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All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

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Date: July 15, 2015
Guest: Brad Sherman, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Charles Pierce, Kweisi Mfume, Steve


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --

even more war.

HAYES: Selling the deal.

OBAMA: If the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel
through military force, then those critics should say so.

HAYES: Highlights from the press conference.

OBAMA: Major, that`s nonsense and you should know better.

HAYES: Then Trump continues.

that I will win is the Hispanic vote. And the Hispanics love me.

HAYES: The latest evidence that the Republican frontrunner is here to

Plus, inside the unbelievable escape of a Mexican drug lord.

And "ALL IN America: Water Wars", a report from the sky on wildfires
raging after years of drought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire is going to burn more intense and more
rapidly. And that`s the biggest effect of the drought.

HAYES: ALL IN starts now.


HAYES: Good evening from the Hidden Valley Golf Club in Norco,
California. I`m Chris Hayes.

It`s not if, it`s when. That`s what firefighters here in Southern
California say about brush fires in areas like Norco where homes are built
up into the hills in a wild land urban interface. I went up in a
helicopter with firefighters in San Diego to see that threat first hand,
and that story is coming up.

But, first, after announcing the historic Iran nuclear deal yesterday,
President Obama began today fighting for the deal. Answering questions at
a news conference for more than an hour and displaying an eagerness to
address every single one of his critics.


OBAMA: Have we exhausted Iran questions here? I think there`s a
helicopter that`s coming, but I am really enjoying this Iran debate. Well,
topics that may not have been touched upon, criticisms that you`ve heard
that I did not answer.

I`m just going to look -- I made some notes about the other argument
that I`ve heard here. I want to make sure that we`re not leaving any
stones unturned here.


HAYES: The president didn`t just answer his critics` specific
questions. He also challenged those critics to offer an alternative course
of action, just as he did when critics of Obamacare offered fiery
condemnations without explaining what they would do instead.


OBAMA: For all the objections of Prime Minister Netanyahu, or for
that matter, some of the Republican leadership that has already spoken,
none of them have presented to me or the American people a better
alternative. There are really only two alternatives here. Either the
issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through
a negotiation or it`s resolved through force, through war. Those are --
those are the options.

And if the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel through
military force, then those critics should say so.


HAYES: There was one very tense motel in the press conference when
the president was asked about the Americans still being detained by Iran.


REPORTER: As you all know, there are four Americans in Iran. Three
held on trumped up charges, and according to your administration, one
whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content
with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of the
nation, the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these
four Americans?

OBAMA: The notion that I`m content as I celebrate with American
citizens languishing in Iranian jails -- Major, that`s nonsense and you
should know better. I`ve met with the families of some of those folks.
Nobody is content, and our diplomats and our teams are working diligently
to try to get them out.


HAYES: Donald Trump and other critics of the Iran deal have pointed
to those prisoners and use them to attack the president. But it is, of
course, not Trump and his ilk the president needs to win over if he wants
Congress to approve the deal. There are members of Congress who are
skeptical of the agreement, including most crucially some from the party`s
own party.

Joining me now is one of those members, one of those Democrats,
Congressman Brad Sherman of California.

Congressman, my understanding is you are uncommitted on the deal.
What are you reservations? And have you found the president`s case

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, we actually -- first, I want
to put this in context. When the president took office, he was in a very
tough position, because his predecessor had not only blocked all new
sanctions laws during eight years but had refused to enforce any of the
sanctions laws that had been adopted in the 1990s.

Now, that will sound odd because President George W. Bush was so noted
for his aggressiveness. But you`ve got to realize that sanctions are
sanctions on international oil companies, especially the sanctions we
adopted in the 1990s that President George W. Bush refused to enforce.

So, Iran had gone from zero to well over 5,000 centrifuges. It was
going all out. And the president has been trying to put a brake on this
program starting from a very difficult position.

That being said, this deal has some good aspects to it and bad aspects
to it in the first year. And then later on, and by then we`re going to
have a different Congress, a different administration. I think it`s got
some really big problems.

The good part of this deal -- and the critics aren`t given the
president credit for this -- is that 95 percent stockpile of enriched
uranium -- uranium that could be purified to make ten bombs, has to be
shift out of the country before Iran gets any benefits. Second, two-thirds
of Iran`s centrifuges need to be mothballed before Iran gets the benefits.
That`s very important.

The bad part of the initial phase of this agreement is that Iran will
get its hands on $120 billion or so of its own money. They will use this
to help their own people to some degree because they`ve built expectations.
But a lot of --

HAYES: Let me stop you there for one second, Congressman, because the
president points to this repeatedly and people who back the deal say, the
money is coming either way because the sanction regime that has been held
together through the P5+1 is just not sustainable any longer in the absence
of a sort of negotiating framework or a deal.

SHERMAN: I think that they may be right as of today. I don`t think
that was true two days ago. But now that the president has declared that
Iran will be -- has signed a deal and is being reasonable, I think it will
be hard to put the sanctions back on.

And I think the president is correct in saying, not what is your
alternative, but even more, what alternative do you have, assuming that the
president is against you, assuming that European countries have been told
it`s now reasonable to do business with Iran? It is not what is your
alternative two days ago, it`s what is your alternative today?

And I don`t think that we have an effective plan for the next year and
a half that works better than accepting the good parts of this deal that
the president has negotiated. That being said --

HAYES: You sound, Congressman, like you`ve just talked yourself into
voting yes on our air.

SHERMAN: No, because we`ve got to make sure this deal is not binding
on future administrations, because next decade, Iran gets to build an
enormous, allegedly peaceful program, a program so large that just the
crumbs from the fringes will be enough to build several nuclear weapons.

So, what I`ve talked myself into is to say, for the next year and a
half, maybe we should prevent the president from carrying out his policy
which has pluses and minuses, and to go war with the president while we`re
trying to deal with Iran at the same time.

But we`ve got to make sure that this deal is not morally or legally
binding on future administrations because we`re going to have to go back
with this or that and cajoling retreat and turn to the Iranians and say,
you have accepted certain limits for ten years, they have to be extended.

HAYES: There`s been a lot about the binding and unbinding, and it
does seem to me that what ultimately will bind the deal should it go
forward is the performance of all the parties on either side of it since,
you know, international law largely can be a fiction in reality. So, I
understand that concern.

Representative Brad Sherman from California, thank you very much.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: The attacks on the Iran deal have certainly not let up since
it was announced yesterday, with some of the right seemingly in competition
over who can use the most apocalyptic rhetoric.


MARK LEVIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Barack Obama has now planted the
seeds of World War III. And one day, World War III is going to break out
right here because of his actions.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: He is not a man of his word. He
is not a man who could be trusted.

SEN. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: This is the greatest appeasement since
Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is a terrible deal.
Anybody could have done better and you have taken a can of gasoline and
thrown it on a fire.

CHENEY: He clearly does not understand or chooses to ignore reality.


HAYES: Today, the powerful pro-Israel group AIPAC called on Congress
to reject the deal, which will put significant pressure on members to vote
against him. In part to counter that effort, the pro-Israel group J Street
seen largely as a more liberal alternative to AIPAC announced today, it was
launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to build support for the deal.

Joining me now is the president of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami.

What is the plan here, Jeremy, in terms of what you`re going to be
doing on the Hill? And are you essentially going toe to toe with AIPAC on

JEREMY BEN-AMI, J STREET PRESIDENT: Essentially, we are. I think
we`re going toe to toe not just with them, though. We`re going toe to toe
with the Dick Cheneys of the world, and Lindsey Grahams and people who
brought us the Iraq war and who told us that the troops there would be
greeted with flowers and song, to tell them this is the way to deal with a
very, very serious threat.

As the president said, the goal of this deal is to ensure that Iran
does not have a nuclear weapon. And this deal achieves that. To defeat
this deal would ensure that Iran does break out towards a nuclear weapon
with no sanctions in place, or leads us towards military action.

So, this is the best of all the available options. It may not be a
perfect option, but that`s what compromise and negotiations are about. So,
we`ll be explaining that this is the best of all the possible alternatives.

HAYES: Are you surprised at all of the rhetoric coming from the
Israeli government? Netanyahu talked about a nuclear terror super power, I
believe the phrase was. IDF Twitter account I believe tweeting out a link
to a history of the run up to World War II.

Is that -- is that level of rhetoric surprising to you? Does that
make sense to you?

BEN-AMI: Well, I think trying to ratchet up the fear is sort of part
of the general modus operandi of the right, whether it is in this country
here or it`s in Israel there. The issue isn`t whether or not Iran is a
terrible regime. It`s bad to its own people. It`s a state sponsor of
terror. It is meddling in numerous countries throughout the Middle East
and causing havoc, and we all agree on that.

But as the president said, do you want that country to have a nuclear
weapon or not? And if you want to prevent them from having a nuclear
weapon through diplomacy and without entering another Middle East war, then
support this deal, because they are in fact a bad regime and this is the
best way to prevent them having the worst of all possible weapons.

HAYES: Let me just get you on the spot to this, because I hear this
all the time. And, obviously, there is a certain factual basis to it. We
know Qassim Suleimani is strolling around Iraq and he`s -- they`re engaging
in the fight in Iraq in ISIS. They`ve been massively supportive of eh
Assad regime, which is terrible, bombing children by the tens of thousands
in the most horrific way possible.

But it all seems strange to me to isolate Iran as if it`s the only
regional player that is doing destabilizing things outside its borders.
Saudi Arabia right now, a, quote, "ally" of the U.S., who`ve been very
aligned with the Israeli government in opposition to this deal, they`re
bombing the hell out of Yemen at this very moment.

BEN-AMI: Well, the Middle East is the Middle East. It`s a cauldron
that is boiling and there are a lot of bad actors and a lot of those bad
actors are fighting each other. But the one thing that makes Iran stand
out, and the reason why the president and the P5+1 and the world as a whole
has come together is because of the threat that this get taken to a whole
new level with the introduction of nuclear weapons.

And so, that`s why it is so important to keep the focus only one
issue. There are so many other bad actors and there are so many regimes
around the world that are doing things that the world opposes. But this
issue of nuclear proliferation runs the risk of such a dramatically
different level of suffering and violence that it has to be dealt with
directly and independently of all the rest of those issues.

HAYES: So, is the Israeli government, Benjamin Netanyahu, and I
should note also the labor opposition which is supporting him in the
opposition of the deal, are they just wrong? Are they just making the
wrong calculation? Are they sort of blinded by the way they feel about
Iran regime more generally?

BEN-AMI: Well, at this point, I think that they are wrong. I think
that the notion that there`s somehow a better deal to be had. This is the
deal. The choice is between this deal and no deal. And you can`t, once
you`ve agreed on the price of the house, go back and say, well, wait a
minute. I wanted to pay $50,000 less and I`m not going to move in after

This is deal. And you either need to take it or deal with the
consequences otherwise.

HAYES: Jeremy Ben-Ami, thank you very much.

BEN-AMI: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Still to come, Donald Trump puts his, quote, "massive" net
worth on display in the latest step to prove he is very serious about 2016.

Plus, former President Bill Clinton in front of the NAACP talks
ownership for his role and the role his crime bill played in today`s mass
incarceration problem.

And later, I went up in a fire and rescue helicopter to learn how the
drought is fueling California wildfires.

That and much more, ahead.


HAYES: When President Obama was asked today about revoking Bill
Cosby`s Medal of Freedom which he received in 2002 from President Bush,
President Obama said there was no precedent for revoking it and he
preferred not to speak about an ongoing case, even if it`s just a civil

But he added this:


OBAMA: I`ll say this: if you give a woman or a man for that matter,
without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person
without consent, that`s rape.



HAYES: Today, Donald Trump quite possibly set aside any remaining
notions that he is not a real candidate for president of the United States.
He filed personal financial disclosures to the FEC, according to his
statement released by Trump and possibly written by him. That statement
about his financial disclosure was another reminder that Trump is no
ordinary candidate.

It reads in part, "This report was not design for a man of Mr. Trump`s
massive wealth. For instance, they have boxes once a certain number is
reached that simply states $50 million or so. Many of these boxes have
been checked. As an example, if a building owned by Mr. Trump is worth
$1.5 billion, the box checked is $50 million or more. As of this date, Mr.
Trump`s net worth is in excess of $10 billion." Those all caps provided by
the Trump camp.

Today`s statement does not actually itemize Trump`s assets and does
not list liabilities, instead claiming they are a small percentage.
Furthermore, the FEC has up to 30 days to publicly release the form that
Trump says he has filed.

But if and when the FEC disclosure form is official, Trump will have
satisfied a requirement to appear in the FOX News debate stage. And in
addition to being in the top ten in national polls, as required for that
debate, Trump ranks first among Republicans in the latest national poll.
Trump stands at 17 percent. Bush at 14 percent. Walker at 8 percent.

But Trump`s unfavorability rating is also high, which may explain why
in a hypothetical matchup with Hillary Clinton, he loses by 17 points.

Today, presidential candidate Ted Cruz was scheduled to pay a visit to
Donald Trump, which at least prior to that meeting appeared to partially
mystify Trump himself.


TRUMP: Ted Cruz calls me and I don`t know why I`m meeting him, to be
honest. But I do have respect for him. I respect the fact that, along
with a couple of others, he came out and he came out very strongly and
agreed with what I said on illegal immigration. And he came out very
strongly and he came out early.


HAYES: For his part, Cruz seemed eager to kiss the ring.


bringing a bold, brash voice to this presidential race. One of the reasons
you`re seeing so many 2016 candidates go out of their way to smack Donald
Trump is they don`t like a politician that speaks directly about the
challenges of illegal immigration.


HAYES: Joining me now, Charles Pierce, writer at large for "Esquire
Magazine", staff writer at

Charlie, I -- I will admit, I was a skeptic. I was a skeptic in every
part of the process. In fact, Trump himself in a statement said, they
said, I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t get serious about declaring. I declared.
They said I wouldn`t actually, you know, file. I filed. They said I
wouldn`t file my disclosure form. Here I am.

If you`re the Republican Party right now, you got to think, this is
it. This is serious. This is happening. Bunker in for the long term.

CHARLES PIERCE, ESQUIRE MAGAZIN: First of all, I would like to
compliment your art director because the new set in New York looks great.


HAYES: It`s amazing what they do with green screens now.

PEIRCE: Secondly, of course, he`s for real. That depends on
accepting two principles. Number one, that there is an institutional
political entity called the Republican Party, which I don`t think there is
anymore. Or else this whole thing would have been nipped in the bud. And
second, if you accept that at its face, the Republican Party is demented.

And in the modern Republican Party, there is great power in not making
sense. And nobody makes less sense than Donald Trump. So, yes, he`s for

HAYES: The first point there is a crucial one, because I`ve had
conversations with people who are just sort of watching this spectacle
unfold, saying, why are Republicans kind of letting this happen? Where is
Reince Priebus?

And the fact is they don`t have power. I mean, there`s nothing to
hold over Donald Trump. There`s no leverage over him. He`s so far -- he`s
not appearing to raise very much money but he just loaned himself money for
his campaign.

You know, there`s nothing they can do to bring him to heel.

PEARCE: Yes. I mean, he is the inevitable product of Citizens
United, because in 2012, you saw the same thing. There was no reason for
Newt Gingrich to still be alive. There was no reason for Rick Santorum to
still be alive at the end of the process in 2012.

They were alive because they had one or two guys who were willing to
write them checks. And there`s nothing the institutional Republican Party
can do about that.

There`s even less they can do about Trump who is so far off the
reservation, that you can`t even see him anymore.

HAYES: I want to play this clip. Obviously, his rollout was centered
on these comments in which he said that the Mexicans coming across were
criminals and rapists, a huge amount of criticism for that, being abandoned
by business partners. But he`s now committed to winning the Latino vote.
Take a listen.


TRUMP: I`ll tell you a vote that I will win is the Hispanic vote. I
employed thousands of Hispanics. I`ll create jobs and I`ll get Hispanic
vote. I have so many thousands that work for me and thousands that have
over the years and the Hispanics love me.


HAYES: There are two things about this. One, I love the idea of the
people that work for me love me, like I`m the boss of people. Of course
they love me.

And two, in the latest poll, his unfavorability among Latinos,
Hispanics, is 81 percent. So, how do you think that`s going to go?

PIERCE: Well, I guess love means never having to tell the truth to

I mean, as I said, there`s great power in the modern Republican Party,
there is great power in making as little sense as possible in your public
utterances. And he`s really tapped into that.

My favorite part of whole Trump phenomenon are the now burgeoning
conspiracy theories that either he is a Democratic stalking horse, or as I
heard on a progressive radio show today, that he is a stalking horse for
the Koch brothers who is out there only to get rid of Jeb Bush so Scott
Walker can be the nominee.

But one thing we`re sure on is he has taken all the oxygen out of the
room. I mean, people like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio have disappeared from
the conversation. Scott Walker really needs to win in Iowa or there`s no
point in him running at all. And his numbers are slipping there. There is
nobody else in the field right now drawing the spotlight this way.

HAYES: That`s exactly right. Charlie Pierce, always a pleasure, sir.
Thank you.

PIERCE: Thank you.

HAYES: Up next, new footage from the unbelievable escape of the drug
lord El Chapo. Stick around.


HAYES: The escaped Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is
still on the loose but new video shows the final moments before he
disappeared into a tunnel. The video also shows the tunnel itself which
was extremely well-constructed.

NBC News Mark Potter got a first hand look.


MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The tunnel that authorities say
Chapo Guzman used to escape from this prison extends out about a mile that
way to a house in a farming area, barely constructed house, where the
tunnel pops out. That`s where we got to enter the tunnel, the opening of
the tunnel last night.

And we were quite impressed by the construction. It`s very clear that
this was done by professionals who knew what they were doing, who had the
money to do, and who had the time to do it right. There`s big a generator
down there that powers the lights and the ventilation system. We can see
support beams at both metal and wood.

There`s also more interestingly a motorcycle down there, or there was.
We didn`t see it but the authorities showed us video of it. You can see
this motorcycle that`s attached to a cart. It`s on a rail system going up
and down the tunnel, and one of the officials from the Mexican government
told us yesterday that Chapo Guzman actually when he dropped out of the
prison into the tunnel, he got on the cart and they carried him out to the
house where he then popped up and disappeared.

He did not have to walk out of jail, he actually got to ride out of

Now meantime, videos have surfaced that show Guzman in his cell
moments before he disappeared. Authorities say you could see him dropping
down. They say that that is the moment
when he dropped into the tunnel, that was at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday. A big
manhunt is underway for
him in Mexico and in other countries. But so far, Guzman has stayed ahead
of that manhunt.

Mark Potter, NBC News near Mexico City.


HAYES: Now, if there is anyone who deserved to be in jail, it is
likely Guzman whose organization is as brutal and violent as any in the
world including probably ISIS.

In the U.S., a place where we`ve constructed one of the most extensive
prison systems in the
world, there are probably hundreds of thousands of people in prison who
should not there be and there is a dawning political awareness they

And now one of the men responsible for constructing that system,
President Bill Clinton is
apologizing. More on that ahead.



have taken over our streets and undermined our schools. Every day we read
about somebody else who has literally gotten away with murder.

When I signed this crime bill, we together will taking a big step
toward bringing the laws of
our land back into line with the values of our people and beginning to
restore the line between right and wrong.


HAYES: 1994 when President Bill Clinton introduced the Violent Crime
Control Act, law and order and tough on crime rhetoric were centerpieces
for his governments and many politicians policies on crime. 21 years
later, there not only seems to be a change in tone in the way politicians
talk about criminal justice, there also appears to be a willingness to
confront publicly some of the massive social ills of massive incarceration.


African-American men, one in every 88 Latino men is serving time right now.
Among white men, that number is 1 in 214.

Our criminal justice system isn`t as smart as it should be. It is not
keeping us as safe as it should be. It is not as fair as it should be.
Mass incarceration makes our country worse off. And we need to do
something about it.


HAYES: The president`s speech at the NAACP annual convention
yesterday came a day after
commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent prisoners. But perhaps the most
striking example of the shift at least in the way politicians are talking
and thinking about crime and punishment came today when Bill Clinton, for
all intents and purposes, looked in the mirror before the crowd at the
NAACP and acknowledged his own role in filling up America`s prisons.


CLINTON: And the president spoke a long time yesterday and very well
about the criminal justice reform. And I appreciate what he has done. But
I want to say a few words about it, because I signed a bill that made the
problem worse.

In that bill, there were longer sentences, and most of these people
are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend and that was
overdone. We were wrong about that.


HAYES: Joining me now, former Congressman Kweisi Mfume, Democrat from
Maryland, who was one of the 135 roll call votes in favor of the 1994 crime

Congressman, to you -- what is your reaction to the Clinton apology?

KWEISI MFUME, FRM. CONGRESSMAN: Well, you know, hindsight is 2020 for
all of us and I don`t want to be a Monday morning quarterback. Many of us
who had raised initial objection against the House version of the bill lost
our ability to stop it on a voice vote. And for nine months the White
House and the leadership of congress 20 years ago worked to try to put
together a package that would pass. And the one that passed, and what made
it pass in my opinion, were several things.

There was a violence against women`s act which was added to the bill
which had never existed
in this country before to protect women against violent crime. There was
$14 billions in community policing funds for communities and police to work
together on programs to cut down on crime. There was an assault weapons
ban which had always been defeated by the NRA. That was a part of new
bill, and there was an end to something called three strikes and you`re
out, where if you had three convictions, you got an automatic life

Those were the things that changed over the nine-month period that
made the bill palatable. And I think made it caused Democrats and some
Republicans to vote for it.

But the president in hindsight makes a welcome sort of statement. I
think all of us have evolved over time to recognize that you can`t build
your way out of crime, you can`t incarcerate your way out of it, that it is
long-term and systemic issues that have to be addressed.

Years ago the Democratic Party took a beating from Republicans year
after year because we were too soft on crime according to them. And so
when the party turned in the mid-1990s and decided that it was going to be
tough on crime, hence, the proof was in the pudding, because nothing
changed, crime continued, incarceration rates did not go down. And the
good things about the bill were fine, but the overall problem was that our
streets were still very violent.

And I think whether the president signed the bill or not there are
some larger issues here about systemic poverty, about people not having
jobs, about a lack of values and a lack of training and a lack of belief in

And then...

HAYES: One second. Let me just stop you there for one second,
because I think this is a key part of it. I mean, this was when the
Clinton folks would talk about the president`s accomplishments, this made
the first cut. I mean this was signature. And not only was it signature,
the argument was we signed this crime bill at the crest of a historic
rising crime, and then we saw in the next two decades a historic fall in
crime. And they wouldn`t necessarily say one caused the other, but they
would let you draw that conclusion.

It is somewhat stunning that that is now something this president is
apologizing for.

MFUME: Well, I guess you have to talk to Mr. Clinton to find out why
he feels compelled to do it. The fact that he is doing that at the same
time President Obama is talking about another approach to the issue and
several democratic candidates are, as well as Republicans, I think is some
realization that we still have a long way to go in dealing with this issue.

A lot of it, as I said before, has to go, in my opinion, Chris, back
to some of the long term systemic things that drive it -- segregated
housing, lack of jobs and investment in inner cities, the racial
profiling that takes place, the tremendous amount of police brutality that
has been documented since Rodney King in the last 20 years. There`s a lot
going on.

So, I try to steer away from a kind of quick fix one size fits all
answer, because it really, really is a deep hole. And I think you get out
of a hole the same way you got in, one shovel at a time. And there has got
to be one effort after another to get that done.

HAYES: All right. Kweisi Mfume, thank you very much.

Still ahead, more All In America. How years of drought is turning
much of California into fuel for wildfires.



MIKE MANDAHL, RESIDENT: You can`t water anything to keep everything,
you know, moisturized and to grow, so pretty this hill is all brush, it`s
all, you know, wilderness, so it relies on rain. So, yeah, I am concerned.


HAYES: For homeowners living up nestled in the hills of Norco,
California, the drought poses numerous danger. Not only does it increase
the risk of mud slides when the rain finally arrives, because there are
less plants to anchor the soil, it increases the risk of wildfires, because
the brush is so very try. I went up in a helicopter with the San Diego
Fire Department 100 miles southwest of here to see the danger from the air.
And that story is next.



California, you can see it out the window as we`re flying, is we build
along the top of ridges because that is where you get the best view, it is
where you want to live.

And what we do is we look down a slope that is then covered with
brush. And fire burns significantly quicker uphill than does across flat
land. It preheats ahead of it. It has got that slope so it
exponentially moves quicker, faster with more intensity.

What has happened, and this is not unique to San Diego County, is we
build right at the top of
where that arrow is pointed. And that`s why one of our biggest concerns is
structural fire protection.


HAYES: Last year, almost 500,000 acres of land across the state of
California went up in flames, destroying hundreds of homes and costing the
state hundreds of millions of dollars.

This year conditions in the state are even worse. Firefighters in
California have already responded to over 3,000 calls by this point this
year, that`s 1,000 more wildfires than average over the previous five
years, according to the New York Times.

Rising temperatures and increasingly dry conditions in the fourth year
of California`s drought have departments in San Diego and elsewhere
preparing for the worst.

I went for a ride in San Diego`s fire rescue helicopter with their
chief of air operations to
discuss how the historic drought is changing the way they do their jobs.


HAYES: Tell me about the basic conditions for you in the San Diego
Fire Department are looking for in fire season?

HEISER: Well, I think San Diego Fire Rescue is similar to all of
Southern California right now. What we`re looking at is impact of the
drought on the fuel conditions which means dry fuel, a lot of it. And then
if you add the wind event, which we know it going to happen, we just can`t
predict exactly when right now, add the wind to it and then any degree of
slope and you`re going to have a significant fire if there is an ignition.

HAYES: Does dryness, does the fact the state has been in this
historic trout now for several years, does that increase the risk factor?

HEISER: Well, what`s interesting, fire burns dead dry fuel
significantly faster than green live fuel. So we really look at how much
dead fuel is out there. And what the drought has created is, large pockets
of dead fuel which then provide the base for the fire.

HAYES: You guys had quite a season last year starting may, 2014.
Tell me a little bit about that.

HEISER: Well, I think what was unique about that event, was one, it was in
May which isn`t typically where we see aggressive active fire behavior.
And number two, the majority of the fires we saw were along the coast. And
historically for us, you don`t see a lot of fires on the coast, because you
have a coastal influence -- more moisture, less dry fuels, occasionally
less winds.

So, historically in our area, fires start to the east and move to the
west. This was a unique situation.

HAYES: So you guys had a bunch of fires along that coast, and that`s
not something you
would, you really dealt with before.

HEISER: No. In my experience has not been that we see multiple fires
along the coast. Normally fires start copping up more to the east or
inland and the occasional fire along the coast. And so it was an extremely
rare occurrence.

HAYES: Talk to me about what the effect of the drought that`s
happening here in California is on the work that you guys do.

HEISER: Well, wild vegetation fires need three things, really, they
need some terrain that`s slope, they need fuel, and they need the weather,
they dryness and the wind to move the fire. And then all it takes is a
source of ignition and you have a significant fire.

What you see with the drought is an increase with that critical
component which is the fuel. So, a larger fuel bed which mean fire is
going to burn more intense and more rapidly. And that`s the biggest effect
of the drought.

It also in some areas is affecting our ability to get water. The tank
on the bottom of this whole 375 gallons, the quickest way to fill it is to
hover to snorkel, to hover over a body of water and snorkel it up. As the
drought continues, those bodies of water dry up, or become less available.
That means we have to travel occasionally farther to get water, which means
for us less amounts of time we`re spending on the fire dropping water.

HAYES: So that is interesting, so what are the bodies of water that
you -- obviously you`re not going to drop salt water on...

HEISER: We can. It is the last thing we`ll do if nothing else is
available. But there is a good example. That pool of water right there.
Anything you see on golf courses, we utilize golf course water. Any place
that the pilot can safely get into -- one of the challenges is as he`s
snorkeling the water up, the weight of the aircraft increases so they need
to maneuver around. As they come forward, are they getting enough lift to
get out.

So they`re looking that allows them to move in and out smoothly and
safely with that load. and then enough depth to the water.

So, the drought is affecting the location of some of those.

HAYES: That`s really interesting. So I hadn`t thought of that. so,
the drought increases the amount of fuel because the drier things are, the
more dry fuel you have, the more dry fuel the more you have increases your
chances of something igniting. And you`ve also got the situation where
you`re using bodies of water with this helicopter to snorkel up water and
actually work in the fire suppression, and as those bodies of water dry up
through the drought, it gets harder to find those.

HEISER: Exactly.


HAYES: And as Chief Heiser he told me, it is not a matter of if there
will be fires, but when. What California should be doing to prepare for an
era of more expensive, destructive disasters and more on the battle between
farmers and environmentalists over California`s water supply next.



HAYES: This is the water that makes those cantaloupes possible,

JOE DEL BOSQUE, FARMER: That`s correct. This is our water supply.

HAYES: And where does this water come from?

DEL BOSQUE: This water comes from about 400 miles away in the north
part of California in
Shasta reservoir.

HAYES: Most of the water that falls in California, most of the
precipitation, snow pack in the Sierra Nevadas, up north, right. How does
it get down here?

DEL BOSQUE: First of all, it is captured up there in reservoirs, like
ours is Shasta. It is allowed to flow down the river. Down at the delta,
which is the estuary, it is picked up in pumps and
then from there on, it is brought to us by canals.


HAYES: all right, with me now Steve Fleischli, he`s the director of
the water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Thanks for
coming out here. Good to see you.

So, we heard this piece last night. And central valley farming at one
level it is just a mechanical process, right whereby this food is rung from
the ground, but it is at the central of this massively heated, really
brutal political battle. Like as soon as you get in the central valley you
are seeing signs like congress created the drought and Nancy Pelosi is
cutting off our water. And they feel like environmentalists and big city
liberals care about their little fish and their salmon and their delta
smelt and they cut off their water and environmentalists feel like, these
folks are operating off this massive public investment to make money for
themselves in all of our collective water.

So, I want you to talk about why the water he`s talking about, 400
miles away, why it is so

STVE FLEISCHLI, NRDC: a lot of that water come from the San Francisco
Bay delta area and the rivers that flow into it. So like the Sacramento
River and the San Joaquin River.

And that water is critical to fisheries in that area and critical to
the fishermen that depend on those fisheries. And so you can`t have fish
without water, you can`t have fishermen without fish. And they need that

But also the water is needed to keep the salt water back. The salt
water from the ocean flows up into these rivers. And with sea level rise
and climate change, it will flow up even further. And so the fresh water
pushes that back into the ocean and that keeps water fresh for crops, for
farming in that
region, as well as for drinking water supplies.

HAYES: Right, so let`s just be clear about how zero sum this is.
Because this part of it really is. Like there are other ways there aren`t.
But that water is coming from up north. It`s in the sort of snow pack and
it`s falling and it`s coming down. And the vector by which it is delivered
to everyone, in which it supports the fisheries, in which it supports
drinking water, in which it pushes the ocean back, is the same vector by
which it goes down to the central valley, right.

And the central valley, they want all that to flow down to them so
they grow as many almonds as they possibly can. There are interests up
north who for all sorts of reasons want to make sure it doesn`t all go down

FLEISCHLI: Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of interests involved here.
And everyone has a stake in this. But -- so, it`s not an either/or from my
estimation, though, there are solutions that are out there that we can
satisfy all of those needs if we use smarter water management strategies.

HAYES: They will say in the Central Valley, they`ve got this
obsession with the delta smelt. It`s a small fish. It lives in that
estuary. And they say what happens is the Endangered Species Act, and the
feds, they don`t pump the water across estuaries so these tiny little
precious fish can be out there and we`re out here dying in the sun.

FLEISCHLI: Yeah, well, let me tell you a fact, and let them try to
dispute there, there has been zero water curtailment, zero since 2013 for
the smelt. There is been a 2 percent water curtailment for salmon and most
of the other curtailment is for water quality for the salt water
implications to keep water fresh for drinking and for farming.

HAYES: but you have got a Republican congressman who if I`m not
mistaken is going to have bill tomorrow that Republican caucus in
California`s rallying around that would basically like stick it to the

FLEISCHLI: Yeah. Well, they`re blaming the drought on endangered
species and the environment and that`s not the case. I mean, mother nature
and the lack of rain is the primary cause of the drought and the lack of
water availability. So there is this bill tomorrow in congress that will
be voted on that tries to gut the Endangered Species Act, it tries to gut
environmental review, when that really doesn`t get to the core of the

And there are management practices that we can undertake in farming
communities as well to alleviate some of the pressure on the system.

HAYES: Can the -- can California adapt in the long-term? Right, so
it is a relatively dry place, it has come up with all sorts of ways to kind
of use water to support farming for humans. This is drought is an historic
drought, it is the worst recorded, but there will be others. And climate
models tell us this state will get drier most likely.

Is this a long term sustainable thing that can be continued out in the
future of climate change?

FLEISCHLI: Well, not the way we`re currently operating. And so
there`s a lot more we need to do. Half of California`s farms, and I know
last night you showed some drip irrigation and that`s really important.
Half of California farms still use the old antiquated flood and furrow
techniques where you literally just lift up the sluice gates and let the
water flow through and flood your farm.

HAYES: Is that really true, half?

FLEISCHLI: That is true. Half.

And also, there is about 20 percent that haven`t even filled out their
water management plans that the state required back in 2009, under a 2009
law they are supposed to fill out water management plans and explain how
they are going to conserve water.

A lot of them they still measure water deliveries, because the water
is so cheap that they don`t do that. And they don`t price water on a
volume basis. So you get as much water based on the acreage, but not on --
based on how much water you need.

HAYES: OK, this is a key thing that I want to keep talking through in
the next few days we do this, which is to me, the price signals around
water just seem completely screwed. Like, they just -- the inputs are not
true cost in any way. And people can take those inputs and then profit off
it in a way
where the price signaling is not getting past properly.

Steve Fleischli, thanks for driving up here. That was really
illuminating. Thanks a lot.

All right, that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show
starts right now.


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