tv The Last Word MSNBC August 25, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
president i'll do nothing about them. what a profile in courage. republicans, romney included, may regard the natural world as akin to wall street, something endlessly manipulatable by monied interest. nature of course, makes her own plans. and as someone once pointed out, she always hits last and she always bats 1,000. thanks for being with us. "the last word" starts right now. chris hayes in for lawrence o'donnell. signs of the apocalypse in washington this week. an earthquake. a hurricane. and dick cheney on a publicity tour. >> we're now at the height of hurricane irene. >> looking at a significant impact. >> forget politics. the east coast is worried about hurricane irene. >> right through new england. >> the outer banks of north carolina. >> do you know where you're going? >> causing billions in damage. >> it will be a billion dollar disaster.
>> president obama of course on top of this and concerned spoke with the head of fema this morning. governor bev purdue has declared a state of emergency. >> putting shudders on. >> and the last time a hurricane took this track -- >> "nbc nightly news with brian williams" with tom brokaw. >> the north carolina, virginia, and maryland. >> some of new york's biggest skyscrapers never opened for business. >> high tide was at 11:00 this morning. >> this will be a long time forgetting. >> hoped this morning that the weather for the geneva summit will be better. >> the other storm in washington, dick cheney's new book. >> he promises there will be, quote, heads exploding. >> he basically goes after colin powell. >> the most devastating criticism is about secretary of state condoleezza rice. word like train wreck, naive, utterly misleading. >> and if you thought cheney was a moral monster before, this book won't help. >> what has to be one of the most disloyal vice presidents.
>> during september 11, president bush on that day, anyway, at least, was a peripheral player. >> i think the better name for the book was "in my defense." >> i have no regrets. i make no apologies. >> good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes in for lawrence o'donnell. if you are watching this show on the east coast, there is a good chance you are in the path of headline. hoin hoin hurricane irene. at this moment, irene is pounding the bahamas heading north. she is currently a category 3 storm with 125 mile an hour winds. want to see what 125 mile an hour winds looks like? lilja luciano is there. >> we are here at the height of hurricane irene in nassau.
this is the most severe wind so far. we are getting heavy rain and sleet as well that's starting to hit us as we speak right now. objects are falling and flying through the air. we have got some street signs that have been coming off their posts as the wind changed direction. a couple of trees have fallen right in front of us. we are trying to keep grounded here. but the storm is getting worse. >> storm could hit american shores saturday, possibly brushing up against the outer banks of north carolina. from there, it's a swath of east coast cities. norfolk, virginia, atlanta, philadelphia, and portland, maine. governors in north carolina, virginia, maryland, new jersey, and new york have already declared states of emergency. airlines have started canceling flights. sorry, vacationers. these amazing satellite photos from nasa show just how big irene is. forecasters say irene is unusually large and has an unusually broad reach.
to put that in perspective, 250 miles is further than the distance from new york to washington, d.c. a distance that takes four hours to drive. nine if you're on 985 on a sunday. joining me now is weather channel meteorologist adamberg. adam, thanks a lot. >> absolutely. it's going to be crazy here. people are wondering, hey, where is the weather channel here? but most people know why. we have hurricane irene right now pushing out of the bahamas. and over the next couple of days, the system will be moving up the eastern seaboard. the satellite showing it's still south of north carolina. but we do expect conditions to start deteriorating for north carolina as we go into the friday, saturday time frame. and then even in places like new jersey, coastal new jersey here, already hurricane watches. we expect conditions to deteriorate big time here once we go saturday into sunday. and then sunday into monday, the system is likely to move right
up the east coast, potentially even making landfall anywhere across the mid-atlantic, maybe long island, maybe connecticut, somewhere through southern new england. let's show you what all the models are saying. this is where we get a lot of our information from. you look at the models. this is what we call consensus here. a lot of agreement taking this track of irene right up the east coast, almost paralleling the coast line. but the exact track is crucial, if it tracks a little further to the west and goes inland, the system could actually fall apart a little faster. still, as always, with any tropical system, a huge heavy rain threat. if it happens to stay out over open waters longer, it can maintain its strength. but one thing. when you look at the official forecast here, and we go through saturday into sunday, sunday into monday, you notice that it does make landfall somewhere, maybe even places like philadelphia. maybe where i am here. northeastern new jersey. potentially long island. southern new england. and then it pushes right into northern new england. one thing is for sure.
there's not a lot to slow the system down as far as intensity. right now it's a major hurricane, and we're fearing we could be looking at extremely heavy rainfall. we have seen a lot of heavy rain already this month in the northeast. a foot of rain already. any additional rain will be a huge problem, chris. and then you factor in the winds, it's definitely something we have to watch. we could be looking at mandatory evacuations all along the east coast. >> thank you so much for that dismatch, adam berg. now to the outer banks where nbc's mark potter is. what are conditions like there, and when do officials expect the worst to hit? >> it's actually pretty nice here right now, chris. we're getting a bit of a freshening breeze. we're getting the waves are kicking up a little bit. but that's going to change dramatically soon. by tomorrow, we're expecting rain bands to start coming in. the worst of the storm is expected to hit here on saturday. the big question here, is where does this storm go. as your previous guest was talking about, that is critical
here. the western most track he is talking about that might be good for other parts of the country would be very bad here. this is a strip of land, sort of like a spaghetti strip in the middle of the atlantic ocean. on one side is the sound and the other side is the atlantic. if that storm goes to the west, it will be pushing water because of the clockwise flow of the hurricane from the atlantic and also from the sound right here. taking out roads, bloflooding homes. that could be a disaster. and the county manager says that's where the current track has it going. and that is a lose-lose situation for this area. that is why they are urging everyone to leave the area. the tourists left today. the residents are expected to leave tomorrow, a mandatory evacuation. some say they are going to stay. but they are being told if you do that, you get in trouble, emergency managers, ambulance drivers and all that, won't be able to help you. you're on your own. >> do you get a sense of what the percentages look like in
terms of permanent residents there leaving as opposed to choosing to stay, and how officials are urging them to get out? >> to answer the question a little more broadly, most of the tourists are going. it looks like they are cooperating. as for the residents, we don't know yet how many are going to go. but we do know that a lot of them, especially the ones who have been around a while, are taking this seriously. they are most worried about the storm surge, the possibility of high water coming in here, taking out roads and bridges, flooding their homes and trapping them here. many people are boarding up and say they will be going. one older man, 88 years old, said you'd be crazy to stay if the water starts rising. but a lot of people say they are going to stay, and that's the ones that the emergency managers are so worried about. irene has 55 million in its path, including the 20 million right near in the greater new york area. by far the most densely populated area in the united states. 8 million people live in new york city proper. 2 million of those people on the island of manhattan or staten
island. just a short time ago, mayor mike bloomberg announced mandatory evacuations for the most vulnerable citizens, a move he said was pushed in part by his health commissioner, who is a veteran of hurricane katrina. >> we are also notifying the other hospitals in the zone a low-lying areas as well as nursing homes and senior homes in the low-lying zone a areas that they must, i repeat the word must, evacuate beginning tomorrow and complete the process by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night. unless they get permission to stay in place, based on the ability of the particular facility to keep operating during hurricane conditions. >> mayor bloomberg said a decision will be made by 8:00 a.m. saturday about ordering a large-scale evacuation. but he urged residents in low-lying areas to leave tomorrow before the weather turns, because new york's transit authority, which oversees subways, buses, and
commuter rails, could be partially or fully shut down. many people in new york don't have cars, and public transportation is their only means of getting around. meanwhile, bloomberg said earlier today, the city is preparing for the worst-case scenario, and readying evacuation boats. >> if the worst scenario is going to happen this weekend, we will activate other elements of our coastal storm plan, including the possibility of evacuating new yorkers who live in low-lying areas. the police department is positioning 50 small boats at station houses and low-lying areas. the nypd special operations areas also has several helicopters and 33 police 3w0e9 boats at the ready. >> one of the low-lying areas is the world trade center site which sits right on the hudson river. and another concern about ground zero tonight. whether the construction cranes at the site would be able to hold up against hurricane force winds. joining me now is john timoney, former deputy commissioner of
the nypd and also the former chief of police in miami, a city that is no stranger to hurricanes. john, thank you so much. from your experience, what is your biggest concern and your top priority right now? >> i think it's what mayor bloomberg said. the low-lying areas. i was also the police commissioner of philadelphia about 10 years ago, when a nor'easter came up to philly. and southwest philadelphia down by the airport, tens of thousands of people were driven from their homes. we had to do boat rescues in 10, 12 feet of water. similarly, the river, eight feet, at least eight feet over the banks. years ago, in brooklyn, a nor'easter where the seawalls caved in. huge flooding zones in brooklyn, the rockaways. and the main concern really is that people don't self-evacuate, is getting to them. now, fortunately, the nypd, unlike other police departments, really does have a lot of boats and helicopters. and so if any department is prepared to help in an
evacuation it's the nypd. but there's only so much you can do, as you mentioned earlier in the opening. new york city, 8 million people. 2 million, you know, just along the shoreline of brooklyn and queens. and that's a lot of people. >> is your biggest concern the people actually? it sounds like they are going to make a decision tomorrow about whether there's a mandatory evacuation or not. is the biggest concern that people do not heed that? >> yeah. there's a certain amount. i went out personally in miami, mandatory evacuations. you can't drag people out of their homes. you alert them. and it's up to them. but what happens, if they get flooded in, and there's no guarantee of emergency service personnel, police, or fire coming to their rescue. that's the deal. if not to stay in your shelter, there's probably no help coming for at least 24 hours. >> it seems to me like there's sort of a before and after in terms of how we think about disasters. before katrina and after katrina. >> yeah. >> what are the main lessons that we have learned from that
tragedy, as you prepare a major metropolitan area for something like this? >> well, most people forget about katrina. when that was over, when the hurricane passed through, people were celebrating. said it was no big deal. it was only when the waters rose and the levees gave in that the disaster struck. and so people -- once the hurricane passes, that doesn't mean you're out of danger. you know, there's a few hours where the flooding starts to take effect, and depending how high it goes -- and i've seen it in philadelphia as high as 10 feet. that can cause huge problems. you know, and the only way to evacuate at that point is by boat. >> john timoney, former miami police chief and former nypd first commissioner. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, chris. coming up -- dick cheney's book. just in time to profit from it, september 11. and what may be the single
coming up -- verizedon workers back on the job because the strike looked like it might threaten verizon's bottom line. that's coming up. and the american book tour. the perfect opportunity to rewrite history. dick cheney's book is about to hit book shelves. next. [ grandma ] why do relationships matter? [ grandpa ] relationships are the basis of everything. [ grandma ] relationships are life... if you don't have that thing that fills your heart and your soul,
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"new york times" got an advance copy of former vice president dick cheney's memoir, an assignment which i hope included a hardship pay bonus. according to the writup on the book, cheney gives reader a vision of the world in which he was a lone courageous visionary, surrounded by cowards and imbeciles. he said george tenet's decision to resign when, quote, the going got tough, was unfair to the president. he takes credit for helping to push out secretary of state colin powell after the 2004 election. and he throws secretary of state condoleezza rice under the bus for trying to get a nuclear weapons agreement with north korea. even throws in a condescending line about how she, quote, came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted i had been right. he also defends torture, or what he calls tough interrogations. >> if you're view, we should still be using enhanced interrogation? >> yes.
>> no regrets? >> no regrets. >> should we still be waterboarding terror suspects? >> i would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high value detainee, and that was the only way we could get him to talk. >> even though so many people have condemned it, people call it torture, you think it should still be a tool? >> yes. >> when i saw the article yesterday about cheney's book, i dashed off an email in a fit of pique to friends in publishing, saying basically, everyone at simon and schuster should be ashamed of themselves. now, upon further consideration, i think that's too harsh. the entire simon & shuster company isn't responsible for one division publishing one book. but i think the reason i got so angry, what's so troubling about this cheney publicity lab, is the fact that he has managed to escape not only legal sanction for advocating and overseeing the implementation of the war crime that is torture, but that he also has appeared to manage to escape social sanction as
well. everyone is now going to treat him as just another memoirist with a book to sell, and have his book party and give his interviews and cash his checks as if he were keith richards. what would someone in power have to do to put themselves outside the bounds of polite society? when powerful people are not held to account when they have no worry about their reputations, it creates a moral hazard. not unlike what's happened with the banks. anti-social behavior is rewarded. failure is also rewarded. and we are trapped inside a system of perverse incentives. so dick cheney can advocate torture and profit off of it just in time for the 10th anniversary of september 11. joining me now is glenn greenwald, a columnist for salon.com. thank you for coming on. >> good to be here, chris. >> cheney gave an interview to nbc about the book. i'll going to play you this sound. >> this book is going to make a lot of people angry.
>> there are going to be heads exploding all over washington, jane. >> you know that. >> yes. >> i feel like this sort of notion that heads are exploding sort of reduces the complaint against cheney to some sort of standard partisan invektive. what do you think? >> i mean, that's the critical issue, chris. let's just be clear about what it is that dick cheney did. he directly participated by his own boastful account in the implementation of a domestic spying program that subjected thousands of americans on u.s. soil to have their emails read and telephone calls listened to by government agents, without the warrants required by the criminal law. the institution of the worldwide torture is he went way beyond waterboarding and included a whole variety of techniques that the u.s. has constantly prosecuted other people and other nations for using. and according to general barry mccaffrey, it was one whereby we, quote, murdered dozens of people in our custody. and then he was the driving
force behind a war of aggression, an attack on iraq, that ended the lives of at least 100,000 innocent human beings, and far more. and what is so troublesome is exactly what you just said, which is we decided now to treat those like simple policy disputes, like mistakes that he made, rather than what they are, which is among the most serious and egregious crimes committed over the last decade, in this generation. there's a statute in place that says if you eavesdrop on americans without warrants, you go to prison for five years, for each offense. we have a treaty that requires that we will prosecute all people who order torture. general tagooba, who was tasked with investigating this, says that there's no doubt that high bush officials committed war crimes. the only question is whether they will be held to account. in the nurm nuremberg trials, it was said that the worst side is not genocide or bombing hospitals or anything else, it's
a war of aggression. that is the kingpin crime. and yet dick cheney is in the middle, by his own proud admission, of all of those crimes and yet we don't treat him bilike a criminal. we treat him like a celebrity and reward him for it. >> how much do you think -- and you wrote about this today on salon.com where your blog is. you write about this look forward, not backward mantra, which has generally been the posture of the obama administration, although i think that wasn't necessarily the posture in the beginning and it has certainly become the posture. how much do you think that contributes to this sort of -- this kind of normalizing of what cheney has done and continues to defend? >> it's easily the biggest factor. i mean, if you look at theories of criminal law, imagine if for example we decided to announce tomorrow that we were no longer going to prosecute murder, or rape, or child abductions because we didn't want to keep looking backward, we wanted only to look forward. what would you think would
happen? obviously, there would be a lot more people engaging in murder, rape, and child abduction because the deterrence against doing that has been removed. we decided we're not going to prosecute that. what we've done in american political culture ever since gerald ford pardoned richard nixon is decided that our officials are free to break the law without consequences. we saw that with iran contra as well, and a whole other variety of instances. so when barack obama got into office and essentially began pressuring the justice department through all kinds of means not to prosecute bush officials for all of the crimes and they began by describing, he has continued this evis ration of the rule of law for political elites, at the same time that ordinary americans are imprisoned by the same government, the same state, at rates greater than any country in the entire world. and so political elites like dick cheney know that they will not -- they can commit crimes and with total impunity and
that's why he goes around proudly boasting about the crimes he's committed because president obama has made clear that neither he nor anyone else in the administration will be prosecuted for those very serious breeches of the criminal law. >> i guess my final question is, given that state of affairs, given the sort of consensus of normality that has now settled in over the policy disputes of torture and illegal wiretapping, et cetera, how do you begin to culturally counteract that, if that's not too broad a question? because this notion of how you kind of mark off what is over some line in polite society is a really tricky one. but i feel like there has to be some sort of concerted effort at least among critics and i want electi intellectuals that should do that.intellectuals that should that.
>> well, the law are certain things that you can't do that are far worse than impolite. they are criminal, and you're supposed to go to prison for them. and we have erased those lines. but we've erased even a more disturbing line, which is the idea of a social stigma. we love in american politics and american political discourse to talk about other countrcountrie leaders and look what they're doing, and look these horrible dictators are doing. yet we have a class of leaders that have committed what we americans have always said for decades are among the worst and egregious crimes. and independent of the legal immunity, you're absolutely right. you won't see barely any media figures treating dick cheney with even the smallest degree of hostility or animositanimosity. he will be treated like any elder statesman with controversial positions but he won't be shunned by anyone. and what that guarantees is that that behavior will become normalized. both parties have accepted it by
not prosecuting it. and i think that's a very dangerous thing to do. >> he has a book coming out very soon, which you are going to want to read. thank you for joining me tonight. i appreciate it. >> great to be with us, chris. coming up, the governor of florida believes people on welfare are more likely to use drugs, so hey's testing them. and he's not getting the answer he wants. you are going to be stunned by these numbers. and rebels found a really amazing stash of stuff in gadhafi's compound. including a very personal photo album full of pictures of his favorite former diplomat. seriously. that's next.
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tomorrow we'll be playing "friday i'm in love." rebels overrun moammar gadhafi's compound, discovering a treasure trove of your standard dictator booty. gold-plated guns, stuffed animals, an entire scrapbook full of condoleezza rice photos. wait. what? yes, yes. those are rebels. and, yes, that's an album full, entirely, of photos of the former secretary of state found in gadhafi's lair. i suppose we shouldn't be surprised. he has often waxed poetic about condoleezza rice. "the washito
quote, i support my darling black african woman. i admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the arab leaders, gadhafi said in the march 27, 2007, interview. she beckons to the arab foreign ministers and they come to her, either in groups or individually. leezza, leezza, leezza. i love her very much. i admire her, and i'm proud of her because she is a black woman of african origin. gadhafi gave condoleezza rice a diamond ring, a lute, and a locket with his engraved image inside. and also his green book, which is his political manifesto. no word on whether he mouthed call me as he was leaving. white house officials can't keep gifts, so they are probably in a warehouse somewhere.
coming up, governor florida rick scott had a bright idea. test welfare recipients for drugs, and kick users off welfare. welfare people obviously use more drugs, right? results are in, and rick scott has failed. and it took just one word to bring verizon back to the table and end the strike. we'll tell you what it is, just ahead. and can we just see that photo album again? thanks. my name's jeff. i'm a dad, coach, and i was a longtime smoker. in my heart i knew for the longest time
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i know it's not right for taxpayer money to be paying for somebody's drug addiction. on top of that, this is going to increase personal responsibility and accountability. we shouldn't be subsidizing people's drug addiction. and welfare is for the benefit of our children. and they shouldn't be -- the money should be going to take care of them, not for somebody with addiction. our taxpayers are not interested in subsidizing drug addiction. >> our taxpayers are not interested in subsidizing drug
addiction. that was florida governor rick scott back in june, just five days after he signed a law requiring adults in his state applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening. what evidence did governor scott have at the time that floridians were subsidizing drug addiction? well, none, actually. >> do you believe that a great number, significant number, of welfare recipients in your state are drug users? >> you know, tj, i don't know. >> no. no evidence. just your basic hunch that there's a high number of shiftless druggies sucking up your tax dollars. nationally, the amount of americans that are illegal drug users is about 8.7%. and let's be honest. that number seems frankly a bit low. something tells me it's, say, i don't know your average prestigious american university
you'd find more than 9 in 100 students using illegal drugs. but how does that 8.7% national rate compare with floridians who applied for assistance? now we do know. and if you will indulge me, this will allow me to my best impression. if you're wondering who that is, you insomniacs out there have probably seen him on tv at 3:00 in the morning. >> you know you're not going to spend $400 for it. not $375. not $350. not $325 or even $300. not $275 or $250. not $225 or even $200, like you all may be thinking. not $190. or even $180. all you spend for this fabulous machine, an over $400 value, all you spend is just four easy monthly payments of $39.95. >> so good. so was the rate of floridians
applying for welfare who also tested positive for drug use at the national level of 8.7%? no. was it 8%? was it 7.5%? was it 7%? was it 6.5% or 6% or 5.5% or 5% like you might be thinking? was it 4.5% or 4% or even 3.5%? was it 3%? wrong again. the rate of floridians applying for welfare who tested positive for drug use is just it drum roll, 2%. 2%. a full 6.7% lower than the probably actually too low government figure for the national average. "the tampa tribune" published the findings yesterday. about 2% have tested positive. preliminary data shows. 96% proved to be drug free, leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests. the other 2% are people who didn't take the test. what's even more ridiculous about all of this, the taxpayer
dollars wasted paying for all of those drug tests. all because of the soft bigotry behind a really horrible law. the tribune's report continues. cost of tests averages about $30, assuming 1,000 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe up to $43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who drug test fee. that compares with roughly between $32,000 to $48,000 the state may save on one month's worth of rejected applicants. while it may seem like florida is in fact still saving just a little bit of money, the profits could turn into deficits the state's already small annual savings could be wiped out entirely by the cost of implementing the program and issuing the reimbursements. a florida chapter of the american civil liberties union says the cost of program could skyrocket if the state has to defend it in court.
the ucla is still considering a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality. this could account for rick scott's whopping 35%, 35%, approval rating. we've seen this sort of thing before. welfare recipients called dead beats who are suckling from the government teat. remember south carolina's lieutenant governor calling people on government assistance stray animals. and if you feed them, quote, they breed. but actually, there is one way i could support a plan to drug test welfare applicants. it comes from a fellow at the roosevelt institute who writes for one of my favorite economic blogs. he wrote not too long ago, i think i can support this idea, that is testing welfare applicants for drugs, and if and only if, it is also required that people who claim a mortgage interest tax deduction are also required to take a drug test. i mean, after all, we don't want
to subsidize people's drug habits. and welfare is welfare is welfare. am i right, homeowners of america? coming up -- why the middle class is shrinking in one simple chart. that's next. and later, it may be the single most monumental environmental decision the white house has ever faced. we'll tell you why 300 people have already been arrested outside of the white house, hoping to convince the president to do the right thing. bi my vet thinks my insides are in mint condition. [ female announcer ] vets agree, a healthy checkup starts inside. our breakthrough iams premium protection formula is developed with vets with cutting edge ingredients for the lifelong health of your pet. [ dog ] healthy inside and out. come on, up high! [ female announcer ] iams premium protection. our most advanced iams nutrition. ever. [ dog ] i am an iams dog. ♪ woof.
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if something is simply the color of gold, that's good for our country's energy security is it really worth more? we don't think so. chase sapphire preferred is a card of a different color. unlike others, you get twice the points on travel, and twice the points on dining, and no foreign transaction fees. call now or apply at chasesapphire.com/preferred. on august 7, verizon employees went to strike because management refused to negotiate on issues such as pension and health benefits. on monday, the employees returned to work but still with no contract settlement. what that says about the fate of the strike, and the labor movement. and later, a tipping point moment for the climate and a decision for the white house. that's coming up.
all right, america. get excited. because i'm going to show you a chart that i have come to believe may be the single most important graphic to understand just why we have the kind of economy that we have. the red line on this chart represents the number of major work stoppages due to strikes and lockouts involving 1,000 or more workers from 1947 to 2010. there was a time in this country where we would have nearly 500 work stoppages a year. in 2010, we had 11.
a strike is the single most powerful tool that labor has to ensure equitable distribution and profit between shareholders and workers. for a whole host of reasons, which we will discuss in a moment, that tool has essentially died. case in point. this month we had a rare instance of a large scale strike action. on august 7, 45,000 verizon workers went on strike because management refused to bargain on contentious issues, opting instead to push their concession proposals. things like freezing pensions, ending all job security provisions, and greatly increasing employee contributions to health coverage. finally, verizon agreed to bargain on some of the issues and after only 15 days workers agreed to return to work. to be clear, the workers did not win a contract. that remains pending. they ended their strike simply because verizon agreed to negotiate on the issues workers cared about. and clearly the strike had some negative impacts on the company. one week ago, "the new york times" ran the headline, customers feel some ripples from
the verizon strike. story provided anecdotes like this. joey craiger, a recent college graduate, said he was stunned when he ordered verizon's fios television and internet service for his new apartment and the company wrote back it could install the service on december 30, four months from now. the article continued, competitors like time warner cable and cablevision had mobil. but verizon workers demonstrated their economic value to management. it's hard to view this case as a victory for labor considering they are heading back from the strike without a contract. joining me now, the author of a fascinating new book, "reviving the strike: how working people can revive america," joe burns. thanks for coming on tonight. >> hi, chris. thank you for having me on. >> first of all, i want to get your reaction to verizon ending the strike and going back to the
negotiating table. what did you make of that? >> well, what i made of it was that clearly the union was having an impact upon the company. they were able to get back to work with their contract in place, with their heads held high. workers gathered around the country at 500 locations and walked back into work on tuesday. marched back into work. and the reason they were doing that is they were able to impact the bottom line of the company. 45,000 workers going out at once. it's one of the biggest strikes in years. and they were doing so on a broad-based message of keeping good jobs in our community and maintaining a standard of living and defending collective bargaining. >> when you look at that graph, which is a really staggering graph, and you sort of trace out in the book a number of that have led to that graph to show the numbers it does, what do you think accounts for the decline in strikes since the end of world war ii? >> i think what the key factor
is, that effective strike tactics have been outlawed in the united states. for 75 years, employers have used their influence in congress and the court system to undermine the right to strike. and the result is one of the worst laws related to organizing and bargaining in the entire world. so what workers face when they go out on strike is that employers have a whole host of tools they can use against workers, including retaliating against workers by taking away their jobs and giving them to permanent replacement workers. on the other hand, effective strike tactics such as using solidarity, which was traditionally used by entire industries at once, over the years that's been outlawed. so really unions are fighting with our hands behind our backs, and the entire, you know, all workers in the country are feeling the results of that. >> how important do you think the strike is to changing the sort of way in which the distribution of gains in the economy have been flowing,
particularly for the last 30 years, the last 10 years, and exacerbated since the crisis? >> oh, i think it's a key question facing us here in this country. when we had a powerful strike in the 1930s through the 1970s, we were able to transform the wage structures of entire industries. we were able to take jobs like meat packing and make that a desirable job where people could afford a house or send their kids to college. what's happened in the last 30 years without an effective strike is that we've had this gross transfer of wealth to the corporate america. >> labor attorney joe burns, author of a new book on the strike. thank you so much for joining me tonight. i appreciate it. >> thanks for having me on, chris. coming up -- trying to stop a pipelineline before it's too late. tomorrow may be too late. someone who just spent two nights in jail protesting the pipeline joins me next. ♪
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hurricane irene could be our next natural disaster. something very dangerous and preventible is happening right across the border in canada. oil producers are going way beyond just drilling for oil. they have come up with a method to get at more fossil fuel, and it could very well create the next man-caused disaster. they are ripping out large chunks of earth to extract oil that comes from so-called tar sands buried underneath the forest in alberta, canada. the oil, known as bitamen, isn't clean. it's mixed with sand and clay and water. and it's the kind of oil you start resorting to when you realize you're running out of the good stuff everywhere else. you can't just stick a drill in the ground to get to it. the process is being compared to clear cutting or strip mining. and it's the reason that
canada's greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas are predicted to leap by 1/3 over the next decade. for more than a year, the energy company trans-canada has been shipping the oil down the pipeline you see on the map. now trans-canada wants a new, bigger pipeline. the one on the left from canada to the gulf coast. it's a 1,500 mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the capitol mean continent to trigger the final overheating of our planet. it could threaten the nation's farmland, and an acier that much of the midwest depends on for drinking water. for days, environmentals have been lining up outside of the white house demanding that president obama block the project. many have been arrested in their fight to stop the pipeline. joining me now fresh from a two-night stint in a washington, d.c., jail cell, author and founder of 350.org.
it's really a pleasure to have you on, bill. >> hey, chris, what a pleasure to be with you. >> i guess the first question is, why this battle? why is this -- there are lots of environmentally destructive projects that are happening all over the world. >> absolutely. >> why was the one that you wanted to mobilize around and you were willing yourself to get arrested over? >> because this tarsands of alberta is the second biggest pool of carbon on our planet. jim hanson at nasa said a few weeks ago, if we begin to tap it in a big way, it's essentially game over for the climate. that's why this is the largest environmental civil disobedience protest in a generation. people from all 50 states flooding in to washington to tell president obama not to grant the permit. and the other reason that everybody is there is because for once, the president can do the right thing all by himself. he doesn't have to enact with congress in any way. he gets to approve or deny this
thing. so it's the purest test of whether or not he meant it in 2008 when on the night he was nominated you'll recall that great speech, where he said with my presidency, the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet begin to heal. here is his chance to make good on that, and we sure hope he does. >> explain why it is the case that essentially the white house has the rare opportunity to unilaterally essentially block it without congress. what is the process for that? >> it crosses a national boundary, so there has to be a presidential finding that it's in the national interest. and the president has said he will decide yay or nay between now and the end of the year. it's like he's got a 20-foot open jump shot, top of the key. is he going to pass it off, or is he going to take it? it's going to be really interesting to find out. and there are people -- and i should stress sort of not the usual suspects. when i spent a couple of nights in jail, i'm 50, and i was on
the younger edge of our cohort. now the police are being very, very respectful to people. nobody's going to jail. they're spending a few hours at the station and paying a $100 fine. if people want to come join this protest, judge go to tarsandsaction.org, and it's easy to come and have a really loud voice on what is clearly the most important environmental challenge that the president will face between now and the next election. >> i want to end on this question. i have seen you speak a number of times. i have covered the stuff you've done at 350. and you have been working on this for a while now, along with a lot of people that have been working on it for decades. how do you maintain hope? because sometimes i read about the climate, and i just sort of despair. or i want to throw in the towel. and i wonder since you're out there every day, you're here talking to me now, how do you avoid that? >> it's easy to despair. it's easy to despair today watching irene come up the coast.