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All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, February 21st, 2014

Read the transcript from the February show

February 21, 2014

Guests: David Ramsey, Kavita Patel, Alicia Reece, Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Pierce, Jess McIntosh, Eric Boehlert

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. Happy Friday.
I`m Chris Hayes.

Right now, in Arkansas, Tea Party Republicans are threatening to take
health care coverage away from 100,000 people and quite possibly cause the
entire Medicaid program in the state to collapse.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: The president repeatedly
said that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you like what you have, you can keep it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The promise that you can keep your plan was never
to be kept.

HAYES (voice-over): Remember when Republicans thought the worst thing
you could do was to take away a health insurance plan from someone who had
come to depend on it?

Well, Tea Party Republicans in Arkansas are right now threatening to
do just that to 100,000 of the state`s poorest residents. These are the
people currently enrolled in something called the private option, a
privatized version of the Medicaid expansion crafted by Arkansas lawmakers
and approved by the White House.

The plan, which uses federal money to purchase private insurance for
low-income residents, appeased enough conservatives to pass. And it made
Arkansas one of the few southern states to take the federal money. And
that made a massive difference in a state with the tenth highest uninsured
rate in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing I did was go to my general
practitioner and I walked in the room and she looked at me and she said,
OK, we have insurance now. Where do you want to start?

HAYES: But now taking a page from the Ted Cruz playbook, Arkansas Tea
Party Republicans have decided to hold the state`s entire Medicaid funding
bill hostage with the demand that the state retract the private option and
kick 100,000 people off their insurance. And they`re using a procedural
quirk of the Arkansas constitution to do it. Though it`s incredibly rare,
the constitution can require a supermajority vote for funding bills which
means it`d take 75 out of 100 house votes to pass the Medicaid bill. If it
fails, 100,000 people will lose their private option health care on July

In fact, if the bill is not passed the entire Medicaid program for the
state will collapse on July 1st. That means kids on Medicaid kicked off
their health insurance. Senior citizens kicked out of nursing homes
because Medicaid is what`s paying to keep them in them. Most Arkansas
lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, want to pass this thing.

GOV. MIKE BEEBE (R), ARKANSAS: We don`t have a problem with the
majority of the legislature being for this. We don`t have a problem with
the supermajority of the legislature being for this. We don`t have a
problem with a majority of Republicans and Democrats being for this. They

But it takes 75 out of 100 House members and 27 out of 35 senators.
So, one senator or one House member could sway the entire -- the entire

HAYES: The private option is projected to save the state $670 million
over a decade. Arkansas lawmakers have been trying all week to pass the
bill but have failed to get to the 75-vote threshold. Today, they failed
again and went home for the weekend. They`ll try again next week.

Arkansas, we`re kind of an island in the sea of states who rejected
Medicaid expansion, so I`ve got concerns about migration across the state
lines and people that come here just for Medicaid coverage. You know, I
don`t think we want to be a Medicaid magnet.

HAYES: Meanwhile, people`s lives hang in the balance. And for a
sense of how high the stakes are, look at this -- a study from Harvard and
City University of New York found between 7,000 and 17,000 people are
expected to die because states have decided not to expand Medicaid.

MARY FRANCES PERKINS: It would just be a nightmare. It would just be
a -- I would feel like my government had absolutely turned their back on

HAYES: These are the very real hostages the Arkansas Tea Party has


HAYES: Joining me now, David Ramsey, associate editor at the
"Arkansas Times." He`s been doing fantastic reporting on this.

So, David, before we get to the back and forth and the drama in the
chamber this week, the first question is -- is this thing working? Is
there a reason people want to repeal it? Is the private option working?
Are people getting health insurance? Are they happy with it?

DAVID RAMSEY, ARKANSAS TIMES: Yes, I mean, the sort of ironic part of
this whole argument is just as sort of the rollout issues were going on
with, the private option for Medicaid expansion actually has
been going quite well in Arkansas. More than 100,000 people have been
deemed eligible to gain coverage. People generally seem to like their
insurance. They have -- through this program, they have private insurance
instead of going to the traditional Medicaid program.

So, in terms of proponent, what proponents might wish for for this
program, it`s gone about as well as it could go. But nevertheless, you
know, the folks that don`t like the private option are trying to take this
opportunity to defund it.

HAYES: So, what changed? I mean, this thing passed last year. It
got more than 75 votes. What is -- what happened? Why are these -- why
are the folks in Arkansas trying to take this away?

RAMSEY: So in policy terms, really nothing changed. Again, the
program operated in the way it was supposed to operate. More than 100,000
people have gained coverage. I think that what changed is partly
political. There are, you know, the anti-Obamacare argument carries a lot
of weight in Arkansas and for a group of Republicans in the house and
originally in the Senate as well, that was sort of enough to make a
political argument to try to defund this this time.

I think that, you know, there are some very specific things that
happened. There were lawmakers that flipped who are getting primary
challenges. Lawmakers who are running in other races and have to deal with
this in the Republican primary. You know, this is a policy that polls show
is relatively popular in the state, but remains controversial among
Republican circles and is a dicey issue in a primary.

HAYES: How unprecedented, audacious is this gambit of this rump Tea
Party caucus to basically take hostage the entire funding bill for all of
Medicaid for the state and ask for this supermajority vote?

RAMSEY: So, the supermajority is a requirement in the Arkansas
constitution. It`s a bit of a quirk in the constitution. It`s from an
amendment that happened in the `30s. And it`s fairly unique to Arkansas.

Typically, the precedent has been, you know, during a legislative
session, they would fight out a policy, but it was possible to vote for an
appropriation even if one disagreed with the policy within that

You know, I think that part of what happened is that last year, when
this was originally enacted, kind of the idea was, you know, it would be
possible for 26 percent minority to block it. So, therefore, the idea was
the threshold was 75 percent. That`s what we have to get.

Now, it is a -- it is a radically new maneuver. It`s in the
constitution. Constitution says what it says. This is a tool that`s been
available, but to use it in this way to essentially say, you know, we have
these policy demands and we`re going to hold the appropriation hostage for
those policy demands, that is -- that is a radical new precedent.

HAYES: And it does sound very similar to what led to the shutdown,
right? The shutdown was about a government funding bill in Washington,
D.C., to fund the whole government. The request was -- the demand was,
you`ve got to repeal Obamacare or we don`t pass the other essentially
unrelated stuff. That seem to be what happened here.

Finally, quickly, Tuesday they`re trying to get at this again. Are
they going to get this done? Are these people going to have the health
insurance taken away from them?

RAMSEY: So, they need 75 votes in the House. It already passed in
the Senate 27-8 getting the needed supermajority. On the House side,
they`ve had four failed votes this week. There is some thought that there
may be some votes that will come around next week.

There are all kinds of issues with timing and politics and so forth.
The count appears to be at 73. They got 71 votes today. There were two
members that plan to vote for it that just weren`t in their chairs.

They got 73 votes today -- they got 73 votes today. That leaves them
two short. Will they get that on Tuesday? It`s possible, but unclear.
We`ll have to see what happens next week.

HAYES: David Ramsey from the "Arkansas Times" -- thank you and thanks
for your reporting.

RAMSEY: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Joining me now, Dr. Kavita Patel. She worked on the
Affordable Care Act as a senior advisor of Valerie Jarrett in the Obama
administration, now a fellow at Brookings Institution.

Part of what is frustrating about the situation in Arkansas is
Arkansas was granted a waiver by the White House to institute their own
version of the Medicaid expansion because the White House was so anxious to
get conservative states particularly in the South to take this up. Isn`t
that right?

Just remember that the White House never anticipated that this would happen
during the writing of this law. It was supposed to be mandatory for the
expansion and the Supreme Court ruling really kind of put a kink into all
of that.

So, this was reflection of an effort to find common ground despite a
lot of criticism from even fellow policymakers, Democrats and people who
study Medicaid.

HAYES: So what does this mean for the broader push to get Medicaid
expansion to happen in the states? We`ve got this map of the South where
the rejection of Medicaid has been very intense. You see the border
states, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia. They have expanded it, but
none of the states south of there have expanded Medicaid so far.

What would it mean for the efforts to expand Medicaid if we actually
saw a step back in Arkansas?

PATEL: Well, it has important implications for states who are
considering that. As you mentioned, some of the Southern states have
already been talking about the possibility of expansion like Arkansas.
That already puts more doubt into the state`s ability to execute something
like this. And remember, this is not easy to do because the states have to
kind of craft an agreement. The feds have to sign off. And so having this
go backwards just sends kind of a ripple through all the efforts that even
the federal government has made.

Not to mention that I think a lot of what we`re seeing in this undoing
of kind of an entire population in the South and Southeast is going to make
all the things that are horrible about not having insurance worse. You
talked about people dying. Ethnic and racial disparities are going to

I mean, it`s just not a good precedent to set.

HAYES: There`s going to be an effort among Democrats in Louisiana,
another one of those states rejected, to try to make a long-shot effort to
get it in the state constitution. This reporting says the Koch brothers
backed Americans for Prosperity is playing to lobby state legislators, hard
to oppose the Medicaid expansion.

This from Greg Sargent of "The Washington Post". It`s supported by
Senator Landrieu and will be debated by the state legislature this spring
and supporters say it could expand coverage to up to 300,000 people.

Are you surprised by the resistance in the South?

PATEL: I`m surprised at the resistance kind of in general. Now, that
we`re talking -- we`re really talking about, you know, a resistance to a
private option.

I`m not surprised by resistance to expansion, but I am constantly
surprised when what this is really about is allowing for states to use
their Medicaid dollars to let people buy private health insurance. Not
some government plan. Not some public option that everybody`s scared
about. You know, this is private health insurance.

So, where are we drawing the line? What we`re seeing, Chris, is
people just moving that line and I honestly believe it`s no longer about
concerns about health care. This is really just playing out whatever
message that they want to send Tea Parties to other Republicans that will
offer them kind of scare tactics in voting on other issues. That`s what I
think this is.

HAYES: There`s also a mobilized campaign right now with big money
donors and outside groups to push against Medicaid expansion. Medicaid
expansion is now viewed as part of Obamacare. Obamacare is part of Barack
Obama. Ergo, it must be defeated at all costs.

It doesn`t matter if you keep 100,000 people, 200,000, 300,000 people
away from needed medical care. That`s what the political objective is

PATEL: Absolutely. And I think what`s really unfortunate, you know,
states are -- this is really hard on all states, just health care costs and
issues. It`s having its own ripple effect. I`ve talked with some people
on the ground in some of these states. You know, it`s spreading to also
ideas about access to education, and they`re trying -- what I`m concerned
about is that people are forgetting kind of what`s happening to maybe
100,000 people losing coverage in June?


PATEL: How is that in any way doing anything for state economies, for
health care, for even -- it`s important to know that hospitals and doctors
are --

HAYES: Medical infrastructure of Arkansas.

PATEL: Absolutely.


PATEL: When have you ever seen the entire medical infrastructure
supportive of something so wholeheartedly? I mean, that tells you

HAYES: Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you.

PATEL: Thank you.

HAYES: Earlier this week we told you about how Greg Abbott, the man
who wants to be the next Republican governor of Texas is campaigning with
this guy.


TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: I was in Chicago last week and said, "Hey,
Obama! You might want to suck on one of these, you punk!"


Obama, he`s a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED), and I told him to suck on
my machine gun. Let`s hear it for him!


And then I was in New York. I said, "Hey, Hillary! You might want to
ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


HAYES: He seems nice. Now, the story is totally blown up and Nugent
has had to apologize for the one thing he said, not one of those things,
though. I`ll explain, ahead.


HAYES: Coming up, Ohio Republicans tried to make it harder to vote in
2012 but got smacked down by the courts. So, now, they`re doing it again
when they think no one is watching. I`ll tell you how they did it, next.


HAYES: Republicans in Ohio have just now enacted two laws that make
it harder to vote in Ohio. The Republican-controlled House passed the
bills along party lines Wednesday, and today, Governor John Kasich signed
them into law. These were bills passed by the Senate in November of last
year. Senate bill 238 eliminates 6 days of early voting to 29 days down
from 35.

And the significance of that is that those six days are referred to as
the Golden Week. When Ohio citizens can both register to vote and cast an
in-person absentee ballot. Senate bill 205 alters the process by which
absentee ballots are mailed, more on that in a moment.

The measures will take effect in 90 days after the primary election
and the timing here is interesting. Because the last time Ohio Republicans
tried to pull a similar stunt was during the 2012 presidential election.
But the Obama re-election campaign filed a complaint and a federal judge
ordered Ohio to allow early voting on the three days prior to the election.
The judge ordered Republican Secretary of State John Husted not to enforce
a state law Republicans pushed to close that window to anyone but members
of the military and their families.

So, now, having lost that, having been caught red handed in the glare
of a presidential campaign, under the relative cover of an off-year
election, Republicans have pushed through another restriction on early
voting, counting unlimited press attention. Bear in mind that Republicans
nationwide are usually clamoring on about voter ID laws which they justify
by way of the mythos they created of an alternate universe. It`s on that
thin read voter ID laws are often hung, manifestly about reducing the
amount of people voting.

But here -- here we have the good Republicans of Ohio really
dispensing with that kind of pretext. They are just reducing early voting
because -- well, because they can.

As for eliminating that golden week, the bipartisan Ohio association
of election officials had contended that allowing people to register and
vote on the same day makes it difficult to properly validate those voters.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald said, quote, "I don`t know
what problem this is allegedly solving. They want to try to make it harder
for certain folks in the state to vote and everyone sees through it."

Joining me now is Ohio Democratic State Representative Alicia Reece.

Representative, is there evidence that there was a problem with the
golden week that has been eliminated? Was there some evidence of fraud,
some evidence of any kind of systemic malfeasance or abuse?

STATE REP. ALICIA REECE (D), OHIO: No. There was no evidence in that
regard. The only evidence that is present is that more people participated
in this last election. More people came out to vote -- students, low-
income families, women, African-Americans and other minors came out to

And that is the problem that the Republicans are trying to solve.

HAYES: The governor`s spokesperson, Rob Nichols noted the changes to
absentee voting rules would make them more uniform and also said about
getting rid of the early voting, that week of early voting, Ohio has more
early voting than 40 other states after we sign these bill.

So, what are you complaining about?

REECE: You know, we are in a war on voting rights, and Ohio is ground
zero. We`ve got two major things that has to happen. One, we have to have
new leadership at the secretary of state office and that`s why we`re
excited about the candidacy of Senator Nina Turner. Second, we`ve got to
have a voter bill of rights because as you can see, this is just a few
bills but we`ve had over 15 that`s been introduced, more on the way -- a
different voter suppression or disenfranchisement type of bill that`s being
introduced on a weekly or monthly basis. And it`s time now for the
citizens to have an opportunity to be involved in the democracy by putting
a voter bill of rights in the Constitution.

And so, while the governor was signing these terrible bills into law,
we were on the streets with petitions this weekend to get a voter bill of
rights in Ohio constitution and we need everyone from across the country,
because if we don`t fight back, they will push us back. And so, we have to
be as relentless as Republicans are to take away our voting rights. We
have to be just as relentless to put voting rights in the Constitution
where it`s permanent. So, that`s what we`re doing here in Ohio as we are
at ground zero.

HAYES: Lawyers committee for civil rights conducted a study looking
at a Cuyahoga County map in 2012. That was a study of the 2008 returns.
And it shows how the limits to early voting work and you see the places
where they most impact voters are in the places that are disproportionately
African-American. That is not an accident to your mind.

REECE: No, it`s not. That`s why I`m president of the Ohio
legislative black caucus and we have been working with a coalition of
progressive Ohioans to fight back because there is a movement, whether it`s
the targeting of billboards that were placed in urban and African-American
communities, one actually across the street from where I live. Whether it
was a polling location which was in my district that was predominantly
African-American, it took two years for the votes to be counted in a
judicial race.

This is serious. There is a war on voting rights. And we have to
fight back and that`s why we believe the only way to do this is have a
voter bill of rights that we can put in the Ohio constitution and let the
everyday person, all citizens of Ohio, have a voice at the polls and that`s
what -- that`s what we plan to do here in Ohio.

HAYES: Do you think there`s any price to be paid, politically for
this? Is this the kind of thing that obviously there are certain voters
that are going to be very attuned to this, folks that are watching our
network right now, and folks that you`re in contact with. But do you think
there`s a broader political price to be paid for this for the Republicans
pushing this through?

REECE: I think so because when you talk about voting rights, you`re
talking about people who died -- black and white in this country who
sacrificed, who stood up, who had dogs turned on them, blood on the Edmund
Pettus Bridge. This is -- this goes deeper to the individual person. This
is the lifeline to democracy.

And so, this is serious. Certainly, there`s a price to be paid. As
we know. Dr. King is in the grave right now because there was a price to
be paid. So, we must stand up and must be relentless.

You know, they keep bringing bills back and forth. We have called for
a moratorium on all future bills for voting rights until the people, we the
people, have an opportunity to stand up, fight back, and have a voice at
the polls on a voter bill of rights.

HAYES: Ohio Democratic State Representative Alicia Reece, thanks for
your time tonight.

REECE: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Coming up, earlier this week a Republican congressman accused
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of basically using a bill she
introduced that would help end sexual assault in the military as a self-
promotion tool. Well, Senator Gillibrand will be here to respond, next.


HAYES: She was one of only nine senators to buck the Democratic Party
line on the farm bill, and she`s one of the most outspoken supporters of
reproductive rights in the Senate. But, right now, the fight that New York
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is most strongly associated with is her push to
change the way military commanders handle sexual assault, specifically to
remove military sexual assault investigations from the chain of command.

I had an opportunity to sit down yesterday with Senator Gillibrand and
talk to her about a variety of topics including the criticism she`s
currently getting for her military sexual assault legislation.


HAYES: Congressman Michael Turner of Ohio, he`s co-chair of the
sexual assault prevention caucus, he had this to say about you and the
legislation you`re pushing. "She seriously misrepresents the circumstances
of the Defense Department because she ignores the legislation that was
passed. I think at this point it`s certainly not an issue of sexual
assault, it`s just an issue of the senator wanting to promote her solution
that`s already lost. I think she`s getting a whole lot of attention for
debate that`s over."

What do you say to that?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: He`s wrong. I think the
reforms in the underlying bill are good. They`re all good well-meaning
reforms that will help. But all of them accrue to a victim who has come
forward and reported.

None of them do everything for the nine out of 10 cases that aren`t
being reported because the victims have told us over and over and over
again on the DOD survey that they aren`t reporting because they don`t
believe the chain of command will do anything. They don`t report because
they fear retaliation. They feel that they will be blamed for reporting a
crime. And so if you listen to the victims, if you listen to those
survivors, the one thing they`ve asked for is they don`t want this decision
being made within the chain of command.

HAYES: There was a battle that happened over the defense
authorization bill, and there were amendments offered. The ones that
passed reformed the system in the way you said.

You -- the thing you are pushing for is to take allegations of sexual
assault and the prosecution thereof out of the chain of command.


HAYES: That is the crystallized fight here.

GILLIBRAND: Exactly, because look at the issue, Chris.

Last year alone, there were 26,000 cases of sexual assault and rape
and unwanted sexual contact in the military. And only about 3,000 were
reported. That means nine out of 10 cases aren`t even being reported
because of this fear that the command won`t do anything or they will be
retaliated against for reporting.

Of the brave ones who did report, those 3,000 cases, 62 percent were
retaliated against. So in that number of command climates, the commanders
did not protect those victims from coming forward and saying, I have been

HAYES: So, what is the -- then why is there resistance? The case
you`re laying out seems very persuasive to me. You have members of
Congress on both sides. You have Claire McCaskill, a colleague of yours,
who says this has unfortunately been characterized as victims vs. the
Pentagon. That does the victims a real disservice.

You have got the Pentagon fighting you. What`s the opposition
grounded in?

GILLIBRAND: Well, you will hear the Department of Defense say you
can`t possibly do this because it will undermine good order and discipline.

I have at least three responses to that. First, 26,000 cases of rape
and sexual assault is not good order and discipline. Second, you`re not
taking commanders off their hook. You`re not making them less responsible.
In fact, so few commanders have this role today, less than 20 percent. So
most commanders have to train their troops, take them to war and never have
this ability to make this decision.

And, third, our allies have already done this. Our allies, the U.K.,
Israel, Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, all of them have taken
this decision out of chain of command for civil liberties reasons. They
agreed that you cannot have a system of justice that allows someone who`s
biased and untrained to make the only decision about whether it goes to

HAYES: The farm bill passed, Democratic votes. The president took a
victory lap in Michigan with Debbie Stabenow, your colleague, who sort of
shepherded its passage. You voted against it.

A massively disproportionate amount of the food stamp cuts will fall
on poor people in New York State. Do Democrats -- did the White House and
your fellow Democrats sell out New York state?

GILLIBRAND: Well, I`m troubled.

And one of the reasons why I voted against that bill is what it does
mean is 300,000 families in our state are going to receive about $90 less a
month. And for a family on food stamps, that is your last week of
groceries. Imagine putting your child to bed and she says to you, daddy,
I`m still hungry. Imagine being not able to do a thing about it because
you have nothing to feed her.

HAYES: So why did your fellow Democrats vote for it and sign into

GILLIBRAND: They were wrong. I disagree with them.

I think it was the wrong vote. I think it was the wrong compromise,
especially if you`re in Section 8 housing or low-income housing. You don`t
have the ability to travel to Washington and meet with 10 senators. You`re
working hard every day to provide food for your kids. It`s just the wrong

HAYES: I want to talk about foreign policy for a moment. There was -
- it looked like there was gathering momentum for a bill for increased
sanctions on Iran starting in January, bipartisan support.

Senator Menendez was leading the effort. You were reported as being
supportive of this initiative. It was gaining momentum. The White House
very strongly said, this is unhelpful, this will break up these historic
talks we have with Iran.

Are you convinced by them? It seems like members of the Democratic
Caucus have taken their foot off the gas on that legislation. Where are
you now on that?

GILLIBRAND: Well, I think having sanctions is very important. The
only reason why Iran is at the table today is because we had very tough
sanctions and we were able to create an international coalition...


HAYES: Can I stop you there for one second, though?


HAYES: When you say that -- we were just talking about these kids in
Section 8 housing.


HAYES: There are kids in Iran who are going to bed hungry because of
those sanctions, blameless kids. It just seems to me sometimes we get a
little blithe about the effect of those sanctions.

GILLIBRAND: Well, sanctions is better than war.

And when you have a previous leader in Ahmadinejad who says Israel has
-- doesn`t deserve to exist and we should use all our efforts and might to
wipe it off the face of the earth, that`s a huge problem. And so the
people of Iran need to stand up and say we don`t support that kind of
policy, we don`t support a leader who believes a state doesn`t have the
right to exist.

HAYES: But they voted out Ahmadinejad`s entire political coalition.

GILLIBRAND: But we have the right to say Ahmadinejad`s and the
mullahs` goal is to acquire nuclear weapons.

When you have a goal with a stated purpose of destroying a nation
who`s our ally and perhaps using that nuclear capability against our
country, it`s a huge issue. And so what we try to do is, how do we prevent
going to war in a way that`s effective, but keeps military -- nuclear
weapons out of the hands of their military? And the way you do that is,
you use sanctions.

HAYES: Do you genuinely think Iran would be a first-strike nuclear

GILLIBRAND: To Israel, I do. I do, without a doubt, because they
have said so.

At some point, you have to believe what they say. You can`t discount
words that come out of people`s mouths. At some point, you must listen and
say, they may do what they say they`re going to do.

HAYES: Is North Korea a first-strike nuclear danger?

GILLIBRAND: I have a lot of concerns about North Korea.

The saber-rattling is real. Whether they would act upon it or not, we
don`t know. But the leader of North Korea is so inexperienced and
troubling in his words and actions, that you have to at least assess it.


HAYES: That was just part of my conversation with Democratic Senator
from New York Kirsten Gillibrand. We discussed a wide range of topics in
an extended interview which we posted to our Web site,

Up next, the latest on a crisis that is so serious, it prompted a
phone call between President Obama and President Putin today. Stay with


HAYES: Last night, we brought you a report on what has been happening
in you Ukraine. It seemed like the country was perched on the precipice of
a full-out civil war.

Well, today, there are some encouraging signs Ukraine has moved back
from the brink. President Yanukovych, whose ham-fisted, violent response
to the protest succeeded in alienating even his former allies, was dealt a
huge rebuke by Parliament, when they voted today to scale back Yanukovych`s
presidential powers and voted to release a key opposition from jail.

Legislators erupting in cheers after the vote. And opposition leaders
have now signed a deal with the government hammered over the course of 30
hours with the help of European diplomats calling for new elections to be
held no later than December this year, a cessation of violence from both
the government and opposition and a restoration of the constitution of 10
years ago, in 2004, which means a weaker president and stronger Parliament.

The image, though, out of Ukraine today that to me best captures
what`s happening on the ground as the government`s own repression comes
back to haunt it is this picture of members of the Berkut, which is
basically the Ukrainian secret police, the state security apparatus, taking
off their uniforms and giving them to the protesters.

We will be watching this closely over the weekend.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A brief stop in Denton this week has not created
the kind of coverage Greg Abbott`s campaign likely hoped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greg Abbott hit the campaign trail without
outspoken musician Ted Nugent.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Race-baiting rocker Ted Nugent.







HAYES: Suddenly, Greg Abbott, Texas attorney general, Republican
candidate for governor, has a bit of a Ted Nugent problem on his hands.

Earlier this week, when Abbott signed up to do a campaign event with
Ted Nugent, I think he thought he was going to get away with it. Why else
would he invite Nugent to appear with him on the first day of early voting
in the Texas primary?

In fact, we even led our program with it Tuesday night, because it
seemed to me notable that someone running to be governor of a state with 26
million people would confirm legitimacy on and campaign with a man who
recently called the president a subhuman mongrel.

But, usually, politicians get away with it. Heck, Rick Perry
campaigned with and has been friends with the guy for years.

But, this week, something broke. Greg Abbott wasn`t getting away with
it. Suddenly, Texas Republicans were asked to weigh in on Ted Nugent and
that has led to some very uncomfortable conversations.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You know, I think it is a little curious
that, to be questioning political folks about rock stars.

I got to tell you, listen, I`m not cool enough to hang out with any
rock stars. Jay-Z doesn`t come over to my house. I don`t hang out with
Ted Nugent.

DANA BASH, CNN: Jay-Z doesn`t call the president a subhuman mongrel.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Let me ask you something, Wolf. Do you
think Bill Maher has ever said anything that`s inappropriate?

BLITZER: He`s some pretty disgusting things too.

PERRY: He gives $1 million to the president of the United States.

BLITZER: And the Democrats should be condemned for that as well.


PERRY: And did we see your program focusing in on it?

BLITZER: Yes. Yes, we -- yes, you did.


PERRY: Good for you. I love fair and balanced.

BLITZER: You saw that and all of CNN...


HAYES: Today, after Nugent was called upon to apologize, well, he
did, kind of, in his own passive-aggressive way.


TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: I did cross the line. I do apologize, not
necessarily to the president, but on behalf of much better men than myself.

I apologize for using the street fighter terminology of subhuman
mongrel, instead of just using more understandable language, such as
violator of his oath to the Constitution, the liar that he is.

The president lied when he said he can keep our doctors and we can
retain our health care, period, and that he -- his Defense and Department
of Justice called the Allahu akbar terrorism at Fort Hood workplace
violence. Those are the real offensive occurrences in America.


HAYES: Joining me, Charles Pierce, writer at large for "Esquire"
magazine, political blogger for

Charlie, I`m amazed. I wanted to do this -- to open a block of the
show on Tuesday night because I just felt like everyone was just going to
be like, well, what are you going to do? This is kind of what they do.

And I`m amazed this time, people are like, no, this is not OK.

CHARLES PIERCE, "ESQUIRE": Yes. You know, we have come a long way
from Joe Kennedy warning Frank Sinatra to stay away from his son, Jack, you
know, because the FBI had tapes.


PIERCE: Yes, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, you
know, Ted Nugent is a very strange-looking guy, so a lot of the -- you
know, the conservative people who don`t have any qualms at all about
appearing with nicely tailored, nicely coiffed confederates are a little
bit wary of hanging around with a wild man rocker in a loincloth.

HAYES: Well, they haven`t been wary of it before, though.

I think that Abbott thought -- Abbott put this on the schedule. Look,
Abbott is a guy who, A., is not facing any serious primary challenge. He
did this for this small early voting event on the first day of the primary.
I think he must have thought he was going to get away with it.

PIERCE: Well, I think he probably will, because I think within the
bubble that is the -- that is conservative and Republican politics now,
there are more people who will think he is a brave fighter against
political correctness than will be revolted by Ted Nugent.

That`s a sad thing to say, but I think that`s what it is.

HAYES: Do you think there`s a kind of, I don`t know -- death wish is
too strong a word. There`s a kind of desire on the part of a certain
segment of the conservative base to provoke that kind of reaction, right,
because it satisfies some sense of persecution, some sense that the
liberals are out to get them, when they get exactly the kind of
condemnation that they get for something like Ted Nugent.

PIERCE: Yes. I mean, on the blog, I refer to it as driving the nails
into your own palms.

There`s nothing but -- there`s nothing but a cult of kind of vicarious
self-martyrdom on the right now. And, so, yes, they will attach themselves
to Ted Nugent because he makes all the right people offended. I think it`s
a little bit stupid politically at this point, because things were running
in Greg Abbott`s direction. Wendy Davis` campaign down there had gotten
off to kind of a stumbling start, and now, you know, the circus is in town.

HAYES: It`s remarkable. He had had a fantastic few weeks. Wendy
Davis had had a rough few weeks for a variety of reasons.

And out of nowhere, he decides to make this choice to campaign with
someone. I think it`s important. There`s a distinction between hanging
out with someone, being friends with someone and actually doing a campaign
-- and that campaign event has now meant a week of terrible press, not just
for Greg Abbott, but the entire world of Republican politics in Texas.

PIERCE: Well, I mean, as you pointed out, it`s forced people like Ted
Cruz to develop an opinion on the composer of "Wang Dangerous Sweet
Poontang." So, I think if you`re looking for burlesque politics, you can`t
do better than that.


HAYES: All right, we`re going to talk about the I think interesting,
fraught politics of association, guilt by association, which has been one
of the biggest charges against this president from the right, after we take
this break.




SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": All right, you ask me a question.

GIBBS: OK. Are you anti-Semitic?

HANNITY: Not at all.

GIBBS: On your show on Sunday, you -- the show that`s named after
you, right, the show, the centerpiece of that show was a guy named Andy

HANNITY: I know you`re reading the talking points.


GIBBS: No, no, Andy Martin called a judge a crooked, slimy Jew who
has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race. Martin
went on to write that he understood better why -- better why the Holocaust
took place given that Jew survivors are operating as a wolf pack to steal
my property.

HANNITY: I find -- I`m a journalist who interviews people that I
disagree with all the time that give their opinion. I will make a deal
with you. If Barack Obama admits that what he did by sitting on a board
with, giving speeches with, having...


GIBBS: You will admit you`re anti-Semitic?





HAYES: That was a classic guilt-by-association-off between Robert
Gibbs and Sean Hannity in 2008.

We`re back here with Charlie Pierce. And joining us now, Jess
McIntosh, communications director for EMILY`s List, Eric Boehlert, senior
fellow at Media Matters.

What are the rules? So, to me -- no, because here`s the thing, Eric.
It has been the case against Barack Obama from the right from back in --
before he was even running for president...


HAYES: The case against him was, this guy looks like a nice guy, but
he pals around with terrorists, Jeremiah Wright, right?

BOEHLERT: Right. Right. Right.

HAYES: This has been a central argument they have been trying to use
against him.


I mean, you know, any politician, you know, what`s the phrase, show me
who your friends are, you will explain who you are. So, yes, association
is no problem. Everyone has to answer for it.

There`s a difference between inviting someone to the White House for a
concert and that entertainer might have a controversial past or something
like that, and campaigning with someone.

And a quick point about why this blew up.


BOEHLERT: I think -- I`m going to plug Media Matters here. It was
Tim Johnson who found last month "communist-nurtured subhuman scoundrel."

That put a that put a nice bow around it. And that explains Ted
Nugent. And that`s what everyone has been asking about. It`s important
that we have those quotes on the record and people asking him about it.

HAYES: EMILY`s List has been active in the Texas race.


HAYES: And you guys have been monitoring it. Were you surprised, the
degree to which it blew up there?

MCINTOSH: You know, I was.

I think that this week said a lot more about Greg Abbott than it did
about Ted Nugent.


HAYES: Who cares about -- we know who Ted Nugent is.


MCINTOSH: Ted Nugent, he`s irrelevant. Whatever.


MCINTOSH: Greg Abbott is relatively unknown.

The last time he was a part of the national dialogue, it was because
his campaign, to a certain extent, and a lot of his supporters were
accusing Wendy Davis of having had a sugar daddy. Like, this guy gets in
the news for rampant misogyny only.

HAYES: Right.

MCINTOSH: And that seems like an odd campaign tactic for him to be
continuing to use.

HAYES: All right.

Charlie, I need you to referee what`s...


HAYES: Yes, please.

PIERCE: I`m sorry.

First of all, let`s not minimize the damage Greg Abbott has done. He
is the guy who won the case in front of the Supreme Court to gut the Voting
Rights Act.


PIERCE: So, he`s had a lot more to do. If we want -- if I had a
choice between him hanging around with Ted Nugent or going to the Supreme
Court and convincing John Roberts that we have reached the day of jubilee,
I know which way I`m going.


HAYES: Charlie, will you referee a fence-off here? So the right
freaked out when Michelle Obama invited the rapper Common to a poetry
reading because he had a song called "Burn a Bush."

Take a listen to that to get a flavor of that.


COMMON, MUSICIAN: Burn a Bush cos` for peace he no push no button,
killing over oil and grease no weapons of destruction. How can we follow a
leader when this a corrupt one? The government`s a g-unit and they might
buck young black people black people, black people in the urban area one.
I hold up a peace sign, but I carry a gun. Peace, you all.


HAYES: So that got conservatives very, very upset that the first lady
would invite him to the White House.

Now, I want you to take a listen to a 1981 Paris performance,
"Jailbait" by Ted Nugent.




HAYES: "I don`t care if you`re just 13. You look too good to be true.
I just know you`re probably clean. There`s one little thing I got to do to

Why is anyone associating with this guy?


MCINTOSH: Because women voters don`t matter, clearly. They never
decide elections. They are not -- they are not putting people in office
every single election cycle -- except, they are.

All he`s doing is turning off voters he ought to have.

BOEHLERT: But don`t have to go back to 1981.

MCINTOSH: No, you don`t.


BOEHLERT: But Ted Nugent, the last couple years, he`s calling Hillary
Clinton -- you can`t print in any newspaper in America, and Barack Obama,
and the race-baiting, and misogyny. It`s off the charts.

HAYES: But why did Greg -- right.

BOEHLERT: And here`s the thing.

So, there`s always been people who run their mouth on the right. The
question is, why is the Republican Party now trying to use them as
surrogates? The right-wing media has created this community of a few
million voters that professional politicians like Greg Abbott feel like
they have to appeal to, so they have to go through Ted Nugent.

They have to go through an Alex Jones, people who were so far on the
fringe just 10 years ago.

HAYES: Charlie?

PIERCE: Well, first of all, I`m glad to be here on this week`s
installment of Chris Hayes` American top 40.


PIERCE: But I think the reason the Republican Party has, you know, to
deal with this is because there`s no Republican Party anymore.


PIERCE: Joe Biden`s right about that.

There`s a revolve -- there`s a kind of, you know, revolving universe
of disparate power centers, none of whom answer to each other, let alone to
any central authority.

Is there a bigger marionette in American politics right now than
Reince Priebus?

HAYES: Right.


PIERCE: To call Reince Priebus a front man is to insult Edgar Bergen.


HAYES: This idea that, like, the center can`t hold is really true,
right, because there are already different power centers you have to court
in various ways. There`s big dark outside money.

Then there is, like, basically the folks that are going to get riled
up by Ted Nugent. And because there is no kind of centralized place to be
the repository of the party`s power and to exercise any kind of veto over
stupid, crazy ideas, then you get Greg Abbott and Ted Nugent.

MCINTOSH: But Greg Abbott chose -- I mean, this is relatively early.

HAYES: For no reason, for no appreciable benefit, so that he could...

MCINTOSH: But he chose anyway. He decided that he was not going to
court any sort of moderate or reasonable Republican vote. He was not going
to go after suburban women. He was not going to go after moderate
Democrats. He was not going to go after any of those voters with a policy

HAYES: Right.

MCINTOSH: He was going to court that very fringy, very angry white
male contingent. And that`s it.

HAYES: And that was going to be his path to election.


HAYES: And that`s going to be the big question, right, is like
whether in the state of Texas, he can get by on that.

Charlie Pierce from "Esquire," Jess McIntosh...


PIERCE: Sorry.

HAYES: Sorry, Charlie.

Jess McIntosh from EMILY`s List and Eric Boehlert from Media Matters,
thank you all.

That`s ALL IN this evening.


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