Now, Secretary of State Blinken remarks on Afghanistan. U.S. troops have left Afghanistan. An NBC News tally has confirmed we have now surpassed 39 million COVID-19 cases in the United States since the start of the pandemic and misinformation is still spreading.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I want to commend our outstanding diplomats who work around the clock in around the world to coordinate the operation. They volunteered for duty at the Kabul airport. They flew to transit countries to help process thousands of Afghans bound to United States. They deployed the ports of entry and American military bases to welcome Afghans to their new homes. They staffed a 24/7 task force here in Washington over seen by Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon.
And they built a list of Americans possibly seeking to leave Afghanistan then worked to contact every single one of them repeatedly making 55,000 phone calls, sending 33,000 e-mails since August 14th. They solved problem after problem to keep the mission moving forward.
They did this because for the thousand of states department and USAID employees who serve in Afghanistan in the past 20 years. This evacuation operation was very personal. Many worked hand in hand for years with Afghan partners. Many of whom became trust friends. We also lost church members of our foreign service community in Afghanistan. We`ll never forget them.
Helping Americans, our foreign partners who have been by our side for 20 years and Afghans at risk at this critical moment was more than just a high stakes assignment for our team. It was a sacred duty. And the world saw how our diplomats rose the challenge with determination and heart. U.S. service members in Kabul did heroic work. Securing the airport, protecting civilians in many nationalities including tens of thousands of Afghans and air lifting them out.
They are also providing vital support right now caring for Afghans on military bases in Europe, the Middle East and here in the United States. We have seen pictures of U.S. service members at the Kabul airport cradling baby, comforting families.
That`s the kind of compassion and courage our men and women in uniform exemplify. They carried out this mission under the constant threat of terrorist violence. And four days ago, 11 marine, one navy manic and one soldier who killed by a suicide bomber at the airport gate as well as - of Afghans.
Nearly all of them were in their early 20s. Just babies or toddlers on September 11th, 2001. These deaths are a devastating loss for our country. We at the state department feel them deeply. We have a special bond with the marines. The first person that you see when you visit an American embassy is a marine. They guard our diplomatic missions. They keep us safe around the world. We couldn`t do our jobs without them. And we will never forget their sacrifice nor will we forget what they achieved.
The most exceptional among us perform a lifetime work of service in a short time here on earth. So it was for our exceptional brothers and sisters who died last week.
Finally, I want to thank our allies and partners. This operation was a global endeavor in every way. Many countries stepped up with robust contributions to the air lift including working virus side at the airport. Some are now serving as transit countries allowing evacuees to be registered and processed on the way to the final destinations.
Others have agreed to resettle Afghan refugees permanently. And we hope more will do so in the days and weeks ahead. We`re truly grateful for their support.
Now, U.S. military flights have ended and our troops have departed Afghanistan. A new chapter of America`s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It`s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun.
So here is our plan for the days and weeks ahead. First, we built a new team to help lead this new mission. As of today, we suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha Qatar which will soon be formally notified to Congress. Given the uncertain security environment and political situation in Afghanistan, it was the prudent step to take.
And let me take this opportunity to thank our outstanding charge in affair in Kabul, Ambassador Ross Wilson. Who came out of retirement in January 2020 to lead our embassy in Afghanistan and he`s done exceptional courageous work during a highly challenging times.
For the time being, we will use this post in Doha, to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan including consular affairs, administering humanitarian systems and working with allies, partners and regional international stake holders to coordinate our engagement and messaging to the Taliban.
Our team now will be led by Ian McCary, who serve as our Deputy Chief Admission in Afghanistan for this past year. No one is better prepared to do the job.
Second. We will continue our relentless efforts to help American, foreign nationals and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose. Let me talk briefly about the Americans who remain in Afghanistan. We made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country, in many cases, talking and sometimes walking them into the airport.
Of those who self-identified as Americans in Afghanistan who are considering leaving the country, we thus far received confirmation that about 6,000 have been evacuated or otherwise departed. This number will likely continue to grow as our outreach and arrivals continue. We believe there`s still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100 who remain in Afghanistan and w to leave. We`re trying to determine exactly how many.
We`re going through manifest and calling and texting our list. And we`ll have more detail to share as soon as possible. Part of the challenge with fixing a precise number is that there are long time residents in Afghanistan who have American passports and who are trying to determine whether or not they wanted to leave. Many are duel citizens Americans with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan who resided there for many years. For many, it`s painful choice.
Our commitment to them and all Americans in Afghanistan and everywhere in the world continues. The protection welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department`s most vital and injuring mission. If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now and then in a week or a month or a year, they reach out and say I`ve changed my mind, we will help them leave.
Additionally, we have worked intensely to evacuate and relocate Afghans who worked alongside us and aren`t particular risk of reprisal. We have gotten many out, but many are still there. We will keep working to help them. Our commitment to them has no deadline.
Third, we will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan. The Taliban is committed to let anyone with proper documents leave the place in a safe and orderly manner. They said this privately and publicly many times.
On Friday, a senior Taliban official said it again on television and radio and I quote, any Afghans may leave the country, including those who work for Americans if they want and for whatever reason there may be. End quote. More than half the world`s countries have joined us in insist assisting that the Taliban let people travel outside Afghanistan freely.
As of today, more than 100 countries have said they expect the Taliban to honor travel authorizations by our countries. And just a few short hours ago, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that enshrines that responsibility, laying the ground work to hold the Taliban accountable if they renege.
So the international chorus on this is strong and it will stay strong. We will hold the Taliban to their commitment on freedom of movement for foreign nationals, visa holders at risk Afghans.
Fourth, we will work to secure their safe passage. This morning, I met with foreign ministers of all the G7 countries, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan as well as Qatar, Turkey, the European Union and the Secretary General of U.N. we discussed how we will work together to facilitate safe travel out of Afghanistan including by re-opening Kabul civilian airport as soon as possible and we very much appreciate the efforts of Qatar and Turkey in particular to make this happen.
This will enable a small number of daily charter flights which is a key for anyone who wants to depart from Afghanistan moving forward. We`re also working to identify ways to support Americans, legal permanent residents and Afghans who have worked with us and who may choose to depart via over land routes. We have no illusion that any of this will be easy or rapid. This will be an entirely different phase from the evacuation that just concluded. It will take time to work through a new set of challenges, but we will stay at it.
John Bass, our Former Ambassador to Afghanistan who returned to Kabul two weeks ago to help lead our evacuation efforts at the airport will spearhead our ongoing work across the state department to help American citizens and permanent residents, citizens of allied nations, special immigrant visa applicants and Afghans of high risk if any of those people wish to depart Afghanistan. We`re grateful for all that John did in Kabul, for his commitment to this mission as well as the extraordinary consular officer who is were serving by his side.
Fifth. We will stay focus on counterterrorism. The Taliban has made a commitment to prevent terrorist groups who using Afghan as a base for external operations that could threaten the United States or allies including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban sworn enemy, ISIS-K. Here too, we will hold them accountable to that commitment.
But while we have expectations to the Taliban, that doesn`t mean we will rely on the Taliban. We will remain vigilant on monitoring to express ourselves and we will maintain robust counterterrorism capabilities in the region to neutralized those threats if necessary, as we demonstrated in the past few days by striking ISIS facilitators and imminent threat in Afghanistan, and as we do in places around the world where we do not have military forces on the ground.
Let me speak directly to our engagement with the Taliban across these and other issues. We engage with the Taliban during the past few weeks to enable our evacuation operations. Going forward, any engagement with Taliban led government in Kabul will be driven by one thing only, our vital national interest.
If we can work with a new Afghan government from way that helps secure those interests, including the safe return of Mark Frerichs, a U.S. citizen who has been held hostage in the region since early last year and in a way that brings greater stability to the country and region and protects the gains of the past two decades, we will do it, but we will not do it on the basis of trust or faith.
Every step we take will be based not on what the Taliban led government says but what it does to live up to its commitments. The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned. The Taliban can do that by meeting commitments on obligations by freedom of travel, respecting the basic rights of Afghan people including women and minorities, upholding its commitment on counterterrorism. Not carrying out with price or vows against those who choose to stay in Afghanistan and forming an inclusive government that can meet the needs and reflect the aspirations of the Afghan people.
Six, we will continue our humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The conflict has taken a terrible toll on the Afghan people. Millions are internally displaced. Millions are facing hunger, even starvation. The COVID-19 pandemic has also hit Afghanistan hard. The United States will continue to support humanitarian aids to the Afghan people consistent with our sanctions on the Taliban. The aid will flow through the government but rather through independent organizations such as U.N. agencies and NGOs. And we expect that those efforts will not be impeded by the Taliban or anyone else.
And seventh, we will continue our broad international diplomacy across all these issues and many others. We believe we can accomplish far more and exert far greater leverage when we work in coordination with our allies and partners.
Over the last two weeks, we`ve had a series and intensive diplomatic engagements with allies and partners to plan and coordinate the way it had in Afghanistan. I`ve met with the foreign ministers of NATO and the G7. I have spoken one-on-one with dozens of my counter parts.
Last week President Biden pleat with the leaders of the G7 countries and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman as been convening a group of 28 allies and partners from all regions of the world every other day.
Going forward, we`ll coordinate closely with countries in the region and around the world as well as with leading international organizations, NGOs and the private sector. Our allies and partners share our objectives and are committed to working with us. I`ll have more to say on these matters in the coming days.
The main point I want the drive home here today is that America`s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what`s next. We`re putting it into action. This moment also demands reflection. The war in Afghanistan was a 20-year endeavor. We must learn its lessons and allow those lessons to shape how we think about fundamental questions of national security and foreign policy.
We owe that to future diplomats, policymakers, military leaders, service members. We owe that to the American people. But as we do, we will remain relentlessly focused on today and on the future. We`ll make sure we`re finding every opportunity to make good on our commitment to the Afghan people, including by welcoming thousands of them into our communities as the American people have done many times before with generosity and grace throughout our history.
In this way, we`ll honor all those brave men and women from United States and many other countries who risk or sacrificed their lives as part of this long mission right up until today. Thank you for listening.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: America`s 71st Secretary of State Antony Blinken marking the end of America`s longest war. 20 years the United States spent in Afghanistan fighting war that followed the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The longest war in our history comes to a close formally today.
Some 123,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan, the largest airlift, I believe, probably in world history definitely in United States history, some 6,000 Americans among them. Secretary Blinken noting that fewer than 200 and possibly closer to 100 Americans potentially remain in Afghanistan for many complicated reason, family ties, not being prepared to leave in this moment, but he vowed that each and every person who wants to leave Afghanistan, the United States has no timeline on that and they will ensure that those people can leave.
Secretary Blinken thanking the United States military, singling out particularly the Marines, who, of course, are a fixture as you walk into any federal building, the Marines being the frontline of our fight there at the end, having lost 13 of their own tragically at the end of this war.
But this war is over, the longest war in U.S. history. My kids were infants when this war began. Many of the people who are fighting the war, many of the marines and military members fighting the war were just children, were just toddlers when 9/11 happened. But that war is over for them. It is over for the United States.
Joining me now to discuss is Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts who serve in Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine. Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow at the Brooking Institution and contributing writer at The Atlantic, and Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and Moderator of Washington Week.
I want to let each of you have an opportunity to talk about what this means. I guess I`ll start with you Representative Auchincloss, as somebody who bore the burden of fighting this war. What does it mean to you that it is now officially over?
REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): Joy, thanks for having me on. As you said in your opening, this war has been with me for my whole life. I broke the news of 9/11 as a middle school newspaper editor. Joined the marines after college and commanded a platoon in Southern Helmand, voted to repeal the authorization for the U.S. of military force in Iraq, one of my first votes in Congress.
But while it`s front and center for me for the last 20 years, that`s not true for the country at large. It`s really been at the periphery except at the beginning and at the end with bookends terrorist attacks. And I think Congress now has a responsibility to ensure we don`t wage endless wars in the future that do not demand the utmost of the American people.
We need to look backwards with a, investigation of the conduct of this war including declassifying all national security decision making. We`ve got to look forward by repealing the - in Afghanistan and putting in place a new war powers resolution that gives Congress more authority over the waging of war. And maybe most importantly we got to look inside of ourselves. We`ve got to ensure the next time a Bush like president tries to bluster their way into a war of choice that probably have some back up. And that backup should come especially from younger veterans like me.
REID: Yes. Amen. And Shadi Hamid, you know the United States, Americans have only had to endure one war on our soil and that was the war we waged against others over slavery and over whether it would perpetuate or end. But this war was fought on someone else`s soil. 20 years of the United States military there for better and for worst. Talk about what this means for the people of Afghanistan that it is now done.
SHADI HAMID, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: So I think in this since it is a dark day, you know, that 20 years have passed and we put tens of billions of dollars into trying to improve things in Afghanistan and ultimately it failed and we have very little to show for it. I mean, the Taliban has taken over fact the Taliban has taken over nearly the entire country and that Afghan government that we have put some hope in over the past few -- over the past many years crumbled very quickly.
So, I think that, in that sense, there`s something -- there`s a lesson learned there, in that, well, first of all, the U.S. is not good at state building. We`re not good at reengineering a society, and that, hopefully, we will learn going forward.
Now, what -- but there`s still the question. All that is about us. It`s about how we understand our own role. But then there`s a question of what happens to the Afghans who have to live under Taliban rule. And this is where I think there`s a real dilemma for the U.S.
Secretary Blinken talked about a diplomatic mission to try to engage the Taliban and hold them accountable. But this is also an organization that has killed American troops that we have seen as a terrorist movement for many years, since 2001.
So there will be a delicate dance there in how do we do that. How do we hold the Taliban accountable? At the same time, we don`t want to punish the Taliban-led government too much, because that means that Afghans will be caught in the crossfire. If we isolate Afghanistan, and have this punitive approach, it`s ordinary Afghan civilians who will pay the price.
So we`re going to have to try to find the right balance. And my hope is that Secretary Blinken will hold to his word, that this is not ending, and that we will continue to pay attention to Afghanistan. I`m not very optimistic on that, because our tendency as Americans is that, once it`s out of the news, out of the front pages, we move on and there`s another controversy.
And it`s Afghans who are going to have to suffer as a result while the world turns away from them.
REID: And, unfortunately, it`s highly likely, as Representative Auchincloss made the point. It`s likely the media will turn away and move on to the next controversy. There has been precious little coverage of this war over the many years, the generation that it`s been fought.
But to stay with you just for a moment, Mr. Hamid, you wrote something that I thought was very prescient. And this was in "The Atlantic."
You wrote the following. And this is about, I think, America coming to grips with the fact that we cannot rebuild the world, right? We thought we could after World War II. Turns out we can`t.
You wrote: "All of these choices that we made reflected the hubris of Western powers that saw Afghan traditions as an obstacle to be overcome, when it turns out they were the lifeblood of the country`s political culture. In the end, few Afghans believed in a government that they never felt was their or wished to wade through its bureaucratic red tape. They kept turning to informal and community driven dispute resolution and local figures they trusted. And this left the door open for the slow return of the Taliban."
And as I turn to you, I want to show these images that I think were used in some ways to manipulate the previous president, who did want to get out, Donald Trump, but also which stick in the mind of people who know anything about Afghanistan, that it was sort of a modern nation, had modernist pieces, had cosmopolitan parts in the past.
And here it is, these images -- and I don`t know if we can pull them up -- of Afghanistan before the Taliban, which took over in the 1990s, this sort of modern country with movie theaters and women not covered.
And that kind of idea, do you think, is what fooled America into thinking that the small -- that the part of Afghanistan that was cosmopolitan could just be reinserted on a culture that largely outside of those cosmopolitan areas is more tribal and just something we don`t understand?
HAMID: You`re exactly right.
I think this was the illusion that we saw after 2001, all these great ambitions about basically reengineering a society. Changing a culture is a very difficult thing. And, also, we have to ask ourselves, is it really America`s role to transform a culture?
If Afghans themselves want to transform their own culture, that is their right, and that`s their jurisdiction. But for us to come in and sort of have this idea of superimposing Western institutions on Afghanistan -- so, for example, we tried -- we supported a very centralized presidential system, which was not ideal for Afghanistan, because it`s a very divided society along ethnic, religious and linguistic lines.
So what you want instead is to have a decentralized, localist approach, instead of having a one-size-fits-all one. And that wasn`t the case, and, also, I think, trying to impose a Western-style modern legal system with judges and courts in the American image, basically.
And you mentioned the quote from my piece. A lot of Afghans have a longstanding preference for localized solutions, for informal dispute mechanisms, where you have tribal elders that get together, and they try to resolve things very, very quickly, instead of going through a corrupt central government that they didn`t trust and corrupt courts and judicial systems that weren`t actually effective.
We spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to build that, when Afghans said, no, thank you, we want to do it in a different way that`s in line with our cultural traditions.
That doesn`t mean that they like the Taliban. It doesn`t mean they have an extremist vision of Islamic law. There is a middle ground where you try to -- where you try to respect local cultures as you`re trying to make changes. And I don`t think there was a lot of sensitivity to that, in part because most Americans don`t have -- including policy-makers, don`t have the patience to learn about local cultures and to work with local actors in a constructive way.
HAMID: We come in with our own ideas, and we say, hey, we want to make you into our own image.
REID: And that`s also not the purpose of war. War is to break things and win battles.
And so I think we get them too conflated.
Yamiche, one thing you have to give President Biden, he has had the exact same attitude toward this endless war since he was vice president under President Obama. He did not want to go in and put in more troops. He did not want to nation-build. He -- you have to give him courage for having the guts to take the political blowback to be the guy to pull the plug.
How are they feeling inside the White House today about this decision? And how confident are they in these international agreements that sound good, as if the world will be able to put pressure on this new government, whatever it is, to do right by the Americans who are still there and the Afghans who want out?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": Well, President Biden stands firmly by his decision to withdraw U.S. troops by August 31.
The president had a long history in government, a long history in foreign policy experience through the Senate, and he looked at the Afghanistan war and said, we have to end this. We cannot send another generation of Americans into this country to die.
It is, of course, tragic. And you can hear the solemnness in the president`s voice and in White House officials` voices when they talk about the recent -- most recent terror attack and all the lives that were lost over the last 20 years in Afghanistan.
But what the president is saying now: I made the right decision.
And when I talk to people who are close to the president and White House officials, they believe that history will judge this president as having made the right decision in this moment to pull out of this war. They really do underscore this idea that war is messy, that not everyone that we want it to get out, as the United States, got out.
We are leaving some people behind. You heard General McKenzie at the Pentagon today say there is some heartbreak here. There are people that we wanted to get out that are going to be left behind. And the White House and the president and saying, our commitment to those people does not go away even as diplomatic missions now move to Qatar from what was in Afghanistan.
But there is also this feeling that there was this massive evacuation effort where 123,000 civilians were moved out in the last 18 days in Afghanistan, so that, while you feel the heartbreak of White House officials, there is a real feeling that this was the right thing to do and that they did really have a successful mission in taking people out of Afghanistan and in also identifying who still wants out.
REID: Yes. War is messy. There`s no pretty way to lose a war.
Representative Auchincloss, I`m going to come back to you on that, to talk to the veterans like yourself, those who served, because, at the end of the day, very few Americans participate in our military and actually bear the bloody burden of carrying out our political policies like the one in Afghanistan.
Speak to those veterans, and how are the folks that you`re talking with feeling? It is heartbreaking, because it was a mission you -- they couldn`t have accomplished. There`s no way to accomplish it. But many of them gave their lives and their bodies to try.
AUCHINCLOSS: I think hope and heartbreak are the right words, heartbreak, in that tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans died over the last two decades in a counterinsurgency that had no political endgame.
And that was this president`s key insight, was that, while we could win every battle, we were still going to lose the war, because there was no political partnership in Kabul and no organic nationhood on which to build in Afghanistan, but hope as well, because literacy rates have doubled in Afghanistan. Access to electricity has quadrupled.
There`s four million girls in school now that weren`t there 20 years ago. The Taliban have taken over the country, but they`re taking over a different country. And I don`t want to be disingenuous about this. I have a 3-week-old daughter, I do not want her to grow up in Afghanistan.
But there is the glimmer of hope for women and girls there that their society may permanently have changed for the better for their -- for their aspirations.
I think America is doing some growing up this week and learning that we are not Superman. We are not Captain America from the comics. We can`t change, install and remake the world. For God`s sakes, we can`t even make our own democracy fully work. We can`t even get our own population to accept being vaccinated.
Our democracy is teetering as well. And so we might want to do a little inward looking and try to fix the one that we have here, lest we lose it. A cautionary tale for all.
Congressman Jake Auchincloss, thank you for your service. Thank you for being here. Shadi Hamid, thank you so much. I have been wanting to have you on for a long time. Thank you for being here. My friend, Yamiche Alcindor...
HAMID: Thank you. Good to be with you.
REID: Cheers. Thank you.
And up next on THE REIDOUT, the very latest on the catastrophic damage and loss of life from Hurricane Ida.
Plus, why all of a sudden we`re hearing people, even senators, promoting COVID quackery, like using a horse deworming drug. I say follow the money.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: Sixteen years to the day that Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, Hurricane Ida slammed into the state with 150 mile-per-hour winds, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States.
The storm has left all of New Orleans and more than one million people throughout the state without power; 911 lines have been restored in New Orleans, but are still down in parts of Southeast Louisiana.
So far, two deaths are attributed to the storm, but Louisiana`s governor says that number will likely increase. Search-and-rescue efforts are under way, with President Biden saying today that more than 5,000 members of the National Guard have been deployed to help.
Meanwhile, the storm is slowly moving through Mississippi, where 85,000 are without power. Storm surge warnings are in effect there, as well as on the Alabama-Florida border. A tornado hit Southwest Alabama today, and additional tornadoes are possible in the area.
Joining me now is Guy McInnis, St. Bernard, Louisiana, Parish president, and Ali Velshi, MSNBC host of "VELSHI," who joins me live from New Orleans.
I`m going to quickly go to you, Ali.
Give us sort of the state of play where you are and around the region.
ALI VELSHI, HOST, "VELSHI": Well, look, a lot of people in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, are grateful that the $16 billion that have been invested in the levees and the pumps and the drains and the gates to stop low-lying areas of New Orleans from flooding worked.
So, the one issue in New Orleans this -- that we didn`t face from this hurricane was flooding. But we have another problem. And I`m here at the Entergy New Orleans power station, which is the generation plant for power all around the city of New Orleans. It stopped. There is no electricity transmission going out.
So while there are downed trees and power lines and things like that, and there are bucket trucks out there repairing them, the bottom line is, that will not fix the problem. There are these massive transmission lines that have been damaged. The company is saying that, for most consumers, it`ll be seven to 10 days before they get their power back.
For people in hard-hit areas, some of which are in New Orleans, some of them are outside of it, it may be three weeks or more before they get their power back. There will be some power restored in the next few days. But it`s going to go to police, to hospitals, to infrastructure.
Right now, there`s nothing. If you don`t have a generator in New Orleans and surrounding areas, you don`t have enough electricity. It`s in the low 80 degrees temperature right now, feels close to 100 because of humidity. That`s something that people could have managed maybe for three or four days without fans or air conditioning.
It becomes very difficult when you`re thinking about seven to 10 days or more before they get that done -- Joy.
And, Mr. McInnis, let me ask you this. So, we know there was not a full evacuation of New Orleans. So, what is the plan now for those who are still there, given the fact that all of this is also happening during a pandemic?
GUY MCINNIS, PRESIDENT OF ST. BERNARD PARISH, LOUISIANA: Well, the people who stayed in St. Bernard Parish, we aren`t getting any requests for shelter within St. Bernard Parish right now.
This storm lasted for 14 hours. And the wind did not stop. It was relentless. I have been around for a long time, and I haven`t seen that in my lifetime. But the people are resilient. Most of them have generators. A lot of our citizens evacuated to other areas. And they know that this process will be between two and three weeks before we get power.
Ali was exactly right. The whole region is 100 percent out of power right now because of those transmission lines. We met with Entergy today -- excuse me -- and we feel confident, in three weeks, we will be able to get our power on.
But, you know, within these three weeks, we`re going to be working every day nonstop to clean up the debris, to get our power poles back up and get that debris out of here, so that we can make sure that our schools and people can go back to work and get back to a normal life.
REID: And, Mr. McInnis, given the fact that you`re talking about three weeks, if in fact people did need shelter, as I recall, Louisiana`s vaccination rate is down in the 40s, if it`s 40.
Is there a concern? Do you have a concern now that any sort of sheltering would be largely unvaccinated people sheltering together? And even if people were to try to move, places like Houston and other neighboring places also have hospitals at capacity.
If there are injuries, if there -- it feels like the COVID pandemic makes this a lot harder for what you guys have to do.
MCINNIS: It does. And I can tell you, the discussion about the pandemic just kind of disappeared over the last two days. It`s crazy.
But you`re right. Here in St. Bernard Parish, we have a very low -- I think it was 37 percent the last time we checked. So, we understand that. If there is a need to open up a shelter here, we will.
We have people on ventilators. We have people on oxygen. We have elderly people who just can`t stay in their home. So, if that need arises, we stand ready to open up a shelter for either power or just a cooling place for people.
So, we know we`re going to take care of our people. We live in one of the best countries in the world. We live in one of the best areas in the world here in the New Orleans metropolitan area. And we`re just looking forward to the work ahead, the awesome responsibility that we have as officials to get them and it`s responsibility that our citizens have to get us back sooner than later.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Ali, therein lies the rub. You know, I watch your show every weekend. You`re wrestling with all of these simultaneous problems on the program.
And if you could just wrap for us -- I mean, we`re talking about pandemic. You just heard Mr. McInnis say no one`s even talking about, but potentially sheltering together unvaccinated sounds like catastrophe in the making. And on top of that, the other thing people aren`t talking about is climate change which is fueling this thing like gasoline into an engine.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": Well, that`s a particular issue down here in Louisiana, point south of where we are, the bayou where everybody is feeling climate change. This place is getting hurricanes that are devastating, on a regular basis, and yet, a lot of people are employed by the oil industry. As I drove here from Houston the other day, it was a six hour drive. A lot of the build boards, oil companies talking about how they were the fiber of eastern Texas, or western Louisiana.
So, that`s a big issue, climate change and how people are dealing with that. But the pandemic also a various issue here. This is one place where Louisiana has two major medical centers, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, both of which are now struggling because they have been at capacity. They are trying to upload patients to other people. The president was talk about people on ventilators, people with oxygen machines who don`t have power. That`s a series issue.
And these medical workers not only completely overworked for the last year and ah half because of COVID but they also don`t have power where they live. So, they are in hospitals working on generator power. And if they need to go home, they are going home to hot houses and places that don`t have comfort.
So, this is -- all of these overlaying issues are very, very serious right now. I am grateful and I think everybody is grateful that New Orleans dodged the worst of this thing by not flooding and by having those levees in place. But this is -- this becomes a more serious matter with COVID on the horizon in the state.
VELSHI: There`s one good thing, though. The governor of this state, unlike a couple other states that have low vaccination rates and high COVID rates, the governor of this state has been very responsible about trying to ensure that masks can occur where they need to. That people are free to do what they need to do in order to protect themselves.
REID: Yeah, Governor John Bel Edwards doing the very best he can in a very rough situation. Ali, Velshi, you`re the best. Thank you very much. Stay safe down there.
VELSHI: Yeah. Thanks, friend.
REID: Guy McInnis, parish president for St. Bernard Parish, thank you. Stay safe. One of the greatest cities in America, the most beautiful city in America, New Orleans. We`re praying for you guys.
Up next, the quack medicine being practiced by the right and why they may be spreading all that misinformation, ka-ching.
We`ll be right back.
REID: An NBC News tally has confirmed we have now surprised 39 million COVID-19 cases in the United States since the start of the pandemic, 39 million.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. could suffer another 100,000 deaths by December. It makes you wonder, what the numbers might look like if there wasn`t an active misinformation campaign pumping out lies, which got us thinking about what these anti-vax people actually want and how they all fall into a COVID denying food chain of sorts.
Now, the top of the food chain, you have the Fox News bogus illuminati who push rhetoric equating workplace vaccine requirements to force sterilization or communism or any bad-ism, even though they themselves are rich, vaxxed and protected.
In the middle tier of the food chain, we have another group pushing anti- vaccine. Unlike the Richie Rich faces on FOX News prime time, this group is dying of COVID. People like Marc Bernier who called himself Mr. Anti-Vax and Caleb Wallace, a Texas anti-mask activist who had rallies against vaccination and died of COVID at age 30, leaving behind three children and a pregnant wife.
Then on the bottom level of this food chain of the Joe ordinary American who live and breathe this right wing talk culture and who trust this rhetoric over legitimate medical or scientific guidance. This is the group that`s getting really sick and their deaths will never appear in the headlines unless it`s a statistic.
Now, we saved one category for last. Right wing politicians like Ron DeSantis who is working awfully hard to push Regeneron, taking the mantle of hyping this very expensive treatment over a cheap mask and vaccine. The question is why.
It`s because one of his major donors companies have invested millions of dollars into the antibody treatment. If you know anything about MAGA 2.0, its guiding North Star principle is money over people.
Joining me now is NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins and Charlie Sykes, editor at large for "The Bulwark" and MSNBC columnist.
Charlie, I have to go to you first because you and I share -- having worked in talk radio and what I can tell you is long before there was a MAGA, right wing talk radio was creating a separate sub country inside the United States where they believe their own facts. They believe the Rush Limbaughs and the mini Limbaughs more than they hear on the news or anything that they see on the evening news. So, they were already prime for MAGA before MAGAA got here.
You wrote a piece today on "The Bulwark" that was really smart, talking about how the same ethic has transferred onto the vaccines and the people who are basically feeding this at the local level are getting high on their own supply and they`re dropping dead.
CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. I mean, there`s a pattern here. We have the talk show hosts who mock the vaccines, mock masks, who are even write parodies of the masks, and then, they contract the disease, themselves.
And maybe, too late, they realize they have made a terrible mistake.
But it makes you wonder, you know, were they doing more than just talking about it? Were they encouraging behavior to the people around them? The people who listen to them who take them seriously and -- and literally?
So, they`re vectors of disinformation but maybe even worse than that.
But I have to say something, though. David from made the point after I wrote that saying at least the talk show hosts who have been mocking the vaccines and then refuse to get the vaccines, and then get sick and die, at least they`re not hypocrites. At least they`re walking the walk, unlike the folks from Fox News who are mocking the vaccines while being vaccinated, themselves.
So at the -- at the top of the food chain, you have people who are completely hypocritical. Who as we know, Fox News as a requirement that everybody has to be vaccinated.
So what they are doing is they`re spreading this anti-vax message to their own supporters. But they`re not living it, themselves. So, as tragic as it is that you have these talk show hosts who have succumb to the COVID karma of getting the disease themselves and dying. It is a tragic -- these are tragic stories. At least they walk the walk unlike the Tucker Carlsons and Laura Ingrahams of the world.
REID: Well, I mean, Ben, that`s why I equate them to lower level drug dealers because people at Fox are in a database they have to put their name in that says they are vaccinated. You can`t go near Tuckems if you`re not vaccinated. He is not going to get let you get near him because he`s not going to sick and die.
They are at the -- you know, Osama bin Laden level of telling people to blow themselves up, right? And so, but down the food chain, you do have people. And I know -- listen, the supplement thing has been big in talk radio for a long time. A lot of those people are getting that stuff sent to them for free because they`re pushing.
So can you talk a little bit about that part, plus, the fact that some folks are making money on this?
BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: Yeah. There is this culture of supplements and, you know, these kind of pills, for example, ivermectin is now the big thing in this space. Ivermectin is a pill that is you know it`s an anti-parasitic. It doesn`t -- there`s no proof it works on COVID.
REID: Uh-oh. I think we got -- we got -- okay, you`re back. You froze for a moment. Try again.
COLLINS: Sorry about that. Yeah.
REID: Go ahead.
COLLINS: Well, yeah. Yeah. No. We very quickly, it`s an anti-parasitic so it`s not the same thing.
However, like they`re in these spaces, selling this has become an enormous thing. Selling consults to get the ivermectin has become an enormous thing, too. That`s over the last year. The same people selling hydroxychloroquine are selling this now.
So it`s -- it`s a whole ecosystem of sort of treat yourself with this thing but don`t trust whatever the government gives you and in this case, the government is just the vaccine.
REID: And, you know, Charlie, what people need to understand is if you are one of these low-level sort of doctors, you probably can`t buy an ad on Fox News. It`s too expensive but you can buy local talk radio. You can even buy local -- regional talk radio pretty cheap.
This is a way you can push stuff, and if you can push that on social media, which is even cheaper. I think we have got to start thinking about the fact that there are marks and there are people who are selling to the marks and they don`t care if those people die.
SYKES: No. And that`s something to keep in mind here. Look. You almost have the politicians who are willing to exploit the sense of that they are against the elites, don`t trust the elites, trust me. You know, it is interesting how anti-elitist politics has morphed into -- and believe no expert. Don`t believe the medical experts.
So you have politicians who -- and again, this has become part of this MAGA universe that, you know, don`t trust those people, trust me. We have the key to the secret knowledge. And I do think it`s kind of a tell, you know, how on conservative talk radio and I was part of it but we never pushed supplements. We never pushed drugs. The drug dealing came I guess maybe a little bit later or --
REID: I think it was after you and I were both in it, yeah.
SYKES: But what`s interesting is how this is a little bit like the drug dealer. You know, try it. You know, let`s have people experiment.
I thought Ron Johnson`s comment is -- Ron Johnson`s position is bizarre but also very interesting. What he says is he is pushing the -- the horse dewormer. He is raising questions about the vaccine.
And at one point, he says to a talk show host, just try a whole bunch of drugs, just try `em all, which is profoundly bad medical advice. I am not a doctor. I`m not playing one on your show but there is no doctor in the world who would say, hey, you know what? Just go in your medicine cabinet and just take a whole bunch of stuff you don`t know anything about it. Just give it a shot.
REID: It`s not even your medicine cabinet. Your dog`s medicine cabinet. Your horse`s medicine cabinet.
SYKES: So this is where this anti-elitist, anti-expertise politics has brought us into this bizarre world where you have politicians pushing drugs at the same time they are discouraging people or undermining the campaign to have them take the vaccines that, in fact, do work.
REID: The last thing I want you to end this on because then you have the people like Governor DeSantis, who is pushing go ahead and let COVID in, and then take this Regeneron that just happens to benefit him politically, that`s his biggest donor.
Every move he`s made, including hooking up with Scott Atlas and other people who are pushing mass infection and then treat with Regeneron, that happens to benefit me financially. That, to me, is very suspicious.
COLLINS: Well, in part, it`s a calculation that he has to zag when everyone else is zigging here because, you know, the vaccine works. And in the talk radio sphere over the last year, all you would hear is the vaccine doesn`t work. It`s not going to work. It`s actually a secret plot. Or you can -- you can get to whatever level of crazy you want to get to from there. So in order to maintain that status where he was secretly correct, he has to be right about this in some other way other than the vaccine being really the way out of this thing.
REID: Yeah, the bad thing is then he gets to collect campaign money as a result when people die. It`s really, really sick. Ben Collins, Charlie Sykes, thank you guys, very much.
I want to thank you guys all for hanging with us. We got through it and thank you all for hanging with us.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next. Don`t go anywhere.