All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, February 27th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: February 27, 2015
Guest: Chris Van Hollen, Joaquin Castro, Jeb Lund
ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN.
Breaking news on Capitol Hill, Republicans in the House fail to pass a
Homeland Security funding bill. The money runs out just after midnight.
So, what happens now?
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Jeb Bush, any supporters?
(CHEERS & BOOS)
MELBER: Jeb Bush faces the first litmus test at 2016 at CPAC.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I would describe myself as a
practicing reform-minded conservative.
MELBER: Two retail giants raise the minimum wage. Will more
companies follow suit?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to like the way you look. I
MELBER: Why the former CEO of Men`s Wearhouse agrees with President
And then, the death of Leonard Nimoy.
LEONARD NIMOY, ACTOR: Live long and prosper.
MELBER: George Takei joins me to remember his close friend and co-
And, yes, the dress that is diving the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started white and gold. I now think it`s blue
MELBER: ALL IN starts right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very clearly black and blue.
MELBER: Good evening from New York. I`m Ari Melber, in for Chris
We begin with breaking news tonight in the biggest test of Speaker
John Boehner`s leadership since election. House Republicans failed to pass
any funding for the Homeland Security Department this evening.
Boehner called on Republicans to pass just three weeks of funding, a
band-aid to continue an immigration fight with President Obama, but that
gambit failed tonight by a vote of 224 to 203.
While Speaker Boehner has struggled to lead his caucus before,
tonight`s defection was a surprise by any account. "The New York Times"
calling it a, a stunning and humiliating setback for the GOP leadership.
"The Wall Street Journal" dubbing it a stunning blow to House Speaker John
And that blow came from 52 Republicans who rebelled against him.
Glenn Beck`s conservative Web site right now has published their names in
something of an honor roll.
Now, for their part, House Democrats held firm on their vow to only
pass a long-term funding bill here. That approach has bipartisan support
in the Senate.
So, as of right now, homeland funding runs out at midnight, just hours
from now, setting off, yes, a partial government shut down. There`s
basically no roadmap for what happens next.
Now, let`s get right to it. NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly
O`Donnell has been all over this story.
Kelly, quite an evening on Capitol Hill. What is the latest?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we expect
there is a conversation happening now about potential options. Can you
tweak the bill? Can you change the length of time? Can you do something
to attract enough votes to get this across the finish line and avoid a shut
We know that the president has convened in the Oval Office, a meeting
with his top advisers. He placed phone calls to the top Democrats here, to
try to encourage them to not let a shut down happen.
That could in part play into the Democrat strategy in the House.
Nancy Pelosi has been able to get all of her Democrats to hold firm as you
explained. They didn`t want to go along with a short-term extension. They
want to see the department fully funded for the rest of the fiscal year.
That`s what the Senate was also prepared to do. And so, one option would
be to get some Democrats in these final couple hours to go along with some
form of a shortened schedule.
And this is just an argument about having the argument, remember, Ari.
They`re not even dealing with the underlying friction about immigration
right now. They`re just trying to keep the lights on at the Department of
Now, it is an unusual agency and set of agencies in that so many of
the personnel are required to report to work whether they get the paycheck
now or not. So, it`s different than the government shut down that we saw a
few years ago, but it is still considered a crisis, an embarrassment, and
not what was supposed to happen.
Now, another way to look at the vote on the floor tonight is by having
John Boehner and his Republican team show plainly and embarrassingly how
they don`t have the votes. That` s something that leaders often wouldn`t
do. They wouldn`t bring a vote if they didn`t know they have the votes.
That by exposing it this plainly, that that might help people to get some
people go along in either party -- Ari.
MELBER: NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O`Donnell, thank
you as always for your reporting.
Now, we go to Congressman Chris Van Hollen. He is a top Democrat on
the House Budget Committee.
It is a busy night for you. What is going on down there? Why did
Speaker Boehner bring this to the floor if only to be exposed and rejected
by his own caucus here?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Ari, that`s a very good
question, but it clearly failed and failed miserably. So, now, the speaker
is run out of excuses. The answer is very clear. Let us vote on a piece
of legislation to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security through
the remainder of the year. That is what the Senate has done on a
It`s time to put aside the games. It`s time to put aside the politics
and do the right thing for the country, instead of this continuing
kowtowing to the Tea Party right wing of a party, which is taking the
country down to a dead end and putting us at risk.
MELBER: You mentioned the Senate, Congressman, we have a new
statement from Senator John McCain who`s basically agreeing with you. He
says, look, "Over the last month, I voted six times to stop President
Obama`s executive actions on immigration. I continue to believe his
actions represent an unconstitutional overreach." But agreeing with you,
he says, "At the same time, for the safety and security of the American
people, and at a time of growing terrorist threats, we have a
responsibility to fully fund DHS."
What seems to be happening tonight for those who haven`t followed it
maybe as closely as you working on it, but who are wondering why this might
happen run out tonight in a partial government shut down, what seems to be
happening is the Senate has a bipartisan agreement. Senate Republicans
want to move forward and fund this, and it is only House Republicans who
are holding it up. Is that right?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s exactly right. Look, as you pointed out,
there are hours to go before the funding runs out for the Department of
Homeland Security. We should not be putting the country at risks.
The Senate on a bipartisan basis, Senator McCain, Democrats, together
said the priority here is to make sure that we fund the security of our
country. That is what we in the house want to vote on. The Democrats in
the House want to vote on what the Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans
did to make sure we provide the funding for the Department of Homeland
As we all know, we have seen the terrorist risks in Europe. We just
saw the arrests that took place in New York. Why would anybody want to
continue to roll the dice on funding the Department of Homeland Security,
and we could get it done tonight if the speaker would just allow democracy
to work its will. Put on the floor of the House a vote, I`m confident it
would pass and the president could sign it.
MELBER: You mentioned getting it done tonight. I`m going to speak
with one of your colleagues in another minute and ask about that, that road
Congressman Chris Van Hollen, thank you so much.
Today`s rebellion surprise Washington, but actually, if you watched
ALL IN last night, you did see an early warning sign. We had on one of
Boehner`s critics, conservative Congressman Mo Brooks, and talked about his
concerns about this very short-term funding plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: The vote tomorrow is a little bit like
being a little pregnant, either you are or you are not. And if you vote
tomorrow for this continuing resolution and if the state is lifted, then
you will have voted to fund illegal unconstitutional action. And I`m not
going to take that risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was a shout across the bow not only at President Obama,
but at Speaker Boehner. So, some of the signs were public, but one iron
law of Congress, is leaders don`t bring bills to the floor, unless they
have the firm whip count on the votes to win. That`s the most critical
part of leadership`s job, math.
You may recall, Republicans recently picked a new whip. That`s the
person who counts these votes, in Steve Scalise. But Boehner and Scalise
either miscounted or misfired tonight.
And as "Huffington Post" is reporting, Republican members said they
heard some, quote, "rumblings about insufficient support," but they didn`t
expect so many Republicans to sink the measure, along with Democrats.
Here`s a quote from that article. "This is a tough, tough significant
emotional event for our conference right now", said Republican Congressman
Steve Womack. And immigration remains significant for many Republicans.
But this, folks, may not be, tonight, the outcome they want.
And joining me also from the Hill, Democratic Congressman Joaquin
Castro, who has been outspoken advocate for immigration reform.
Good evening to you. Is this all about Homeland Security funding or
is it, as the Republicans say, all about immigration?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Well, getting the bill done and
making sure that our nation is safe, that is absolutely about homeland
security. But what John Boehner is kowtowing to with the Tea Party is all
about their feelings over the president`s executive order. And there is
already a lawsuit going to the courts right now that will settle that.
This is not the place to settle that. The courts will settle that issue.
MELBER: Congressman, you mentioned that. I mean, that is the
weirdest part of this. Here we are, looking at this countdown. We got a
clock up on the screen, because this is a real thing that could go down.
And yet, as you just pointed out, the very thing Republicans say they want
to stop. That executive action has already been stopped by a federal
CASTRO: That`s right. There is already an injunction in place. You
know, this -- the Congress is not going to determine the constitutionality
of the executive order. That`s going to left to a court and that`s already
in the process of being done.
So, the speaker has a choice. John Boehner can either help govern
this country and give Americans what they want, which is funding the
Department of Homeland Security, or he can placate the Tea Party. But you
can`t do both obviously in this situation.
And so, what`s disturbing about this is that this is not an isolated
incident. In fact, in the last two months, this is the fourth piece of
major legislation that in this case has either failed or in three prior
cases was scrapped, not brought to the House floor, because it simply fell
apart on them.
MELBER: So, Congressman, to that point, though, does that raise the
question, despite winning seats in this midterm, is Speaker Boehner somehow
weaker than he was in the last caucus?
CASTRO: I think that he is allowing himself to be weakened. He`s not
using the full power of his speakership. Look, he appoints every single
member of the Republican conference to their committees. He makes national
board appointments and other appointments outside of this chamber. He is
close to all of the Republican Party major donors in this country. He is
not bucking up and taking on a wing of his party that quite frankly is
being destructive to governing this country.
MELBER: Now, Congressman, as promised, I also want to ask you about
what happens in the remaining hours tonight. I spoke with some Hill aides
just before coming on the air who said it`s possible there could be some
other kind of vote or short vote.
What can you tell us about what could happen tonight?
CASTRO: Well, apparently, this new freedom caucus, which is the new
name of the Tea Party caucus, they`re negotiating with the speaker to do a
one-week continuing resolution.
What`s going to change in one week? What`s going to happen that`s
going to be different? All this is doing is creating a high blood pressure
for the American people and for other members of Congress. They need to
just fully fund this thing through the end of the fiscal year the way the
Senate did in a bipartisan way.
MELBER: Congressman Joaquin Castro, joining us on a busy night, thank
you for your time.
CASTRO: Thank you.
MELBER: And not far from the Capitol today, Jeb Bush spoke in front
of an extremely skeptical crowd of conservative activists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: By the way, Jeb Bush, any supporters?
(CHEERS & BOOS)
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: Jeb Bush, he is in favor --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But that is only one part of the story. We will take a look
at how well Jeb Bush did at CPAC straight ahead.
MELBER: You know, it was also a big day at Conservative Political
Action Conference, or CPAC. That is, of course, the gathering of thousands
of activists that serves both as a pretty serious proving ground for
potential Republican presidential candidates and also a forum for stuff
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY STAR: What do you call the 110 million
people that have sexually transmitted illnesses? It`s the revenge of the
hippies. Sex, drugs and rock and roll have come back to haunt us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Also speaking today were a number of perspective presidential
candidates like Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. Though, no one
got as warm of a welcome as Rand Paul. His views played very well with
CPAC`s young, often libertarian leaning crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It`s time for Hillary Clinton to
CROWD: President Paul! President Paul! President Paul! President
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Music to his ears.
And when we come back, we`re going to talk about the different
reception today for Jeb Bush, who was booed twice before he even got on
stage. So, stay with us.
MELBER: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush walked right into the belly
of the beast today, taking questions from Sean Hannity at CPAC, the annual
gathering of conservative activists that we`ve been covering, many of whom
made clear today they don`t think much of the man widely seen as the GOP`s
chosen presidential establishment candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
HANNITY: By the way, Jeb Bush, any supporters?
(CHEERS & BOOS)
TRUMP: Jeb Bush, he is in favor --
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: How many of you are skeptical of another
Bush term? Wow.
The idea that we should be conducting any type of coronation in the
Republican Party today because 50 rich families decide who they think will
best represent their interests -- no way, Jose.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MELBER: Some straight populism right there. But Bush, to be fair,
insisted critics who see him as a squishy moderate are wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: There are reports that you`re telling people you are a
moderate. But the public -- how do you -- I describe myself as a Reagan
constitutional conservative. How would you describe yourself?
BUSH: I would describe myself as a practicing reform-minded
conservative. That I`ve actually done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now from CPAC is Jeb Lund, columnist with the
I`m not going to ask you to describe yourself or whether you`re a
secret moderate deep down in your core, but what did you make of this sort
of rhetorical battle that Jeb Bush had to wage today?
JEB LUND, THE GUARDIAN: Well, I think that in part he made have been
planning to manage expectations. He knew that he is coming in here and
he`s not going to be the chosen one. You know, the old line about CPAC I
think is where different people give speeches and then somebody with the
last name of Paul wins the straw pole. So, I think, you know, he had to
make a few token attempts to seem like he was just as conservative as his
Florida record would suggest, but he knew he was going to get some flak for
MELBER: The other thing, and we showed a bunch of the clips, the call
and response -- I mean, there is a part of CPAC that has sort of Baptist
Church quality where they say, what are you thinking? And everyone boos or
cheers or whatever, and that`s fun in politics, you see that. But it seems
that the more weak of a candidate you are, the lower you are down the list,
the more you have to flirt with these jokes in the entertainment
conservative complex, whereas if you`re establishment, you don`t have to do
as much of that.
So, take a listen to Santorum today joking about the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The president`s
popularity is so bad around the world today that I heard this report from a
source that the Kenyan government is actually developing proof that Barack
Obama was actually born in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Tip your waiter for the birther joke. Did you hear Jeb have
to go down that road at all?
LUND: He definitely seemed to be egging on his own supporters.
Allegedly, they had been bussed in from Right to Rise. But I think he was
trying to let the crowd do it for him, to prove that, you know, while
Paul`s group is very voluble, you can hear them in the convention center
announcing whenever Rand Paul was going to do something, and there are
going to be very voluble in the audience. They were when he spoke.
I think, you know, Jeb`s idea was to show that he could react to it
and roll with it, and not let it rattle him and also, show that he had the
strength of numbers to equal Paul`s, maybe just coming from the different
wing of the party.
MELBER: But I guess what I`m getting at is did he keep it somber
because he doesn`t need to entertain?
LUND: Yes, no, he doesn`t have to pander that way. I mean, you know,
the thing with Santorum`s joke that he was going so far for a laugh line,
you know, by hitting this red meat, and, you know, it really does make him
look weaker that he still got to go to that well.
MELBER: Yes. And that`s -- I mean, Jeb, that sometimes is revealing
at these things, and it`s why some of us political junkies do like to watch
it, to see who`s positioning for what. Scott Walker went out of his way to
take something that conservatives like, the way he went after organized
labor in Wisconsin. And try to say that helped him confront ISIS, which
failed no matter where you are in the political spectrum, and then he had
to try and clean that up. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you trying to make that comparison in either
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That the protesters are equivalent to terrorists,
or the terrorists are equivalent to protesters?
WALKER: Not by a landmine -- by a landslide out there difference.
Not Grand Canyon size difference.
My point was just, if I can handle that kind of a pressure, that kind
of intensity, I think I`m up for a challenge for whatever might come if I
choose to run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What did you make of that?
LUND: I felt like he was trying to ride the crowd. He was unusually
amped compared to his normal delivery. And I feel like he felt like he
might get into kind of a call and response and he could just sort of go
anywhere, and that certainly did seem to backfire.
MELBER: And what`s the best thing you`ve seen and the most fun you`ve
had being there?
LUND: So far, I think it was -- seeing everybody kind of, you know,
arguing really vociferously that nobody loves Jeb Bush.
LUND: You can walk down the hall way and someone will say, "I like
Jeb", and somebody says, "Nobody loves him." And that sounds a lot like
2012, nobody loved Romney, but, you know, the Republican Party, eventually,
if you have enough money and you can stick around long enough, you know,
the GOP faithful will love the one they`re with.
MELBER: Jeb Lund, thank you very much for your reporting from CPAC.
LUND: Thank you.
MELBER: You bet.
Now, still ahead, we`re going to talk about the dress that broke the
Internet. Look at it there. Why do some people see this, what do you see?
Some people see it as white and gold. Others think it is black and blue.
We have the answers that are interesting, and that`s ahead.
MELBER: We have breaking news here from Capitol Hill. This breaking
news. Now, the Senate has stepped up and just now passed an emergency one-
week funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Now, this is
just moments ago.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went to the floor, passed the measure
by voice vote and as you see it on the screen, officially adjourned the
Senate until Monday. That means this is the Senate`s final offer. Any
change here, any aversion of a shut down will be up to the House.
And joining me now for more, NBC News special Capitol Hill
correspondent Kelly O`Donnell.
What can you tell us here about that? I covered the Hill and that`s
fairly unusual to see what we just saw from Mitch McConnell.
O`DONNELL: Well, when we last spoke, Ari, I mentioned to you about
this idea that they might be tweaking the options. And remember, the
president placed a phone call to the top Democrats here. And so, what the
Senate has done is sort of kind of put a new cap on this, by Mitch
McConnell bringing to the floor of this agreement to extend for one week
and he ends it tonight.
What that still requires is for the House to act. But by leaving the
Senate, adjourning and saying no more votes until Monday, all the pressure
is now back on the House side. It frees up Democrats on the House side to
vote for this one week extension. We`ll see what Republicans will do.
But this was done with coordination. This is a way to bring this to
an end before we`re into the countdown clock like it`s a New Year`s Eve
with the ball dropping. We still got a few hours to go here and it`s a
reasonable way to sort of bring the temperature down. It`s unsatisfactory
to many people to only have a one-week extension, but in terms of how they
use the rules of the Senate and House, this is a strong move from McConnell
in agreement with Harry Reid --
MELBER: Yes, Kelly, let me ask you. I mean, from a budgetary
perspective, anyone watching at home would say, well, it sounds absurd
we`re going to do this on what, a five to seven day basis now for Homeland
Having said, what does this do in your view to Speaker Boehner who, as
we`ve been reporting just tonight failed to secure three weeks in funding?
O`DONNELL: Well, part of what John Boehner has to do is to
demonstrate to his most difficult members when it comes to this issue, when
I say, difficult, the least likely to go along, that there are just limits
to what can be accomplished. It`s painful. It`s exposed, it`s
embarrassing to see the leadership tested in this way.
But by not being able to succeed, you set the boundaries of what is
possible. And so, you will not change the mind of those conservatives who
believe they are on the right side of the Constitution and that this must
be something that Congress will fight for to keep those boundaries between
the executive branch and the legislative branch. That fight is not going
away tonight. But it takes off the heat of the country feeling like, why
would anyone jeopardize the funding for this important department over this
issue? Can they find a way to deal with both issues?
So, it turns down the temperature. No one likes this, but it does
remove some of the countdown pressure and it takes off the table all of the
confusion about who goes to work tomorrow and who doesn`t within the
Department of Homeland Security. If something were to happen and they had
shut down, just think of the repercussions in political terms, as well as
the real life terms if there were any threats to the homeland and things
were shut down.
You have people who say, hey, everybody at the Homeland Security
Department, almost of them have to come to work anyway.
O`DONNELL: But that`s a tough argument if anything goes wrong.
So, this is a way to dial it back, unsatisfactory as it may be.
O`DONNELL: And to say, let`s meet again and keep talking next week,
without this pressure.
MELBER: As you`re saying, it takes this stopwatch and puts at least a
band-aid over it for a short period of time.
Kelly O`Donnell, thanks for your reporting tonight.
Again, if you`re just joining us -- the Senate passing a one week
funding bill moments ago for the Department of Homeland Security and
adjourning until Monday officially, which leaves this entire debate and
entire pressure up to the House tonight. Nothing is final yet. The House
would have to join the Senate on at least this one week stopgap measure.
We will keep following how it all develops right here on MSNBC
MELBER: It has been a good couple weeks for America`s low paid
retail workers. The parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods
said this week it will raise the minimum wage for its U.S. workers to $9 an
hour by June with plans to boost that to $10 an hour next year for workers
who have been with the company for at least half a year.
Now that comes heels of Walmart`s major announcement, this was last
week, that it will plan to pay their U.S. employees at least $10 an hour by
next year. That is almost $3 above the federal minimum wage which remains
stuck at $7.25.
President Obama ran in 2008 on raising that wage, and despite his
repeated calls on Congress to pass a bill, it has yet to happen.
Though congress has failed to act, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have
put their minimum wages above the federal minimum and pressure has long
been mounting from labor groups, including our Walmart, which has staged
massive Black Friday strikes three years in a row, putting grass roots
pressure on demands for better wages hours and treatment.
So, maybe this is what progress looks like in an era of very complete
dysfunction in congress, as we`ve been covering tonight with its inability
to fund the Homeland Security Department, maybe corporations can start
acting on their own in response partly to public pressure, maybe that is
what winning will start to look like.
Joining me now is George Zimmer, the former and former CEO of Men`s
Warehouse, a face anyone will recognize from the iconic commercials.
Thanks for joining us.
As a businessman, what do you make of all of this?
GEORGE ZIMMER, FRM. CEO MEN`S WAREHOUSE: Well, as a businessman, I
is obvious that if people have more money in their pocket they`re likely to
spend more money, at least that is what Henry Ford thought 100 years ago.
MELBER: And what is the reason for a business to pay anything above
the legally mandated minimum if they don`t have a lot of competition for
those kind of retail jobs?
ZIMMER: Well, it`s about corporate culture. It is about
understanding that an employee is more motivated by the intangibles. And
if they`re being paid minimum wage, they are being told very directly they
don`t have value.
MELBER: And do you think that the sort of leadership or calls from
president for years have had any salutatory effect here, or is that really
on a separate track from what these companies are doing of their own
ZIMMER: No, I`m very encouraged both in what the president`s
in this organization, patriotic millionaires, that is trying to get the
minimum wage raised to a respectable level.
MELBER: And you tweeted about this. I want to put that up on the
screen awhile back. You said "raising the minimum wage will raise economic
activity and lower unemployment."
Do you feel that you are unusual among senior corporate executives and
business people in that view? Do you feel alone in that or not?
ZIMMER: I would say I`m in the minority, but I`m encouraged by what
happened at Walmart, and what happened at Marshall`s, and T.J. Maxx. I
mean, this is all very encouraging.
MELBER: And what was it like in your company? Did you pay above the
your company when you were there? And take us -- for those of us who don`t
know, what is it like? How do those decisions work? How many different
people in the company are involved in setting, you know, wage policies for
a big company?
ZIMMER: Well, the way capitalism works in the United States, and I
worldwide, is that it is about maximizing shareholder value. So usually
employees are not shareholders. And so the idea of paying a living wage
does not really enter the discussion for most CEOs.
MELBER: George Zimmer, thank you for joining us. Up next, George
Takei will be here as we remember his close friend and Star Trek co-star
Leonard Nimoy. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: Since last night the world has been gripped by a mystery, an
enigma so deep, so strange, it has seized the attention of politicians,
celebrities and probably a lot of people at your office.
So, earlier today I hit the streets of New York to get to the bottom
MELBER: It is Friday afternoon in New York`s Times Square and we are
here to address the mystery of the moment, what color is this dress?
What do you see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blue and black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White and cold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see gold and white.
MELBER: And you see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black and blue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she`s color blind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gold and white.
MELBER: Do you know it is actually a blue dress?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not know that.
MELBER: The color you see is black and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
MELBER: And what color do you see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White and gold.
He needs glasses.
MELBER: She says you nee glasses.
What color do you see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gold. Gold and white.
MELBER: Gold and white. Well, god bless America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.
MELBER: It`s what we do. We do reporting here. Sometimes right near
the office in Times Square.
Now, fortunately for everyone there is more to this story. There is
actually a pretty interesting scientific explanation for what a lot of us
found to be a baffling phenomenon. How our eyes play tricks on us. That`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: Mr. Spock, are you all right?
LEONARD NIMOY, ACTOR: Yes, I believe no permanent damage was done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened.
NIMOY: The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the
arm of the chair.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, Mr. Spock, I meant what happened to us?
NIMOY: That we have yet to ascertain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The actor Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83 today,
most famous for portraying the beloved Spock in Star Trek. Nimoy had been
battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, and he had been
hospitalized earlier this week.
His career has spanned more than half a century. He appeared in TV
shows, movies, theatrical productions, nominated four times for an Emmy
award. He directed six movies, two Star Trek films and the 1987
blockbuster hit comedy Three Men and a Baby.
But of course it was always his portrayal of Spock, the half-human,
half-Vulcan committed to dispassionate rational logic that made so many
people fall in love with Leonard Nimoy.
Joining me now is actor George Takei who played Sulu, along Leonard
Nimoy`s Spock in that original Star Trek series. Thank you for being here.
I`m sorry for your loss. This was a man who touched many people`s
lives. How did he touch your life?
GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: Well, as you said, became world famous and
beloved as an alien, but he was also one of the most human people that I
ever met. He was very supportive. He worked collaboratively with people,
a brilliant actor. And Spock really was a singular creation of his.
But he also was able to analyze a script profoundly and recognize the
part that everyone contributes to it. And I think that is what made him a
good director as well.
But a not really known part of him is his political activism. He was
a kindred spirit. We campaigned together for George McGovern. He was a
good friend of the mayor of San Francisco, George Moscone. And they were
planning to build
support for him to run for governor. And he had some friends over to his
home -- Leonard had friends over to his home to introduce George Moscone to
his Los Angeles friends.
So he was really an extraordinary person, a big philanthropist.
Hollywood is not known to be a generous, giving community, but Leonard
Nimoy`s name is on donor walls, high up there, whether it`s the Museum of
Contemporary Art, or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and
most importantly he was very generous to the
Griffith Park observatory, and that theater there is named the Leonard
MELBER: You talk about him creating the character and viewing himself
into the character of Spock. People often are recognized, as you know
better than anyone, by certain roles they play. But this -- this was
bigger than that.
I mean, he wrote one book that said I`m not Spock. in talking about...
TAKEI: I am not Spock.
MELBER: Yes, transcending it.
He wrote another book later in life saying I am Spock. This was a
part of his identity throughout his life.
What do you make of that and the fascination people had with this
character that you say he partly created and breathed life into, that was
both human in a way that people related to but also robotic or alien in a
way that was distant from how we define humanity.
TAKEI: Alien in a very unique and singular way because he was half
human and half alien. And Leonard brought so much of his creativity, his
innovative sense in the creation of the role.
For example, the famous Spock pinch. In one of the early scripts, the
writers had him punching out an adversary. He said this is illogical. Why
spend so much energy and do so much damage breaking bones and sinews when
all he wanted to do was to incapacitate the adversary.
Vulcans have enormous strength. And humans have vulnerabilities:
their nerve centers. Why not just have Spock`s muscle pinch that nerve and
incapacitate that person without doing damage and without wasting all that
energy? The director said that`s brilliant, let`s incorporate it. That
was -- he did it right on the set. And that`s the kind of creativity he
brought to creating the character.
But, as you say, that became a little constraining to him as an actor
because he was so well known as that.
So he wrote that book "I am not Spock," but it took a few decades for
recognize that that was a unique thing and he will be remembered for it.
Indeed, that is his legacy. And so he finally decided to make peace with
it and wrote "I Am Spock."
MELBER: Came around to it at a certain life stage.
I want to play another clip of him, since we`re talking about him,
remembering him. This was from season two Star Trek when some fuzzy
creatures overrun the Starship Enterprise. Let`s take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the matter, Spock?
NIMOY: There is something disquieting about these creatures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, don`t tell me you`ve got a feeling.
NIMOY: Don`t be insulting, doctor. I see no practical use for them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does everything have a practical use for you?
They`re nice, they`re soft and they`re furry, and they make a pleasant
NIMOY: So would an ermine violin, doctor, but I see no advantage in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a human characteristic to love little
animals, especially if they`re attractive in some way.
NIMOY: Doctor, I am well aware of human characteristics. I am
frequently inundated by them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I wonder if -- I don`t know if this is a fair question, but I
wonder if you could speak to what a lot of people relate to in that, which
is depending on where you fall on the spectrum of sort of emotion and
humanity, some people feel very much like oh I love cute animals, and other
people feel like I`m inundated with human characteristics. There`s too
much humanity depending sort of how much of a people person you are.
TAKEI: Well, I think Leonard was very much a people person, but he
was playing that character and he was completely that character.
I think that sort of became a hindrance for him to be able to be -- as
an actor, a much more widely castable actor.
MELBER: Another thing that I learned just in reading about him today
was, I didn`t realize, as I guess a somewhat young person, I think of Star
Trek as a huge hit: show, series, movies, et cetera. I`m reading up on it
and finding out the original was canceled after three seasons and yet
obviously has this huge following.
What was that like for you? And what did he make of that then when
you were initially set back?
TAKEI: Well, at the beginning of each episode, we announced that we
were boldly going on a five year mission, but our ratings were very low
initially. It was primarily a problem with the NBC programming executives.
And here I am at NBC`s headquarters talking about that, but they really
were baffled by Star Trek.
MELBER: Did they not get it?
TAKEI: They did not get it. And our audience is not around on Friday
nights at 10:00. They`re out being hip and with it....
TAKEI: Yes, living life.
And so they decided despite the fact that we did battle every week
with Klingons and Romulans and hoarders and tribbles, the most dangerous
and most destructive adversary were as the NBC programming executives.
MELBER: Well, George, you said it, not me. But that`s a fine quote
for at least the era you`re talking about a long time ago.
The other thing you mention is politics. Of course, the show itself
talk about positives, was very diverse for its time period.
The visual image was diversity of this planet. The Starship
Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth and it was the strength of the
Starship came from the diversity of the people on this planet working
together in concert as a team. It was that concept that was so
revolutionary at a time when we were in the civil rights struggle.
we had a war going on in southeast Asia, people that looked different
from us. We had the Cold War, and we had on board someone who spoke with a
Russian accent and was proud of it.
So yes, diversity of both visual, racial, diversity as well as
heritage diversity. It was I think a comment that was important to be
MELBER: You are fascinating and eloquent to listen to on this. And I
want to thank you for your time George Takei.
TAKEI: Thank you very much for having me. Leonard will be
MELBER: And we will be right back.
MELBER: The great dress controversy of 2015 has taken the world by
storm, forcing politicians to take a position on white and gold or blue and
black and even threatening divide families, including the Kardashian-West.
Kim says she sees white and gold, while Kanye sees black and blue.
So what is going on? Well, here to help answer the question with some
science is Adam Rogers, articles editor at Wired, who wrote the science of
why no one agrees on the color of this dress.
A fascinating article. It starts out with the idea. Explain this to
us that it`s not fixed what we`re seeing, but rather our brains are
interpreting the eye sees.
ADAM ROGERS, WIRED MAGAZINE: That right.
It is a fascinating subject. I mean, what we have evolved to be able
to do over evolutionary time is have a brain and eyes that together take in
not just the
color of an October intrinsically, which is a matter of some philosophical
debate, but actually the combination of the color that is illuminating the
object, reflecting off of that object going into our eye and then
interpreted by our brains.
MELBER: So part of it is -- let me ask you, part of it is the idea
that light itself has color in it?
ROGERS: Well, that is right.
And what we`re really good at, because of how we evolved is, we
evolved on a planet that is illuminated primarily by daylight. It`s only
recently that we`ve had artificial light.
MELBER: Yeah, I love daylight, Adam.
ROGERS: No, daylight is good stuff.
And it is a combination of the entire visible spectrum, and also some
infrared and some ultraviolet. And it changes over the course of the day.
So one of the researchers I talked to, Babel Conway (ph), talks about this
as being the daylight access, a chromatic access. So, you will have rosy
fingered dawn, and then you`ll have blue-white noon, and then you`ll have
kind of the magic hour at twilight. And our eyes and our brains are very
good at taking those colors and
essentially learning to ignore them, to see an object as having the same
color regardless of what color the light bouncing off of it really is. It
is a property called color constancy.
But, obviously, as this picture of this dress shows, that can be
especially if you have artificial colors -- artificial sources of light.
If you have a white balance from the software in an electronic camera, in a
And this picture seems to be a kind of perfect storm of things that
can trick that evolutionary system of your eyes and your brain together
trying to understand what that color is.
MELBER: Yeah, and with some people they see it one way and then it
shifts. When I went out to Times Square today to interview people about
it, it was really fun, because people saw it so differently and then some
people said that they saw it more than one way over time. Let me play a
little bit of that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I at first saw white and gold, but now I see
blue and gold.
MELBER: You have seen it both ways?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, it changes kind of depending on where I`m
at. So if it`s like a darkroom then I see the white and gold, but if it`s
lighter out I see blue.
MELBER: Did it make you uncomfortable at first when you only saw it
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was kind of annoying because people were
yelling at me saying that I was wrong. And I was like I don`t actually
know what the color of the dress is.
MALBER: So, what is happening there if one person actually sees it
ROGERS: Well, your brain without you having any control over it
basically has to make a decision for you, makes a snap judgment as to what
color you`re actually looking at. And what you -- what you don`t want to
do is have to sit there and have it flick back and forth, that is what an
optical illusion will do. That`s what a trick is, right. You want to be
able to understand what a color is immediately.
And so what seems to be going on is that when a person looks at this
image immediately their brain makes a call. Is this something that is
mostly white being seen in shade or a darker tone of light, or is this
something that is blue being seen in brighter light. And your brain is
doing that by using all the cues of the other picture and maybe even of
what is around you.
So those things happen inside your head. And they`re independent of
at the image on the same screen as you`re calling it work, or on the
sharing of phone or something. And it happens right away and it seems to
Although, I did see people -- as you said, people will switch back and
forth as they start to stare at it and think about the context of color
around it. And in fact I think if you look at it -- at that particular
image, out of the corner of your eye where some of the pigmentation is
different, versus dead on you will start to see a different coloration as
MELBER: And why do you think today when this debate was going on some
people were getting really mad. They really don`t like the idea that
something that should be fixed like color could be open to I guess
subjective differences of opinion?
ROGERS: It really is kind of -- everything that is wonderful and
terrifying about the internet, isn`t it? When you were confronted with
something that you think is an intrinsic truth that can`t be argued, and
you are talking to somebody who seems like an otherwise perfectly
reasonable person who has an entirely different intrinsic truth, it really
forces you to confront your own beliefs, your own -- and the ways that we
interact with each other.
I mean, it happened -- it certainly happened in my office. My news
room went nuts, especially on the art and design side where people who are
really trained to understand color and understand image and man -- when
they found out they were seeing different colors, they -- it went all
north-south over there for a few minutes.
MELBER: No, it`s for real. I mean, there are a lot of people who
don`t like it. As you say, it touches on some even bigger questions beyond
the color wheel.
Adam Rogers thanks for joining us tonight.
ROGERS: My pleasure. Live long and prosper.
MELBER: You bet.
That is All In for this evening. I am Ari Melber. You can find me on
Facebook and Instagram at @Arimelber. Chris Hayes will be back on Monday.
That`s where you can find him. And you can find Rachel Maddow right now on
the Rachel Maddow show, which starts right now. Good evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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