UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
November 3, 2012
Guests: Michael Moynihan, Esther Armah, John Nichols, Betsey Stevenson,
Karl Jacob, Eric Klinenberg, Ed Markey
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With only three days left before election day, a new NBC News/Wall Street
Journal/Marist poll out this morning shows President Barack Obama leading
Mitt Romney in Ohio by six points among likely voters. The poll also shows
President Obama with a narrow lead in Florida, where the race stands at 49
to 47 percent among likely voters. We`ll be talking more about Ohio and
the Republican freak-out over polling analysis later in the program.
Right now, joining me at the table this morning, we have Michael
Moynihan, cultural news editor for "Newsweek" and the Daily Beast. Esther
Armah, host of WBAI-FM "Wakeup Call." My colleague John Nichols,
Washington correspondent for "The Nation" magazine. And Betsey Stevenson,
columnist for Bloomberg View, associate professor at the Ford School at the
University of Michigan and former chief economist at the Obama Labor
Department, and mom to the 3-week-old Oliver. Congratulations, that`s
All right, it has been five days since Sandy came ashore on the East
Coast as a post-tropical cyclone. The exact location of landfall didn`t
much matter, because this was a 1,000-mile wide storm that inundated the
country`s most populous area. At least 109 people are known to have died
in the storm here in the U.S., and another 69 were killed by Sandy in the
As of this morning, about 2.5 million customers remain without power
across 15 states and Washington, D.C. The most recent estimates of
economic losses for the storm nearing $50 billion. Flooding of New York
subways and commuter train tunnels and loss of business accounts for much
of that estimate.
With an election just a few days away, the political media industrial
complex briefly ground to a halt, and then somewhat awkwardly cranked back
to life with Mitt Romney turning a campaign event into a relief rally,
President Obama heading back out on the trail, and pundits growing more and
more comfortable speculating about the electoral consequences of the
disaster. But it`s a different story for local and state officials in
areas ravaged by the storm. They had to make practical decisions, give
emergency briefings, and address the anxiety of their citizens.
On Fox News the day after Sandy hit, Republican New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie seemed to suggest he wasn`t taking the election into
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any possibility that Governor Romney may
go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: I have no idea. Nor am I the least bit
concerned or interested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
CHRISTIE: I`ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that`s much bigger
than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff.
And the president was great last night. He said he would get it done. At
2:00 a.m. I got a call from FEMA to answer a couple of final questions, and
then he signed the declaration this morning. So I have to give the
president great credit. He`s been on the phone with me three times in the
last 24 hours. He`s been very attentive, and anything that I`ve asked for,
he`s gotten to me. So I thank the president publicly for that. He`s done
as far as I`m concerned a great job for New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last night canceled
tomorrow`s New York City marathon after critics said the resources were
needed elsewhere, after I tweeted about it. I can`t help but think that
pushed him over the edge.
HAYES: Bloomberg said controversy over an athletic event should not
detract attention from the storm recovery. Bloomberg also made news on
Thursday when he endorsed Barack Obama for president, writing that Sandy,
quote, brought the stakes of Tuesday`s election into sharp relief.
I thought what happened this week and the interactions between the
president and Chris Christie and Michael Bloomberg were really interesting.
I thought the way we think about politics and disaster was brought into
relief. And we`re going to talk about the substance. We`re going to talk
about the seawalls and floodwalls and climate change and what we have to do
-- how we have to reconceptualize our society and think about disaster in
the future, but first I want to talk about the politics of it, because I
thought the response to Christie`s actions on the right and generally in
the media I thought were fascinating.
I -- maybe I`m alone in this. I didn`t think he seemed to be doing
anything out of the ordinary. It seemed to me like this was more or less
politics as usual, that the president when there`s a disaster-stricken
area, the president goes and the governor, and they go look at the damage,
and even from different parties, they put them aside for the moment.
And people freaked out. And I think the freak-out to me highlighted
how much there`s been this norm created in the Republican Party of just
total, implacable opposition at all times, so that Christie seemed like a
Now, the other argument is that Christie really has been going out of
his way to throw Mitt Romney under the bus. I`m curious what you guys
think about it.
JOHN NICHOLS, THENATION.COM: I`ll take a shot. You suggested the
political media industrial complex ground to a halt. That`s ridiculous.
The political media industrial complex was whirling even as the storm was
coming in. I heard everybody in all the campaigns talking about what
impact is this going to have.
And so by the nature of it they were looking for something. And Chris
Christie gave it to them.
Now, a part of it is that Chris Christie loves the camera, right? He
is the Giuliani of this moment. He`s doing press conferences. He`s
physically out there, not sleeping, very present.
But the key on that one is this is the keynote speaker of the
Republican National Convention. It`s not just any governor. He`s one of
the most known Republicans in the country. He`s the guy who was supposed
to make the case for Romney and forgot to mention him. And when he took
that question, he could easily have said, look, you know, I think Governor
Romney`s got other things to do. I`m pleased -- instead, you listen to
that clip. It went on and on and on, and it built toward a crescendo of I
think the president is doing a great job for New Jersey.
HAYES: And Chris Christie also I would say not only the commencement
speaker, the great hope of many Republicans. Ann Coulter said he should be
drafted. Rupert Murdoch wanted to pull him in the race, and then Rupert
Murdoch is tweeting yesterday, basically, Christie has to come out hard for
Obama the next few days or he--
NICHOLS: For Romney.
HAYES: I`m sorry, for Romney in the next few days, or it is his
responsibility, the disaster of the next four years.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: I think there`s an interesting
thing about this with Chris Christie on the Fox and Friends thing, is that
there`s been a narrative with Christie that there is something disingenuous
about him, that a lot of this is a very stagey thing, that he shouts down
reporters in press conferences.
I think that what we see here is that this is actually Chris Christie,
this is the way that he is in such a way. And so I think that, you know,
when he believes that the president is being attentive and doing a good job
for the people of New Jersey, that he doesn`t care, and he`s going to mau-
mau the people on Fox and he`s going to mau-mau anyone about this.
And I was actually rather impressed with this. And you know, at the
end of all this, he actually did get a mention from Bruce Springsteen, who
he`s a big fan of, and who`s denounced him, and he`s actually said in a
concert, this is true, he said the governor has been--
HAYES: Someone said, some conservative that I follow on Twitter said,
well, that`s what this is all about!
HAYES: He said it wasn`t about -- it`s not about Mitt Romney--
BETSEY STEVENSON, BLOOMBERG.COM: This is just an interesting thing
about why is it that the public doesn`t -- the public would not tolerate a
Republican governor saying I am not going to accept money from the federal
government to help get the lights back on. We will suffer through this as
STEVENSON: And eschew any help. People wouldn`t stand for it. But
they will stand for it when that help is about something that is a little
big less immediate. Right? So if a Republican governor says, we`re
turning down this money to fix our schools or to fix our unemployment.
HAYES: Or to build high-speed rail.
STEVENSON: Or to build high-speed rail.
STEVENSON: When the Republican governor turns that money down, people
don`t see the immediate consequences and so they don`t seem to react. But
imagine what they would do if Chris Christie had stood up and said we`re
not taking Obama`s help on this?
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAL.ORG: I think it`s two things. I think that it`s
absolutely Christie actually being who he is. I don`t think that whole
idea that he was being totally phony is fair. But I also think that
Christie has been the attack dog for President Obama specifically, and so
this kind of effusive praise seemed really shocking on the one hand.
But I also think that truth has been such a casualty when it comes to
the way the Republicans have run their political campaign, and Christie
being the No. 1 man for Romney, you put those two things together and
suddenly it feels like he`s on this political campaign for President Obama,
with literally days before the campaign.
HAYES: Right. And I think that`s partly because we have this kind of
which side are you on feeling down the stretch of this.
I agree with you, Michael, about Christie. I never thought he was
staged. I thought that when he yelled at teachers in town halls, he was
being authentically jerky. I didn`t think that was stagecraft. I thought
he was being a jerk.
HAYES: Truly a jerk, even, you know, even in a totally honest way.
ARMAH: His compassion and his emotionality and even saying that this
is not about politics right now -- of course, it`s always going to be about
politics -- but even that point I think came from a very specific, genuine
place. He`s an emotional politician. So, what he articulates comes from
that very specific place.
NICHOLS: We live in a time where everybody`s a pundit.
NICHOLS: No, they`re better than most of us. But the person in the
coffee shop, you know, wants to talk about -- especially right before an
NICHOLS: And this is something that happens in America. Most
Americans, unlike we of normal characters, can shut off politics for a lot
of the time. But if you`re in the week before an election, everybody`s
going to look at it.
HAYES: That`s right.
NICHOLS: And the fascinating thing is we think we have to explain
Chris Christie. Most Americans looked at Chris Christie. They know he`s a
big Republican. They know all these dynamics, and I think they saw him
standing there saying what they wanted him to say. Especially at a point
where polling shows, like, 80 percent of Americans really would like to
have a little bit of rapprochement, and then to have Michael Bloomberg come
in the next day, roughly, and say, look, this thing tipped me. I`m voting
for Obama, I mean, this is a dynamic that is really significant in our
HAYES: And what I think is fascinating, of course, one of the key
arguments Barack Obama made in 2008, right, was that he was going to be the
person that brought together red and blue, and Republicans have I think
very wisely chosen a strategy of sort of constant, implacable opposition
that has made it impossible for him to fulfill that promise. And the irony
now is that Mitt Romney, who spent most of the campaign and during the
primary telling jokes about what a terrible place Massachusetts was,
bragging about all his vetoes, basically saying this place is a sort of
sodomite hell that I come from, that he now is using -- he is now using
Massachusetts and the fact that he had this overwhelming Democratic
majority that he had to deal with as evidence that he actually is the
person who can work across the aisle, so there is a sort of fascinating
campaign down the stretch about who can work most across the aisle.
Betsey, you made a really important point about the role of government
at these moments, and I think that`s the other kind of subtext here, and I
want to talk about that and the kind of ideological subtext of politics and
disaster after this break.
HAYES: Betsey, you made a good point before going to break about what
this highlights about the role of government, and I think we tend to have
certain scripts in the wake of disaster. First of all, I think there`s
this back-and-forth about not politicizing it, and I understand a certain
impulse, right, which is that you want to not destroy feelings of social
solidarity by basically turning people against each other over partisan
lines. At the same time, disasters are inherently, fundamentally
political, because they reveal the power relations of a society, and the
power relations of a society are what constitutes politics in that society.
And you talked about the role of government. Obviously, the role of
government has been this kind of leitmotif throughout the campaign. The
New York Times wrote an editorial in the wake of the storm saying a big
storm needs big government. I think there`s a general feelings that these
are the times when we want the state to come in and do things, and people
have been pointing out this response Mitt Romney gave talking about FEMA,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency, back in June during a Republican
debate. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN: FEMA`s about to run out of money, and there are some
people who say do it on a case-by-case basis, and some people who say, you
know, maybe we are learning a lesson here that the states should take on
more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take
something from the federal government and send it back to the states,
that`s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it
back to the private sector, that`s even better.
We should take all of what we`re doing at the federal level and say,
what are the things we are doing we don`t have to do? And those things we
have got to stop doing, because we`re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this
year than we`re taking in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Romney`s campaign, in sort of customary fashion afterwards,
seemed to walk that back and say we`re not going to privatize FEMA or send
it to the states.
Michael, as the libertarian at the table, should he have come back and
doubled down on this and said, yes, FEMA, should be in the private sector
or the states?
MOYNIHAN: Obviously he is back on his heels on this, I mean, and it`s
not necessarily kind of a libertarian issue in a sense, like after there
was a lot of anger about this, and this quote was circulating, and the
piece in the Atlantic said, look, he`s not trying to defund FEMA, there is,
you know, this idea of bringing it to the states and everything.
Should he have doubled down? No. I don`t think so. And this is
purely a political calculation, I`m not saying --
HAYES: No, but I`m asking from a ideological perspective. I agree.
Politically it would have been suicidal.
HAYES: In fact, what is FEMA, I don`t know what that means. No, but
I`m asking actually a deeper ideological question, which is my knee-jerk
liberal response to this, which confirms my priors, right, which is that we
need the state to do this kind of thing, is that wrong?
MOYNIHAN: You are just setting me up.
HAYES: No, I genuinely want to know.
MOYNIHAN: No. Look, I think that there are an enormous number of
problems with FEMA. One does not have to look very far online to look for
people who would know this stuff very well and say that this is a hugely
dysfunctional organization for a number of reasons. Is the solution to
that to bring it to the states? Look, I think that there`s a very, very
compelling case to be made for that.
I don`t think the argument that, well, this is a guy that is going to
just take all this money and throw it out the window, and, you know, good
luck getting sort of charity and private companies to do it. I think it`s
a disingenuous argument. I think there is a smart, sensible argument to be
made that on a local level, people can pivot and respond to these crises in
a better fashion.
HAYES: One of the things I think about disasters, you know,
disasters, is that you do want to start from the local level up, right?
You want to start with the front-line people who are, you know, the town
sheriff and work your way up the federal government.
MOYNIHAN: And that`s just how it happens anyway.
HAYES: That`s how it happens anyway, and that`s the way it`s
structured. FEMA also, I mean, having a federal role in this to me is all
about risk pooling, right? The point is that certain areas are going to
get hit by natural disasters more than others, and we want to kind of
smooth out that risk across the pool of the citizens of the United States.
And not to say to you, oh, Gulf states, sorry, you get two hurricanes in a
season, you`re out of luck.
NICHOLS: Some of those areas are poor. They don`t have the
resources. And so in a great big country where there are some very wealthy
people who can pay some taxes, it`s kind of a good idea to collect up that
money in case some place where people don`t have the resources.
You know, this is a logic of government. But I will say that if we
back up a little bit on this, disasters, like wars, like presidencies, like
recessions, are big enough that we can all paint on them, right?
NICHOLS: We can all put our picture on them. So I looked at this
thing, I`m a very pro-labor person, so my response is I`m watching union
firefighters and union cops and union road crews up through the night, you
know, sweating, bleeding, putting out fires, wading through water, union
nurses carrying kids to safety. And I`m saying, you know, why does Mitt
Romney bash these people? Now, in fairness, in fairness, that`s not --
that is how I look at it. You`re going to look at it differently.
And, you know, in a weird defense of Mitt Romney, in a weird defense
of Mitt Romney, he was answering a deficit question there. He wasn`t
thinking about FEMA at all.
HAYES: Right. In fact, he tried to dodge it a little bit.
ARMAH: And I think that`s really crucial, because for me, when I
think about FEMA and disasters, I`m absolutely confronted by these two
Americas, the Katrina/FEMA reaction and the Sandy/FEMA reaction. And the
reality is to argue that there hasn`t been a specific political response to
the significance of FEMA by different governments, and that it`s not split
down party lines, it`s simply not true. There was a really great article
in Mother Jones that took you through --
HAYES: The development of FEMA competence.
ARMAH: Right. And who had headed FEMA, and the way in which
presidents had appointed those FEMA heads were directly related to how they
perceived their significance. So, for example, George Bush actually
allocated Michael Brown, who was the former -- I just had to read this out,
because I was just blown away. Michael Brown, who was the former
commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse
Association, that`s who headed FEMA.
Clinton was the first -- was the first president to allocate the FEMA
head who actually had experience --
MOYNIHAN: In disaster.
ARMAH: -- in disaster management. I say all that to say that of
course it`s not just whether it`s political. It`s that it`s about poverty,
it`s about race. And when we think about disaster preparedness as well as
recovery, the ways in which these two Americas break down, you see that
again and again and again.
HAYES: And it`s also, I think the other point here is that it`s
something that will happen I think often is people on the left, we get into
this defensive crouch around the role of government, and so we defend the
state`s actions in the abstract. But if you talk to lefty activists who
are part of common ground and Katrina, it was government bureaucracy that
was their enemy. And the folks right now on Staten Island who are
frustrated and angry, and folks in housing projects down on the lower East
Side who are angry and feeling like they`re not getting enough attention,
the target of that anger is the government bureaucracy, and you can`t fall
into the trap I think as a liberal of saying, oh, the state in the
abstract, government has a role to play, and not also be very clear-eyed
about the failures of specific bureaucratic performance, right?
STEVENSON: So I was going to come back to this idea, you said risk
STEVENSON: And I think that that`s a really important question,
because we have to ask ourselves, does a storm like Katrina or Sandy, does
it hit the United States --
STEVENSON: -- or does it hit New Orleans or does it hit New York,
does it hit a state or does it hit the United States? I think it hits the
United States, and that`s why as a country we actually do need to chip in
and send the resources to help clean up. And that`s why I find the we
can`t afford to do this, we have one -- or borrowing $1.6 trillion to be
offensive, because, of course, we got hit by a storm as a country, we have
But there`s a second issue for the federal government, which is can
they play a better role coordinating relief across the country. Getting
National Guard members to where they need to be, getting water where it
needs to be, you know. The states certainly are the ones who should say
what they need.
STEVENSON: But are they in a position to actually coordinate where it
should come from and how it should get there? And I just don`t think they
ARMAH: I think we`ve been shown an example even with Governor
Christie talking about the speed at which President Obama reacted, because,
of course, you think about Katrina, you think about the slowness with which
President Bush reacted. And speaking to that point, Romney doesn`t think
there`s a United States. He thinks the 47 percent is -- are the folks in
New Orleans who don`t deserve --
HAYES: I don`t know if that`s a fair characterization.
ARMAH: All right, but let me make my point, because I think you say
that, but if you`re living in those spaces, you`re living with the legacy
of Katrina or in the Ninth Ward, you would absolutely not say that that`s
an unfair argument, because you`re still living with the legacy of the kind
of unfairness that made you a refugee in your own country.
NICHOLS: Do you know why you need the federal government? You need a
federal government because in some states, there are governors that will
not respond to some parts of their state, and you need somebody from the
outside that will --
MOYNIHAN: -- to sort of agree with you and actually, against my own
point, in a way, of sort of localizing these things is that, you know,
George Bush`s disastrous performance in Katrina is something that nobody
denies, I don`t think anybody -- even Republicans, but the local level
performed disastrously, too, Ray Nagin, et cetera.
ARMAH: I think that`s the point of it being the United States, how do
you coordinate a reaction. It started with the example of the biggest, you
know, the president is the head of the biggest institution in the country.
So, who you want institutionally versus having individual Americans respond
are two different realities. It`s two different Americas.
HAYES: I want to turn our attention to climate change, because I
think that was a story that foisted itself on the political discussion this
week, I think for good, actually, in a way. Climate change and the
politics of disaster, my story of the week is next.
HAYES: My story of the week -- what`s at stake? At about 8:00 p.m.
on Monday night, the east-facing windows in my Brooklyn apartment started
to bubble and buckle inward in a deeply unsettling way. The wind howled,
and we thought it prudent to move ourselves away from the wall exposed to
But that one moment of sharp anxiety was as bad as things got. We
were lucky. Our power never went out, and my neighborhood is on high
enough ground it wasn`t flooded by the storm surge.
There were a few downed trees that took out parked cars, but that was
Just a few neighborhoods over, a young couple named Jesse Streich-Kest
and Jacob Vogelman were out walking their dog at some point that evening,
and they were struck by a falling tree and killed. They are two of the
estimated 109 people who died due to the storm here in the U.S., a death
toll that is mercifully lower than one might anticipate given the scale of
Destruction is most evident here in New York City in Staten Island, in
Queens` devastated coastal neighborhoods, and in the powerless precincts of
lower Manhattan, where cars roll through intersections without streetlights
and commuters trundle over the bridges, walking over an East River whose
waters overflowed its banks, filling the subway tunnels that connect the
boroughs, and rendering much of the system unusable. The MTA chairman said
New York subways have, quote, never faced a disaster as devastating.
It`s very rare when the subways in this city don`t run. But there are
some things simultaneously awful and exhilarating about those moments when
normalcy is suspended. New Yorkers will still tell you about the
solidarity and fellowship they shared with their neighbors on their stoops
on the lightless nights of the 2003 blackout, or the comfort and aid they
found in each other as they fled through the streets on foot covered in
dust away from the falling towers.
Obviously, the loss of life and intensity of trauma caused by Sandy is
nowhere near the scale of 9/11. But it`s fair to say the city hasn`t been
this devastated since that September day. And as many unsung civil
servants and first responders and utility workers labor tirelessly to get
the city running again, I`m reminded that one of the raw truths of 9/11 is
that the first thing a competent government must do is protect its
citizens. It can`t protect them from everything, nor should it try, but we
all recognized I think amidst the horror of 9/11 that we want our
government first and foremost to keep us safe. The state cannot eliminate
senseless death, but it is its duty to reduce its likelihood.
It`s a conservative insight, really, the idea that government`s job
before all else is to keep its citizens secure, to protect them, that
everything else comes after. And lefty that I am, I`m reminded in this
moment that it contains an undeniable core truth.
And, yet, here we sit with a political system that could barely bring
itself to acknowledge or discuss the tangible danger climate change poses
to us, never mind undertake the massive, sustained effort necessary to
combat and adapt to it. Andrew Cuomo, as careful a politician as you`ll
see, tried to note the elephant in the room without ever naming it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, D-N.Y.: There has been a series of extreme weather
incidents. Anyone -- that`s not a political statement. That is a factual
statement. Anyone who says there`s not a dramatic change in weather
patterns I think is denying reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In his endorsement of President Obama this week, New York
Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote, "In just 14 months, two hurricanes have
forced us to evacuate neighborhoods, something our city government had
never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable."
No, it`s not sustainable. Things that can`t go on don`t. It`s true,
Sandy was a freak storm, a bad luck confluence of a number of low-
probability events that could conceivably have happened in some alternate
climate that wasn`t warming. But this climate, our climate, is warming,
and as it does, low probability events like this will become more probable
and more intense. Carbon emissions are trapping extra energy in our
atmosphere, and with extra energy come more extremes -- higher sea levels,
drier droughts, hotter heat waves, and heavier, wetter storms.
We need a crash program in this country right now to re-engineer the
nation`s infrastructure to cope with and prepare for the climate
disruptions that we have already ensured with the carbon we`ve already put
into the atmosphere. As well as an immediate, aggressive transformation of
our energy production, economy, and society to reduce the amount of carbon
we will put into the atmosphere in the future.
This is as fundamental, as elemental as human endeavors get. The
story of civilization is the long tale of crusaders for order battling the
unceasing reality of chaos. And it is a kind of miracle that we have
succeeded as much as we have, that airplanes fly through the air and roads
plunge beneath the water and the entire teeming latticework of human life
exists in the manifold improbable places it does. But it`s the grand irony
that in imposing this improbable order on the world, we`ve released
millions of years of stored up carbon into the atmosphere, which is now
altering the climate and threatening the very monuments of civilization
that we so cherish.
We absolutely have it within us collectively to beat back the forces
of chaos once again, but we must choose to do so. And the time for
choosing is now. You are either on the side of your fellow citizens and
residents of this planet, or you are on the side of the storms as yet
unnamed. You cannot be neutral. So, which side are you on?
HAYES: All right. Joining us at the table now is Klaus Jacob, a
research scientist at Columbia University`s Earth Institute. And Eric
Klinenberg returning to the table, author of "Heatwave: A Social Autopsy of
Disaster in Chicago," and a professor of sociology at New York University.
Klaus, I wanted to have you here, because New York Times ran a piece
recently, and this is the headline. It says, climate change -- New York is
lagging as seas and risks rise, critics warn. It was about the fact that
the city was exposed to increased risks as climate change brought sea level
up. And it quotes you, a report that you did, in 2009. And this is your
prediction about what would happen if there was a storm with a sufficiently
high storm surge -- just a foot higher, I believe, than Irene, just about.
And you said, "if the surge had been just that much higher, subway
tunnels would have flooded, segments of the FDR and roads along the Hudson
River would have turned into rivers, and sections of the commuter rail
system would have been impassable or bereft of power. The most vulnerable
systems, like the subway tunnels under the Harlem and East Rivers, would
have been unusable for nearly a month or longer at an economic loss of
about $55 billion."
This is I think eerily prescient. So I want you to tell me, what were
the circumstances under which you undertook this report talking about what
the vulnerabilities of New York City were?
KLAUS JACOB, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, in about 2009, first Mayor
Bloomberg and then later the state, through its agency called NYSERDA,
charged a group of scientists to look at the consequences of climate change
and how New York City on the one hand and New York state on the other hand
should adapt to it.
As part of that study, we in the NYSERDA study, we were making a case
study in which we had a 100-year flood or a storm surge hitting New York
City. And with a lot of help of the engineering department students at
Columbia University, we came up with a very detailed analysis. And it
showed that the subway tunnels would flood within 40 minutes, and so on.
It was eerily, incredibly true what happened four days ago. Right
down to the detail that the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel would be entirely
flooded, the Queens Midtown Tunnel only partly flooded. I mean, it`s
terrible to be right. The point is here that this is information that was
available one to two years ago. And it shows that just producing
scientific, technical results is not enough.
JACOB: The political process has not taken notice of the information
that we were charged to produce for them.
HAYES: And this is the fundamental issue that we have up and down
this -- this issue specifically on climate, but also disaster, right, Eric?
You can go back and you can read reports, and I did, reports about what
would happen if a storm hit New Orleans and a storm surge pushed over the
levees, and the problems that would happen in the Ninth Ward and the
evacuation problems and everything down, down, down, down the line written
two to three years before Katrina actually happened, and the political
infrastructure did not make the governing choices that would have prevented
ERIC KLINENBERG, AUTHOR, HEAT WAVE: We act as if we have a will not
to know about these dangers, and when we`re warned of them, we freak out.
We don`t know what to do. We get overwhelmed and scared.
We`ve just gone through three presidential debates in which the
concept of climate change never came up once. This was Mother Nature
speaking back and saying, I will be heard. You have something to reckon
with. Unfortunately, we now live in a moment where this debate will become
inescapable. And the silver lining that could come out of this is that
this could be the kind of event or historic experience that becomes a
turning point, that makes a conversation about climate change a fundamental
part about -- of conversations about security and governance.
HAYES: One of other things we talk about with climate, we talk about
carb mitigation, and there is all sorts of things about cap and trade and
the carbon tax, but I think one of the things Sandy has highlighted, and
your work, Klaus, has highlighted, is that in parallel to that, we also
have to take a hard look at how we are engineering our cities and creating
a kind of resiliency in these massive population centers.
So I want to talk about how we need to be thinking about that right
after we take this quick break.
HAYES: We`re talking about the politics of disaster and resiliency,
and Klaus, there was a point you wanted to make before I went to break
about how we think about not only climate, carbon mitigation, but also
engineering and cities and population centers and our natural landscape to
make sure that we`ve reduced our risks.
JACOB: Well, first, we have to understand the hazard before we can
deal with the risk and then engineer. We should remember that what we have
seen in terms of a storm surge four days ago, this will be the sea level on
a nice, sunny, wind-still (ph) day by the year 2100. So that gives you a
Now, on top of that, you will have storms. OK? So what does this
mean? It means that coastal areas, everything that is roughly five feet
plus whatever tides you have higher, needs to be looked at it from a land
use or urban planning use. So, either we protect entire cities like New
Orleans tried, and then having to say later on maybe something about that,
because I think if you build barriers for New York City, you have to have
an exit strategy because those barriers will not last forever with rising
HAYES: That`s grim.
JACOB: Which means we have to do something behind the barriers anyhow
to protect us, just like New Orleans was unprepared when the barriers
failed. So, we have to prepare for what we do when the barriers fail.
HAYES: Preparing for failure is a huge part of disaster preparation.
It`s one of the things that`s amazing in your book about the heat wave is
that you begin to see systems fail. Electricity goes down. Then the cell
phone network gets overused, and water doesn`t work in high-rises. How do
you prepare for failure?
KLINENBERG: Well, you have to prepare for systems to be resilient,
which means you need to invest in infrastructure. You need to update the
grid, for instance. Every time there`s a heat wave in this country, every
summer, the power goes out, and in some cases for days.
One barometer of the extent to which climate change is increasing the
number of extreme events is I find myself getting called more and more
every year, because thee events are regular.
You also need to build up structures to provide support and care. Too
often our conversations about these issues are exclusively engineering and
physical science kinds of questions. Those matter, no doubt. They`re
fundamental, but there`s a social dimension to this as well, which
neighborhoods are affected, which individual people are affected, and it`s
HAYES: Fascinating, Zone A, which is the part of New York City that
was evacuated, low-lying residents there were twice as likely to be
residents of public housing as New York more broadly, which I thought was
an interesting (inaudible).
I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
He is the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, a senior
member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and co-sponsor of the
only climate bill to ever pass a chamber of Congress.
Congressman, what is your reaction to the stunning absence of this
issue that you worked so hard on and labored over and ground out a large
bill with tons of technical details that people took hard votes on, and it
has now disappeared from the political conversation?
REP. ED MARKEY, D-MASS.: Well, I think that -- I think that Mother
Nature decided that she was going to inject it into this election. If it
wasn`t going to be raised in any of the debates, then she was going to find
a way of having this be discussed.
And so this election for next Tuesday is now framed. It`s Mother
Nature versus the unrestrained use of oil and coal and other polluting
sources. I think the public now sees what the consequences are of having
this issue just be ignored. It`s no longer just some abstract issue that
might be affecting the Arctic. What`s happening in the Arctic is now
affecting the weather here on the East Coast and all across the United
States. And so, it`s now an issue. And I think that it`s really got Mitt
Romney on the defensive, as he should be, because the Mitt Romney who was
the governor of Massachusetts, my home state, he believed in climate
science, but the Mitt Romney who runs for the Republican nomination for
president in 2012, he cannot believe in climate science, he has to make
jokes about it in order to get the nomination of one of the most important
historical parties of our country`s history, and that`s a sad state of
HAYES: Mayor Bloomberg in his endorsement of the president, basically
the key to the endorsement was the position on climate change, and he
talked about the choices being between candidates, one who sees climate
change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet, one does not. I
want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above
electoral politics. President Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found
success while their parties were out of power in Congress, and President
Obama can too."
Here is my question to you, and we`ll talk about Mitt Romney in a
second. But I want to talk about President Obama. He himself has not done
a lot to talk about climate on this -- on the campaign trail. It`s
probably going to be a Republican House. I believe the stakes in this
election are between one candidate who accepts the science of global
warming and one who hedges on it, but what is the real difference between
the policy that we can see, convince me that if I`m a climate voter, that
my vote is going to matter on Tuesday.
MARKEY: Oh, my goodness. Mitt Romney says that he`s going to roll
back the requirement that the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which
we drive go to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2026. If he rolls that
back, that`s equal to 6 billion metric tons of CO2 going up into the
atmosphere. That`s one whole year of total CO2 from the United States.
Obama is committed to moving forward on that, and by the way, that
also backs out 3 million barrels of oil, all of the oil which we import
from the Persian Gulf on a daily basis.
On December 31st of this year, Romney says he`s going to allow all the
wind tax breaks to expire, so the wind industry is going to collapse in our
country, even though 12,000 new megawatts of wind have been installed in
the United States this year alone. And Barack Obama says he`s going to
extend them, and give the same kind of breaks to solar going out into the
The president`s EPA is looking at the regulation of greenhouse gases,
and Mitt Romney is saying, absolutely not. So, issue after issue, one
after another, there is a big dividing line between these two people, and
for anyone who thinks that there will be no difference if they elect one or
the other on this issue, they could not be more wrong. OK? This is a
stark difference, and it`s going to actually impact how many people in the
future die, how many people in the future have their lives changed
unalterably by climate change here in the United States, not around the
world, here in our country.
HAYES: Congressman, there`s a bunch of questions for you here at the
table. I want to take a quick break and then bring you into the discussion
right after this.
MARKEY: Great, thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the
oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Mitt Romney pausing for laughter in talking about the
sea level rise at the RNC, which is a really shocking moment to me.
Esther, you had a question you wanted to ask Congressman Markey.
ARMAH: I did. Listening to this, I think one of the big challenges
is the degree to which the science has become so politicized, that evidence
matters less than which party politician is articulating what may happen
with climate change.
When I hear you talk about on a sunny day in 2100, we`re going to see
the seas and the storms rise, I literally hear a Hollywood movie featuring
Tom Cruise or Will Smith. Do you know what I mean? There`s an element on
the ground where it`s become so politicized, how does that move.
Events matter because they create connection, and it humanizes
something that has felt abstract, and it felt like, with all due respect to
you, that it is something that older white men talk about. It doesn`t
affect the majority of people, and so there isn`t the connection.
What Sandy does is make it immediate, specific, direct and targeted.
So, I want to ask the congressman and you about the evidence shows you knew
this was going to happen, and so, therefore, what happens in 2100 is
specific as well. But how do you move beyond the politics so that people
pressure makes this a more potential legislation?
HAYES: Congressman, yes, is there any hope of any forward movement
in, say, a House dominated by the Republican Party, for political movement
MARKEY: Look it, Congress is a stimulus response institution. And
there`s nothing more stimulating than watching night after night, day after
day, millions of people paralyzed along the East Coast. This is going to
have the same impact that 9/11 had on how we protect ourselves here
domestically. It is going to have the same impact that the BP oil spill
had in ensuring that we don`t ever again have the same lax safety standards
in oil drilling off our coastline.
This is a game changer. And I agree with what the gentleman said,
because this is no longer just a Hollywood blockbuster, "The Day After
Tomorrow." This is now a blockbuster storm which actually hit. So, the
day after tomorrow is now today. It`s in New York. It`s in New Jersey.
It`s in Connecticut, and people are watching this each day.
And there won`t be any jokes about climate change again. There won`t
be any dismissal of this.
Now, it won`t stop the oil industry, it won`t stop the coal industry
from trying to block legislation. But I think moderate Republicans in the
Congress above the Mason-Dixon line are never again going to be allowed to
just laugh along with these jokesters from coal country in pretending that
climate change is not real.
HAYES: Democratic Congressman Ed Markey, thanks for joining us this
morning. More on this when we come back.
HAYES: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes, here with
Michael Moynihan from "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast"; Klaus Jacob from
Columbia University; Eric Klinenberg from NYU; and Esther Armah of WBAI.
We`re talking about the ways in which the Sandy disaster has inserted
climate into a political debate that had failed to mention it, and also the
broader question about how we create politics of accountability and
governance mechanisms that prepare us for the resiliency we will need in
the coming era.
ERIC KLINENBERG, AUTHOR, "HEAT WAVE": We need to retrofit our cities,
let`s face it. We see disaster after disaster, year after year, cities
that are unable to withstand the pressures of this new planet we live on.
The ecosystem is different. The environment is different, and we will
fundamentally need to rebuild at some level.
Now, we are already investing tens of billions of dollars in the
project of homeland security. We have tried to protect ourselves from
terrorism. We have not done a very good job protecting ourselves from
these completely predictable routine events.
And I think at a minimum we need to have a conversation about how to
redirect homeland security so that this becomes an agency that actually
HAYES: Well, this brings up a good point. "A," this point that I`m
obsessed with and I ride the hobbyhorse on the show all the time, but that,
you know, we have this argument, government, good or bad, bureaucracy, good
And just the fact of the matter is, bureaucratic performance exists on
this massive spectrum. There are some bureaucracies that really, really
work and there are some are dysfunctional disasters, right? And the
question is how do we move them and get good governance at our
And the other question is, and Ed Markey just said something, you
know, this will be for climate what 9/11 changed our, you know, terrorism
policy, and I`m not sure that what the -- what we built -- my inner
libertarian is saying, uh-oh, and I suspect you feel the same way.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: You know, we were talking about
this at the break. There is a libertarian argument or a smaller government
argument to be made that we should prepare ourselves better for this,
because, you know, people can look up Robert Hicks to look at what happened
during wartimes and disasters, if you do fear the size and scope of
government growing and just this big lumbering agencies that don`t perform
particularly well, they tend to come into existence after major
catastrophic events. This happened after 9/11.
And you`re not going to find any libertarian that`s going to be a
full-throated defender of the Department of Homeland Security, for
instance. And, you know, that is one of the worries and one of the reasons
that infrastructure to prevent this type of disaster is important.
KLINENBERG: But is there anyone that believes that the private sector
at this moment is capable of doing the long-term planning and long-term
strategizing that it will take to deal with the threat of climate change
and retrofitting cities? I mean, I think one of the issues here is that
government is the only kind of institution we have that can think about
these things over the long term. We have the private sector acting in
exceedingly short term manners.
HAYES: You disagree? Klaus --
KLAUS JACOB, COLUBIA UNIVERSITY: I disagree (ph). Look, scientists
and even engineers thinking about that all the time, and make statements,
often they come out as a very inconvenient truth. And the question is, how
does the public respond to that inconvenient truth?
The real major point here is, for instance, look at FEMA again, there
are two tasks to FEMA. One is to respond after disasters. But the other
they have neglected since Clinton is to mitigate, to reduce the risk in the
first place. And FEMA has been gutted from that task. And now we see the
HAYES: This is stats that come from a journal, a political science
journal article, disaster spending since 1988. The amount of money that
the U.S. spent on disaster relief has increased 13 times while the amount
of spending on disaster preparedness has been flat.
JACOB: Or reduced.
HAYES: Or reduced.
And what we have is the perverse political incentive, right? What
happens politically if there`s a politician and there`s a disaster, you`re
on the news every day doing disaster relief and that`s when all the
incentives to turn on the spigots and make the money flow, and I think
that`s right. I mean, I`m not saying that`s a bad thing.
But we don`t have the same incentives to prevent the disaster from
happening in the first place because what`s the political gain to be gotten
from just that bad thing never happens?
MOYNIHAN: You are more cynical than I am.
KLINENBERG: We need to place it in context as well. Let`s remember
over the last several years of fiscal austerity, we`ve been cutting back
programs at the local, at the state levels, some fundamental programs that
are for the protection of most vulnerable people, services for home care,
for health care, for transportation, the kinds of things that we don`t
perceive on an ordinary level, that we don`t discuss very much in the media
but that actually produce resilience in communities.
So when you see the numbers from FEMA, in some ways they speak for the
politics of austerity and I can tell you spending a lot of time with the
Obama disaster team, they are actually working on politics of resilience
which is actually impressive and imaginative.
JACOB: And the paradigm that disasters amplify existing stresses in
JACOB: So, what they bring out is all our fallacies, OK?
MOYNIHAN: Go ahead. I`m sorry.
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI.ORG: I was going to say the trouble with that
whole issue about the most vulnerable in society who are impacted is that
that has helped fuel the political partisan nature of how we think about
preparedness and who is going to be prepared. I think what Sandy succeeds
in doing because it impacted the financial district --
KLINENBERG: Equal opportunity disaster.
ARMAH: It literally is and you need in terms of the politics how we
deal with this issue, you needed an equal opportunity disaster in order to
bring a much broader section of the populous to the idea and to the notion,
to get behind the science. Because I think the reality is, we were talking
at the break that with Katrina, there was an injection of action but there
was also a real element of shame and that shame silenced some of the
The thing about Sandy is it impacts Republican land, it impacts the
private sector, it impacts Wall Street specifically, that too ended up
underwater. My radio station is right on Wall Street and we ended up with
10 feet of water. And that conversation helped change the politics, as
well as the broader people that were impacted by Sandy.
MOYNIHAN: I think it`s geographic more than anything else. The fact
that it hit New York and all of us, you know, live in New York and we also
HAYES: Right, the media center of the country.
MOYNIHAN: If you notice one --
ARMAH: The financial center.
MOYNIHAN: If you notice one small thing is that Staten Island has
been struggling, you know, unbelievably in the past --
HAYES: Half the casualties in the cities.
MOYNIHAN: Yes, half the casualties on Staten Island, no power, no
water. People -- I mean, people might have seen this video but a woman
pleading with Chuck Schumer saying we need relief here.
And the interesting thing about this is in the kind of media
narrative, we`ve heard about Staten Island and we`ve heard about even --
people said to me, you know, you and I both live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn`s
fine. Coney Island is not fine.
I think that this an interesting thing, the geographic thing, is you
and I have power and Staten Island has not been part -- really part of the
conversation. And I hate to say this but until it`s really been
politicized, but there`s been some failures happening and this is becoming
a much more political issue and that`s when Staten Island comes up.
HAYES: Staten Island, I want to talk about Staten Island for a
second, because Staten Island, one of my dearest friends is from Staten
Island, we were e-mailing back and forth. I love you, Megan. And she was
just saying Staten Island has a strained relationship with the boroughs, it
voted to secede in 1997. There are people there who are really suffering
right now and going through a lot.
And one of the things she pointed out there`s two hospitals on Staten
Island for half a million people. When the storm hit all the bridges shut
down and one of the hospitals, Staten Island University Hospital under
water basically was shut down immediately. So during the storm there`s one
hospital for 500,000 people on an island.
And that gets to your point about the broader foundation of resiliency
is fundamentally the kind of public services and infrastructure and basic
level of social resiliency we have before the disaster even hits, Klaus?
JACOB: Well, the private sector cannot do the planning. They plan
for themselves. Not for the public, for the infrastructure. And that`s
what we really have to understand.
We need good, informed government that can have the resources, which
means as taxpayers we have to pitch in.
KLINENBERG: I`m glad to hear you say that because I thought we were
disagreeing about that.
But, look, the great symbol of this for those of us who are in Lower
Manhattan who had no power for days, the power came on at 4:30 this
morning, was to see the glistening tower of Goldman Sachs downtown where
the power was there. They had planned for the company, that`s what private
sector organizations tend to do.
Who is going to plan for the collective? Not just New York City, but
the collective in this country.
MOYNIHAN: I want to push back slightly on this.
MOYNIHAN: Yes. Here`s the thing I think we set up the false binary
when we`re talking about sort of free market stuff or limited government
people. You know, there is a tendency to conflate libertarian ideas or
maybe even conservative ideas which I don`t speak for, but with anarchism.
This Mitt Romney quote that we should put it back to the states, I
don`t think that there`s anyone -- I mean, there are people, but I don`t
think there`s a big movement of people that wants to get the government
entirely out of the business of preparing for disaster. There`s a lot of
people that made the argument in Katrina that Wal-Mart, there`s a number of
people wrote about this, a few studies about this, that pivoted really fast
and provided water. But I don`t think anyone would seriously suggest that
Wal-Mart -- of course, you can, Klaus.
HAYES: Hold on a second. I want you to carry through on that trash
talking after the commercial break.
HAYES: All right. We`re talking about climate change and disaster
and the politics thereof.
And, Klaus, you had something you wanted to say to Michael.
JACOB: Well, Michael, I heard probably the word libertarian 20 or 30
JACOB: Honestly, I`m sick and tired of it.
MOYNIHAN: Me saying it or Chris saying it?
MOYNIHAN: Just in general?
JACOB: In general, OK. The reason is this is a disaster and we
shouldn`t introduce ideologies into this. We have to think about what`s
the reality out in the street and those that are really affected by it
right now. They couldn`t care less about those words. And what is needed
is right now response of the first responders, response by the public, yes,
by government, and ultimately by the society at large.
HAYES: Let me really defend Michael for a second. Let me jump in on
your side --
MOYNIHAN: Can I jump in response now?
MOYNIHAN: I mean, it is a political issue.
MOYNIHAN: It is a politicized issue and we`re talking, you know, in
the context of what the right solutions are, and I just want to say and be
very, very sort of strident about this, is that nobody has a monopoly on
injecting politics into an issue that should be politicized like Benghazi,
it`s a political issue.
MOYNIHAN: And, you know, we have the "Bloomberg Businessweek" cover.
MOYNIHAN: You know, I have the thing on "Huffington Post" that Sandy
has, in fact, brought together a trifecta of progressive policy
MOYNIHAN: Look, I have no problem with people saying that. We have
to talk about these issues from a political perspective because the
solutions in the future are political and our politicians, Ed Markey, and
everybody else have to fix this thing.
HAYES: I agree with it completely and I think in terms of the
ideological point I do think that -- I mean, I tend to be skeptical of
people wanting to get rid of ideology because I think it infuses
everything. But I think the point Michael is making which I think is a
good one for liberals to hear is that, you know, the caricature version of
libertarianism where the government doesn`t do anything, I think what you
were saying there`s a role -- you can call yourself a libertarian and still
believe in disaster relief from the state and that`s an important point to
The other thing I want to say, though, is to you, Eric and you Klaus,
and this gets to the idea of the sea gate, right? There are some people
who say, well, one way to protect -- one way we can protect New York is to
build some sea gates. They do it in --
HAYES: They do it in Amsterdam. It would be -- I think we have an
animation of a Dutch firm which drew up an animation of what this would
look like. Basically you have ships coming through and then, you know,
they can pass and we can have ship traffic in the Verrazano-Narrows when
the time comes and there`s a huge storm surge, well, you see the walls sort
of come together there and they go up in this sort of sci-fi-esque kind of
And one of the things I want to say here is, you know, when we think
about the Army Corps of Engineers, right, that`s the state, that`s the
government. And they have this public role. And they have been
disastrously dysfunctional in all kinds of ways, right?
I mean, there are the levees that they built and tested in New Orleans
didn`t work when they should of. There are all sort of reasons they should
have known that the shipping channel called MRGO in New Orleans was
creating a massive arrow point of storm surge at the heart of New Orleans
and they ignored the warnings and they ignored their own reports about
My question to you if we do put money up there, if we do commit
resources to it and we have a DHS-like thing, what assures me that we`re
going to have any better results than we have from, say, the Army Corps of
KLINENBERG: Well, here, I think here the key point is to return to
what you said before the kind of people we use to lead these agencies. I
think there`s a stark choice for Americans to make in the elections this
Tuesday. You know, do you believe that a particular candidate can actually
make good decisions about who to lead organizations like this?
When Clinton was president, he put James Lee Witt in charge of FEMA.
And by all accounts on the left and the right, he did a tremendous job of
revitalizing the organization, to make it work, to protect Americans.
When Bush took over as president, he put Michael Brown in FEMA and we
all know the story, it was ludicrous to see Michael Brown criticizing
President Obama today for reacting. I mean, my goodness!
KLINENBERG: So I think that we can`t guarantee that any particular
agency will work perfectly, but we do have to think about which leader is
going to put in position people who can act effectively, who will respect
the professional workers and government who do such a good job. It was
important to hear John Nichols talking earlier about the laborers who come
out to putting their own lives at risk in situations like this, you know,
we need to maintain support for this. And I want to be clear that over the
last 15 years, we have seen Republican administrations eviscerate the
professional workers in federal agencies, we have seen Republican governors
eviscerate state agencies, and in my view that`s what makes us less
resilient and more vulnerable.
ARMAH: I just want to say because I think the point that you make
picks up this idea that you say that nobody really seriously takes their
idea of lessening government a serious point.
MOYNIHAN: No, I don`t mean lessening. I mean eliminating and
privatizing sort of every reaction to disaster, for instance.
ARMAH: The point I want to make is the ways the Republicans deal the
head of FEMA and they are completely ignoring the importance of that role,
and being willing to institute somebody who has absolutely no experience
and cannot do the job signifies how willing a Republican government is to
completely negate the importance of --
HAYES: That`s an ideological point and then there`s an actual sort of
partisan record point about whether you care enough to think that these
functions are important.
MOYNIHAN: Look, the Bush administration`s record on this --
HAYES: Speaks for itself.
MOYNIHAN: -- indefensible. But I wanted to ask Eric and Klaus a
question, this sort of conversation about money and about, you know, how
much money is being sort of allocated for this stuff that`s been cut, we
have two studies we talked about. One very interesting thing that Klaus
wrote in 2009 and you had mentioned a few that had kind of Rasputin-like
way said this is going to happen in New Orleans, too.
It doesn`t strike me and this is actually a question that this is a
lack of money. It wasn`t as if these projects had started and they ran out
of money or the funding was cut. Is it -- am I wrong in thinking that this
stuff was never reacted to at all?
HAYES: Hold that thought. I want you to answer right after we take a
quick break. Sorry.
HAYES: Klaus, Michael asked you a question about resources and
preparation, and you had something to say about New Orleans and the --
JACOB: Well, let`s take New Orleans. Katrina cost roughly $100
billion. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent I think on the order of
$15 billion after the storm to fix the problem. It would have taken maybe
$8 billion to $10 billion or something like that to fix it before the
So, for every $1 that you spend ahead of disaster protecting against
disaster has been on average nationwide shown to save you $4 of not
JACOB: In New Orleans, it would be a 10-1 benefit cost.
HAYES: I should also say there are some people and Harry Scherer is
one of them and done very good reporting on this, that say it`s still not
fixed. And there`s folks outside the government in the pumping stations
JACOB: And you have to think about it because we should not fall into
the trap what we are in New Orleans.
So, there`s the discussion about barriers. I think all options are
right now on the table. What we have to do is spending money so engineers,
not levees, but engineers can go through the options and price them out and
then see for how long that is good.
KLINENBERG: I just want to intervene, again, on the political issue
here which is that the Republican Party has been against science and not
just environmental science and climate science but the science of
engineering, the science of evolution. I mean, this touches something very
deep in our political debate right now, and we are at a moment where we
need innovative investments in scientific research. We need to think about
how to rebuild cities. We need to invest in smart infrastructure.
And this is part of the political decision that Americans have to make
HAYES: Let me say, though -- science is necessary but not sufficient
for these decisions.
HAYES: I mean, science doesn`t tell you what you do. We`re still a
JACOB: We have options.
HAYES: Options that --
JACOB: And options.
JACOB: And the political process has to decide which way to go.
HAYES: All right. Klaus Jacob from Columbia University who wrote an
incredibly prescient report about what would happen to New York during a
storm surge and was unfortunately borne out this week. It was great to
have you at the table. Thank you.
JACOB: Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you for your work and thank you for being here.
HAYES: And Eric Klinenberg from NYU -- thanks so much for joining us
this morning. We`re really, really appreciate it.
HAYES: Why Mitt Romney is lying about the auto bailout. That`s next.
HAYES: Mitt Romney asking voters, what do you want? Just tell me,
I`ll tell you.
HAYES: President Obama`s revival of General Motors and Chrysler,
which in all likelihood would have been liquidated had his administration
not kept them above water with a government-led rescue in 2009 is pretty
popular in Ohio. Now, popularity is an obstacle to Mitt Romney who opposed
a key part of the rescue when initiated by the Bush administration and now
finds himself with a stubborn polling deficit in a state he more or less
has to win to win the presidency.
So, the Romney campaign has escalated their attempts to rewrite the
history of the auto rescue and are now simply making things up about the
current auto industry that exists today. The released this ad which began
airing last week in Ohio to claim that President Obama sold Chrysler to
Italians who plan to build Jeeps in China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN AD)
AD NARRATOR: Who will do more for the auto industry? Not Barack
Obama, fact checkers confirm his attacks on Mitt Romney are false. The
truth? Mitt Romney has a plan to help the auto industry. He`s supported
by Lee Iacocca and "The Detroit News."
Obama took G.M. into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are
going to build jeeps in China.
Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`m Mitt Romney and I approved
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The ad is -- to put it as charitably as possible --
aggressively misleading, so much so that it caused panic calls from the
autoworkers at the Ohio Jeep plant from fear their jobs are being
outsourced and prompted both G.M. and Chrysler to set the record straight
First on the "Detroit News" on Tuesday, Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of
Chrysler, wrote an op-ed saying, quote, "I feel obliged to unambiguously
restate our position. Jeep production will not be moved from the United
States to China. Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the
United States and will create the backbone of the brand. It isn`t accurate
to suggest anything different."
And there was this response later in the day from G.M. spokesman Greg
Martin in "The Detroit Free Press". "We`ve clearly entered some parallel
universe during the last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its
cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and
repatriating profits back to this country."
The Obama campaign worked up their own response ad. And yesterday,
the president rebutted Mitt Romney directly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`ve got folks who
work at the Jeep plant who have been calling their employers worried,
asking is this true? Are our jobs being shipped to China?
And the reason they`re making these calls is because Governor Romney`s
been running an ad that says so. Except it`s not true. Everybody knows
it`s not true. The car companies themselves had told Governor Romney to
knock it off.
I know, you know, we`re close to an election, but this isn`t a game.
These are people`s jobs. These are people`s lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Back with us at the table now, John Nichols, my colleague at
"The Nation" magazine; Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist in the U.S.
Labor Department under President Obama.
Great to have you guys back.
I should note one small technicality, right, which is they are -- Jeep
is going to do -- open a factory to produce Jeeps in China for the Chinese
market. So, the point is that they are not moving jobs. There`s not
outsourcing. They are opening a new factory in China to produce Jeeps for
the Chinese market.
And I should note this, this is something I learned when I went to
China, which is a fun and interesting fact, I think. Chinese consumers
love American cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HAYES: Love American cars.
American cars have hugely high status in China. And so, American
carmakers are very excited about the Chinese market, to make that point.
John, what role is this auto question playing in the politics out
there? You`re -- you`ve been reporting in that region of the country for
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: It`s huge. I mean, it`s giant, because the
American auto industry when it got going, you know, they started in
Detroit, it`s true. But then they kind of moved out in spokes down to
Toledo, over to Lordstown, across the lake to Kenosha, down to Indiana.
The fact of the matter is there are very few industries in America
that are so broadly spread through regions. Now, the way that most of our
media covers it, it`s just Michigan, right? The fact of the matter is, I
was the editor "The Toledo Blade" for many years. Our line always was --
when Michigan gets a cold, Toledo`s got pneumonia.
NICHOLS: So, this is in many ways auto is as big or bigger issue in
Ohio for a whole bunch of reasons. And the fascinating thing about this
is, this is an intentional strategy by Mitt Romney. It is one of the most
remarkable things I`ve ever seen in politics and I`ve covered a lot of
He went to Defiance, Ohio, and he said, I read in "Bloomberg" that
they`re going to --
HAYES: Ship your jobs --
NICHOLS: He said it straight on. And move it all over. And then
they immediately called out.
And Chrysler -- at Fiat, Chrysler says, this is going to take a circus
acrobat to read the article that way. So you think, oh, that`s when you
shut down. No.
Then they go up with an ad saying it. Then they get called out by the
head of Fiat. And then they get called out by G.M. Then they go up with a
radio ad that is even more aggressive, and then Paul Ryan goes out on the
trail and goes back to Romney and Romney`s initial arguments about they
just ship and all sorts of stuff over, and totally trashing the auto
bailout without ever mentioning that Paul Ryan voted for the auto bailout.
It is surreal and I have to tell you, "The Toledo Blade", my old
paper, front page stories each day about this isn`t true, how are people
responding. I think that when the history of this campaign is written,
there`s going to be a chapter on this and it`s going to be Mitt Romney`s --
I mean, it is a high bar, Mitt Romney`s dumbest move.
HAYES: Betsey, can you adjudicate a little bit this dispute about
what happened in auto in terms of Mitt Romney`s contention that he was
basically for the policy that ended up happening even though he clearly was
intervening in the debate to make sure that policy didn`t happen.
BETSEY STEVENSON, BLOOMBERG.COM: Well, I think he wasn`t for the
bailout. I don`t think anyone thinks he was. He`s on record saying he
STEVENSON: But to be fair to him, there were a lot of economists who
STEVENSON: -- this is private sector business, if they can`t make it,
we need to let them go belly up.
There were other people who said, look, we`re facing the biggest
credit crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression. They
can`t borrow the money they need, should we let them go bankrupt because
they are in this kind of problem when the entire country`s financial
situation -- financial industry is having this kind of problem.
And that`s -- I think it was, you know, a legitimate decision to say
we`re going to lend them that money. Not everybody supported it, though,
and Romney didn`t.
HAYES: I want to bring in Bruce Baumhauer, president of the United
Auto Workers Local 12, which represents workers in a Jeep plant in Toledo,
And, Bruce, I want to hear what you`re making of all this back-and-
BRUCE BAUMHAUER, PRES., UNITED AUTO WORKERS, LOCAL 12: Well, it`s
been quite a week for us you can imagine when the initial remark was made
that they were transferring all Jeep production over to China. My phones
are burning up.
I got in the offices the next morning, I had people in there. I had
three generations. I had a woman, her father, and her son who all work at
the plant who are in -- she was in tears thinking that there was some truth
to that. So it`s pretty unsettling for a day or two, but then Sergio
Marchionne came out and squashed that.
And we also reminded people that there`s nothing new about us building
Jeeps in China. We built Jeeps in China -- actually, I worked for American
Motors in 1979 when they owned Jeep Corporation and they negotiated in `79
to deal with Beijing, which created a company called Beijing Jeep, and we
opened up that plant in 1984.
HAYES: That`s amazing. That`s, of course, George Romney`s old --
that`s, of course, Mitt Romney`s father`s old company and it was a pioneer
in Chinese production back in 1979.
HAYES: I want to hear more about how this is playing out politically
and how you understand the stakes of this on Tuesday right after we take
HAYES: All right. Bruce, I want you to tell me if from the outside,
the basic political contours of this are that the auto rescue has been the
key issue in the fact that Mitt Romney has been unable to pull even or pull
ahead of President Obama. He`s outperforming among certain demographics
white men, for instance.
Is that basic assumption I think we have in the national political
press largely accurate? Is that really what it`s about?
BAUMHAUER: I think it is. I think the auto recovery has -- the
Toledo piece of the auto recovery had a monumental success, and the whole
northern part of Ohio recognizes the importance of that, and I think this
was an effort, a desperate effort, quite frankly, to discredit that
HAYES: John, you talked about the ways in which and I think is a
really interesting part of this, I don`t think people understand how much
the productive capacity of auto even during normal times is constantly
expanding and contracting. So, people are extremely attuned to where sales
are going and what`s happening because ships will be cut back and places
will be furloughed and you`ll be rehired in. And so, people had a real ear
for when someone says something on the campaign trail, like, they`re
closing down your plant.
NICHOLS: Well, Bruce works with a local -- I used to know when I was
in Toledo a guy named Oscar Bunch (ph) who was the head of the local there
before Bruce. And Oscar, great trade unionist, used to say that my people
in the plant have been through so many cutbacks, so many layoffs, so many
closings, many of them bumped into other plants that closed because can do
it in the UAW system.
Toledo, I covered, when the whole side of Toledo, plant after plant
after plant closed, and they develop an ear, and when they hear official --
and we say that politicians lie, I know we talked about that.
NICHOLS: When they hear somebody official that they don`t think is
going to lie about it, it is heard. And I have had UAW and steelworkers
people say to me that one of their genuine fears you put stuff like this
out, there are folks who think of suicide, think of, you know, really
terrible, terrible things. I think Bruce will back that up, that there are
people whose lives are so wrapped up in this work -- in having this work in
towns that don`t have a lot of other options.
You play with this kind of stuff, you play politics with this, you`re
in a dangerous game.
BAUMHAUER: You know, I think, actually I think that`s what happened,
I think it backfired when the comments first came out last weekend, there
was that real fear throughout the community for two or three days. But now
that it`s been cleaned out by a lot of different sources, it`s turned into
a different thing.
All I`m hearing now from my members, we had a big rally yesterday
about 350 people and everybody thought it was pretty pitiful from somebody
who wants to be the commander-in-chief to try to put that scare into
HAYES: Bruce, can I ask you this question? I think people -- yes,
please go ahead.
BAUMHAUER: Go ahead.
I just want to tell you we`ve had the entire international media on
Toledo this entire week around town. They saw the construction cranes
going up and all the -- we`re doing a half a billion dollar expansion on
the Jeep facility right now so that we can improve our production
capabilities. We`re working two shifts right now of 10 hours each, six
days a week and we can`t even meet the demand for the Jeep Wrangler.
And we`re hiring right now. We`re processing 1,150 new applicants.
I`m not talking about folks that are coming back from the recovery. We`ve
got all those people back -- 1,150 brand-new jobs that will be working in
the Jeep plant for the first time in their careers.
So, when they see that going on, the international media saw the
cranes and the expansions going on, they kind of scratched their head on
STEVENSON: I just wanted to say --
BAUMHAUER: I`m sorry, you had a question.
STEVENSON: Let`s come back and actually talk about the bailout was a
success, right? We lent them money, and I think we need to give credit to
the autoworkers. We need to give credit to, you know, the administration,
you know, G.M., Chrysler, they pulled this -- they got this last chance.
They saw it was the last chance and they really restructured and put that
money to good use.
That`s why they paid back their loans. They`ve added jobs. We`ve
added -- since they hit bottom in 2009, we`ve added 250,000 jobs in the
auto industry in the United States, including parts and manufacturing --
you know, including small parts.
But that has been the success, and we have to accept that. Trying to
tear that down, it`s just not factually correct.
HAYES: Here`s my question and this goes to you, Bruce. I was talking
to someone in finance yesterday who was involved in watching this process
unfold from the financial perspective, in terms of making bets on where the
stock was going to go and how creditors were going to be worked through in
the managed bankruptcy.
And one of the things that was interesting is learning about the way
that the auto business works and the fact that it is very exposed to
crisis. It doesn`t have a lot of resiliency built into it because of
actually the way they have set up the business.
And so, my question to you is, before we declare this a success, has
the industry come out of it with more resilience to a future crisis or
future downturn than it had going in?
BAUMHAUER: I think -- I think that was key really to the automotive
recovery that President Obama negotiated and worked out with the companies.
It wasn`t just a loan itself, but it was the restructuring of the labor
agreements, the whole cost structure. Our cost structures are now in line
with all of our competitors and it bodes well for future success.
And the other piece of it was Sergio Marchionne became CEO and he`s
brought in some technology to us that we never had before, especially in
terms of fuel efficiency. And that I told you about the half a billion
dollar expansion -- that`s going to build vehicles that we`re going to
build that are for global consumption, not just for U.S. or North American
but global consumption.
So, we`ll have those, you know -- if one market is soft and one
market`s strong, we`ll have various, a variety of different products and
we`ll be sending them to different markets all over the world.
HAYES: You got to chuckle when, you know, Sergio Marchionne is
commenting on a plant in Toledo. That`s globalization for you.
Bruce Baumhauer, president of United Auto Workers Local 12 in Ohio,
thanks so much for joining us.
BAUMHAUER: Thank you.
HAYES: So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers after this.
HAYES: All right. So what do we know that we didn`t know last week?
We got another tip on another CEO asking his employees to vote for Mitt
Romney, we`re going to bring that to you tomorrow.
What we know now is that Phillip Bentivolio, brother of Michigan
Republican congressional candidate Kerry Bentivolio thinks of his family
member`s candidacy. Quote, "I`ve never met anyone in my life who is
conniving and dishonest as this guy," Phillip Bentivolio told a local
reporter. "He`s my brother, so it`s hard to talk about this, but I believe
if he gets elected, he`ll eventually serve time in prison."
We know that amazingly Phillip`s brother Kerry is favored to win the
race for the seat vacated by oddball Republican Thaddeus McCotter. We know
that Kerry`s electoral strength comes either in spite of or stranger yet
still because of his career as Santa impersonator and reindeer farmer. I`m
making this up.
So, we also know that court documents reported during the campaign
quote Kerry Bentivolio saying of himself that he, quote, "had a problem
figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio."
We know the voters in Michigan 11th congressional district seem to
have eccentric taste in representatives.
We now know what we didn`t know about the Missouri campaign of
Congressman Todd "legitimate rape" Akin when he torpedoed what would have
been his cake walk into the Senate with his literally medieval scientific
opinions about rape and pregnancy. The national Republican Party sought to
salvage its shrinking image with women by distancing themselves from him
and that meant yanking their dollars, too.
But now, in a spending period that won`t be subject to transparency
until after the election is over, it turns out the Republican Party has
opened the funding spigot to Congressman Akin after all. Akin is launching
a nearly $700,000 ad buy in his state funded in part by a national
Republican committee. The RNC says it is not them.
The National Republican Senate Committee whose chairman, John Cornyn
of Texas, have said the NRSC would not be funding Akin has for days
declined to comment. So, now we know if you donated to the NRSC, because
you thought your money would not help put people like Todd Akin in the
Senate, it looks like you`ve been had.
And finally, we also know yet another realm beyond elections, beyond
ads, in which big money can shape the public discourse outside of public
scrutiny or accountability. This May, the University of Wyoming took down
an art installment called carbon zinc which logs and coal to illustrate
issues at stake in the fight over green energy, and said the piece had to
come down because of water damage.
But as Wyoming Public Radio first reported, the real reason was that
energy companies and state lawmakers and told the school to get rid of it.
As Wyoming Mining Association President Marion Loomis put it in an email to
the university, what kind of crap is this?
It was, of course, the kind of crap coal companies don`t want you
thinking about. We know as a general rule, if coal companies don`t think
you should be thinking about an issue, you should definitely be thinking
I want to find out what my guests know that they didn`t know at the
beginning of the week.
MOYNIHAN: Well, I know quite a bit actually after that storm, which
was -- which was enlightening. I did a bit of reporting about some of the
first responders. And what I didn`t know is that in all of this kind of
avalanche of coverage, there`s a number of very, very heroic people during
I mean, we can figure this, but in specifically the 60th precinct in
Coney Island. They were met with a five-foot wall of water that knocked
down a wall trapping two steamfitters in the basement. And all of these
guys, two in particular, Lieutenant O`Neill (ph) and Lieutenant Anderson
who went down and this guy was stuck underneath a fallen wall with water
levels rising. And something out of a film.
This is confirmed by everyone, and they went down there and pulled
that guy out and literally had to swim up to Neptune Avenue, to buses to
safety . What I didn`t know is how many just heroic guys are in Brooklyn.
HAYES: I got to say, NYU hospital where the staff evacuated the NICU.
I mean, the thought of having a premature child and have to watch them walk
down the stairs to be evacuated, no casualties lost in NYU hospital.
I want to give a special shout-out to the unionized transit workers
union folks who are right now in tunnels, waist deep in water, getting our
subway system back to work. Thank you for all you`re doing.
ARMAH: I think, you know, certainly, quite a bit about that
conversation about climate justice with the geophysicist, how great was
that for cable TV?
We also know that Mitt Romney has really taught is the degree to which
winning for him has become a total desecration of democracy, from voting
suppression tactics, to this particular moment where he`s willing to play
the kind of Russian roulette with people`s jobs, their lives. That
disconnection was a moment I think when his character, his leadership, came
What we also know is that I was hearing from organizations like Family
United for Racial and Economic Equality in New York and Brooklyn was about
the disparate services assigned to low incomes community of color. They
are talking about specifically about a lot of the public housing projects
where local nurses at the hospitals were talking about residents being sent
to the hospital because there weren`t enough services.
HAYES: Red Hook is really hurting right now. Red Hook, a
neighborhood in Brooklyn, public housing. A group called Red Hook
Initiative that`s been doing some good work. You can look that up. We`ll
put a link to our Web site.
NICHOLS: I know those fights we had about trade unions and public
employees, we see why we`ve fought, because we have seen some historic
stories and things that we have talked about. I also know that coming up
on Tuesday, we`re going to have a lot of talk about the presidential race,
we won`t pay enough attention to down ballot races.
What excites me is that there is a lot of action out there, real
important people and races running. But there`s also something we should
be aware of. Everything we talk about with Citizens United and big money
coming in, it is coming in down ballot, particularly in judicial races.
I will remind folks of the race in Michigan where a woman named
Bridget McCormack, University of Michigan law professor, started their
innocence clinic up there. Brilliant professor running for judge, got hit
with $1 million worth of advertising saying she is sympathetic for
terrorism, more or less, from a group called the Judicial Crisis Network,
not out of Michigan. They just don`t want her on the court. And it was a
brutal attack because she had made efforts to help make sure that
Guantanamo -- folks at Guantanamo were represented.
HAYES: We`ve seen that --
NICHOLS: She stood up for the rule of law and got attacked. We
should be aware of these kinds of fight.
HAYES: Betsey Stevenson?
STEVENSON: We got our jobs report and I think what that showed us is
that we are making steady progress in this recovery. And I think one of
the most telling things out of that report was the August numbers were
revised up again, nearly another 50,000. So when those numbers were first
reported, we thought we were doing terribly, adding less than 100,000 jobs.
We know think, August, we added 200,000.
And it`s a reminder of what we have to look at is the history of this
recovery. And it`s been a discovery where we are steadily adding jobs and
bringing the unemployment rate down. Everyone wants it to be faster, but
let`s make sure we keep going in that direction.
HAYES: It`s also a reminder, I have stopped covering the monthly job
report because the confidence interval is so wide, the margin of errors,
plus or minus 100,000 jobs, there are so many revisions. And we would
chase it every month. And I just stopped doing it because it was like this
is just a preliminary guesstimate basically of what it is.
So, my thanks to Michael Moynihan from "Newsweek" and "The Daily
Beast," Esther Armah from WBAI-FM, John Nichols from "The Nation" magazine,
and Betsey Stevenson from the University of Michigan, it was really great
today. Thank you so much for getting UP.
Thank you for joining us today for UP. Join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00. We`ll have my boss of "The Nation" magazine, Katrina
Vanden Heuvel, and legendary "New York Times" veteran Bob Herbert, on the
final days of the campaign and what comes afterward.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP", MSNBC`s
own New Orleans resident gives her take on hurricane Sandy and the
response. And Melissa`s letter today is for Michael Brown. That and Mitt
Romney`s auto absurdity. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00, the last day before the
election. Thanks for getting UP.
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