updated 3/8/2010 11:03:17 AM ET 2010-03-08T16:03:17

Guests: Luke Russert, Bill Halter, Adam Green, Raul Grijalva, Jack Rice, Jonathan Alter, Heidi Harris, Glenn Greenwald, Jon Soltz, Lizz Winstead

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.

These stories are hitting my hot buttons tonight. 

Blanche Lincoln thumbs her nose at the Democratic agenda with a new TV ad.  So why in the heck are President Obama and former President Bill Clinton backing her for re-election?  I‘ll ask Lincoln‘s challenger, Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, what the counter punch is going to be. 

The Obama administration will reportedly reverse its decision to try KSM in a civilian court.  This would be a huge mistake, and flip-flopping would play right into the hands of the president‘s Republican critics. 

Plus, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, Eric Massa just announced he‘s resigning from Congress.  That‘s one less vote for Nancy Pelosi when it comes to health care reform. 

We‘ll have the full report. 

But first, the top story tonight.  This is the one that I‘m really fired up about. 

You know, it‘s good to have friends in high places.  President Obama and former President Bill Clinton have thrown their support behind Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln.  I find it interesting.  In fact, I‘d like to hear what both Obama and Clinton agree with in this commercial. 


SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS:  I voted against giving more money to Wall Street, against the auto company bailout, against the public option health care plan, and against the cap and trade bill that would have raised costs on our Arkansans.  None of those were right for Arkansas.

Some in my party didn‘t like it very much, but I approve this message because I don‘t answer to my party.  I answer to Arkansas. 


SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, she says she voted against giving more money to Wall Street.  That‘s more than interesting, because she voted for the initial bank bailout.  She voted against the auto company bailout that President Obama was pushing so hard for. 

And by the way, it was not a bailout.  It was a loan that is being paid back. 

She voted against the public option.  President Obama told House progressives that he wants the public option.  But, of course, the votes aren‘t there because of people like Blanche Lincoln. 

She voted against the cap and trade bill that President Obama campaigned on.  It was a big issue.  In fact, that‘s the same bill that Rahm Emanuel famously twisted arms on, on Capitol Hill.  Cap and trade, let‘s see, that‘s probably just one of those 290 bills that senators like Blanche Lincoln have stalled. 

Lincoln says she doesn‘t answer to her party.  You‘re doggoned right she doesn‘t answer to her party.  She sticks it to the progressive agenda every single chance she gets. 

Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, why do they just feel the need to back someone who has been just so against change?  I thought this was all about change. 

This is really why.  People do not like Washington.  Say one thing and do something else. 

It looks like a god old boy‘s club, doesn‘t it?  You scratch my back, I‘ll scratch yours.  Congress is still loyal to one thing, and that‘s the almighty dollar. 

You see, Wal-Mart, down in Arkansas, they don‘t want unions.  Blanche Lincoln votes against them.

Big oil doesn‘t want cap and trade.  Blanche Lincoln shuts it down. 

If you live in Arkansas, do you really feel like you need health care?  Of course you do.  She‘s not loyal to that issue at all, giving the private sector some competition with the public option. 

And, oh, by the way, if you own a GM dealership, she‘s not loyal to that either. 

Blanche Lincoln doesn‘t have to worry because I guess she‘s got President Obama and President Clinton in her back pocket supporting her.  I want to know if they are going to campaign for her on her behalf after that voting record.

Get your cell phones out, folks.  I want to know what you think about all of this.

Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you believe Blanche Lincoln, the senator from Arkansas, deserves President Obama‘s support? 

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

Well, joining me right off the top tonight is Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, a Democrat who is challenging Senator Blanche Lincoln and was with us just a few nights ago.  But now that that television commercial is out, and now it‘s very clear where the White House and Bill Clinton stand, I would like to know what the counter punch is going to be. 

Lieutenant Governor, what do you make of this?  Not too many people have a sitting president and a former president rooting against them. 

What do you think? 

LT. GOV. BILL HALTER (D), ARKANSAS:  Well, I think it‘s OK, Ed, in this sense.  I want to come back to the ad. 

As you so accurately pointed out, the first claim made in that ad was that she voted against the Wall Street bailout bill.  But as you pointed out, she, in fact, did vote for the bailout bill.

And, of course, she said she was against the public option, but, of course, not before she was for the public option.  In fact, on the very day that she went down to the floor to announce that she would filibuster the public option, she still had support for the public option up on her Web site. 

So, I think we‘ve got a lot of wavering here on different policy initiatives, and I think that speaks for itself. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Halter, this is one of the reasons why you‘ve been able to get a lot of money from the progressive groups, is the public option.  Many of them want it. 

My sources are telling me tonight that there is one particular group that is going to approach you and ask you to call President Obama to shift his support based on that issue and the Wall Street bailout.  If you were asked by this particular group—and I was told this, it hasn‘t been confirmed, but I feel strong enough about it to ask you the question—would you call President Obama and ask him to switch his allegiance to you in this election based on that issue?  And if you are asked, will you do it? 

HALTER:  Well, I‘ve got to say, Ed, if other people wish to call or write the president and ask him to reconsider, that‘s their business.  I‘m not in the business very often, I will tell you, of calling the president and asking him to do something.  So I‘m going to—

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s campaigning, isn‘t it?  Why not campaign at the highest level? 

HALTER:  Well, let me say this—I‘m focused on campaigning in Arkansas for the votes of Arkansans.  We‘ll have about 300,000 Arkansans turn out, I believe, at the Democratic primary, and I‘m going after those folks.  You know, we‘re going to need about 150,000 plus one, and I‘m focusing my efforts on those folks. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, what are you going to—how are you going to spend $5 million in 73 days? 

HALTER:  Well, let me say this—there‘s only $1.1 million in our campaign.  There are some other folks that have indicated publicly that they are looking at spending money, but our campaign doesn‘t deal with that. 

To contrast, Senator Lincoln has raised $7 million, and she has complete control over that.  So we still need help, Ed. 

I want to share with you one thing, though.  You were talking about Arkansas voters. 

The cards and the letters are coming in.  I‘ve got to share this with you.  It‘s short. 

“Dear Bill Halter, Enclosed, a donation of $50 for your campaign.  We are both supporting you.  We are almost 80, retired and on fixed incomes, and we feel that Washington is taking advantage of us.  P.S., You may use our testimony in any way that you wish.”

This is from a couple, an 80-year-old couple, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. 

I feel good about having their two votes.  All we need to do now is go get about 150,000 more. 

SCHULTZ:  I want you to make that phone call to the president.  I‘ll ask you tonight to do it.

HALTER:  I‘ll tell you what, Ed.  You make that phone call on my behalf.  How about that? 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

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

HALTER:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s bring in Adam Green, of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  You can find them on the Web at boldprogressives.org. 

Adam Green, how involved is your organization going to be in this effort to unseat Blanche Lincoln, who obviously has been against the public option? 

ADAM GREEN, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE:  This is definitely a key progressive movement priority.  Our group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Daily Kos and so many others, many unions and many environmental groups, it‘s kind of weird.  There is unity because Blanche Lincoln has let down pretty much every progressive cause there is. 

So, it will be a huge movement priority.  And when Bill Halter wins—and I believe he will win—it will send shock waves throughout the Democratic Party and send a signal that Democratic voters want Democratic politicians to stand up for them and to stop caving to corporate interests. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, how much of an issue is it that the president is supporting Blanche Lincoln, along with former President Bill Clinton?  And I find it interesting that Mr. Clinton has gotten into this in the first week. 

GREEN:  You know, I said this to you before on your radio show.  I think it‘s partly incumbent on us to teach the president how to fight. 

It‘s really unfortunate sometimes when he‘s in the D.C. bubble that he kind of goes along with the Republicans, goes along with the corporate Democrats.  But for some reason, feels that it‘s bipartisan to stick up to progressives and about 60 percent of the country that want the public option. 


SCHULTZ:  Have you had any reaction—has your organization had any reaction at all, or some of the other progressive groups, from the White House on your support for Halter? 

GREEN:  Not directly from the White House on that, no. 

SCHULTZ:  So they have been quiet?  Their silence, I guess you could say, is deafening on this? 

GREEN:  It may be deafening.  Honestly, we don‘t get too many calls from the White House after we‘ve been so vocal on the public option.  I don‘t think they‘re—yes. 

SCHULTZ:  Does the list stop at 35?  Will you get more senators on Senator Bennet‘s list—letter? 

GREEN:  We have to.  And this is a key question. 

In two weeks, 35 senators have stepped up when it was zero just two weeks ago.  And here‘s what‘s interesting. 

People like Tom Harkin, people like Russ Feingold are not yet on the record.  You know, a lot of liberal progressive people who support the public option in their heart aren‘t committing to voting for it in reconciliation.  And unfortunately, this is somewhat induced by the White House. 

They have been putting the kibosh on it.  They‘ve been saying the votes don‘t exist.

So, today, I‘d kind of like to issue a challenge to Harry Reid, a respectful one. 

You know, you have it in your power to ask senators to show their cards by just scheduling an up-or-down vote.  President Obama keeps saying he want‘s an up-or-down vote. 

Tonight, this coming week, we need Harry Reid to say there will be an up-or-down vote.  That would liberate people like Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Daniel Akaka, Claire McCaskill and so many others to finally put their cards on the table and tell the American people and their constituents that they will be there for a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Adam Green, good to have you with us tonight on THE ED SHOW. 

Thanks so much.

GREEN:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are doing a full-court press to round up the votes in the House for health care reform.  The president met with progressives yesterday at the White House and told them privately that he will continue to fight for a public option after the current bill is signed into law. 

The president also reportedly asked progressives to think about what failing to finish health care reform would do to his presidency and the Democratic Party. 

For more on this, joining me now is Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, and he is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 

Congressman, I need to hear it from you.  What did President Obama say about the public option in this meeting yesterday?

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA:  Well, I thought the meeting was a good, healthy exchange.  The comments on the public option was that he supported it, and that he has supported it.  And that, you know, while popular opinion, which is very strong out there among the American people for the public option is strong, that that opinion does not hold true in the Senate.  And that‘s where the votes are to be counted. 

I want to commend Mr. Green for the number of senators that have signed the letter that they support the public option.  I think it is a threshold number of 35 and growing. 

We have 130 in the Democratic Caucus in the House that signed the letter as well, and growing.  So there is a momentum here. 

And I think there is an opportunity still within this reconciliation process to deal with the public option, not ignore it.  I think it is a winner.  It‘s a winner both for competition and it‘s a winner politically. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, there‘s no question about it.  Politically, it is a winner.  And that‘s what I don‘t get about it. 

So, the president says he wants it.  Why won‘t he fight for it?  Why won‘t he demand it in the bill? 

GRIJALVA:  Well, that‘s been the frustration of many of us, that we felt that equivocation on the issue early on didn‘t help the status.  And I‘m glad the House did what they had to do to get it done, and now we‘re pushing the Senate to do their part.  I think it‘s important that we get it done. 

SCHULTZ:  And Congressman Grijalva, tell us, did the president say that he thought his presidency would be affected if this didn‘t go by?  Did he admit that?  Because I don‘t believe that has been said in the past.  Was there an admission by the president? 

GRIJALVA:  No.  The opinion—and it was the opinion of some of us, and myself included—was it‘s a historic vote.  If we do not build a building block on health care reform, then it is going to be more difficult to get other thing done as we move along on the agenda. 


GRIJALVA:  The question that becomes fundamentally, if we don‘t stand tough on some things that the American people need and want, how are we going to reconcile the future agenda if we can‘t put the fight up on this one? 

SCHULTZ:  So, basically, the president brought the progressives over for a meeting and asked for the order.  He asked you to get on board with this.  Take this now and we‘ll work on it later. 

Is that basically how it came down? 

GRIJALVA:  I think he gave his personal commitment that he would work on it later. 


GRIJALVA:  I think some of the frustration that was expressed at that meeting is a frustration that you hear and that I hear every day when I‘m back here at home with my constituents—why aren‘t we doing more? 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

GRIJALVA:  My pleasure. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, Congressman Eric Massa has had one tough week.  He‘s had a CAT scan.  The results of that aren‘t good.  And an alleged sex scandal have led to his resignation. 

NBC‘s Luke Russert joins me for all the latest from Capitol Hill on this move that could affect health care reform. 

And the White House may buckle to the right-wing pressure on the KSM terror trial.  I think President Obama needs to really get a spine on this one and fight back. 

Plus, “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead is in the house.  And another birther lands in the zone. 

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


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

A shocking announcement came from New York Democratic Congressman Eric Massa just a short time ago.  He is resigning his seat effective Monday.  This story has snowballed over the last 72 hours and couldn‘t come at a worse time for the Democrats, who are counting heads and they need every vote on health care reform.

For more on this, let‘s bring in NBC‘s Luke Russert. 

Luke, what‘s the back-story on this?  What changed in the last 24 hours? 

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, what changed, Ed, was the announcement yesterday by the House Ethics Committee that they were opening up a full-court press investigation into these allegations of sexual harassment against Congressman Massa.  By resigning, that investigation will no longer take place. 

In his press release, he said that he was doing this for his family because this would tear his family apart, if they were to actively look into this investigation.  Talking to his local newspaper, “The Leader,” he said, “I‘m guilty.  I can‘t fight it.” 

Also, Ed, it was one of the weirdest press releases that people have seen up on Capitol Hill in recent memory.  It included a line—“During long car rides, in the early hours of the evening, late at night and always in private, I know that my language failed to meet the standards that I set for all around me and myself.” 

Not something you see every day from a politician who‘s resigning his seat. 

SCHULTZ:  He also made this statement: “I‘m deeply flawed.  I want to make something perfectly clear.  My difficulties are my own making, period.” 

“I also am aware that blogs and radio will have a field day with this in today‘s destructive and unforgiving political environment.  It is that investigators would be free to ask anything about me going back to my birth.  I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection.  God knows that I am deeply flawed and imperfect person.” 

RUSSERT:  Quite a—he doesn‘t really leave any stone unturned there, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  No, he doesn‘t.

RUSSERT:  Pretty much coming out full scale, admitting that he‘s in error. 

SCHULTZ:  And where does this leave the Democrats?  Every vote counts on health care reform. 

RUSSERT:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  I guess from a positive standpoint, it does get a scandal out of the news, although there will be one more day of it.  He‘s going to speak in front of the cameras on Monday, and we‘re told that he will address all of this at 5:00 on Monday. 

What do you think? 

RUSSERT:  Well, Ed, it now makes the magic number that Nancy Pelosi needs to get to at 216. 

Now, remember, Congressman Massa did vote against health care reform back in November.  So, some folks are saying, well, this is actually good for Nancy Pelosi because it gets rid of a “no” vote. 

However, other Democrats I spoke to said that they were confident that Massa, especially announcing that he was going to retire at the end of his term, and is essentially a lame duck, would have come on board.  So, no one will ever really know for sure whether or not this actually helps them with health care reform or hurts them. 

But in the long run, this has been a terrible week for Democrats with the news of Charlie Rangel having to step down from his House—the Ways and Means Committee, and now with this of Massa on Friday.  It‘s one week that I‘m sure Democrats would love to forget.

SCHULTZ:  And don‘t forget the governor of New York.  He seems to be in the news daily. 

Thanks, Luke.

RUSSERT:  It‘s a heck of a week for New York. 


Luke Russert with us tonight from Washington.

Coming up, a crazy congressman from Georgia jumped on the birther bandwagon and then compared the president to a reality show tart. 

That‘s next in “Psycho Talk.”  


SCHULTZ:  And it‘s a Friday edition of “Psycho Talk.”  

Just when you thought the crazy questioning of Obama‘s place of birth had died down, whacko Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia starts making noise again. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You think he‘s an American citizen and a Christian?

REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA:  Well, I‘m not going to get involved in that.  What I‘m talking about—


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can‘t say that he‘s an American citizen?  You can‘t say that the president is an American citizen? 

BROUN:  I don‘t know. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You don‘t know.  And is he a Christian? 

BROUN:  I don‘t know that. 


SCHULTZ:  Congressman, President Obama‘s certification of birth is online.  How can you not know that by now? 

And the righties spent months attacking Obama for his connection to Jeremiah Wright.  Well, Reverend Wright is a Christian.  Obama can‘t be his disciple but then not be a Christian.

Look, you can‘t have it both ways. 

Of course this kind of “Psycho Talk” is nothing new for Paul Broun.  When Obama announced his health care plan this week, Broun compared it to this ditzy character from a hit reality show. 

He said, “I don‘t know if we should be insulted or humored at the president‘s feeble attempts to incorporate Republican ideas into his latest health care proposal.  Snooki, from ‘The Jersey Shore,‘ has more substance than President Obama‘s offer.”

Congressman, come on now.  You may want to lay off the MTV and flip on the news every now and then, because for you to know who Snooki is but not know if President Obama is an American citizen, buddy, that‘s Friday night “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, I think the White House is about to make a huge mistake on the KSM trial.  Former officer from the CIA Jack Rice will respond in just a moment. 

And our addiction to foreign oil is costing us a lot more than money. 

It‘s costing us American lives.  I‘ll explain in the “Playbook” tonight. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for joining us.  It seems Rahm Emanuel has won the war in the White House on terror trials.  The “Washington Post” reports that the Obama administration will reverse its decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts.  They now want it done in a military tribunal. 

I think—you know, look, this is a huge mistake if we‘re talking about getting the moral high ground.  Republicans claim that trying the terrorists in civilian court shows the president is weak on terror.  If the president flips on this, he‘ll prove them right.

But this isn‘t just about politics or saving face.  The statistics show that our federal court system has been far more effective than military tribunals when it comes to putting terrorists behind bars.  That‘s not the ACLU talking.  That‘s coming from retired General Colin Powell. 


COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE:  In eight years, the military commissions have put three people on trial.  Two of them served relatively short sentences and are free.  One guy is in jail.  Meanwhile, the federal courts, our article III, regular court system, has put dozens of terrorists in jail.  And they are fully capable of doing it. 


SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is Jack Rice, former CIA officer and federal prosecutor.  Jack, good to have you on tonight.  I‘m sure Colin Powell is absolutely right.  You can check the numbers easily.

Why would the Obama administration turn like this, and even think about making a change?  Because the people in New York want it?  What do you think? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA AGENT:  This is outrageous.  It‘s crazy that the Obama administration would do this.  What we have seen in the past is that the Republicans have always claimed national security as their bailiwick, as their own.  The problem here is that the Democrats, at least early on, were absolutely right on this issue.  And then they absolutely caved on it. 

Frankly, the secretary of state is absolutely right.  There have been three commissions—three convictions in military tribunals.  And two of those three served less than a year, and they are now free.  There have been more than 300 prosecutions and convictions on the civil side.  That‘s where this should be done. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, you‘re a former prosecutor.  Can you get the death penalty with a military tribunal?  There‘s a lot of talk that you can‘t.  Right or wrong?  What‘s going on here? 

RICE:  The problem is that We don‘t know, because it appears that you may not be able to actually plead guilty to a death penalty case in a tribunal.  This is party the problem.  You don‘t know exactly how it works.  Frankly, the standard may be harder. 

The biggest problem is this: is that in a civilian trial, the prosecutors are much better because they are far more experienced; the judges are far better, because they‘re far more experienced as well.  If you are looking for not just transparency, which I think is important, but the likelihood of a prosecution and conviction, you want it done where it‘s done well and done right.  And that is in a civilian case. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, do you think this makes the White House look weak?  I think it does.  I mean, this was all about showcasing to the world that we take the moral high ground.  We‘re not heavy handed.  We have the best judicial system on the face of the Earth.  Obama was all about a fair trial and justice.  And I think for them to even consider—because none of this would be taking place if the rightys had not made it an issue.  Your thoughts? 

RIVE:  I totally, totally agree with you.  If we think about where President Obama is now, versus where he seemed to be not that long ago—first of all, he undercut Eric holder, the attorney general.  Come on, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad is nothing but a thug  If we say that he killed all of these people, then we should prove it.  Obviously, we should prove it in a place where he committed the crimes, allegedly.  That is in Lower Manhattan. 

The idea of treating him like a holy warrior and rolling him into a military tribunal, where we may or may not get the success that we‘re looking for, is a disaster.  Frankly, the worst part is it may actually motivate people to do ever worse things against us than they already have done, because at least we had the high ground to say, we believe so strongly in what we stand for that we will even put the brain, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, on trial in a civilian courtroom.  And now nothing. 

SCHULTZ:  You think the administration is going to have to come back and sell hard to the American people that, hey, we‘re doing this because of concerns in New York, the citizens here.  It‘s going to hurt business down at that part of the courthouse and what not, and security issues.  Bloomberg has done a flip-flop on this as well.  Chuck Schumer was pretty vocal about it.  It would seem to me that the White House would have to give reasons that New Yorkers are giving if they‘re going to make this shift, not that they are going to get a better outcome. 

SCHULTZ:  Please.  This is pandering at its best.  By the way, it‘s not just President Obama.  I blame the democratic leadership as well.  They are—they could stand up.  The Democrats lack spine.  They lack will.  And they look weak when it comes to national security.  They deserve our rejection when it comes to this issue again, again. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, great to have you on.  Thanks so much. 

For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Jonathon Alter, a “Newsweek” columnist and NBC News analyst, and Heidi Harris, radio talk show host out of AM 720 KDWN in Las Vegas.  I want to ask you, Jonathan, first, if I may tonight, an interesting point made by Jack Rice.  Do you think that the president has undercut the attorney general after he made the decision to have the trial in Manhattan? 

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  No question.  Look, it‘s one thing to reserve the decision to hold the trial in Manhattan.  You can understand, with the community opposition, if the mayor doesn‘t want it, if the chief police doesn‘t want it—sometimes you have to face reality.  It wouldn‘t be the worst thing in the world to hold a civilian trial, you know, on Governor‘s Island or some place where it was easier to secure.  Fine, that‘s a reasonable compromise.

But taking it out of the civilian courts and putting it in these military tribunals, it totally undercuts the attorney general.  It‘s a major policy reversal.  As we‘ve heard for the last few minutes, it doesn‘t even help us do what we want to do, which is put these guys away forever or execute them.  Because the prosecutors have less experience in the military tribunals, there are more appeals.  And the reason that KSM hasn‘t been tried to date is because all of these appeals go up to the Supreme Court.  And anything that has to do with a military tribunal -- 

If you want these guys either executed or sent away as fast as possible, if you want speedy justice, you should be for doing it in civilian courts.  I wish the administration had just gone out and made that argument, maybe said, OK, we‘re going to take the trial out of New York City, but we are going to explain and educate the public on why speedier justice requires doing this in civilian court. 

SCHULTZ:  Jonathan, also—and I don‘t know this.  Is it the president‘s call or is it Eric Holder‘s call? 

ALTER:  Well, you know, that‘s a—

SCHULTZ:  Yeah. 

ALTER:  Legally, the president is Eric Holder‘s boss.  But what happened was when he was campaigning, Barack Obama said, unlike the Bushies, my attorney general is not going to be my personal lawyer.  He‘s going to be the people‘s lawyer.  I‘m going to give him autonomy.  He wanted to make good on that by letting Holder, who is a good friend of his, make this decision.  He made the decision, and then he got under cut. 

SCHULTZ:  Heidi Harris, how do you read this potential move by the Obama administration? 

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, you know, it‘s interesting.  I don‘t know if KSM is ever going to come to justice at all.  Even if they move it to the military tribunal, we don‘t know if they are going to be able to use the evidence gathered during water-boarding.  We have no idea.  If you can‘t use that evidence, how is he going to be put to death? 

ALTER:  Heidi, that‘s a total non-issue.  I cannot believe people are still raising this.

HARRIS:  Wait a minute.  I‘m asking the question. 

ALTER:  Water-boarding has nothing to do with this. 

HARRIS:  I don‘t know.  Wait a minute.  I don‘t know. 

ALTER:  Can I explain it to you? 

HARRIS:  I‘m talking about the evidence. 

ALTER:  Can I just try to explain it to you because it‘s real obvious. 

It‘s not a gray are at all.


ALTER:  Can I just try to explain it to you, because you said something that is flatly untrue.  It‘s entirely clear.  I understand this from my reporting in the Justice Department.  They do not need to use any of the interrogation evidence.  KSM has confessed over and over again, in many different ways. 

HARRIS:  I understand that. 

ALTER:  So water-boarding is 100 percent irrelevant. 

HARRIS:  OK.  I got that.  Obama said a couple of months ago, they are going to try him and put him to death.  I don‘t know why we‘re bothering to have a trial already.  Can you imagine that happening with somebody else?  Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty.  Obama said he‘ll be convicted.  He‘ll be put to death.  So does it really matter which courtroom we‘re in.  I don‘t really know why it matters. 

SCHULTZ:  Heidi, you have to view this as somewhat of a political victory. 

HARRIS:  Of course. 

SCHULTZ:  Because none of this would be going on if the conservatives in this country had not been going absolutely nuts about it on conservative talk radio across the country. 

HARRIS:  Well, yeah, the conservatives are doing it.  I think so.  I think conservatives have had a big role in this.  But also, he wants to close Guantanamo, and a lot of people think this is part of a deal to get Guantanamo closed, which he still has not done, which he promised.  You must be so disappointed, Ed.  He made all of these promises to you that he‘s not fulfilling. 

SCHULTZ:  There are a few that I‘m worried about it.  But I will say this, Jonathan, it‘s hard to support President Obama and come out and defend his positions, and advocate for the progressive agenda when he keeps changing his positions. 

ALTER:  Well, on this particular point, I‘m with you.  I‘m critical of him.  But I‘m so disgusted with right wing talk radio.  All they do is lie about this.  You hear them all the time saying, KSM is going to be on the streets of Manhattan eating a hot dog.  We have a 100 percent conviction rate of terrorists in this country in civilian courts.  You never hear that point made on talk radio.

Water-boarding would not be used.  His chances of escaping are basically zero.  But because we live in a Democratic society, we believe that he should be put on trial.  He‘s not going to be set free. 

SCHULTZ:  Jonathan Alter, Heidi Harris, great to have you with us

tonight.  Thanks so much for being on.  >

Coming up, the History Channel is behind a smear job on JFK.  Film maker Robert Greenwald wants to stop it right in its tracks.  He joins me next in the playbook.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, a veterans organization is fighting for clean energy.  The group VoteVets.org has a new commercial out that makes the connection between clean energy and national security.  They argue that if Congress passes legislation that makes us less reliant on foreign oil, it will also make us safer. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is the type of IED that earned me a Purple Heart in Iraq six years ago.  This is what our troops are up against today:

EFPs, especially designed to pierce American military armor.  It‘s devastating weapon and it was created in oil rich Iran.  They‘re ending up in the hands of our enemies. 

Every time oil goes up a dollar, Iran gets another 1.5 billion dollars to use against us.  Connection between oil and the enemy couldn‘t be clearer.  We need to break that connection by breaking our addiction, and we can by passing a clean energy climate plan.  It will cut our dependence on oil in half.  Some in Congress say it‘s a tough vote, not as tough as what our troops are up against. 


SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org.  Mr. Soltz, good to have you on tonight.  That is very coupling ad.  There‘s no question about it.  I want to ask you straight up, is it accurate? 

JON SOLTZ, VOTEVETS.ORG:  Absolutely, it‘s accurate, Ed.  We wouldn‘t put anything out that isn‘t.  The United States is the largest oil consumption country in the world.  We buy oil through—basically what happens when we buy the oil is it‘s driving the price up.  If we cut our production in oil, which the House legislation did, then we lower the price of oil across the board.  And then that hurts countries like Iran. 

Iran is very involved with terrorist organizations across the Middle East, like other countries are inside the Middle East.  But basically what we‘re trying to say is less American consumption of oil means less money to states that supports terrorism.  That stuff comes back and kills our troops overseas, like our veteran in the ad. 

SCHULTZ:  Jon, why haven‘t the Democrats or those who are in favor of clean energy in the Congress—why haven‘t they made a compelling case the way you have?  And are you somewhat frustrated that they haven‘t?  Are you asking them to do so?  It‘s kind of a three part question.  It all plays into one.  You‘re being very aggressive, saying that Congress has a responsibility because of this.  Your thoughts? 

SOLTZ:  Vote Vets is an aggressive organization because the stakes are so high for the people in it.  Our veterans, members of ours are still overseas fighting and getting killed.  We‘re going to be aggressive. 

The first thing is that the House was initially aggressive, passed this legislation that would cut our dependence on foreign oil in half.  What‘s happened in the process it there have been a lot of other issues that have arisen in our country.  We got involved in the health care debate.  There‘s now the jobs bill, and a bunch of other things that Congress thinks is a high priority. 

I would encourage everyone who sees this ad to go to Vote Vets, go to Operation Freeze—and really look at the facts here, and call Congress and say, listen, we need the Senate to move on John Kerry/Lindsay Graham‘s legislation, that is going to lower dependence by 50 percent.  Once we get it through the Senate, OK, then we‘re well on our way to getting this done.  It‘s only through the House.

And we need Democrats to lead.  This is about Senator Reid and the Democrats pushing this through to make it a priority. 

SCHULTZ:  Why is the ad running in Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Maine, Indiana, Alaska, and West Virginia?  Why just those states? 

SOLTZ:  Well, the message we‘re trying to show those senator is exactly what you said in your prior question.  We want them to see how they can talk to their constituents about this subject, that there‘s all these things here about—the big oil industry is promoting. 

You‘re either with big oil or you‘re with the troops on this.  We want them to show how important it is for them to go with the military.  We think it‘s important for Senator Warner in Virginia, or Senator Baucus in Montana, these senators—this is against Democrats and Republicans, to say, this is how you should frame this debate.  We know you‘re going to say this is a tough vote, but this is not as tough as what our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan face.  We want to show them how to talk about this with their constituents. 

SCHULTZ:  Jon Soltz, VoteVets.org, super job. 

SOLTZ:  Appreciate it. 

SCHULTZ:  I think it‘s very effective.  And I hope it does motivate some lawmakers to get after it, because you make a coupling case.  It‘s something that we can easily wrap our arms around and understand.  As you say, that is one of the 290 bills that the House has passed, that the Senate hasn‘t moved on.  Thanks, Jon.  Appreciate your time. 

One more page in my play book tonight.  The History Channel is taking a lot of heat for its steamy new mini series about John F. Kennedy.  The show hasn‘t even been filmed yet.  Some presidential historians have read the script and say it‘s mostly fiction.  Film maker Robert Greenwald interviewed some of them for a video posted on the website StopKennedySmears.com.


THURSTON CLARK, HISTORIAN:  If you are an historian and if you care about the truth, this is very hard stuff to read. 

THEODORE C. SORENSEN, HISTORIAN:  Every single conversation with the president and the Oval Office or elsewhere, in which I, according to the script, participated, never happened. 

NIGEL HAMILTON, HISTORIAN:  I can speak as an authority on JFK.  And, frankly, it‘s a travesty.  Why feed this kind of garbage in something called the History Channel?


SCHULTZ:  For more, let me bring in Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films.  Mr. Greenwald, great to have you on.  Again, you‘re right in the mix, going after it the way you have on so many issues.  Who is behind this?  And how strong of an effort is it going to stop it? 

ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS:  Well, Joel Surnow is behind it.  He‘s an open, public, very extreme conservative.  He‘s good friends with Rush Limbaugh.  And he talks about that.  That‘s his right and his privilege.  He has dinner with Clarence Thomas.  He works with Roger Ailes.  All of that is fine, Ed.  We know that.  It‘s a democracy and we love that. 

What is not fine is he has a political ideological agenda, and he‘s duped, somehow, the History Channel into working with him.  I have no idea why they would jeopardize their brand.  We have 50,000 people who have signed a petition at StopKennedySmears.  Why they would do this to support this dribble and this propaganda is something I truly don‘t understand. 

SCHULTZ:  Here is an excerpt from your production.  Here it is. 


RICK PERLSTEIN, HISTORIAN:  They talk about buses burning in the summer of 1962.  Well, you know, that was the spring of 1961.  They talk about reading the exit polls in 1960.  The exit polls weren‘t even invented until many years later. 

CLARKE:  We have a seen during the Berlin crisis, again in ‘61, where Jackie suddenly has this confrontation with him and says, I‘m going to take the kids and go to the Cape.  He tries to keep her a prisoner in the White House.  She was already in Cape Cod all summer.  She wasn‘t in the White House during the Berlin crisis.


SCHULTZ:  Mr. Greenwald, I have to ask you, is there anything in this proposed documentary—you‘ve read the script.  Is there anything in it that is true? 

GREENWALD:  Well, that Kennedy was president of the United States.  I think that‘s accurate.  That‘s in the documentary.  No, it‘s filled with inaccuracies.  The worst thing, Ed, other than the careless mistakes, again, is it‘s Joel Surnow‘s political agenda that drives so much of the distortion.  And we know how important history is.  We know how important narratives is.  The idea has been to have this ready for the 50th anniversary of Kennedy‘s inauguration.  And it‘s very important we speak out. 

Joel Surnow seems to have gone into the witness protection program, because we‘re not hearing from him.  We‘ve asked him and the History Channel to come forward, debate this, to explain it, justify it, and nothing.  I have no idea how they are going to get any reputable actor to be in this as they try to cast it. 

SCHULTZ:  So if they haven‘t shot anything yet, do you really think that there‘s a chance that this could happen? 

GREENWALD:  Well, I think it‘s critical that—

SCHULTZ:  I guess I want to say, Robert, you‘re really, really critical of it.  And I agree with you.  But from the middle of the road perspective, no footage has even been shot.  Why worry about it? 

GREENWALD:  That‘s exactly the time to worry about it, Ed.  My previous career was making film and television and mini-series.  And the time you can have an influence is actually now, because now the script can be changed.  Now the truth can be put in.  Now Joel Surnow can be dumped, so somebody without a political agenda is behind the—is the driving force. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Greenwald, appreciate your time.  Your website, again, on this is what? 

GREENWALD:  StopKennedySmears.com. >

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you on, Robert.  Thank you.  Up next, “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead, she‘s got a dandy to share with us.  An anti gay Republican just got busted for DUI on his way home from a gay nightclub.  That‘s up next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.  Don‘t you love that t-shirt?


SCHULTZ:  And welcome back.  If it‘s Friday, it‘s time for Club Ed, with Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the “Daily Show,” and the brains behind “Wake Up World,” which you can watch at www.WakeUpWorld.tv.  Gosh, nice shirt. 

LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIAN:  Do you like your face?  You kind of look crazy in it.  But here‘s what I‘m glad, Ed, is that you realize that I‘m a woman who is not too fat to be a model for your clothes. 

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

WINSTEAD:  Unlike fashion week. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, we say in Minnesota, nice fish.  I‘ll say nice shirt.  Let‘s—I‘ve got to ask you about—we‘re going through another Sarah Palin book.  Can we get through this? 

WINSTEAD:  You know, here‘s what is interesting: she‘s doing another book, and I was reading what it was going to be.  And it says that the book will include passages from other books that she likes, and then also tributes to people she admires, which—isn‘t that a magazine?  Isn‘t that what magazines are?  She‘s not even writing it.  It‘s just—it‘s things that she‘s culled from other people.

SCHULTZ:  What do you call the reality TV show?

WINSTEAD:  I think we should call it “So You Think You Can Think.”  Or “Who Wants to Make Me a Millionaire.”  Those are my two picks for the name of her reality show.

SCHULTZ:  All right, the story about this Republican who is openly anti-gay, gets caught—it‘s a DUI, coming home from a gay nightclub. 

WINSTEAD:  Ed, it‘s crazy. 

SCHULTZ:  Only you can talk about this, by the way. 

WINSTEAD:  What‘s nuts is he‘s vehemently anti-gay, vehemently gay legislator, goes to a gay club, gets hammered, and then blows a .14. 

SCHULTZ:  That would be very intoxicated, if I understand the law. 

WINSTEAD:  Yes, exactly.  And who knows about other things that were blown.  But all I‘m saying is that. 

SCHULTZ:  Lizz, you have been around television news room and the entertainment business a long time.  You‘ve got to do the commentary for us on this Italian broadcaster doing a newscast and something very strange breaks out right behind him.  Here it is. 

This is the videotape of an Italian guy. 

There he is.  What is this all about? 

WINSTEAD:  I think it looks like me and Heidi Harris behind him going at it.  Where does she come from?  No-fact-istan?  Honestly, Ed, why does she keep coming on your show?  The woman has never said one correct thing.  And look, there‘s me taking it to Heidi.  Boom, Heidi lies.  Boom.  Boom about the water-boarding.  Boom.  There you go.  And Heidi is down.  I‘m the victor. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Back to the serious stuff. 

What about the KSM trial? 

WINSTEAD:  Ed, the whole thing kind of freaks me out, because it looks like, when it comes to any kind of national security thing, whether it‘s wire tapping, Obama will say one thing, and then one of those Cheneys breaks free from the cave and loosens the chains and goes on; and then Obama switches his position, whether its that, the photos of the detainees.  Now it‘s the trial. 

I‘m starting to think that possibly Dick Cheney is Barack Obama‘s Queen of Diamonds,  and we‘re living in some kind of weird version of the “Man-Cheneyian Candidate.” 

SCHULTZ:  Lizz Winstead, great to have you with us again in Club Ed tonight on a Friday night.

Tonight in our text survey, I asked you, do you believe Blanche Lincoln deserves President Obama support.  Six percent—six percent said yes; 94 percent said no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on the place for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll see you Monday night.  Have a great weekend.



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