ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 28, 2013
Guests: Richard Kim, James Perry, Emily Bazelon, Rula Jebreal, Brandon Webb
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. And
thank you for joining us, and welcome back.
All right. Tonight, how John McCain spent his holiday weekend, not
like mine -- hint, his involves sneaking into a war zone and ratcheting up
the Syrian conflict.
Plus, he`s loud, he`s rude, he`s the mayor of a major metropolitan
city. He may or may not smoke crack, and he`s embroiled in the craziest
political scandal in North America.
And in #click3 -- the single most controversial piece of kitchenware
in the entire world.
But we begin tonight on the Jersey shore, where the American political
equivalent of Snooki and JWoww have reunited for one more stroll down the
Seven months after hurricane Sandy, President Obama returned to New
Jersey to survey the recovery efforts and announce to the world that after
millions of dollars spent on rebuilding, the shore was back open for
business. He was joined, of course, by Chris Christie, who led the
president around and even won a teddy bear for him in the football tossing
game at the arcade. It was all very sweet.
It was all very reminiscent of the iconic images from days after
superstorm Sandy. Days before the presidential election and Chris Christie
effusively thanked President Obama for his efforts in getting New Jersey
the federal aid it needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: He has worked incredibly closely
with me since before the storm hit. I think this is our sixth conversation
since the weekend. And it`s -- it`s been a great working relationship. I
cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion
for our state and for the people of our state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Governor`s open embrace of the president just six days before
the election angered the base of his party. But not quite as much when
Christie called a press conference on January 2nd for the sole purpose of
eviscerating House Republicans for stalling on Sandy aid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: There`s only one group to blame for the continued suffering
of these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John
Boehner. It was disappointing and disgusting to watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. Those big iconic moments between the president and
Chris Christie and Chris Christie and House Republicans, they reflected a
pivot from Christie and a really, really effective one at that. I mean,
this is a guy who gave a keynote at the Republican National Convention.
But just look at this, his approval ratings since then, since from the
storm, he went from 56 percent approval rating before the storm hit to a
record breaking 74 percent in February. He now hovers safely at 69
Now, the un-cynical interpretation of this is that Christie is the
governor of New Jersey, a state that was ravaged by Sandy and desperately
needed help from the federal government. And there`s probably a lot too
The cynical interpretation is that Christie is the governor of New
Jersey, a state that Obama won by 17 points and being a partisan identified
Republican, when the party`s brand is in the toilet, it does not bode well
for a guy that has an election this year, unlike anyone else in the
Christie`s now so powerful going into reelection that in our staff
meeting this morning, among people who follow politics for a living, it
took us an embarrassingly long time to remember the likely Democratic
opponent who, by the way for the record, is State Senator Barbara Buono.
All right. Here`s the crazy thing about all of this. Sandy is the
rock upon which Chris Christie has built his political and national
reputation of late, so much so he is likely going to cruise to victory this
November, barring, of course, some changes in the political outlook.
We all know he has national aspirations. So, now, that he`s cleared
the hurdle of state reelection or at least home state popularity by
pivoting towards Obama, we are now watching him pivot back. And guess
what, he is doing it on the very same thing he built his last pivot on,
which is Sandy.
Here`s Chris Christie answering NBC`s Matt Lauer`s question about the
role of climate change in Sandy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I haven`t shown any definitive proof yet that`s what caused
it. And listen, this is distraction. I`ve got a place to rebuild here and
people want to talk to me about esoteric theories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, the thing to understand about Sandy is that proof is
beside the point. Climate change will produce more extreme severe weather
and Sandy is an indicator of the climate future, actually the climate
present we face. If you view it as a one-off thing or unrelated to a
larger climate pattern, then you`re going to be in very, very bad shape.
Chris Christie`s attitude virtually guarantees that. Since taking
office, he has de-funded the Office of Climate Change and Energy within the
Department of Environmental Protection, taken $210 million out of the
state`s clean energy fund to balance the budget. Withdrawn the state from
the Northeast cap and trade plan, and perhaps most relevant, so woefully
underprepared his state transportation agency for the effects of climate
change that the state sustained over $120 million of damages to their
system after Sandy. This is a really incredible bit of reporting.
According to a report from "The Bergen Record", New York`s
Metropolitan Transit Agency or MTA had 11 damaged rail cars total after
Sandy, compared to 342 pieces of damaged New Jersey transit equipment,
including 11 locomotives that will cost $28 million to fix. And the reason
for the disparity is because New Jersey didn`t properly anticipate the
severity of the storm.
When WMIC and "The Record" filed public record requests to both
states, here`s what they found: the MTA plan for severe storms is detailed
in five binders, each three inches thick. New Jersey`s plan was 3 1/2
pages with everything blacked out. But, alas, Chris Christie is too busy
preparing to serve up red meat to bother with that. With his approval
rating high, and his political strength in New Jersey shored up, his
challenge right now is not governing, but beginning to remember how to tell
the Republican base everything they want to hear.
And it`s looking like climate denialism is going to be central to that
Joining me tonight from New Orleans, James Perry, a consultant on
hurricane relief efforts after Katrina and Sandy, and executive director of
the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
Here at the table, my friend and colleague, Richard Kim, executive
editor of TheNation.com.
I find Chris Christiology -- it`s like a guilty pleasure for me. I
find it -- like I hate how much press Christie gets, but I do find him
RICHARD KIM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THENATION.COM: Yes, I`m fascinated by
him because I grew up in New Jersey. And I actually went to that beach
that Obama and Chris Christie were at today, Point Pleasant Beach. It`s a
totally beautiful beach and I`m glad it`s getting a lot of attention.
And I have to give Chris Christie just like a few points here. So, he
had real empathy for his constituents. He actually fought his own party to
get hurricane Sandy relief when they were holding it hostage.
And so far, appears he`s kind of administered that relief without
turning it into some gross spectacle of crony capitalism, which what
happened with FEMA under George Bush.
But that sort of minimum bar, that minimum bar of believing in
disaster relief and administering it somewhat competently is not going to
cut it in the 21st century. We need actually massive amounts of disaster
mitigation and disaster adaption.
HAYES: And the only way to get that is to be right on this very
James, you were someone who has dealt with -- looked how disaster
recovery happens. Is there a story about how recoveries happen in New
Jersey that we`re not getting as much? Because we all see the shore and
the ribbon-cutting, and I wonder if there`s a story about the recovery in
New Jersey, specifically, that is not getting told in the same way.
JAMES PERRY, HOUSING EXPERT: Yes, you know, I`d say, Richard, just be
patient and you may see some of those typical politics happen here.
What`s happening I think that is most troubling is there`s been this
clear passion for a conservative approach. And so, you look at him taking
$200 million away from the energy trust fund, he`s taken -- tried to take
$164 million from affordable housing trust fund. And what`s quietly
happened, he tried to spend the money for Sandy in a way that wouldn`t help
low-income and urban communities.
So, I think, give it time, and you will see --
HAYES: Wait. What does that mean though? What does that mean?
PERRY: Sure. Well, here`s what`s clear. When you look at the
original plan that the governor submitted to recover from hurricane Sandy,
it had very little money for people who were in urban communities or low-
income communities. It was only after the Obama administration quietly
pushed him to add $75 million for low-income communities that he agreed to
And so, original approach here was going to be one that left out low-
income people, that left out poor people.
HAYES: That`s interesting you say that because what that says to me.
The interesting thing about the Obama/Chris Christie political partnership,
if you can call it that, it`s of course mutually beneficial, right? Obama
won the state by 17 points, Chris Christie gets to show he`s not your
standard Republican. President Obama gets to be seen doing the thing he
said he was going to be able to do, work with Republicans. Republicans
have unilaterally made it impossible for him to do that, by and large.
But what James just said is fascinating, because it makes me think
there`s actual political benefits to this relationship.
And my question was, is Barack Obama complicit in something we
shouldn`t be psyched about, in the fact that he`s going to do this big
high-profile event with Chris Christie in a year that there is going to be
a political opponent who`s going to run against him for governor.
KIM: Yes, you know, Barack Obama is getting a lot of bromance, too.
I mean, he`s looking like a centrist and someone who could talk to
Republicans. You know, Chris Christie is, I think, benefiting a whole lot
You know, my question is, I don`t know how much that bromance is going
to work for Chris Christie down the line if he has national ambitions to
actually win a Republican primary for president. That`s where the climate
denialism is exactly where he has to go.
HAYES: And this is the big question. James, do you think that
political relationship is actually bearing tangible fruit?
PERRY: Look, this -- absolutely, there`s no doubt about it. When
Chris Christie ran in 2009, he argued heavily about Corzine increasing
property taxes. They rose about 6 percent under Corzine. But the truth
is, under Christie, they`ve risen by 18 percent. I mean, that`s a huge
And so, at the moment you start to pay attention to the lack of
progress under the Christie administration, he`s in trouble. And so, you
have to focus on Sandy, Sandy, Sandy and Obama, Obama, Obama. That`s the
way he wins.
HAYES: How -- so, on the issue of climate, right? On him trying to
do undo this -- here`s he being relatively clear about what he thinks about
climate. This is him in August of 2011. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: In the past, I`ve always said that climate change is real
and it`s impacting our state. Decade average temperatures have been rising
and temperature changes are affecting weather patterns in our climate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, Chris Christie`s problem is the Newt Gingrich problem,
which is he`s now on record, right? Now, he`s starting to run away from
it. He`s now -- his new line, which I love is, to thread the needle and
not look like a doofus and a denier.
His new line is, well, it`s esoteric. This is the thing for egg-
headed people to do. And I`m too busy walking around the boardwalk, doing
my thing, getting this state back together to kind of interfere in this
But the climate change question relates to the broader question, which
is like the pictures of him and Barack Obama, him on record on climate
change, all that stuff is still there in the primary. It`s like how dumb
do you think Republican primary voters are or do you think you actually --
that the base isn`t going to be as strong as it is?
KIM: You know, I think Chris Christie thinks they`re pretty dumb,
because that is a cynical statement that he made. And actually, he went a
little further in recent days. He actually said, there`s no proof that
climate change caused hurricane Sandy.
And that`s just total red meat for the base and I find it so
disingenuous, because the claim is not that climate change caused hurricane
Sandy or causes hurricanes. The claim is that climate change makes it
worse. And we know that`s true. Sea levels in New York City are up a foot
before they were hundred years ago, and they`re set to rise five feet in
the next 100 years.
And, you know, it takes someone who believes in climate change to do
something about that.
HAYES: And also, James, quickly here, the other point is about,
you`ve got to be thinking about this stuff when rebuilding. My -- the
thing I keep thinking is, look how much money this costs. Everybody loves
the Jersey Shore. We love the beautiful beaches. We love the boardwalk.
But we just rebuilt the boardwalk in the same place. It`s the same
ocean, it`s the same climate. In fact, it`s only going to get worse. It
seems to me like we need to be thinking about this actively in what we
rebuild if we`re going to have any shot of not just repeating these images.
PERRY: If Governor Christie is serious about leadership, what he
would do is reinstate the energy fund, because he`d be able to then show
real leadership and show how he rebuilds his community in a way that
ensures that they are prepared for future disasters recognizing that
climate change is going to really impact this community. And I think
that`s a real path to ensuring resiliency in New Jersey but also showing
that he`s ready for the presidency.
HAYES: The housing trust fund point you made. We should know that a
federal judge has struck down his attempt to use that housing trust fund
money for the second time. I`m sorry --
PERRY: The state Supreme Court today, as Christie was walking around
the shore trying to get more money from the government, he was actually
refusing to spend trust fund money. But thank goodness the state Supreme
Court stepped in.
HAYES: Richard Kim of TheNation.com and James Perry of the Greater
New Orleans Fair Action Housing Center -- good to have you both. Thank
PERRY: Thank you.
HAYES: A big aggressive move for the president against the chronic
obstruction of Republicans in Congress. He`s daring them to filibuster.
It`s coming up.
HAYES: An update tonight on a story we`ve been following here at ALL
Last week, we spoke with high school senior Kaitlyn Hunt who faces two
felony charges for her consensual relationship with a 14-year-old female
classmate. Kaitlyn`s parents claim these charges are motivated by
homophobia. When we spoke, Kaitlyn Hunt had two days before a plea
deadline that included pleading guilty to two counts of child abuse, two
years of house arrest followed by one year of probation and sex offender
On Friday, Kaitlyn Hunt rejected that plea deal. She now faces trial,
and if convicted, she faces a maximum of up to 15 years in prison. And we
will definitely continue to follow this story here and on our Web site
HAYES: Have you been waiting for President Obama to do something,
anything, to fight back against the unprecedented obstructionism by the
Republican Congress against his nominees? Then, keep an eye on this story.
According to the "New York Times," an aggressive and unprecedented
move of his own, the president is getting ready to announce three nominees
to D.C. Court of Appeals, all at the same time. "The Times" says President
Obama will effectively be daring Republicans to find specific ground to
filibuster all the nominees -- or in other words, he`s betting that
Republicans won`t have the nerve to block them all.
This forward-leaning posture when it comes to judicial nominees is a
new position for the president, because the story of judges below the
Supreme Court level throughout the Obama years has been one of tremendous
obstruction by Republicans. And to be frank, some laziness on the part of
the White House which has been a little laid back in appointing new federal
These new factors have worked together to reduce President Obama`s
impact on lower courts. The number of court vacancies rose during
President Obama`s first term from 57 to 75 comparatively during President
Bush`s first term, vacancies dropped from 81 to 41.
While people were paying attention to other things last week, the
Senate voted 97-0 to confirm the president`s nominee, Sri Srinivasan to the
D.C. Court of appeals. That`s good news.
The bad news: do you know whose vacancy Sri Srinivasan was filling?
Chief Justice John Roberts` seat, which has been empty since he moved to
the Supreme Court in 2005.
Getting judges nominated to the D.C. Court of Appeals is pivotal for
the president, mainly because the D.C. Court of Appeals is very, very
important. It`s widely considered the second most important court in the
nation after the Supreme Court because it is where laws passed by Congress
are challenged and Senate Republicans realize how important it is. It`s
been a huge battle for them to pack that court.
And so much so, in fact, they are looking to hold on to the court`s
current conservative tilt by -- get this -- introducing legislation to
reduce the number of judges on the D.C. circuit, conveniently by the same
number of vacancies left on the court, three.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: The legislation is very
straightforward. It would add a seat to the second and the 11th circuit.
At the same time, it would reduce the number of authorized judgeships for
the D.C. circuit from 11-8.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But in the face of such maximalist opposition from
Republicans, today`s "Times" piece signals a total change in strategy from
the White House -- fight back with maximalism of its own.
It also comes in tandem with increasing noise being made by Majority
Leader Harry Reid on getting rid of the right to filibuster judicial
nominees. It has always been the case that nothing was ever going to
happen with respect to the filibuster without the White House pushing for
it. And what the president`s new strategy of announcing three nominees at
once does, to shine a big bright light on Republican obstructionism in the
Joining me tonight, Emily Bazelon, senior editor and legal affairs
writer for "Slate."
Emily, it`s great to have you with us.
Can we start with the practice of filibustering judicial nominees? I
remember when we had big blowup over this, and the roles were somewhat
reversed. It was Democrats filibustering Bush judicial nominees and then
we were saved from a group of bipartisan senators who got together and
struck a deal that was going to stop that from happening again.
Like, where did we end up on that? Because it seems to me like
whatever they did there is not working.
EMILY BAZELON, SLATE MAGAZINE: Well, whatever they did there hasn`t
lasted. They made a deal that the filibuster for judges would only be used
in exceptional circumstances. But since President Obama took office in his
first term, the waiting time for his nominees from when they get approved
in committee to a floor vote has increased by more than four times.
So, there`s all kinds of delay and filibuster happening and it`s
become really routine.
HAYES: The routinization of it strikes again for this deal that was
cut, right, which is that you only got to filibuster in exceptional
circumstances and the meaning of exceptional has been completely destroyed.
Caitlin Halligan, who is a nominee -- nominated twice, right, by the
president, to fill a spot on this court, she was filibustered two times for
one case that she had worked on, right, in New York.
BAZELON: Exactly. She had come in on the side of the theory that
it`s possible under negligence to sue gun manufacturers. And that was the
reason the Republicans gave for blocking her nomination.
HAYES: And that constitutes exceptional. So, now, we`re at a point
where just working on one case constitutes exceptional. I want to read you
this section of "The Times" article today, which drove me a little crazy,
because it`s refused to render a judgment on what was an empirical claim.
Republicans deny they were obstructing the president`s nominee and saying
Mr. Obama`s picks were being confirmed more quickly than were President
George W. Bush`s nominees when Democrats controlled the Senate.
Let me show you a statistic, President Obama`s judicial nominees are
waiting 80 days longer than Bush nominees in the first term of their
presidency. There it is in black and white. The problem is objectively
getting worse, am I right? This is not just Republican blinders on my
BAZELON: The problem of delay is definitely getting worse. You know,
I think one of the underlying issues here is nobody has ever defined a
precise standard for when someone is exceptional, when they`re really
It seems like some of the filibustering of choices like Halligan are
on the other side of that line. And like we were saying, this has just
become routine practice. It`s not about controversy. It`s not as if
there`s some obvious way to draw a line here.
HAYES: Right. Which is what comes down -- which brings me to the
point, which is, this is just sheer political will to power, right? There
are -- I mean, everything that guides this process are basically norms.
And those norms are created by calculations of who has political power,
which is why, I think, it`s such a remarkable thing for the White House to
take this unprecedented step and have three nominees at a time because they
are proactively trying to initiate conflict with the Republicans because
they`re so fed up with this.
Is that the right reading?
BAZELON: I think that`s right. You know, choosing judges in an
incredibly important way in which the president cements his legacy, any
president. For Obama, there`s already a new challenge to Obamacare coming
through the federal courts. Whatever he does and Congress does on
immigration reform, climate change, they will all be challenged.
And so, I think what you have here is the president making a big move
and finally signaling that he is ready to take seriously the lower federal
courts and make this a priority. Which given his record thus far is
HAYES: Yes, that has been one of the parts of the presidency in the
first term, I think that a lot of people felt was not great and that was a
combination of what the White House did and obstruction. But the big
question now becomes: what happens next? If Republicans filibuster all
three, my sense is, that`s a great way of showing the notion of exceptional
is ridiculous, right? Because it can`t just happen to be that all three of
these nominees, all of whom seem fairly safe are exceptionally bad.
BAZELON: Right. And it also shines a big light on these delay
tactics, which should increase the political price for them, right?
Because obstructionism of this kind is not a mainstream political thing to
BAZELON: And so, if you make it really loud and clear what`s
happening, maybe some of the Republican senators will start feeling some
pressure back from their constituents.
HAYES: And that is the point of this entire thing, right? There are
no rules here. There is what you can get away with. And the question is
what the outcome of political pressure is.
Emily Bazelon of "Slate", thanks so much, I really appreciate it.
BAZELON: Thanks so much for having me.
HAYES: All right. Move over, Marion Barry, the title of mayor
involved in a most insane crack scandal no longer belongs to you. The new
champion in detail, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Happy birthday, Rob Ford. Please resign, Rob Ford.
REPORTER: Why should the mayor resign?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he`s humiliating us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those were protesters in Toronto earlier commemorating the
44th birthday of their embattled Mayor Rob Ford.
Mr. Ford is now at the center of the single, strangest caper currently
brewing in North American politics. We aren`t used to hearing or reading
about a Canadian scandal. And if we do, it`s more along the lines of,
well, this -- the mayor of Winnipeg having to explain to constituents why
he casually tossed a freshly chewed piece of gum on the ground. That`s a
true Canadian scandal happening right now.
But thanks to Rob Ford, the bar setting the standard for what
constitutes a Canadian scandal has creeped quite a bit upward. And the
story gets weirder by the day.
All right. It all started when two separate media outlets, "The
Toronto Star", a Canadian newspaper, and the Web site Gawker, both
published reports describing a cell phone video that allegedly shows Ford
having a laid back conversation with drug dealers and smoking crack
cocaine. The cell phone video has been written about and never shown to
the public because it reportedly comes with a price tag.
Gawker, launched an online campaign which they were calling
"Crackstarter" raising $200,000 needed to obtain the video. Editor John
Cook (ph) says they got the money but the website has lost contact with the
people who have custody of the video.
As for Ford, he has denied the existence of the video. He`s also
denied using crack cocaine, although it was one of the greatest non-denial
And the saga took another bizarre turn with a new report from a
Canadian newspaper that indicates that a man may have been killed because
of his possession of the infamous videotape. In the meantime, two of the
mayor`s top press aides have resigned, and Ford fired his chief of staff
after the chief of staff decided to talk to the police about this whole
And today, Ford was questioned whether or not his staffers attempted
to obtain the video that allegedly shows him smoking crack. All this is
just the latest chapter in what could be called the Rob Ford reality show.
Prior to becoming mayor, Ford served as a Toronto city counselor for a
decade with a real knack for offensive statements and bullying behavior.
He lobbied against an AIDS prevention program because "if you`re not
doing needles and you`re not gay, you wouldn`t get AIDS probably." He was
kicked out of a Toronto Maple Leaves hockey game for drunkenly calling
people, among other things, communists.
And Ford had a meltdown at a reporter who he believed insulted him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: Sir, walk away, it`s the easiest way to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer the question.
FORD: From what I said, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer the question.
FORD: Why did you say that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you call him a -- you said that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just heard you. That`s right.
FORD: What did you say? What did you just say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just called him a fat --
FORD: You just did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to lie? Are you going to lie about
it. You just said that.
FORD: You just called him a fat -- why did you do that? I`d like to
know what your editor says about this. I`d like to know what your editor
says about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can`t you face the music? Why can`t you say that?
FORD: You called me a fat [ bleep ].
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Even when Ford is delivering what he calls compliments, he
attracts controversy. He was forced to apologize for remarks he made
regarding the work ethic in the Asian community, "those Oriental people
work like dogs. They sleep beside their machines. They`re slowly taking
over. They`re hard, hard workers."
As writer Herman Rosenfeld put it, "Rob Ford is like the crotchety
obnoxious relative who embarrasses everyone at family gatherings, belching
and farting at the table. Somehow, though, he became the head of the
As mayor, Ford has embarked on an aggressively right wing political
agenda. He`s anti-tax, anti-union, and is anti-spending on services to the
poor. To anyone well acquainted with, say, Scott Walker or John Kasich
here in the states, this must sound familiar. He privatized half the
garbage pick up, took away the right of transit workers to strike, cut bus
routes, forced key concessions from public sector workers, refused to
provide needed shelter for the homeless.
He opposed any new forms of surface mass transit, seeing it as part of
the war on the car. That actually has been a consistent passion project of
Ford`s. In the past, he`s called cyclists "a pain in the ass who should
expect to get injured."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: And what I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks.
Sooner or later, you`re going to get bitten. And my heart bleeds for them
when I hear someone gets killed. But it`s their own fault at the end of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s a ridiculous and offensive metaphor, but one that could
apply more accurately to Ford`s current situation. When you spend the
brunt of your political career making enemies and offending a slew of
interest groups, sooner or later, you, Rob Ford, are going to get bitten.
And when you`re allegedly on video smoking crack, the feeding frenzy should
come as no surprise.
And you know what? It`s your own fault, at the end of the day. We`ll
be right back with Click Three.
HAYES: Nothing like a long holiday weekend for a U.S. senator to go
slipping behind enemy lines in a war zone. But John McCain isn`t the only
member of Congress taking his act abroad. One congressman is bringing his
own Boston bombing investigation to Russia. That is coming up.
But first, I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with what is truly the most Internet-ty thing at the
moment, JC Penney`s Hitler Teapot billboard, spotted as such by a Reddit
user of course. And since Hitler memes always cause a frenzy, it was
downhill from there, with Gawker offering the side by side comparison, a
likeness that cannot be denied, right down tot he salute.
It rocketed to the very top of Things That Look Like Hitler Website.
As you see there, the tape recorder that looks like Hitler coming in second
place. Though, it can`t compare to the actual Hitler Teapot which JC
Penney had nothing to do with, thank God.
But it wasn`t long before JC Penney was clarifying on Twitter,
"certainly unintended. If we designed it to look like something, we
would`ve gone with a snow man or something fun." And this, JC Penney has
announced they are ending plans for a billboard featuring a Pol Pot of
coffee. Yes, that was a joke.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, Beyonce taking
charge as always. The singer was performing "Irreplaceable" at a concert
in Copenhagen this weekend when a fan she generously included in the sing
along slapped her behind as she walked away, which we now offer in slow-mo,
in case you didn`t catch the infraction. Beyonce was quick to offer this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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HAYES: All right. Got it, loser? Just happens to remind me of my
favorite Beyonce cover ever, "Halo" as performed by the brilliant singer
and song writer L.P.
HAYES: And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today, "Arrested
Development" hangover. One day after Netflix released all 15 episodes of
the series` much anticipated fourth season, the binge analysis has begun,
notably with NPR`s meticulous guide to running gags on the show. It
details the occurrence of a particular joke through all four seasons, for
example under the heading Tobias, running jokes about Tobias` sexual
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`m not gay. No, Lindsay, how many times must
we have this -- no.
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HAYES: Brand new season available all at once, to be consumed by fans
in the fraction of the time it took to get here.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to help you. We like to pull
together around here. No, you watch your back, mister.
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HAYES: You can find all the links for tonight`s Click Three on our
website AllInWithChris.com We`ll be right back.
HAYES: spring, it`s that time of year when the weather is perfect for
travel, and Congress is on break, and when we therefore unleash 535
different American foreign policies on the entire world. Case in point,
California`s own Dana Rohrabacher, Republican congressman since 1989, a man
who has fancied himself a sort of freelance secretary of state, going back
decades. Yep, that is him in Afghanistan in 1988 around the time of the
Soviet withdrawal from the country, dressed in his Mujahadeen freedom
It was shortly after he was first elected when he decided, hey, why
not go join up with a rebel infantry group in Afghanistan. Congressman
Rohrabacher also once famously assigned himself the task of investigating
the foreign Jihadi ties of the Oklahoma City bombing, an investigation that
reached all the way to the Philippines, as the congressman learned that
both Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and 1993 World Trade
Center bomber Ramzi Yousef were once there at the very same time.
But this week`s episode of Dana Rohrabacher, global terror private
eye, brings him personally to Russia where he said he hopes to get to the
bottom of why Russia`s 2011 request the U.S. investigate Boston bombing
subject Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not ultimately result in the U.S. foiling the
Boston bombing plot. Congressman Rohrabacher telling ABC News, quote, "if
there was a distrust or a lack of cooperation because of that distrust
between the Russian intelligence and the FBI, that needs to be fixed.
We`ll be talking about that. There`s no reason for us to be in the Cold
War attitude anymore."
Quite enlightened. According to Rohrabacher`s office, he`s scheduled
to be joined on this trip by a full bipartisan delegation, including a
couple of Democrats, Bill Keating of Massachusetts and Steve Cohen of
Tennessee, as well as fellow Republican Paul Cook, and famed foreign policy
luminary Steve King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
We don`t know all the ins and outs of their schedule, but there has
been some talk of actually going to Dagestan, in the violence prone Caucus
region, to do some first-hand investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev`s trip
there in 2011. Michele Bachmann, you might remember, warned back in 2011
about the rise of the Soviet Union. So this should be a really informative
trip for her on a whole bunch of different issues that reach far beyond the
Boston bombing investigation.
A member of this week`s Russia delegation has actually already sent
one of his congressional staffers to Russia to investigate the Boston
bombing suspect`s potential links to extremists there. That staffer
apparently brought back some valuable intel, mostly from ABC News` website.
Who knows, maybe ABCNews.com reads differently if you`re actually reading
it from inside Russia while conducting a key Congressional investigation.
But even as Dana Rohrabacher and company decamp to Russia to push for
more U.S./Russia cooperation on security matters, another extremely
prominent member of Congress, also someone who likes to dabble in his very
own brand of freelance foreign policy, snuck into a war zone to meet with
rebels who are fighting against a government that is being actively
supported right now by Russia.
You`re looking at pictures of John McCain in Syria. He crossed the
border from Turkey and stayed in Syria for several hours where he met with
leaders of the Free Syrian Rebel Group, making him the highest ranking
American official to set foot inside Syria since civil war broke out more
than two years ago, all part of a plan he apparently did not share with his
daughter ahead of time.
Meghan McCain Tweeting, quote, "nothing quite like finding out via
Twitter that my father secretly snuck into Syria and met with rebel
leaders." John McCain has been perhaps the most stalwart advocate of the
Syrian rebels in all of Congress. But that makes sense given Senator
McCain`s long history as a resident arm the rebels guy in Washington.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to get a sanctuary for the
Free Syrian Army. We need to get them supplies. We need to get them
I do believe that, as we have in the past, we can help facilitate
weapons to get to the hands of the Libyan Military, those who are fighting
Congress passed a law a couple of years ago called the Iraqi
Liberation Act. The administration has done nothing. We should help them
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If not strategic air strikes as a viable option,
what, if any, military option would you think realistic and plausible?
MCCAIN: Arming the Bosnians, recognizing that training has also got
to be a part of that.
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HAYES: John McCain`s big push for more U.S. and western involvement
this time around has had a real tangible effect on the Syrian conflict.
European Union has lifted its arms embargo against the Syrian rebels, which
McCain Tweeted thanks for today. And last week, while everyone was paying
attention to breaking weather news out of the Midwest, the Senate Foreign
Relations committee passed, by a huge margin, a bipartisan bill calling for
the U.S. to arm certain Syrian rebel groups.
Now, we have no reason to believe that during this secret trip to
Syria to meet with the rebels, that John McCain met with, for instance, the
specific Syrian rebel who is seen on videotape eating the lung a dead
Syrian government soldier, but that is a thing that happened in Syria
recently. I`m not making it up. I will tell you the story of the rebel
leader who was seen on tape eating the internal organ of a pro-Assad
soldier after the break.
HAYES: In the wake of John McCain sneaking into Syria, we`re talking
about the escalating tension in Syria. Joining me at the table, MSNBC
contributor Rula Jebreal. She`s an author, journalist and contributor to
"Newsweek." And Brandon Webb, former U.S. Navy SEAL. He`s the editor of
SoftRep.com, a site devoted to special operations news. And he`s the co-
author of the new e-book "Benghazi, the Definitive Report."
Great to have you both here. All right, you were in Syria a few
months back, and went across the border. How -- my first thought when I
saw the McCain news was, how do you do this? How hard is it to get -- how
do you get a U.S. senator across the border? I guess there are parts of
the border with Turkey that are fairly easy to pass.
RULA JEBREAL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think Turkey controls already part
of the borders with Syria. I mean, they`ve been arming them, training them
there, the Free Syrian Army. Turkey has been very out there trying to --
HAYES: Influence the direction.
JEBREAL: Influence, but also to get rid of Assad. They`ve been clear
since the beginning, we don`t want to deal with Assad. We`re with the Free
Syrian Army. To get inside Syria today is easy because the government
doesn`t control anything except Homs and actually Damascus. And not all of
it, part of it. There`s no government anymore. There`s no control. The
only role of the government, the only government presence there is the
soldiers that you see on the check points. That`s it.
HAYES: OK, so this is the big question: in an environment like that -
- I mean we have -- we have what is a civil war. The Assad regime
obviously has actually obviously been profoundly brutal. And this started
as nonviolent resistance. It became armed revolt. As someone who has been
in war zones, someone who is an operator himself and has trained people,
what does -- what does influence look like?
This is the question I have a hard time. People talk about arming the
rebels, training the rebels. We know that`s happening from the Iranians
and we know it`s happening for Hezbollah and the Saudis and now there`s
talk about Russia and the U.S. What does that look like on the ground?
BRANDON WEBB, FORMER U.S. NAVY SEAL: The U.S. Army is very good at
the special forces role of unconventional warfare. It`s to go in there and
train those guys and advise them and arm them and essentially empower them
to act. But I think the issue here is -- you know, I respect Senator
McCain for his service, but I heard him say, oh, let`s put arms in the
hands of vetted rebels. Well, if we remember back not too long ago in the
`80s, Osama bin Laden was a vetted rebel. And that didn`t work out too
well with us.
We armed the rebels of Libya and we have a dead U.S. ambassador. So
the bigger issue I see is we don`t really have a clear foreign policy
strategy. And when that situation exists, you can put people on the
ground, but it`s like being on a soccer field not knowing which way to run
to score a goal without a clear cut strategy.
HAYES: This idea of vetted rebels was part of this bill that passed
in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The idea being everyone`s
worried, you know, Rand Paul saying we`ve just voted to arm al Qaeda.
Everyone saying, no, no, these rebels are going to be vetted. You`ve been
on the ground there. Can you imagine a situation in which arms can stay in
some contained group of people?
JEBREAL: There`s no contained group of people. If somebody is in
denial, delusion in Washington, D.C., thinking that they`re arming a group
of nice rebels, they have just to look at the Internet. They don`t have to
go into Syria. They just have to look at where they`re exposing, what
they`re putting themselves on the Internet in terms of brutality, rape.
You talked about this, Chris, before. One of them, one of the leaders
of the rebels opened the heart of a soldier, a Syrian soldiers. He ate his
heart and took a bite of his liver. These are the people that tomorrow
will run Syria? We have to ask ourselves today, as U.S. citizens, what are
our goals in Syria? To get rid of Assad or stop the bloodshed? If you
want to stop the bloodshed, then you cannot arm any more anybody. Because
that`s the path for more escalation, when actually the Syrians themselves
today asking you to stop.
HAYES: OK. Well, first, I want to respond to that. I want to get
your take on that. I just want to read the details of this because it`s
such a dramatic fact. I want to just be clear on the record here. "Time
Magazine" actually reported this out. "Time Magazine" interviewed the
rebel seen in the video posted online eating the lung of a dead pro-Assad
Ahmed, who was the soldier this, who was confirmed, explained to
"Time" what caused him to cut out the soldier`s organs. "We opened his
cell phone. I found a clip of women and her two daughters fully naked. He
was humiliating them." So we have massive travesties and atrocities being
committed. This -- this rebel soldier is a Sunni and harbors a sectarian
hatred for Allawite Muslims, which is, of course, the sect of Assad, said
he has another gruesome video of his killing the government soldier from
the Allawite faith, quote, "hopefully we`ll slaughter all of them."
So just so we`re clear like what the stakes are and what`s going on
WEBB: And she makes a good point about escalation. Because if our
foreign policy strategy is working in the world, we would live in a much
more stable world and a safer place. And you just have to ask yourself, do
we feel safer today, more safer than we did when -- or after 9/11?
HAYES: Well, let me ask this question about arming the rebels. So
the idea is, you`re saying arming the rebels escalates. The logic behind
arming or training the rebelling would be that the only thing that will
bring about an end to this is some kind of genuine victory, and that`s the
role of, if America were to use special forces or at least to get weapons
in there -- in a battle zone like this, is that kind of thing an illusion?
Is some kind of definitive victory in the offing?
WEBB: I don`t think it`s an illusion. But again, I go back to -- and
special ops has its place, definitely. We don`t live in a world where we
can sit by with our hands behind our back and not do anything. It`s just
not the real world we live in. So special operations definitely has its
role in the world. But you need to have a very clear strategy. And again,
you know, you can point to Afghanistan, what we`ve done there, what we`ve
accomplished. No one could give me a straight answer on what our strategic
objective is in Afghanistan and how we declare victory.
We`re going to leave that place a lot worse than when we found it.
And Libya, Syria, it`s just --
HAYES: And it`s very hard to imagine something coming out of this
that looks better than what`s there now. Although what`s there now is
unbelievably gruesome. I want to -- Russia, of course, has been very
involved in this. And this is just a little bit of Russia`s promise to
send air defense system to Syria. Take a look.
"We think this delivery is a stabilizing factor and that such steps,
in many ways, restrains some hot heads from exploring scenarios in which
this conflict could be given an international character with participation
of outside forces." So that is the -- that`s the Russian justification for
this. You know --
JEBREAL: Russia decided to do this way before. Russia agreed on this
kind of sale, to sell S-300 which is a very strong defense aircraft. They
agreed in 2010 and they did it today. But they were looking in the last
two years what`s going on. Remember, May 7th this year, Russia, for the
first time, agreed to negotiate with the Americans about Syria in Geneva in
June. So McCain being there is actually undermining what --
HAYES: Thank you.
JEBREAL: -- the policy of his government. When you are going towards
diplomacy, why you go there and say no, we want to arm them. They`re
already reluctant to go to the table. And the only solution out there is a
HAYES: This is a really important point, which is that John Kerry has
to be tearing his hair out, right, because he just went to try to make this
peace conference happen. And as -- as -- as implausible as it may be that
the peace conference will magically bring around an end to the conflict,
this undermines that certainly.
JEBREAL: It`s about containing violence. And containing violence is
very simple: stop arming the rebels. Already Sergei Lavrov, the minister
of the secretary of state of the Russians, he said it clearly. If the
Americans will keep arming, we will arm, as well. So it`s -- Syria`s
becoming actually an international struggle for power among Americans and
HAYES: Author and journalist Rula Jebreal and former U.S. Navy SEAL
Brandon Webb, whose site you should absolutely check out. It`s really a
fascinating, fascinating read. Thanks for coming by tonight.
JEBREAL: Thank you.
WEBB: Thanks for having us.
HAYES: That`s ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW"
starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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