The Ed Show for Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guest Host: Cenk Uygur
Guests: Robert Reich, Joe Crowley, Bob Shrum, Jeff Santos, Karen Hunter,
Neill Franklin, Samuel Jacob
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening, and welcome to THE ED SHOW.
I‘m Cenk Uygur of “The Young Turks,” in for Ed Schultz.
These stories are hot tonight.
Corporate America is asking President Obama for a tax break for over $1 trillion. Are you kidding me?
They‘re playing a shell game aided and abetted by the GOP. We‘re exposing it all tonight.
And the Civil War has started again. This time it‘s in the Republican Party.
Sarah, Mike, Mitt, Newt and the rest them are already ripping each other to shreds on their way to running for office. President Obama can kick can back and enjoy this one. Bob Shrum handicaps the horse race.
And a developing story tonight. The feds are investigating Christine O‘Donnell. They‘re reportedly probing her use of campaign money for personal use. I‘ll have the latest.
Plus, political wars for 2010. Who were the most compelling characters in politics this year? We have it all.
But we start tonight with the request by corporate America for a tax break for over $1 trillion they have sitting off shore. In a meeting with president, they asked for a tax holiday so that they can bring the money back into the country without paying their full share of taxes.
I love the terms they use. Wouldn‘t you like to take a holiday from your taxes?
When big business does it, it‘s not tax evasion, it‘s tax avoidance. I‘m sure we‘d all like to avoid our taxes, but we don‘t have the lobbying power of multinational corporations behind us. And we don‘t have a whole political party devoted to making us richer. In case you‘ve been living in a cave in the last 30 years, that would be the Republican Party.
Companies are playing a shell game, aided and abetted by the GOP, where they take money in and out country, depending on our tax laws, to make it appear as if they really didn‘t make any money here. One common trick is to say that they made all their money in Bermuda, where they have to pay almost no taxes, but that all of their costs were here. Very convenient, of course.
So, in the end, we have a situation where ExxonMobil made $70 -- I‘m sorry, $37.3 billion in profits in 2009 and paid zero dollars in U.S. taxes. Bank of America made $4.4 billion in profits, and not only did they pay nothing in taxes, the U.S. government owes them $1.9 billion.
I don‘t know how they do that.
And GE, the parent company of MSNBC, in full disclosure, made pretax profits of $10.3 billion and somehow has a tax credit of $1.1 billion.
So I paid more taxes last year than the company that owns all of this?
Now, does that mean the companies are unpatriotic and immoral? No.
You see, the most important thing to understand is that companies don‘t have nationalities and they don‘t have morals. They‘re not immoral actors, they‘re amoral machines. They‘re profit-making robots.
They‘re not allowed to have a soul or have feelings. If an executive paid the company‘s full taxes out of his patriotic duty, he‘d be removed from his post. That‘s not how it works.
And remember, Google‘s whole mantra is, “Don‘t be evil.” And they avoided $3.1 billion in taxes in the last three years by doing these same kinds of tax tricks.
Why? Because they‘re legally bound to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.
When we had a ban on companies doing business with Iran, Halliburton set up an office in Tehran, Iran. They did it anyway. Their CEO at the time was this man. You might remember him. He‘s Dick Cheney.
Later, Halliburton would move its official headquarters to Dubai to avoid U.S. taxes, while continuing to rake in huge contracts from the American government as a so-called American company.
So what‘s the answer?
First, we have to recognize the problem. Politicians who talk about being “pro-business” are usually using it as an excuse to give corporations tax breaks. By the way, some of which gets funneled back to him in the form of campaign donations.
So let‘s get this straight. No one‘s anti-business. We want our big and small companies to do well so they hire more people. But at the same time, we don‘t want people using the excuse of being pro-business to funnel our tax dollars to multinational corporations.
Most of those guys that are doing the hiring, these so-called American companies, are doing it abroad anyway. Look, the Economic Policy Institute says that American companies created less than a million jobs here in the U.S., but created 1.4 million jobs overseas last year. So you can see where their priorities are.
If we give a tax break to a company, it must be to specifically create jobs here, period. If they don‘t, they can go get their tax break from Bermuda or Singapore.
No more American taxpayer money to finance multinational corporations.
There has to be a separation of business and state.
This is not the United States of corporate America. Our representatives in this democracy are supposed to look out for us, their voters, not their corporate benefactors.
Secondly, we have to get much tougher on enforcing our tax laws.
In 2004, the Bush administration allowed, again, so-called American companies to repatriate $312 billion back into the U.S. at the comically low rate of 5.25 percent. The real corporate tax rate is supposed to be 35 percent.
Now do you see why the corporate world loved Bush? That means all of the executives at those companies got much fatter bonuses that year.
We did the Republican strategy of just trusting big business to create jobs with all of those tax breaks that we gave them, and guess what happened? Since that huge 2004 tax break, we have lost nearly seven million jobs.
Would you trust your personal money with an amoral machine? No way, right? Then why do we all trust our collective money with these guys? It‘s time we built a wall between business and state so that our government looks out for our interests and not multinational corporations‘ interests.
Now, get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think.
Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you think tax breaks for corporations lead to more U.S. jobs? Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639. I‘ll bring you the results later in the show.
Now joining me is former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich. He‘s a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and he‘s also the author of “Aftershock.”
All right, Secretary Reich, I want to play you a clip by President Obama, because there was a bill introduced earlier in the year to actually stop the subsidies for off-shoring jobs, and it didn‘t pass. The Republicans killed it.
And here‘s what the president had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republicans in Washington claimed to draw their ideas from a Web site called America Speaking Out. It turns out that one the ideas that‘s drawn the most interest on their Web site is ending tax breaks for companies that ship overseas.
The funny thing is, when we recently closed one of the most egregious loopholes for companies creating jobs overseas, Republicans in Congress were almost unanimously opposed. The Republican Leader, John Boehner, attacked us for it and stood up for outsourcing instead of American workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Secretary, is that right? I mean, that seems so unbelievably egregious.
ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, Cenk, when you said a moment ago that this is the United States of corporate America, or at least that‘s what it seems, that‘s egregious enough.
I mean, big corporations are arguing in terms of getting more tax breaks or getting a tax holiday that they need it in order to have an incentive to create jobs in the United States. But most big corporations now have plenty of money.
Corporate profits are higher than they‘ve been in years. In fact, big corporations are now sitting on almost a trillion dollars worth of cash. They‘re not creating jobs in the United States, they‘re creating jobs abroad.
UYGUR: So the fact that they kill a bill that would have stopped, you know, the loophole that allows them to get a subsidy for off-shoring, I mean, I feel like that‘s such a no-brainer for the Democrats, I almost want to pull a Jon Stewart and just do this whole show and the next show and the next show after that about that.
How did the Democrats blow that? Why don‘t they take advantage of that and tell the American people what‘s happening?
REICH: Well, there are a lot of no-brainers for the Democrats when it comes to corporate malfeasance or nonfeasance.
Cenk, one of the problems—and I don‘t want to tar all Democrats with this, but at least some Democrats with regard to campaign donations are drinking at the same trough as Republicans. They‘re going to big corporations.
Now, earlier this year, the Supreme Court, you‘ll remember, said in one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history, in Citizens United against the Federal Election Commission, that corporations are people and they‘re entitled to provide as much money to campaigns and to politicians as they want. Otherwise, their First Amendment rights would be breached.
Well, you can‘t have it both ways. You said it earlier, and I agree with you, that corporations are not people. They‘re just machines. They are just designed to maximize profits.
If we actually treat them as people and say they have First Amendment rights to undermine and corrupt our politicians and our political process, then we‘re really in trouble, because they don‘t really represent America and Americans.
UYGUR: Well, they keep calling them American companies, or even corporate America. But do these so-called American companies have any obligation to America?
REICH: Well, unfortunately, they don‘t. I mean, these global corporations have a primary obligation under the law, and also in terms of economics to their shareholders, to maximize shareholder returns.
That‘s what under American capitalism corporations are supposed to do. They‘re not obligated to maximize jobs. And it turns out these days, the most rapidly growing markets are in China, India, Brazil, several other rapidly growing markets, and so American corporations are over there not only selling but also creating jobs. Not here.
UYGUR: You know, the thing is, I don‘t want people to get me wrong. I actually don‘t think that‘s crazy or bad. I get why businesses want to start factories in China and why they‘re using India for labor, et cetera. I understand that. But what drives me crazy is the idea that we should be subsidizing that.
REICH: Exactly. Cenk, I couldn‘t agree with you more.
In other words, corporations should be, according to the way we organize capitalism, maximizing shareholder returns, maximizing profits. So they should be going all over the world. But there is no reason for us, taxpayers, to be subsidizing those corporations, and then those corporations taking those subsidies, or those tax breaks, and using them for creating jobs all over the world. It makes no sense at all.
UYGUR: Unfortunately, I‘m going to have to ask you the question that we always run into here. What can we do about it? Because the seems like the politicians, honestly, a lot in both parties—certainly the Republicans are a wholly-owned subsidiary of multinational corporations, but the Democrats are partly owned, as you explained.
How do we get beyond it when they have already bought the politicians?
REICH: Well, what we have to, I think all of us, get serious about campaign finance reform. I mean, eyes glaze over. It‘s not an exciting topic. We‘d much rather talk about holding on to health care and everything else. But unless we actually stem the flow of corporate money into American politics, everything we want to do, everything we believe in is jeopardized.
UYGUR: Secretary Reich, thank you so much for joining us.
REICH: Thanks, Cenk. Happy New Year.
UYGUR: Happy New Year to you, too.
All right. Now, coming up, the feds are after Christine O‘Donnell. A shocking new report just released shows a criminal probe has been launched to see if she broke the law by using campaign money for personal expenses. I‘ll have the latest.
And O‘Donnell wasn‘t the only Republican who gave us a year to remember. John Boehner, Sharron Angle, and Aqua Buddha Rand Paul made it easy for us. We give out 2010 political awards ahead.
Plus, Tucker Carlson disagrees with President Obama. He wants Michael Vick executed.
Someone had some fun mocking Governor Ed Rendell for calling us a nation of wusses. I‘ll show you that tape as well.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
UYGUR: Welcome back.
The Republicans raised and continue to raise Tea Party pitchforks against government health care. They‘re screaming that government health care would lead to the plugs being pulled on America‘s collective grandmas.
So a couple of House Democrats got together and made a very simple request. Any Republican lawmaker that ran against government health care should opt out of government health care.
That‘s about the most logical thing I‘ve ever heard.
Any Republican lawmaker who ran against taxpayer-funded health coverage should not accept taxpayer-funded coverage. How can you argue with that?
Shockingly, though, the Republicans have not jumped at the chance to turn down their own government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded health care. At present, only two Republican congressmen and three representative-elects have pledged to practice what they preach. That‘s two percent of the 242 incoming Republicans in the House.
So I guess they‘re two percent principled. It‘s actually a little bit bigger than I thought.
Joining me now is Congressman Joe Crowley of New York, who issued the challenge to the Republicans in the first place.
REP. JOE CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Cenk. Good to be with you this evening.
UYGUR: Good to have you.
Very clever, by the way. I have got to give you credit for that.
So I‘m actually surprised that five of them took you up on it. Did you expect any of them to take you up?
CROWLEY: Well, the ones (ph) that did take us up on it, they only have a Plan B. Unlike most Americans who don‘t have a Plan B—a lot of Americans don‘t have a Plan A, don‘t have any health insurance at all. Some of these folks either work for a state government and have a pension from that, and therefore have a health plan they can access. One of them is a former colonel in the Air Force who is not taking the congressional health care, but is going to take the veterans—the V.A. health care. So he‘s covered.
Many of these people are individually wealthy. They don‘t need to have any coverage from anywhere because they can simply afford it out of their pocket.
So the hypocrisy continues. And I think even these folks who turned down the health care coverage from Congress, I think they‘re digging a deeper hole for themselves, because it really adds questions, where are they going to get the health care coverage from?
UYGUR: Right. That guy who was taking the money from another part of the government, health insurance, he doesn‘t count. I‘m knocking it down to four. OK?
CROWLEY: And I don‘t begrudge anyone who serves his country. And I think the colonel, former colonel --
UYGUR: Yes, he earned it. Don‘t get me wrong. Yes, he earned it.
CROWLEY: It‘s a Plan B.
UYGUR: Right. And it‘s hypocritical.
OK. Now, Michele Bachmann, though, she wouldn‘t be hypocritical like this. I mean, she claims she‘s the leader of the Tea Party. The Tea Party hates government-run health care.
Don‘t tell me that Michele Bachmann has government-run health care.
CROWLEY: Well, Michele has a chance now. The year hasn‘t started yet.
She can still turn down the health care that we modeled the health care for Americans on in this health care bill that we passed, that the president signed into law. And that‘s really what we‘re talking about, Cenk, here, is giving access to hard-working Americans, people who have found it almost impossible to afford insurance to date, the opportunity to purchase or to purchase insurance for them and their families.
I don‘t begrudge even Republican members of Congress. They have families, too, and they have spouses. They‘re under pressure to make sure they have coverage, I understand that.
But the hypocrisy really rings true. And I think that if they want to stand by their word, they ran against this bill, they said they‘re going to repeal every bit it, they should, in turn, turn down their own federally-sponsored health care.
UYGUR: Congressman, real quick, though, I mean, they‘re saying, look, the government in this case is my employer. I just don‘t want the public to have that kind of health care because it‘s going to cost too much money.
Do you think that‘s a fair argument?
CROWLEY: Not at all. I mean, the reality is, it‘s the public‘s money, either way.
And it‘s the same plan that—we really modeled the federal retirement system plan and the health care plan on what members of Congress get. So I think it‘s a perfect opportunity for them to show that they stand by their word, that if they don‘t want it for the average American, they‘re not going to take it themselves.
UYGUR: All right, Congressman Crowley. Thank you so much for joining us.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Cenk. Thank you.
UYGUR: Appreciate it. Happy Holidays.
All right. Now, coming up, President Obama praised the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a second chance. Tucker Carlson thinks Vick should have got something else—an execution. Seriously.
We‘re going to fry Tucker next in “Psycho Talk.”
UYGUR: In “Psycho Talk” tonight, Tucker Carlson wants Michael Vick executed. We‘re not kidding.
Vick, of course, was sent to prison for abusing and killing dogs, which is a terrible crime, but not a capital offense last I checked. But Tucker has a different opinion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, COMMENTATOR, FOX NEWS: Now, I‘m a Christian. I have made mistakes myself. I believe fervently in second chances. But Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should have been executed for that. He wasn‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I love how he prefaced it by saying he‘s a Christian. Really? Is that what Jesus would do? Would Jesus have been calling for retribution in blood?
I love the way conservatives twist the bible. If you listen to them, Jesus was a gun-toting, rich-loving Texan.
Secondly, execution? Really? Is there any crime or transgression that Republicans don‘t think should be met with execution?
Look, the guy did hard time. You might think he should had been, you know, served a longer sentence, put away longer. But at some point we have to say that a person paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance.
And if you‘re executing people because they killed defenseless animals, you may want to remember this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SARAH PALIN‘S ALASKA”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s coming again. Just wait. Wait until he turns, go outside and—OK.
Go ahead. Wait.
SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR: Good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go, baby. There you go. There you go.
PALIN: OK. Good.
(END VIDEO CLIP, “SARAH PALIN‘S ALASKA”)
UYGUR: I love the “There you go, baby. There you go. You killed him.” And he couldn‘t even move.
Look, I know there‘s a difference, but is it really that large? Sarah Palin is folksy for killing a caribou who was clearly trapped and defenseless if you watch that show? And Michael Vick should be executed? I don‘t think so.
Calling for Vick‘s execution is most definitely “Psycho Talk.”
Now, coming up, the Republicans are already killing each other as they position for their 2012 run. This is going to fun to watch. I can‘t wait.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum tells us who will take on Obama and what the Obama team is doing to prepare.
And Christine O‘Donnell could be wanted. There‘s a criminal probe going on over her use of campaign money. I‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response.”
Plus, I‘ll tell you why the conservative war on drugs is just plain stupid.
And a Democrat just told Bill Clinton to go away. Hmm. Who had the guts to pull that off?
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
UYGUR: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. I‘m Cenk Uygur, in for Ed Schultz.
“The Battleground” story tonight, the GOP Civil War.
2012 is fast approaching the first Republican primary debate. It‘s actually only six months away. It‘s in June of 2011.
Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and the rest of the 2012 wannabes are jockeying for position, while the party bigwigs are placing their bets. The horse race‘s already starting to get ugly, which is fun for everybody. First, it was Romney versus Thune over tax cuts because there could be only one un-nationally, well-groomed republican nominee. Romney scribbled an 11th-hour Op-ed against the tax cut deal, right after Senate Republicans has signed on. Thune take him out on the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN THUNE ®, SOUTH DAKOTA: Easy to stand on the sidelines and to criticize this proposal, advocating against this tax proposal is to advocate for a tax increase.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Drama. I love that. Anyway, but Thune‘s victory was short-lived as he crashed the very next day when he caught on—well, actually caught hell for the hypocrisy on earmarks that he had secured in another bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THUNE: I support those projects, but I don‘t support this bill. If we get on the bill, I will vote against the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: But Romney‘s bigger problem is with northern overexposure Sarah Palin. Her dissatisfaction with Romney is so apparent, even Jay Leno senses it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THE TONIGHT SHOW, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: She said, if there are no other good candidates, she will enter the race. Now if you enter the race and then she enters, is that an insult?
FMR. GOVERNOR, MITT ROMNEY ®, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, that means that she thinks that I‘m a great candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Yes, no, that‘s not what it means. But Palin won‘t take the conservative base without a fight. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is trying to become the tea biscuit of 2012 by taking his repeal Obama-care crusade to the airwaves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE ®, ARKANSAS: We‘ll do our spanking on the Congress, and show them that we still rule in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Here it comes, tea biscuit from behind, on the rails, trying to take away health care for grandma. And everybody else. And of course, we also have the ghost of Congress passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: We‘re much more inclined to run than not run it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Meanwhile, the political war profiteers in key primarily states are relishing the prospect of this republican horse race. South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, a right-wing hero after shouting “you lie” at the president during the State of the Union, wants republican hopefuls to show how much they love and respect him with cold, hard cash. He told Politico, quote, “It‘s too early to ask for commitment but it is very appropriate to make phone calls and to make contributions.”
And Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who hasn‘t faced a serious challenge for his seat since 1880 -- all right, 1980, and republican candidates contributing him to have—anyway in 2010. Look, you have got 10,000 from Thune, 7,500 from Palin, five grand from Pawlenty and Romney and about half of that from Huckabee. Huckabee, you crazy dog. How are you going to buy a senator for only $2,500? And during all of this, Democrats can only sit back and enjoy the show. They hope the republican warfare will do more damage to the eventual GOP nominee than they ever could, after all if Republicans do one thing well it‘s to attack.
Joining me now is Bob Shrum, democratic strategist and professor at New York University. All right, Bob, I want to go over a lot of the candidates here. First, can I just already dismiss Tim Pawlenty, who is that guy? He doesn‘t have a chance, right?
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he has some chance because the Republican Party is going to be really roiled next time around. They usually nominate, Cenk, by primogeniture. The next guy in-line or the next woman in-line, although, you know, there hasn‘t been one gets the nod. And that‘s Romney, but Romney has several scarlet letters. He was for T.A.R.P., he had—he gets blamed for Obama-care because he negotiated with Ted Kennedy and the Democrats in Massachusetts. Passed a version of it. That‘s close to death in the republican primaries. So I think you‘re going to see this year the possibility of someone coming from out of nowhere, it could be Pawlenty. It could be Newt Gingrich. I personally want to endorse Sarah Palin. I think she represents the Republican Party and I think she ought to be the nominee.
UYGUR: The more you talk about that and those are all great points, I‘m thinking that maybe it‘s Thune. Because Pawlenty is just way to boring, and Newt Gingrich is way too toxic, if you ask me. But because the real drama here is between Romney and Palin, and when you have that nuclear fallout, who is left standing, is the question? Because let me play that drama out for the people at home who might not know the, you know, backroom deals that are going on in the seat. There are bankers who don‘t like Sarah Palin at all, right?
SHRUM: That‘s right.
UYGUR: And they view her as a threat and they‘re giving money to Romney, but FOX News doesn‘t seem to like Romney much. Tell us more about that. What‘s going on behind the scenes in those two camps?
SHRUM: Well, first of all, nobody trusts Romney on the conservative side of the ledger. He‘s almost animatronic (ph) now. He‘s like one of those figures at Disneyland, stands up, artificial figures and gives a speech. You could seem defeat almost any copy and he‘ll repeat it. So, he‘s been pro-choice and pro-life. He‘s been for gay rights and against gay rights. He‘s now on the right wing side of all of those issues. He even came out as you pointed out earlier against this tax deal and he did it, in part, to maneuver, to try to get the Tea Party true believers. I don‘t think he can never get them no matter what he does, so John Thune his greatest advantage right now is that people don‘t know him very well. He seems reliably conservative and as you pointed out, he‘s very well coiffed.
UYGUR: So, let‘s talk Palin for a second. Because a lot of people got their daggers out for—I mean, I get Huckabee and all those guys, throwing her under the bus. Huckabee supported Michelle Obama in a little tit for tat that they had with Sarah Palin because they‘re running against her, but you have got people like Karl Rove, you‘ve got a lot of others saying that Palin is not the right person. Are they just afraid she can‘t win? Or is there a little thins of lie, hey, she can‘t be controlled and God knows what she‘s going to do.
SHRUM: Well, I think that there is a God knows what she‘s going to do element but I also thinks that they believe that she‘s a dead weight loser, I do, too. And that‘s one of the reasons, I would like to see her be the republican nominee. I also think she represents the dominant Tea Party strain in the Republican Party right now and that‘s her great strength. I could see her going into Iowa, doing very well with what is a very conservative caucus electorate, surviving New Hampshire moving onto South Carolina, winning South Carolina and then she could be on her way to the nomination. You have to put this into perspective. In the last time of great social change in America in the early 1960s, when we had civil rights, when we have a lot of movement under the Kennedy and Johnson administration in terms of economics and poverty, there was a huge reaction on the right and that reaction in a much more moderate Republican Party then led to the nomination of Barry Goldwater so I certainly wouldn‘t rule out Sarah Palin winning this nomination.
UYGUR: And look, Jim DeMint, South Carolina, very, very influential
person and the Tea Party just came out and compared to Ronald Reagan which
is, you know, unbelievable, you know, but I‘ll ask you one last thing about
I will ask you about Obama camp. Are they all pulling for Palin, or is there some other machination here. What are they thinking?
SHRUM: Oh, no, I think they wouldn‘t say what I‘m saying, they wouldn‘t be open about it. You know, there‘s an old line, never get in the way of a developing train wreck. I think they hope the train wreck does develop here. I think, the president is going to keep his eye on the economy and try to move there. I think they‘ll going to have to deal with this new republican Congress which faces a huge dilemma. They promised to cut, cut, cut. The minute they start cutting education, cutting health research, cutting investment and infrastructure and Science, they‘re going to run into a lot of trouble and they‘re going to suddenly discover that the president‘s on the right side of this issue. So, I think the Obama campaign is going to keep its eye on the ball and that ball is for the president to do the job on the economy and to communicate with the American people. If he does that, I think he‘s going to be in very strong shape, no matter who the Republicans nominate. I look at this group of people you just went through, and I say, is that all they got?
UYGUR: Wow, I hear you on that. All right, thank you, Bob. We appreciate your time.
SHRUM: Thank you. Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, let‘s get rapid-fire response from our panel on these stories. The Associated Press reports Christine O‘Donnell‘s under criminal investigation for possibly using campaign funds for personal expenses.
And two black candidates running for mayor in Chicago are warning former President Bill Clinton not to stump for Rahm Emanuel.
And apparently, George W. Bush was corrupt regime at home and abroad. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says, he misses the house on days when W. was in charge.
With us tonight, Jeff Santos, a radio show host in Boston and Karen Hunter, a journalist and publisher. All right. Jeff, let me start with you on Christine O‘Donnell.
JEFF SANTOS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Hey, Cenk.
UYGUR: Hey. Is she in a lot of trouble here? What do we think? Is this very serious?
SANTOS: Oh, I love it, you know, what she wanted to do was to buy new witch outfits with all of those new campaign dollars, so that was the whole reason behind it. Yes, I guess so. We‘ll see what happens but you know it‘s illegal so I don‘t know where the gray is in that. It‘s me, black and white. She should be in jail. I think that it would be fun to see her in jail.
UYGUR: Karen, is that too harsh. I mean, come on, she spent some of the money according to the charges on bowling. Can‘t a lady go bowling?
KAREN HUNTER, JOURNALIST: I was saying, I know she has student loans. You know, she‘s had some financial issues. And I don‘t think she‘s going to go to jail. So, you know there will probably be a slap on the wrist or some sort of plea bargain but you know, this is just one of many things that has—have happened over the last few years over, you know, Christine O‘Donnell‘s questionable decision making which is why she‘s not office. Yes!
UYGUR: You know, the next campaign ad, I‘m not a witch but it turns out I am a crook.
HUNTER: There are worse things she could be.
UYGUR: We‘ll see, we‘ll see.
SANTOS: She should be the VP in Palin‘s state...
UYGUR: Oh yes, that would be awesome.
All right. Now let‘s go to Chicago. We‘ve got Carol Moseley-Braun saying that Bill Clinton should basically butt out and that it would be a gaffe on his part if he, you know, started campaigning for Rahm Emanuel, but Danny Davis had the more devastating quote. He said, “I am seriously concerned and disturbed by press reports that former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to come to Chicago to campaign for Rahm Emanuel. The African-American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however, it appears though some of that relationship may be fractured and perhaps even broken, should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago‘s black community.” Karen, that seems like a threat, doesn‘t it?
HUNTER: Oh, it is a threat. And Danny Davis is somebody who could make that threat. He campaigned for Clinton, in a time when nobody would, he‘s from Arkansas. And I think that here‘s right. Clinton should stay out of this one. We saw what happened during the Obama run for office with Hillary. When Bill stepped in and put his foot in his mouth. And I think in many ways, it was the nail in Hillary‘s coffin. He made a racial statement, or quite a few, on that campaign trail that I think undid her campaign. If he goes to Chicago with this gauntlet being thrown down, he will, in my opinion, cost probably Rahm Emanuel that mayor ship.
UYGUR: That‘s interesting. Look, I‘m certainly no fan of Rahm Emanuel, but Jeff, is it right to bring race into this? I mean, does.
SANTOS: I don‘t know about that. I would say this, look, I‘m no fan of Rahm Emanuel either. I mean, but what he started, with having to do with Geithner and Summers coming on as well, was ridiculous and it was a horrible choice in my opinion. But look, Bill Clinton is probably the best campaigner around. And if I‘m Davis or Braun or an anybody, if I could get him come for me, I would because he‘s probably the best draw, the best fund-raiser, the best guy you could have to campaign for you.
HUNTER: That‘s true which is why he doesn‘t want him there which is why Carol Moseley-Braun and Danny Davis, they don‘t want him there and I don‘t blame them.
UYGUR: Well, Danny Davis.
SANTOS: Sure. Yes. If you want to look out for your best interest, you‘re right. Bring him out.
UYGUR: And he says something ironic is that, oh, he was campaigning here for me, yes, I would want him here. You can‘t have it both ways, that‘s crazy.
HUNTER: Of course you can, come on, Cenk, it‘s America.
UYGUR: I suppose. All right. So, now, one last thing, it‘s the Hamid Karzai, we find out through Wikileaks again that according to our ambassador, he‘s been saying, good old W., he didn‘t put it that way but he said, 2002 and 2004 were the golden days when you know the Americans were welcomed in Afghanistan. Well, if we‘re not welcomed anymore, can we please leave?
UYGUR: Jeff, should we leave?
SANTOS: Three words, Ambassador George W. Bush, actually four words and an initial, that‘s what I would like to see. Let him stay there in Kabul and, you know, go back and forth to Kandahar and hang-out with his buddy Karzai. We should get out of there, you‘re so right, Cenk. It‘s 100 percent out this year in 2011. Let‘s take the money, put it into rail, high-speed rail. We can take trains that go from Montreal to Boston for less than $5 billion. I mean Montreal to Washington, D.C., excuse me. And we could use that money to get jobs. We‘ve got unemployment in the double digits in the Midwest. We can take care of that, let‘s get the troops out?
SANTOS: Yes, this underscores really how failed that mission was that George Bush undertook. I mean Karzai in his fur kufis and, you know, his corrupt regime. Yes of course, he misses George W. Bush because now, he doesn‘t have all of those resources at his disposal. I want to see, you know, Karzai out and I‘m glad that he‘s uncomfortable and I‘m glad that he can‘t stand this new administration because it means that we might actually be doing something there. That was where our problem was in Afghanistan. Not in Iraq. And we didn‘t get the job done under George W. Bush and perhaps he‘s getting it done now. So, I don‘t know if we can leave just yet.
UYGUR: Yes. I don‘t know how he gets that jacket to stay on but that hat is that ass.
All right. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it. Happy holidays.
HUNTER: Happy New Year.
SANTOS: Happy holidays, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right, coming up, our war on drugs has led to many fatalities and to a gruesome gang war in Mexico. I‘ll tell you why it is time to give up on this unwinnable war.
And we hand out the 2010 political awards. John Boehner‘s already getting choked up about this one. Stay with us.
UYGUR: It‘s not too late to let me know what you think. Tonight‘s text survey question is, do you think tax breaks for corporations lead to more U.S. jobs? Text A for yes, text B for no to 622-639. The results are coming up.
UYGUR: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. In the “Playbook” tonight, how the war on drugs is killing us and our neighbors in Mexico. During prohibition in the 1920s, we had gangsters with colorful nicknames like Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel. Now, during our current marijuana prohibition, we have gangsters with names like Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez and Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel. Prohibition always bred gangsters, I mean, current one has led to massive gangs and massive crime.
In the 1920s, not only did arrests for drunkenness and disorderly contact increased once we banned alcohol but so did theft and burglaries, homicides, assaults and batteries. The number of federal convicts increased by 561 percent. The federal prison population grew by 366 percent. And total federal expenditures on penal institutions increased by 1,000 percent. Sound familiar? We had the same exact kind of enormous jumps in incarceration, crime and prison expenditure under this current pot prohibition. But worse yet, Mexico‘s been ripped apart by this senseless war on drugs.
Since Felipe Calderon under the encouragement of the Bush administration, started his fruitless war against drugs in Mexico in 2007, 30,200 people have died in drug-related violence. That‘s a stunning number. They‘re had been decapitated bodies, grizzly murders of every variety and just earlier this week, two college students were fatally shot and set on fire in Juarez. In fact over 3,100 people have been killed in Juarez, Mexico, this year alone. When is enough, enough? We tried the war on drugs for decades. And it didn‘t work. Worse yet, it created more crime, more gangs, and more murder. It‘s time to end this and legalize.
For more on this, let me bring in Neill Franklin, he‘s the executive director of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Neil is also a former undercover narcotics agent in Baltimore. Neil, you know, that analogy that I draw there and I think the one that you often draw yourself between prohibition on alcohol and prohibition on drugs, is it fair or are we seeing this a little wrong?
NEILL FRANKLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEAP: No, it‘s quite fair. And you gave the numbers from Mexico. So I‘m not going to repeat those but we also have to take a really good look at the United States. Alcohol prohibition, if you look at the homicide numbers that you mentioned, in addition to other violent crimes, went up back in the 1920s during the alcohol prohibition, and you look at homicide rates of today, look at it on a chart. Look at it on a graph, and you‘ll see the 1920‘s alcohol prohibition and today or the two times in our nation‘s history, when homicides have skyrocketed. So it‘s quite evident. Mexico, we see it all of the time, we hear about the numbers that you just mentioned, but look at the numbers here in the United States. And they‘re underestimated by far.
If you look at 200 -- well, 230 cities in this country to cartel run but I think we‘ve become so numb to the violence in our streets and our cities here. I‘m in Baltimore. They did an HBO series on drug—illegal drug activity and crime here in Baltimore called, “The Wire.” Why is that? But we‘ve become numb to the violence in our streets. And we have no idea of exactly how many prohibitions, drug prohibition-related homicides that we have in our country.
UYGUR: I hear you. Let me ask you one specific question. Now, 60 percent of the cartel, the drug cartels, their revenue comes from just U.S. marijuana sales. Sixty percent, that‘s a huge number.
UYGUR: So if we just legalize pot, would that take away a tremendous profit motive and the ability of these gangs to conduct more warfare?
FRANKLIN: Absolutely. I mean, if you look at that, like a company, if you take away 60 percent of their profits, if you take away a product that brings in 60 percent of their profit, you take that away, they‘ll fail. I‘m not saying that the cartel and our neighborhood drug gangs would fail if we did that, but it would strike a serious blow to their economy. Just as us fighting this war on drugs, it‘s drained our economy.
UYGUR: All right, Neill Franklin, a guy who‘s been on the front lines for 33 years on this, we really appreciate you coming in to talk to us about it.
FRANKLIN: Thanks a lot.
UYGUR: All right, now coming up, I‘d like to take this time to thank Sharron Angle for giving me so much to talk about this year. The 2010 political awards are up next. We‘ll make lemonade out of their political lemons.
UYGUR: 2010 was an unforgettable year in politics. Here to present the 2010 political awards is “Daily News” reporter Sam Jacobs. Sam‘s awards are posted on Dailybeast.com. Sam, first up, we have the Muskie Award, given to that person whose tears flowed like melting snow.
SAMUEL JACOBS, “DAILY NEWS” REPORTER: That‘s right. We gave this award to John Boehner, who‘s return to Washington, or his success to Washington, made crying cool once again. This is a republican who will cry at the drop of a hat. He will cry when discussing legislation. He will—he will cry when he announces victory. He‘ll cry when he even talks about crying. So here‘s somebody who‘s become sort of a national treasure of waterworks.
UYGUR: I love that picture of him that we put up. By the way, when he‘s accepting the award, you guys better get your handkerchiefs ready because he‘s going on cry up a storm.
JACOBS: There won‘t be a dry eye in the House.
UYGUR: Especially not his. All right. Now, how about the Elmo Award given to the most noteworthy Tickler.
JACOBS: This might be my favorite moment of the political year. You may recall a former Newark democrat representative Eric Massa. He went on to “Glenn Beck Show” and Beck thought, he would get the skinny on the corruption in the White House, instead he got a different sort of confessional, Massa told him that for his 50th birthday party, he had a massive tickle fight with his male staffers.
UYGUR: Yes, that doesn‘t usually play out well in Congress.
UYGUR: You know, he was promising, too, before he started tickling everybody. Oh well, now the Pat O‘Brien Award given to the person who left the most ill-advised voicemail message.
JACOBS: You know, we all send messages that we wish we could take back. In the case of Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She did just that this year. Almost 20 years ago, Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his hearings in front of Congress. Now just this year, Thomas‘ wife Virginia left the professor Anita Hill a message on her voicemail asking her to pray and consider her apologizing to her husband for what she said she had done.
UYGUR: At least she wasn‘t drunk when she left the message, we don‘t think at least.
JACOBS: No, I don‘t think she was.
UYGUR: I never want to see you again. Not that I‘ve ever done that, I hear. Anyway, next up is the Pluto Award given to the most successful college prankster, who is that?
JACOBS: Well, Rand Paul, the future republican senator from Kentucky proved that the Tea Party and Frat Party are not mutually exclusive. We heard tales of his undergraduate pranks, where he and a fellow member of his secret brotherhood kidnapped a woman, brought her down to a river, and encouraged her to bow down to their divinity who they called Aqua Buddha.
UYGUR: Yes. And—but he won, you know? That ad didn‘t work against him.
JACOBS: No, I think that ad about his opponent, not Jack Conway really sorts of backfire and absolutely.
UYGUR: And finally, one award not mentioned in your article, the Auclear (ph) award given to the politician with the quickest trigger.
JACOBS: Yes, I have to give this to republican candidate Sharron Angle out in Nevada, who certainly brought some frontier charisma to the campaign. She, of course, talked frequently or certainly more than made some people comfortable about the need for second its amendment remedies in order to change what was going on in Congress. What went less reported that she liked to—during at least one interview that she was packing heat on the campaign trail.
UYGUR: Well, luckily she didn‘t use that, she didn‘t have much heat, she lost and now it‘s a secret remedy elsewhere.
UYGUR: All right. Thank you for joining us, we appreciate it.
JACOBS: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, tonight in our text survey I asked you, do you think tax breaks for corporations lead to more U.S. jobs? Five percent said yes. And 95 percent have the correct answer. Hell no.
Now, that‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Cenk Uygur. You can always catch me on theyoungturks.com. And also on Youtube.com/theyoungturks. Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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