The Ed Show for Monday, January 31st, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Guests: Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Rep. Keith Ellison,
Nina Turner, Al Sharpton
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” at this hour:
They are unemployed and oppressed. They want fairness and they want change. So what should the “change” President Barack Obama be doing for the protesters in Egypt? My commentary on that coming up.
And oil money trumps national security. Exhibit A? The Koch brothers, the battle against energy independence courtesy of the corporatists.
And the line that connects the hate speech of Rush Limbaugh to the racist threats made against a California state senator. Now, there are new threats. And finally, calls to do something about it.
But, first, let‘s get the latest on the uprising in Egypt from Sharif Abdel Kouddous, senior producer for “Democracy Now,” joining us tonight via phone from Cairo, Egypt.
Sharif, good to have you with us tonight.
I think what Americans really want to know, is there any way that Mubarak is going to be able to survive this?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS, DEMOCRACY NOW (via telephone): Well, today, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in the third day of defiance of a military curfew here in Cairo. They are calling on the ouster of the Mubarak regime. Their demands have not changed since this uprising began one week ago on January 25th.
They are calling for the removal of this political order that has
repressed them, that‘s kept them poor, that‘s kept them hungry and that‘s
completely silenced their voices. And what we‘ve seen in this past week is
their voices being heard for the first time in more than 30 years of this -
of this repressive regime. They are sure that they will not stop this revolt until Mubarak is ousted.
Tomorrow—just hours from now, I‘m speaking to you and it‘s 5:00 a.m. right now in Cairo. The streets are empty. Cairo was quiet. But in four hours from now, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather in Tahrir Square, just a couple hundred yards from where I‘m speaking to you right now for the biggest march yet in this uprising.
They want Mubarak to step down. They want his regime to be ousted. They are calling on people like Omar Suleiman, who is his vice president, and Ahmed Shafiq, who‘s named as prime minister, to also go.
KOUDDOUS: And they want some kind of transitional government to steer the country to free and fair elections. That is all that they are calling for. They‘re calling for the right to pick their own government.
SCHULTZ: Sharif, do you get a sense that the people of Egypt who are involved in these protests want more from the United States as far as action?
KOUDDOUS: What I‘ve heard on the street, Ed, is that all they—all they want is to be left alone to decide their own leader. They do not want meddling from the United States. If anything, they want the Obama administration to join them in the call for Mubarak to step down.
But in terms of them moving forward, this is an Egyptian issue and it should be dealt with by Egyptians. They are very wary of the support that the United States has given to the Mubarak regime over the last 30 years, billions of dollars in aid. It‘s the second biggest recipient of aid from the United States, second only to Israel. And people here are very wary of that.
This is not an anti-American rally by any means. You don‘t see any burning of American flags or anything like that.
KOUDDOUS: These are people calling for democracy and they want to be able to pick up their own government and have a representative government that they feel they have the right to and they do, after so many years of repression.
SCHULTZ: Sharif Abdel Kouddous, thanks for that report tonight, on the ground at 5:00 a.m. in Cairo, Egypt.
The uprising in Egypt has major political implications for the United States and the entire world. The neocons, who decided foreign policy over the last decade, have been almost silent about Egypt. The freedom of the march crowd thought that the only pathway to regime change was at the barrel of a gun.
Well, President Obama has approached regime change in a more adult manner. He uses words not bullets to inspire people to rise up for democracy. The president, no doubt, is under the international microscope. Right now, he has to balance supporting this uprising in Egypt with economic and security concerns for America and the rest of the world.
It‘s a diplomatic tight rope for any president to face and the outcome of this crisis couldn‘t be more important at this hour.
For more on this, let‘s be joined by Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Mr. Wilkerson, good to have you with us tonight.
What should the United States be doing at this hour? More or are they making the right call—what do you think?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER POWELL CHIEF OF STAFF: I think it‘s best to maintain the kind of position that I‘m seeing come out of the administration right now, to be moderate in our remarks and to recognize what your in (INAUDIBLE) there beginning said that the Egyptians would prefer that the United States butt out and let them handle their own situation. Yes, we might endorse, finally, Mubarak‘s removal but that would be a little bit difficult right now given our previous policy.
But let me say, too, that what I‘m hearing from the neocon crowd is that our invasion of Iraq and our staying in Afghanistan for a long time is what started all this—Tunisia and Egypt and so forth. And that, to me, is preposterous. I think your formulation of it is probably more accurate than their formulation.
SCHULTZ: Well, why is that preposterous? Why would they make that case in the heat of the battle right now in your opinion?
WILKERSON: Well, I think that‘s about like saying the reason we have more suicides at Christmas is because Santa Claus wears red. It‘s absurd. There is no relevant connection.
And, in fact, I can make some pretty dire connections with our being in Afghanistan and Iraq on a continuous basis as we have been and expect to be into the future I think—well into the future. And that is boots on the ground in the Middle East, in the western Asia, has destabilized the situation majorly in terms of our national interests. Not only that, our growing affection and bonding to a state that provides us no real strategic value at all, Israel, and being perceived in that world of so many millions of Arabs and others of Muslim faith, who don‘t look on Israel the same way we do, including 70 million Iranians, is not necessarily the best security policy to be pursuing.
SCHULTZ: Finally, Colonel, this is about oil. This is about access to the Suez Canal. It‘s about our economic stability. Would you agree?
WILKERSON: It‘s about our ability to influence the situation in western Asia with bright star exercises, with our military contacts with the Egyptians, with the canal as you suggested, with America being first through that canal with its war ships and so forth—absolutely. If we were to lose Egypt, and I‘m not predicting that we‘re going to do that, but if we were to lose Egypt in terms of an ally, a friend, or at least a country we could depend on, it would be a grievous blow to our situation with Israel and to our general situation in the region.
SCHULTZ: Steady as she goes seems to be the policy of the Obama administration right now.
Colonel Wilkerson, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.
WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.
SCHULTZ: President Obama and his cabinet are stopping at the water‘s edge, in my opinion, when it comes to regime change in Egypt—an unidentified senior administration official put it like this to “Politico”:
“It‘s just a very tight line to straddle. If Mubarak guts this out and stays, we‘re going to continue to need him and work with him, and he might not appreciate that we pushed. Bottom line, Egypt‘s destiny is Egypt‘s to decide, and we‘ll work with whoever emerges or is left standing.”
That‘s high stakes fence-riding in my opinion. Former President Jimmy Carter, who brokered the deal between Egypt and Israel back in 1979, was more direct about the situation. Carter said, Mubarak “will have to leave. The people have decided.”
Well, President Obama won‘t go that far. It‘s very clear that he‘s an advocate for the protesters, but the president doesn‘t want to be the facilitator of transition.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was more than measured on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy and we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about. We also want to see an orderly transition. So, there are many, many steps along the journey that has been started by the Egyptian people themselves and we wish to support that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: No matter how you look at it, Secretary Clinton and this administration seriously soft-peddling this one, no doubt about it. The United States clearly doesn‘t want to come off heavy-handed. Many Americans want the White House to throw Mubarak under the bus and support Mohamed ElBaradei. He wants action, not words from America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED ELBARADAI, EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: People expected the U.S. to be on the side of the people, you know, who are—legitimate needs for democracy, social justice, et cetera, and to let go of a dictator, you know?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC NEWS: But now, President Obama is saying that the rights of the people need to be protected. Reforms need to happen.
ELBARADEI: Sure. But, Christiane, he‘s also saying, I look to the government, you know, i.e., Mubarak, you know, to implement democracy. I mean, to ask a dictator to implement democratic measure after 30 years in power is an oxymoron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: ElBaradei‘s political posturing is putting heat on President Obama to call for Mubarak to leave. I think the president doesn‘t want to tell the Egyptian government what to do, not being guaranteed of a workable outcome. We need Egypt in good hands.
This revolution started due to 40 percent unemployment, high food prices, and a dictator who hasn‘t provided for his people.
The people of Egypt, what do they want? Well, they basically want three things.
They want work. They want fairness in their government. And they want the freedom to decide their government. Pretty basic feelings, don‘t you think?
The nagging question tonight is do we have the moral high ground and authority to navigate Egypt‘s course? We need to understand this isn‘t about us. It‘s about the Egyptian people and their future.
We find ourselves in a pretty tough spot tonight because we just haven‘t had the political guts and the political will to be energy independent as a nation. We need the Suez Canal. That means we need to get along with whoever rules Egypt.
Is 30 years of peace between Israel and Egypt worth one dictator?
Tough call, Mr. President, don‘t you think? But is this the right call?
I think it is—that the United States should end its military support of Egypt tonight. That call should be made. Stop funding a dictator. We don‘t want to be on the wrong side of history with all of these Egyptians who want freedom. They have spoken.
I think former President Jimmy Carter is correct on this issue. For us to be on the wrong side could have long-term, harmful ramifications for this country. We don‘t have to be heavy handed about it. We just have to cut the funding.
That will send a message to the people in the street hours from now that the United States really does mean change and President Obama is all about change.
That‘s my take. I want yours, too. Get your cell phones ready. Tonight‘s text question, just moments away—your chance to tell us what you think.
SCHULTZ (voice-over): The president may be walking a fine diplomatic line, but one congressman is calling for the support of justice, not just stability in Egypt. Congressman Keith Ellison is next.
FOX News governor of Ohio‘s poor choice of words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER (D), OHIO: He said, and I quote: “I don‘t need your people.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Ohio State Senator Nina Turner on what she thinks the governor meant by that.
And we all know what Limbaugh meant with this.
SCHULTZ: Tonight, more threats to the California lawmaker who complained about Limbaugh‘s racist act. And Reverend Al Sharpton is here to renew his call to regulate Limbaugh on the public‘s airwaves.
SCHULTZ: What happens in Egypt doesn‘t necessarily stay in Egypt. And the stakes for America could be high as the crisis in the region deepens. We will ask Congressman Keith Ellison whether money flowing to Egypt from the United States should be stopped.
But now, we want to ask you. Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight‘s text question is: should President Obama withdraw U.S. support for President Hosni Mubarak‘s government? Text “A” for “yes,” text “B” for “No” to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching.
As I mentioned, the stakes are very high for the United States as the situation in Egypt unfolds. The White House is walking a diplomatic tight rope, but American politicians are offering their opinions on how the U.S. should proceed.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner supported the president‘s wait-and-see approach this weekend, as did Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I don‘t have any criticism of President Obama or Secretary Clinton at this point. I mean, they know full well that we can‘t give the Egyptians advice about who their leadership is. That‘s beyond the reach of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: There are some different opinions in President Obama‘s own party. Former President Jimmy Carter explaining the politics of the situation Sunday at his church in Georgia said, quote, “The United States wants Mubarak to stay in power, but the people have decided.”
Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota also challenged any attempt to prop up Mubarak at this time, telling “The Minneapolis Star Tribune,” quote, “The Middle East would be a much more powerful and dynamic place if there were less authoritarian regimes, and historically, the United States has supported all of them. We are always on the side of stability rather than justice, so let‘s get on the right side this time.”
Congressman Keith Ellison, representing Minnesota‘s fifth district, joins us tonight.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your time on this issue and big story.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Yes, sir. Always good.
SCHULTZ: What is justice in your opinion right now? What should we be doing as a country?
ELLISON: Justice is not supporting or propping up any particular
leader, hearing the cries of the people of Egypt, and letting and doing
everything we can to facilitate the voice of those people to be able to do
what we do in America, which is to pick our leaders. I don‘t think it‘s
asking too much to call for free and fair elections as soon as possible. I
don‘t think it‘s asking for too much to say that, to condemn any excessive
any force used on protesters, house arrests of dissenters, people who are calling for justice and the free exercise of expression in Egypt. I don‘t think that is asking too much.
And, by the way, I do—
SCHULTZ: Congressman, what about the military aid? Should the United States continue to fork out money to this regime?
ELLISON: Well, let me tell you this—I think that, look, you know, we send a lot of money to Egypt but very little ends up in the hands of the average Egyptian. I mean, what about economic development? We give aid around the world so that people can pull themselves out of dire poverty—yet Egypt, a very big country, still has a lot of people who are struggling in poverty.
And if you talk to Egyptians, one of the things that they‘ll tell you is that, hey, look, you know, the price of bread went up, but my pay hasn‘t gone up and this is, you know, a long-term, enduring problem.
But it‘s not just about bread. It‘s also about dignity. We‘ve been hearing cries about people, everybody from the Ayman Nour, Umar Caliph (ph), people like that chased out of the country and put in jail because they had some popularity or are thinking about running for office in Egypt. The time for us—
SCHULTZ: But, Congressman, excuse me, but right now, we run the risk of being on the wrong side of history.
ELLISON: Yes, we do.
SCHULTZ: You got millions of people who are out there that are going to be in the streets of Cairo. This doesn‘t look like it‘s going to be slowing down any time soon. Yet the United States continues to write checks for military hardware to Hosni Mubarak. Or do you support that at this point? Or it‘s just us taking the money back?
ELLISON: Well, let me tell you, though, Ed. I mean, it‘s just not—
I mean, what‘s needed now is not a decision on something like this. What‘s needed now is a very clear statement that we stand on the side of the Egyptian people. We can—you know, I think that, you know, absolutely, we need to review what we do with every country, but to make a decision for me to say that right now on your show, I don‘t think is a responsible thing for me to do.
But what I will say is that, you know, we‘re funneling all this money into Egypt and Israel. Now, remember, this is something that came about as a result of Camp David accords. This military thing, this money is because of a peace deal that happened a long time ago. For us just to unilaterally say, to just drop it and for me to advocate that on one show one night I think is not being a responsible member of Congress. But I will say—
SCHULTZ: Well, would it be responsible for the Congress to get together and convene and start talking about whether they‘re going to underwrite the military hardware of a regime that is oppressing the people, won‘t even let them get on the Internet today? I mean, how much more restrictive can you get?
ELLISON: Well, the answer to that is yes.
SCHULTZ: I mean, obviously, Mubarak is not going to give up. What about that?
ELLISON: Well, the answer to that is yes. The answer to that is, look, you know, shutting down access to media, we should all condemn that. I think that every—the United States should say that is wrong. We wouldn‘t allow it for ourselves. We shouldn‘t tolerate it and stand by and watch it happen to other people.
We shouldn‘t—we should say free and fair elections now for the Egyptian people. We demand them for ourselves. We should say other people around the world who want them should have them.
SCHULTZ: Well, it is very clear that‘s not reaching Mubarak. I mean, he‘s changed—he‘s got a vice president, something he‘s never had. He‘s changed the cabinet.
SCHULTZ: But he is not really listening to the concerns of the people or taking any action, nor has he made any commitment that he‘s going to change anything. So, where do you think the president should go from here?
ELLISON: Well, let me tell you, Ed, people in his—people in his family are running out of the country. You know, you‘re hearing that folks are going to London and stuff like that.
I mean, what is Mubarak‘s next move? I think that he needs to listen to the cries of the Egyptian people who are calling for real democracy and I hope that all Americans say that, you know what? If we love democracy for ourselves, we should want it for anybody else in the world who wants it. We shouldn‘t impose it on anybody but we should say that people should have a say so in how they‘re governed—and that‘s all that the people of Egypt are asking for.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Keith Ellison, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it so much.
ELLISON: Yes, sir.
SCHULTZ: Tomorrow—tomorrow, we‘ve got an exclusive story here on THE ED SHOW on the crisis in Egypt, how Wall Street jacked up food prices in Egypt and all over the world. We‘ll have details on THE ED SHOW on that tomorrow right here.
Still ahead: the new governor of Ohio, John Kasich, truly needs help to make his all white cabinet more diverse. But according to an African-American state senator, Governor Kasich said, quote, “I don‘t need your people.” State Senator Nina Turner joins us.
And we keep witnessing new crises in the Middle East. But we never seem to learn the lesson that this country needs to make a real move towards energy independence. It might be a little easier if the corporatists didn‘t move heaven and earth to stop it. The Koch brothers, next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.
Two guys you ought to know about: Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who inherited the private energy company, Koch Industries, from their father. And this weekend, they took a break from funding groups that pushed limited government and industry deregulation to throw a party, a secret party. Twice a year, the Koch brothers hold strategy meetings attended by top bankers, oil industry executives, conservative media personalities, and in the past, two Supreme Court justices.
This time, they drew the House Republican leader Eric Cantor. He was at the fraternity party—and, of course, former Attorney General Ed Meese, as well as prominent conservative donors.
But on Saturday, their secret meeting in Rancho Mirage, California, wasn‘t so secret. Hundreds of protesters waved signs and chanted slogans outside the resort where the Koch meeting was going on. It was the first time one of these billionaire gatherings was met with a demonstration.
Former Democratic Congressman Bob Edgar, president of the watchdog group Common Cause, explained why they were there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB EDGAR, COMMON CAUSE: In the buildings behind me, David and Charles Koch are organizing corporate leaders, political leaders, financial leaders, including leaders of the Republican side of the House of Representatives, to organize for the 2012 elections. Sometimes in this society, the only way that you can get attention is to shine a public light. And this is a civil public demonstration of concern about the corrosive influence of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: While the protesters may have pulled back the public curtain on the meeting of powerful antigovernment conservatives, we need to make sure everyone knows that Koch Industries is one of the primary sources of pollution in the United States. How much they pollute—well, we can‘t say. And they want to keep it that way.
Since there is no mandatory carbon reporting in the United States, Koch Industries has a lot to lose if we move ahead on climate change legislation and energy independence. “Think Progress” estimates the Kochs would be paying up to $40 billion a year if they had to take on the cost of their yearly pollution. They funneled 55 million dollars to climate denial organizations since 1997. And if you think Saturday‘s meeting didn‘t have anything to do with continuing this funding, consider this: participants at their previous meeting in Aspen contributed more than 61 million dollars to political campaigns in the last two decades.
Keep that in mind the next time the Koch Brothers decide to hold a secret meeting in your town.
The threats against a California state senator just keep coming. Two more over the weekend. But this man refuses to take any responsibility for his hate speech. So the Reverend Al Sharpton joins us tonight. He wants to do something about it.
Governor John Kasich of Ohio complains about what he calls quotas, and when an African-American state senator offers her help, he reportedly says, “I don‘t need your people.” She joins us next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Now this hasn‘t happened since 1962, but Republican John Kasich of Ohio is using history as his governing guide. He is on track to become the first Ohio governor in nearly a half century to appoint an all white cabinet. And in the battleground story tonight, when approached about his administration‘s lack of diversity, Kasich tells an African-American state senator, quote, “I don‘t need your people.”
In a moment, that senator, Nina Turner, will join us. Out of the 23 cabinet members Kasich has named so far, only five are women, with zero persons of color. Needless to say, the Fox News host turned governor has maintained that pursuing diversity is not a top priority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH ®, OHIO: We picked people on the basis of who‘s qualified. We don‘t pick them on the basis of quotas. I mean, I think quotas are yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And so the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus met with the governor, offering to help Mr. Kasich to find quality, diverse candidates for his administration, since he was having so much trouble. Here‘s State Senator Nina Turner describing his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NINA TURNER, OHIO STATE SENATOR: In that same caucus meeting, when I said to the governor, if you need help, we can help you, and he said, and I quote, “I don‘t need your people.” Now, as an African-American, I was kind of perplexed about I don‘t need your people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Kasich‘s office confirms the Ohio News Network the governor did in fact say that. But when he told Senator Turner I don‘t need your people, he didn‘t mean African-Americans. He meant Democrats. Yeah. That‘s it, Democrats.
The problem is Kasich already has a track record in dealing with this kind of stuff. This is the same guy who signed a resolution honoring Martin Luther King on St. Patrick‘s day. This is the same guy who skipped an event in memory of Dr. King, angering many of the state‘s minority leaders. And he‘s only been in office for 22 days.
Joining me now, as promised, is Ohio State Senator Nina Turner. She is a Democrat representing Cleveland and Ohio‘s 25th senate district. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Glad to have you on this program on this subject. Do you buy the governor‘s statement that when he said I don‘t need your people that he meant Democrats?
TURNER: Not at all, Ed. As you played the clip, I was really perplexed. I was not sure whether or not he meant my people as in my ethnic group or my people as in the 350,000 constituents that I represent in the 25th Senate District of ethnicities and religions. So I was very, very shocked at the statement.
And as you provided that information, he will be the first governor since 1963, if he continues on this course, not to have a diverse cabinet. Diversity is really not about quotas. It should be something that is very important to this governor. Diversity is our strength. And to frame the hiring of minorities, people of color, Asian, Latino, and other folks of color, in terms of quotas, makes it seem like that no minority is qualified to work in his cabinet based on their merits.
This is a fair thing to do, to hire—to have diversity. It‘s about fairness. It‘s about representative democracy in government. And all Americans should support that.
SCHULTZ: Senator, what did you think of his statement that diversity isn‘t important. And he took a shot at quotas. He doesn‘t like quotas. You mean to tell me that there is no qualifying African-American public servants in Ohio, that the governor just can‘t find any?
TURNER: Not only in Ohio, Ed, but dare I say the United States of America. And when he said that, that‘s why I made the offer to help him. And that‘s when he said, I don‘t need your people.
Again, if President Obama took the same stance and he said, you know what? I‘m going to have an all African-American cabinet, and when challenged—first of all, he wouldn‘t last two weeks. But when challenged, he said he didn‘t do quotas—the first thing as Americans we would say that that is unfair and it is not right. And I would be the first to speak out against that.
If, in fact, that standard is not good enough for our president, who would never articulate in that way, certainly it is not good enough for the state of Ohio. You know, Ed, I represent portions of the city of Cleveland. In the city of Cleveland, as you know, in 1968, we were the first city to elect the first African-American mayor, mayor Carl B. Stokes. We appreciate and celebrate diversity and inclusion.
Exclusion anywhere is a threat to inclusion everywhere. It is not fair. It is not just.
SCHULTZ: What action do you anticipate taking, as far as the Legislative Black Caucus, if this is the way the cabinet is going to look?
TURNER: Well, as far as the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, our president, Representative Sandra Williams, and the rest of the caucus, we are prepared to take action, following the EEOC if necessary, filing with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, if necessary. And ultimately, if we find that this is a course of action that we need to take—hopefully we will not have to take this course of action—filing a lawsuit.
SCHULTZ: What is the public reaction to this story in Ohio? Is there outrage? Are you getting feedback?
TURNER: It‘s been mixed, Ed, but I would have to say 80/20, a lot of it is outrage across ethnicities. But I will say that there is an element that believes, again, what the governor believes, that the hiring of people of color is somehow a quota, and that they don‘t have the merits.
A lot of those cabinet positions—because one of the arguments that is being used is that there is a small pool of African-Americans or other people of color who would fit his ideology. But a lot of those cabinet positions are administrators. They‘re not political. I mean, there is no Republican or Democratic way to provide mental health services, for example.
So there has to absolutely be some qualified person of color in Ohio or in all of the United States, who could be an administrator and provide services.
SCHULTZ: And I have to ask you—the question begs, do you think the governor of Ohio is a racist?
TURNER: Well, I‘m not sure, Ed. that is a question you need to ask him. But I would say his actions so far certainly show a strong insensitivity and appreciation for diversity. You know, our diversity is our strength and we should embrace it.
SCHULTZ: Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, thank you for joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW.
TURNER: Thank you, Ed, for having me.
SCHULTZ: Racist threats against a California state senator were bad enough. But now there have been more. And while Rush Limbaugh wants to hide from it or ignore it, or even inflame it, the Reverend Al Sharpton will join us to suggest that something must be done about hate speech and its consequences.
Plus, your last chance to answer tonight‘s text question before we get the results. And a Democratic congressman tells liberals to keep quiet, so democrats can get elected. My take on that. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us. We‘re right back.
SCHULTZ: Tonight we want to update you on the story of Lelland Yee, the California state senator who complained about Rush Limbaugh‘s mockery of the Chinese people on his radio show. According to the senator, his office remained numerous racially charged death threats after complaining about Limbaugh.
Tonight, the calls for a Rush Limbaugh boycott are growing. And so are the numbers of violent threats received by Yee‘s office. The initial insult came January 19th when Limbaugh did this impression of the Chinese president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: (GIBBERISH)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: California State Senator Lelland Yee sent out a call for Limbaugh to apologize for the pointless and offensive remarks. Limbaugh mentioned Senator Yee‘s concerns on his radio show but refused to apologize. And that‘s when the threats started.
Yee‘s office got a fax with racial slurs and President Obama‘s head in a noose being dragged by a pickup truck. The fax read, in part, “Rush Limbaugh will kick your,” racial slur, “ass.”
Thursday Yee‘s office got this voice mail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw on the news that you want people to boycott Rush Limbaugh because he made a joke or something about a Chinaman or something, that the president or whatever that deal is with China. You know the Chinese president that was here can go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) himself. He should go burn in hell. I hope he has a heart attack that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Chinaman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: State Senator Yee was a guest on this broadcast last Thursday evening. He told me that in light of the Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson, his office was the taking these threats seriously. We talk to Senator Yee‘s staff again today. They say their petition to boycott Limbaugh is now over 14,000 signatures strong.
They also said the violent threats haven‘t stopped. More racist phone calls and two more faxes have come into the office. One fax displays a t-shirt with a bloody hammer and sickle and a gun scope over it. The other seemed like a follow up on the first fax, saying, quote, “Limbaugh has not yet begun to kick your Marxist,” racial slur, “ass.”
Joining me now is the president of the National Action Network, Reverend Al Sharpton. Reverend good evening. Good to have you with us.
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Good evening.
SCHULTZ: There is now a direct link between what a talk show host says and the action of someone who obviously listened to him. What do you make of all this?
SHARPTON: Well, when he first made this slur, this imitating of the -
and mocking the president of China, I was on your show and said this is what we are talking about, why FCC must step in and have standards and public hearings.
And now we see where it is intensified. We‘re going to include this in our petition to FCC for these hearings on why we must have standards on what is allowable on federally regulated airwaves.
This is outrageous. You have State Senator Yee here that is directly being threatened, is directly linked to using the airwaves in a way of mocking people based on who they are. Whether it‘s anti-African-American, anti-Asian-American, anti-Chinese, foreigner, it doesn‘t matter. You cannot, in our judgment, be allowed to just have the federally regulated airwaves used to cast things on people base on who they are, and then have public officials under threat, and you‘re going to act as though you ignore it.
This is the height of irresponsibility and it‘s a danger to all of us in the country.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the chain reaction that took place here? Senator Yee asked for an apology. Limbaugh doubled down. That‘s when the reaction came.
SHARPTON: I think, again, the responsible thing to do, you, me, anyone on the airwaves, is if we inadvertently cause some harm, we should be responsible enough to say, even if that was not my intent, I apologize. I don‘t want to see this exacerbated.
To ignore it is to feed into it. And the results are speaking for themselves. This cannot be ignored. We cannot allow this to continue until we see something happens even more egregious. This is bad enough at the threat level. And it‘s bad enough whether it becomes something that we go from one day castigating Congressman Clyburn as an African-American, saying he is driving Ms. Nancy or Ms. Daisy, or now to Senator Yee.
Where will it stop? And when will we step in and say there‘s a difference between free speech and abusing free speech?
SCHULTZ: How would you anticipate the FCC governing what talkers might say on the air in situations like this? Would there be a review board? Would it go—because obviously once the license is given out, they still put talkers on the air. What if they continue to act like that? And who would be the judge on what‘s over the line?
SHARPTON: I think that they can determine that in public hearings. There could be a review board. There could be a commission. Just as they do when they enforce you can‘t use profanity and other things on the air. There are already standards that they have even after they give licenses.
This would only include in the existing list of things they set as standards in the first place, particularly given a climate like this. We are less than a week away from when you had people sitting together in the House of Representatives talking about civility, where the president called for this nation in the middle of a tragedy to be more civil, and then we have state senators being threatened like this. We have the governor of Ohio insulting the entire caucus of color in his state.
I think this is an outrageous answer to a level of—that I think the country must reach and that is calling on the president‘s call for civility. And all of us must deal with this and deal with it in a responsible way.
SCHULTZ: And back to that story of Ohio, John Kasich, the new governor, saying that, quote, “I don‘t need your people.” What do you make of that, reverend? What should the proper action be for the governor? Should there be any diversity, in your opinion, on that administration?
And what should the action be at this point in your opinion?
SHARPTON: It‘s clear that if you‘re going to have an America for everybody that everyone qualified should be able to perform. It‘s not about quotas. It‘s about representing all American people. To act as though to include people of color on the cabinet, something that Republican and Democratic governors have done since the early ‘60s in Ohio, is acting like they‘re really not qualified people of color—they can only get there by a quota, which is not true and insulting.
If Governor Patrick, a black governor of Massachusetts, did it, he would be widely criticized and moved out, and I would support that. If anyone else did it, if President Obama did it, like Representative Turner said a few minutes ago, it would be wrong.
For him to do it and then to say, oh, I‘m talking about Democrats, that‘s just as bad. To say I would only have one party is insulting when we‘re talking about everybody coming together for the good of the country.
President Obama doesn‘t just have only Democrats working toward solving our problems. I think that many of us have said there are a lot of Republicans and people that we don‘t agree with him. So whether he is using it saying I‘m talking about parties or not, clearly the lack of diversity in his cabinet shows something of legitimate concern.
You don‘t need a quota to get qualified Americans. You need people that understand that this is one nation and we ought to behave like that.
SCHULTZ: Reverend Sharpton, thanks for joining us tonight.
Congratulations on your radio show‘s fifth anniversary.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight. Keep your head up, or should I say keep your head down? Don‘t make waves. Stifle it. And then maybe, just maybe, you can slide by in a close election.
I don‘t think that‘s how a democracy should work, folks. My take on the democratic congressman from Massachusetts who has some advice for his fellow progressive Democrats. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In our final story tonight, this one gets me. Democratic Congressman Steven Lynch is saying that Democrats need to be more like Republicans to win in 2012 to get the House back. The Boston area congressman is claiming that groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Caucus, which supports candidates who champion issues people on the left care about, deserve more of the blame for the Democratic losses in the House last November.
In 2010, Lynch survived a primary challenge from Mac Delessandro (ph), a former political director of the Service Employees International Union. Lynch made so many statements on the health care bill, it is difficult to know where—why he actually voted against it. His failure to embrace a public option? Well, lost him the support of union leaders. But then he criticized the bill for not including a public option.
The “Boston Globe” endorsed his opponent, citing Lynch‘s unwillingness to take a leading role on progressive issues. Thank you. For the abolition of slavery to civil rights to health care reform, progressives in this country have stood up for causes that are opposed by conservatives. People like Russ Feingold, the former senator from Wisconsin, who in 2001 was the only senator to oppose—back in 2001 -- oppose the Patriot Act.
Al Gore, whose work to raise awareness about climate change won a Nobel Prize. Dennis Kucinich, a fighter for the people who has consistently stood up for unions in the face of big business interests.
Progressives stood against the war in Iraq. Barack Obama made a speech against it. It won him an election. Progressives want us out of Afghanistan, correct? In fact, the majority of Americans want us out of Afghanistan, because even President Obama can‘t articulate a clear mission and an exit strategy.
Progressives have championed and defended programs like SCHIP, the program that provides health care for children. They pushed for universal health care coverage. They have gone to bat for unions repeatedly, defended Social Security, which is a moral issue, Medicare, Medicaid, for gun control. They‘re on the front lines. For climate change legislation, regulating carbon emissions, all good things, greater fuel efficiency standards for cars.
The list goes on and on. In short, progressives have stood for all the things that make the lives of the middle class better. Protect the citizens and limit the power of the corporations.
And I think it‘s a sad day for the Democratic party for an elected official from Boston, liberal Massachusetts, to step out and say that he is against competition and against dissenting voices in the arena of debate. That‘s my take.
But finally tonight, earlier in our text survey, I asked should President Obama withdraw U.S. support of the Mubarak government? The results are in; 76 percent of you said yes; 24 percent of you said no. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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