updated 8/26/2009 10:19:45 AM ET 2009-08-26T14:19:45

Guest: Ben Cardin, Jerrold Nadler, Joan Walsh, Dr. Aaron Carroll, Laura Flanders, Ron Christie, Sam Stein, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is THE ED SHOW.

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SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans.

Live from 30 Rock in New York, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Tonight, I want to see the president get hands on with this CIA prisoner abuse investigation.  “Shooter” has reared his ugly head again and is defending those who broke the law.

Mr. President, now is not the time to cower to these folks.

We‘re loaded up on the story tonight with two top Judiciary Committee members.  Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Jerry Nadler join me in just a moment.

Plus, guess who‘s moving into the neighborhood?  Moammar Gadhafi.  Residents in Englewood, New Jersey, aren‘t happy with—I guess who‘s coming to dinner.

Rabbi Shmuley just happens to be the lucky neighbor.  He‘ll be here at the bottom of the hour to tell us what he really thinks.

And RNC Chairman Michael Steele lands in “Psycho Talk” again.  Wait until you see what he back-flipped on this time—Medicare.  It‘s going to give you whiplash, so be prepared. 

All that, a great panel, and I want to hear from you what you think. 

Get your cell phones ready for tonight‘s text survey. 

But tonight, first, “OpEd.”

All right, the details in this newly released CIA report, flat-out disgusting.  Threatening to kill someone‘s children or sexually assault their mother, absolutely despicable.  It doesn‘t matter if it was done to suspected terrorists.  Disregard for the law and human life, you see, folks, that‘s their game.  That‘s why their terrorists. 

That‘s not our game.  That‘s not how we‘re supposed to operate. 

America has to stand on the moral high ground and set an example.  We are a beacon to the world.  We are proof that democracy, a nation of law and order, works.  I don‘t think American agents threatening to rape someone‘s mother is the moral high ground. 

Attorney General Eric Holder has done absolutely the right thing by launching a probe into these interrogation tactics, and it‘s making, of course, Dick Cheney‘s head absolutely explode. 

“Shooter” put out this statement practically singing the virtues of torture and raising the old canard that President Obama won‘t keep us safe. 

“The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks the United States.”  A little fear there, huh? 

“President Obama‘s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration‘s ability to be responsible for our nation‘s security.”

You know, I‘ll hand it to Cheney.  The guy never gives up at being a jerk. 

President Obama won‘t keep you safe.  Americans have doubts.  You see, that‘s the bat call for the Cheney-ites, for the folks who want to come out and support and defend torture. 

Here is what Congressman Peter King said about the investigation of the Justice Department today.  “It‘s bull.  It‘s disgraceful.  You wonder which side they‘re on—it‘s a declaration of war against the CIA and against common sense.”

King is wondering what side the president the United States is on.  He is suggesting the president might be on the side of the terrorists. 

That could go into “Psycho Talk,” but we‘ll get to that later. 

The Republicans are the ones who are politicizing this, basically to cover themselves, gin up support so the Obama administrational will back off.  If the Republicans really cared about the CIA workers, they would concern themselves with the truth. 

I know President Obama has said that he wants to look forward and not backward, and all that stuff, but I don‘t understand how he can be so hands off on this.  I think he‘s waffling. 

He needs to say we‘re going to identify and prosecute the people who authorized these tactics as high as it goes—Condi, “Rummy,” “Shooter,” Bush, you name it. 

This isn‘t about partisanship.  This isn‘t about partisan attacks or settling some political score with the Bush White House of yesteryear. 

It‘s about—remember the campaign trail?  We have to regain the moral high ground.  It‘s about America‘s moral standing in the world, and show everybody that we‘re not a banana republic, that we do live and operate by the rule of law. 

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think on this. 

Are you satisfied with President Obama‘s position on the CIA torture probe? 

Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

A couple of guests on this subject tonight.

Joining me now is Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.  He chairs the Judiciary Committee‘s Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. 

Senator, good to have you on tonight.  Appreciate your time. 

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND:  Thank you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I would like some detail.  I mean, Dick Cheney is out there saying that it thwarted attacks, stopped mass killing of Americans.  Can we get some detail on this?  That‘s what I‘m curious about, because if it did, doesn‘t that bring us to a crossroads?

But I would like to know how you stand on this.  How aggressive should the attorney general be in this investigation? 

CARDIN:  Well, Ed, let me first say that the attorney general is the lawyer for the American people, independent of the administration.  It‘s nice to have an attorney general that understand his responsibility. 

Eric Holder is doing exactly the right thing.  He allowed an investigation to go forward.  The investigation led to credible evidence that laws may have been violated. 

We are a country of rule of law.  He‘s now proceeding with the type of investigation on the criminal charges that he should do.  So I think he‘s got it right.  And I think it‘s up to the attorney general to make those calls. 

SCHULTZ:  How do you stop at the water‘s edge?  How do you stop with just a few agents that might have been involved or maybe middle management?  Why would the president at this point stop when he knows he‘s going to be criticized by his base if he lets Cheney off the hook if he was directly involved? 

CARDIN:  I‘m not so sure that the attorney general will stop with what

with the specific cases that are currently there.  The facts will lead us to what we need to do. 

At this point, he has credible evidence that there were CIA agents that went beyond the advice that they were given on techniques on interrogation, and he‘s pursuing that.  We‘ll see where that leads. 

But I think he‘s doing it in the right way.  He‘s not trying to go forward with a political witch hunt.  What he‘s doing is letting the facts lead to us the type of investigations that are necessary to hold people accountable for perhaps violating our laws. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, you used a very interesting word in that answer.  You said “advice.”  I think Americans would like to know, were they advised or were they ordered?  And are you confident we‘re going to find out who gave the orders if orders were given? 

CARDIN:  Well, I think that‘s an important question, and I that I will come out either during either the investigations or trials.  I think it‘s hard to see that that will not come out.  But at this point, it is clear from the material that we have that the investigation must go forward. 

SCHULTZ:  And clarify for us, Senator, there‘s not going to be any of this executive privilege stuff going on, is there?  Like, oh, we can‘t talk to so and so?  This is full subpoena power, this is anybody who was involved anywhere? 

Is that correct? 

CARDIN:  I think the information that Eric Holder has, he‘ll be able to get the evidence presented and we‘ll see what laws were violated. 

SCHULTZ:  And you want him to go to the firewall on this?  Do I have that right tonight? 

CARDIN:  I want him to hold people accountable who violated our laws. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you on.  I appreciate your time tonight. 

CARDIN:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much. 

Joining me now is Congressman Jerry Nadler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

Congressman, good to have you in studio with us tonight. 

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK:  Good to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  You said that this is a starting point.  What does that mean? 

NADLER:  Well, first of all, it‘s a starting point in two senses.

Number one, this is simply an investigation or preliminary inquiry into whether laws were broken which could lead to an investigation, which could lead to prosecutions and indictments.  So, it‘s the first step in that step. 

But, second of all, this doesn‘t go nearly far enough.  It doesn‘t go nearly far enough morally or legally. 

The law is—and there‘s no discretion—the law is that when torture occurred under American jurisdiction—which it clearly did—then there must be an investigation of all people who may have been involved in that and, if warranted, prosecutions.  Now, the order that the attorney general signed is silent with regard to whether they will investigate the people who, as far as I‘m concerned, deliberately misdated the law (INAUDIBLE),  in order to conspire to get the torture done.  And there should be an investigation of them and of all other people up the chain of command, including perhaps the vice president.

And secondly, specifically excludes from any inquiry CIA agents who relied on those memos in good faith.  And the point is, the law says that following orders is no excuse, and they ought to be at least looked at to see whether they reasonably relied on those memos. 

SCHULTZ:  Is there a political downside, in your opinion, for the Obama administration with the appearance that they may be going too far, that this is a witch hunt?  And if it turns out that they did stop attacks, I mean, to this point we don‘t think they have, but...

NADLER:  Well, first of all, the FBI refused to participate in these tortures because they said it was against American law and they said it was ineffective.  And all the evidence that we‘ve seen in my committee is that it was ineffective.  But the real question is, was the law violated?  And that seems clear in the question as to who did it.

SCHULTZ:  But are you concerned that maybe the Obama White House is not aggressive enough?  I mean, the base wants full disclosure. 

NADLER:  Well, first of all, I am concerned that we‘re not being aggressive enough.  I don‘t think it‘s up to the White House.

We criticized the Bush administration for making prosecutorial decisions on a political basis.  It‘s up to the attorney general, not the White House.  And yes, they ought to not be limiting the investigation as they are limiting it, as I said before.  It ought to look at the higher ups too and it ought to look at everybody involved. 

SCHULTZ:  What about the pushback from the right?  Almost instantly, Dick Cheney saying that this stopped massive attacks.  I‘d like some details on that, and I think Americans would.  But also, Peter King, he even throws out you wonder whose side they are on and this is a war against the CIA. 

NADLER:  Well, I think that‘s ridiculous.  And it shouldn‘t be a war against the CIA, nor is it. 

It‘s a quest to vindicate American law.  And all the attorney general is doing is following the law.

The law says he must do this.  If he didn‘t do it, he‘d be breaking the law.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

Are you concerned that CIA Director Leon Panetta will resign over this?  And he obviously didn‘t have anything to do with it.  This is a five-year-old story.  But the fact is, he has said if there are prosecutions, he would resign.

NADLER:  Well, first of all, we don‘t know if there will be prosecutions.  We don‘t know if there should be prosecutions.  This is a preliminary inquiry.

Second of all, if the facts say that there should be prosecutions, then they should.  And if he chooses to resign, then too bad.

The fact is, the law must be obeyed because this is a nation of laws, and no one may be above that.  And let me say one other thing. 

We are well into territory already where because of the pardon of Nixon after Watergate and the people around him, because of the pardon of the Iran-Contra, where we‘re getting into territory where it becomes taken for granted that high officials can violate the law and get away with it.  If high officials violated the law here, if Cheney did, if Rice did, et cetera, they‘ve got to be prosecuted to show that no one is above the law. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you curious as to if they were advised or were they direct orders, this is how we‘re going to handle terror suspects?  Because that‘s against the law.  I mean, were these agents ordered to do this to these suspects? 

NADLER:  Well, I don‘t know that, and to the extent they were, then the higher ups ought to be prosecuted if they were ordered to do illegal things.  But that is—but following orders, the law specifically says, is not an excuse for torture. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Nadler, good to have you on.  Thanks so much.

NADLER:  Thank you.  Good to be here.

SCHULTZ:  It won‘t end, I tell you that. 

Coming up, we‘ve reached the critical moment when it comes to health care reform.  I think the president ought to slap—let‘s see—a bumper sticker—“Public Option or Bust” bumper sticker on the back of the motorcade.  I‘m for that.  And then just call it a day. 

Salon.com‘s Joan Walsh weighs in.  That‘s up next on THE ED SHOW on

MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. 

A big development late this afternoon in health care.  Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, who is on the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Gang of 6, now declares he‘ll support reconciliation in the Senate to get health care reform.  This is a big development.  Things are shifting during this August break. 

Now, score at home here.  Of the three Democrats, two are now embracing a public option and one is willing to go reconciliation. 

For more, let me bring in Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com. 

Joan, I think this is a big development, because it seems so much is now hinging on what the Senate Finance Committee does, this Gang of 6.  You‘ve got a couple of Democrats that are OK with public option—at least that‘s what Max Baucus said the other day.  You‘ve got Jeff Bingaman there.  Now Bingaman‘s saying, OK, if we got to go reconciliation, I‘m on that bandwagon.

You know, this kind of makes Kent Conrad the fly in the ointment in this whole deal, doesn‘t it? 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM:  Yes.  I mean, all eyes are on Kent Conrad right now, and I don‘t know what to expect there.  He‘s really been a staunch defender of this nonprofit co-op idea, which I think all of us know probably won‘t work, and also won‘t get Republican support. 

So, it‘s a tough position for him to be in, and I think we‘re seeing President Obama‘s strategy maybe begin to work.  I know you and I have both been critical of him for not laying out what he wants and defending it, and saying I‘m for the public option, get with me.  But, you know, I would be happy to be wrong about that if this effort to let the Gang of 6 work its way through this produces a public option.  We‘ll see. 

SCHULTZ:  But what‘s your read on one of the Gang of 6 which is tasked with the mission of coming up with a bipartisan agreement?  One of the Gang of 6 is now saying, well, you know, if we‘ve got to go reconciliation in the Senate, I‘m OK with that if we‘ve got to get reform done? 

WALSH:  Well, I think that the tide has turned a little bit.  We still have crazy people at town halls talking about guns.  However, I think that they are starting to hear from a more liberal constituency and a more budget-minded constituency, actually, that‘s saying the public option makes sense because it brings down costs. 

I think they were caught flatfooted with the mobilizing around the town halls, frankly, Ed.  And I think that was sort of—I mean, it was predictable.  We knew that the industry was going to fight back.  But now we‘re seeing a little bit more organizing on the left, and it‘s paying off. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that the base is going to dwindle away from the president if down the stretch he doesn‘t push hard and get a public option to compete against the private sector?  Will it really weed off his base?  What do you think? 

WALSH:  I really think it will.  I really think many, many—a majority of those people who voted for him last year, and certainly the people who raised money, knocked on doors, really thought that he was about fundamental change.  And this is fundamental health care change.  Nothing else will deliver it. 

So, I think it‘s very risky for him, and I think they are starting to recognize that, which I‘m very happy about that. 

SCHULTZ:  I was interested in seeing how Maxine Waters held her town hall meeting.  She told the crowd speaking to the president, we‘ve got your back. 

WALSH:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  Not only are the progressive Democrats saying, Mr.  President, we want you to do this, we‘ve got to have A, B, and C in this, but they‘re saying we‘ve got your back. 

What is the interpretation to those who oppose a public option? 

WALSH:  You know, I think that they might have a tiny bit of fear that they didn‘t have before, that people who support it are getting organized and are starting to do good organizing and smart politics around it.  And the president, you know, it can cut both ways—we‘ve either got your back or we don‘t if you sell us out. 

And so, I don‘t know if anybody in the industry is quaking in their boots yet, Ed.  But I think that there is reason to believe that the base has found its voice, has found a way of transmitting it‘s unhappiness.  And I think we‘re going to have a better outcome as a result of that.  We‘ll see. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think the—Joan, do you think the president is going to make a big play between Labor Day and the 15th of September?  A speech to the nation, an Oval Office speech, or something that is deemed to be a very special message to the American people to close the deal? 

WALSH:  I think he‘s going to have to.  I really do, because I think this is just going to lay out there with more misinformation. 

I do think in the end, Ed, he‘s got to say what he supports.  He‘s got to fight for it. 

If he loses, God forbid, he learns something, we all learn something, and we move on.  But to say—to ultimately wishy-washy out and say I‘m going to just sign whatever they give me, because some kind of reform is better than nothing, I think is a terrible message.  I don‘t expect him to do that, I really don‘t.  But you know me, I‘m an optimist. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan Walsh, Salon.com.

Thanks for your time tonight, Joan. 

WALSH:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, RNC Chairman Michael Steele.  Well, he just can‘t seem to make up his mind when it comes to Medicare.  First he‘s for it, then he‘s against it.

And folks, this is all in one day.  A full day of righty double talk.

You know where it‘s going, “Psycho Talk,” next on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Tonight‘s  “Psycho Talk,” Republican National Committee Chairman—you got it—Michael Steele.  He‘s back at it again. 

He just can‘t figure out how he feels about Medicare.  You see, yesterday, while he was promoting the RNC‘s senior Health Care Bill of Rights, which is only about 44 years late for their side, and he‘s calling for protecting Medicare, Steele said this... 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN:  We want to make sure that we are not cutting the Medicare program. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  I got it.  With him so far. 

Medicare should be protected.  And under the bills that are before the Congress right now, they are going to be protected. 

But this morning, Steele did a 180. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEELE:  And the reality of it is that, you know, this single payer program known as Medicare is a very good example of what we should not have happen with all of our health care. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re talking taking our senior population and not expanding it to the broader population?  Government cannot run a health care system. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  They are always accurate, aren‘t they? 

So, let me get this straight. 

Yesterday, Mr. Steele, you said that Medicare should be protected.  Today you say it‘s not good enough.  So, it‘s OK for seniors to rely on a government- run system, but it‘s not good enough for the rest of us. 

You know, you might want to rethink how you‘re presenting this again. 

And let me just point out, the vast majority of seniors are satisfied with Medicare.  Michael Steele has proven time and time again that he‘s out of touch with Americans, he‘s off the page, he‘s flip-flopping again on Medicare.  And that is some hypocritical “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, it is amazing.  The “Dumber Than Joe the Plumber” bullet points on health care, believe it or not, are starting to sink in with Americans.  A new survey shows that it‘s not just the fringe believing the lies.

We‘ll go inside the numbers with a major myth buster, next. 

Plus, Moammar Gadhafi, meet your new neighbor.  He‘ll be here on THE ED SHOW in my “Playbook” coming up.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Health care reform under siege.  The lion machine, the big insurance lobby, is killing the public option.  Or is it?

Here‘s what‘s happening with the latest surveys.

Righty talkers and Republicans are spreading lies and misinformation, and they are sinking in with Americans.  Take a look at these numbers from a new poll commissioned by Indiana University. 

More than half of Republicans believe in death panels for the elderly.  Two-thirds of them believe a public plan would cover all illegal immigrants.  And roughly three-quarters of them believe it will lead to rationing and taxpayer-funded abortion.  Wow. 

Many Republican voters are hearing this garbage straight from elected lawmakers.  So maybe those numbers aren‘t a surprise.  The really alarming numbers are with the public option.  A majority of Americans don‘t believe in the basic principle of having a public plan, that it would lower costs for everyone.  Fifty one percent believe it would increase health care costs; 54 percent say it would drive up the cost of private insurance premiums; and 56 percent believe the United States cannot afford to pay for it. 

Joining me now is Dr. Aaron Carroll.  He is the director of Indiana University Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research.  He is also the author of “Don‘t Swallow Your Gum: Myths, Half Truths and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health.” 

Dr. Carroll, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.  What jumps out at you at this poll?  I know it‘s extensive research on the university‘s part.  What jumps out at you?  What really surprises you? 

DR. AARON CARROLL, INDIANA UNIVERSITY:  I think it‘s not necessarily how many Republicans believe these things, but how many people overall.  More than half of Americans believe so many of these myths that it‘s really quite clear that the administration and Congress just aren‘t getting the message out about what health care reform is really going to do. 

SCHULTZ:  Can we come to the conclusion that independents now are going to decide this health care debate in this country?  Are they the key sector to watch? 

CARROLL:  I think it is likely so, knowing that there are only so many Republicans and so many Democrats.  And now just about as many independents.  Looking at the how many of them actually believe these myths, I they are really someone that the administration and Congress has to target, if they are going to turn this around. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s the question.  How would the administration turn this around?  These are big numbers, would you say that?  Would you agree these are big numbers to defeat at this point? 

CARROLL:  I think they are big numbers.  But numbers have changed over time.  I don‘t think it‘s lost yet.  And I think that with a good message, a big speech, or a really concerted effort to be consistent with their messaging, I think they still could turn this around. 

SCHULTZ:  Fifty eight percent believe tax payer funded abortions will take place in this country.  What was the question?  Was it just a direct question in this survey? 

CARROLL:  It was.  It basically said, if the reform pass, will the federal government pay for abortion, or would health care reform pay for abortions?  It was very non-judgmental one way or another, just asking if they believe that the reforms in the bill would cover abortions, and people do. 

SCHULTZ:  Dr. Carroll, I know have you done a lot of these surveys before at Indiana University.  If you could judge how anxious people were to talk about this, how eager they were, how willing to participate, and maybe how focused they are on the issue; give us a sense? 

CARROLL:  People are really interested in talking about these things, and they are very focal either for or against.  We had very few people who were non-committal one way or the other on almost all of these questions.  Everyone had an opinion. 

SCHULTZ:  Everybody had an opinion.  It‘s pretty amazing stuff.  Dr.

Aaron Carroll, I appreciate your time on THE ED SHOW.  Thanks so much. 

Let‘s bring in Laura Flanders, author of “Blue Grit” and the host of GritTV.org, she joins us tonight.  Also Sam Stein, political reporter for the “Huffington Post,” and Republican strategist Ron Christie is with us tonight. 

Laura, we‘ll start with you.  The independents, those who were sitting on the fence that ended up voting for President Obama, where do you think they are right now?  How troubling is this survey? 

LAURA FLANDERS, GRITTV.ORG:  I have to say, given the onslaught from people—I don‘t know—the thuggery that‘s been out there, I‘m astonished many people still have their heads screwed on as do.  Let‘s remember, those independents are the people that came on board with Barack Obama when he talked about his mother.  He talked about people dying because our health care system is driven by profit as a priority rather than people. 

That‘s what he needs to go back to.  I think if he does that, he‘ll have them back in his camp again. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, have you seen anything like this in your political career?  That—you have to admit, Ron, that there are a lot of things being spewed out there that simply are not true.  And yet so many people are believing what is being broadcast.  And the conservative, you know, torpedoes that are in the water constantly at the Obama administration.  What would you compare this to? 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  The only thing, Ed, that I can compare this to is where we were in the middle part of the 1990s, when the Republicans were trying to slow the rate of growth of Medicare.  You heard that we were going to leave senior citizens withering on the vine, and that the Republican party didn‘t care about the elderly. 

I agree with you, there‘s a lot of misinformation out there.  Let‘s just stick to what we do know, Ed.  You look at the numbers where it says 56 percent of the American people doesn‘t feel that we can afford this.  I believe that.

The president said that he was going to have a bill that wasn‘t going to raise taxes by a dime.  We have seen the four bills going to the Congress is going to cost at least a trillion dollars.  And the other thing, I might say, Ed, is the fact that you had the mid-session budget review that came out today, that said the size of the deficit is going to increase by two trillion. 

I think the American people, 56 percent, recognize the government is spending an awful lot of money.  Can we really afford this at this point in time? 

SCHULTZ:  What about that, Sam Stein? 

SAM STEIN, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  What about Ron‘s point?  I think Ron sort of illustrated what is a little bit of a disingenuous argument in this debate.  He mentioned that the president has pledged not to raise taxes, but that these bills are going to a trillion dollars. 

Well, the president has actually insisted that he doesn‘t want a bill that raises taxed on families who are earning under 250,000 dollars. 

One other point I‘d like to make, though, is that there is really no penalty for throwing out disinformation from conservative law makers or Republican law makers.  Senator Chuck Grassley has accused the Obama White House of wavering on the public plan.  This is the same senator who insisted that the government is going to pull the plug on grandma, then equivocated on Sunday, now is pushing it again.

There is literally no penalty for throwing out mistruths.  And I think that‘s what you are seeing here. 

CHRISTIE:  Ed, can I respond to that very briefly?

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead.

CHRISTIE:  The fact of the matter is, the Congressional Budget Office, which is nonpartisan, said that the bills that are going through the Congress right now, that the president has said he endorsed, would cost over a trillion dollars. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s if you don‘t raise the taxes, though, Ron. 

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE:  OK, Ed.  Ed.  Ed.  Let‘s take the taxes out.  Let‘s stick specifically on the numbers.  It‘s a point in fact that CBO said it will cost a trillion.  Let‘s take taxes off of it.

SCHULTZ:  Iraq cost a trillion.  We‘re talking about a priority and what the American people want.  Iraq cost a trillion dollars.  Nobody threw the red flag up on that over on the conservative side. 

FLANDERS:  Let‘s stick with where you were at the beginning of this program, with Joan Walsh.  The water is turning.  I really believe the tide is shifting in favor of those who want reform, voted for reform, worked for reform, and are shocked that there are very rich elites in this country who would be willing to scuffle this once in a lifetime chance for real reform, because they‘re scared that somebody might touch their profits. 

People are waking up.  They are not only going to these town hall meetings and matching the right one for one.  But they are getting their representatives to pledge that they will not vote for anything that doesn‘t have a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Sam Stein, I want to approach you on these numbers from Indiana University, which are very accurate.  They‘ve done and have a history over the years of being accurate in their surveys.  What does the Obama White House have to do right now to combat these lies?  I mean, the president being on vacation—everybody needs their time off.  What do they have to do to turn the thoughts on death panels around, covering illegal immigrant immigrants, rationed care?  You could make the case that we‘ve got rationed care right now.  And taxpayer funded abortions?  What about all of that? 

STEIN:  If there was a solution, I think they would be deploying it. 

This is what I‘m getting at, is that there is no penalty for a Sarah Palin

or a Chuck Grassley to get in there and say that this bill will pull the

plug on grandma.  I mean, as much shame as these people get in the media

for telling mistruths, that‘s it.  And they, in turn, convince the public -

I know that 50 percent of Republicans in this Indiana survey still believe the death panels.  That has been debunked to no end. 

So the White House is really devoid of options here, other than to keep reminding people this isn‘t the case.  There really is no game changers.  That‘s what‘s haunting the White House right now. 

FLANDERS:  Let‘s bring more people into this conversation, Ed.  Let‘s bring the people in who know their families are hurting. 

SCHULTZ:  So tell them personal stories? 

FLANDERS:  I want you to bring in the personal stories.  Let‘s have them here at the table alongside these politician who are just scoring points by killing our chances of change. 

STEIN:  That‘s been a tactic since the beginning, to tell personal stories.  It‘s only worked to a certain extent. 

CHRISTIE:  Personal stories are one thing.  I certainly would like to hear these law makers debunk this.  If you guys say that all of this is a lie and it is not true, let‘s look at it.  It is a true fact that people who are in this country illegally go to emergency rooms right now, and receive medical care. 

SCHULTZ:  But they also get a bill, and they are expected to pay—and we don‘t deny anybody in this country, but that doesn‘t mean that they are not going to get a bill when they leave.  Ron, I have to leave with you on this segment.  It would be good if the RNC chairman would send a clear mess on where he is on Medicare, because what I played in Psycho Talk—I mean, these are two totally different messages that the Republicans are sending out. 

CHRISTIE:  It would also be great, Ed, for the American people to hear some straight talk from the president of the United States and Congress about what they‘re going to do for Medicare.  Ed, they said they wanted to cut millions of dollars in Medicare.  Yet they weren‘t going to reduce care?  Rationed care is coming.  They need to tell the truth.

SCHULTZ:  It is rationed care right now.  You have denial of coverage and denial of premiums—claims being paid out.  That‘s rationing.  Insurance companies do it right now.  We‘ll come back with our panel.  I have to run.  I‘m up against the clock. 

Coming up, after giving the Lockerbie Bomber a hero‘s welcome in Libya, it shouldn‘t surprise Moammar Gadhafi that some of us here in the United States aren‘t real thrilled that he‘s setting up camp here next month.  One of his future neighbors, a famous rabbi, sounds off in our playbook next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In tonight‘s playbook, a diplomatic nightmare is looming for the Obama administration.  Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi is coming to the United States in a few weeks to address the UN General Assembly.  U.S./Libyan relations have plummeted since the Lockerbie got a hero‘s welcome last week when he returned home to Libya, after his controversial release from a Scottish prison.

Now a conflict is brewing over where Gadhafi is going to stay while he‘s here in the United States.  At first, he wanted to camp out at Central Park.  Well, that didn‘t work with New York authorities.  That didn‘t go over very good.  Now it looks like he is going to pitch his tent across the river in Engelwood, New Jersey, on the grounds of a Libyan owned estate, which just happens to be next door to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, host of “Shalom in the Home.”

Good to have you with us, Rabbi.

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, HOST, “SHALOM IN THE HOME”:  Thanks for having me, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate your time tonight.  What‘s wrong with this?  Why not?

BOTEACH:  OK.  Imagine if you had a neighbor, and he put on a giant party for Timothy McVeigh, and he lofted him into the air, called him an American hero, you would deduce two things.  Number one, my neighbor is a pretty twisted guy.  Number two, I better protect my family from him.  That‘s exactly what my neighbor—

SCHULTZ:  How does the neighborhood feels about it? 

BOTEACH:  They are absolutely opposed.  All of us who watched this stomach turning spectacle in Tripoli of the Lockerbie bomber being lauded as some sort of returning conqueror—we have seen Gadhafi‘s true colors.  There was this hope, Ed, that Gadhafi had ameliorated, that he was no longer what Ronald Reagan called the mad dog of the Middle East, that he was now the passive poodle of Tripoli.  We now see he‘s a supporter of terror, lover of terrorists.  He‘s a financier of terrorists. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you want the president to do about this?  Deny him the visa?  This would play in the wheel house of the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. 

BOTEACH:  He is the leader of the free world, and this is a guy who supports terrorism.  Our country is opposed to terrorists.  There has to be some price that Gadhafi pays for this spectacle that he puts on.  But just think about this, would anyone watching this program want a small army of Libyan intelligence officials, who protect Gadhafi, being right next door to them?  They cut down my trees because they want to peer into our property to protect Gadhafi from.  I‘m a peace loving guy. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m a property rights guy here.  I‘m from the Mid West.  You mean to tell me they cut down trees on your property that you pay taxes on? 

BOTEACH:  That‘s correct.  And they don‘t pay any taxes, because they claim diplomatic immunity. 

SCHULTZ:  How do they get away with that?  Where is the governor? 

BOTEACH:  I‘m going to have to sue them in order to extract every last penny, so that Libyan money is put toward peaceful things like planting trees, and not planting bombs. 

SCHULTZ:  How long has this been planned?  I understand they have been working on this estate for some time. 

BOTEACH:  This is a dilapidated estate that for ten years they didn‘t put one dollar in.  It was over-grown.  It was a communal eye-sore.  They‘ve now put in millions and millions of dollars.  There is an army working day in and day out to prepare for Gadhafi.   

SCHULTZ:  Where is Senator Lautenberg on this? 

BOTEACH:  Senator Lautenberg is absolutely opposed to Gadhafi coming to New Jersey. 

SCHULTZ:  Can they limit his travel in the United States? 

BOTEACH:  I asked them that.  From what I understand, it‘s the State Department that would have to do that. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  But you want Hillary Clinton to make a move on this and deny his Visa? 

BOTEACH:  I like Hillary Clinton.  If she wants Gadhafi to come to the country, let him pitch his tent in front of her property.  I don‘t want Gadhafi as my neighbor.  I don‘t want a terrorist as my neighbor.

SCHULTZ:  How do you feel about the Scottish government doing this? 

Does it mean all Scotts can‘t come to the United States too? 

BOTEACH:  I means that I may limit one or two of my little whiskey glasses, because I think the Scottish government needs to pay a price for doing a deal with the devil.  They released this guy on compassionate grounds.  Is this compassionate for the families, the 270 families devastated families who have to relive their horror? 

SCHULTZ:  I have to ask you this question, Devil‘s Advocate.  I got some email after you on the radio show today.  What about Benjamin Netanyahu, how people view him in the world.  Some of the things that he‘s pulled in his life time don‘t sit well with everybody on the face of the Earth.   

BOTEACH:  Let‘s look at the two.  One is a Democratically elected leader in a country where Arabs have a right to vote.  The other is a dictator for almost 40 years, who—you know, his regime is kept aloft over a sea of oil.  And I have seen the way they spend money for him to come for three days to New Jersey, millions of dollars.  If Netanyahu tried to do that, he would be in jail.  That‘s why he would never try.

SCHULTZ:  Is there going to be any protests in the neighborhood? 

BOTEACH:  Big protest this coming Sunday, 11:00 a.m.  Turn up.  Come on, guys.  Give me a hand here.  I shouldn‘t have to fight this guy alone. 

SCHULTZ:  You said the neighborhood was against this? 

BOTEACH:  We need hundreds of people.  Hundreds are coming.  I hope thousands will turn out.  I hope Gadhafi gets the message back in Tripoli.  You want to celebrate murderers, don‘t come to America. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you expect a response from the president?  Because he was against the release? 

BOTEACH:  Well, He‘s a committed family man, and I‘m sure he understand that I‘m raising nine children in that home.  And I don‘t need state of the art surveillance devices monitoring me, as Gadhafi‘s army comes to protect him.  I would rather have dinner with my kids in peace. 

SCHULTZ:  Rabbi Shmuley, thanks for coming in.  Thank you.

Coming up, Shooter crawled out of his bunker last night and defended the torture that went on under his watch.  I think it‘s high time for the president to say enough is enough.  We‘ll put that to our panel next on THE ED SHOW, right here on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  During the Bush years, American intelligence agents working in overseas prisons used tactics like choking a detainee to the point of passing out, making it look like a hooded detainee had been shot in the next cell, suggesting a detainee‘s mother would be sexually assaulted if he didn‘t talk, threatening to kill a detainee‘s children and family. 

Folks, this is not American.  This is thuggery.  These are thug tactics.  What I want to know is who authorized this?  You mean to tell me that these CIA-trained agents just decided on the whim that they were just going to go out and do this?  And there‘s just a few bad apples that got caught in the wrong deal?  I don‘t buy that.

Let‘s bring back our panel tonight, Laura Flanders, Sam Stein and Ron Christie.  Ron, let‘s start with you. 

Opening commentary tonight is about the United States getting the moral high ground, because there was a lot of conversation about this in the run-up to the election.  Can you defend some of the things that are in that point, and also the fact that you work for Dick Cheney, and that he comes out and almost celebrates torture, saying we should owe these people a debt of gratitude for what they did?  I want your response to that. 

CHRISTIE:  My response is that Dick Cheney is absolutely right.  What he has said from the get go, Ed, is that if we were able to redact certain parts of this report, it would prove that the intelligence that our brave men and women gathered saved Americans‘ lives.  Why?  Because we were able to identify and apprehend members of al Qaeda.

You mentioned thuggery.  You mentioned that there was an individual who choked a detainee.  That individual later died.  You know what, Ed?  That individual was not a member of the CIA.  It was a CIA contractor. 

They were prosecuted and convicted. 

SCHULTZ:  So that makes it OK? 

CHRISTIE:  No, it doesn‘t make it OK, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Hold on a second.  Representing—representing the United States of America, whether you‘re an independent contractor, the buck has to stop on somebody‘s desk.  And you‘re telling me that Dick Cheney is correct in defending these types of tactics that clearly break the international law.  Is that what I‘m hearing? 

CHRISTIE:  What you‘re hearing from me is that the vice president of the United States says that the lawful interrogation techniques that were used, safely, I might add, allowed information to be gathered and gained, and we were able to arrest members of al Qaeda.  This individual Ed—I want to stick with this—this individual who was a contractor was prosecuted and convicted for breaking the law.  And he should sit in jail for breaking the law.  Let‘s not make this a broader issue. 

SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute.  Who gave the order to do this?  Laura, where does this go for the Obama administration? 

FLANDERS:  I‘m with you, Ed.  Even if—it doesn‘t—this redacted report does not prove what our friend here said.  Even if it did, every torturer in the world believes that they were doing it for a good purpose.  If we stoop to that level, we are no better than the rest. 

For the Obama administration, this presents a big challenge, Ed.  It‘s great that Holder declared that there will be an investigation, but the audacity of compromise is not what people voted for.  And the ACLU is calling this investigation plan anemic.  We have been bloodless so long at the Justice Department that even anemic looks good.  But we don‘t want any compromise with torture on this.  And we need to go to the top. 

SCHULTZ:  Sam Stein, is there a political backlash possibly coming on the Democrats and the Obama administration, if they are perceived to go too far in the eyes of the American public?  Just how do they gauge how much the public want to know about this? 

STEIN:  I think actually Obama has handled this quite astutely.  He has basically said he doesn‘t want any part of this.  He would rather look forward, rather than backward.  The Justice Department, hello, is independent of the White House.  And they can pursue investigations where they find illegalities occurring. 

As to what Ron said, the CIA inspector general did not, in fact, prove Cheney right.  Cheney had long said that enhanced interrogation techniques, such as water boarding, were needed to produce intelligence that preempted future terrorist attacks.  In fact, CIA IG report was very vague on whether enhanced interrogation techniques produced any actionable intelligence.  They said detainees did provide intelligence, but they were, in fact, very vague when it came to the use of water boarding, saying there was no conclusion they can draw whether or not it was effective or not. 

I think Cheney was actually proven very much wrong by this report.  I think it is an embarrassment to Vice President Cheney. 

As for your question, I think Obama is going to be totally hands off with this.  He‘s going to let it go on the Justice Department, which has a special prosecutor.  And that‘s the way that the White House has to approach it so it doesn‘t get politicized. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, why is it that the quick reaction from those in Congress like Peter King—he suggests that the president is siding with the terrorists on this.  He‘s suggesting, whose side are they on?  Are we beyond the age of full disclosure?  I mean, is—is that where we are?  Is that where the conservatives are, that he have to protect all of these documents that may reveal exactly what happened?  What‘s your position on that, Ron? 

CHRISTIE:  Actually, I think what we saw with Attorney General Eric Holder‘s decision, I think that‘s more in line with what the terrorist would like to see, as opposed to the law-abiding American people.  Let‘s not get too far away from 9/11.  This is not a law enforcement measure.  This is an intelligence gathering operation.  The further we get away from 9/11 -- it‘s been eight years now—people say—

SCHULTZ:  You‘re playing the emotional card.  Let‘s just stick.

CHRISTIE:  Ed, I want to make this point. 

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Beyond 9/11, Ron, it is about the rule of law and the moral high ground.  Do you condone—do you condone putting a gun to somebody‘s head?   Do you condone saying that we‘re going to rape your mother, that we‘re going to kill your kids?  Is that where America is in the world right now? 

CHRISTIE:  No, absolutely not, Ed.  I do not condone torture.  But I do not find it—I do not find it torturous to fire a gun in a different room and to fire up a power drill, when 3,000 Americans who were murdered. 

Is that torture?  So we would rather have 3,000 innocent people slaughtered

--

(CROSS TALK)  

STEIN:  Just a quick point.  I find these charges that the Obama White House is politicizing national security to be a bit disingenuous.  This is only politicized to the extent that Republicans want it to be.  Let‘s not that this past week, we received word that under the Bush White House, terror watch alerts were raised for political purposes. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, they were.

Gentlemen and Laura, I‘m out of time.  I have to run.  Obviously, we‘ll have your back.  It‘s a hot topic.  I appreciate your time. 

Earlier, I asked the viewers tonight what you thought.  Are you satisfied with the president‘s position on CIA torture probe?  Forty seven percent of you said yes; 53 percent of you said no.  Interesting. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  Tomorrow night, Arianna Huffington will be here.  She says Obama needs to get mean on health care.  Chris Matthews joins me for a special preview of his documentary on the Kennedy brothers.  You won‘t want to miss it.

My next town hall meeting is coming up this Sunday night in Boulder, Colorado, University of Colorado.  For more information, go to THE ED SHOW -- Go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out WeGotEd.com.  “HARDBALL” is next with Chris Matthews. 

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