ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
January 13, 2015
Guest: Reza Aslan, Jonathan Chait, Ron Insana, Raj Patel, Frank Pallon
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
New video of the attack on "Charlie Hebdo." New response from the
surviving journalist. And a new French plan to rev up the war machine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Today the French parliament voted
to continue to bomb ISIS in Iraq.
HAYES: Tonight Reza Aslan on what follows in the wake of terror.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to kill them.
HAYES: Then Romney 3.0 continues to cause shockwaves.
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not familiar precisely
what exactly what I said but I stand by what I said whatever it was.
HAYES: But is it real or just a dream?
Plus the New Jersey congressman calling for another federal investigation
of Chris Christie.
And the shroud of dark meat has fallen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Into a 50 pieces of golden tender chicken McNuggets
HAYES: Begun the nugget war has.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So these are $1.49 for 10?
HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.
And there is dramatic new video tonight capturing the moments just after
two gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical newspaper "Charlie Hebdo"
last week in Paris. In this portion of the video taken from a rooftop near
the "Hebdo" officer the two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi have just
exited the building inside which they left 11 dead and 11 more wounded.
The approached a black Citroen car as one brother clearly shouts, quote,
"We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed." Then references Al Qaeda in Yemen,
also known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Brothers were then seen changing the magazines on their automatic weapons.
They eventually get in the car and drive around the corner where they are
confronted by a police car and begin firing.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
HAYES: That video comes as France continues to mourn and to plot its past
forward. Today the staff of "Charlie Hebdo" held an emotional news
conference to discuss their reaction to the attacks in the form of a new
issue of their magazine will release Wednesday with the printing of three
million copies. It features a cover depicting Mohammed a "Je Suis Charlie"
sign and the words "All is Forgiven."
The cartoonist who drew that image, Renald Luzier, known as Luz, broke down
in tears as he discussed the cover image which he said was a call for
forgiving the terrorists. He also answered a question about whether he
worried the new issue could prompt another attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
RENALD LUZIER, "CHARLIE HEBDO" CARTOONIST: No, no. I have no worry
concerning the subject of my cover. We have confidence in the intelligence
of humor. Also the intelligence of the "2nd degree." The people who
committed this act, they are people who lack humor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In Israel, thousands turned out for funeral services for four
Jewish victims murdered in a kosher market by a gunman claiming affiliation
with the "Charlie Hebdo" attackers. While in France, funeral services were
held for Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim police officer killed outside the
"Charlie Hebdo" offices. And in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, a cleric
held celebratory funerals for the Kouachi brothers, the gunmen behind the
massacre at "Charlie Hebdo," calling them, quote, "heroes of Islam."
The most dangerous moment for any society is the moment that France and
everyone who feels solidarity with its citizens is now going through. And
we are trying to process and respond to terrorist acts because it is when
our grief, and our sorrow, and our justifiable rage are at their peak that
we are most vulnerable to the seductions of foggy, simplistic, emotional
thinking, and to the acceptance of reactionary policies that we learn
during a long, bloody 13 years in this country, don`t necessarily make life
better no matter how much we want it to.
It has been inspirational to watch the courage and the resilience and
defiance the French people taking to the streets in response to these
horrific attacks, and the pluralistic message offered by people like the
Malik Merabet, the brother of the slain Muslim police officer who condemned
the killers as false Muslims and called for tolerance.
But we are also seeing all the familiar, no-good, horrible bad thinking
once again rushed to the fore. Whether it`s the French far right
nationalist Marine Le Pen, who warns of creeping Islamization of France
that threatens civilization and whose message is seen by many as one of the
chief beneficiaries of the reaction to the latest violence.
Or the bad thinking of powerful news corporations chairman Rupert Murdoch,
the man behind FOX News, who tweeted what I shudder to think a whole lot of
people are thinking, that while most Muslims are peaceful, they still,
quote, "must be held responsible for the actions of these terrorists."
The tweet prompted responses from JK Rowling and comedian Aziz Ansari among
many others with Ansari sarcastically tweeting that Murdoch is responsible
for pedophilia committed by anyone Catholic and asking why he is pro-
pedophile complete with sad emoticon.
The thinking reflected in Murdoch`s tweet such as this suggest we`re in the
midst of some sort of clash of civilization with the West on one side and
Islam on the other. And it`s precisely the sort of thinking that took hold
after the September 11th terrorist attacks and led to a set of world`s
historical miscalculations, horrible mistakes and horrific death,
destruction, and misery.
France is already on a war footing with its Defense minister proclaiming
that ISIS must be wiped out and the country deploying 10,000 troops to
boost security within the borders of France. France`s Lower House of
Parliament voted 488 to 1 to extend French airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.
488 to 1. I recognize those kinds of margins. The sort of margin the
Patriot Act passed by. The authorization for the use of military force to
This past Sunday on Murdoch`s network, FOX News, a terrorism expert named
Steve Emerson took anti-Muslim fear-mongering to a new low, claiming there
are no-go zones from Europe where non-Muslims cannot visit including one
entire British city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN EMERSON, FOX NEWS TERRORISM EXPERT: In Britain, it`s not just no-go
zones. There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim,
where non-Muslims just simply don`t go in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Birmingham is actually only about 22 percent Muslim and Emerson`s
bit of idiocy prompted a Twitter #FoxNewsfacts in which people made jokes
like Birmingham has a chain of fast food restaurants called "Burqa King."
Emerson later apologized profusely, to his credit, though not before the
British prime minister called him, quote, "clearly a complete idiot."
And Emerson`s comment wasn`t even the dumbest to come out of all of this.
That honor belongs sadly to a member of the United States Congress.
This is Representative Randy Weber. He is a Republican of Texas who
tweeted in response to President Obama not joining that Paris unity rally,
quote, "Even Adolf Hitler thought it more important that Obama to get to
Paris. For all the wrong reasons, Obama couldn`t do it for right reasons."
You notice he didn`t bother to spell check.
Today the congressman offered a rambling and semi-incoherent apology saying
he was not trying to trivialize the holocaust nor compare the president to
When we see the blood splattered on the floor of the "Charlie Hebdo"
offices, the mourners at the funeral of the French Jews who were murdered
solely because they were Jews, we naturally, rightly reach for words like
evil, we conjure figures like Hitler, and feel for a moment the crimes we
had witness has suddenly clarified everything. But that clarity, that
clarity is a trap.
It`s the terrorists` own lie, the one they wish to peddle to us all. It is
the propaganda of fools and butchers because these moments call for rigor,
for resolve, and the courage to be clear eyed and to resist the tug of
cheap sentiment, easy solutions and broad characterizations because the
terrorists want us, above all, not to think. They want us to cower, or to
rage, or to fight, but thinking is always and remains our best weapon.
Joining me now is writer and scholar of religions, Reza Aslan, author of
"No God But God" and "Zealot."
Reza, I want you to respond to the cover first. The cover which I actually
found both provocative, defiant, and also quite moving when it was
explained by the cartoonist that this was in some way an attempt to forgive
Your response to the cover?
REZA ASLAN, SCHOLAR OF RELIGIONS: Well, I think it was pitch perfect
insofar as it reflects both what "Charlie Hebdo" represents. A kind of --
a notion of untrammeled right of speech, particularly the able to
caricature political and religious figures at will and at the same time it
was an attempt to do something a little bit different, which is to depict
the Prophet Mohammed not in the more provocative and deliberately insulting
ways that they normally do so, but in a way to actually be inclusive.
I think that the image itself was, as I say, in many ways, pitch perfect.
HAYES: There is this conversation now about terrorism, this sort of --
there`s a whole bunch o conversations about the Muslim population in France
and throughout Europe and the kind of risks socio-economically that exist
But I want to just ask this broader question which seems to me important.
You have airstrikes against ISIS, you have Al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula. You have Boko Haram who it appears has carried out possibly the
worst terrorist attack ever in history, slaughtering up to 2,000 people.
And to start at a sort of basic level, how much is it useful to think of
all these entities in the same bucket conceptually?
Does that aid in thinking about these things? Does it aid -- does it make
things make more sense in tangible way or does it actually obscure more
than it reveals?
ASLAN: Well, I think that recognizing that there is something that groups
like ISIS and al Qaeda, groups like Boko Haram and the Taliban have in
common is important. What they have in common is adherence to an ultra
Orthodox puritanical sect of Islam called Wahhabism, the state religion of
Saudi Arabia. That`s an important fact to keep in mind because it reminds
us first and foremost that this is not Islam writ large, but one particular
brand of Islam.
It also is important because it reminds us of what the source of that
particular brand of Islam is. It happens to be our closest friends in the
Middle East, the -- our good friends, the Saudis. And there is such a
responsibility that has to be put on the shoulders of a regime that has
spent 100 million -- I`m sorry, $100 billion over the last two-and-a-half,
three decades promoting this puritanical religion throughout every corner
of the world.
But insofar as this particular strain, this commonality among these groups,
can be traced to a particular sect, whether that says anything about Islam
as a religion, or whether that allows us to counter act these groups, that
I think is a little bit more complex. And that`s where we get into these
sort of polarizing debates about religion and whether Islam is responsible
for acts of violence against -- in the name of Islam.
I mean, those kinds of things that become politically and culturally
muddled if you ask me.
HAYES: And again, muddled in a way that -- I mean, again, to return to
Boko Haram, I mean, the question, that is, Boko Haram presents us with
pretty raw evil.
HAYES: I mean, I don`t think there is anyone that is a Boko Haram
supporter, who I guess is not part of actually Boko Haram. It`s basically
impossible to view this as -- you know, there`s nothing (INAUDIBLE) about
this group, right? So the question is, well, what, you know, what do you
do about Boko Haram? And it just seems to me that, to say well, they`re
part of some big clash of civilizations and you fight them in some way is
like, that`s the lesson we learned was the wrong answer when we went to war
When we went to war, I think on pretty justified grounds in Afghanistan,
and 13 years later, we`re leaving with the Taliban probably about to take
over the country.
ASLAN: Yes. Well, it`s not just the wrong answer. It`s not a helpful
ASLAN: I mean, fine, look, if you`re a bigot and a racist and you think
all Muslims are evil and violent, and they want to kill your children,
fine, there`s nothing that I can say that`s going to change your mind. But
that view doesn`t actually help us counteract what is a very real problem,
which is a virus of extremism and violence within certain sects of Islam.
In the case of Boko Haram, you`re absolutely right. I mean, now look, Boko
Haram is an evil organization and they`re carrying out just unspeakable
acts of violence, but I do think that we have to remember that there is a
social and political implication here for the Nigerian government, the
military, what they have, and have not done to actually stop this rampage.
ASLAN: Again it reminds us of all the complexities that are involved when
talking about these kinds of organizations. You know, terrorism is not an
ideology. Terrorism is just a tactic simply because these different
organizations use the same tactic doesn`t mean that they require the same
response. As you rightly said, that was the chief sin of the Bush
administration`s war against terror. The idea that all of these groups,
whether it`s the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas, whether it`s al Qaeda or the
That they`re all pretty much the same and they all require the same
response is what led to the devastation and catastrophe that was the last
decade since 9/11.
HAYES: I wonder -- I was thinking about that vote today, and again, you
know, France has been committed to going after ISIS. There`s all sorts of
geopolitical reasons you might think that bombing ISIS is a good idea.
Obviously is doing some unspeakably horrific stuff. But I thought about
that 488 to 1 vote. And I recalled Barbara Lee, who was the only vote out
of 535 members of Congress to fight against the authorization of use of
And this is her talking on Radiolab when she was talking about that vote.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: I have agonized over this vote. But I
came to grips with it today, and I came to grips with opposing this
resolution. During the very painful yet very beautiful memorial service,
as a member of the clergy so eloquently said, as we act, let us not become
the evil that we deplore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was her floor speech defending her vote as excerpts in
Radiolab. Have we gotten better about thinking about this problem? About
responding in the right way, in a way that is going to make things better,
make people safer, bring about a more just and humane world. Have we
ASLAN: I have been asked this question about 1,000 times since the attacks
in France. Oh man, Chris, I would love to say yes. I would love to say
that this is some sort of turning point for both Muslim communities and
non-Muslim communities in Europe, that they can come together and address
the socio, economic, and political issues that have lead to this identity
crisis, not just among Muslims who feel alienated by rampant anti-Muslim
sentiments, xenophobia, and fascist ideologies that are representative by
parties like the National Front in France or Ukip in England.
But I can`t say it. I can`t say that. Because as we know from our own
experience here, these kinds of events far from bringing people together
certainly in the long run tend to just solidify the --
ASLAN: -- views, the perceptions, the biases that we already have. And as
we`re seeing we`re already going to see laws across Europe that are just
going to make it even more difficult for Muslims in that continent to feel
integrated, assimilated, a part of European countries -- culture and will
just then only further the appeal --
ASLAN: -- of groups like ISIS and al Qaeda towards these young people. I
wish I could be more optimistic, I really do.
HAYES: Reza Aslan, thank you so much for joining us.
All right. If you tuned in to this program last night, you may have heard
us talking about Mitt -- how Mitt Romney is apparently going to run for
president again. You did not hear wrong. And we can`t stop talking about
Plus some late-breaking news to report tonight. A man has been indicted
for allegedly threatening to assassinate John Boehner.
We`ve got the latest ahead.
HAYES: Big 2016 news from Mitt Romney. Just one day into his semi-
declared possible 2016 run, and he is already facing a stunning defection
from one of his biggest backers.
Yes, BuzzFeed reporting today, Eric Hartsburg, the man who got Mitt
Romney`s 2012 campaign logo tattooed on his face, will not be supporting
the former governor in a future presidential run, telling BuzzFeed he`s
lost hope the economy will get better. He`s now focusing on LGBT issues as
his top priority, quote, "That`s a civil rights moment of our time."
Just because Hartsburg has given up on Romney doesn`t mean he`s given up on
campaign tattoos all together. Since the 2012 election Hartsburg has had
two laser treatments to remove the tattoo, according to ABC News. Today he
said this time around, quote, "He`s willing to sell the space and cited
Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Hillary Clinton as interesting
candidates." He told BuzzFeed News he is, quote, "wide open."
To other big 2016 news today which we will bring you next.
HAYES: Mitt Romney is apparently running for president again. And if
you`re a 2016 GOP hopeful that means just one more thing. More donors
being locked up, less money for you. If you want to be president you`re
probably going to have to raise over a billion dollars so you better act
A good place to start, "FOX AND FRIENDS" where you can reassure your
supporters and donors you`re still actively considering a run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is Marco Rubio making a decision?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, soon, sooner rather than later. But
I promise you that I`ll let everyone know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ted Cruz, what about you?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Well, it`s certainly something I`m looking at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: John McCain, for his part, have a different approach, using the
news of a potential Romney run to push his good friend Lindsey Graham into
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m a great admirer of Mitt Romney`s. My
illegitimate son, Lindsey Graham, is exploring that option. And so --
So I am strongly encouraging Senator Lindsey Graham particularly with the
world the way it is today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I don`t even know how to begin to parse that joke, although it is
Just hours before the "New York Times" reported that Chris Christie could
announce a leadership pack as early this month, the governor ended his
State of the State address in New Jersey on decidedly national forward
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I believe in a New Jersey renewal
which can help lead to an American renewal. Both in every individual home
in this state and in homes all around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, has apparently
decided to start his potential 2016 run with an anti Beyonce-Jay-Z platform
just to be popular with young voters. In his forthcoming book, Huckabee
writes of the famous pair, quote, "Does it occur to Jay-Z he is arguably
crossing a line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex
Also invokes Queen Bee to critique Michelle Obama`s parenting, quote, "How
can she let their brains ingest obnoxious and toxic mental poison in the
form of song lyrics?"
And in the world of the Democratic primary, a very different scene. Today
arguably Democrats` most credible, potential challenger to Hillary Clinton,
Elizabeth Warren, gave what might be her most definitive N-O to the 2016
question. When asked by reporters point blank, quote, "So are you going to
run for president?" She simply answered, quote, "No."
Joining me now, Jonathan Chait, columnist for "New York" magazine and
someone -- who someone today on the Internet described as a, quote, "Romney
truther," who refuses --
JONATHAN CHAIT, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: That was mean.
HAYES: You described yourself as a Romney -- well, you and the Internet.
HAYES: Why -- what is a Romney truther and why are you one?
CHAIT: I simply refuse to believe that he is running for president. I
don`t care how many reports there are of him telling people he`s going to
run. He`s almost certainly going to run. He`s is thinking seriously about
running. He`s about to run. Any second now he`s going to run.
I just don`t believe that it`s true.
HAYES: Why don`t you believe --
CHAIT: Nothing will convince me it`s true.
HAYES: OK. So what -- why don`t you believe him? What is your skepticism
CHAIT: I fundamentally don`t think that Mitt Romney is insane. And I
think him running for president is insane. So that`s my reasoning.
HAYES: I don`t think -- I`m going to push back on you, not thinking it`s
insane. It being insane.
HAYES: If you win -- I said this last night and it`s true. If you win the
primary of a major party`s presidential nomination, you start out with
about 45 percent of the electorate almost certainly going to vote for you.
HAYES: And you`re basically within -- you`re on either side statistically
of a coin toss of being the next president of the United States.
HAYES: So why is it insane to run again?
CHAIT: There is no way Republicans are going to give him the nomination
again. They barely gave him the nomination last time. And he really ran
unopposed, right? I mean, he had one real opponent like someone in terms
of, like, running for real, raising money, and that was Rick Perry who just
imploded spectacularly leaving Mitt Romney more or less running against two
guys who are running for talk show host.
HAYES: Meaning --
CHAIT: Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
HAYES: Newt Gingrich. So you`re -- you didn`t think Herman Cain or
Michele Bachmann were particularly formidable?
CHAIT: Right. Though they were also running for talk shows. So it`s Mitt
Romney and a bunch of punitive talk show hosts. And Romney takes months
and months to put these clowns away because Republicans are basically
looking for every possible option except for Mitt Romney. So you add that
to the fact that Republicans are notoriously cruel to their losing
And maybe that there just aren`t very many losing candidates and we don`t
have very many to judge, but I think that`s kind of in keeping with the way
Republicans look at people who aren`t successful in general, right? Like
they hate losers, they like winners. That`s their whole ideology. I think
they apply that to presidential candidates in a different way than
Democrats do who have more of a soft spot for people who --
HAYES: So -- OK, so then you think -- so let`s -- there is two
possibilities here, right?
HAYES: One is that Mitt Romney just wants to remain a kind of kingmaker in
these circles, remain powerful, remain central.
HAYES: And that the surest way to do that is to kind of play this game for
as long as you possibly can. So is that what you think is happening?
CHAIT: I don`t really know. It`s hard from -- it`s admittedly hard for my
"There`s no way Romney will run" theory to explain this stream of
arguments, saying that Romney is telling everyone he wants to run.
CHAIT: I have to work this part out of the theory, but I think you`re
probably right about this kingmaker idea. Another possibility is that just
a lot of people close to Romney want Romney`s money.
CHAIT: He pays very, very well. Too well. It`s one of his long list of
flaws as a candidate, is that he overpays for talent or non-talent as it
may be the case. These people have ever interest in pumping up a Romney
candidacy because he`s the only one who`s going to avoid them to --
HAYES: That`s right.
CHAIT: -- misrun a presidential campaign again.
HAYES: This is all being --
CHAIT: So that`s another explanation.
HAYES: The Romney industrial complex.
HAYES: Jonathan Chait of "New York" magazine, thank you.
CHAIT: Thank you.
HAYES: Breaking news, we learned late tonight of an alleged assassination
plot against Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the latest on that, next.
HAYES: Breaking news tonight from Ohio where we`ve learned that a man has
been indicted for allegedly threatening to assassinate the Speaker of the
House John Boehner. That man, Michael Hoyt, had worked as a bartender at
the country club where the speaker is a member until this past October when
he was fired.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams joins us now. And Pete, this
is really bizarre and disturbing news. What do we know?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know actually quite a bit
It turns out he`s been in custody for over a month now, since December 10.
Word of this case has been kind of coming out in little pieces. It was
known in November that a man in the Cincinnati area had made some threats
against Boehner. Now the other pieces of the puzzle are coming out.
It turns out, authorities say, the Michael Hoyt, this man they`ve arrested
and charged with threatening to kill the speak, has a history of mental
He had told the police that he thought John Boehner was the devil, that
Hoyt though he, himself, was Jesus Christ. He said Boehner tried to get
him fired from the country club where he was a bartender. He, in fact, was
fired. He said that he -- after he was fired he heard voices coming from
his car radio telling him that Boehner was evil. And he told the police
that he had thought about either poisoning the speaker`s drink at this
country club where he was a member -- this is a picture of his house now --
police had gone to house and found a gun that he told them was there and it
turned out went to the house and it turned out that his mother had become
concerned about his behavior she had taken a rifle, an assault rifle out of
the house before he was fired as a bartender.
After he was charged, he agreed to a mental health examination and a judge
has ordered him held for 45 days. So he currently undergoing this mental
It seems pretty clear here, Chris, that U.S. Capitol police were worried
enough about him that they questioned him while he was in a psychiatric
hospital there in Ohio, but they were worried that he might get released.
So, I think in part these charges were to make sure that he didn`t get
released, that he got proper psychiatric treatment and we don`t know where
this case is going to go from here.
HAYES: This -- just to be clear, though, this was someone who was actaully
a bartender at the country club that the Speaker actually is a member of,
right. I mean, there would have been some opportunity he is not a random
person sending threatening emails or tweets, I mean this is someone who had
opportunity, such as it was, in fairly close proximity to the speaker.
WILLIAMS: Yes. And I think the fact that he had opportunity is one of he
reasons that they decided to file the charges and take it somewhat
Now, he said all kinds of things to the Capitol police, according to court
documents. He also sent e-mails to the speakers` wife saying that if he
ever really intended to harm the speaker he could have poisoned his wine
many times, but never did.
After he was arrested, he told the police he never really intended to harm
the speaker, but his statements have been so varied and he has clearly got
these problems. He had been apparently, according to court documents,
treated once before for psychiatric problems, and according to the police
his mother told him that he had stopped taking his medications and was
under some duress and she was worried about him as well.
HAYES: Pete Williams, thank you for that update.
All right, could an electronic toll collection system prove that New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie is a political bully? That`s next.
HAYES: Fresh off a week of lousy national media coverage related mostly,
but not solely to a now infamous hug in the Dallas Cowboys owners` box,
Governor Chris Christie gave his state of the state speech today, quite
possibly with an eye towards running for the presidency.
In fact, according to WNYC, Christie froze out the local New Jersey press
from an off the record meeting before the speech. He did, however, invite
ABC, NBC, CNN and other national outlets.
And now The New York Times reports Christie is preparing to set up a
political action committee as early as this month, a common practice in the
months before a presidential announcement.
Now there is a new curious report that seems to buttress the view of some
that the administration of Chris Christie bullies its political opponents
and might cross a line in doing so.
At the center of the story, as detailed in David Sarota`s (ph) piece in the
International Business Times, it`s EZPass, one of those electronic toll
readers, versions of which have become ubiquitous across the country.
Great to pass through a toll without exchange of cash, but here is what
else is happening when you use that EZPass, you are being tracked with
point by point data of both where and when you used it.
And New Jersey is one of a handful of states in which the highway authority
release EZPass records only in criminal cases, because you know that`s
sensitive personal data
But two years ago at what might have been a sleepy little congressional
subcommittee hearing on commuters and tolls, the late Senator Frank
Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, was expressing concern about toll hikes
in his home state, then deputy chief of the Port Authority Bill Baroni
adopted this tactic in response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARONI, DEPUTY CHIFF, PORT AUTHORITY: Respectfully, Senator, you only
started paying tolls recently. For years, Senator, as a former
commissioner of my agency, you received free EZPass. You fater -- in fact
I have a copy of your free EZPass. I have got letters from `01.
THEN-SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: How often was it used? Do you
BARONI: Well, yeah, actually, `01, `02, `03.
LAUTENBERG: What -- how many times.
BARONI: Well, I can tell you -- in without.
LAUTENBERG: I`m not going to permit you to continue with this silliness.
BARONI: Well, Senator, you took 284 trips for free in the last two years
you had the pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, so in fact the next day in a press conference, Christie himself
spoke directly and forcibly about Senator Lautenberg`s EZPass usage. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: So, for a guy who was, you know, toll (inaudible) for 24 years
who was allowing the public to pay his tolls -- and I find it interesting,
too, by the way in 2005 and 2006 that he went over the Hudson River 284
times. Where was he going? I think he needs to answer that. Because he`s
supposed to be the senator from New Jersey. So what`s he doing going over
the bridge or through the tunnel to New York three or four times a week for
2005 and 2006? Was he ever in Washington? And when he wasn`t in
Washington, what was he doing in New York? Did he ever spend any time in
New Jersey? Or were we just a passthrough between Washington and New York
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So you get the picture.
So why should a Christie-appointed Port Authority official or Christie
himself get to use information like that against a political opponent?
Congressman Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey and our next guest is
calling on the Justice Department to investigate. And Congressman Pallone
joins me now.
So, Congressman, let me see if I understand this, you can`t just get your
hands on this data. I mean, it cannot be the case that the governor or the
governor`s appointee in the Port Authority can just reach into an EZPass
database and say, huh, what has Frank Pallone been up to, right?
REP. FRANK PALLONE, (D) NEW JERSEY: Not legally. I mean, this is the
problem, Chris, is that the governor and his political appointee at the
Port Authority obtained this information illegally. How they obtained it,
whether they personally obtained it, I don`t know, but I think that needs
to be investigated, because it was illegally obtained and then they used it
to go after their political opponents or in the case of Senator Lautenberg,
because he was raising an issue of the toll hikes, or in another occasion
last year, they cited some of my constituents, 40-some people in Seraville
(ph), New Jersey in the context of Bridgegate because, once again the
governor`s political appointee was trying to distract, if you will, from
the scandal involved in Bridgegate by pointing to EZPass being used by 46
people in Seraville (ph), New Jersey.
So, you know, whether it`s a politician like Senator Lautenberg who is
trying to make a case as to why the governor is not doing a good job, or
other, just, you know regular citizens, where -- how did they obtain this
data? It is obviously illegal for them to have it. Somebody got it
illegally, and then they use it to bully their opponents to kind of
distract from the poor job that the governor is doing in the state. That`s
how they go after you if you raise the issue that you don`t think the
governor is doing a good job.
HAYES: Bill Baroni, I should note is of course the Port Authority
appointee by Governor Christie who was involved in the lane closures that
created the Bridgegate scandal. He has since resigned. He also gave
testimony to the state legislature that was later shown to be discovered to
be not true about what why that happened.
What was go on at the Port Authority? What is going on at the Port
Authority? Every time I look into this I just -- I can`t imagine this
thing exists in which billions of dollars are sloshing around, the
governors of New York and New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, they
get to put their people in there with what seems to me very little
oversight. The two of them just vetoed bills to reform the Port Authority
passed by both state`s legislature.
How does this continue to exist in it`s current form?
PALLONE: Well, again, you know that Governor Christie vetoed the bill that
would have reformed the Port Authority.
I mean, the problem is the state is hurting, Chris. You know, and the
people are leaving the state. The economy is not doing as well as the
economy in neighboring states. Poverty levels are going up in New Jersey.
I mean this is all about Chris Christie running for governor. He is not in
the state. He is running all over the country. He`s about to announce
that he is going to running for governor and in the meantime he tries to
disparage his political opponents. But now, as we know, using illegally
obtained information. That`s why I`ve asked the Attorney General Holder to
look into this, because they shouldn`t be able to continue to violate the
law just to punish those that may run against them, or they don`t like what
they`re raising because they`re criticizing his performance in the state.
And his performance in the state is terrible. The economy of the state is
suffering. I mean, you know, we have data that shows that more people are
moving out of the state, then moving into the state. I just think that
this is something we have to get to the bottom of so that they can not, so
Governor Christie cannot
continue to use these bullying tactics in this case with illegally obtained
HAYES: Congressman Frank Pallone, thank you very much.
PALLONE: Thank you.
HAYES: I should note that the congressman says the information is
illegally obtained, that is something that is not confirmed as to whether
it is, in fact, illegally obtained. Of course, an investigation by the
Justice Department might be able to definitively determine that.
All right, my special onset guest, get ready for this, 60 chicken nuggets,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTFIED MALE: Something more cuddly. Yeah. Bigger? Friendlier
Thank you, not quite what we had in mind, yes.
ANNOUNCER: Everyone wants to be the Cadbury Bunny, because only he brings
Cadbury Creme Eggs with their delicious milk chocolate outside and creamy
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, there is outrage in the Cadbury Creme Egg fan world tonight, a
world I didn`t realize existed until recently, as devotees learn that the
chocolate encasing the creamy filling has been changed from the much loved
dairy milk chocolate to something that is not dairy milk.
British tabloid, The Sun, breaking the controversial news. A spokesperson
for Kraft Foods confectionery division, the American company that bought
Cadbury in 2010 said, quote, "it`s similar but not exactly dairy milk. We
tested the new one out with consumers and it was found to be the best one
for the creme egg." Many creme egg connoisseurs disagreed, taking to
Facebook and Twitter to express their vexation.
One man tweeting, quote, "what gives you the right to mess with a creme
egg, one of Britain`s national treasures? Restore the creme egg recipe.
Cadbury also announced a reduction in package size. Customers now get five
eggs in a package, not six.
But fear not, Americaning, the UK eggs may be changing but Cadbury says
their Americans eggs will remain the same.
Now, having brought you the story of the eggs, we are led inexorably, to
the story of the chicken. The nugget wars are next.
HAYES: This, dear viewer, is what 50 chicken McNuggets looks like. And if
you`re thinking that looks somewhat foreboding, well, you are right.
Now, why do I have 50 McNuggets? Well, because right now you can`t afford
not to have 50 McNuggets. McDonalds is offering a special deal where they
send a 50 pack of chicken McNuggets for $9.99, which works out to 20 cents
What does 20 cents buy you these days? Well, let`s see you can get a pair
of recycled paper bags in California, which are selling for 10 cents a pop
at grocery stores, and that`s about it. You can`t even get a stamp for 20
But starting this week, not only can you get a chicken nugget for 20 cents,
you can get it for even cheaper than that, because rival Burger King is
offering up their own promotion 10 nuggets for $1.49, which works out to 15
cents per nugget.
Why are chicken nuggets so very cheap? Well, when the King ran this same
promotion last fall, its chief marketing officer said, quote, "we wanted to
offer our guests an aggressive deal rivaling anything our competition has
And it was successful. According to Bloomberg.com, Burger King`s previous
chicken nugget promotion helped the company post a 3.6 percent gain in
same-store sales in the U.S. and Canada for the third quarter. McDonald`s
had a 3.3 percent drop in U.S. sales during the same time.
Burger King, in other words, drank McDonald`s milkshake -- chicken shake --
What does is say about the fast food industry, about the system we have
that produces food that you could sell all of this food, all of these many
nuggets at 15 to 20 cents a nugget, less than the price of a postage stamp?
And still make a profit? An in depth look at the great chicken nugget war
HAYES: Joining me now, CNBC contributor Ron Insana and Raj Patel,
University of Texas professor and author of "Stuffed and Starved" and also
still joining me 46 chicken nuggets. The crew got to them during the
OK, let`s just start -- I guess the context of this price war here is my
understanding is that actually that is the space occupied by McDonald`s and
Burger King is actually shrinking?
RON INSANA, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, if you look at the competition they`re
facing from the likes of Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A and other kind of upstart
chains that are appealing to young kids. They are facing a lot of
competition. And so at home, as you said, McDonald`s saw same-store sales
And the way you stimulate or restimulate sales is of course a price war and
you do it with your least expensive product, that happens to be chicken
right now. Beef prices are considerably higher.
HAYES: This is also interesting to me. I mean, when you think about the
numbers here, and how...
INSANA: It`s a lot of nuggets.
HAYES: It is a lot -- well, first of all, let`s just say this. We playing
a guessing game today. How many chickens are slaughtered a year in the
U.S. The answer is 8.5 billion, which is a lot.
But yes, this is cow and beef prices have spiked in the past several years.
Drought in the southern U.S. Great Plains dried out pastured, raised cost
for hay and other feed, forcing ranchers to cull herds.
It just makes me think about like what is the margin on a nugget? Like,
are they actually making money? Can you make money on selling a nugget at
15 cents? Or...
INSANA: All this stuff is loss leader, right. I mean, so -- you know, we
have seen this in every industry in the world, right? You always put
something out there that is inexpensive, that draws the crowd in and then
once you get them back in the store, you upsell them to your more standard
fare, whether it is an egg McMuffin in the morning, whether it`s a Big Mac
in the evening or a Whooper later in the day.
HAYES: So, you don`t think they`re clearing a profit on 15 cents a nugget?
INSANA: Well, it wouldn`t surprise me if you`re slaughtering over 8
billion chickens that the cost of procurement is probably not all that
Raj, that is -- that is the thought I had is like what is the system that
produces this many chickens at this price, like, what is going on the part
of the iceberg we`re not seeing when you have this bounty of food available
at this cost?
RAJ PATEL, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Well, on the one hand, the thing they`re
really making money on when you go inside the store is of course the soda.
I mean, that is 13 to 18 cents per cup and the margin is around 90 percent.
So, you know, you`re coming in you`re stuffing your mouth with that many
chicken nuggets. You need to wash it down with something for the love of
god. And so that`s where they`re making money in the first place.
HAYES: So, fast food chains are just basically kind of a conspiracy to get
you to drink soda?
PATEL: Well, I mean, that is certainly one of the ways in which they are
making a great deal of money, but that`s why this whole price war is like a
Aliens versus Predator, you know, whoever wins we lose.
Because it`s not just the soda that they`re making us drink, in order to
have this many billions of chickens slaughtered, you need to squeeze away
some of the costs. So, we`re paying some of those costs of the feed, for
example, in the billions of dollars that we spend every year on
But also, you know, in order for these chickens to make it to their sorry
end five weeks after they`re born, they need to be treated with
antibiotics. 80 percent of antibiotics used in America are used on
livestock and the cost of treating antibiotic related disease in the United
States has been estimated at between $21 billion and $34 billion. And
that`s not a price that you get to see in your 15 cent nuggets.
HAYES: Yeah, those are externalities.
INSANA: Yeah, but don`t forget that McDonald`s is not the one that came up
with the idea of treating the chickens with antibiotics, that`s a
government regulation in the United States.
HAYES: Yes. Although, that`s produced by the fact that they are so close
to each other in such unnatural conditions that you would basically be
producing disease factories were you not treating them that way.
INSANA: Absolutely -- well, particularly chickens. I mean, any fowl for
that matter that`s that close would disseminate disease.
HAYES: Is it the case -- I guess I wonder, I think about McDonald`s or
Burger King, or as these things in my childhood that are always going to be
there, right. But then I have the thought today, when I was actually
starting to look into the numbers, like, could you imagine a world in which
that goes away?
INSANA: I think you can, but remember these are iconic American brands, or
a British brand in the case of Burger King at one point it was owned by a
Will they go away or will they adapt, evolve, and survive in an
increasingly competitive environment? Right now we`re using old tricks to
stay relevant, which is price wars for chicken nuggets or mozzarella sticks
or what have you that they`re throwing at customers at the moment.
HAYES: I do love a good mozzarella stick.
INSANA: The one thing I`ll say from an investment perspective, if you
bought McDonald shares in 1971 you would have out performed almost any
other investment in that time period.
So, they have had a way of adapting and also surviving.
HAYES: Raj, I was looking at this data today, which sort of captures what
is going on, right? 1990, households spent 43 percent of their income on
food, by 1950 it was 30 percent, by 2003 it was 13 percent, there`s been a
transformation over the last century of how cheap and plentiful food is and
it`s created a whole other host of problems.
PATEL: And of course that`s part of the great jobless, wageless recovery.
I mean, if you look at when the rest of the American economy was going down
the toilet in 2007 and 2008, the kinds of sector where things were
improving were precisely this end of the food spectrum where people were
downsizing their expectations and going to McDonalds and Burger King
instead of going to other places.
And of course, now we heard the great news about 5.6 percent unemployment.
But where are all of those jobs? They`re in the kinds of Mcjobs -- and of
course this is what the jobless, wageless recovery is about is McDonald`s
is part of that story all along.
HAYES: Ron Insana and Raj Patel -- Ron Insana does not agree with that
last point, let the record reflect. Thank you, gentlemen both.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right
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ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES