tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC June 3, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
legislation aimed at ensuring public safety. in certain ways, lautenberg's passing represents the end of an era. "u.s.a. today" writes that the new jersey democrat was the last of the greatest generation in the u.s. senate to serve in world war ii, as a member of the u.s. army signal corps, from 1942 to 1946. in the senate, the senator championed some of the nation's most sweeping health and safety laws. working to ban smoking on airplanes and in federal buildings and setting the national drinking age at 21. lautenberg was also a powerful advocate for gun safety. in 1996, he shepherded through congress a law that denied gun ownership to people who had committed domestic violence. more recently, lautenberg voted in favor of enhanced background checks for gun purchases and to reinstate the assault weapons ban. but in february, after 30 years in congress, lautenberg announced he would not seek a sixth term. a move that made many democrats nervous about losing their slim majority in the senate. with his seat open.
new jersey law specifies that governor chris christie must appoint a temporary replacement for lautenberg's seat. a special election will be held later this year. joining me today, "washington post" columnist and msnbc political analyst, eugene robinson, anchor of the bbc world news america, katty kay, and e.j. dion, glen thrush, the senior white house reporter for politico. e.j., we talk about the greatest generation, bygone era, frank lautenberg, when you look back at his landmark career and the pieces of legislation that almost seem like an anathema given the current state of inaction in the congress. >> you could say he was partly the senator for alcohol tobacco and firearms and he took all of
those industries on. in one way or another. and in losing somebody from the greatest generation, the number of war veterans in congress has been dropping and dropping and dropping. from all wars. it reminds us that something that was common, in 1960, the almost everybody there had fought for the country in world war ii. and now the number who have been in the military is actually very small. >> you know, and eugene, lautenberg's personal story is incredibly compelling. his parents were poor, he pulled himself up by the boot straps, went to college on the gi bill, went do columbia university. and made a lot of money actually in private enterprise and served in congress for three decades and did quite a bit. >> a very american story of upward economic and social mobility. the kind of story you don't hear these days. especially that's becoming less common these days as inequality
grows and it becomes more difficult to climb that ladder. the rungs of that ladder, many of them are missing now. which is kind of interesting. he was always kind much a fairly low-key senator. he didn't always chase headlines. he was more interested in chasing legislation and policy. which is, is again rare and i think a very good thing, we'll miss him. >> and katty, we talk about lautenberg's legislative record. it's impossible to imagine -- 1996, a law denying gun ownership to people who committed domestic violence. lautenberg came out to cast a vote when the gun safety reform legislation was being debated in the senate. he felt very strongly about this issue. he did that, then as e.j. said, the atf senator, if you will. he established in 2000, the .08 blood alcohol level, nationally. i mean regulation is something we talk about -- >> raise the the drinking limit to the age of 21. >> these are not pieces of legislation that could have
gotten passed in the current congress or the one before or even the one before that. >> i wonder was it the interest we were trying to prevent legislation were just less powerful when lautenberg managed to do it. it seems bonkers today that there was smoke on airplanes. >> bonkers i believe is the official term that was used in the legislation that lautenberg wrote. >> the idea that people did smoke on airplanes and he made the case that there were hostess air hostesses which basically were air hostesses back then who were suffering health reasons because they had to work on these airplanes where people were smoking even it they didn't smoke themselves. >> as somebody who used to sit in those last seats so i could have a cigarette. i remember those bonker days. >> and this was actually a radical change at the time. because people assumed you could smoke and somehow, anywhere. >> people used to smoke in elevators. you could smoke anywhere. >> and it wasn't that long ago.
>> glenn thrush still tries to bend the laws. >> never. >> but an idea that a pack-a-day smoker would come out with legislation and say we're going to change the game. and children, he was very concerned about them being exposed at early ages to things that were bad for them. >> well, the thing that struck me through the prism of new jersey politics, as somebody who grew up in the state, the lesser-known state of new york next door, he was sort of the emperor claudius of new jersey politics, can you think of somebody who served three decades in new jersey politics who didn't go down in some sort of scandal? >> it's true. >> his battles with bob torcelli are legendary. he was an archetype of somebody who could function in a really caustic political environment, move across the aisle, and really accomplish things.
you can think of him as the anti-anthony weiner. >> and lautenberg did not go out without a fight. the sort of back and forth he had lately with cory booker over whether or not corey booker was running with his blessing for the democratic seat he was vacating. one of the last things we discussed vis-a-vis frank lawsuitsenberg. i want to ask you, glen, as far as the sort of political dimension of all of this, the senate and a lot of, a lot of discussion in some corners about whether or not, whether or not democrats can hold on to their six-seat majority. we know there was a piece in the "new york times" last week discussing south dakota, west virginia and montana, where democratic incumbents are retiring. and arkansas, alaska and louisiana, where democrats are in a tough, tough fight. i wonder how much you think this changes the dynamics? how much this is something that needs to be considered in the broader strategy for 2014? >> well for one thing i think it's sort of an extension
political moment for governor christie. who could theoretically go way out of the box and choose corey booker to serve out the term. that's a possibility, he's certainly been embraced. >> and win a bear for cory booker on the boardwalk. would chris christie do that? >> he could go to-or-corello, the man who ran poorly against menendez. this is a state that's increasingly trending blue. but it has a tendency to elect republican governors of a managerial bearing. think the question really, up for me the most interesting question here is how does christie go? does he go for a caring did taker or try to make a statement about politics? >> do we risk reading too much into it about what it means for 2016 and whether he was going to run and how he's going to run? >> of course not. >> we will definitely, i promise that we will read too much into it, come on, that is our job here. >> david axelrod and glen thrush share a brain on mondays or half
a brain and david axelrod tweeted, fascinating for christie. does he name an interim who reflects his more moderate state or go tea party? >> if his whole focus is on winning the largest majority in this election this year in a blue state, he names somebody neutral, that has happened in the massachusetts senate seat that we're filling later this month, or he actually goes all the way and names cory booker. but if he did something like that, he would infuriate the republican party base. my hunch is what he may try to do is use this appointment to say i'm still a republican, i'm still pretty conservative. the other names, his own lieutenant governor, kim guadanio. state senator tom cain junior. that would be interesting because he was very close to governor cain. i think he visited him when he was a teenager, knocked on his door and asked for advice. and then there's somebody very close to him called bill pelatucci.
these are republicans who would make the party happy. and the democrats if he did that are going to lose a seat any moment when they really don't want to lose a seat. >> this, again, let's not read too much into it. but let's read a lot into it. major dynamics at play here for 2014 and 2016 for the party, for both parties. >> yeah and for right now. i mean the democrats are with huge legislation pending on immigration and all the -- democrats can ill afford to lose a seat in the senate. now they'll still have the majority. but it gets closer, it gets more complicated. and i think e.j. is right, i think it's likely that christie will name a republican who with vote with republicans in the senate. >> it's hard to see christie standing up in the south carolina primary debate defending having appointed cory booker. don't you think? i don't see how that goes down. >> unless it's a democratic convention that he's standing up at. >> i think to a certain extent he has a difficult time in that environment, anyway.
and -- >> but why make it that much harder? >> i think to a certain extent he is carving out a particular vision that he has for the party, i think he is, he does not agree with these folks, he is challenging his own party and i think he wouldn't be appearing so copiously in public with barack obama if he felt that that was going to -- >> and winning boardwalk prizes for the president. >> he wouldn't be appearing so often with barack obama if he weren't on ballot this november, also and i think that he really has, he's still, we forget, a very conservative guy. he has a very conservative record. he is still, i think, a plausible candidate, with conservatives, if he could, if it weren't for the fact that hating obama is the primary qualification for being a conservative. >> and e.j., as usual, you have teed up brilliantly our next segment, when we come back after the break, when we come back, congressman darrell issa is doubling down. we'll discuss the car alarm
new month, same old controversies, on sunday, congressman darrell issa announced that he might have finally found evidence of coordination between irs officials in cincinnati and their bosses in washington. >> the administration is still trying to say there's a few rogue agents in cincinnati when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from washington. >> issa did not offer any definitive proof of the collusion. but that didn't prevent him from doubling down on his theories and incendiary allegations. >> and the administration is still, their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind, he's still making up things about what happens and calling this local rogue.
there's no indication, the reason that lois lerner tried to take the fifth is not because there's a rogue in cincinnati, it's because this is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of washington headquarters, and we're getting to proving it. >> issa's claims drew the equivalent of a written slap-back from the top democrat on his committee, representative elijah cummings. chairman issa's reckless statements are inconsistent with the findings of the inspector general. rather than lobbying unsubstantiated conclusions on national television for political reasons, we need to work in a bipartisan way to follow the facts. on abc, karl rove, no stranger to scandals himself, followed issa's lead and accused the president of dictating ortders n high. >> when president obama goes out in 2010 and calls his groups, quote, a threat to democracy, he's blowing the dog whistle and people heard.
>> the flurry of indignation over the irs has been compounded by newly released videos of irs government workers line dancing at a funded video. the tax agency is accused of spending $49 million on 220 conferences held between 2010 and 2012. that video as well as another showing employees dressed up as "star trek" characters, have helped to drive the narrative that is by now the panel can't even keep their faces straight, very familiar in republican circles -- government excess. >> wow, government under barack obama has gotten so big that its main defense is look, i don't know anything about any of these scandals, because everything underneath me is so big and unyieldy that i can't possibly know about it. that's a world and that's an america that our founding fathers didn't fight for. >> raince priebus would be wise to keep the focus on other
party. this morning a new report from the college republican national committee details the party's major problems with young voters. according to an advanced copy obtained by a place called politico, the report warns of a dismal present situation. its other conclusions? latino voters tend to think the gop couldn't care less about them. we've become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it, but won't offer you a hand to help you get there. and the words that come to mind when young voters think of the gop? the responses were brutal. close-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned. in other words, here is a report on the grand old party that might possibly make the irs look good, unsurprisingly, republicans are choosing to focus not on their own woes, but on those of the beleaguered tax agency this week will see six congressional hearings on the irs alone. the first of which comes this afternoon for a party that has now tried to repeal obama care
39 times, the message is simple -- beat the drums of scandal and hope the voters will ignore the lack of an actual agenda. eugene -- let's first start with "star trek." i really got a reaction there. >> we got to go there. >> maybe if they had done? >> which characters? >> "game of thrones" characters it would be more palatable. >> i don't think so. >> this is gsa part ii, right? i mean this is -- >> that's a lot of money, that's a lot of conferences. >> it is, it is. >> on the other hand, you could see that, that tea party republicans should be happy, right? because they weren't collecting taxes, they were having conferences and line dancing and so, so you think they would appreciate the diversion from the mission of the irs. it's the only -- >> you're welcome -- >> that's a good spin. i think the next time anyone suggests anything exotic at a government conference, there ought to be somebody paid to
say, beam him up scottie. because you've had this kind of scandal over and over. conferences are necessary. imagine if they had actually had a conference to discuss how do we deal with the vagueness of the regulation on 501 c 4s, darrell issa is taking a set of issues where republicans could run pretty well against obama for a live and he's making republicans' lives much more difficult. they're going to have to be republicans who say no, we haven't reached a conclusion yet. because the best defense the obama administration has on this, and i've heard them make it, is does anybody think we're that stupid? would we make a direct order to an irs office out there? there's just no way. >> i think that political overreach is something worth talking about.
david plouff had a response to darrell issa. strong words from mr. grand theft auto and suspected arsonist,/insurance swindler. and loose ethically today, david plouffe wants to read up on this, there's a great piece from the "new yorker" a couple of years ago, he was the former ceo of directed electronics, the nation's largest manufacturer of anti-theft devices, his voice says "step away from the vehicle" he and his brother were charged with stealing a car in the 1970s. there was a suspicious fire at his factory. the company's former owner says he suspected issa set the fire for insurance, but no charges were ever filed. it's interesting that this is being dredged back up on twitter. >> i love that you can get this out in 140 characters. >> i'm a pox on both of their houses mindset here. the administration did a lousy job of oversight. i'm more energized personally.
because i'm a reporter, by these allegations of the eric holder leak investigations into fox and a.p. i don't think that plouffe and that group of folks should be let off the hook that quickly. there's real questions in terms of the way they were running the government. david plouffe i should remind you in the last political cycle was not a political aide, he was the senior adviser to the president, he had some responsibility here. while i think issa is doing a great disservice in some regards. by drawing a conclusion prior to an investigation taking place, i think the obama folks are in danger if they want get that glib. >> katty, the big picture is bad for both parties. if there is something bad for the administration on this, and let's assume the road ends where it does now, the argument for government i think is greatly undermined by these, these sort of controversies, which is government is bloated and wasteful and mismanaged and nobody has their hand on the captain's wheel. likewise, the republican party has been so completely fixated on this.
you read the report from the college republican congress, the party is a mess, there's no actual agenda there. this is effectively a smoke skrooen while they figure out perhaps if they're aiming to figure out what they want to do. >> i think if you are a republican partisan, you buy into darrell issa's comments that somebody must have been lying. there must have been something nefarious going on there must have been a cover-up. i think that's part of -- as e.j. was saying earlier. hating obama has become the mantra of the tea party and the conservative movement. so i don't think much changes very much. i do think this is serious politically in terms of the white house. and because president obama has become rightfully or wrongly, the embodiment of the expansion of government. we have seen an expansion of regulations. under this president. we've seen more spending by government under this president. much of it justified. because of the need for the stimulus package after the crash. but he has become the, the person who has expanded american government. and if you think that american government doesn't work, you
have a perfect example of it in this irs case. >> and it's coming months before the affordable care act. >> in which the irs has a role to play. >> and so i agree, i think of all these scandals that are -- >> you say it with a french sort of accent. it makes it less worse, i think. but the irs is, i think the broadest and most serious, because it affects most people. and you know, those of us sitting here might in some context prefer to talk about the a.p. and overreach on leaks. which is certainly important. i think the public in general cares less about us than they care about the irs. >> let me read a quote from peggy noonan who wrote today why this scandal is different. she's speaking of the irs scandal. she said in previous irs scandals it was the powerful abusing the powerful. a white house moving against prominent financial or journalistic figures.
the dreadful thing about this scandal is that it is the elites versus regular citizens, the mighty versus normal people. >> i just disagree with peggy's take on this whole 501 c 4 business, first, if representative thrush were on this committee, i would rather have his investigation which says was obama in control of the irs should he have appointed someone earlier? there's some legitimate management questions to pose to the obama administration. but this 501 c4 status, no political group should get this status. or very few should get it that is a conversation that we should have. whether it's a tea party group, whether it's a progressive group. and lawrence o'donnell has been making the point over and over that the law says these groups should be ex-exclusively involved in social welfare. the regulation says primarily. and i've been saying, try renegotiating your marriage contract. from exclusively to primarily. they, the law makes no sense the
way it is. >> and we got to talk about the law. the other issue is, the irs's enforcement of the charities and nonprofit division for the 456930 years has been a disgrace. i used to cover all of these neighborhood nonprofits which were essentially slush funds for local politicians. the irs never investigated. you had nonprofit corporations setting up for-profit subsidiary jerrys and the guys lining their pockets. and they did nothing. >> so you have to have a bipartisan, even-handed malfeasance. if you're going to have malfeasance. >> that conversation isn't being had at all and the white house is busy playing defense on this. and darrell issa feels completely unencumbered by facts. >> neither republicans or democrats want their groups to be suddenly hit by taxes when they're doing political business for them. there's not much vested interest politically to have that conversation. >> there are liberal groups who have 501 c4 status, even though the thrust recently has been on
the other side. and i think that liberals should just say, we'll give it all up. because this makes no sense to have these secret donors being able to finance political ads under the guise of social welfare. >> e.j., i totally respect that it's something like 84 of the applications were by conservative groups, some liberal groups did get targeted by the irs investigation. but this is same ament around super pacs. liberals should just say this is bad. what's bad for the goose is bad for the gander. they haven't. they followed suit. the president himself has an ongoing superpac, much to the chagrin of many folks who wanted to see campaign finance reform. >> this is rooted in the decision of january 2012, to go along and support his own super pac. he made the decision along with david axelrod and the brain trust to say we're going to put down our immediate objections to citizens united and play ball this way. >> can the republicans run on this in 2014?
can they sustain the hearings, the allegations, whether proven or not? can you fuel the base on that? >> you know, well first of all, it depends if there were some connection, they could, they could plausibly draw that led them to the administration, they'd have a real issue. i doubt that that's there. but the larger question of expansion of government, as katty said, of the irs, which is not exactly popular. of the line dancing and the "star trek" -- you know that whole thing, it, so i think it gives them a thing that can look like an issue. and you know, because i mean i don't -- it can look like an issue. >> can you whip up the base and whip up fundraising around the base. whatever the topic is. >> i think whatever these commissions come up. whatever these hearings come up with. it's, i think it's already, people are already so skeptical about big government on the, in the tea party and you americans have a funny issue with taxes
that i've never quite understood. >> you americans. >> a couple 100 years ago we found out to our cost that you have tax issues, okay. come to 2014 it's going to be possible to use this whatever the findings come up. >> they can mobilize the base with this without question, i think. but only if there is something nefarious where the administration had something to do with targeting these groups. and they shouldn't have done it this way. everybody agrees on that. that's the only way you get any votes in the middle. but mobilizing the base in the mid term is a big deal. >> i would say you know, at this point you don't actually have to prove -- michele bachmann proves that you can kind of spin things, with sarah palin, death panels, 43 % of the country thinks the affordable care act was repealed. once this gets into the water supply. the last thing i'll say is i'm not for wasteful spending, i think everybody should in the government should be especially in a time of economic stress, be living within their budgetary means, but these guys were irs officials, which is probably the worst job in government.
i don't blame them for wanting to line dance. however poorly they actually line danced. and -- >> on their own time, in their own dime. it's the video that we have to keep replaying of the terrible line dancing. >> everybody has a video camera in their pocket. everyone should always remember that. >> there it is. once again. >> it's actually -- "saturday night live" couldn't write it better than that. anyway. >> we have to take a break, when we come back, this may saw one of the deadliest months in iraq since 2008. we'll discuss the increasingly unstable middle east with david wood and zenab safli, next on "now."
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this is a very difficult process. which we come too late, we are trying to prevent the sectarian violence from dragging syria down into a complete and total implosion. where it has broken up into enclaves and the institutions of the state have been destroyed. with god knows how many additional refugees and how many innocent people killed. >> we'll discuss syria's ripple effect throughout the region next on "now." hey. they're coming. yeah. british. later. sorry. ok...four words... scarecrow in the wind... a baboon... monkey? hot stew saturday!? ronny: hey jimmy, how happy are folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico? jimmy: happier than paul revere with a cell phone. ronny: why not? anncr: get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
[ male announcer ] moving object detection. ♪ blind spot warning. ♪ lane departure warning. safety, down to an art. the nissan altima with safety shield technologies. nissan. innovation that excites. ♪ . today more than a year after the last convoy of american troops left iraq, the country appears to be slipping back into sectarian war. april and may were the two deadliest months in iraq since 2008, leaving nearly 2,000 people dead. a reflection of the worsening tension between iraq's shiite-led government and its sunni minority. "the new york times" reports that today many iraqis feel they're on the road back to the
dark days of 2006 and 2007. the peak of sectarian militia massacres. over the weekend, iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki met with leaders across the sectarian divide to try to resolve the crisis. the violence in the country appears to be at least driven at least in part by the civil war in neighboring syria. where a sunni majority is fighting the government of bashar al assad, which is dominated by a shiite sect. the violence in iraq is so dire that more than 7,000 syrian refugees in iraq have crossed back into syria for greater security. and as the war in syria continues to spill over into lebanon and turkey, it is not hard to imagine a regional nightmare of sunni-shiite war stretching across the entire middle east. in his analysis of the situation in iraq, former state department fill, romsimardini writes that it's becoming a growing reality. joining me now, senior military
correspondent for the "huffington post," david wood and with us in new york, founder of women for women international, zenaib salvi. in terms of the situation in iraq how much of the civil war is being driven by the prepressive policies of nuri al maliki. a lot of attention has been paid to bashar al assad and his war against the civilian population in syria and other fighters. in terms of iraq, how has al maliki managed his country in the intervening years since the u.s. has left. >> the whole fighting started what what i would consider a benign opposition by the sunnis who started with civil disobedience two months ago. i was there two months ago, the ten-year anniversary of iraq and they asking in my opinion, simple questions. they asked to process prisoners who have been in prison, political prisoners in prison for years without any processing in court or any trials. they asked to stop the rape of
sunni women political prisoners who are in prison and they were rumors that they were being rape and they wanted to have an investigation into that. and they wanted to stop what they call for lack of better words, secret service by citizens. normal citizens that are paid by supposedly the iraqi government spying on people and their reports are taking very seriously without any due diligence the people are investigated. they started with very benign, i would say simplistic, simple demands by the sunnis to be mostly included, they feel very marginalized, to be included in the iraqi government. about a few weeks ago, the al maliki government responded to that in the most horrible way one can imagine. they responded by first killing, sending the army to kill them. kill about 23 people. injured about 250 people. and it just all hell broke loose. you since have a lot of explosions of sunni and shia mosques and sunni and shia
areas. now is this, is this related to syria or not? yes, and no. the tension between sunni and shia is related. sunnis in iraq feel very marginalized and they want to be included in the government. i would have to say that shia, the iraqi shia government do feel sometimes like teasing the sunnis by further marginalization. in simple way thaw feel it in the street. it's not necessarily. so yes, there is a political messaging in here that you are marginalized and we the shia are controlling the government. so all of these things are increasing in the tension. that this tension is very political. it's not seen on the street is scared of going back into the bombings of 2006 and 2008. they're very, very scared and if you hear iraqi tv and what's happening in iraqi. people are calling and they're saying we do not want to go back. we do not want to go back to these explosions and the sunni-shia fighting. this is a political thing. we want the stability of the government. so that's in general what's happening in the country.
>> and thank you for that, zainab. >> dave, woo spent over $2 trillion on the war in iraq. nearly 4500 american troops died, an estimated 100,000 iraqi civilians perished. and you look at ha is happening. the fact that as zainab says people on the ground in iraq are afraid we're slipping back into 2006-2007. jork packer writes in the "new yorker," after $2 trillion, thousands of american lives and over 100,000 iraqi lives, iraq has rejected the organ transplant and gone its own way. i imagine there are far fewer american traces left in baghdad than there were in saigon after 1975. >> i was thinking in shakespeare, cry havoc and let loose, let slip the dogs of war. it's so easy to slip back into this. i've been talking with iraq war veterans. one of them said something to me very interesting. this is a guy who is a rifle platoon leader in iraq, two
tours. he said the thing that surprised me about iraq was the intensity of hatred. i had never seen anything like that before. i think we're seeing that again. don't forget, that this shia-sunni thing goes back to you know, the seventh century and you know, the, as interesting that muslims from what is now iraq and muslims from what is now syria, headed out in this gigantic bat toll decide the future of islam and it was pretty much of a draw. but that was 800 years before columbus set off for the new world. and so for john kerry to say we're coming to this late, well, yeah. >> yes. in a manner of speaking, you are. >> i think a little humility is called for, we can't control what's going on in that part of the world and when we do step into it, boy, we make a mess of it. >> i agree it is a very, very thorny situation and i will, i will lump syria in this question here, katty. you look at the carnage on the ground, the 80,000 people who
have been killed in syria alone. the humanitarian crisis that is 1.5 million refugees pouring into borders and u.s. strategic interests, independent of the humanitarian question. the region is becoming destabilized. the question is as john kerry said moments ago, we're coming late to it, where is the plan? what do we do, and the spector of iraq looms large. >> of course the spector of iraq looms large and the desire or lack of desire for any kind of intervention. after iraq there's so much skepticism in this country about getting involved and in syria, you have to say, this point, maybe if there had been involvement a year and a half ago. maybe if the west had collectively been able to decide to arm the syrian rebels in some way. they may have been able to overthrow the assad regime in a fairly quick way. that hasn't happened and now it's become a lot more complicated. and because exactly of what david was saying, the prospects for long-term destabilization are very high. when you have a minority who has
been, or a majority that's been oppressed by another group, the potential for hatred and the potential for long-term ramifications are there and you're right, that's where it affects america's national security interests. do we want in that region of the world, to see sunni/shia split, a v violent sunni-shia split. you have iran piling on the shia side. what does that mean for american national security interests? >> zainab i was surprised to read that ryan crocker, the u.s. ambassador to iraq from 2007-2009, for the iraqis to pull back from the brink, the americans must lead a high-level effort. we have done so successfully in the past we can do so again. are you at all optimistic about that this. >> before i go there, i want to actually more explain haas going on in iraq from an iraqi perspective. i disagree with you, david on the level of hatred between sunni and shias.
now i was raised and grew up in iraq all my life. and yes, it is goes back that the crisis goes back to 800 years ago, indeed. but it was sparked up and down based on political intentions and political strategies, in iraq, it's imagine you know the political correctness in america. how we address race issues and gender issues. and how that is different 40 years ago. now america did contribute in opening up a pandora box of something that was politically managed, the tension between sunni and shia when i was growing up in the '70s and '80s, there was no mention of sunnis and shias, that mismanagement of the differences in iraq, america did contribute to a great extent with the invasion of iraq and we cannot dismiss that historical experience in here. now -- >> but zainab, do you think there's a role for america to play, given that? anecdotally, the word we get is it's not time for america to be engaged. and please correct me if i'm
wrong. does america have a role to play in this conflict in particular? >> two different ones. in iraq, the iraqi people still think america will save us, so yes, that needs to be figured out and america needs to say no, we're not going to save you, we're out in syria, america needs to play a role. because the lack of playing a role is giving more of a role to qatar and to saudi arabia to play a major role in here. so yes, america needs to play a role in syria and getting everyone in the negotiating discussion so we stop having any further fightings. >> dave, i want to give you a chance to get in here. you know -- >> i just fuming about what john kerry had to say. you know we come late to this. he's been a major player in foreign policy for as long as i can remember. for him to say we're coming late to this, i'm sorry, i'm just -- >> it's got your blood a-boil. the united states is is a major, major power. we have a lot of diplomatic clout. we have not been using it. in either iraq or syria. and this sort of talk about arming the rebels is just foolishness. i know, you know, you can't, if
you follow that thread, you can't see any good outcome to this. so where is john kerry besides holding press conferences and saying we must act? >> that's a question about the administration. and what the exact plan is for situations like this. and the fact that the longer we sit on the sidelines, and again i'm not saying that it is incumbent upon us to get involved. but the situation has gotten that much more complicated. >> it has. it has. and there's no real clear path forward. except again, to use our diplomatic clout to try to, to get the al maliki government in iraq to back off and, and not sort of crack down on the sunnis. and in syria, to try to get the sides together. and you know, we do have a lot of clout. i don't see it being used. >> we shall see. as zainab salvi and david wood, thank you for your time and thoughts. coming up, the u.s. government has the official position on mermaids, we'll explain ahead on "now."
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apparently americans have an unhealthy fixation with mermaids, 3.6 million americans tuned into last weekend's animal planet documentary "mermaids: the new evidence" the highest ratings in the channel's 17-year history. despite conventional wisdom that fish people don't exist, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration felt compelled to issue a statement reading reminding americans that no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. maybe that's exactly what the government wants you to believe. >> one year ago, mermaids, the body found premiered and left the world asking -- are mermaids
real? >> these days, conspiracy theories are par for the course. a ppp poll last month found that 14% of americans believe in bigfoot and 14% think aliens exist. e.j., 14% of the people believe that lizard people control our society. >> why not? we've been critical of darrell issa, some of us have on this show. i think if he investigated the federal cover-up of the existence of mermaids, he would get a lot of support. we could find that the obama administration ordered noaa to deny the existence of mermaids and we don't know why, maybe they were working in cincinnati or something. >> obviously this is government run amuck, glen. >> is this correlated in any way to the legalization of marijuana? >> i think -- >> it's colorado, and you know colorado in particular. >> the people who watched animal planet had been smoking marijuana beforehand. >> and pringles consumption
going up. >> we talk about michele bachmann and sarah palin and theories of crazy. 20% believe there's a link between childhood vaccines and autism. >> that's not funny, that's -- >> you can float crazy theories out there and they find traction. >> you can find people to believe anything. we have more information in our pocket now than ever before and yet people will believe anything. however, the existence of the sport synchronized swimming does prove the presence of mermaids, i'm sorry. >> mermen. i'm glad that someone is investigating lizard people. thank you, that's all for now, i'll see you back tomorrow at noon when i'm joined by jeremy skahill, until then can you find us on facebook.com/nowwithalex. "andrea mitchell reports" is next.
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lowered to half staff, honoring new jersey senator frank lautenberg who died this morning at the age of 89. the last tworld war ii veteran in the senate. lautenberg was a powerful driving force on domestic issues from smoking an airplanes, the environment and gun control. >> who is who favor gun ownership, put that aside and stand up for the safety and the well-being of our citizens. >> john kerry remembering his former senate colleague today. >> frank was a remarkable legislator and just a tremendous human being. he was someone who fought and won a lot of battles that today people just take for granted. >> $50,000 for line dancing lessons? another embarrassment for the irs. but as oversight chairman darrell issa now gone too far when he goes after jay carney? >>