The Ed Show for Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Lena Taylor, John Nichols, Thomas Frank, Susan Stern, Kevin Sherry,
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
This is what‘s on the table:
The tapes that everyone is talking about—and the puppet Governor Scott Walker, he answers to the money guys, to the corporate overlords. Hey, Wisconsinites, I told you so.
But this guy is completely dismissive of the people who actually serve the state of Wisconsin. And the tape flat-out proves it.
But the right wing‘s outrage is still focused on the protesters themselves. Rick Santorum compares them to drug addicts?
And I bet the wage earners of Wisconsin have something to say about the Walker tapes. Protesters should stay on the streets for months on end, after hearing about what they‘re going to hear tonight. And we‘ll ask them, does this change the game?
This is the story that has me fired up first tonight: there is a smoking gun in Wisconsin, budget standoff. A prank phone call, of all things, between Governor Scott Walker and a reporter pretending to be billionaire Republican money man David Koch. Koch, yes, that‘s his name, after—has really got America buzzing.
Ian Murphy, the editor of the Web site “Buffalo Beast” somehow managed to get Governor Walker on the phone and fooled him into believing he was billionaire David Koch. The prank phone call exposed Walker and really ripped the scab off the sick relationship between Republicans and their corporate puppet masters.
Keep in mind, in the last election cycle, the Koch brothers poured in $43,000 into Walker‘s campaign. They gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which funneled an additional $65,000 to Walker.
But here‘s the big number: then the Republican Governors Association turned and spent $3.4 million attacking Walker‘s Democratic opponent.
That kind of money is big shakes to a guy like Scott Walker who wants power, but it‘s really chicken feed to the Koch boys. The bigger story is what Governor Walker can do for energy companies like Koch Industries. We‘ll have more on that later on in this broadcast.
The call went on for about 20 minutes. And we will play the key moments of that phone call, including this one, that happened early on—
Walker describes how Republicans are ratcheting up the pressure on the Wisconsin 14.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: Each day, we‘re going to ratchet it up a little bit. The Senate majority leader had a great plan. He told me about it this morning. He told the Senate Democrats about it and he‘s going to announce it later today.
And that is, the Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don‘t show up for two consecutive days on a session day in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk—it‘s a little procedural thing here—but can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted into a checking account. And instead, you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he‘s instructing them—which we just loved—to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: All right. There‘s a lot more to come.
That sound bite proves Walker isn‘t interested in the democratic process. He just wants to play political games with the Democrats‘ paychecks. Walker goes on to explain how he contacted one of the Wisconsin 14 senators over the weekend.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FAKE KOCH: Now, you‘re not talking any of these Democrat bastards, are you?
WALKER: There‘s one guy that‘s actually voted with me on a bunch of things that I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes, mainly to tell him that while I appreciated his friendship and he‘s worked with us on other things, I told him I wasn‘t going to budge.
FAKE KOCH: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
WALKER: Mainly because he‘s about the only reasonable one over there. I figured if I talked to him, he‘d go back to the rest of the gang and say, you know, I‘ve known Walker for 20 years. He‘s not budging.
FAKE KOCH: What‘s his name again?
WALKER: His name is Tim Cullen.
FAKE KOCH: All right. I‘ll have to give that man a call.
WALKER: Well, actually, in his case, I wouldn‘t call him. And I‘ll tell you why. He‘s pretty reasonable, but he‘s not one of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Not one of us. I wonder if Walker means billionaires or Republicans.
Later in the call, Walker lays out a plot to trap the Wisconsin 14, so Republicans can stage a sneak attack vote.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WALKER: An interesting idea that was brought up to me this morning by
my chief of staff, we won‘t do it until tomorrow, is putting out an appeal
to the Democrat leader that I would be willing to sit down and talk to him,
the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders. Talk,
not negotiate. And listen to what they have to say, if they will in turn -
I‘ll only do it if all 14 of them come back and sit down in the state assembly. They can recess it to come back and talk to me, but they‘ll have to go back there.
The reason for that is—we‘re verifying it this afternoon—but legally we believe, once they‘ve gone into session, they don‘t physically have to be there. If they‘re actually in session for that day and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they would have a quorum because they started out that way. So, we‘re double-checking that. But that would be the only—that would be the only reason why, we would only do it if they came back to the capitol with all 14 of them.
My sense is, hell, I‘ll talk to them. If you want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I‘m used to that. I can deal with that. But I‘m not negotiating.
FAKE KOCH: Bring a baseball bat. That‘s what I‘d do.
WALKER: Yes. I have one in my office. You‘d be happy with that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Walker‘s trying to act like a tough guy to impress the boss. That bite gives the Wisconsin 14, I think, all the cover in the world. It proves Walker isn‘t being an honest broker and Walker really shows how morally corrupt he is when he talks about the protesters.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FAKE KOCH: What we‘re thinking about the crowds was planting some troublemakers.
WALKER: You know, the only problem with—because we thought about that—the problem with, or my only gut reaction to that would be right now the lawmakers I talked to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this. The teacher‘s union did some polling of focus groups I think and found out that the public turned on them the minute they closed school down for a couple days.
The guys left are largely from out of state. And I keep dismissing it in all my press conferences saying they‘re mostly from out of state.
My only fear would be, if there was a ruckus caused, is that that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the governor has got to settle to avoid all these problems. You know, whereas I‘ve said, hey, you know, we can handle this. People can protest. This is Madison, you know, full of ‘60s, let them protest.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You know, this is shocking. The governor of Wisconsin just admitted he considered putting troublemakers in the crowd to cause a ruckus. He thought about it. He considered it. What‘s that say about his character?
The only thing that stopped Walker from having his people whip up trouble was a political calculation that violence may hurt him in the arena of public opinion, and he wasn‘t ready to do that. He wasn‘t concerned about hurting the ‘60s liberals in Madison.
Late in the call, the man posing as David Koch, trying to get Walker off the phone. But the governor had one more story to tell. Walker went into this, I guess you could say Glenn Beck-like explanation of his hero, Ronald Reagan.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FAKE KOCH: It‘s good catching up with you.
WALKER: Yes, well, thanks. This is an exciting time. This is—you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday—excuse me, Monday right after the 6th, came home from the Super Bowl, when the Packers won. That Monday night, I had all my cabinet over to the residence for dinner, talked about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it. We had already built plans up, kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb.
And I stood up and pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan. And I said, you know, this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers. And I said, to me, that moment was more important for just the labor relations or even the federal government. That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn‘t a pushover.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Walker actually thinks the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 because Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 union air traffic controllers back in 1981?
This proves he‘s delusional. And it also proves that this was never, never anything about a budget crisis. It‘s crystal clear. It was never about money. This was all about destroying unions and going after wage earners.
Governor Walker addressed the prank phone call during a press conference this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: The bottom line is the things I said or things I‘ve said publicly all along. Now, the fact of the matter is, people have brought up all sorts of different options. As you saw, if you listened to the tape, we put that down.
We said we‘ve had a civil discourse. My greatest fear over the weekend is when we had the abundance on people on either side of the issue, both for and against the bill, that that might somehow lead to a disturbance. For us, that doesn‘t benefit the debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Walker, he‘s dancing big-time. The prank call makes him look like a fraud, a liar, and a guy with major presidential aspirations. It also validates the thousands of protesters and the 14 Senate Democrats who were standing up to his radical agenda.
Get your cell phones out, folks, I want to know what you think on this one tonight. Tonight‘s text question is: Do the Walker tapes prove that Governor Walker is beholding to the Koch brothers and big business?
Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no, to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
Joining us now from an undisclosed location is Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor.
Senator, you‘re one of the 14. Does this story strengthen your resolve tonight? Is this the smoking gun? What do you think?
STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN: It definitely strengthens my resolve in the fact that it just shows that he has no character. His integrity is in question. He‘s not been honest with the Wisconsinites.
And it really shows what we‘ve been saying the whole time, this has not been about the budget. It‘s a fabricated budget crisis, and the only thing he wants to do is bust unions. He‘s, you know, really the puppet of the Koch brothers.
SCHULTZ: Does this keep the 14, say, tighter than ever? And out of the state even longer?
TAYLOR: At this juncture, we have not decided to go back. And surely keeping our checks is not the threat that‘s going to make us go back. I mean, that‘s ridiculous.
SCHULTZ: Senator Taylor, how do you think Wisconsin residents are going to respond to this tape, and this whole thing where the governor thought he was talking to one of the Koch brothers? I mean, isn‘t he going to have a severe credibility problem with all residents of Wisconsin, even the ones that support him? And how can the ones that even support him come out and say, oh, this is no big deal? What do you make of all of that? What about the Wisconsin residents?
TAYLOR: You know, the Wisconsin way is about integrity. And so, I‘m convinced that individuals will have a problem. He already had his numbers going down by about 10 points or so. And more importantly, the Wisconsin residents are with the Wisconsin 14.
The polls show 60 to 70-something percent of individuals agree that workers should be able to have their rights. So, now, knowing that basically we‘re not open for business, but we‘re for sale, under Governor Walker, I believe that the numbers will go up. His numbers will go down. And people will continue to go to the capital and make a stand against him.
SCHULTZ: What about Senator Cullen? He claims that he spoke to Senator Cullen. First of all, does the group of 14 know that Cullen spoke to the governor? And secondly, is he a weak link?
TAYLOR: No, he‘s not a weak link. Yes, we did know he spoke to him. Senator Cullen told him. We all reached out to Republicans, and the majority—the minority leader has also spoken with the governor. And we‘ve reached out to the majority leaders.
So, this is not unusual. We decided that we wanted individuals to reach out and see if they could make any leeway with whatever Republican leaderships that they had because we need someone to have courage and show leadership.
So, when Senator Cullen shared with us the conversation he had with the governor, clearly, the governor has pegged Senator Cullen wrong. He has not wavered. He‘s never wavered. And he‘s with us. And we‘re united and we‘re not turning back at this juncture.
SCHULTZ: Has the governor ever spent 20 minutes talking to you?
TAYLOR: You know, I‘ve been trying to talk to the governor since before he got elected and since he‘s been elected. He just won‘t have a meeting with me. I don‘t know what it is. He never liked those dual meetings with me.
SCHULTZ: And share with our viewers tonight, if you can, Senator, you can tell us now, weren‘t the 14 of you watching TV when this story came out and say, can you believe this? This is—there‘s an element—I know this is a very serious issue because this is affecting people‘s lives. But this has got a real comical element to it, doesn‘t it? I mean, he didn‘t even know who he was talking to.
TAYLOR: You know, I had to ask a couple times, is this real? Did he really do this?
And it was really, to be honest, I think we were more shamed, more shamed as Wisconsinites that our governor lacks the integrity—I mean, I really wonder, where was he when his dad was preaching?
SCHULTZ: Good question. Senator, great to have you with us tonight.
I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Senator Lena Taylor with us here on THE ED SHOW.
Remember to answer tonight‘s text question there at the bottom of the screen. I want to know what you think.
SCHULTZ (voice-over): When the boss calls, you better answer. A possible ethics violation by Walker during the prank call, and the people of Wisconsin react to being gamed by their governor.
In tonight‘s “Takedown,” Bill O‘Reilly on fairness?
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS: We‘re fair on this broadcast. Shep Smith is fair. Bret Baier is fair. Greta Van Susteren is fair. Most of our daytime anchors are as well.
SCHULTZ: Bill, you left a few people out.
The right wing continues to smear Wisconsin protesters.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is simply public sector unions stealing from taxpayers.
SCHULTZ: And a public official suggests live ammunition should be used on protesters?
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.
The Koch brothers are the most powerful force in the Republican Party. The Citizens United decision has opened the doors for the Kochs to call the shots for 2012 and beyond.
Today, “The Capital Times” in Madison reported that Charles and David Koch have quietly opened a lobbying office in downtown Madison. The story went on to say, “Lobbyists for Koch company‘s public sector registered with the state on January 5th, two days after Walker‘s inauguration.”
It‘s easy to see why Governor Walker picks up the phone when he hears the Koch boys calling. But some folks in Madison think the prank phone call could get the governor in trouble with the law. Here is the very last part of the conversation between Governor Walker and a reporter posing as David Koch.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FAKE KOCH: Well, I‘ll tell you what, Scott, once you crush these bastards, I‘ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
WALKER: All right. That would be outstanding. Thanks—thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward. And we appreciate it. And we‘re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons and it‘s all about getting our freedoms back.
FAKE KOCH: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of vested interest as well.
WALKER: Well, that‘s just it. The bottom line is, we‘re going to get the world moving here, because it‘s the right thing to do.
FAKE KOCH: All right.
WALKER: Thanks a million.
FAKE KCOH: Bye-bye.
WALKER: Bye now.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So there you have it. My next guest thinks the way governor
the governor reacted to the phrase “vested interest” could land Walker in some hot water.
Joining us tonight, John Nichols, Washington correspondent of “The Nation” and associate editor of “The Capital Times” in Madison, Wisconsin.
John, great to have you on tonight. Do you think the governor is walking a fine line here? Should there be an investigation? What‘s a vested interest mean?
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: The governor is not walking a fine line, Ed. He tripped off a cliff. The fact of the matter is that Wisconsin has the toughest ethics laws in the nation. We pride ourselves on that. That goes back more than 100 years to the progressive era with Bob La Follette.
And those ethics law require that an elected official keep faith with the people of Wisconsin. These—those statements have raised deep concerns here in Madison and around the state. The former attorney general of Wisconsin, Peg Lautenschlager, told me tonight that she is and in reviewing this—the transcript of this conversation for several hours, found what she determines to be multiple ethics, election law and labor law violations. And she will tomorrow morning suggest that the state Government Accountability Board begin to review those ethics violations.
SCHULTZ: Well, but the Republicans would have a lot to say about that. Would they let that investigation go forward?
NICHOLS: The Government Accountability Board is an independent, nonpartisan board staffed by former judges who are elected in a nonpartisan manner without any Republican or Democratic control.
SCHULTZ: And what‘s the bar for them engaging in an investigation?
NICHOLS: If an ethics complaint is filed, they must begin that investigation.
SCHULTZ: And you‘re saying—telling us—
NICHOLS: This is serious business, Ed.
SCHULTZ: It is serious. And you‘re telling us tonight that tomorrow is going to bring a whole new chapter because of this prank interview that was done with the governor and he didn‘t know it was prank obviously? You think that—your sources are telling you there‘s plenty of information there for you to do something about it?
NICHOLS: There‘s simply no question, Ed. Where it goes is another question. But I think we have to understand that this operates on two levels.
First, the governor has said things that clearly cross ethical election law and labor law lines and must be investigated. But second, there‘s a moral component to this. People around Wisconsin are talking tonight about the fact that they brought their children to peaceful, very attractive and popular rallies in Madison and other communities, and now, they find out that their governor says that he considered agent provocateurs into those rallies to stir things up, to cause trouble, perhaps to begin violence, and he only decided not to do it, not because he was worried for the people of his state, but because he was worried that it might not play well politically.
That‘s a very troubling thing to have a governor of an American state talking about.
SCHULTZ: No question about it. And today in his press conference, he claimed that he hasn‘t—he didn‘t say anything on that phone conversation that he hasn‘t said in public, your response to that?
NICHOLS: That‘s a dishonest statement, Ed. There were a number of things he said in that phone conversation that he hasn‘t said in public. The fact of the matter is, that I don‘t think that I recall any of his press conferences where he discussed that he was considering sending troublemakers into the rally disguised as protesters to begin violence or to begin some sort of trouble down there.
He also did not in any way suggest that he was engaged in conversations with David Koch or someone he thought to be David Koch about going to California to celebrate this fight. And he certainly hasn‘t told Wisconsinites that he was thinking about working with Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch brothers, to reward Republicans who vote for this bill with television advertising celebrating them in their home districts.
SCHULTZ: John, is this a game changer for the people of Wisconsin?
NICHOLS: We‘ll see over the next few days. But I think this is something that everyone is talking about. The fact of the matter is, I will guarantee you, this is the most listened-to tape, the most-watched YouTube, the most read transcript that Wisconsin has had since Brett Favre left the Packers.
SCHULTZ: Well, that was a big deal, no question about that.
NICHOLS: It was a big deal.
SCHULTZ: And the Wisconsin voters—I mean, even people that support this governor, how could they stand with him and say that he‘s a credible source, a stand-up guy, when he has a conversation like this with a power broker who obviously is trying to—that industry, Koch Industries, trying to get their mitts on the power plants in that state? And supporting legislation that would give the governor arbitrarial control whether the state would sell them or not?
NICHOLS: This is a very serious matter, Ed. And, you know, each day brings out more revelations about this bill. The fact is that the movements that have filled the streets of Madison and Platteville and Racine and Wausau and communities across this state with people protesting the bill began with people who are worried about defending collective bargaining rights in a state where—
NICHOLS: -- AFSCME, the public employee union was founded. But they have now expanded to deep concerns about cuts in Medicare and Medicaid funding for our low-income folks and seniors, and now, to this question of whether this bill is really a payoff for political campaign contributors.
SCHULTZ: All right.
NICHOLS: Wisconsin, a state that takes ethics seriously. That‘s a big deal.
SCHULTZ: John Nichols of “The Nation”—you just gave us tomorrow‘s story, the follow-up on all of that. Great to have you with us tonight on THE ED SHOW.
The Republican misinformation campaign goes off-message this afternoon. We‘ll tell you which FOX News anchor is finally telling the truth about Wisconsin, and what‘s going on in America. That‘s “The Takedown”—next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Tonight, in the Takedown segment, how about Shepard Smith. I‘ll tell you what, he‘s bucking the Fox News Republican agenda by actually telling the truth about what‘s happening in Wisconsin. But first, Bill O‘Reilly made a big admission on his show last night while reading viewer mail about George Soros and fairness and Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Robert Hoffman (ph) in Del Rey Beach, Florida. “To restore some balance, while it should be noted that while Soros believes Fox News is not fair, you believe it is. But you are unfair to dismiss his view as groundless.”
You know, I disagree, Robert. We‘re fair on this broadcast. Shep Smith is fair. Bret Baier is fair. Greta Van Susteren is fair. Most of our dayside anchors are as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: He didn‘t say partisan. He said fair. And he left a few people off the list, didn‘t he? O‘Reilly is admitting that Beck, Hannity and “Fox and Friends” are unfair. This morning, Fox lived up to O‘Reilly‘s analysis today by mangling a poll on public opinion on union busting.
We showed you the numbers last night. Nearly two-thirds of the country is against Wisconsin type union busting legislation. Sixty one percent don‘t like the Wisconsin law; 33 percent are in favor. That‘s not how Brian Kilmeade reported it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view. Here‘s the question that was posed: should you take away—will you favor or are you in disfavor of taking away collective bargaining when it comes to salaries for government workers? Sixty one percent in favor of taking away, 33 percent opposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Hold it right there. You don‘t think a union person behind the scenes made a mistake on the graphic, do you? No, no way. They would have got it right.
Later, Kilmeade, well, he came back on and corrected the record, to be fair. Then this afternoon, Shepard Smith proved Bill O‘Reilly correct once again by actually having the guts to report the facts of the Wisconsin story. It‘s a political power grab by Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Have you looked at the list of the top ten donors to political campaigns in America, the top ten highest? Seven of those ten donate to Republicans.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Correct.
SMITH: The other three that remain of those top ten—
SMITH: They all donate to Democrats and they‘re all unions.
SMITH: Bust the unions, it‘s over.
WILLIAMS: So you just told me the whole deal, buddy.
SMITH: That‘s the whole thing. This started when? Started with the Koch Brothers, right?
SMITH: Koch Brothers were organizing in the state. I‘m not taking a side on this. I‘m telling you what‘s going on.
WILLIAMS: I‘m glad you‘re telling it. That‘s exactly the story.
WILLIAMS: Just by telling the facts here, you‘re angering a lot of people.
SMITH: OK, let them get angry. Facts are troublesome creatures from time to time. But to pretend that this is about a fiscal crisis in the state of Wisconsin is malarkey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Angering a lot of people with the facts? Did Juan Williams and that dude look uncomfortable or what? Shep Smith, dude, like a voice in the wilderness telling the truth about the Wisconsin story. Even though it flies in the face of the Republican cheerleading from the rest of Fox News. Roger Ailes, you just got taken down by your own anchor.
Coming up on THE ED SHOW, meet Jeff Cox. He thinks live ammunition should be used on protesters in Wisconsin. You‘ll never guess what he does for a living.
Privatization, no bid contracts, deregulation, and blatant cronyism, it‘s the brass ring of the Republican politics, and it‘s all in Scott Walker‘s budget. Stay tuned.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for staying up tonight. Scott Walker‘s budget repair bill contains ten short lines that highlight the Republican strategy for selling out America and help explain why Scott Walker is quick to take any calls from David Koch.
Well, if passed, the bill allows Governor Walker to, quote, “sell any state”—now, this is in the bill—“sell any state-owned heating, cooling and power plant, or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids or for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interests of the state.”
Now, hold it there. The guy can do whatever the hell he wants to do. In other words, the state can decide to sell its power plants without any competitive bidding on the price whatsoever. It‘s just what the governor wants to do.
Walker can sell to whoever he wants at whatever price he wants. He can also lay off workers at the plants before the sale, make it look good. Wisconsin Republicans have been trying to do this for years. The same plan was in the budget for 2005 through 2007. It was vetoed by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who said the plan was, quote, “not a good business approach.”
You see, most governors would want to get as much money as possible by making companies, you know, bid against one another to get the price up. But not Scott Walker. Apparently taxpayers don‘t need to know who‘s getting their money.
Now, you may be wondering, who would be in a position to buy these power plants from Governor Walker? Well, Koch Industries already has three major utility operations in the state of Wisconsin. These 34 state-run plants would give them an energy monopoly.
Does that bother you? Through a spokesman, the Koch Industries have denied interest in the plants. But remember, Koch Brothers gave Scott Walker 43,000 dollars for his campaign, plus another million dollars to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent millions of dollars attacking Walker‘s opponent.
Since the bill allows the sale to happen at Walker‘s whim, we won‘t know if he does a favor for the Kochs until the money changes hands.
Joining me tonight is Thomas Frank, a columnist for “Harper‘s Magazine” and author of “The Wrecking Crew, How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves and Beggared the Nation.”
I‘ll tell you what, you wrote about this one.
THOMAS FRANK, “HARPER‘S MAGAZINE”: Yes. Where have you heard this song before, Ed?
SCHULTZ: Well, you have to be fulfilled that it‘s now playing out in real live color, aren‘t you?
FRANK: You know, this is not something that I‘m happy to be prescient about. This is a dreadful, dreadful thing that‘s happening up there in Wisconsin. Nobody‘s—you‘re never happy to see something like this.
But yeah, I did write about it a couple of years ago.
SCHULTZ: OK. So why would the state legislature grant a governor this kind of power?
FRANK: This is what they do. This is how conservatives rule. As I put in the book, the Bush administration did the same kind of things all over the country. But basically what you‘ve seen going on up there, you‘ve got basically three steps—three stages in the program, right? On the one hand, you get rid of the—you get rid of the government workers. You privatize. You outsource everything.
And you know—oh, hell, you de-unionize. You do a great favor for your friends in the private sector. But there is a cosmic, historical appropriateness to this great prank that‘s been played on the governor of Wisconsin that I want to point out to you.
Go back to what John Nichols was saying a minute ago. Wisconsin,
which is sort of the birthplace of all these clean government initiatives -
you know, 100 years ago, Bob La Follette, whom he mentioned—you know why they did like build a professional public servants and this sort of thing—why we have a bureaucracy in the first place is because before we did things that way, state governments used to be dominated by big private companies. You know, the sort of 19th century equivalent of the Koch Brothers.
I‘m from Kansas. It was a railroad that dominated the government in Kansas. It was easy to buy and sell the entire state legislature. Some states, it was railroad. In some states the timber industry. Other states oil. Whatever it is. They were able to basically get their guys in as U.S. senator, whatever you want.
We said no to that system 100 years ago, and we replaced it with a professional civil service. It‘s just so—whether it‘s irony or some kind of—you know, something more cosmic than that, that this guy is trying to wreck the civil service and takes a phone call from whom he thinks is his buddy, David Koch, you know.
SCHULTZ: Well, this is proof positive that the Republicans think that no government is good government. And they‘re on record saying that the state government—
FRANK: Well, I would say lousy government. There‘s a famous saying that I write about a lot in “The Wrecking Crew.” I dug it up from—it was famous in the 1920s. Which is ‘the best public servant is the worst one.” OK? This is something that they used to say back then. “The best public servant is the worst one.”
You only want lousy people in government, because if government is good, if government delivers good service, people will start to trust it, and it will compete with private industry and blah, blah, blah. Can‘t have that. You‘ve got to wreck the civil service. That‘s what they‘re doing.
SCHULTZ: Do you think this governor—do you think he‘s going to succeed? I mean, I think tonight this tape that‘s been revealed, he‘s lost a lot of credibility with a lot of people. And I think that this is a game changer. Your thoughts on it?
FRANK: I love pranks. I love it when—
SCHULTZ: But this goes beyond a prank, doesn‘t it?
FRANK: Of course. All the best ones do. It‘s colossal. You know, it just goes right through the surface. You know, everything the guy was saying about the budget—you know, no, that‘s not what it was about. It‘s been about, you know—
FRANK: -- destroying the power of people to negotiate with their bosses all along. That‘s what he‘s after. He sees himself as a Ronald Reagan kind of figure. I guess he‘s going up against the commies, which would be us or something. You heard all this stuff.
SCHULTZ: Exactly. I guess I didn‘t think that they would be so dumb enough to play it out in living color the way they‘re doing it right now. They are definitely bold, there‘s no doubt.
FRANK: Look, lots of people have lost their jobs for a lot less.
Think about poor Shirley Sherrod, OK. Of course it‘s a game-changer.
SCHULTZ: Yeah. Thomas Frank, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
FRANK: Anytime, Ed.
SCHULTZ: This is Kevin Sherry. He is a firefighter. He is a proud Wisconsinite. And he has something to say to Governor Scott Walker.
And former Senator Rick Santorum has something to say about public workers. He is comparing them to drug addicts. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: They won‘t use the facts. They never do. So the right wing continues to slime public workers with words and personal attacks. Meet Jeff Fox. Take a good look at this guy. He‘s an Indiana lawyer. He‘s an avid Twitter user and apparently likes to wear San Diego Chargers gear to Indy Colts games.
Well, when “Mother Jones Magazine” reported that riot police might be brought in to remove protesters from the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, Mr. Cox, playing with his Blackberry, Tweeted a suggestion, “use live ammunition.”
Well, an editor for “Mother Jones” took issue with Mr. Cox‘s idea. But Mr. Cox didn‘t back down, Tweeting again, you‘re darn right—“you‘re damn right. I advocate deadly force.”
Further investigation by “Mother Jones” found that this guy, Mr. Cox, isn‘t just your everyday lawyer, but a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana. It‘s a job he‘s held for ten years, until today.
This afternoon, Mr. Cox was fired. A spokesman for the state attorney general‘s office issuing this statement: “as public servants, we are held by the public to a higher standard and we should strive for civility.”
Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania senator and current Fox News contributor, Rick Santorum, is injecting his own wisdom on the situation in Wisconsin, likening public workers to drug addicts. He said, “they‘re acting like their drug is being taken away from them.”
Which brings me to the Drugster himself, Rush Limbaugh. He‘s called our teachers and nurses and firefighters “bottom feeders and freeloaders.” Today, Mr. Limbaugh suggested that public workers in this country are taking park in organized crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The union as a money laundering operation—public sector unions as money laundering operations for the Democrat party is now under assault. Now people are learning that the collective bargaining of public sector unions is simply stealing from the taxpayers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: He is calling public workers thieves, people like Peter Rickman. He‘s a leader of teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin. He‘s another one of the real people who have a job that actually helps the state of Wisconsin. We‘ll ask him what he thinks of Governor Walker, who has arrogantly dismissed people like him. That‘s next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we were thinking about the crowds was planting some troublemakers.
WALKER: You know, the—well, the only problem with—because we thought about that. The problem with—or my only gut reaction to that would be, right now the—the lawmakers I talked to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You heard the tape at the top of the show. And that was part of it we just replayed. Governor Scott walker talking about the protesters, how he thought about creating a ruckus among the protesters, how he tries to dismiss the protesters as being mostly from out of state, and how he thinks the public has turned against the teachers of Wisconsin?
The tape shows, once and for all, a governor who does not care about these middle class Americans, because he‘s in the pocket of the corporations, and that‘s who‘s calling the shots. Proof positive.
As promised, let‘s bring in elementary schoolteacher Susan Stern, also vice president of the local 311 International Association of Firefighters, Kevin Sherry, and a rank and file leader of the Teachers Assistants Association, University of Wisconsin, Peter Rickman.
Thank all of you for joining us tonight. This tape, of course, is big news, not only for Wisconsin, but for around the country, because obviously there‘s an orchestrated game plan in place.
But Susan, let me ask you first, how do you feel? I know that you took your kids to that rally and to those protests. How do you feel now that you know the governor was actually thinking about bringing in, for lack of a better term, some goons to stir things up? What do you think?
SUSAN STERN, WISCONSIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER: You know, it‘s just really clear, Ed, that he doesn‘t know—Governor Walker doesn‘t know who his public is. His public are the billionaire friends he has from out of state.
And his public is here. His public is peaceful. His public is us. It‘s the teachers. It‘s the parents who are calling me and sending me e-mails saying, you do what you need to do. This affects our whole state. This affects our country.
SCHULTZ: Do you think the public has turned on teachers, like the governor said?
STERN: No. Our public is more resolute than ever. And Scott Walker doesn‘t know who the public is. He needs to listen to the firefighters. He needs to listen to the police officers. He needs to listen to the nurses and the people who collect his garbage. That‘s his public.
He needs to listen to the senators and the assembly people who are representing us. And he won‘t talk to them. That‘s his public.
SCHULTZ: Kevin Sherry, what was your response to the tape today?
KEVIN SHERRY, INTL. ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS: Well, thanks for having us, first, Ed. Numerous things bothered me about the tapes. The first thing is that I‘ve tried to call the governor‘s office. I‘ve tried to talk to him. I‘ve sent him e-mails.
I only have one question I want answered. The Democrats have tried talking to him. Our labor leaders have tried to talk to him. And he won‘t sit down and discuss and negotiate or even respond to e-mails from people. I want to know one thing. I want to know who wrote this budget repair bill. I can‘t get an answer.
But apparently if you donate 43,000 dollars to him, and funnel millions of dollars into campaigns to support this, you can make one phone call and get in to him. But the people, the taxpayers like myself, in Wisconsin, can‘t. It blows my mind.
SCHULTZ: Does this sway the public with you, Kevin? More so than it was? Do you think that the Wisconsinites and residents are going to view this as a really negative thing? And does this rip the scab off the problem? What do you think?
SHERRY: Well, I think it‘s really changed some people‘s opinions. I know a lot of people I‘ve talked to today were disgusted with what he had said on these tapes. Whether it was Republican friends of mine, our own people, they were really enraged what he said. Even people that hadn‘t really participated in this were pretty upset with it.
SCHULTZ: Peter Rickman, the people that you work with—the people that you work with, Peter, how are they going to be affected by this? Will you really feel it?
PETER RICKMAN, TEACHING ASSISTANT, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: Well, first of all, thanks for having me, Ed. The people that I work with every day, students, faculty, academic staff on our campus, we‘re all resolutely opposed to this budget repair bill. It does not seem to help higher education in Wisconsin.
It does a lot to hurt working families in this state. And that‘s why we‘ve been so opposed to it. That‘s why we‘ve been here for over a week, camping out, working hard to occupy this capital and make sure our voices are heard in a democracy.
When Governor Walker listens to the voices of the working folks that are here in this capitol, we expect that the right thing will happen, and that worker rights will be protected.
SCHULTZ: Peter, do you really think that public sentiment is going to turn on the governor now that these tapes have been revealed? This clearly puts him behind the eight-ball when it comes to coming clean with the public? What do you think?
RICKMAN: What I think is that the public has been with us all along. I think this is just another example of Scott Walker and the Republican machine, the conservative movement trying to do everything they can to stick it to working folks.
Here we are fighting back. And the public has been with us every step of the way. These crowds at the capital over the last week, growing bigger every day, include folks not only public employees, but folks in the private sector, union, non-union alike. This is a movement of working folks that are standing up for basic fundamental rights in our Wisconsin traditions.
So the public‘s already on our side. This just exposes them one more time.
SCHULTZ: Susan, do you think this tape will just reinvigorate the public, not that you‘re short on enthusiasm? Quickly, what will this do to the protests?
STERN: This is exactly going to reinvigorate us. It‘s pulling us together. And anyone who had any doubts at all about who Scott Walker was listening to, this is going to let them know, with no question, that it‘s not us. And we‘re not going anywhere. We‘re staying together.
And we‘re glad that Scott Walker‘s voice got to be heard today. I want to thank the blogger from Buffalo.
SCHULTZ: You have the evidence about what is going on now. You suspected it all along. But now you‘ve got him, definitely, with the evidence. Susan Stern, Kevin Sherry, and Peter Rickman, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for staying out there in the cold.
Tonight in our text survey, I asked, do the Walker tapes prove that Governor Walker is beholden to the Koch Brothers and big business? Ninety two percent of you said yes; eight percent of you said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, we‘d like to take you to our new blog, Ed.MSNBC.com. There you‘re going to find links to Twitter and Facebook. Join up. “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts now. We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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