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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  August 6, 2014 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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it's not president obama out there, vetoing bills, a busy congress has passed. no, it's a don't do anything congress, not doing what the president keeps asking it to do. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. tonight, we are all in. >> does it bother you more to be accused of being an imperial president, or to be accused of being a do nothing president? >> the presidential news conference. >> i'm going to have to make choices. that's what i was elected to do. >> we'll have all the details. >> i promise you, the american people don't want me just standing around, twiddling my thumbs. >> then, why did a u.s. spy agency spoil one media outlet scoop on a terrorism watch list and give it to another? jeremy skahill will explain. plus, the frequency of voter fraud. out of 1 billion votes cast, guess how many cases turn out to be fraudulent. and a tea party congressman turns the art of the acceptance speech on its head.
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>> i want to say to lobbyist, pete hoekstra, you are a disgrace. >> "all in" starts right now. good evening from washington. i'm ezra klein, in for chris hayes tonight. president obama just wrapped up a wide-ranging press conference at the state department. he answered questions about the use of experimental drugs to treat the ebola outbreak in west africa, where liberia has just declared a state of emergency. the president seeking the to calm anxieties about the virus' spread. >> despite the fact that we have to take this very seriously, it is important to remind ourselves, this is not an airborne disease. this is one that can be controlled and contained very effectively, if we use the right protocols. >> asked about accusations, he is an imperial president, obama asserted his right to use power
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in the face of congressional inaction. saying his administration is looking at what they can do to stop corporations from exploiting loopholes to avoid paying taxes. >> it's not fair, it's not right. the lost revenue to treasury means it's got to be made up somewhere. and that typically is going to be a bunch of hard-working americans. >> and the president offered a forceful defense of his ability to take action on immigration reform. >> when you look at, for example, congressional inaction, and in particular, the inaction on the part of house republicans, when it comes to immigration reform, what the american people expect is that despite the differences between the parties, there should, at least be, the capacity to move forward on things we agree on. and that's not what we're seeing right now. so, in the face of that kind of dysfunction, what i can do is,
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you know, scour our authorities to try to make progress. i promise you, the american people don't want me just standing around, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for congress to get something done. >> joining me now is nbc news, white house correspondent, kristen welker. kristen, thank you for being here tonight. >> reporter: thank you, ezra. >> i thought the press conference, particularly on the executive authority question, was pretty interesting, because this doesn't seem at all like a fight the president is shying away from. he almost seems to want to emphasize the fact that congress is doing nothing and suing him for doing something. >> i think you're absolutely right. i think the administration believes this is a political winner. if you look at the polls that just came out today, president obama seeing some of his lowest approval ratings to date. but congress' approval ratings are even lower. people are just fed up with government in general and fed up with the inaction. and particularly as it relates to immigration reform, this is something that democrats are
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encouraging him to do. i am told that he's been given some small ball options, and then there are also some larger options at his disposal. and i don't think you're going to see him shy away from some of those larger options. they believe that this is not only what democrats want, what immigration advocates want, but if you look at what happened in 2012, the president overwhelmingly won the latino vote, so they think that in 2016, you are going to see that just be replicated, if the president does, in fact, act alone on immigration reform. they think that this is not only something they believe is right, that's what they would say, but they also think that politically, they're on the right side of this argument, particularly when you have everyone on both sides of the aisle acknowledging that the immigration system is broken. so i think you're right, he's not shying is away from taking executive action, chris. and you heard him talk about that when it comes to corporate inversions as well. we talked about the idea of
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fairness. the fact that companies are, through these tax loopholes, basically taking trillions of dollars away from the u.s. economy, from the treasury department, and of course, that idea of fairness was politically strong for him in 2012, when he ran for re-election. so i think you're hearing some of those similar themes. and then on the issue of impeachment, it's almost like he's daring republicans, and he has actually said that, go ahead, i dare you, you know, to revive this impeachment argument. because, of course, democrats have been raising millions of dollars off of this idea, that the president might be impeached. and republican leaders don't like talk of impeachment. they don't think it's a viable argument. they don't think it puts them in a strong position. so i think you're right. i think he feels emboldened to talk about taking action on his own. >> what have you heard, kristen, about the legal arguments being made within the administration? i mean, shorld, when immigration reform appeared to be struggling in the house, was not yet dead, there began to be these calls
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for executive action, using the president's authority. and at the time, the white house largely dismissed them, saying they didn't have all that much authority. now it seems they might be pushing back on that. what is sort of their argument about the justification? >> well, what has been happening is a series of meetings at the senior levels here of the administration, particularly with the dhs secretary, the legal council, trying to determine exactly what the president can do, what is within his legal purview. so i think you're right, there's been some concern about overstepping his bounds on that. and i think that's why this has been such a long, wide-ranging review process. and i'm told that he's going to be presented with a number of different options at the end of the summer. and then we'll likely hear an announcement, if not by the end of the summer, at the beginning of the fall, once he weighs what he would like to do. but immigration advocates are asking him to grant work permits to some of those who are here illegally, and that could impact
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millions of people, maybe up the to 5 million people. that number, 5 million, by the way, coming from those immigration reform advocates. that is what they would like to see. that's the breadth of what they would like to see happen. but there are some lingering questions about whether or not that can actually happen, how it would happen, a few of the possibilities that are being batted around here, expanding the doca program, to not only kids, but parents of those kids who have been allowed to stay here and study here. and also to take the emphasis off of deporting those who don't have criminal records. in other words, to give those who are here, who have clean, criminal records work permits. so those are some of the ideas that are being discussed, being debated, but there is a lot of concern about potentially overstepping the law and i think that's why you're seeing this process take such a long time. ezra? >> nbc news white house correspondent, kristen welker, thank you so much for being here tonight. >> absolutely. >> in his press conference tonight, president obama laid
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out his negotiations between the israelis and the palestinians that are now underway in egypt. >> the u.s. goal right now would be to make sure that the cease-fire holds, that gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some measures are taken, so that the people of gaza feel some sense of hope and the people of israel feel confident that they're not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches that we've seen. >> the united states is now on the scene of those negotiations. frank lowenstein is headed to cairo, where they continue to
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shuttle back and forth. the representatives of hamas and islamic jihad. and as these indirect talks proceed, the 72-hour cease-fire held for a second day today. with life in israel getting back to normal after emergency restrictions were lifted. inside gaza, residents returned to their devastated neighborhoods to pick up the pieces and assess the extensive damage. and in the pause in fighting, the longest since the conflict began, aid to the people of gaza, especially food aid, is finally making its way in. the cease-fire is due to expire friday at 8:00 a.m. local time, and israel said it would be willing to extend it with no additional conditions. but a senior hamas official in cairo tweeted, quote, there is no agreement on extending the truce. and that's far from the only part of contention. as the negotiators in cairo work towards extending a longer term truce, major sticking points remain on both sides. for hamas, there can be no peace
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without an end to the blockade in gaza, which have kept residents in poverty and despair for the last seven years. and the release of prisoners arrested in a june crackdown on the west bank. a senior commander of hamas' armed wing told reuters, unless the conditions of the resistance are met, the negotiating team will withdraw from cairo, will withdraw, and it will be up to the resistance in the field. for israel, a lasting truce would require hamas to turn over its weapons, ending the threat it poses to israeli civilians. >> hamas must be prevented from rearming, as part of gaza's general demilitarization. that is the sure way to guarantee that this conflict will not repeat itself. >> joining me now is my colleague, max fisher, foreign editor for and content director. good to see you. >> good to see you, ezra. so i think the question here is, we have a cease-fire. the cease-fire might get extended, but it is not obviously at all whether there is anyone, anywhere near close to agreement on the underlying
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conditions that led to the fighting the in the first place. >> right. well, so there's two ways to think about a cease-fire. there's getting a cease-fire that that's good enough for right now, or getting a cease-fire that will actually hold. israel and hamas are very eager to get a cease-fire. they know what the terms are, they can stay in their comfort zones. israel will release some prisoners, there'll be a little bit of relaxation at the border, at the blockade israel has in gaza. the rockets will stop. the thing is that everybody knows that if they do that, we will be right back here in three years. there'll be another 3,000 palestinians and 300 israel kills, whatever the number is the next time. we've been here before. and that's why you have president obama, of all people, the american president, taking a very unusual role in this, actually pressuring israel implicitly, to take a really big step towards a really durable cease-fire. and his press conference today, he gingerly tiptoed around, but you know, gingerly is a big deal for an american president with israel, the idea that the
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long-term solution for this is lifting the israel blockade of gaza. and that is a remarkable thing for an american president to say. it also happens to be right. but, you know, this idea that we are not actually going to get anywhere until there is some kind of economic self-sufficiency in gaza, unemployment rate can go below 40%, which is what it is now, that gazans will start to move away from extremist groups like hamas and we'll be able to do something durable, but that requires a lot of risks from both sides. that's why they don't want to do it. >> i think folks are familiar with israel's demand. they're familiar with the fact that hamas is sending rockets over, but walk through this blockade a little bit. because this is the key issue on the palestinian side. >> absolutely key. >> oh, yeah, it's the key issue overall. so israel put up the blockade seven years ago, after hamas took over the gaza strip. they said, look, we withdrew from gaza in 2005, but hamas has taken it over. hamas is an anti-israel terrorist group, which is true. so we -- >> took it over in elections we
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encouraged, right? >> yeah, it wasn't a great idea. and they said, okay, no more trade in or out of gaza at all, whatsoever. israel controls three of the four borders, egypt controls the fourth, and was more than happy to help out israel with the blockade around gaza. it's driven up unemployment to, like i said, above 40%. there are a vast number of young people in gaza who are now unemployed. if you are an unemployed 20-year-old male in gaza, and you see that israel is stifling and destroying your economy, which they absolutely are, then you're going to be angry. now, obviously, it is hamas' fault that they have decided to launch rockets into israel, but the point that obama was tiptoeing around is that this now seven-year blockade has created conditions that are just perfect for permanent conflict between israel and gaza, and it's not going to change until the blockade comes down. >> and permanent radicalization. it seems that one of the problems here is people always
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talk about this conflict being a cycle, but you have a cycle that creates radical fighters in palestine -- >> and really empowers them. >> really empowers them. and they seasoned rockets over, because they are radicalized and not actually acting rationally. >> right. >> and then the politic indicated gets tightened and tightened. so can israel -- are the politics there for israel to unilaterally end the blockade? >> so, this is the tricky thing. first of all, you've got the politics on the israeli side. the other thing -- and you know, obama made this point, and it is not completely to take away the agency of palestinians who decide to fire rockets. and part of the challenge is that people in gaza and the leadership in gaza has to take responsibility and say, okay, we're going to take a major risk for peace and stop launching rockets. obama is trying to move things in that direction in gaza, by trying to empower the palestinian authority, which mahmoud abbas is in charge of and runs the west bank a little bit more in gaza and just edge out hamas, because they are a really bad actor. in israel, the question is a lot tougher. because the more rockets come in, the more you see the israeli
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right empowered, and there are actually social science studies proving that this happens. and these are parties that are not really game to negotiate with hamas, not game to lift the politic indicat blockade. and it's not that anybody wants perpetual conflict, nobody wants that, but it's so much easier to negotiate a deal that's good enough for right now and kind of let it, you know, kick the can down the road for a couple of months. but then it goes on forever. >> max fisher of, thank you very much for being here. >> thank you. have you ever heard the u.s. government for take the blame by doing something wrong by saying, quote, that was our bad. i haven't really that often either. but they did. the story ahead. avo: waves don't care what age you are. take them on the way you always have. live healthy and take one a day men's 50+. a complete multivitamin with 7 antioxidants to support cell health. age? who cares.
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president obama got elected to office by bringing people together. so why is washington so divided? that is ahead. [ girl ] my mom, she makes underwater fans that are powered by the moon.
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cyber bullies and encourage them to navigate safely. the more you know. at 12:32 p.m. yesterday, the associated press published a big scoop. the story was headlined, "u.s. terrorism database doubles in recent years." but according to the "huffington post," the original three-paragraph story has since been updated. the problem, the scoop wasn't the a.p.'s. it was a story being worked on by the intercept's jeremy skahill and ryan deveraux. the intercept reached out to the national counterterrorism center for comment, and in turn, the national counterterrorism center, the government agency, gave the story to the a.p. according to sources on a call between nctc officials and the intercept, the government agency admitted having fed the story to the a.p., but didn't think the reporter would publish before the intercept did. that was our bad, the official
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said. now the story the government is so interested in getting out before the intercept published was a bombshell report based on documents obtained by a source in the intelligence committee, not edward snowden, it should be said. these documents revealing there are a million people being monitored as part of the u.s. government database of terror suspects. and 680,000 people, 680,000, on the government watch list of people suspected of having links to terrorism. of the people on that list, more than 40% are described by the government as having, quote, no recognized terrorist group affiliation. that is 280,000 people, more than the number of people suspected of ties to al qaeda, hamas, and hezbollah combined. the report notes, quote, since taking office, obama has boosted the number of people on the no-fly-list more than tenfold to an all-time high of 47,000. now, part of this increase can
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be traced to late 2009, to the days and weeks after the so-called underwear bomber tried and failed to blow up a detroit-bound international flight, in response to what was perceived as an intelligence failure in that case. president obama loosened the guidelines to put people on the no-fly list. >> rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had. now, that's why we took swift action in the immediate days following christmas, including reviewing and updating the terrorist watch list system, and adding more individuals to the no-fly list. >> that reviewing and updating had an impact. since 2010, more than 400,000 people have been added to the government's terror watch list. joining me now is jeremy skahill, investigative reporter for the "intercept," and one of the reporters behind that story. jeremy, good to see you. >> nice to see you, ezra. >> what is the -- what is the
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rationale behind such a rapid rise in the number of people on the list. and more to the point, what are the conditions that put someone on there? >> well, first of all, i think there's two things at play here. on the one hand, i think that we live in an atmosphere where the entire u.s. intelligence community and law enforcement community is terrified of having another 9/11 and having their agency be responsible for having missed a lead that could have led to stopping someone from carrying out a terrorist attack. the fact is that umar farouk was on the radar, but he wasn't on the no-fly list. so what happened was, there was in massive overreaction where obama personally issued orders that this is not going to happen again. and if we don't expand these lists radically, then i'm going to hold you all personally accountable for this. so i think that that caused a reaction where they started just pouring names into the database, based on the most frivolous
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evidence. you know, the standard used to get on to the list that will categorize you as a known or suspected terrorist can be as flimsy as an uncorroborated posting you put on facebook or on twitter. so they just inundated the system, if part out of fear. but i think there's also something more insidious at play. what we've seen in this country is that the fbi has a ph.d in breaking up its own terror plots. the documentary that just came out was an excellent example of that. and what i'm getting at is this. what i think they're using these bloated lists for is to try to force people primarily in the muslim arab communities to be informants for the government. and they use the fact that they are designated to try to make them informants. it's a combination of these two things. and on the one hand, the aclu makes a very strong civil liberties argument, that the reasonable suspicion standard, and not reasonable doubt, or not probable cause, is used to put people on this list. it's essentially like a global stop and frisk program. there are civil liberties issues. but the fbi people that we've talked to also are against the bloating of this list, because
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they say that they're just getting inundated with names of people that really don't have any known links to terrorism, and it's causing real terror investigations to be flooded with meaningless, frivolous information that ultimately hinders the ability to root out actual terrorists in our society. >> one of the strike things about the situation as you laid it out there, is that there are tremendous consequences for making a mistake in the direction of having not done enough. but there is very little fear of endless mistakes in the direction of having done too much. so you have this ramp-up from the shoe bomber, but you never have a kind of ramp back down. how often does the list get updated? do people get called? what is the process for getting someone who probably doesn't even know they're on the list, off of it? >> well, you know, in june, a federal judge ruled that a portion of this system unconstitutional. and the portion of that system was the fact that you, as an american citizen, not to mention, you know, a foreigner, have no right to know whether or not you're on this list, why
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you've been put on the list, and if you challenge a status that you think you may have. in other words, if you think you've been watch listed or if you're on the no-fly list, or the selectee list, which means you get stopped every time you try to check in for your flight, is they won't confirm or deny, and then it goes through a process where the actual agencies that nominated you, whether it's the cia or nsa or fbi, have the ultimate veto power to keep you on the list or to adjust your status. so a judge has said that that is unconstitutional. you know, what this really boils down to i think a very, very serious issue is the fact that the evidence that's used against people to put them on this list is completely flimsy. and would not hold up in cuter of law. in fact, one of the documents we obtained said even if someone that we have on this list is acquit ted of a terrorism-relatd crime, that doesn't mean we should take them off the list, because we don't have to meet the reasonable doubt standard. >> one of the striking things about your article is the number
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of people who are on there without an affiliation to a known terrorist group. so are those people suspected under reasonable rationales or are they just completely random, they put up something on facebook? >> well, in all likelihood, it's both or either of those. what we know, based on the watch list and guidance we published two weeks ago and the documents we just published this week is that there are some people, without a doubt, who are on that list because of something that they put on facebook or something they put on twitter, or because their phone number popped up in the phone of someone that we think may be in touch with someone whose cousin may be a suspected terrorist in pakistan. and then there probably are people on that where they have actual evidence, and these are dangerous people. so part of the point, beyond the civil liberties argument, is that if your goal is to actually try to prevent acts of terrorism against the united states, you're doing a heck of a job making it more difficult to root out potential terrorists by having so many people who have no connection to terrorism in
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your lists. >> jeremy skahill from "the intercept," thank you very much for being here tonight. >> thank you. someone finally got to the bottom of the voter fraud scandal that has been rocking this country. what they found is ahead. so what's this? check it out. i just saved 15% on car insurance in 15 minutes, so i took a selfie to show everyone how happy i am. really? because esurance saved me money in half that time. can i...? oh you can be in it! no need to photo-bomb me. hashbrown. selfie.
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victory speeches are typically a time when the ugliness and the enemy of political campaigns are finally, at last, set aside. they're a healing ritual when the victor takes the high road and extends a peace offering
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after the grueling campaign. >> senator mccain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. >> i hope you'll join me in thanking senator brown for his service to the commonwealth. >> i spoke to senator buono a while ago. no, no, she congratulated me and was very gracious, very graciousgracious in her congratulations and i thank her for her 20 years of public service to her state. >> but not justin amos, the thorn in the side of republican leadership, who's probably best known for explaining ef one of his votes. after an ugly primary campaign between him and establishment backed challenger, amash won and declared his victory loud and clear. no kind words for his opponent. >> to brian ellis, you owe my
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family and this community an apolo apology, for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign. you have the audacity to try to call me today, after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. i ran for office to stop people like you. >> and as backers of ellis, like lobbyist and former congressman, pete hoekstra, amash had this to say. >> i'm glad we can hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance. >> not exactly what you would call a peace offering. here on will be compared to. so get out there, and get the best price guaranteed. find it for less and we'll match it and give you $50 toward your next trip.
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states have passed more restrictive voter identification laws. 11 of those are slated to be in effect in 2014. proponents of these laws, who are almost exclusively republican, say voter i.d. laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. and they maintain that in-person voter fraud is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. >> voter fraud is widespread and it's very real. >> we do have voter fraud here that needs to be shut down. >> to deny that voter fraud isn't going on is to frankly deny reality. >> down in alabama, where they're alledgedly selling votes for $20, 40 bucks and for crack cocaine. >> democrats including attorney general eric holder say that voter i.d. laws disenfranchise poor, minority voters who are less likely to have i.d. and many allege that republicans are using voter i.d. laws for political gain. a perception fueled by this comment from pennsylvania house gop leader in 2012. >> voter i.d., which is going to allow governor romney to win the
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state of pennsylvania, done. >> that pennsylvania voter i.d. law was ultimately struck down in the courts. but the basic question at the heart of this debate is this. is the cost of voter i.d. laws in terms of voter disenfranchisement worth the benefit those laws provide in terms of preventing actual fraud? well, professor justin levitt has been tracking instances of voter impersonation at the polls, a sort of voter fraud these i.d. laws actually combat. and here's what his comprehensive investigation found. going back to the year 2000, among more than 1 billion votes cast, levitt could find just 31 incidents of a voter pretending to be someone else at the polls. 31, that is it. meanwhile, in just a handful of states, thousands of voters, thousands, have actually, in real life, been turned away at the polls for lacking i.d.s. joining me now is justin levitt, law professor at loyola law
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school. good to have you here. >> thanks very much. >> so to what degree are these laws solving a fake problem by creating a real one? >> yeah, they seem to be targeting something that is vanishingly rare. and what they're doing in the process is not that meaningful to a lot of americans and very, very meaningful, indeed, to a significant number. that is the most restrictive laws, the harshest i.d. laws say that you can't vote a valid ballot unless you have the right, particular type of document. and the most people have things like a driver's license or a passport, many don't. and those are many eligible american citizens, who aren't able to participate in american democracy. i think that's wrong. it would be one thing if the benefits of these laws were actually worth that cost. but from everything that anyone sounded, i'm joining a pretty illustrious group here, the benefits just aren't there.
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>> and i think this is really important. we've played clips saying that voter fraud is real. and it's important to say that voter fraud is real, and it happens in absentee ballots and there are different ways it happens, but it isn't voter impersonation fraud. can you talk about that? i feel like this rhetorical sleight of hand is important to this debate. >> you're right, it's rhetorical sleight of hasn't. they're saying, we see you have a cold, so we have to amputate your arm. one doesn't relate to the other. voter fraud does happen and to the extent it happens, it should be rooted out. and i think there's universal agreement about that. there's also pretty universal agreement is when it does happens, it's t absentee, it's old-fashioned ballot box stuffing by insiders. and the common link between all those fraud and a lot of other incidences is not one of those
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things is stopped by demanding that people show a particular type of document at the polls. those i.d. requirements at the polls are really designed to stop only one thing, and that's somebody showing up and pretending to be somebody else. which is a really stupid way of stealing an election. which is why it very rarely happens. >> so, there's one argument that courts have made, that the upside to these voter i.d. laws, even if they don't do anything to protect elections, they make people feel more confident about elections, and that itself is good enough. what has your research found on that? >> if that were true, that would at least be something. i don't know that we want to let perceptions drive reality. i mean, for all the people that might feel more confident, there are real people being shut out, but, you know, earlier in your show, you were talking about some security feeder in another context, and the real research on this security feeder, even if it doesn't do anything, does it make me feel better, is that it turns out it has very little
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measurable impact at all, very careful research done by nate personally and researchers publishing in the harvard law review found they looked at nationwide studies of people's confidence in the integrity of elections, and they found it really doesn't matter whether you live in a state that has a really harsh i.d. law or that has a very permissive one, there's no relationship between the laws and how you feel about fraud and the elections. what really matters whether you think an election has integrity, is whether your guy won or not. >> justin levitt from loyola law school, thank you very much for being here. >> thank you. is president obama responsible for making washington even more partisan than it already was? we will talk about that, ahead.
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did president obama break washington? we're going to talk about that, next. and i get a lot in return with ink plus from chase. like 50,000 bonus points when i spent $5,000 in the first 3 months after i opened my account.
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in an article in "rolling stone" this month, reid sherlin, who used to work on the white house' communication team, has this great piece about the terrible and getting worse every day relationship between the obama administration and the press corps. and there's a part that i think sums up perfectly the irony of barack obama's presidency. cherlin writes, they have managed over six years to accomplish much of what obama promised to do, even if accomplishing it helped speed the process of partisan breakdown. helped speed the process of partisan breakdown. if you go back to the 2008 democratic primary, the different candidates did not disagree all that much about what to do. they disagreed about how to get it done. hillary clinton's argument was that she best understood the partisan warfare that defined american politics. she had fought these battles before, and change would come through her mastery of the old way of doing politics.
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obama's argument was the opposite. the partisan warfare that had come to define politics, he said, was the product of the people who knew no politics other than partisan warfare. change would come only through creating a new politics. recall the famous yes, we can, speech on the night obama lost the new hampshire democratic primary. >> our new american ma majority can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care in our time. we can bring -- we can bring doctors and patients, workers and businesses, democrats and republicans together, and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that while they get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair. not this time, not now. >> the two sides of obama's promise are both right there. obama would do what so many past presidents had failed to do. he would pass health reform,
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finally, and he would do it by ending the partisan divisions and the power of the moneyed interests that had broken american politics. about that, he was half right. obama changed more than really anybody could have expected. he passed health care reform, the largest stimulus and investment package in american history, the dodd/frank financial reforms. he brought the iraq war to a close. he actually did find and kill osama bin laden, which was kind of a big deal. but the president didn't do all of this by fixing american politics. he did this by breaking american politics even further. in 2012, 86% of democrats approved of president obama, but only 10% of republicans did. that is a 76% difference. that is a huge difference. this isn't really obama's fault. partisanship is bigger than any one president. when the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, says in 2010, as he did publicly, quote, the single most important thing we want to achieve is for president obama to be a one-term
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president, it was a safe bet that bipartisan legislative cooperation would not be forthcoming. meanwhile, special interests have as much and perhaps more power in washington than ever. the reform bill got done not by cutting out pharmaceutical companies and insurance, but by cutting dealing with them. dodd-frank sure isn't beloved by banks, but it could have gone a lot further. and the obama administration hasn't really tried to push major campaign finance reform or other ideas that would fundamentally change how washington works. this ultimately speaks to one of the most important choices the obama administration made. they decided it was more important to change the laws in people's lives than to change the process that made the laws in washington. obama has brought a lot of change to america, but he's done it by accepting and in some cases, accelerating the breakdown, the partisan breakdown of american politics. judged against the high rhetoric of the campaign, his presidency
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challenges we face are real, they are serious, and they are many. they will not be met easily or in a short span of time, but know this, america, they will be met! >> that was obama's 2009 inaugural address. and since then, he has accomplished a lot of the domestic reforms laid out there. health care, education reform. his climate initiative is moving forward through executive action. but those changes came from accepting the reality of modern politics. the partisan reality of it. to talk about this, i'm joined by reid cherlin, contributor to "rolling stone" and a former white house assistant press secretary in the obama administration and democratic strategist, tara dowdell. reid, first, thanks for being here. i admired your piece in "rolling stone" a lot, i thought it was fascinating. and i would like to hear from you how it felt inside the obama administration, sort of in that first year or two, as it dawned that there would not be a lot of republican cooperation forthcoming.
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>> well, you know, it became clear pretty quickly, i think, because the administration started in on health care pretty quickly. and while it was a bipartisan sort of show at the beginning, it became clear, you know, it didn't take long for it to become pretty plain that it was going to be a democratic effort. and that, in fact, not even all democrats were going to be excited about it. so i don't think it took long for that to really dawn, but i think your point is well taken, that with sort of the hope of the campaign and that inaugural speech you were playing is that it was going to feel different when these things happened, and it ended up not feeling that different, even though things were getting done. and i think that's why when you talk to democrats, you hear people say things like, oh, i'm so disappointed in obama. and ask them, well, why, what is he not getting done that you wanted to get done, and other than immigration, there aren't great answers that they give you other than just, you know, he just turns out to be like the
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rest of them or that kind of answer. and i think it has a lot to do with what you're suggesting with, the kind of further break down of the politics. >> tara, is there a way it could have felt different, as reid puts it? is there a way that it could have not just passed laws, but also had this sort of feeling of a different, more united washington? >> -- have to have believed that washington was running well prior to him having gotten there. so i think that, unfortunately, for this president, and i worked in an administration myself, in the governor's office, unfortunately for him, that republicans seem to recognize that his strength, the reason why he was elected was that he said, we're not going to be a red america, we're not going to be a blue america, we're going to be the united states of america. he talked of uniting the country and talked about reaching across the aisles. so how do you take away someone's greatest strength, if that is their greatest strength? you do it by not allowing that to happen.
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you do it by being divisive and then say, look, he's being divisive. and that's kind of the politics of trickery. and it's something, unfortunately, that's practiced. and i think for the obama administration, when you look at even things like infrastructure spending, since when do republicans not support infrastructure spending? and that's been a fight. so i think he's walked in to politics that was broken, and he made the strategic decision to go about his agenda on his own. and unfortunately, i think he had no other choice. now, i think where he could have had some better results in terms of the public understanding would have been with messaging. >> you know, reid, one of the things i do think is true is that sort of the first two or three years is there is still a fair amount of hope in the obama administration that big deals could be struck. and at this point, it really feels like that's leached out. i want to play for you a little bit of sound from obama at the press conference today on executive actions and how he's going to use them going forward. >> right. >> what i am consistently going
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to do is, wherever i have the legal authorities to make progress on behalf of middle class americans and folks working to get into the middle class, i'm going to seize those opportunities. and that's what i think the american people expect me to do. are my press conference, in all these instances, is to work with congress, because not only can congress do more, but it's going to be longer lasting. [ inaudible ] everybody's excited about the back to school savings at staples. from the customers, to the staples associates.
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apologies there. we had a huge audio fail. so i was asking you, reid, he's going to go forward on these executive actions, despite knowing that it's going to vastly inflame partisanship. why? >> well, you know, i think it's pretty clear that nothing is going to get through congress. and we know that. but i think what you were asking before, if you go back to the beginning, he made the decision to hire rahm emanuel as his chief of staff. he had promised on the campaign to both get a lot of things done and to change politics. sort of maybe knowing or not knowing that you can't do both. and when he got in, he decided that he was going to get a lot done, and i think there's a good argument to be made for doing that. but then as you noted today, in what you wrote, the more you get done, that republicans don't like, they want to work with you even less. so at this point, it's a strange curve where the more he accomplishes, the less he'll be able to accomplish in terms of having partners on the hill. he's used to having to do things individually.
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>> reid, i'm sorry, i have to cut it off there. reid cherlin and democratic strategist, tara dowdell, thank you both. that is "all in" for this evening. i'm ezra klein. "the rachel maddow show" starts now with steve kornacki sitting in for rachel. good evening, steve. >> good evening, ezra. thanks for that and thanks to you at home for joining us for this hour. rachel has the night off. 1996. 1996 was the year that presidential campaigns came to the world wide web. it was clinton and gore versus dole and kemp. and it was the first year that american voters could dial up to the internet at 2,400 bps and once the internet finally loaded, they could learn about the candidates. the '96 clinton/gore site encouraged voters to join the electronic barn raising and make 1997 net year, whatever that meant.