updated 9/29/2009 11:09:48 AM ET 2009-09-29T15:09:48

Guest: Clint Van Zandt, David Weigel, Barry Kaufman, Adam Green, Steven A.

Smith, Michael Graham, Matthew Duss, Joan Walsh

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Good to have you with us tonight on THE ED SHOW here on MSNBC.

It didn‘t sound real good.  My wife and I were traveling on the East Coast this weekend, in the car for three hours.  We haven‘t done that for a while. 

Let me tell you, right-wing rhetoric in this country has reached a boiling point.  Oh, the government‘s the enemy.  Every kind of government, local, regional, state. 

Oh, seceding from the union, getting out of the country?  Hey, that‘s the hot new thing; right?  It‘s still out there.  Questioning whether the president is an American citizen. 

Oh, right-wing talkers, you‘re so entertaining. 

Republicans have always tried to make the government the bogeyman.  No matter what the subject, it‘s the government‘s fault.  But this is out of control.  The fever pitch we‘re experiencing in this country right now, I think has got a lot of people nervous. 

A census worker, somebody doing a part-time job for the government, for America—we‘ve had the census in this country for 210 years.  This man‘s name was Bill Sparkman.  He was found dead in Kentucky.

Most of his clothes had been stripped off and his census identification tag, it was Duct Taped to his body, and the word “Fed‘ had been written across his chest.  Investigators don‘t know who killed Mr.  Sparkman and what the motive was.  They still aren‘t certain it was a homicide. 

A lot of things playing into this right now.  But we do know that census workers are afraid to go to work right now. 

The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door activity in that area of Kentucky.  Newspapers are reporting online chatter among census workers have really spiked. 

They‘ve heard all the rhetoric.  They are worried about knocking on a door and maybe the wrong person showing up with the wrong idea. 

They‘ve always been subjected to conspiracy theories and fringe attacks, that‘s for sure.  But the problem is, the problem, is when elected officials become enamored with this extremist rhetoric and go out and repeat it as if it‘s the way it is. 

Minnesota embarrassment is what I call her.  Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has been pushing the narrative that big government is dangerous and has been dangerous for months. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  The data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other  organizations at the request of President Roosevelt.  And that‘s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps.  I‘m not saying that‘s that what the administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not what I‘m saying, but I just think I‘ll throw it in anyway to plant the seed in your head.  Rounding up Americans, using their information against them?  Internment camps? 

Folks, this is beyond “Psycho Talk.”  It‘s an elected Republican congressional person saying this stuff. 

And when it comes from an elected representative of the United States government, some informationally-challenged Americans might not know any better.  They might take it as gospel.

This weekend, roughly 600 of those information-challenged Americans got together at a conference.  Here‘s one for you.  The title of it was the “How to Take Back America Conference,” which was held in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Michele Bachmann, one of the six Republican lawmakers who attended the conference, which included workshops like How to Recognize Living under Nazis and Communists, where the speaker outlined what she sees as comparisons between, you know, Hitler and President Obama. 

Here‘s another one for you—How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement and How to Stop Feminist and Gay Attacks on the Military.  These people are nuts. 

The Washington Independent‘s David Weigel reports, “It was a weekend of speeches and training sessions that were laden with doom, cries of mounting fascism, and long prayers for salvation.  At worst, the speakers argued fascism was on the horizon.  At best, this was a pivotal time in a war on Christian values.” 

Wow.  If a person believes he is under a threat at war, OK, that this government is coming for him, he will see it as self-defense.  People are not afraid of acting in self-defense. 

Weigel reports that at this weekend‘s conference, the lead of the How to Recognize Living Under Nazis Seminar told the crowd this—“Don‘t you dare give up your guns.  Never, never, never.”  Someone shouted back, “Give them back one bullet at a time. Called out another activist.  And the room, well, they just got a big kick out of that and they broke up in laughter. 

Tonight, another story.  The Secret Service is investigating an incident on Facebook, where someone put up a poll asking, “Should Obama be killed?”  More than 700 people had taken the poll by the time it was taken down. 

Now, for more on the death of the census worker, I want to bring in former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.  Clint‘s an MSNBC analyst. 

Mr. Van Zandt, good to have you with us tonight.  Thank you for your time. 

There‘s been a lot of speculation.  We don‘t know for sure if it was a homicide. 

But how does a victim of a homicide have his hands Duct Taped behind his back?  How does that happen? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST:  Yes.  Let‘s look at a number of this. 

Number one, Ed, I jump on part of your bandwagon.  I mean, there are enough guns and anti this and pro that and left this and right that. 

Ed, there‘s 280 million guns in America that we know of.  So, there‘s plenty of guns to go around for everybody in every belief system. 

And I think part of the challenge in this country is that we‘re supposed to line up.  We‘re either supposed to be pro this or anti this. 

You know, we can‘t just be Americans.  We just can‘t say what‘s best for the country.  We have to say, what‘s best for the party, what‘s best for the president, what‘s best for the next president.

I mean, we whip our country up into this fervor, and there are the fringe of the fringe, Ed, that will pick up a gun and they‘ll shoot a census worker, they‘ll commit a murder at the Holocaust Museum, they‘ll kill an abortion doctor, or they‘ll kill somebody carrying a sign that says, “I hate abortion.”  So, it‘s on both sides. 

So, I think that part of the issue is correct.  The other part in this particular case on the census worker that you‘re talking about.

You know, as a profiler, Ed, profiling 101, the first thing you look at is victimology.  What‘s going on in this man‘s background? 

Fifty-one years old, single parent.  His child‘s an adult.  He‘s in debt.  And some of these are hypotheticals.  But hypothetically, he‘s in debt.  He‘s working two or three jobs trying to deal with it. 

He‘s got the challenges of cancer that he‘s going with right now.  He needs money to do a number of different things. 

Let‘s say he has a life insurance policy that says it won‘t pay off if you commit suicide.  So, if you want to close out your debts—and I‘ve had family members in my family who have committed suicide to leave money to other people.  So, I know what that‘s like, Ed.

And in this particular case, I think the authorities are saying, homicide or suicide?  And when you look at suicide, when you look at his hands were taped, Ed, but his hands were taped apart, they weren‘t just together. 

Like, if you and I were going to do something, we‘d put a guy‘s hands behind his back and tape him.  These guy‘s hands were separated apart. 

There were other things at the crime scene.  For example, he had “Fed” on his chest, but, Ed, that was with a felt pen or a magic marker. 

If I want to send a message, a brutal message, I take a knife and I carve it right in this guy‘s chest.  So, there are about six, eight, 10 different factors that make investigators have to consider suicide as one means of this man‘s death. 

SCHULTZ:  Does this kind of rhetoric that we‘ve seen and the level of hostility between left and right in this country, does it motivate people to commit crimes like this? 

VAN ZANDT:  Absolutely.  As I say, Ed, there are the fringe of the fringe. 

There are people sitting there saying, you know, you‘re going to have to pry the gun out of my cold, dead fingers.  And when they hear rhetoric on the left, on the right, whether it‘s pro this or anti that, they get whipped into a fervor. 

They listen to talk radio.  They read blogs that are only on one side or the other.  They watch programs that only have one side.

And, Ed, we choose this.  You know, you and I and every American, we choose what we read and what we listen to.  And we get force-fed what we want to hear. 

And for many of us, that just says, well, there, I believe it.  For others, that says, by God, I‘m not going to take it.  I‘m going to do something about it.  And that fringe of the fringe, one more time, will pick up a gun. 

Now, whether this blog that said President Obama should be killed or not, that is stupid.  It‘s childish.  It‘s asinine, whether somebody meant it or not.  But you and I know since President Obama came into office, the threats against his life have been hundreds more than any previous president. 

SCHULTZ:  But Clint, we‘ve also heard elected officials say that he‘s not an American.  We‘ve had elected officials question whether he‘s an American.  We‘ve had the talk about death panels.  We‘ve had the talk about pulling the plug on seniors.  And we‘ve had Nancy Pelosi pull a card out of her chapter of decades ago saying that it reminds her of things back in the ‘70s and she‘s worried about violence. 

What about her comment?  Do you agree with her?  Should she have some concern?  Are there some parallels there? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you talk about how we line up on one side or the other.  The idea that in my background, I would ever side with Nancy Pelosi, you know, kind of is—kind of grabs me to think that I would do that.  But in this point, I think she‘s absolutely right, and I think that‘s what all of us have to do, is to listen to what she says, listen to what the left and the right says.

Somewhere in the middle, Ed, is the truth.  But I think the Speaker of the House is right when she says this rhetoric—and the rhetoric comes from both sides—can lead to violence.

SCHULTZ:  Clinton Van Zandt.

Appreciate your time tonight, Clint.  Thanks so much.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s bring in David Weigel, the reporter who covers the conservative movement for “The Washington Independent.”  He‘s also a contributing editor for “Reason.”

Great to have you with us, David.

DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT”:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  You approached the congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, this weekend and asked her about this particular incident and the death of this census worker down in Kentucky, did you not?

WEIGEL:  I did.  I approached her in a friendly way, I thought, because it‘s a lot to ask somebody for a comment on something like this. 

So, I said, as she was exiting the hotel lobby, “You haven‘t said anything about this yet.  Do you have a comment on the Kentucky...”  And she sort of cut me off and smiled, looked around, and said, “Let‘s go, thank you so much,” and jumped in the car. 

She hasn‘t commented at all on this.  And when you consider how much she talked about the census and the dangers of the census, in the quote you just showed, I was a little bit surprised she didn‘t want to say anything about it. 

SCHULTZ:  At this conference, was there any hateful rhetoric that you could pick up on that might have been spewed from the podium?  I wasn‘t there.  You were there.  I‘m asking you objectively, what did you come across? 

WEIGEL:  There was, but I think the key finding of the conference is that the Republican Party‘s message has been shifting so quickly, that things like a hearing on fascism in America, the comparison between what we‘re doing and what Hitler did, didn‘t sound as extreme as it would have a year ago. 

As for the census, I mean, Michele Bachmann is leading in one way. 

She‘s also being led in another way. 

I went to a panel on the threat of ACORN and voter fraud, and there were multiple questions from attendees of this conference asking if they could not fill out the census if the Census was going to put them on the list, if it was going to ask them how many guns they owned in order to take them away.  And the Republican candidate for secretary of state, Chris Kobach (ph), said, “Well, I would never ask you to do anything to violate federal law.  However...”  And they started to lead into ways not to get out of the census, but sympathizing and kind of egging on people who had real paranoid problems of what was going on in America. 

SCHULTZ:  But you know, David, if you go to a conference and it‘s labeled “fascists” and “Nazis” and “communists,” and you‘re an elected congressional member—and there were six of them there, correct? 

WEIGEL:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, isn‘t that somewhat of an endorsement that maybe this stuff is actually happening and it gets into the hearts and the minds of some of their “followers,” and the next thing you know we‘ve got a dead census worker?  Now, whether they‘re connected or not, but the American people are connecting it.  And that‘s why there‘s a lot of census workers out there who are afraid to go to work on this issue. 

WEIGEL:  Yes.  There were six members.  Governor Mike Huckabee was there. 

And  I should point out, some Republicans have criticized Michele Bachmann on what she said about the Census.  Patrick McHenry from North Carolina wrote a public letter saying, look, the problem with the census is that we conservatives don‘t want ACORN in charge and don‘t want statistical sampling involved.  So, stop telling people not to participate. 

(CROSSTALK)

WEIGEL:  For this many Republicans to appear at an event like this and give a kind of tacit endorsement to fringe rhetoric, look, people can say whatever they want.  But these Republicans are theoretically getting ready for a midterm election they want to win. 

SCHULTZ:  And this is who they are, in my opinion. 

David Weigel, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

WEIGEL:  Thanks so much for having me, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, I‘ve got a warning to all of you late-night TV watchers.  Beware of the crazy birther infomercial that‘s running, folks.  If you get sucked in, you‘ll be out 30 bucks and all you‘ll have to show for it is a lousy bumper sticker. 

That‘s coming up in “Psycho Talk.”  

Plus, the righties are trying to pull another fast one on us.  My next guest, a doctor, hit the roof when he found out that Congressman and Dr.  Tom Price wanted use him in a health care misinformation campaign. 

He‘ll sound off in just a minute. 

Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

America‘s doctors know we‘ve got to fix a broken health care system where a pink slip could be just a death sentence; right?  That‘s why 75 percent of doctors support a public option, according to a study in “The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Doctors don‘t support the Republican plan.  Now they‘re resorting to sneaky tactics. 

Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, a doctor, is sending faxes to doctors asking them to be a part of Physicians Council to advise Congress.  It sounds like he‘s asking for nonpartisan professional advice, except this council is owned and operated by the NRCC, a Republican fund-raiser and campaign group. 

All right.  Now, I‘ve heard from doctors who are absolutely furious about this.  One of them is Dr. Barry Kaufman.  And he joins us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.

Doctor, good to have you with us here. 

When did you first find out that your name was on this list?  How did this all come about for you? 

DR. BARRY KAUFMAN, OPTHAMOLOGIST:  Well, three days ago, I received a fax with a face page from Congressman Tom Price, from his desk, that stated that because of my standing in the health care community in Indiana, that they wanted my help for this council to assist them in responsibly reforming the health care system.  When I turned to the next page, the headline said, “The Right Kind of Health Care is Not Run by Our Government,” and my name was circled on this page, saying with the scrawled handwriting, false handwriting, saying, “Including your name on this ad will go a long way in helping our cause.”

Now, I had to call a number, an 800 number, to approve or disapprove of having my name in this advertisement. 

SCHULTZ:  So, you‘ve got other things to do, like see patients, run a business, be a medical professional, than worry about stuff like this.  And had you not caught it, your name would have ended up there without your consent, correct? 

KAUFMAN:  Well, the spokesman when I got to the NRCC—first I called Tom Price‘s office.  They said Tom Price is just the chairman of this committee, he has no idea about this.  And then I said, “Well, his name is on the face sheet.”  And they said, “Oh, well, he is responsible as the chairman, ,but you can‘t talk to him.” 

So, I talked to the NRCC, a supervisor there, and they assured me that my name appeared only on my own fax, and every other name on this was health care professionals that support the Physicians Council for Responsible Reform. 

SCHULTZ:  So, we should alert our audience tonight that, just because you get one of these things from the Republicans, and you‘ve got a bunch of doctors‘ names on there, doesn‘t mean that these doctors are supporting what the Republicans are doing. 

Can we cut to the chase on that?  Is that where we are? 

KAUFMAN:  Absolutely.  They‘re just putting names, they‘re taking them out of a hat. 

I‘m a physician in Indiana.  They want as many names on here as possible because they want to deceive the public, because on the Web site for this PCRR, they say that 73 percent of patients polled trust their doctors as the major source on health care reform.  So, they‘re extrapolating that by using doctors‘ names to deceive their patients. 

SCHULTZ:  Oh gosh.  You‘ve got to watch them at every corner, don‘t you, folks? 

All right, Doctor.  Where do you stand on health care reform in this country?  Thanks for coming on the program tonight, but I can‘t let you go without getting a word in since you are a medical doctor and you see a lot of patients. 

Where do you stand on reform? 

KAUFMAN:  I stand for either universal health care or, as I wrote to Congressman Tom Price, Medicare for all with a tiered buy-in program where I could pay a certain amount a month to buy into the Medicare program.  And I would love to have the option to do it.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So, it just so happens you‘re totally against everything they wanted you to sign your name on to.  That‘s basically what it comes down it. 

KAUFMAN:  Completely.

SCHULTZ:  Doctor, appreciate your time tonight. 

Dr. Barry Kaufman. 

And I have on my radio show received numerous phone calls and e-mails from doctors all over the country who are furious about this tactic, and now they‘re really paying attention to it. 

All right.  Coming up, those crazy birthers, doggone it, they‘re at it again.  They‘ve got a 30-minute infomercial running on TV stations across the country.  Get this—the guy behind it, his name is Gary Creep. 

Talk about the shoe fits.  I‘ll show you that in “Psycho Talk.”  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, no joke here.  The crazy birthers are taking it up a notch. 

A fundamentalist Christian Web site teamed up with a birther group to produce a 28-minute infomercial pushing the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.  It‘s been running in seven states, all in the South.  Not a bad plan, since more than half the folks down there already think Obama may not be an American. 

Here are some of the highlights. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where was president Obama born?  Why does he refuse to produce his official state of Hawaii birth certificate?  What‘s he hiding? 

Now your voice can be heard.  Have your name added to a petition going to GOP leaders to force President Obama to obey the law. 

Also, you can help the United States Justice Foundation in their efforts to force President Obama to produce his birth certificate by making a gift of $30. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Only in America.  Your $30 will fund a flood of faxes to each state‘s attorney‘s office across the country and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Now, that‘s some expensive faxing, especially when you consider the recipients are going to be probably 20-year-old interns with instructions to deposit faxes like those directly in the trash. 

But wait.  There‘s more. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You will receive a specially created “got a birth certificate?” bumper sticker. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That is one overpriced bumper sticker. 

But in its first week on the air, the infomercial got between 1,500 and 2,000 responses.  That‘s right, almost 2,000 people were stupid enough to send 30 bucks to these folks.

Buying a TV spot to push for a ridiculous and completely defunct conspiracy theory, that‘s a full half-hour of “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Iran is really testing the world‘s patience.  This weekend, Tehran fired a round of missiles to prove they could respond to any military attack in a “crushing manner.” 

We‘ll assess the threat in my “Playbook.”

Plus, there‘s a political storm brewing over big sky country, Montana.  And it‘s pouring down on Senator Max Baucus.  Turns out, I‘m not the only one who‘s asking, buddy, whose side are you on? 

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is holding his feet to the fire over this public option.  A big vote coming up tomorrow.  The leader of that group is with me in just a moment. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  This is a huge week for health care, and it all starts tomorrow.  The fate of the public option, the Senate Finance Committee could vote as early tomorrow on that provision.  It‘s an amendment to the bill offered up by a couple of senators. 

Liberal groups are putting the pressure on conservative Democrats.  MoveOn.org is asking North Dakota Democrats to call Senator Kent Conrad‘s office.  Meanwhile, the progressive campaign Change Committee and Democracy For America have just launched this ad targeting Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is Ben Parin (ph).  I live here in Billings, Montana, with my beautiful wife and baby boy. 

Last June, I collapsed because of congenital heart problem.  I need open heart surgery, but have no insurance and no company will insure me.  My wife and I still owe over 100,000 dollars in medical bills.  None of this debt would have piled up if I had the option of buying into a public health insurance plan. 

Private insurance companies need competition.  They profit by denying care to people like me. 

Senator Baucus, will you take millions of dollars from health and insurance interests that oppose reform, and oppose giving families like mine the choice of a public option, I have to ask, whose side are you on? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Campaign Change Committee.  Mr. Green, good to have you with us tonight.  We got a text poll coming up on this in just a moment, folks.  Get your cell phones out. 

Mr. Green, what‘s the mission here?  To get rid of Max Baucus as a Montana senator, or to get him to change his mind? 

ADAM GREEN, PROGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN CHANGE COMMITTEE:  Well, the main mission is to make sure Max Baucus is being accountable to his constituents on this issue of the public option.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pass this reform.  The most recent poll of even Montana voters, in the supposedly red state of Montana, shows that more Montanans support the public option than oppose it. 

So he is one of those people, and we want to make him come face to face with his own constituents. 

SCHULTZ:  Just for the numbers, Max Baucus has taken 3.4 million dollars in the last five years.  You just mentioned, Montana voters on the public option; 47 percent favor, 43 percent oppose.  This idea of the theme of telling stories of those who have been left behind, have got some hardships, do you think this is going to work?  Do you expect it to work? 

GREEN:  It has to work.  You know personally how much Ben Nelson reacted when we highlighted one of his local constituents, a small business owner.  He called you.  He called this small business owner.  He even put up his own response ads. 

We‘ve heard behind the scenes that Senator Baucus‘ staff has already heard about this ad.  They‘re responding to it behind the scenes.  And we really just want to make sure that they‘re not reacting to fake, consultant-driven, fluffy ads, but really have to look into the eyes of their own constituents, like Ben. 

Fortunately, a lot of people, thousands of people, have gone to our website, HealthCareCantWait.com.  We just hit the 50,000 dollar mark towards our goal of raising 100,000 dollars to air this in Montana and in DC.  Really, we hope to up the pressure on Senator Baucus. 

SCHULTZ:  Montana Democrats on Senator Baucus‘ action on health care reform, he‘s facing some pretty tough numbers, folks; 55 percent oppose of what he‘s doing; 34 percent support.  And I think when you take a look at Montana, they‘re pretty, you know, average American, independent-thinking voters.  When they hear stories like that, if that doesn‘t make Max Baucus turn and go for the public option, it‘s going to make me think he‘s either taking marching orders from those who gave him money, or he‘s taking marching orders from the White House to come up with something different than the public option, which would be the co-op. 

What about the latter?  What do you think? 

GREEN:  The co-op?  Yes, pretty much the trigger, the co-op, all of these are not acceptable reform.  Again, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  For some reason, the Beltway conventional wisdom is not reflecting what the “New York Times” poll on Friday showed, which is that 72 percent of the American public, and even 50 percent of Republican voters, let alone overwhelming majorities of Democrats and independents, want the public option. 

This should be a political no brainer for every politician, including the White House.  For some reason, we also have Olympia Snowe, who is playing this critical role.  Her constituents support the public option two to one.  So we need to make sure we‘re not watering down the public option with a co-op or trigger.  The public option is the compromise.

SCHULTZ:  Will you—Mr. Green, will you run ads on other senators or is it just Max Baucus? 

GREEN:  We currently have ads up against Baucus and also Olympia Snowe.  Both of them are at HealthCareCantWait.com.  We hope that this is a real source of pressure, again, highlighting the local voices of local constituents, and holding them accountable to those constituents. 

SCHULTZ:  Going to be interesting to see how it turns out.  Tomorrow‘s a big day.  Thank you, Adam Green.  Appreciate your time. 

Folks, get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think on this.  Do you think liberal groups targeting Democrats is a good idea or a bad idea?  Text A for a good idea, B for a bad idea to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

The liberal group, Accountability Now, is taking on Bush Dog Democrats.  This is a new one on me.  Bush Dog Democrats?  You see, Bush Dogs are Democrats who voted with the Republicans on the defining issues like the Iraq war and who are more conservative than their districts. 

It‘s like we have a new saying every night, right?  Case in point, Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee.  Now, you see, he is opposed to a public option, but his constituents are in favor of it; 61 percent of them favor a public plan, even though Cooper is from a red state.  He represents a solidly Democratic district.  He‘s got 66 percent of the vote in 2008. 

For more, let‘s bring in our panel, Steven A. Smith, journalist and commentator, and also Michael Graham, radio talk show host on WTKK in Boston.  Gentlemen, good to have you with us.

Steven, is it a good idea for the Democratic liberal groups to get aggressive on the people stopping public option? 

STEVEN A. SMITH, JOURNALIST AND COMMENTATOR:  I have no problem with it whatsoever, because you‘re holding the politicians responsible.  You‘re making them stand up front and center.  You‘re putting them on front street.  And you‘re saying you represent us.  What do you stand for?  What are you going to do? 

Not only that, your digging into the record.  You‘re digging into their history.  You want to see who‘s paying for them.  You‘re trying to buy them off.  I have absolutely no problem whatsoever on politicians who are put on front street.  As a matter of fact, I think it‘s a beautiful thing.  This is as American as it gets. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael Graham, we know over on the conservative side, Tom Delay was good for pulling people aside and twisting their arm.  Running ads against your own folks isn‘t exactly what the conservatives have done.  How do you think this will play out?

MICHAEL GRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  First, I don‘t agree with that.  Have you heard of John McCain.  He had a couple problems with people like me when he was running for office.  I want liberals to spend as much money as possible attacking Democrats.  Go at it.  Can I donate?  Go ahead, go for it.  I agree with Steven. 

SCHULTZ:  You can donate to their website.  In fact, I would like to see them run ads against all these conservative Democrats that aren‘t getting it right. 

GRAHAM:  I like the idea of making them explain.  For example, explain what‘s going to pay for Ben‘s health care, the young man who has no health care coverage, the young man who, under Obama‘s plan, would not be able to buy catastrophic care alone.  He would have to buy an expensive plan.  In the case of his income, he would probably be subsidized by his neighbors.  His neighbors are going to see their taxes go up because Ben didn‘t pay for his own health care.

So please, explain it.  I‘d love to hear that explanation.

SMITH:  I want to say this.  I appreciate the fact that you agree with me, Michael.  But at the same time, I think the same should be applied to the Republicans as well.  I want their constituents out there really putting them on front street, and making sure they have to stand up and explain why they are against a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, you mean to tell me there are no Republicans out there that are having a tough time with health care?  You asked the question about who‘s going to pay for it.  Buddy, if you‘re in the top two percent, get your wallet out, because that‘s where we‘re going to end up going.  You‘re going to repeal the Bush tax cuts.  This economy was just great—

Admit it, the economy under Clinton was just great when these taxes were invoked back then.  You know what the story is, Michael.  Come on. 

GRAHAM:  I‘m not going to relive the tech bubble bursting and the collapse of the economy in the year 2000 when President Clinton was still in office.  It wasn‘t his fault.  It happened.

I do want to say this: you‘re right that Republicans need to have a proposal.  The more they talk about numbers, the more they win.  I don‘t know where you‘re getting your numbers from today.  You saw the new Rasmussen poll tonight; 41 percent of Americans support this plan; 80 percent of Americans like the health care they have right now.  Those are the real numbers. 

SCHULTZ:  That was the very conservative Rasmussen poll.  So we‘re getting down to the nitty gritty here, fellows.  We‘re going to find out if it‘s going to cost anybody some real seats a year from now.  But before that, Max Baucus just can‘t continue to have his numbers erode like this and expect to be back in there. 

SMITH:  He‘s talking about expanding Medicare permanently.  Any time you talk about that—when you talk about adding about 11 to 15 million people to the Medicaid program, and you still haven‘t definitively said how you‘re going to pay into it—all I‘m saying is—but, again, people are debating how accurate the plan is. 

SCHULTZ:  If the people want it, why not do it? 

SMITH:  People have an obligation to know exactly what they want, not to just say, I want a public option.  They need it—the people need to be able to say this is how we‘re going to pay for it. 

SCHULTZ:  We never had the war on budget.  Michael, you know that for a fact.  We never had Iraq and Afghanistan on budget.  There was no complaint about it then.  Why should there be a complaint on this?  Why are you guys so worried about who‘s going to pay for it?  The rich people are going to pay for it. 

GRAHAM:  The notion that people are going to pay for their own—if they could pay for their own, they wouldn‘t need the government-subsidized program you‘re trying to shove down our throats. 

Just remember something, Medicare was supposed to cost 10 billion dollars by the year 1990.  It cost 110 billion dollars.  The American people are—

SCHULTZ:  There‘s no question that there‘s tweaking that has to be done.  The fact is that people who have insurance are paying double—paying at least one extra premium a year—a year to pay for those who don‘t have it.  We have to fix that. 

SMITH:  Let‘s not act like every—there are abundance of people out there against the public option.  You have an abundance of people out there asking how are you going to pay for it?  I‘m for the public option.  You‘re for the public option. 

But we want to know, what are you going to do to pay for it?  If the Democrats can‘t answer that question, you got a problem. 

SCHULTZ:  But Steven A., how do you explain the numbers?  The numbers are in double digit, way beyond people in favor of it.  Apparently, the cost isn‘t a big concern, only to the minority.  That would be the Republicans. 

SCHULTZ:  Sometimes they say that.  But sometimes we find that their numbers are a bit askew. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, your taxes are going up.  That‘s all I care about. 

You need to pay.

GRAHAM:  I hope I make enough money.  That would be great. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephen A., how about my man, Brett Favre, huh? 

SMITH:  I got to give him his props.  He showed up Sunday. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you with us, fellows.  Coming up, Republican fear monger Lindsey Graham says we‘re facing a trifecta of disasters in the Middle East, that things are so bad, we‘re walking down the road to Armageddon?  I‘ll ask a leading national security expert what he thinks of that in just a minute.  Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  We need a big chalk board for this one.  It‘s a big one.  In my playbook tonight, Iran is seriously testing everybody‘s patience across the globe.  As soon as President Obama and other world leaders spoke out about Iran breaking the rules by having a nuclear facility, an offended Ahmadinejad fired off a bunch of missiles, some of which can make it to Israel and parts of Europe.  These missiles give Obama‘s team just one more thing to worry about, as they put together a strategy for talks with Iran this Thursday in Geneva. 

Joining me now is Matthews Duss.  Matthew is a national security researcher at the Center For American Progress.  Mr. Duss, good to have you on tonight. 

I want you first to tell us how serious is this that—did we know they had this capability with these missiles?  Or is this, too, new information? 

MATTHEW DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  It‘s not very knew information.  We‘ve known that they‘ve had missiles with this range for some time.  But it‘s always serious business when a country with the history of Iran starts showing off its missile capability. 

However, we really shouldn‘t make too much of it.  I think they were put on their back foot by President Obama‘s rollout of the intelligence about their secret nuclear facility near Qom, and they clearly felt that they needed some demonstration of strength to put them in a better position going into negotiations. 

SCHULTZ:  This is Secretary of State—Robert Gates.  I want to play this, when he was asked a Ed about the possibility of a military option.  What do you think a military option would be at this point if we decided to go down that road, Mr. Duss? 

DUSS:  You know, I think what Secretary Gates said was correct, is that, in the best-case scenario, a military strike on Iran‘s nuclear facilities, at least the ones we know about—because we think there are the ones we don‘t know about—would set the Iranian nuclear program back maybe a few years. 

At the same time—and I think this is not being discussed nearly enough—is that we—there are likely consequences of such a strike that would be disastrous. 

SCHULTZ:  This is Secretary of Defense Gates on the situation militarily.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  There is no military option that does anything more than buy time.  The estimates are one to three years or so.  And the only way you end up not having a nuclear capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons as opposed to strengthened. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Matthew, we better be correct on all these timetables that are being thrown out there.  How accurate are we and how good is our intelligence, do you think? 

DUSS:  It‘s always an inexact science.  The best information we have is that Iran is still some time away from a nuclear capability.  However, there are a number of clocks working here.  There‘s, first of all, the nuclear clock.  There‘s the clock according to Israel, which has made clear numerous times that they see the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat.  And there‘s increasing fear in the U.S. government they might strike.  But there‘s the Iranian Democratic clock. 

SCHULTZ:  How do the missiles effect the upcoming talks?  What do you think?

DUSS:  Well, I think this was more for Iranian domestic consumption than international consumption.  There are two components to that.  But we‘re looking at an Iranian regime that is now, after the elections and the coup that occurred—we‘re looking at a regime that is in bad shape domestically.  It‘s lost a lot of legitimacy.  And historically, in situations like this, it has sought to externalize domestic problems by creating incidents like this. 

SCHULTZ:  This is Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.  I‘ll tell you, South Carolina elected officials are sure in the news a lot, and they like to talk.  Here he is talking about Armageddon.  What do you make of this?  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I‘ve got one rule of thumb; if the president of a country denies the Holocaust, we should believe the worst, not the best about what they‘re doing.  Clearly, they‘re hiding nuclear programs for a purpose.  They‘re trying to develop a nuclear weapon.  If they are successful, the Sunni Arab states in the region will want a nuclear weapon.  Israel becomes much at risk.  We‘re walking down the road to Armageddon. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I never heard that nine month ago, when Bush was around.  A lot of things have changed.  I want your thoughts on that. 

DUSS:  As my friend, the international relations scholar Rob Farley, says, every country has its neo-cons.  Those Iranian neo-cons and American neo-cons can be counted on to kind of always talk about the worst-case scenarios and expect and assume the worst about their adversaries. 

SCHULTZ:  Matthew Duss, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.

DUSS:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, the heat is on the Senate Finance Committee, as they face a do or die vote on the public option tomorrow.  It‘s time to finally see who‘s got the guts and who‘s got the go.  Joan Walsh joins me on that issue and other things, coming up next on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

DAVID GREGORY, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Your wife famously talked about the vast right wing conspiracy targeting you.  As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there? 

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Oh, you bet.  sure it is.  It‘s not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically.  But it‘s as virulent as it was. 

It‘s not really good for the Republicans in the country what‘s going on now.  They may be hurting President Obama.  They can take his numbers down.  They can run his opposition up.  But fundamentally, he and his team have a positive agenda for America.  Their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail.  That‘s not a prescription for a good America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That is a key point from the former president.  Bill Clinton says the Republicans‘ Waterloo strategy is bad for their party and won‘t help them take back control of the Congress in the next election.  I agree.

For more, let‘s bring in Joan Walsh, editor in chief, Salon.com.  Joan, good to have you on with us tonight.  Do you agree that all of this fallout talk, that if the Democrats don‘t get exactly the health care bill that they want, that a bunch of seats are going to be lost?  What about what former President Clinton had to say there? 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Yes, I agree with President Clinton.  I think it‘s far too early to say what‘s going to happen in 2010.  I think the Democrats should try a very unusual strategy for Democrats.  That is delivering on their promises, and that will do them well in 2010. 

We had a Congress that was elected in 2006 promising to end the Iraq war.  They did not end the Iraq war.  We had people get elected in 2008, including the president, saying they were going to give us universal health care with the public option.  So far we don‘t have it. 

So why don‘t they try consistency and try delivering for their people? 

That might be a winning strategy for a change. 

SCHULTZ:  If it doesn‘t work for the Democrats, here‘s another piece of that “Meet the Press: interview with David Gregory and the former president.  Is it going to be a repeat of ‘94?  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY:  Do you worry about a repeat of ‘94, politically? 

CLINTON:  There‘s no way they can make it that bad for several reasons.  Number one, the country is more diverse and more interested in positive action.  Number two, they‘ve seen this movie before because they had eight years under President Bush, when the Republicans had the whole government.  And they knew the results were bad. 

Number three, the Democrats haven‘t taken on the gun lobby like I did.  And they took 15 of our members out.  I don‘t think it will be—whatever happens, it will be manageable for the president. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joan Walsh, this is just a good old pep talk from the former president that things aren‘t all that bad.  That‘s how I‘m taking it.  What do you think? 

WALSH:  I take it the same way.  I thought that was a little bit of a dig at Obama and the Democrats for not taking on the NRA the way he did.  He‘s very proud of that and he should be. 

You know, I think he‘s also trying to focus on something else, I think, Ed.  You and I have talked about the role race has played in the opposition to the president.  It‘s disgusting and it‘s there. 

However, this is what Republicans do to Democrats.  They called President Clinton a murderer, a rapist, a drug dealer.  The Lewinsky stuff was small potatoes compared to what they were saying in his first term.  Jerry Falwell was peddling that crap. 

So President Clinton faced his own kind of smear campaign.  They throw the kitchen sink at the Democrats and sometimes it works.  He‘s trying to remind Democrats, fight back, stand for what you believe in, and know your enemy. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan, what about the liberal groups targeting Max Baucus with television ads in his own backyard, to erode on his numbers, to get him to shift his position?  Got a big vote coming up tomorrow in the Senate Finance Committee with Senator Rockefeller, Senator Schumer coming forth with this amendment.  Who knows, we might end up with five bills all with the public option.  Probably not. 

What do you make of liberal groups going after these conservative senators?  Will it have an impact? 

WALSH:  I love it.  I hope so.  Max Baucus has a tough night ahead of him.  He‘s really got to wrestle with the question of whether he is the senator from Montana or the senator from the insurance industry.  It‘s a very simple question. 

When you look at his constituents in that ad and you see the human cost, I hope it gets through to him.  I think it‘s a terrific thing for progressives to do.  It‘s long past due. 

SCHULTZ:  And, you know, it is long past due.  I‘d like to see these guys flip.  I mean, why not?  This is what the people want.  Why do I feel, Joan Walsh, that the White House staff is behind closed doors high-fiving one another, saying, yes, those liberal groups are going to get them now. 

WALSH:  I don‘t even have a problem with that.  I‘m fine understanding that the liberal and progressive group have to stick together and they have to make this president—in the famous words of FDR, you have to make me do these things.  We have to make him do these things.  We have to be organized.  We have to be tough.  We have to be smart.  I‘m OK with that. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Joan.

WALSH:  I just hope they‘re not behind closed doors selling us out.

SCHULTZ:  Absolutely.  Great to have you with us.  Joan Walsh, Salon.com. 

Our staff has received a phone call from Congressman Jim Cooper‘s office in Tennessee.  He says he is firmly supporting a public option.  Two great things.  Number one, I‘m glad they‘re watching.  And number two, most of all, he‘s on the correct side of the issue. 

Earlier in the show, I asked you, what do you think?  Do you think liberal groups targeting Democrats is a good or a bad idea?  Ninety two percent of you said it‘s a good idea; eight percent say its‘ a bad idea. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  “HARDBALL” is next.

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