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The Ed Show for Thursday, December 16th, 2010

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Guests: Peter DeFazio, Anthony Weiner, Adam Green, Joe Sekoff, Laura

Flanders, John Feehery, Joe Klein, Robert Greenwald

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

These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” and on the table at this hour. 

House progressives, well, they‘re going to the firewall to stop this tax deal.  Good for them. 

Today, they fought this tax gamble and have caused a major speed bump.  I couldn‘t be prouder.  If you‘re a lefty, you‘ve got to be cheering tonight. 

We‘ll hear live from the progressive lawmakers Anthony Weiner and also Peter DeFazio about how they hit the pause button today and what it means.  It‘s all coming up in just a moment.

Republican Senator John Thune is thinking about running for president in 2012.  He also thinks tax cuts for the rich are more important than helping the 9/11 first responders—you know, those heroes that Americans have been so proud of.  You know, the ones that got sick at ground zero. 

Tax cuts are more important than their medical care?  He‘ll get an uncomfortable ride into “The Zone” tonight. 

And the Reverend Al Sharpton met with the FCC about “The Drugster” and the racist hate speech that‘s he‘s put out over the air for a long time.  You‘ll hear all about it here on THE ED SHOW later tonight.

But this is the story that has me fired up tonight. 

President Obama‘s tax compromise with the Republicans has been on hold, been put on hold, knocked off track by House Democrats who want to fight this thing.  I love it.  That‘s what this is all about, a fight. 

This bill was supposed to sail right on through.  Republican had champagne on ice and victory cigars ready to go, but House Democrats threw a monkey wrench into their plans all day long.  And at this hour, House leadership is behind closed doors trying to hammer out a deal.

Folks, it is all about the estate tax.  A vote could come as early as tonight, or this thing could drag out until next week, where, gosh, the Republicans might have to work. 

Now, on Wednesday, the Senate version of the bill easily passed with a vote of 81-19.  Remember Mitch McConnell wanted the House to pass the Senate version as is, no changes. 


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  But this agreement is not subject to being reopened.  In other words, we have an understanding.  And I hope that our friends in the House will understand that that‘s the best way to go forward, simply pass the Senate bill, get it down to a president who supports the understanding. 


SCHULTZ:  The understanding.  Don‘t you just love these Washington understandings? 

Sorry, Mitch, you‘re not king of America. 

This take-it-or-leave-it attitude isn‘t flying in the people‘s House. 

Hooray for that. 

Let‘s put all of this Washington minutia aside for just a moment.  Here‘s the bottom line.

House Democrats walked away from a straight up-or-down vote because they wanted to do the American thing.  It‘s called debate, cogitate, debate, make sure we‘re correct on all of this. 

House Democrats, well, you see, they want a chance to modify the estate take giveaway the Republicans landed in the Senate bill with a separate vote instead of voting for one comprehensive bill. 

Congressman Jerry Nadler predicted the House would change the estate tax on this show last night. 


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK:  We‘re going to change the estate tax so it won‘t be the Senate version.  It‘ll be last year‘s estate tax.  It‘ll be a $3.5 million examination for single person and—

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

NADLER:  -- and $7 million for a couple, instead of one and two.  For them to say we must take it or leave it is outrageous.  We are an independent elected body. 

Now, I‘m not going to vote for this bill in any event, but there‘s so much in it for the Republicans, that they should take this.  And they may yet.  We‘ll see. 


SCHULTZ:  So here‘s what the Democrats are working on. 

Congressman Earl Pomeroy, he‘s leaving the Congress.  He‘s got an amendment out there that would take the inheritance tax back to the 2009 level of a 45 percent tax for individuals with an estate of more than $3.5 million.  The Senate bill has a 35 percent rate on estates beginning at $5 million. 

Now, if the House Democrats make any changes to the Senate bill, it‘s going to have to go back over to the upper chamber for another round of votes.  This could move the final passage into next week. 

This is not what President Obama wanted and the Republicans.  They didn‘t want it to happen this way.  They just wanted a clean, fast deal.  You know what I mean? 

But the Democrats in the House, praise them tonight, liberals.  They are not rolling over. 

Over the last couple of years, the House has been treated like dirt by the Senate Republicans.  Nancy Pelosi has moved hundreds of bills over to the Senate, only to have them filibustered by the obstructionists in the Republican Party. 

The House is showing that the Senate, you know, you don‘t run this whole thing, we‘re not going to get steam-rolled on this anymore.  And here‘s what‘s happening tonight.

Those liberals that the righties love to vilify, they are fighting tonight. 

They‘re fighting for truth, justice and the American way. 

They tried to extend unemployment.  They tried to do it.  They tried to eliminate the two percent reduction to the payroll tax today.  Those two things, of course, didn‘t make it in the House. 

But you know what these liberals are, in my opinion?  They are patriots.  They‘re not rolling over, because, you see, what we‘re having happening right now is that this process is the most un-American thing we‘ve ever seen.  It‘s just a slam-dunk, take it or leave it. 

Are you offended by that?  I am.  This isn‘t what I voted for.  This can‘t happen.  This can‘t become the Washington way unless we speak up. 

Is it right to play around with $2 trillion in the kids‘ credit card in the next generation?  No hearing.  No markup.  No economic study on what kind of an impact this is really going to have. 

This is why I can‘t stand and can‘t take this deal as a broadcaster and as an American.  Number one, you will never convince me that one year from now, the Republicans are going to come back and say, you know what?  We really do have to go back to that 6.2 percent rate on Social Security, we‘ve got to add that two percent back on there. 

They‘re not going to do that.  They can‘t be trusted with money at all. 

They‘re after Social Security.  That‘s the big pie in the sky.  That‘s the big picture, is to take away all the entitlements.  They‘ll get to health care, don‘t worry. 

And the next thing I don‘t like is the Bush tax rate.  The table is set for it to be a 2012 political football again. 

Who do you think is going to win that argument?  Oh, look at those Democrats over there, they want to raise your taxes again. 

And, of course, we‘re going to see Democrats fold on that.  And so the rich are going to slip out of the back door, again. 

And the third thing I don‘t like is this—look, I am an advocate for those who don‘t have a job in this country.  I think these are extraordinary times and we have to do extraordinary things. 

But helping out two million unemployed Americans, it isn‘t enough when you‘re going to leave six million 99ers on the side of the road like road kill? 

So, it‘s OK, we should be as liberals really satisfied that this unemployment extension is going to help a couple of million people, but the 99ers, well, they‘re just going to go have to do whatever they want to do.  We don‘t have anything for them. 

It infuriates me. 

And aren‘t you interested in today‘s big story across all the networks? 

It‘s Afghanistan.  It‘s the year review. 

Who the hell‘s going to pay for that?  Is that off budget too? 

What are the righties going to do in the House when it comes to more appropriations?  They‘ll funnel more money to Afghanistan, they‘ll play the game—oh, President Obama is showing weakness, he wants to get the hell out of there. 

Folks, it‘s been 10 years.  It‘s getting worse.  A red alert from the Red Cross, it‘s worse. 

Do we hear any of this stuff?  We should as Americans. 

Tell me what you think in our telephone survey.  The number to dial tonight is 1-877-ED-MSNBC. 

My question tonight is: Do you want the House Democrats to keep fighting this tax compromise?  Press the number 1 for yes.  Press the number 2 for no.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

The White House wanted congressional Democrats to roll over and play dead on this tax compromise, and the president‘s team has been working the phones to get this done.  And they cannot be happy about what‘s unfolding tonight. 

For more, let‘s bring in Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon. 

Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  I congratulate you for the fight.  I don‘t believe these polls, and I think, generationally, we‘re on the verge of doing something very damaging to this country. 

Where are we at this hour, Congressman? 

DEFAZIO:  Well, we ground them to a halt.  It seems that they‘re trying to just make a procedural change, and they think they can capture enough votes to adopt the rule, move forward with the bill.  I hope not. 

This is bigger than a procedural change.  It‘s bigger than the change in the estate tax. 

You‘re going to hear from Anthony Weiner, from New York, who was leading the charge today on the floor.  We confronted the Speaker and said we need a much better package.  We need something that represents Democratic values. 

We have something more fiscally responsible that is more targeted, that‘ll put more people to work.  And we were told we‘d have a caucus tonight, go back into caucus, discuss it, just like last week, when I got a near-unanimous vote in the caucus. 

Apparently, they‘re back to trying to roll us.  We‘ll see. 

But you‘re absolutely right.  I had a very conservative, truly conservative Republican call me today who heard me speak on the floor.  He said, “You‘re absolutely right about Social Security,” just like you said, Ed.  He said, “A year from today, my party is not going to let the Social Security tax go up, and if Obama insists on that, they will just kill him with it, and they‘ll kill you guys with it.”  And then he said, “We‘re probably not going to be able to afford to subsidize Social Security anymore.” 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, you said last night that the White House—the president is making phone calls to your colleagues in the Senate—in the House, saying that, hey, this is my presidency.  The White House is saying that the president hasn‘t said anything remotely like that and has never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue. 

Tommy Vietor said that. 

DEFAZIO:  That‘s right.

SCHULTZ:  Where are we on this?  I mean, did the president make those calls? 

DEFAZIO:  Oh, he‘s making calls.  I don‘t know exactly what he said because he hasn‘t called me. 

I was in a meeting with a group of members where one member said that.  We didn‘t quiz him.  We didn‘t say, “Did he exactly say that?”

But I can tell you from what Vice President Biden, during the “take it or leave it” speech told us last week, they were talking about catastrophes if we don‘t pass this.  All the polls, all the pollsters agrees, catastrophe for the Democrats, catastrophe for the president if we don‘t pass this. 

So, the president may have said more along the lines of what Vice President Biden said last week.  But that was the way that member characterized it.

The point is they‘ve pulled out all the stops on the McConnell tax package here, the Republicans‘ priorities, in a way I‘ve never seen before, and never on anything that I care about or anything that you know would had been better for the people I represent and better for the country. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Congressman Peter DeFazio, thanks for working so hard on this, and keep up the fight, my friend.  You‘re doing the right thing.  Nice to have you with us tonight.

DEFAZIO:  Thanks, Ed.  Thanks for the help.

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Let‘s bring in New York Congressman Anthony Weiner tonight. 

Congressman, you‘ve been meeting with the Speaker.  Where are we at this hour?  Is there a package of things on the table that‘s being discussed, or is it down to the estate tax? 

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Well, first of all, we wouldn‘t even be having this discussion if it weren‘t for Peter DeFazio putting the brakes on this and speaking for the entire caucus, and saying we want to have a chance to express our Democratic values.  And our job as elected officials is to put our imprint on it, and so we‘re having a discussion now about the best way to do it. 

I think there are a lot people who agree we do want to move forward with this.  We don‘t want this to linger forever.  We do want there to be certainty that middle class families see.  And none of us is suggesting slamming the brakes on this.

What we are saying is let‘s try to make some changes to make this more palatable.

SCHULTZ:  But, you know, the Senate says don‘t send it back with any changes.  So where does that leave the House tonight?

WEINER:  Well, you know, it‘s funny the Senate says that, yet when the package went to the Senate, they added a whole bunch of stuff for themselves in there.  Look, the Senate doesn‘t speak for me.  I don‘t take my cues from the politburo.

I think that we, as members of Congress, have all been elected to our districts.  And what we‘re trying to do is trying to make this thing as good as it can be.  There are major problems with it that we‘re trying to address, not the least of which is the estate tax provision that Mr.  DeFazio spoke about a moment ago. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So will there be a vote tonight, and will it pass, in your opinion? 

WEINER:  I believe that there will be a vote on it, at least fixing the estate tax piece.  And by the way, it is not gutting it by any means.  It takes estates that are $5 million and takes it down to $3.5 million. 

Still, very few people are going to wind up paying the estate tax.  You know, people who are concerned about equity in this country, it‘s probably one of the few times that we really do say to people who are very well-to-do. 

The question, will it pass?  Look, I‘m not a pundit.  I can tell you that a lot of people are concerned about elements of this bill.  I think it‘s going to get a bunch of votes.  Whether it gets enough to send it back to the Senate, I don‘t really know. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, Congressman, how anguished is the Speaker over this, Nancy Pelosi?  The rich people in this country are going to get out the back door with exactly with what they wanted. 

WEINER:  Well, Look, I mean, I know—and I just spent an hour and a half with Nancy Pelosi.  She believes very deeply in the idea that we should be a place that stands up for the middle class and those struggling to make it.

I also think, in fairness to her, when a lot of this deal was put together, the House representatives weren‘t even in the room.  It was Mitch McConnell, it was Joe Biden.  We weren‘t even in the room, and that‘s why this is such an important process. 

We are not going through a kabuki dance here.  We‘re really trying to make this bill better. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you with us.  And it‘s, for the record, no hearing, no markup, no real economic impact study.  This is not the American way.  This isn‘t the way Washington is supposed to work. 

So we‘re doing this all based on theory, that if we just give a bunch of money to the rich people in this country, that this economy‘s going to turn right around and we‘re going to fix all of our programs and fix all of our problems.  I don‘t buy it. 

Next generation, get ready for what‘s coming.  It‘s going to be a financial avalanche. 

Thanks, Congressman. 

Coming up, a bunch of vulnerable Democratic senators just walked the plank on the Bush tax cuts.  I want to know if the progressive base is going to back them in 2012, because they‘re up then. 

And Texas Congressman John Cornyn held a press conference today to do what?  Denounce earmarks?  The first question he got was, well, what about your earmarks, buddy? 

Well, it was met with a Texas-size silence.  I‘ll show you the tape and get “Rapid Fire Response.”  

Plus, the vice president steps into it with the Republicans‘ war on Christmas vacation, and why “The Drugster” better hope there is a Santa Claus. 

All that, plus I‘m pulling out a classic “Big Eddie” clip for you tonight right out of the vault in “The Playbook.”

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


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, and thanks for watching tonight. 

I think this tax cut vote is going to come back and haunt some of these Democrats in 2012.  I mean, the economy is going to have to turn around. 

Now, this isn‘t just about President Obama‘s re-election.  The Democrats won control of the Congress back in 2006 by running on a change agenda. 

Now, that was before most of America had even heard of Barack Obama.  The majority makers in the Senate were Democrats who took a hard line against the Bush administration and the Bush tax cuts—Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Jon Tester in Montana; Sherrod Brown in Ohio; Jim Webb in Virginia; and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. 

They won because they weren‘t afraid to be Democrats at the time.  They stood up for the middle class and they went after the Bush-warped policies that were running this country in the ditch. 

Those six senators are up for re-election in 2012.  And now every single one of them are going to have to defend their vote to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy because that‘s the road they chose. 

They‘ll have President Obama‘s support, which is good, but I think it‘s a serious question whether the base is going to be there for these senators and whether the vote will seriously weaken them when it comes to core progressives with the money and the boots on the ground that it‘s going to take to win elections. 

Joining us now is Adam Green, co-founder of the PCCC. 

Adam, good to you with us tonight. 

ADAM GREEN, CO-FOUNDER, PCCC:  Good to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  Those senators in 2006 -- and I think it‘s a question that needs to be asked—I‘m a liberal, I believe in them, but they voted wrong, in my opinion.  And there‘s going to be a lot of Democrats, liberals across the country that say, what happened to these folks?  What happened to them? 

What‘s your response? 

GREEN:  Yes, I think there will be a lot of people asking that question.  Let me just make one related point, first, about the House, which then leads directly to 2012 and these Senate races. 

You know, when Nancy Pelosi announced boldly that she would run to lead the Democrats again, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee was literally the first group to praise that decision and root her on.  But let‘s just be very clear. 

What‘s happening right now in the House is that Nancy Pelosi is the one working against us, trying to cobble together a vote of Republicans and some Democrats to pass the Bush tax cuts, while it‘s people like DeFazio and Raul Grijalva and other members of the House Progressive Caucus that are being bold fighters on this issue.

And those are the ones that we want to support.  And in 2012, we‘re going to be asking the question, who among those six people and others in the Senate who are running for re-election are the bold fighters?  And we really hope the people like Sherrod Brown and Jon Tester, who have a reputation of being populists from the heartland, really kind of have the willingness to fight in the next couple of years, not cave like they did in this issue. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, they have bought into this theory that if they don‘t go down this road and support these Bush tax cuts, and some of the other caveats that are in there, that the economy‘s going to go into the tank.  And if it doesn‘t turn around, they‘re vulnerable, but they‘re willing to take that instead of stand on principle and make the rich people in this country pay their fair share. 

GREEN:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  Can you in good conscious support them? 

GREEN:  Look, we want to be able to support them, but let me just add to what you said. 

It‘s not just are they willing to stand on principle?  The fundamental question for Democrats over the next two years is, are you willing to make your case to the American public on an issue where the public is predisposed to be on your side? 

It‘s hard to think of an issue that is more clear than this tax debate, where Democrats were clearly with 98 percent of the country, Republicans were clearly with the richest two percent of the country.  But for some insane reason, Democrats anticipate, well, hmm, what could Republicans hypothetically say about this?  And then they run in fear of that hypothetical argument instead of saying, wait, I‘m going to make my case proudly, I‘m going to go on offense against the Republicans, and if I did I would win. 

That‘s the attitude that people like us at are going to try to instill in these Democrats.  And again, people like Sherrod Brown, there‘s no reason for someone like that to cave on this issue.  We really want to support him in 2012, and it‘s going to make it a lot easier to support him if he‘s bold. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, this is the House right now.  They are debating what‘s going on.  And how would you describe what unfolded in the House today? 

GREEN:  Well, again, it was a big victory for the Progressive Caucus, people who were willing to stand up and say, not so fast.  But honestly, it‘s a little bit disappointing to hear folks like Anthony Weiner saying that he‘s willing to kind of trim around the edges of this thing and kind of reinforce the Republican talking point that we need security. 

We need to kill this bill.  We need to restart this debate in the beginning of the new year.  And Democrats need to be out there, intent on pummeling Republicans on this issue and winning this debate. 

SCHULTZ:  I totally agree, and I think the Democrats are afraid to play hardball. 

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

GREEN:  Good to be here.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, Senator John Thune says tax cuts for the rich are more important than taking care of the folks who really did the rescue work at Ground Zero after 9/11.  I‘m sending Thune and his heartless “Psycho Talk” right into “The Zone,” next. 


SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, South Dakota Senator John Thune is giving us further proof Republicans are completely heartless.  They are so bullheaded about their precious tax cuts for the rich, they‘re blocking everything else until they get their way, including a bill providing health care to the heroes who volunteered at Ground Zero after the September 11th attacks. 

Thune flat-out admits tax cuts are a higher priority. 


SEN. JOHN THUNE ®, SOUTH DAKOTA:  The difference I think with the tax bill is there is a deadline January 1st.  We have to get this done.  Taxes go up January 1st.  That‘s a matter of law. 

We need to get the issue addressed for the firefighters and 9/11 victims, and we will.  But begin, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. 


SCHULTZ:  You‘re right, there‘s a wrong way to do this, and the Republicans are showing it again and again.

Providing health care to sick 9/11 workers is a no-brainer.  You would think so if you‘re a patriot.  But Thune has no shame.  He‘s blaming Democrats for failing to pass the bill. 


THUNE:  We need to get the issue addressed for the firefighters and 9/11 victims, and we will.  But again, there‘s a right way and a wrong way to do this. 

There are some things in this bill that we think can be improved upon.  We need an opportunity to do that.  They want to rush all of these things through at the end of the year without debate, without amendments, and without the opportunity to go through a normal process. 


SCHULTZ:  Nice try, Senator.  You know, you lie so much, I think that you‘re going to be a damn good candidate for the righties. 

You see, this bill was first introduced in the House in 2006.  You and your colleagues on the right have had plenty of time to debate it, amend it, support it, be on record for it.  But, you see, Republicans have been obstructing it for four years. 

Turning around and trying to blame Democrats now is absolutely outrageous.  And saying that tax cuts for the rich are more important than getting health care for folks who risked their safety for the country in the face of terrorism is despicable “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, what happened to the fight from this guy?  I mean, a lot of liberals are saying, what happened?  That‘s the question many progressives are struggling with tonight on the verge of passing the Obama tax cuts for the rich. 

Can the president get his mojo back?  I‘ll talk live with Roy Sekoff from “The Huffington Post” on this one.  What‘s the game plan? 

And the Senate Republicans, you know they‘re having a real bad day at the office.  They are just getting killed over this for complaining about having to work after Christmas. 

Plus, an American icon gave me a big career boost a long time ago, and I‘ve got a special thank you for him tonight.  We‘ll put out some vintage “Big Eddie” video for you.  You won‘t want to miss it.

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


ED SCHULTZ, HOST, “THE ED SHOW”:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The “Battleground” story tonight, House progressives took a public stand against the tax cut deal today and I couldn‘t be more proud of those Americans.  They are patriots for the debate.  Now I want to see the president stand up and fight.  I guess the next time around?  I know the Republicans won‘t give him an inch.  And I‘m aware of the numerical realities of all of this in the Congress but fighting does matter.  It matters to the people that voted for him and the values he campaigned on because this is the president we voted for.  


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  Was john McCain a socialist back in 2000 when he opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Because all that I‘m trying to do is reverse those, so we can give relief to people who really need help.  

We fried it George Bush‘s way and we‘re here to say, enough is enough. 

We can‘t afford four more years of their fundamental economics.  


SCHULTZ:  I remember it all, in my opinion we‘ve already had the argument over the tax cuts for the rich.  It was the 200 8 campaign.  The Republicans lost.  The American people siding with the Democrats.  But president didn‘t even try to make the case to the American people.  Senator Carl Levin had a very interesting observation on the president in a recent review.  Take a look. 


SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN:  That‘s the problem is that I don‘t see that kind of a willingness to fight that hard where he will take that kind of a position and that‘s what‘s necessary.  The Senate in the House, these are test of wills.  


SCHULTZ:  Now, Senator Levin is not a television host or a talk show host or a columnist, he‘s a  longtime United States senator and if he thinks President Obama isn‘t fighting hard enough, we‘ve got to bring this president home again, don‘t we?  We‘ve got to bring him home, liberals, and get back to the progressive values that got him elected, and that the White House better start making nice with the real base fast because 2012 is just around the corner. 

Joining me now is Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “The Huffington Post.”  Roy, this is going to be done with.  It‘ll be an issue, the tax issue, will move on into 2011.  But what‘s the aftermath in all of this and what, in looking forward, what are the rocks in the road, in your opinion?

ROY SEKOFF, FOUNDING EDITOR, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Ed, I feel like I‘m a divorce guy looking at the old home movies of the woman who I used to love.  What happened?  You know looking at those clips of the president.  

SCHULTZ:  I know it.  

SEKOFF:  It‘s kind of sad.  But here‘s the thing, Ed.  We‘ve got to be honest with ourselves and sometimes the simplest answer is the right answer, he‘ just not that into keeping the wealthy—forcing the wealthy to pay their fair share.  I mean, we‘ve just got to face that.  You know, everybody wants do this Freudian analysis.  You know it‘s not his makeup.  He‘s learned how to get along to go along his whole life you know?  But I think we‘ve seen an example right now, they‘re fighting up on the hill tooth and nail to pass the START Treaty. 

The White House is doing things they never did for tax cuts.  They‘re pounding the pavement.  They‘re twisting arms.  They‘re calling out Republicans.  You know what, and it looks like they‘re going to get their way on that one.  So it shows that when they want to fight, they can do it.  They really, really wanted to get that START Treaty and it looks like it‘s going to maybe get that way next week.  They just didn‘t want it that much on fighting for these tax cuts.  

SCHULTZ:  Roy, can you draw a contrast, the fight for the tax cuts versus the fight for Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell, where the White House says, yes, we‘ll get to it, we‘ll get to it.  What do you think?

SEKOFF:  Well, yes, I mean there‘s no question about it, I mean, Ed, let‘s go back to the original sin.  The original sin was that they didn‘t force the Republicans to take a vote on this before the election.  That was the biggest crime.  That was the biggest blunder.  And you know, and they put all of their cards on the table and the Republicans said, OK, great.  You‘re not going to force us to do that.  We can wait until it‘s right into the witching hour when you know that you‘re about to lose control.  

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

SEKOFF:  You know of the House.  And lose your votes in the Senate.  And then we can force you to play it our way and that‘s what happens.  So we go back to that.  And now—but it looks like, though, the interesting thing, Ed, and I think the thing we have to talk about is, it looks like “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” might be making its way back up again next week.  So, what happens if next week, the START Treaty does ask and “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is repealed, will that make what the White House did with this cave-in on the tax cuts a  little bit more palatable?  Will it make it seem like they had some game?  What do you think?

SCHULTZ:  I think it does, I think that it will help but I don‘t trust the Republicans on anything.  I don‘t trust the Republicans on anything.  They have said no to everything for the last 24 months.  Why all of a sudden would they—if they‘ve got the tax package they want—why in the heck would they cave in on something that they don‘t believe in?  You know, they‘re homophobes, there‘s no question about that.  Hell, they even go on the House floor and talk about it like that.  

SEKOFF:  Absolutely.  But I think that we‘re seeing some people, the rare thing when they‘re breaking off from the herd, you know, whether it‘s Olympia Snowe  or Collins or Scott Brown,  they‘re coming out and saying  that they will pass, vote for the repeal.  

SCHULTZ:  We had that same talk in health care, too.  You know, well, they‘re talking to Olympia Snowe.  She‘s real close and where was she in the end of it all?

SEKOFF:  Oh, that was.

SCHULTZ:  Look, I don‘t trust Republicans.  I think after they have their eggnog on December 31st and go to the New Year, it‘s all about power, it‘s all about taking down President Obama.  And I hope the White House has a strong communication strategy to make people know exactly what they have accomplished because, you know, it‘s the old Donald Sutherland, Kelly heroes movie, you know, from way back.  I‘ve got some negative vibes, man, you know?  And the base has got to start feeling good again.  Roy.

SEKOFF:  It‘s a major negative vibes and they‘re not feeling it.  I mean, it‘s clear that they‘re feeling, wait a minute, we would have been better off in some ways, obviously not in most ways, but if John McCain had been in there, you know, don‘t forget we would have a strong democratic bomb-throwing force saying, no  way we‘re going to let this happen with the republican president.  

SCHULTZ:  It‘s not good with what Carl Levin is saying.  Roy Sekoff, always a pleasure.  Good to have you with us. 

Now, let‘s get some rapid-fire response from our panel on these stories tonight.  I want to know if they agree with Senator Carl Levin about President Obama not hitting back hard enough. 

The Republicans are getting absolutely just destroyed by their hissy fit over the Christmas vacation.  Even Vice President Joe Biden is taking them to task. 

And Senate Republicans to stop the omnibus spending bill, what pork for their projects back in their own states are now pledging to vote it down?  I guess they were for it before they were against it. 

With us tonight, Laura Flanders, host of Grit TV, editor of the book, “At The Tea Party,” and John Feehery, republican strategist with us tonight as well.  Great to have both of you with us.  I‘m on this earmark story. 

This is Mr. Cornyn and Mr. Thune today at a Press Conference talking about the earmarks.  Here it is. 


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  The bill contains many earmarks that you requested.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS:  Pardon me? 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  The bill contains many earmarks that you requested.  I mean, why are you opposing this bill when it includes things that you‘ve held for?

CORNYN:  I intend to vote against those earmarks. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  It appears like you‘re saying one thing and doing another.

SEN. JOHN THUNE ®, DAKOTA:  Well, let me just say this, Kelly because I—and maybe this is the—I will vote against the motion to proceed to this bill.  If we get on the bill, I will vote against the bill.  


SCHULTZ:  Laura Flanders, what do you make of it?  

LAURA FLANDERS, HOST, GRIT TV:  You know, did you hear hypocrisy used in relation to the GOP recently?  I mean, let‘s face it, John Thune and his co have not wanted to support the procedural way to  get support to even their districts through stimulus.  If you don‘t like earmarks then let‘s talk about the process without earmarks.  They‘ve stood against that.  They‘ve opposed that.  But earmarks, they‘re fine with.  Or even if they‘re not fine with, they want in this bill.  This is just, again, we‘re going to see a rising tide of people against earmarks right and left, frankly.  I don‘t think this is the way to legislate.  But you can‘t both stonewall progress on stimulus and try to sneak in your own earmarks and then hope that your base is rowled up against earmarks is going to go along.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  This is Senator Reid today on the earmarks.  He responded to yesterday‘s press conference. 


SEN. HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER:  You can‘t have it both ways.  You can all look it up in the dictionary yourself but I bet if you went to “H” in the dictionary and found hypocrite, under that would be people who ask for earmarks who would vote against them. 


SCHULTZ:  What do you think, John?  John Feehery, where are we at on this?  I mean, how do you explain this one?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, it‘s actually quite easy to explain.  First of all, those requests came at the beginning of the year and now the position on earmarks has taken by the republican conference at the later end the year, so it‘s not hypocritical at all.  It‘s the involvement of the frustration with the spending process.  And I would make another point and that is you can have provisions in bills, hold on Laura, let me finish.  Let me finish.  Let me finish.  The fact of the matter is, is that you can have provisions in the bill that you support which Democrats support provisions like for example unemployment insurance and be against the bill.  We have plenty of Democrats who did that on this tax extender bill just yesterday.  

SCHULTZ:  So is Harry Reid wrong?


FEEHERY:  You can have provisions in the legislation. 

FLANDERS:  What‘s happening now is creating pandering.  

FEEHERY:  And oppose the bill.  There‘s nothing hypocritical about it.  

FLANDERS:  It is completely hypocritical. 

FEEHERY:  No it‘s not.  Not at all. 

FLANDERS:  The point is the whole stimulus spending and the earmarks is insane.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Laura, go ahead and finish.  

FLANDERS:  This is pandering, but the reason that we‘re seeing the discussion now is because you‘ve got Feehery on the right and the left, not John but the anger sword.  And the frustration that I have is I think that the hypocrisy began earlier, we‘re against stimulus but we‘re for earmarks. 

SCHULTZ:  John Feehery, how come the Republicans don‘t want to do the country‘s business over the holidays if they have to do it?  What‘s wrong with these guys?  

FEEHERY:  You know, I think that the frustration here, Ed is that this is all legislation that should have gotten done months ago.  The Democrats did no—they did nothing on the budget, they did nothing on the appropriation bills and now they‘re trying to jam it all through at the end of the session.  They should have done this tax extender bill well before and created some certainty in the marketplace.  They‘ve not done their work and they‘re trying to jam it through.  This is a complete dysfunction.  

FLANDERS:  The idea of the Republicans coming out worried about the spirit of Christmas, I mean really, the scrooge GOP, tell that to I don‘t know, the Dream Act denied student who‘s looking at getting deported after they graduate or the 9/11 responders sick at home looking at their kids, tell it to the gay soldiers or lesbians who are worried about losing their jobs.  I mean didn‘t Jesus talk about looking after the poor?


SCHULTZ:  Laura Flanders, John Feehery, always a pleasure.  Great to have both of you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.  

Coming up, I don‘t want the president to cave to John McCain and the Republicans.  They want another ten years in Afghanistan?  That‘s a good one.  The base doesn‘t want this war and neither do the American people.  

And the drugster, oh, yes, well, he better asks for a Santa or asks for a new gig.  His racist rants may get him booted into the “zone” big time.  The Reverend Al Sharpton has been all over the story.  H‘s got new developments coming up.  He‘s visited with the FCC, he‘ll tell us all about it.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.                   


SCHULTZ:  And it‘s not too late to let us know what you think.  The number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  Tonight‘s telephone question is, do you want House Democrats to keep fighting the tax compromise?  Press the number one for yes, press the number two for no.  Again the number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  We‘re right back.



OBAMA:  That we are moving toward a new phase in Afghanistan, a transition twofold Afghan-lead for security that will begin early next year and will conclude in 2014.  


SCHULTZ:  And in my “Playbook” tonight, the Obama administration rolled out their annual review of their Afghan war strategy today.  They came out with a handy five-page summary, but I could have saved them about four pages.  You see, here it is right here.  Here‘s the summary of the American people right there.  Just get out.  Enough.  The American people are sick of war.  They‘re sick of paying for billions of dollars.  A new ABC/Washington post poll found 60 percent of the people say that it‘s not worth fighting.  That‘s up seven percent from July.  Now hold it right there.  Gosh, didn‘t we just have this big debate about tax cuts and, oh gosh, we‘ve got to go with it because the country wants it.  And today, the Red Cross said, security in Afghanistan is the worst it‘s been in nine years. 

Joining me now is Joe Klein, political columnist for “Time” magazine who just returned Friday from Afghanistan.  Mr. Klein, give us the straight-talk.  The American people want to know if we‘re advancing properly in Afghanistan.  What‘s your take, what did you see?

JOE KLEIN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, TIME MAGAZINE:  Well, there no such thing as straight-talk about Afghanistan, for God‘s sakes.  It‘s an incredibly complicated problem and it really isn‘t the problem.  The problem is next door, it‘s Pakistan.  Pakistan is a country with 80 nuclear weapons and a history of army coupes, sometimes Islamic army coups and we have to really try as hard as we can to stabilize the region.  It‘s very hard.  It‘s very complicated.  But to just get out is not an option at this point.  

SCHULTZ:  Why isn‘t it?  What would happen if we did get out?  What if the president came out after this review today and said, you know what, we‘re going to be out of there in six months.  What‘s wrong with that?

KLEIN:  What‘s wrong with that is that that the Taliban/Al Qaeda would come in killing an awful lot of people especially women and they would have a base from which to attack us again.  It would also destabilize the government of Pakistan, might empower the Taliban there, re-empower them and enable them to stage an army coups.  You know, it‘s a very delicate situation.  Sometimes, Ed, problems have you know 51/49.  There is 51 percent in favor and 49 percent oppose.  Here‘s what I‘ll give you though.  One thing is that you should be very proud of the work our soldiers have done there. 

I was just back in a small town outside of Kandahar where I was seven months ago and it was the Taliban heartland, Mullah Omar lives two towns over and our soldiers have cleared it out.  Now it‘s up to the Afghan government to hold that area, to win the loyalty of the people.  And I‘ll tell you, you know, we only have a very limited time in which we should be there.  We‘ve done—we‘ve done our job in that area, the most important area, and I don‘t think that our commitment should be unlimited.  I don‘t think it should be until 2014.  I think we give them another fighting season and that‘s it.  The other thing that we really have to man up about, the president has to man up about is Pakistan.  

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  

KLEIN:  The most important Taliban faction that‘s still in operation is in the eastern part of Afghanistan, the northern part of Pakistan, and it is run by the Pakistani Intelligence Service.  So, if they‘re going to be our allies, got to be our allies and not be killing American kids. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe Klein, I appreciate your time tonight from “Time” magazine.  Thanks so much.  

Now let‘s turn to Robert Greenwald, award-winning filmmaker, award winning film-maker and director of “Rethink Afghanistan.”  What did you think of what you just heard Mr. Greenwald?  

ROBERT GREENWALD, “RETHINK AFGHANISTAN”:  I disagree strongly with Joe on many of the points that he‘s talking about.  Most fundamentally, Ed, you asked the question, what happens if we pull out?  And Joe said, well, people will be killed.  There‘s no way that anymore people will be killed than are being killed today.  Casualties are going up.  Attacks are going up.  Americans, NATO forces, Afghani people, and it‘s costing us $325 million every single day.  Now I defy Joe or anybody to say, we are safer and more secure because we‘re spending $325 million a day over there versus being safer and secure by providing hospitals and schools and homes in this country, that would make us more secure.  

SCHULTZ:  Here is the president today touting progress in Afghanistan. 


OBAMA:  Progress comes slowly and at a very high price in the lives of our men and women in uniform.  In many places, the gains we‘ve made are still fragile and reversible but there is no question we are clearing more areas from Taliban control and more Afghans are reclaiming their communities.  We will begin the transition of responsibility to Afghans and start reducing American forces next July. 


SCHULTZ:  Your thoughts on this, Robert.  

GREENWALD:  Well, clearing territory is not making us more secure.  You know it goes back to the fundamental issue, how do we protect the security of this country?

SCHULTZ:  But if we were to get out, Mr. Klein says that Al Qaeda would get in there, kill women and children and be in a much more strategic position to hit us and it would compromise our safety.  You don‘t believe that?

GREENWALD:  I don‘t believe that the way you can now defeat Al Qaeda is by occupying countries.  Al Qaeda now spreads its word online, it can be a woman sending a package from Somali, it can be all kinds of different ways and damn-it, we need to be smarter and then think this through rather than just occupying and turning it into a money pit.  That‘s not making us safer. 

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

GREENWALD:  OK.  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  And one final page in the “Playbook” tonight, after 25 years, Larry King, “Larry King Live,” this will be his last show.  And I want to personally send out a big thank you to Larry King for giving me an opportunity to be on his show back when I worked in Fargo, North Dakota.  It was a highlight in my career to be asked by Larry King back then to be on his program to have an opportunity to talk about issues in 2006-2007 and 2008.  Nobody else was calling, not as regularly as Larry King.  Maybe it‘s because I‘m a radio guy and that‘s where Larry comes from.  Twenty five years in this business in front of the camera on cable, that is fantastic.  Larry, Godspeed my friend.  I appreciate what you did for me and you did a hell of a job for CNN.  

Coming up, are Rush Limbaugh‘s racist rants about to sink him?  Reverend Al Sharpton brings down the hammer with the FCC.  He met with the FCC and has the update.  Next, stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  And finally tonight, Rush Limbaugh has a long history of using his radio platform to make racist comments.  Today, Reverend Al Sharpton met with the Federal Communications Commission and asked them to take a stand on Limbaugh.  Reverend Sharpton joins us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.  How‘d the meeting go, Reverend?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  I had a very good meeting on Tuesday.  And I think, Ed, that where we will go in the beginning of the year is the push for public hearings.  We had a very fruitful meeting that they could not infringe upon free speech, but they can talk about standards and can have open public hearings where radio owners and personalities and certainly we would want Mr. Limbaugh to be one of them, would have to come in front of the FCC and answer direct questions on direct statements and how they may be offensive based on gender and race, so that the FCC can then shape policy based on the results of those public hearings. 

So, we‘re going to press the National Action Network to have those public hearings where the owners of these stations and people like Rush will have to explain in public before a public hearing of the FCC on exactly what the standards ought to be and explain their statements.  Me, you, everyone.  I think that this kind of accountability would protect free speech but protect people from this kind of racism.  

SCHULTZ:  Is this what you wanted, Reverend?

SHARPTON:  I wanted them to make an affirmative stand but if we‘ve got to go into the public  hearings to see if they can do that, I think that that would be a very, very good thing for the American public to see these people have to do this.  

SCHULTZ:  Did you get a sense the FCC is serious about what you‘re saying to them?

SHARPTON:  I think that some of the commissioners are and all you need is some to have the entire commission to sit there and have to deal with this in public accountability we‘re talking about public airwaves.  

SCHULTZ:  So, this means that Limbaugh would have to step up or maybe one of his representatives or the people that carry his show and explain that it‘s OK to say racist things on the air.  

SHARPTON:  And explain why some these statements are not racist, which I would love to see them have to explain that.  

SCHULTZ:  It‘s going to be an interesting year.  Reverend, good to have you with us tonight.  

SHARPTON:  Thank you.  

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much.  

SHARPTON:  All right.  

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Tonight in our telephone survey, I asked, do you want House Democrats to keep fighting this tax compromise?  Eighty eight percent of you said, yes.  Twelve percent of you said no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW, I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night from Minneapolis.  Have a good one.  



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