, can I just sort of plant my flag in the marijuana business
ELLIOTT: Not directly in the industry. Now we have, there is about 500
pages of state marijuana law and regulations, a whole host of requirements
on owners with background checks and financial disclosures, but a big piece
is a two year residency requirement for owners. This is -- you know, the
idea that this is a state program that got passed, but there are lots of
opportunities for construction, accounting, security, of course attorneys,
we need help with just about everything.
HAYES: But my point I guess here is that you in the marijuana industry in
Colorado, and you know hats off to you, it`s America and you`re making
money selling a product people want, but I mean you guy are basically
sitting on a license to print money. The demand is high, as we`ve noticed.
And supply is essentially constrained. The 500 pages of regulation you
talk about -- and I think there`s a good reason for it to be there, but
that regulation you talk about means that new entrants into the market have
a high barrier to get over which means the people that are there, the
people you represent, they`re sitting on basically a money printing
ELLIOTT: Well, I`d describe it a bit differently than that, Chris, but
we`ve got -- there are about 2,000 state marijuana licenses. There`s
hundreds of owners in the state already. You got to realize that these
regulations are very hard to comply with. We have state and local
licensing. And, you know, most of the cities and counties in Colorado have
actually decided to ban the businesses, but the bigger areas like Denver
and the sort of front range in Colorado have embraced this.
But you have got to realize, too, that these regulations cost a lot of
money to comply with, you know, mandatory video surveillance -- you know,
child resistant packaging, labeling, testing, just kind of getting started
with that, and then taxes, it`s not just the state taxes, but we get dinged
at the federal level, too, where we don`t get to take normal business tax
deductions like just about every other industry you can name.
HAYES: What has happened to the price there at the consumer level over the
course of the trajectory of what is this now experiment that`s been running
for a good chunk of time?
ELLIOTT: Well, you know, beginning January 1, 2014, prices for
recreational sales were pretty high up. And that`s -- you know, there
weren`t many places to buy it from. There was a shortage of supply. But
now it has definitely come back down. And it`s basically -- you know, the
black market is trying to under cut the license businesses because they
don`t have pay the taxes or do the licensing, comply with the regulations.
But the price is -- well, it`s affordable here I guess.
HAYES: So you feel like it is a competitive market?
ELLIOTT: Well, yeah, and it`s getting more competitive as time goes on,
because more licensees are opening up. There`s -- you know, there`s more
product becoming available.
You know, this is a balancing act because we can`t take it and sell it in
Kansas City or New York City or Paris like all the beer companies can do.
HAYES: Right. Michael Elliot, well thank you very much.
ELLIOTT: Thank you.
HAYES: All right, is New Jersey Governor and possible 2016 contender Chris
Christie really a jet-setting freeloader? That`s ahead.
Plus, good news of the fans of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a
Mockingbird, though possibly not great news for Harper Lee herself, we`ll
HAYES: It is not every octogenarian who can break the internet, but this
morning 88-year-old Harper Lee`s publisher announced the upcoming release
of what is basically a sequel to her masterpiece, American classic To Kill
And the entire universe of online news and culture practically exploded
To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1961, one Lee the Pulitzer Prize in
1961, and she never published another novel, quite famously in fact.
So, it is no small thing to hear 55 years later a new novel is forthcoming.
According to a statement from her publisher, the new book Go Set a Watchman
was actually written before Mockingbird and it finds Scout Finch, as an
adult, returning home from New York to visit her father Atticus.
According to the statement, the manuscript was believed lost and
rediscovered last fall by Lee`s friend and lawyer. But, and here is where
the news takes a turn towards the dark. Harper Lee is said to be nearly
blind and deaf following a stroke in 2007, and many fans and followers are
skeptical of her actual participation in the release of Watchman.
The new book deal was negotiated by the same friend/lawyer who rediscovered
the manuscript. And in fact the publisher acknowledged having had, quote,
no direct contact with Harper Lee.
That said, in case you`re wondering, yes, you can pre-order the new book.
And, oh, it is already a bestseller.
HAYES: Remember about a month ago when Chris Christie sat in the Cowboys
owners box during a playoff game and engaged in the now infamous and
undeniably hilarious semi-hug thing with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? Then
we found out that Jerry Jones had paid for Christie to attend the game,
including a ride on Jones` private jet, which prompted a state ethics
inquiry tied to the fact that Jones has a business relationship with the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Well, it turns out that Chris Christie was accepting ethically questionable
gifts long before that trip to Dallas. A front page story in the New York
Times today, a brutal one I`d say, today detailed Christie`s fondness for
accepting luxury benefits from people who have something to gain from him.
And the details are pretty amazing.
In 2012, Christie reportedly flew to Israel with seven family members, four
staffers and two other allies on a private jet owned by billionaire casino
magnet and big-time donor GOP-donor, Sheldon Addleson who at the time was
trying to stop legislation in New Jersey to legalize online gambling.
Christie did ultimately sign the online gambling bill, though he assured
Addelson that had he vetoed it, his veto would have been overridden.
After that trip to trip Israel, according to the Times, Christie, his
family and staff enjoyed a lavish weekend paid for by King Abdullah of
Jordan, which included parties at the king`s residents with U2 lead singer
Bono. The tab for the rooms used by Christie and his group was a cool
$30,000 all paid for by the king.
There are a lot more examples. Christie and his family have reportedly
gone on at least four international trips, including his current trip to
London, partly paid for by a group called Choose N.J, which is financed by
companies legally forbidden from donating directly to Christie, because,
well they had business before the state.
Trips where the Christie clan can stay in lavish five-star properties.
And there`s my favorite example from the story, which does not quite raise
the same quid pro quo questions, but is pretty telling. In the 2012
presidential campaign, Christie reportedly only make out of state campaign
stops for Mitt Romney if he was flown in on a private plane even at a time
when Romney`s wife Ann was flying commercial to save money.
Now, in all fairness to Chris Christie, and I`m not saying this tongue-in-
cheek, he is definitely not the only politician with a penchant for luxury
travel on someone else`s dime. In fact, this gift economy that is
described so well in this article is endemic in politics. And when we come
back, we`ll take you through some of the more ugly, ugly details.
HAYES: All right, joining me now to talk about the gift economy in which
Chris Christie is himself embedded, is former Democratic Missouri State
Senator Jeff Smith who went to prison for campaign violations during his
2004 campaign, now assistant professor at The New School; and MSNBC
contributor Brian Murphy, assistant professor at Baruch College.
All right, first of all, can we start on the Christie story. Where in the
scale of this -- I mean, you`re a politician, you`re around state houses --
by the way, state houses, America, are a cesspool, OK. State houses are a
cesspool, let`s just be clear on that -- at least the ones that I`ve
Where do you think this is?
JEFF SMITH, THE NEW SCHOOL: I don`t think it is that bad, I mean...
SMITH: Come on, Chris, who among us hasn`t spent $30,000 on a couple hotel
But for real, I just think the timing is terrible for him. You know, he
has got a couple people that he is really competing with for establishment
money. One is Jeb Bush and one is Scott Walker. To push off Jeb Bush, he
is trying to play I`m the everyman guy, the Jersey guy. And this really
hurts that. And then when you have got him sitting in a box with Jerry
Jones and Scott Walker out there with a cheese heads, you know, in the
cheap seats, it`s just not a good look for him right now.
HAYES: Right, yeah. It`s not a good look politically. I think the optics
Would you think -- what do you think about the -- I mean, the most striking
thing to me in the entire article was you`re flying on a guy`s private jet
on a trip when he is very publicly and clearly lobbying you on a pretty
of legislation that is going to come before you that will absolutely 100
percent affect his bottom line and he came out on the right way it, right,
contrary to the interests of the jet owner, but that just seems like
BRIAN MURPHY, BARUCH COLLEGE: I think also he would have had legislative
opposition had he come out and done something different, because of the way
the politics were in Jersey around this. I think the problem -- I thought
the more more interesting part of that story was wondering who the sources
were and wondering if it was a former member of his staff who he might have
publicly trashed a year ago.
Because if you`re doing that -- and this is something that I wrote about
last year that a lot of us talked about last year. There are people
involved in the Bridgegate scandal who the governor was delighted to slam
publicly who would I think note...
HAYES: Know where bodies are buried metaphorically.
MURPHY: Things that happened in that office. And I`m a little -- I think
again this like sort of why he didn`t he take a little bit more care of his
long-term political viability if he knew that he was going to be running in
this position now, why did he do this a year ago, or two years ago?
HAYES: So let`s talk about the psychology of free stuff, OK. Let`s just
be clear here, people like free stuff. Like, if you`re watching this right
now, like come into your office tomorrow with 12 donuts and watch people
descend like hyenas on a GD carcass.
SMITH: It`s like your college.
HAYES: Yeah, like people like free stuff. I like free stuff. I like when
someone buys me dinner. Like that is just -- but like what is the
psychology of like that, specifically, do you think as a former elector
rep, particularly the state house where in some ways you have a lot of
power, but you don`t have a lot of money relative to a lot of the people
you`re interfacing with .
SMITH: Yeah, I think that is exactly right. When you get elected, one
thing you learn is you suddenly get a lot better looking. You get funnier.
And people want to buy you stuff all of the time. So, it is a heady
But what you have to do is you have to try to separate yourself and take
yourself back into a milieu that is completely separate from politics. For
me, it was my parents house. Every Sunday night I would have dinner at
parents` house. And they`re to two cheapest people alive, like they`re so
cheap that when I was growing up and I`d be away at camp, I thought my last
name was irregular because it was in the back of all my clothes.
So, you need to get yourself out of that situation so you can remember how
regular people live.
HAYES: But I guess the question then is how corrupting is it? Just the
steady stream of it -- and you covered Jersey politics, Jersey actually has
pretty strong rules on this. Here in New York we have got, you know, the
new assembly speaker who has got a per diem budget of $20,000 plus. Like
how corrupting is it? What do we know about how corrupting it is?
MURPHY: I think the problem that we have, and this is I think a problem in
a lot of states -- and I`ve seen this up close in Jersey-- is that the
definition that we operate under is that you`re allowed to do what is
legal, and what is legal is the distinction between a bribe and a gift is
almost meaningless distinction the way it`s been written into the laws
So we have sort of creating all of these avenues for money and influence to
be exercised in politics in a way that that like never shows up on a
donation form, right.
Like, if you`re going to cover influence in politics and you`re looking at
donation forms, like you are starting in the wrong place.
HAYES: So, this point about all you have to do to transform a bribe into a
gift is temporally separate them. So, a bribe is I come into your office,
I say Senator Smith, I really need you to deliver on this bill for me, and
here is X dollars.
A gift is come to my house on the beach, stay for a little bit, six months
later, you know, I could really use a talk with Senator Smith about what`s
going on before his committee.
SMITH: So, I obviously made some mistakes in public life that didn`t have
anything to do with bribery. But one of the things I speak now to state
legislatures around the country, and one of the things I counsel them is
something that I learned to do, which was to never have a conversation
about a contribution in the same time or place that you have a conversation
about public policy.
So if you call and you ask for money, and then they call you back two days
later, and they, hey, you know, I want to talk to you about this bill, and
also I`m good to go for the $10,000. What you have to learn to do is to
you say okay, I appreciate that, I`ll call you back tomorrow and we can
HAYES: But that is a perfect example -- and again it gets back to this
Christie gift giving thing, which is that like OK, by the letter of the law
I understand that, but lets understand the milieu that you`re operating in.
The milieu you`re operating in is lots of people with lots of money who
want stuff from you. If they don`t want it now they`re going to want it in
the future, who could buy you and your family stuff that is going to incur
a sense in any normal non sociopathic human being of obligation.
MURPHY: And that is exactly -- I think the issue that we have to think
about in designing policy and writing law around this is how do you create
independence among your elected legislatures? And right now we have people
who are totally -- they are dependent on the fund -- and right now they`re
not even pretending in this cycle...
HAYES: Someone is giving you a ride on their private plane, you are not
independent. Jeff Smith.
MURPHY: I need my billionaire.
HAYES: And Brian Murphy, thank you both.
All right, an update to the breaking news story we brought you earlier in
the hour, the crash of that Metro North train into a vehicle in New York
State, there are now six confirmed fatalities, according to an MTA press
The Metro North train full of passengers collided with a car. The MTA
saying it was a black Jeep Cherokee that had stopped at a narrow crossing
and the gates came down on top of it.
The train shoved the car about 10 train lengths northward, again according
to the MTA press release. There are also at least 12 injuries from the
crash in which passengers evacuated at their own accord. About 400
customers were taken to a rock climbing gym for shelter.
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