updated 1/3/2011 5:45:01 PM ET 2011-01-03T22:45:01

Guests: Carolyn Maloney, Richard Alles, John Feal, Sheila Jackson Lee, Bob Shrum, Roy Sekoff, Laura Flanders, John Feehery, Lionel, Al Sharpton

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

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

Put it all into perspective.  This is one of the biggest legislative days in American history.  The president signed the repeal of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”  And late this afternoon, the Senate passed both the START treaty and the 9/11 health care bill. 

I will talk to the author of the health care bill and two 9/11 first responders who stormed Senator Tom Coburn‘s office earlier this morning. 

President Obama, well, he‘s got his swagger back.  He just held a year-end press conference to remind America just how much change has been delivered over the last two years.  The Huffington Post‘s Roy Sekoff and Bob Shrum, Democratic strategist, will break down the press conference with sound cuts coming up in “The Battleground” story. 

And I love this one.   Bill O‘Reilly, he‘s all worked up because Reverend Al Sharpton is actually talking to the FCC.  The reverend will respond right here on THE ED SHOW.

And Media Matters has name Sarah Palin the “Misinformer of the Year.”  Lionel will tackle that one in “The Playbook” tonight.  You won‘t want to miss it. 

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

9/11 first responders, I guess you could say, have shamed Republicans into voting for a bill that will finally, finally deliver justice to sick American heroes. 

Late this afternoon, the Senate unanimously—unanimously—passed a bill which would provide $4.2 billion in aid to heroes who became sick at Ground Zero.  And two hours later, the House passed it as well. 

Here‘s how democracy works.  9/11 responders, they stormed Senator Tom Coburn‘s office earlier this morning.  They want change. 

Hours later, Coburn, well, he listened.  He did a 180 and announced his support for the bill. 

Coburn and the other jerks in the Republican Party showed exactly how cruel they are on this issue.  This is the same party who accused Democrats of having a pre-9/11 mentality and used pictures of 9/11 workers in commercials and campaign ads. 

Well, their hypocritical behavior on this bill, I think, should be a lesson to all Americans.  You can‘t trust Republicans. 

Senator Chuck Schumer and also Kirsten Gillibrand cut a last-minute deal to save the bill before Congress headed home for Christmas.  Schumer says this isn‘t a left or right issue. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue, Joe.  You know that.  It‘s an American issue. 

We don‘t look at our veterans when we help them after they‘ve come back from defending our freedom and say, “What state are you from?  What party are you from?”  We come together.  This is one of the few areas of bipartisanship. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I‘m sorry, Senator, I disagree on this one.  This is a classic example of how fraudulent the Republicans really are. 

They were the party of, let‘s see—remember “Freedom Fries” and that bullhorn moment and the American flag lapel pins?  We weren‘t American if we didn‘t have them on? 

But you know what?  When the rubber hit the road on this issue, the Republicans turned their backs on the very people they claim to support. 

Democrats and grassroots supporters went to the mat for the 9/11 first responders and got this deal done.  It was the Democrats. 

Republicans, finally—they finally came on board because they didn‘t have the guts to go home and face their constituents and explain how you could vote against 9/11 heroes.  The Republican Party is in disarray over the Democrats‘ success in this lame-duck session of the Congress. 

This is how Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put it during a radio interview --  

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  When it‘s all going to be said and done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch.  This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn‘t have passed in the new Congress. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Capitulation.  That‘s how some of the leaders over in the Republican Party are saying what it is when helping heroes out?  That‘s capitulation?  Is that American? 

Graham is whining about capitulation on the things that the American people wanted.  “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” the unemployment extension, the START treaty, and the 9/11 bill would have never been passed by the next Congress. 

We can only speculate.  We can only speculate that none of this would have happened if President Obama hadn‘t cut a deal on tax cuts. 

The president hopes the days of gridlock are over and we move forward. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It‘s time to find common ground on challenges facing our country.  That‘s a message that I will take to heart in the new year.  And I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same.  If there‘s any lesson to draw from these past few weeks, it‘s that we are not doomed to endless gridlock. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, Mitch McConnell‘s words of, “wait until next year,” I think they ring hollow in this holiday season. 

This is a great day for Americans, a great day for 9/11 first responders, a great day for the president and the Democrats, who lived up to their word, and the American people and those grandkids that Republicans love to refer to about the next generation.  Everything that has been passed in this lame-duck session of the Congress affects those grandkids and the next generation that the Republicans are so worried about. 

But when it comes time for the rubber meeting the road and being strong on the issues, just remember, folks, had it not been for the tenacity of this White House, had it not been for the focus and the drive and the determination of the president of the United States, none of this would have gotten done.  And I can say with conviction here tonight, maybe I was wrong on this tax cut issue. 

These are a lot of victories.  But then again, that‘s why the president‘s in Air Force One and that‘s why I fly a Cessna 206. 

Get your cell phones out, folks.  I want to know what you think. 

Tonight‘s text survey question is: Do you think Republicans were shamed into voting for the 9/11 heroes?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

A big victory for the American people today, and Americans who were heroes back on that day will never forget.  “Let‘s never forget,” that was one of the phrases that the Republicans always put in front of the American people. 

Joining me now is New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.  She is a primary sponsor of the 9/11 health bill in the House, and she‘s been fighting—fighting, for this for seven and a half years.

Congresswoman, congratulations.  Great work. 

But the question begs—the question begs at this hour, is this going to be enough money to do these heroes and their families and make restitution to make it right?  What do you think? 

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW  YORK:  Well, Ed, you just told it like it is.  It‘s been a Democratic fight to get this money, but we have good tidings. 

We passed the bill.  And all I‘ve wanted for Christmas for the past seven-and-a-half years is to get this aid out there to the first responders. 

This bill is not what we started out with, but it‘s—it is $4.3 billion.  It will cover five years, and the program will be in place.  So it‘s a huge win. 

Otherwise, we‘d be running out of money by the end of January for those 36,000 responders that are in the health monitoring program and treatment program right now.  So we should rejoice. 

It is wonderful news for the holiday season.  It was the right thing to do, the right time to do it.  And, Ed, it‘s even the right season to do it. 

It was a wonderful win for the suffering and ailing veterans of the war against terror.  Thank you for your help and in getting the word out. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, there‘s no question, it‘s an issue that I think most Americans really believe that it was the morally correct thing to do. 

But Congresswoman, what about the money?  The obstruction and the stand that Tom Coburn took over in the Senate trimmed $2 billion off this.  How do you feel about that? 

MALONEY:  Well, I‘m just glad that he didn‘t use his—the power of a senator.  He was threatening to kill the entire bill.  He was—he could put a hold on it and run the time out. 

We knew we had the votes, that we had enough Republicans and all of the Democrats, 58 -- we have 58 Democrats.  They were all for the bill in the Senate.  But some were trying to run out the clock. 

And we were really fighting the clock and the political will to get this done.  I‘m glad he didn‘t put a hold on it. 

I‘m so proud of the first responders that stormed his office not only here in Washington, but in Oklahoma, to tell him this is the right thing to do.  You take care of the people who take care of you. 

They didn‘t think about procedural ways that things could be stopped.  They just rushed into burning buildings.  They worked on toxic piles to try to save people and rebuild our country. 

And we know those towers were attacked, not as New York, but as a symbol of the success of our great country.  So it‘s really a time to rejoice in a rejoicing season, and you have really hit it on the head --  

SCHULTZ:  It is. 

MALONEY:  -- when you said those bullhorns.  They were down there with a bullhorn.  “We‘ll never forget.”

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

MALONEY:  “We‘ll always be there.”

Well, now we have written into law the rhetoric, “We will not forget,” by starting this program.  And believe me, we‘ll be there with a sharp pencil, and you, watching it, making sure that the money is there for the injured and making sure that there is more after the five years. 

Thank you for your help. 

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in New York.

Thank you so much.  I appreciate your work on this.  You were a tireless worker on it for seven-and-a-half years. 

Now let‘s turn to two 9/11 first responders. 

John Feal is the president of the Feal Good Foundation.  And Richard Alles, deputy chief of the New York Uniformed Fire Officers Association. 

Gentlemen, I know that this has been a long emotional run for both of you and your colleagues and families. 

Mr. Feal, how big is this day in your life? 

JOHN FEAL, PRESIDENT, FEAL GOOD FOUNDATION:  Sir, this is historic. 

And thank you for having me today. 

And Rich, I just want to say congratulations, sir. 

RICHARD ALLES, DEPUTY CHIEF, NEW YORK UNIFORMED FIRE OFFICERS ASSN.: 

Same to you, John. 

SCHULTZ:  What is it like, Mr. Richard Alles, all of the fight that you‘ve put up to get this thing done?  Just culminate the whole thing, capsulize the whole thing for us. 

ALLES:  I have to tell you, it hasn‘t even settled in yet.  When you

work so hard for something—seven years it took us to get to this point -

that when it actually happens, your body doesn‘t react to it. 

It‘s almost like the day of 9/11, when we—when I arrived on the scene, 20 minutes after the second building had collapsed.  It‘s surreal.  Your mind doesn‘t register it. 

But it‘s an extremely happy day.  It‘s historic. 

I congratulate all of my congressional leaders, the Senate.  To have the bill voted on by unanimous consent, they really should call it united consent. 

I think it‘s a unifying day for the country.  We‘re still involved in two wars as a result of 9/11, and this is a historic day and it‘s a Christmas present for all of America. 

FEAL:  Amen. 

SCHULTZ:  John Feal, how do you feel about—how do you feel about the reduction and money, Mr. Feal? 

FEAL:  Well, sir, we took money—we‘re taking less money for five years up front.  But listen, once the program‘s up and running, they‘ll get refunded.  We‘re confident of that.

And the victims compensation fund, CBO still has it scored at 21 years.  So that‘s going to continue to be refunded, too. 

So while we‘re starting with $4.3 billion, $4.2 billion, you know what?  This bill‘s not a 10 anymore, it‘s a seven.  And at the end of the day, a seven saves lives.  A zero doesn‘t. 

We lost a lot of battles over the years, and Rich will tell you.  But we won the war today.  And we‘re going home to New York knowing that we won the war.  We lost a lot of good men and women who were sick and dying because of their illnesses, and now their families will have some sort of comfort in knowing that this bill was passed in their honor. 

SCHULTZ:  Both of you gentlemen were part of a very strong and emotional pitch yesterday on Capitol Hill. 

Mr. Feal, and then Richard, how much of a difference did that make, in your opinion? 

FEAL:  Well, sir, I believe Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were our champions, and Carolyn Maloney.  But it was the resolve and the testament of people like Rich, myself, and the buses that came down here to walk the hallways and lobby for this bill. 

Listen, after 9/11, everybody came together and everybody was united.  And the same thing with this bill.  We came together.  We were united.  And we weren‘t taking no for an answer. 

And at no point did we disrespect anybody.  We just let them know who we were and that we weren‘t going away. 

And we had great leadership.  And I‘m just glad I got to be a part of this process, because I‘m just a small part in this. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Alles, give us a sense of how the families are feeling tonight. 

ALLES:  The families are thrilled.  We had so many people counting on us. 

The New York City Fire Department, alone, we‘ve had hundreds—hundreds of firefighters have to retire early.  And it‘s not a good retirement. 

They run into financial difficulties trying to make payments on medical bills, on prescription course.  Prescription course in this country, over 300 percent in the last three years.  It can lead you to financial ruin. 

And if I can interject along—concur with John, I hope that every American feels the same way that I do about my two senators.  Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer did a yeoman‘s work. 

Also, on the House side, Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, who did a lot of work getting his Republican colleagues on board, he really deserves a lot of credit. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

ALLES:  Charlie Rangel and Anthony Weiner, Joe Crowley, the entire New York delegation did a tremendous job.  And the families will always remember them.  I will carry that message to each and every family when I get home. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, Richard Alles and John Feal, you are great Americans for what you did.  God bless you.  You‘re heroes, and we‘re proud to be having you here on THE ED SHOW.

Thanks so much. 

ALLES:  Thank you, Ed. 

FEAL:  Ed, happy holidays and God bless you. 

ALLES:  Absolutely.  Happy holidays and Happy New Year. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, sir.  Thank you. 

Coming up, President Obama brought real change to America today.  Open gay Americans will now be able to serve their country.  This is an important day for this country.  My commentary on that coming up. 

“The Drugster” is so scared of Reverend Al Sharpton, he‘s calling in for some backup from his good old buddy Bill O‘Reilly.  Reverend Sharpton joins me live here to respond to all of that. 

Plus, Senator DeMint is distracted around Christmas; Governor Haley Barbour is doing some damage control; and I‘ll tell you what Jay-Z is doing with Bill Clinton. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This morning I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”

(APPLAUSE)

It is a law—this law I‘m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.  No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. 

This is done.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCHULTZ:  “This is done.”  President Obama said that, and with those words, he signed what may be the most significant piece of civil rights legislation in more than 40 years. 

By repealing the military‘s 17-year “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy, the president ended a policy that has been a stain on our nation.  Thanks to this president, openly gay Americans can now serve their country with dignity.  This is a win for civil rights in America, and a huge win for President Obama. 

He came out today with a swagger that I don‘t think that we‘ve seen since the campaign of 2008. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can! 

OBAMA:  Thank you.  Yes, we did. 

We are not a nation that says, “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”  We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one.”

(APPLAUSE)

We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot.  We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal.  Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today. 

And now it is my honor to sign this bill into law. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  President Obama is not just giving us change that we can believe in, he‘s giving us change we can actually see. 

Joining me now is Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

Congresswoman, this is one of those campaign promises that was made, was talked about early on, but it took longer than what the liberal base wanted. 

In the end, what does it say about President Obama‘s political chops? 

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS:  What it says that this is a great day, and that our president keeps his promises.  And the Democratic Caucus, working with Republicans, know how to do things on behalf of the American people that not only save lives, but improve lives. 

And, Ed, allow me just for a moment to congratulate the 9/11 first responders.  That was a tough fight as well.  That‘s another great day that the president now has secured. 

But what it really says is that the president hasn‘t lost his way, he hasn‘t lost his values, and all we need to do is believe in what he said, “Out of many, we are one.”

We live in a nation where everyone is created equal.  And this is not a religious issue.  This is not forcing anyone to have any certain beliefs. 

What it is, is to say that if you wish to give the ultimate sacrifice, if you‘re willing to be wounded in the line of duty in the battlefield, that we accept you no matter who you are, just like Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva (ph), who was wounded in Iraq.  This is a great and wonderful day, and it is a civil rights day. 

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman, will our military function at a higher level, in your opinion? 

LEE:  Absolutely.  And frankly, as I understand, there was a conference call of the Joint Chiefs yesterday, and every single one of them, including the head of the Marines, indicated that they look forward to using the talent of every single American who offers his or herself to serve. 

As you well know, many of those who were summarily, if you will, discharged were intelligence officers, individuals who spoke multiple languages.  They are needed no matter whether in peacetime or wartime. 

We certainly need them now with the conflicts going on in Afghanistan, with the issues at the DMZ in Korea.  We need all of talent, and that‘s what this is about.  I don‘t want this story to be that we‘re forcing any actions on anyone. 

And Ed, being in that room today, it was an emotional time, men and women in military, retirees, or those who had been discharged.  I spoke to a West Point graduate who had been summarily discharged.  I asked him, “Are you going back?”  He said, “Yes, ma‘am.”

Do you know how that made us feel? 

I sat next to John Lewis, the icon of civil rights in this nation.  It couldn‘t have been a better day.  It is a civil rights question. 

And civil rights is not about denying someone else their rights, it‘s about including everyone to have the same kind of rights.  And that‘s what the president said today. 

We are a country that believes that everyone is equal.  We‘re not a country that supports or believes in that you should be—

SCHULTZ:  No doubt. 

LEE:  -- held to this factor of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

Thanks for joining us tonight.  And congratulations.  I know that you were a big advocate of this.  It is a big victory for America tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

LEE:  Thank you.  Have a happy holiday. 

SCHULTZ:  And you too. 

Coming up, “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is dead and gone.  But ridiculous homophobic questions, well, they still remain.  Barney Frank‘s response to one of those today, next in “Psycho Talk.”  

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, well, the military‘s “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy will soon be history, but folks are still pushing those old homophobic arguments against allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces. 

One of these ridiculous claims is the suggestion the world will end if gay and straight men have to shower together in the military.  A reporter from the conservative CNS News recently brought that subject up with openly gay Congressman Barney Frank. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They recommended that straight military personnel will have to shower with homosexual—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  This is a completely bogus argument that I could spend the next few minutes just taking apart dismantling, but I‘m going to turn to Congressman Barney Frank, let him take on this one.  He was more than up to the task. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  -- straight military personnel will have to shower with homosexual—

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Showering with homosexual?  What do you think happens in gyms all over America?  What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? 

Of course people shower with homosexuals.  What a silly issue. 

What do you think goes wrong when people shower with homosexuals?  Do you think the spray makes it catching?

To accept the principle that homosexuals can‘t shower with other people is a degree of discrimination that goes far beyond this.  I mean, we don‘t get ourselves dry-cleaned. 

Remember, under “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals, you just weren‘t supposed to know which was which. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Chairman, I tip my hat to you for absolutely destroying that homophobic “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, President Obama just came out and took a well-deserved victory lap.  The wins, well, they just keep piling up.  You have to respect his fight.  His strategy has paid off. 

Roy Sekoff and Bob Shrum sound off in the next two years in “The Battleground” story.

Republican Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour praises pro-segregation group in the south.  And now he‘s planning, of all things, a speech on race.  You‘ve got to be kidding me?  Well, we‘ll get rapid-fire response on that.  

Plus, Jim DeMint gets distracted over Christmas, Caribou Barbie is honored by the Beckster and Reverend Al Sharpton has a message for his friend, Bill O‘Reilly on defending Limbaugh.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.                          

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The “Battleground” story tonight, well, President Obama has his swagger back after fighting off republican obstructionism and to get a string of legislative victories.  And at a press conference today, he gave a lot of credit to the 111th Congress for getting the job done.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  I think it‘s fair to say that this has been the most productive post-election period we‘ve had in decades and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we‘ve had in generations.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, he has said it all along, that his presidency is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  Well, he is not closing—he‘s now closing in on a two-year mark.  And for all the critics out there, I want you to just take a look at some of the major wins that his administration has been able to accomplish.  But the president isn‘t resting on all of these legislative victories.  Yes, the list is long, isn‘t it?  He made it clear today he‘s going to come back in January and he‘s going to be ready to fight for policies, like the Dream Act that didn‘t make it to his desk this year.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  There are a number of things that I wanted to get accomplish that we did not get accomplished.  Maybe my biggest disappointment was this Dream Act vote.  One thing I hope people have seen during this lame duck, I am persistent.  I am persistent.  I—you know, if I believe in something strongly, I stay on it.  And I believe strongly in this.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is veteran democratic strategist and NYU Professor Bob Shrum.  And also Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “The Huffington Post.” 

Gentlemen, I think that there‘s going to be a lot of agreement in this segment tonight.  But Bob Shrum, I think—Bob, I think you have called this all along.  And I think the question begs tonight, had the president not compromised on the tax cuts would all of the things that have happened post that signing would have happened?  What do you think?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  No, I think—I think doing the compromise deal on the tax cut was essential to this.  As you know, Ed, I believe that compromise deal, while it has elements that I don‘t like at all, was in some ways a very progressive measure.  That was the only hope for getting a second economic stimulus and really helping out the unemployed.  But it cleared the way so that the president could get measure after measure through the Congress, he was gotten more done in a lame-duck session of Congress than some presidents get done in their entire term.  Lindsey Graham was on the air, this senator from South Carolina, complaining the other day that Harry Reid had eaten the Republicans‘ lunch.  What really happened here was that the president designed a grand strategy for the lame duck, which I think worked.  It could have failed, but it worked. 

SCHULTZ:  Roy Sekoff, these are big political chops and a grand strategy that has played out very well for the Democrats.  Where do you think the liberal base is going to be now?

ROY SEKOFF, EDITOR OF “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Well, you know, Ed, there‘s no question that that is a very impressive list you just laid out.  You know in the immortal words of Joe Biden, it‘s a big f‘ing deal, however, you know, here is the problem.  You remember what Nancy Pelosi said, though, after the election?  She said, 9.5 unemployment is an eclipsing event.  And that‘s the problem, Ed.  When you‘ve got 27 million people who are out of work or underemployed and when you have foreclosures still rampaging along and you‘ve got this war spinning out of control in Afghanistan, it‘s hard to bask in the glow of that thing. 

And I think that‘s the real problem that the president‘s facing, and what scared me, and Bob will comment on this, in his speech today one of the things he said that he was going to do first was as soon as they got back from vacation, he was going to focus on cutting the deficit  and balancing the budget.  That scared me.  He‘s buying into that mean that‘s rampant in Washington, that we‘ve got to focus on the deficit and he didn‘t see nearly as much or as strongly about job creation.  

SCHULTZ:  Well, this is going to be a big fight for the Democrats to protect these great institutions that the Democrats have brought in over the years.  So, but one thing that really impress me today, the president, his laser focus on the middle class.  Here it is.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I think that middle class folks would confirm what the statistics say.  Which is, they had not seen a real increase in their incomes in a decade.  While their costs have skyrocketed.  That‘s just a fact.  Something that‘s always been the greatest strength of America is a thriving, booming middle class, where everybody‘s got a shot at the American dream.  And that should be our goal. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Bob Shrum, the middle class and jobs, here comes 2012.  What do you think?  

SHRUM:  Yes, look, I think Roy is right, half right and half wrong.  He was right that the unemployment number really matters.  What I heard the president saying today was he was going to be very selective in terms of what programs could be cut and when they should be cut and he was going to defend programs that he thought were essential to economic growth.  Look, he‘s just trying to get a positioning here where he can oppose Republicans as they try for draconian cuts.  But Ed, I want to say one other thing about the base. 

I have a very good friend David Mixner who‘s been on the forefront of the fight for gay rights for 40 years and who was in that room today.  And he called me afterwards and he said, it was one the most moving moments of his life.  I think we can forget that what happened today was that this president made one of the great civil rights speeches and we‘ve now achieved one of the great civil rights milestones.  We have a lot more to do.  We also have to focus on the economy.  But you know, a president‘s got to do more than one thing at a time.  And I want him to come back and fight on immigration as well as jobs for example. 

SCHULTZ:  Where do we go from here, Roy?  

SEKOFF:  Yes, well, I think what‘s going to happen we‘re going to, you know, after the election, Boehner said that we‘re still dealing with the Obama agenda.  So, I think Obama has to, you know, play a little return there and say, OK, where is the Boehner agenda?  You know, what are the Republicans finally going to stand for as opposed to just trying to knock me down?  I think that‘s going to be a key thing to see as we move forward.  And I think the progressives are going to be looking to see how strongly does he fight these attempts to encroach on Medicare and on Social Security and on the core issues of a progressive agenda?  And I love the rhetoric about the middle class, but I still feel that the feeling out in the country, among the middle class, is that the banks and the corporations are still getting the sweeter end of the deal from this administration. 

SCHULTZ:  Only time will tell, Roy Sekoff, Bob Shrum, great to have both of you guys.  Thanks so much.  

SHRUM:  We ought to thrust guy.  He has earned our trust.  That bill he signed today and what he‘s achieved in the last month, he‘s earned the right to ask us to give him some breathing space and to see what he‘s going to do next year.  He‘s already done more than most progressive presidents in a very long time.  

SEKOFF:  He deserves a victory, that‘s for sure.  

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight. 

SHRUM:  Thanks.  

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  No doubt about it.  Thanks, gentlemen, I appreciate it.  

SEKOFF:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Now let‘s get some rapid-fire response from our panel on these stories tonight.  I‘ll get their take on President Obama‘s getting his swagger back with some big-time legislative wins.  

Senator Jim Waterloo DeMint, well, he‘s whining again.  He thinks passing major legislation around Christmas in the lame-duck session is, what?  Illegitimate and something to be outraged about because the American people are distracted?

And Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour apologized for praising a pro-segregation group and now he‘s thinking about giving a race speech in the month of May?

With us tonight, Laura Flanders, host of Grit TV and John Feehery, republican strategist and President of Quinn Gillespie Communications.  Great to have both of you with us tonight.  John Feehery, how big a day  is this for President Obama, the way that this has all played out, he took the barbs from the liberal base but he has ended with a very strong legislative accomplishment.  What do you think?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, of course, I might have a different view of this.  I think that the president has achieved his agenda.  The question is, is it the agenda of the American people who are chiefly worried about two things, jobs and job growth going into the future and wage growth going into the future.  And frankly, none of these achievements really help move that ball forward.  So I‘m looking forward to seeing what happens when the Republicans get control of Congress and when they have a pro-business agenda in place and we can start getting the job creation back in this country. 

SCHULTZ:  Laura?

LAURA FLANDERS, HOST, GRIT TV:  Well, you know, I‘m with Roy I have to say.  You know while the president may have a little bit of swagger, it‘s the super rich in this country who are walking away with the swag.  And you know, if he couldn‘t get some of this stuff through and, you know, I don‘t want to diminish the repeal of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” over 9/11 responders bill, that‘s important stuff, but if he couldn‘t get some of that through after having sacrificed his number one agenda, his campaign promise around taxes, he‘d be in very sad shape.  And let‘s not forget that these Republicans were going to be going home to their bases where even there some of the stuff was going to get them in trouble if they really held out against unemployment benefits extension against that 9/11 respond the bill.  They would have been in hot water, too.  

SCHULTZ:  Laura, what do you make of Jim DeMint, calling this session lame-duck illegitimate and the American people aren‘t focused on this and he has a problem with this whole thing at this time of the year.  What do you think about it?  

FLANDERS:  I think he has a few things to learn from those 9/11 responders.  Is there something about public service that this guy doesn‘t get?  That you have to show up on Christmas, you have to show up on the day after Christmas, you might even have to work New Year‘s Eve if you‘re needed, that‘s the point of public service.  Wise up. 

FEEHERY:  Ed, you know what. 

SCHULTZ:  What about that, John?

FEEHERY:  I would point out that we actually passed an amendment to the constitution to get rid of lame-duck sessions and actually, if you look at the voting record in this last session, the last couple of days, 80 to 90 members of Congress wouldn‘t even have bothered to show up.  That means that 15 million people are not being represented by their representatives on these votes.  I think lame-duck sessions are illegitimate to a certain extent and I think that by jamming all of this stuff through before or after an election, I don‘t think that that‘s what the American people want. 

SCHULTZ:  But, John, we‘re talking about a record number of filibusters that the president‘s had to deal with and we‘re talking about all of these issues that have been signed into law, this poll extremely well with the American people.  This is what the American people want, John.  

FEEHERY:  Well, I would say that, Ed, they should have taken on a vote on the tax legislation, that was not filibustered.  They never even introduced it.  They ought to face the voters and pass legislation instead of waiting for a lame duck to pass a bunch of stuff that the voters weren‘t necessarily in tune with.  

FLANDERS:  You know, John maybe ignoring this but I know that you‘re not, Ed.  I mean, you and I know that this is an emergency situation that we‘re facing, and while you may have Jim DeMint in South Carolina worried about his Christmas holidays, we‘ve got a crisis on our hands still around jobs and housing and foreclosures.  

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  

FLANDERS:  And we need action and we need action from the people we elected to act.  

SCHULTZ:  Well, Johnny, your boys are going to get a chance real soon to see how they can lead over in the House.  Good to have you with us.  Laura and John Feehery, great to have you tonight.  Thanks so much for joining us.  

Coming up, just when I thought I have seen it all, Sarah Palin weighs in on Iran?  Wait until you see this one, folks.  And I got top secret details on President Clinton‘s big birthday bash.  It‘s all coming up in my “Playbook.”  Stay with us.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s not too late to let us know what you think.  Tonight‘s text survey question is, do you think Republicans were shamed into voting for 9/11 heroes?  Text A for yes.  Text B for no to 622-639.  Results coming up.  Stay with us.       

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my “Playbook” tonight, Sarah Palin seems to be steamrolling full speed ahead towards 2012.  She‘s trying to boost her foreign policy credentials beyond the view of her backyard to Russia.  Today, I don‘t know if she wrote this or not, but there was an Op-ed signature by Sarah Palin in the “USA Today” talking about how we need to get tough with Iran.  But she‘s got a lot of work to do to be taken seriously, you think?  Media Matters, for America, just name Sarah Palin the winner of their 2010 Glenn Beck misinformer of the year award.  But the temptation of cold, harsh cash may pull Palin away from her presidential ambitions.  Her reality show could be picked up for a second season, and there‘s one report out there suggesting that she could get paid as much as $1 million per episode. 

For more, let‘s turn to Lionel who gets $2 million for every one of his appearances.  

LIONEL, NEW YORK‘S PIX 11 NEWS COMMENTARY:  Not here.  

SCHULTZ:  New York‘s Pix 11 news commentary.  

LIONEL:  By the way, big Ed—first, hold it, wait, wait, wait.  Number one first of all, congratulation, great piece of you and Howard Kurtz.  Didn‘t know anything about your humble beginnings.  A jockey, I would have never guessed and also, what in the hell is.

SCHULTZ:  Lionel, just hold on, just a second if you can.  

LIONEL:  Wait a minute.  

SCHULTZ:  This is President Obama at Andrews Air Force Base.  The president going off on his holiday vacation.  Those are live pictures.  The president getting on Air Force One, departing for his Hawaiian vacation.  Michelle and the girls are already there.  And the president with a big smile.  It has been a big legislative day for America.  The president along with the rest of the country going off on vacation.  

LIONEL:  Ed.

SCHULTZ:  All right.

(CROSSTALK)

LIONEL:  And I told my mother to set the DVR and not even played.  Glenn, all right, stop talking, first of all, great piece on Howard Kurtz, on you, congratulations.  A great piece about your humble beginnings as a jockey.  Who would have thought?  And number two, what the hell is a republican strategist?  What is an APC, I don‘t know who this guy he doesn‘t work.  A republican strategist, he sits around with chest pieces.  Any who, Sarah Palin, bring it on, Ed, bring it on.  

SCHULTZ:  Well, would you like to see her on a reality TV show, or would you rather see her as a presidential candidate?

LIONEL:  Let me tell you something, you might laugh.  But imagine if somebody went to Ahmadinejad, a man in the dinner jacket, and said listen, guess who is in charge of all of our foreign policy with Iran, guess, this lady.  The woman who can‘t even name a newspaper she‘s read for the past 25 years.  It could be—remember when Reagan, bless his heart, well, you know that scared—remember when he made up star wars, just made it up and they said, do you think he‘s kidding, I don‘t know.  Because he looks, you know, we weren‘t really sure.  Palin could have that effect.  She might scare the bejeebers, whatever the heck that is out of these people.  Everything she says, Ed.  Think about this. 

Every morpheme, phoneme, every utterance, she makes it off the hand comment about s‘mores and dessert and we cover it.  She is a genius.  If a person from another planet said, what does this woman do?  Is she in office?  No.  Is she running for anything?  Maybe.  Was she in office?  Well, she was but she quit.  What does she do, what does she do to earn to captivate this?  Look at this.  Look at this.  Everything.  I don‘t know what she did.  She is a genius?

SCHULTZ:  She has masterfully twittered her way into the political scene to—millions of dollars.  

LIONEL:  She can say anything.  Ed, Ed, she can say, literally she can say, how are you doing?  And they will quote it.  Don‘t know how you spell that.  It doesn‘t matter.  What does it say about us?

SCHULTZ:  Lionel, we‘ve got to run, buddy.  

LIONEL:  Happy holidays, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Always a pleasure.  Good to be with you tonight.  

LIONEL:  To you and your family.

SCHULTZ:  All right, man.  Thank you so much. 

LIONEL:  Right on.  Attica.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Well, one final page in my “Playbook” tonight, President Clinton is already gearing you up for a big 65th birthday blow-out in August according to “Lifestyle” magazine, plans are in place for a huge party at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  Paul McCartney, also Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen are reportedly interested in playing at the bash.  Clinton‘s birthday is August 19th.  And of course, I‘m waiting for an invitation.  

Coming up, Bill O‘Reilly is trying to block Reverend Sharpton‘s crusade against Rush Limbaugh‘s history of on air racism.  I can‘t wait to hear what the Rev has to say about this one.  Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Finally tonight, Reverend Al Sharpton is fed up with Rush Limbaugh‘s brazen on-air racist remarks over the years.  Last week, he met with FCC and asked them to take action, take a stand on Limbaugh, there will be public meetings.  Bill O‘Reilly, FOX, caught wind of it and weighed in on his show last night.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Listen, the FCC is not going to do anything about that.  

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Why did they meet with him?  

O‘REILLY:  Because to mollify him.  To say—with him.  I don‘t have a beef unless they start in that direction.  There shouldn‘t be any government intrusion or censorship in the media at all.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s turn to Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend, this is the beginning of the pushback, what do you think?

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  Well, first of all, we‘re not talking about censorship, we‘re talking about standards.  And they‘re already standards in place.  We‘re saying, those standards ought to include those that—in an explicit or even implicit way practice racism or sexism or homophobia on the airwaves.  And can you imagine the arrogance of saying, federally regulated airwaves should not be subjected to federal public hearings?  So they should just grant licenses, allow people to say what they want, only have standards for what the right wing thinks we should have standards for?  Either they should say, let‘s have no standards at all, or let‘s have these public hearings and let them defend what they‘re saying since these licenses are granted by the FCC are a privilege, they‘re not a right, they‘re not an entitlement, they need to be defended.  

SCHULTZ:  You think that there‘s going to be more media people coming out questioning your motives on this?  And also, I wonder if you think if Bill O‘Reilly is against the public meetings on what‘s being said on regulated airwaves in America.  What do you think?

SHARPTON:  Well, I think that‘s a very good question, Ed.  I think Mr.

O‘Reilly will have to answer.  And I think more media types will come out.  The question will be, when they come out, why don‘t you come out against all standards?  Why are you just against our raising these questions?  And mind you, a lot of these right wingers take people that in their private lives, private platforms, they castigate their rhetoric, they castigate their language, they use it in every political campaign.  Isn‘t it interesting they don‘t want any kind of standards when it comes to federally regulated airwaves?  Let‘s remember now these are regulated airwaves that already have standards.  But all is not lost because I‘m very, very much tempted and in the spirit of Senator DeMint to send my friend Mr. O‘Reilly a Christmas gift and that‘s Howard Kurtz profile on a great American, you.  That‘s my Christmas gift to Bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, Reverend Sharpton, I have to tell you, doing this show and getting to know you over the last year has been highlight for me.  You are a real fighter for the American people.  And what is socially correct in this country for all Americans.  And I admire you for your tenacity.

SHARPTON:  Well, I admire you.  You‘ve given progressives a real voice and it‘s not playing to the bizarre ends of hysteria.  We need a real dialogue in this country and we don‘t need to tame it by hate speech by anybody.  Those of us on any side.  And many of us have said things we shouldn‘t have said but we don‘t have the right to use federally regulated airwaves to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  And, finally, Reverend, quickly, the big story tonight about the president, your thoughts on his accomplishments, quickly.  

SHARPTON:  I think when you ran the list down, any American ought to say, this is the most productive president we‘ve seen, not only during a lame-duck session but in the first two years.  I‘m glad that I have been one that has been supportive of the president.  

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

SHARPTON:  Because he‘s been supportive of the American people.  

SCHULTZ:  Reverend, good to see you.  Have a great holiday.  Thanks so much.  

SHARPTON:  Merry Christmas, thank you.  

SCHULTZ:  Tonight in our text survey I asked you, do you think Republicans were shamed into voting for 9/11 heroes?  Ninety six percent of you said yes.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching.  We‘ll see you January 3rd.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next.  Have a great holiday.   

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