Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 05/26/15

Guests: Richard Clarke, Ian Bremmer, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jeffrey Sachs,Susan Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hell, no, we won`t go. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Hillary Clinton has a rival for the presidency, a Democratic rival. Does Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who declared his candidacy today, have a chance? Does a declared socialist have a chance in a country where less than one of five of us even calls himself an economic liberal? You know what? All that said, I think the man is going to enjoy this run for president. Why? Because that one in five figure includes one hell of a number of Democratic caucus and primary voters. Two, because a number of people want to see Secretary Hillary Clinton pulled leftward on economic issues. And three, because Democrats, Americans, tend to root for the underdog. And four, because let`s be honest, it`s the only game in town. Here`s Senator Sanders announcing his campaign up in Burlington, Vermont. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout our country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)   SANDERS: Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly enough is enough! This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Steve Kornacki is the host of "UP" here on MSNBC. Steve, what a crowd there on Lake Champlain. What a setting. Your thoughts on what happened here today? STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Yes, on, I mean, very impressive turnout here, you know, a late afternoon rally in Bernie Sanders`s hometown. You know, it`s interesting you set it up there and you talk about the relatively small number of Americans who maybe on paper say they agree with Bernie Sanders. But yes, a higher concentration in the Democratic Party and a much higher concentration, I think, when you look at the first state that`s going to vote on the Democratic side, Iowa. The caucus goers, the most committed activists on the Democratic side, a very liberal constituency in Iowa. It`s a state where Hillary Clinton obviously had plenty of problems in 2008 where she came in third place behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. And I think if you look at it from Bernie Sanders`s standpoint here, yes, obviously, this is a monumental challenge to even talk about the possibility of maybe some way, somehow beating Hillary Clinton. But I think more realistically, if you want to talk about his prospects and what he can do here, I think he`s potentially better positioned than any of the other Democrats who are lining up to run against Hillary Clinton to make her sweat, to give her some headaches. It would start in Iowa. That is an electorate -- I mean, if there`s any electorate out there outside of Vermont that is most conducive to what Bernie Sanders has to offer, I`d say it`s the caucus electorate in Iowa. And where do you go after Iowa? You go to the next-door state for Bernie Sanders of New Hampshire. So those first two states do set up pretty well for him. MATTHEWS: It`s going to be a hell of a campaign for us to cover. Steve Kornacki, thanks for joining us from Burlington. I love Burlington.   More from Senator Sanders`s announcement speech just late today. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: There`s something profoundly wrong when the top one tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral It is bad economics. It is unsustainable. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail, that bank is too big to exist! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by the global editorial director for the HuffingtonPost, Howard Fineman, and the former chair of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. Both are MSNBC political analysts. Howard, the last part of it grabbed me -- if it`s too big to fail, it`s too big to exist. I think that`s something that people can say, whether it`s Glass-Steagall, whatever it is, something`s got to be done structurally about the American economy to make us safe. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, whatever the labels might be on Bernie Sanders-- MATTHEWS: Well, he calls himself a socialist! FINEMAN: Whatever people identify with or call themselves, a lot of things he talked about today -- raising the minimum wage, a jobs program, increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, billionaires paying their fair share, breaking up the big banks -- these are all things that are not just on the Democratic left. These are mainstream at least Democratic stands, and in many ways, mainstream American stands.   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: How do you explain only 19 percent of the people say they`re liberals on economic matters? FINEMAN: The labels don`t matter. (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: The labels don`t matter. Here`s -- here`s the problem. (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: Here`s the problem. Hillary Clinton probably -- and I know she now will say that she agrees, not with the fervor or the Brooklyn accent of Bernie, but she agrees on -- she`d be able to agree on most everything that he said there. But she doesn`t have the credibility to say it convincingly. MATTHEWS: Well, he means it. FINEMAN: He means it. She`s tiptoeing to the left. She`s going to cover most of these positions to some extent, OK? MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: She will run alongside on most of these issues, but it`s going to be all about authenticity. Who believes it and who has the record? Now he`s saying he`s not going to run a negative campaign. He said that also in his speech, which we were watching earlier.   MATTHEWS: What`s that mean? FINEMAN: That means that he won`t run a negative ad, but lots of other people will -- including some Republicans who wouldn`t mind making some mischief in this campaign. MATTHEWS: Well, there`s one right here. MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- look, I-- MATTHEWS: Michael, I wonder, what do you make -- Howard is challenging the label thing. People say "progressive" with such pride these days. Why don`t they even say "liberal" when they talk about their own economic attitude? STEELE: Well, that`s -- that`s a very good point. It is something that I think Bernie Sanders is going to force Democrats to deal with inside the party. We had the same thing on the right. I mean, you know, I was sitting there listening-- MATTHEWS: Who`s your Bernie Sanders? STEELE: Well, you`ve got Newt Gingrich. You`ve got Santorum. You`ve got strong conservatives, Ted Cruz, who believe very fervently in the cause and can rally that base around strong conservative principles, just as we saw Bernie Sanders with that very impressive crowd rally his base around the-- MATTHEWS: Let`s get one thing straight bout-- STEELE: -- liberal progressive agenda. MATTHEWS: Look, I think Burlington is great. It`s like Berkeley back East. It`s great. It`s not representative of the burbs, which people vote Republican (INAUDIBLE) Democrat, depending on the candidates. I don`t know. But I do think there`s an excitement to this guy.   FINEMAN: But all-- MATTHEWS: I think he has a bit of the old romance. FINEMAN: Chris-- STEELE: He`s got the romance, but at the end of the day, I think Howard`s right. He`s going to have to deal with a Hillary Clinton who is going to try to-- MATTHEWS: She won`t go after him. STEELE: She`s not going to go-- FINEMAN: No, no, no. STEELE: She doesn`t need to go after him. FINEMAN: She`ll say I agree with him. STEELE: She`ll just agree with him. FINEMAN: She`s going to say, Well, Bernie, you know--   STEELE: Exactly. FINEMAN: -- we agree on many, many things. My only point about the labels is, if you ask Americans individually, Do you want a jobs program for infrastructure? Heck, you`ve talked about jobs-- MATTHEWS: I`m huge on this stuff! FINEMAN: OK, you`re with Bernie on that. If you talk about suspicion about the trade bill, millions of Americans-- MATTHEWS: I know. FINEMAN: -- are worried about that. If you talk about breaking up the big banks -- my point is if you take these one at a time, Bernie Sanders is not some charming grumpy crank on the shores of Lake Champlain with Ben and Jerry clapping. (LAUGHTER) FINEMAN: They were there, by the way. Plus Bill McKibben (ph), the ultimate -- the ultimate environmentalist. MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: A lot of the things he`s saying are meat and potatoes, sensible-- MATTHEWS: OK, let me--   (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: -- old-fashioned American sense. That`s all I`m saying. MATTHEWS: If you`re Hillary Clinton and you`re thinking this through and watching that today, are you happy with that performance? Does that make you happy, does it make you nervous? STEELE: I think it makes her a little bit nervous. I think it makes her a little bit nervous because to Howard`s point, she`s got to figure out how to box herself in such a way that she pulls some that energy that-- MATTHEWS: OK-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- let`s play HARDBALL. STEELE: -- but without going after him-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK, what percentage would she, like, be scared of him getting? Is it good for her he gets 25 percent but she gets the 75 percent in New Hampshire? Is it good for her that he gets 35 percent or 45 percent? At what point does it ring the bell and say, There`s something wrong with Hillary because she`s not this guy? FINEMAN: OK--   MATTHEWS: At what point? FINEMAN: Let`s play HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: What percentage? FINEMAN: Let`s play HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: What percentage? FINEMAN: OK. If she`s wins Iowa and New Hampshire, it`s over. STEELE: It`s over. MATTHEWS: Even if he gets 45? FINEMAN: Yes, yes, even if he gets 45. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Doesn`t matter how well he does--   (CROSSTALK) STEELE: -- a scenario, to Kornacki`s point, where Hillary Clinton could find herself on the ropes in a place like Iowa very early. MATTHEWS: Who picks up the pieces if she loses the -- if she loses New Hampshire to him? STEELE: Oh, I think -- I think Bernie-- MATTHEWS: There`s nobody to pick up the pieces. (CROSSTALK) STEELE: It falls back to her, but I`m just saying the possibility-- FINEMAN: Right now, he`s at 15 percent. She`s at 60 percent in Iowa. MATTHEWS: By the way, Gene McCarthy was in the low teens in January of `68. FINEMAN: Yes, but this isn`t the Vietnam war. MATTHEWS: OK. So history doesn`t repeat itself.   FINEMAN: No. MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Howard Fineman, for the definitive answer. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Boy, you`re passionate! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re passionate! STEELE: He`s looking forward to this race. MATTHEWS: I tell you, we want a fight! Anyway, that`s what we all want. Michael Steele, thank you, sir.. Coming up -- we got one in Iraq. Iraq`s launching a major military operation to fight back against ISIS, but the Obama administration seems less than confident that they can do the job. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Iraqi troops lost the key city of Ramadi because they showed no will to fight. Those are fighting words. And speaking of fighting ISIS, the Republicans have a strategy. It`s called "blame Obama" but don`t count the troops. We`ll get to that with the roundtable tonight.   Plus, what`s going on when Houston, the fourth largest city in the country is under water, while California is suffering its worst drought in decades? What`s the science saying about this? What`s the climate impact here? Finally, "Let Me Finish" with why I think the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders is something to look forward to. You bet! This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: The declaration today by Bernie Sanders is the first in a flurry of presidential campaign launches scheduled for the next two weeks. Tomorrow, Rick Santorum gets into the race. On Thursday, it`s former New York governor George Pataki`s turn. Then on Saturday, former Maryland governor Martin O`Malley will launch his campaign. Next Monday, it`s Lindsey Graham`s turn. And on June 4th, next Thursday, Rick Perry jumps in. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Iraqi security forces today launched an offensive to drive ISIS from the Anbar province and retake Ramadi, which ISIS captured earlier this month. As the capital of Anbar, the fall of Ramadi was a major setback in the war against ISIS, and it`s led to a blame game. U.S. officials told NBC News last week that the defeat was due to Baghdad`s, quote, "total neglect of Ramadi," and on Sunday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter blamed the Iraqi military for cutting and running. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site. And that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: But in a BBC interview later that day, Iraq`s prime minister said that his forces would retake Ramadi within days, and he pushed back against Secretary Carter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAIDER AL ABADI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: I`m surprised why he said that. I mean, he was very supportive of Iraq. I`m sure is he was fed (INAUDIBLE) he was fed with the wrong information. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, "The Wall Street Journal" also points out today that the ISIS takeover of Ramadi showed a kind of tactical sophistication that we haven`t yet seen from the militant group. Quote, "An examination of how Ramadi fell indicates that Islamic state commanders executed a complex battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops. The group also churned out dozens of formidable new weapons by converting captured U.S. military armored vehicles designed to be impervious to small arms fire into mega-bombs with payloads equal to the force of the Oklahoma City bombing." We go now to NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel for the latest on the battle for Ramadi. Richard, these two sides seem asymmetric. One side has suicide bombers driving these vehicles across the lines and breaking the lines of the Iraqi forces. On the Iraqi side, I`ve got to wonder what are they fighting for, what is the motive, the patriotic drive for someone to give up their life or even risk it in such a battle if they don`t really have a country behind it? Is there an Iraq? Is there such a place? RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I don`t -- I think by the day and the week, we`re seeing Iraq disintegrate. There isn`t really a sense of Iraq anymore. It feels much more of Kurdistan in the north, a failed Sunni state in the center, and an increasingly Shi`ite, an increasingly Iran- dominated south that starts in Baghdad. So if you are an army and you are supposed to be representing the united Iraq, a united Iraq that increasingly looks like a memory, then I think you`re -- you`re not finding the will to fight. MATTHEWS: If you`re an Iraqi military commander -- say you`re halfway up the ranks, you`re a major or whatever -- and you say to your troops, Hold the line. Don`t give up. They`re coming at us, but don`t -- don`t give -- what is your incentive? What do you say to these guys, remember the Alamo? Remember the Maine?   I mean, what`s -- what do you say to these people? ENGEL: Well-- MATTHEWS: I`m dead serious. Wouldn`t most people say, I`m getting the hell out of here? They gave me the uniform, they gave a monthly salary, but I`m not going to die for this thing. ENGEL: Well, not always they give you the uniform or not always they give you the monthly salary. Once U.S. troops left Iraq, the Iraqi military became incredibly corrupt. The Iraqi state became synonymous with nepotism, with false rosters and with -- in which soldiers` names were put on the rosters and they were told by the commanding officers, Don`t come in, but give me half your salary. We spoke to many mid-level police officers and army officers who had been purged from their jobs because they weren`t in favor with the right Shi`ite group. So if you are working for an institution that steals from you, that is corrupt on every level, that doesn`t supply you with the equipment that you need in a timely basis, yes, you`re absolutely right, you`re not going to lay down your life for it. You`re not going to go up against a group like ISIS, which is incredibly dedicated, incredibly willing to die, knowing that if they catch you, you`ll be executed in the most horrific way, maybe set on fire, maybe put into a big execution pit, that you are going to die and die badly. So yes, the corruption and the rot in the Iraqi army combined with a very motivated adversary is not a favorable one for the Iraqi government right now. MATTHEWS: As always, thank you, Richard Engel. You are the best. Thanks for coming in. ENGEL: Oh, thank you. MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by Richard Clarke, former national coordinator for security and counterterrorism and the author of the new book, "Pinnacle Event," as well as Ian Bremmer who`s joining us. He`s president of the Eurasia Group and author of "Superpower: Three Choices for America`s Role in the World."   Richard Clarke, you know, just listening to what Richard said, imagine if we embedded American troops with the Iraqi army, as bad as it is, as corrupt as it is, and one of our guys gets picked up, and they threaten him -- and burning him alive and the -- he`s in uniform, and they do this for a couple of weeks, then they do their dance of horror and humiliate the guy before they kill him. And what do we do then? I mean, I just don`t know why we want to slip into this role. People like George -- I mean, it`s Jeb Bush this time -- talking that. Your thoughts. RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Well, Chris, I think we have to decide how important is it that we stop ISIS. And I don`t think we`ve done that. I don`t think we`ve had that national conversation. And then we have to decide how much are we willing to do to stop ISIS, and we haven`t had that national conversation. I can imagine an answer that says, yes, we really do want to stop them. We don`t want another Afghanistan, where people can plot attacks against the United States. That`s -- that`s a logical position. And if you believe that, then maybe you should do more. And there are things you can do more than we`re doing. You can arm the Kurds. You can arm the Sunni militia. A lot of these guys didn`t have any arms, which is one of the reasons they fled there. They`d run out of ammunition. You can provide them close air support, which we weren`t doing. So there are things more short of Lindsey Graham`s invasion and return to Iraq. MATTHEWS: Ian, your thoughts about what the United States could do if it decided it was worth getting killed for, something worth putting guys close to the action because they will -- you start bringing guys with close air support, somebody`s going to get shot down. You do anything like embedding, you`re different going to get guys picked up. It`s part of the action-- (CROSSTALK) -- part of the reality of life. IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Oh, I think -- I think that`s right. And I think of the great realities of U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War is over is that one consistency is that we overreact when something happens to us, whether it`s a couple of Americans showing up with Ebola after us not paying attention to it, or whether it`s two Americans getting their heads chopped off by ISIS.   And I`m not trying to minimize these issues, but I think a lot of Americans look at the trillions of dollars that were spent after 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq and they want out. I think the Obama administration responded very strongly to that and now they`re trying everything possible to say, look, let`s just stick with the present strategy, which is absolutely not destroy ISIS. We say we want to destroy ISIS, but there`s no decision point that we have taken at any time that would actually say that we`re going to do it. MATTHEWS: Well, listen closely. Here`s the president`s interview. It`s a print interview, but listen to the word we and wonder who he is talking about. This was last Thursday with "The Atlantic." President Obama reacted to the fall of Ramadi, saying -- quote -- "I don`t think we`re losing. We are going to have to ramp up, but not just training, but also commitment. And we better get Sunni tribes more activated than they currently have been. We`re eight months into what we always already anticipated to be a multi-year campaign." Senator John McCain slammed the president`s approach on "Meet the Press" on Sunday. No surprise there. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FACE THE NATION") SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to have forward air controllers. We need to have special forces. We need to have more of those kinds of raids that were so successful into Syria. We need to have a strategy. There is no strategy, and anybody that says that there is, I would like to hear what it is, because it certainly isn`t apparent now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, that was on "Face the Nation," Richard. My question to you and then to Ian is, who is we, because if we is the Iraqi army, we ain`t nothing, because the Iraqi army is going to cut and run. We have gone over this with Richard Engel, just now in the field. Who is the we here? Are we the Jordanian air force? Are we the Kurds? Are we the so-called Sunni militias that are operating or the Sunni liberation front over in Syria? I don`t think we have a front against ISIS, do we?   CLARKE: Well, we have. In a few battles to date, we have. But it`s not a consistent front. The we should be the Sunni militia, the Shia militia, the Iraqi national army, and the U.S. military, and our Gulf GCC partners. Where is their skin in the game, except for an occasional airstrike? MATTHEWS: OK. Who is the Red Army in it? Richard, who is the Red Army in this in 1942-`43 terms? Who is the army pushing hardest against the bad guys here, against then the Nazis, now ISIS? Who is the one they might be afraid of? BREMMER: Look, when I used to say we to my mom when she was alive, she would say, what, do you got a rat in your pocket? (LAUGHTER) BREMMER: And that`s kind of the way I feel right now, you know? The United States, the we are the Air Force that is providing significant strikes in Iraq and not very much in Syria, and also some special forces, very significant. MATTHEWS: Yes. BREMMER: You absolutely saw them. And I thought that was a win, when you get the effective CFO of ISIS, because you`re getting data and you`re getting network capabilities and you`re trying to shut down ISIS capability for attacking more broadly. But that`s a containment strategy for ISIS at best in Iraq and a little in Syria. It`s not a let`s destroy ISIS. There is no we for destroying ISIS. And the American people, people like Hillary Clinton as well, even Jeb Bush, seeing very clearly that if the Saudis, if the Iraqis, if the GCC, they are not really going to stand up and fight to destroy Iraq, it`s going to -- ISIS in Iraq, and no one is going to do it in Syria, it`s a really hard argument for them to put to the American people for the 2016 presidential election.   And if you`re on the ground in Iraq, you see that the conversation that Richard Clarke is calling for right now, which is starting to happen, has Americans all over the map, not the kind of commitment that are going to make them feel like they have got the support for the long term. MATTHEWS: Richard, go ahead. CLARKE: But to have that conversation, we need to have somebody paint for us a picture of what happens and what`s the cost to us if we do nothing. And we don`t -- the president hasn`t done that. The secretary of defense hasn`t done that. Somebody should put on a map, put in a speech what it would look like if these guys win, and they set up a terrorist sanctuary nation, and they take Baghdad, and they hold on to these other four or five cities that they have indefinitely. What`s the cost to us? No one has laid that out. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, we have to lay out the cost the other way, like Churchill did in World War II. Somebody has to come out just say, we just lost one, but we can win again. But here`s what we`re going to have to do. And it`s going to be tough before it gets better. And these are real defeats. We have to talk about real defeats like Ramadi when they occur. And then we have to be real about the cost of victory. Victory is expensive. (CROSSTALK) CLARKE: And how much are we willing to pay for it? How much are we willing to pay? BREMMER: And then Richard is saying, what`s the cost of doing nothing? No one is suggesting doing nothing. That`s not actually -- there`s no one in the American political system that is saying we are going to completely withdraw. It`s a question of, what is going to be the impact of allowing ISIS to persist and not truly destroying them, as opposed to, what is the cost of actually trying to really defeat them on the ground?   MATTHEWS: OK. BREMMER: And that is the conversation that`s a much more real one that we need to really have. And both sides are straw-manning far too much. MATTHEWS: I agree. CLARKE: It`s not a straw man. What I`m saying is, we need to understand what more we need to do, not that we are doing nothing. We are doing something. But what more do we need to do, and why? Why? MATTHEWS: OK. Why is a good one, and then, of course, recognize that some guys are going to get caught, they`re going to get tortured, they`re going to get burned alive, they`re going to be humiliated before the world, and then they are going to be killed. We have to face that eventuality, because it`s going to come. Richard Clarke, thank you so much. Ian Bremmer, thank you both for this rather very grim discussion of a war that doesn`t seem at this point, at this point, winnable. Up next: Texas has been hammered by devastating flooding. Part of Houston, the country`s fourth largest city, is underwater. And it`s a stark contrast to the severe drought going on right now in California. Is there a climate aspect to all of this? Is this somehow related? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I assured Governor Abbott that he could count on the help of the federal government. We have FEMA personnel already on the ground. They are coordinating with Texas emergency management authorities, and I will anticipate that there will be some significant requests made to Washington.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There are now more than 10 confirmed deaths from that 500-year flood that hit Texas and Oklahoma. The search is still on for at least a dozen of missing residents in Wimberley, Texas, where more than 400 homes were destroyed. Authorities are still searching for one family whose cabin was swept away by the Blanco River. And overnight in southwest Houston, about 11 inches of rain fell in just six hours. Imagine that. Joining me right now is U.S. congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston. Congresswoman, is the federal government serving the people down there in this drastic situation as well as they should? REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Well, first of all, let me express my sympathy to the many who have lost their lives throughout the state of Texas. And, in my own district, they recovered a body and they are missing others that they are looking for. I was standing by as they recovered the firefighters` inflated boat that was trying to rescues persons, and they were able to save two firefighters, but they are looking for others. Let me just say that the federal government obviously is the umbrella on the rainy day, and it is an umbrella day today in Houston and all over the state of Texas. What I think the federal government can do is what they have done, at least in an immediate and quick response, to be able to get help here for those who need recovery and, if you will, rehabilitation. But one thing that we need from the federal government and that we in Congress need to do is to rebuild our infrastructure and to make sure that all of these unique situations, like Houston is a bayou city -- we`re proud of it -- but as I have been knocking on doors in my district, been talking to people in mud and looking in homes that had water almost midway up their walls, surging into their home, it is clear that we need to be able to have a set of plans and future investment, so that we can enjoy our bayous, but don`t have them do what they did over the last 12 hours. Clearly, we need to look at a futuristic plan of infrastructure, but right now most people are looking for homes. They are looking for clothing.   MATTHEWS: Yes. JACKSON LEE: They are looking for their cars to be restored. All of these cars were destroyed. In this particular area that I was in near the White Oak Bayou, everyone`s car had been covered by water that was way over the hood of the car. So, the federal government has to stand ready. And I did write and join with the city and government officials to the president to ask for a natural disaster declaration, particularly for Houston, to be able to help these people. MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, in this terrible situation. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change contributes to harsh weather conditions like the flooding in Texas and the drought in California happening right now. Experts predict changing extremes in precipitation are projected across all seasons, including higher likelihoods of both increasing heavy rain and snow events and more intense droughts all at the same time. Joining me now is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia institute, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. Dr. Sachs, when you look at these two situations, I`m just going to freefall it here -- or free-flow it in terms of information -- what do you see in terms of the terrible drought, the terrible flooding down there? Is it something that`s moved across the Pacific, water that was supposed to drop historically in California now is dropping somewhere else? How do you see it? JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY EARTH INSTITUTE: Well, there`s a lot of disruption around the world. This is going to be the hottest year on record. There are massive heat waves. There are droughts. There are floods. I can tell you I just spoke with the scientists around Columbia University. They say they can`t put all the pieces of this puzzle together. One thing is, this is weather. In other words, this is just an extraordinary occurrence of the jet stream dipping south, but they also point out that there are underlying factors, like the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which have brought a lot of very humid air and that collides with the colder air brought by the jet stream. And that`s what gives these massive storms. There have just been so many strange patterns with the patterns of the jet stream itself. We had a hugely cold winter in the Northeast because of that, whereas rest of the world was baking. And so, Chris, you know, it remains true that, an individual event, you can`t call it, but what you can say is, there`s a lot of disruption going on. The underlying warming of the sea surface and the land, the drying of the moisture in the soils where farmers are trying to grow crops, all of this means that we`re disrupting a lot of activity, and then we`re seeing more tragedies like the one we saw in the last couple of days in Texas. MATTHEWS: Well, you know, just looking at it anecdotally, I look at the incredible snowfall in the Northeast this year. Like, I mean, they had igloos where parking spaces were supposed to be. You parked your car in an igloo and fought for it.   And then we had Katrina. We have had such biblical weather lately. You`re waiting -- you`re waiting for the snakes and the rats to arrive. When you put it all together -- I forget my biblical history, but when you put it all together, do you see anything going on, on the planet? It used to be worried about August and there would be a lot of thunderstorms at 4:30 in the afternoon in D.C., for example. It was pretty predictable. In the winter, you had a few inches of snow, maybe up to five or seven, but you didn`t have these huge dumps of snow. We just looked in Texas. They just had 11 inches in, what, six hours? I mean, excuse me. This is unusual, I think. SACHS: Chris, absolutely. You know, we`re pushing the planet into dangerous territory. So when Katrina -- or when Superstorm Sandy hit us in New England and in the Northeast, the sea level is already about a foot higher than it was a century ago, so that the flooding surge was that much greater. When we had these massive snowstorms, the water off the coast of the Northeast was warmer and therefore containing a lot more warmer. The Gulf of Mexico is a lot warmer right now, containing a lot more moisture. So, yes, we`re creating conditions for disruption, and there`s no doubt that the underlying patterns in the planet, the temperature especially, but also the precipitation patterns, even the ocean circulation patterns are changing now. MATTHEWS: Yes. SACHS: You can`t figure it out exactly because we`re seeing it for the first time, but we`re pushing hard and making big threats. And this is -- this tells us, hold back a little bit. Let`s be careful before we push things into completely unlivable conditions. MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Dr. Sachs, I have to tell you, because you`re used to seeing denial in your face -- I was in California this weekend for a wedding and for a commencement exercise, and I met two reasonably intelligent men who really denied there`s a drought going on in California. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: So denial is not just a river in Egypt. Anyway, thank you. An old joke. SACHS: Great to be with you. Thanks so much. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. Up next: a huge victory for marriage equality in Ireland. How long can Republicans in this country keep saying no? And that`s ahead with the roundtable. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC newsroom. The death toll from the severe weather in Texas and Oklahoma -- we`re watching that -- has now climbed to 18 after a weekend of heavy rain and severe flooding. Parts of Houston remain underwater. And in the central part of the state, the Blanco River surged, washing away trees and homes. Authorities say 16 more people are still missing in Texas -- now back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: We`re back.   In an historic vote, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular election. Sixty-two percent of voters over there approved of the measure legalizing same-sex marriage, and the referendum drew 61 percent of Ireland`s 3.2 million eligible voters out to the polls. Well, over here in the United States, Hillary Clinton offered her congratulations of support by tweeting well done, Ireland, making it clear where she stands on marriage equality. But what about the Republicans? According to a Gallup poll, a record 60 percent now support same-sex marriage of this country, 60 percent of the overall population which is up from 55 percent from just last year, and up from 37 percent a decade ago, yet the 2016 GOP candidates are nowhere near where the American people are on this. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This week, I introduced in the United States Senate, a constitutional amendment to preserve the authority of the states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This whole debate about the definition of marriage, I remind everyone that marriage as an institution existed before even government itself, that the institution of marriage is one man and one woman existed before our laws existed. GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: In Wisconsin and other places across the country, marriage is defined between one man and one woman. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I believe in traditional woman, between a man and a woman. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`ve always wondered why they have to say one man and one woman. Something about Mormonism from the last election. They aren`t just going to say it.   Anyway, as support for same-sex marriage gaining momentum in this country and around the world at a high rate of speed, can the GOP still get away with saying no to marriage equality? The roundtable tonight -- this should be fascinating -- Michelle Bernard is president of the Bernard Center for Women, Jonathan Capehart is opinion writer with "The Washington Post", of course, and Susan Page is Washington bureau chief with "USA Today." Susan, I want to start with you. You and I are not the same age but we know the same history very much. This country has been warp speed. Ireland, what do the Republicans do now that they are behind Ireland -- (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: -- the only legalized same sex -- same sex sexual behavior fairly recently in? SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: In a generation, I mean, it was 1993 that Ireland repealed anti-homosexual laws there. So, so in less than a generation, they have gone from criminalizing homosexuality to accepting by popular vote. MATTHEWS: When is the GOP going to make this leap? PAGE: And a big turnout. I mean, this was an issue that energized people in Ireland and especially young people in Ireland. So, what a warning sign that is for Republicans here, because we know that a majority of Republicans under 30 support same-sex marriage. MATTHEWS: So, where`s the Log Cabin on this baby, Jonathan? Log Cabin is Republican gay people. It`s a great group, and they`ve formed together. But somehow, they have to keep rationalizing their presence in the Republican Party. JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, there`s only so much Log Cabin Republicans can do. The candidates themselves have to come around on this issue. MATTHEWS: Who`s going to do it first?   CAPEHART: I`m not sure. MATTHEWS: None of them are. CAPEHART: But, you know -- MATTHEWS: But none of them are. Excuse me, I interrupted you, not a single. There`s like 3,000 people running for the Republican nomination and not one of them has broken the seals on this thing. CAPEHART: But, Chris, we`ve gone through the crazy exercise of watching them contort themselves over the question would you attend a same-sex marriage of a loved one and we`ve gone from Rick Santorum -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Would you go to the reception? Would you go to rehearsal dinner? CAPEHART: Right, rehearsal dinner, not going -- (LAUGHTER) CAPEHART: But you know what, Chris? There`s something else you have to keep in mind here, Ireland is just the second European example of -- an example for Republicans on what to do on this issue. Sixty-one percent of Irish people voted to legalize same-sex marriage. David Cameron, the British prime minister, who made this an issue in the U.K. and everyone, all of his Tory supporters said, you`ve ruined the party, you`ve ruined us, we`re going to lose in the next general election. He just won reelection outright, no coalition government, nothing.   MATTHEWS: OK, they haven`t polled the Irish in this country. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But I think the dichotomies you draw are interesting, like one of candidates said he would go to the ceremony but not the reception. He didn`t want to be there when the dancing started. MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Scott Walker, I think it was Scott Walker. MATTHEWS: It`s too weird. Jonathan, your thoughts? You`re an erstwhile Republican, aren`t you? I never figured out where you stand. BERNARD: I think what`s happened in Ireland is fantastic. I`m so glad that they did it. I`m so glad that they are sort of catching up with the times. The big question will be, I`ve seen the vote that we saw in Ireland over the weekend described as cultural Catholicism so people who want to go to funerals, go to baptisms, but don`t necessarily go to church every Sunday. I want to see if that`s going to happen here in the United States, particularly within the Republican Party. I mean, Ireland was behind. In 1971, it was still illegal -- contraception was illegal. MATTHEWS: Yes.   BERNARD: They`ve caught up with the times on that. They`ve caught up with the times on gay marriage and hopefully today`s Republican Party will do the same. CAPEHART: I think they are probably waiting for the Supreme Court. (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: That`s -- I have said that. MATTHEWS: You`re the lawyer. Whose that help? (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: Look, I`ve said it since day one, that the big strategy is if they go to the states -- MATTHEWS: Recognize the right to same sex marriage. BERNARD: It helps everyone who`s running for the president, on the Republican ticket, because no one has to have their own stance. All they can say is the Supreme Court is the law of the land and I`m following the law of the land. MATTHEWS: A lot of these guys like Huckabee don`t say that. They said, I don`t recognize the Supreme Court. PAGE: Remember who --   BERNARD: No one`s serious, though. (CROSSTALK) PAGE: Republican primaries and participates in caucuses, there are a lot of Republicans who are very fiercely opposed to same-sex marriage, find it immoral, abomination, and will not I think let candidates off the hook with saying the Supreme Court decided. I don`t think -- MATTHEWS: I don`t think the Republican Party is big on accepting Supreme Court ruling. I`m not sure they`re big on judicial review. BERNARD: Anyone who wants to be serious candidate -- MATTHEWS: Marbury versus Madison has not caught up with these guys. BERNARD: Well, with Ben Carson, but I like to think the others recognize it. MATTHEWS: You speak wisely, but not (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, when it comes to fighting ISIS, the Republicans running for president all have the same strategy, blame Obama but don`t get into a fight yourself.   This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, Bill and Hillary Clinton have made their first joint appearance since the former secretary of state launched her presidential campaign. They marched together in yesterday`s Memorial Day parade in their adopted hometown of Chappaqua, New York, something they have done virtually every year since they moved there. They largely steered clear of talking about her presidential career and instead put the focus on the military men and women who fight and die for our country. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) CRUZ: ISIS says they want to go back and reject modernity -- well, I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age. (CHEERS) RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: If these folks want to bring back a seventh century version of Islam, then my recommendation is: let`s load our bombers up and bomb them back to the seventh century. (CHEERS) DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I would hit them so hard and so fast that they wouldn`t know what happened.   RUBIO: You`ve seen the movie "Taken," Liam Neeson? He has a line. And this is what our strategy should be: we will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIPS) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I would not hold a Democratic convention next year. I simply show that over and over again to the American people and they`ll make the right decision. Anyway, as you can see there, there`s not shortage of chest-thumping and bravado on the campaign trail, when it comes to how the Republican field likes to talk about confronting ISIS. Do they want to fight, though, or just look like they want to fight? It`s like the classic movie line, why I ought to -- hold me back, at number of boys, hold me back, boys, where the guy wants to look tough but just for show. It`s right there in the "Lion King." Let`s watch this classic scene. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIMON: Why I ought to -- let me at him, let me at him! Here, hold me back. PUMBAA: OK.   TIMON: Let me at him! Let me at him! PUMBAA: OK. TIMON: I think you`re missing the basic point here. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So true as "The New York Times" noted in their front page story over the weekend. Quote, "Most of the Republicans are reluctant and evasive when it comes to laying out detailed plans to fight ISIS, preferring instead to criticize President Obama`s war strategy." In other words, hold me back, boys. We`re back with our roundtable. Of course, Michelle, Jonathan, Susan in that order. Nobody wants to sign an authorization to use military force. Boehner doesn`t want to do it, the speaker of the house. They don`t want their hands on it because I`m guessing they know the American people want to be tough. BERNARD: Yes. MATTHEWS: Because it makes us feel stronger, of course, when we see the horror in ISIS. But nobody wants troops in fight. BERNARD: And they know that the American people are war weary. Anyone who comes out right away and says I want to put -- you know, 10,000 troops, 10,000 boots on the ground or whatever the number might be becomes a war precedent immediately. You know, to me, it looks like Hillary and Obama in 2008 on the Republican side and makes me wonder since Lindsey Graham is the only person actually giving us a strategy, and there`s no -- MATTHEWS: Yes.   OK, what good is the strategy, Jonathan, once they grab one of our guys? And they say we`re going to burn them alive on national television? National television in two weeks. Let them think about it while we think about it. OK. That`s horrible. What`s the next step? Are we going to stand for that? Then, we`ll escalate to the next level. The American people -- I will go crazy. I want to just napalm them. But the trouble with that is, that`s an impulse. Most of the people under ISIS control are the same people that were living there people, happened to get stuck in the area they control in Syria or Iraq. They`re just Sunni people stuck. CAPEHART: Here`s the thing. You know, the clips that you showed of Santorum and Cruz -- MATTHEWS: Yes, bomb everybody. CAPEHART: Let`s bomb them. What do you do after that? It`s not as simple as dropping bombs. MATTHEWS: Who do you turn the land over to? CAPEHART: Exactly. And then, let`s say, you kill some key leaders. Who comes in next? MATTHEWS: They`re not talking about bombing leaders. They`re talking about bombing them. CAPEHART: Yes, bombing them, but as we learned with the Iraq war, if you depose a leader who`s a bad guy, even worse things can happen. And so as bad as ISIS is, if Santorum and Cruz and Rubio and all these folks are not ready to -- MATTHEWS: Who takes over if you bomb an area? Who goes in and takes the area you`ve just bombed?   CAPEHART: Well, yes -- MATTHEWS: The Iraqi army? There`s no such thing. CAPEHART: Right. They`re throwing weapons aside and running away. MATTHEWS: They`re saying we don`t like Assad either. CAPEHART: Right. And so, that`s the complication here. They make it seem as simple as dropping bombs and we put people in place. The Middle East is much more complicated. BERNARD: To me, watching the clips, that knocks all of them out of the ballpark in terms of a serious contender. MATTHEWS: Let`s try politics here. Could it be that like they see in Vietnam War in 1968, all Nixon had to say is we need new leadership. We didn`t have a plan. He said he did. Maybe they don`t need a plan. Maybe they can just attack Obama personally. I don`t know. Thank you, Michelle, thank you, Bernard. Michelle Bernard. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re not Bernard. You`re Jonathan Capehart. And Susan Page. When we return, let me finish with why I think the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders is something to look forward to.   You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Personally, I find the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders which he declared today something to look forward to. I`m speaking as someone who loves the romance of politics because in addition to duking it out over important issues I think the personal is a big part of politics, especially in this country where we tend to want to know the president, some sort of one-to-one connection. We pick the president, after all, not like they do in other countries where the members of parliament pick the prime ministers. So, the personal matters. I have a tough for a harder reason to root for Senator Sanders in this fight. I like to have the Democrats never forget why they have the White House today. They have it because they ran a candidate who opposed the stupidity and horror of the Iraq war. That was war was sold to the American people on a fact that wasn`t a fact, the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons. He didn`t and that is something people with a conscience will have to live with. Anyone who goes into this presidential election with a mind that hasn`t fully absorbed this fact of deceit should not be running. They`re either too stubborn or too stupid or too ideological or too personally desperate to accept the truth. The truth is we were taken last time -- as Senator Sanders has made clear, taken by a president lacking the intellectual heft to serve, a vice president driven by a determination to kill, and by ideologues so gung-ho to send our kids into battle they should not be allowed near a keyboard again, a keyboard being their primary means of battle. We`ve had too many wars, too many days and nights of killing Islamic people on global television, too many people whose instinct is to exploit their positions to pursue their ideological madness. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. END   THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. 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