The Ed Show for Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Guests: Sohel Uddin, Col. Jack Jacobs, Paul Gallay, Christian Parenti
RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: Thank you for being with us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it is time for THE ED SHOW.
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
Our lead story tonight: the U.N. Security Council has voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, authorizing all necessary measures. We‘ll have that coming up.
Three reactors with partial meltdowns in Japan and the desperate attempt to stop the worst from happening.
And there is breaking news at this hour: The United Nations Security Council has voted to allow the U.N.‘s member nations to take military action against Libya. The vote opens the door for the United States to begin air strikes against Libya at any time.
“The New York Times” reporting U.S. officials in the Obama administration began to believe a no-fly zone by itself would make no difference. These officials, “The Times” reporting says began pushing for what‘s called a no-drive zone, specifically the use of U.S. military air strikes to cut down Gadhafi‘s ground forces to tanks and heavy artillery.
The U.S. pushed for tonight‘s vote on the Security Council. The resolution approved 10-0 with five countries abstaining says that the U.N., quote, “will take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya including Benghazi.”
And if you‘re worried about U.S. ground forces going into Libya, here is the next part of the resolution, “While excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”
Well, after the vote, the United States ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, spoke to reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Today, the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people‘s cry for help. This council‘s purpose is clear: to protect innocent civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today we want to support the opposition who were standing against the dictator. Libyan rebels responded with jubilation tonight to the news of the U.N. vote authorizing air strikes.
Gadhafi responded with a statement warning that Libya will retaliate against all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean if any military intervention takes place with Libya.
One British lawmaker told “The Associated Press” that British forces could be mobilized as soon as this evening.
The status of U.S. forces at this hour remains to be seen.
Joining us on the phone now from Tripoli, the capital of Libya, is NBC News producer Sohel Uddin.
Sohel, has been—has the Libyan government reacted to this vote tonight or given any indication beyond what we just said on how they would react?
SOHEL UDDIN, NBC NEWS PRODUCER (via telephone): There was a reaction about 45 minutes after the resolution was made. We were all called, all the journalists, at this hotel, and there are 267 of them, were all called into the conference room to listen to a press conference with the deputy foreign minister. He was—kept his calm but was very sort of defiant.
He—the first thing he said was that he applauded the countries that abstained and named them being China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Germany, and thanked them for abstaining. Then he was very calm about the situation and was very much, you know, saying that our priority is to look after the civilians. However, if other countries are arming the rebels, then they are inviting Libyans to kill each other.
So, it was not—there wasn‘t a big expression of anger. They were trying to show that they‘re taking this in their stride. They said that they‘ll give more of a reaction once they‘ve gone through the whole draft and obviously, as we know, this was just a couple of hours after the resolution took place, just a couple hours after Gadhafi came out and, you know, warned the people of Benghazi, you know, there‘d been no compromise if they‘re going to defy him.
SCHULTZ: Sohel, was there any response tonight from civilians?
UDDIN: Well, after that, bizarrely, about five minutes after the—as the conference was coming to a close we had a mass, you know, massive, sort of what sounded like a riot come into this palatial, grand hotel that all the journalists are staying in. We had—when we went out to the lobby we saw a good couple hundred pro-Gadhafi supporters with their green flags walking, you know, charging into the hallway showing defiance and at the same time, they seemed sort of jubilant and all of them, you know, saying, OK, as if to say, yes, we‘ll take you on sort of thing. This is no big deal. It was like sort of a rent-a-mob.
UDDIN: That‘s what we got from the pro-Gadhafi forces on the ground. Out in Benghazi, there were, you know, mass celebrations. You know, guns have been fired in the air, songs being sung. So, you know, it‘s sort of, you know, genuine celebration coming from the rebels in the east and some sort of rent-a-mob defiance from—you know, showed bravado from the pro-Gadhafi supporters.
SCHULTZ: This is—this pretty much is the news that the Libyan rebels have been waiting for. Now that they have the backing of the U.N. Security Council, what is—does this change the game for them? Does this give them a better chance against Gadhafi‘s military?
UDDIN: I don‘t know whether it‘s right to say it gives them a better chance, but certainly, this gives them comfort. I mean, they felt let down by the international community, thus far, for not imposing a no-fly zone. And as we‘ve known, we‘ve heard many rebels over the past few weeks, you know, request a no-fly zone. The rebel—you know, they‘ve been in fear of being hammered by Gadhafi‘s air forces.
So, it will certainly give them the confidence. I mean, there are conflicting reports about, you know, certain towns that have been taken over like, for instance, Misurata. We were told by the Libyan government that it‘s under Libyan government control.
But at the same time, we have the rebels there saying, no. It‘s not under their control.
And then, Ajdabiya, which is about a hundred kilometers away from Benghazi, they, again, we were told that it‘s under Libyan force control, but yet they took a gaggle of press there yesterday and only took them up to the gates of the city and not inside.
So, it‘s—you know, it‘s not easy to say whether it‘s going to make
UDDIN: -- easy for them. But it certainly has given them confidence
UDDIN: -- that the international community is on their side.
SCHULTZ: NBC News producer Sohel Uddin on the ground, reporting live with us tonight from the Libyan capital of Tripoli—thank you, Sohel. Stay with us and make sure you stay safe.
Now, let‘s bring in our MSNBC military analyst, Colonel Jack Jacobs, joining us on the phone with this late-breaking story tonight.
Colonel, the no-fly zone, this is a game-changer. Is that safe to say? We now are going to have some international involvement here, which is what the rebels have been waiting for. How do you see this?
COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST (via telephone): Yes.
General Mattis, the Marine general who‘s in command of Central Command said some days ago the establishment of a no-fly zone means actual combat. Allied planes are going to have to determine the location of any aircraft sites, surface-to-air missile sites, and we‘re going to have to destroy them before a no-fly zone is actually established and enforced, and we should make no mistake that it involves combat in the air and perhaps on the ground as well from American forces.
SCHULTZ: Colonel, are we talking about F-18s? Are we talking about drones? What kind of air assault are we talking about on these targets in Libya?
JACOBS: Perhaps all of that. First, you‘ll have the launch of perhaps cruise missiles which would pinpoint—with pinpoint accuracy, would be able to determine exact—hit exact locations on the ground. F/A-18s launched from aircraft carriers have standoff capability with missiles that can strike the ground from a distance perhaps as far as 25 miles. And then once a no-fly zone is established, F-15s ground launch from places like Aviano, Italy, and similar locations, will be used to ensure there is no further flying in the area.
But that does not mean that all the surface-to-air missile sites are going to be destroyed.
JACOBS: And it also doesn‘t mean that the Gadhafi forces can‘t move assets around which will require continuous patrolling and further strikes. So, just because the no fly zone is established does not mean that after it is established, that there won‘t be more combat in the air and on the ground.
SCHULTZ: How much will this no fly zone and these air strikes, cruise missiles, F-15s, F-18s, whatnot—how much will this help the rebels?
JACOBS: Well, that‘s a very interesting question. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people say it‘s not going to help them at all. One of the big problems—there are two problems here.
The first is that it‘s been—the allies have waited a long time to establish a no fly zone. And, second, and perhaps more importantly, the rebels don‘t have the training. They don‘t have the equipment and weapons, and they don‘t have the leadership necessarily even with the no-fly zone to stand up to Gadhafi‘s forces.
Gadhafi‘s forces are not particularly strong. They‘re not particularly well-trained and led. But they‘re still better than the rebel forces are. And even with the no-fly zone, it may be too little too late.
SCHULTZ: Yes. But, Colonel, with our technology, with our satellite technology, with our precision accuracy of the cruise missiles and the stealth capability that we have, this has got to be viewed as a serious blow, is it not, strategically, to Gadhafi‘s army?
JACOBS: It certainly is. And it will prevent them from making any further advances on the rebels. But in order for the rebels to take back what they have already lost, it means that even with the no-fly zone, the rebels are going to have to get: (a), a lot better than they are, and, (b), are going to have to become aggressive at attacking Gadhafi‘s forces.
What you may wind up with here is a rump rebel force in charge of a relatively small area of Libya being protected by the no-fly zone. It does not necessarily mean that Gadhafi‘s forces will be defeated.
SCHULTZ: Needless to say, Colonel Jack Jacobs, this is the beginning of escalation in Libya. No doubt about it.
JACOBS: There is no doubt about it.
SCHULTZ: Colonel, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
JACOBS: You bet.
SCHULTZ: For the rest of this hour this is what is on the table tonight:
Twenty million people live within 50 miles of the most vulnerable nuclear plant in the United States of America, and the governor has said the plant should be closed. We‘ll have that story.
The latest round of misinformation about the Japan crisis by Glenn Beck—that‘s in “The Takedown.”
And at the end of the hour, my commentary with this simple message:
Wage earners of America, this show has not forgotten about you. News events may unfold beyond our control, but I have not forgotten about the protesters in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, and Michigan—or the middle class in any state in this country.
Next, the very latest on the catastrophe in Japan.
Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Be sure to check out our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. There, you‘re going to find links to my radio Web site, WeGotEd.com, Twitter and Facebook. Let‘s do it.
But next, some rare good news as workers struggle to contain the worst at Japan‘s nuclear reactors.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back. Thanks for watching.
A last-ditch effort is under way to get the situation at Japan‘s Fukushima nuclear power plant under control. Now, at this hour, Japan‘s Nuclear Safety Agency says smoke is rising from its number two nuclear reactor. This follows some—this follows some very rare news and good news I might add.
The IAEA says a new power cable has been put in place. It will bring electricity to the reactors and restore power to the cooling systems. The agency said earlier: pressure inside the reactors has begun to fall as water has been pumped through them.
At this point, three reactors have had at least partial meltdowns.
And the damage at Fukushima became that much clearer today.
This video gives us the closest look yet at the wreckage. It also was filmed from one of the top of the helicopters charged with dropping water on to the reactors below.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one is visible outside, given the levels of radiation few people would want to be. Around the wrecked reactors, obvious damage to other buildings caught in the blast.
This is the remains of reactor number three—the core shielding is believed to be cracked. Radioactive steam is clearly escaping from within.
But it‘s the situation obscured by the rubble of building number four that‘s now cause for international concern. This thick vapor is thought to be rising from a pool where 100 tons of nuclear fuel is stored. Two nearby are also heating up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Today, President Obama explained that those fears prompted the U.S. government to advise its citizens to stay 50 miles away from the plant. He also assured Americans here in the United States that radiation fears are unfounded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. That is the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The president insisted that the U.S. nuke plants are safe.
Nevertheless, he is ordering a review.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our nuclear power plants have undergone exhaustive study and have been declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies. But when we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people. That‘s why I‘ve asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do a comprehensive review of the safety of our domestic nuclear plants in light of the natural disaster that unfolded in Japan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And tonight, there are growing calls to shut down one nuclear power plant near a major American city. More on that shortly, coming up.
In the meantime, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair warned the situation at Fukushima will not be completely under control any time soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG JACZKO, NRC CHAIRMAN: This is something that will likely take some time to work through, possibly weeks, as eventually you remove the majority of the heat from the reactors and then the spent fuel pool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Yesterday, Mr. Jaczko said there was no water left in one of the spent fuel pools. Without water, fuel rods could heat up and spew radiation.
The Japanese denied that claim and then publicly questioned the United States analysis of the situation. The prime minister‘s spokesman spoke with British television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The Americans said they‘re getting information from their people who are helping out at Fukushima. You‘re saying that information is wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I‘m not saying the information itself is wrong, but even if you have the same information, their decision or analysis could be different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Meanwhile, the United States State Department is urging U.S. citizens to consider leaving Japan. It is offering voluntary charter flights to families of U.S. personnel in several Japanese cities, including Tokyo. The first flight has left. Another one is scheduled for tomorrow.
And a week after the disaster first struck, incredible video still continues to come in. These pictures show the tsunami ravaging a coastal road, the rushing water submerging everything in its path.
We are also learning more about last week‘s heroics. Here‘s one incredible can of survival.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tsunami, the tsunami is coming!
CARL DINNEN, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): These are the decisions that keep you alive—stay in the car or run for it?
They run—telling the driver to do the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run away, run away!
DINNEN: Keep running or find shelter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s getting dangerous. Where can we get in?
DINNEN: They find a building, the water pooling at their feet now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where can we get in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down there. Underneath.
DINNEN: Look at the height of that white wall. Very soon, the water will reach the top of it. The canopy over the gate will become a bridge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s getting dangerous. Get away, quick!
DINNEN: As they climb the stairs, the tsunami bursts through the corridor.
They reach the window as two huge red containers sweep across the path.
Leaving the taxi was a good decision. It‘s now floating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we had been a little later, we would have been caught.
DINNEN: But not everyone made shelter. There‘s a woman on the wall, a man in a tree, and standing on a car roof, a father clutching his two young children.
Someone finds a fire hose. It becomes a rope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s an aftershock, take your time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought I was dying.
DINNEN: As snow falls, the man from the tree makes it in.
As dusk falls, a human chain is formed and reaches the children.
Despite the aftershocks, despite the snow, they pass the children from person to person across the top of shipping containers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My children are safe now, that‘s enough for me.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: My feet are wet!
SCHULTZ: Absolutely amazing.
The fight for survival continues as Japan‘s humanitarian crisis remains dire. Shelters are overwhelmed and large areas are still without running water or food. Survivors are still searching for loved ones but there is little hope.
This town was home to 20,000 people. This man and his wife have been searching for his sister and brother-in-law for days. They‘ve gone from shelter to shelter. They‘ve gone to makeshift morgues. Today, they returned to where their relatives‘ home once stood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing, they say, not even one house left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Coming up: the problem here at home with the most vulnerable nuclear power plant in the United States. We‘ll have that story.
But next, Glenn Beck has a theory about looting in Japan and he doesn‘t care if the facts don‘t support his case. “The Takedown,” coming up.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And it‘s time for “The Takedown.”
Some folks have their facts mixed up about what‘s going on in Japan.
And I‘m starting to wonder if they‘re getting them wrong on purpose.
Today, the Beckster brought up a lack of looting in Japan. Pay no attention to the fake Oval Office he‘s sitting in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: Despite the total devastation in some areas of the country, there has been no looting.
When our media asks: why is there no looting in Japan? You have to ask yourself, why—why is that question being asked? Wouldn‘t the question, shouldn‘t it be, good people are good to each other in a time of crisis? When has that puzzled us?
That‘s the question. It says a lot not about Japan but us. There is still a culture in Japan of respect—respect for your fellow man, respect for property. In Japan, the question isn‘t “why don‘t I take stuff from my neighbors? The question is: why would I?
This we need to learn from Japan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You heard him. No looting. And it‘s valid to wonder if there is looting going on in Japan.
And a little investigating reveals there is. You‘re seeing YouTube video of an alleged looted food warehouse near Sendai port, an area destroyed by the tsunami. Japan‘s second largest newspaper, “The Morning Sun,” reported at least 146 cases of looting in the devastated regions. That‘s a hard number. That‘s certainly a small amount of the population, but the fact is: looting does exist.
You also have to remember that the entire towns and villages were completely demolished by the tsunami. So, what is looting when you try to survive? There aren‘t buildings or products left to loot in many areas.
Some regions have been completely evacuated because of the nuclear reactors leaking radiation. So there are reasons—actual reasons why looting and the media coverage of looting remains minimal. And yet I can‘t get past how the Beckster decided to frame this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GELNN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It says a lot, not about Japan but us. There is still a culture in Japan of respect—respect for your fellow man, respect for property.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: See, it always comes back to Beck‘s vision of America. With Barack Obama as president, America just isn‘t what it should be. We don‘t have respect for our fellow man. We don‘t even have respect for where we live. Glenn Beck is using false information about looting in Japan to say America isn‘t good enough.
Let‘s remind Beck about the volunteers who went to the Gulf Coast to help clean up the BP Oil Spill. We should also remind him about the people who helped rescue their fellow man from the flood waters of Katrina. And, Beck, let‘s not forget about the first responders who ran in to the Twin Towers back on September 11th, 2001.
Let‘s remind him that, yes, there are looters in America and, yes, there are looters in Japan. But no matter what country they‘re from, people in crisis do their best to stick together, to help one another, and to survive. Survive. That‘s the Takedown.
Next, the new report on nuclear safety in this country. Tonight, a governor of one of the country‘s biggest states is calling for a nuke plant in its back yard to be shut down. We‘ll tell you about it. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back. As the nuclear crisis in Japan continues to unfold, the scenario that caused the disaster at the Fukushima power plant in Japan is causing new concerns about nuclear plants here in the United States. Using data from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, MSNBC.com has ranked all 104 American nuclear plants by the odds that there will be damage in the event of an earthquake.
The magnitude of the earthquake is based on worst case peak ground acceleration, like the magnitude 7.1 earthquake last year in New Zealand. Obviously, nuke plants close to fault lines are going to be at greater risk.
California‘s Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located on the San Andreas Fault, ranks number nine. Now, according to the NRC data, however, the nuclear plant most at risk is about 25 miles from where I‘m sitting tonight right here in New York.
Reactor number three at the Indian Power Plant located next to the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York, also sits above two active fault lines. According to the NRC, every year there is a one in 10,000 chance that the reactor will be damaged by an earthquake. Now, that may sound like long odds, but considering the dire consequences, the NRC is taking those odds very seriously.
According to the MSNBC.com report, under NRC guidelines that‘s right on the verge of requiring immediate concern regarding adequate protection of the public. The two reactors at the Indian Point generate up to one-third—one-third of the electricity for New York City.
There are an estimated 20 million people living within 50 miles of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. Today, an Indian Point spokesman tried to downplay fears of a Japan-like scenario. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an immediate safety review of Indian Point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I‘ve had concerns about Indian Point for a long time. As attorney generally, I did a lot of work on Indian Point. My position was that it shouldn‘t be relicensed. My position was that it should be closed. My position was that it was—I understand the power and the benefit.
I also understand the risk. And this plant in this proximity to New York City was never a good risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Paul Gallay, executive director of River Keeper. Mr. Gallay, thanks for your time tonight. Is the governor—I‘m just going to play Devil‘s Advocate here. Is the governor grandstanding a little bit? Is he politically grandstanding? Or is this really—should it be seriously considered?
PAUL GALLAY, DIRECTOR, RIVERKEEPER.ORG: The governor was the first to raise this issue in 2008. He saw the results from a study by Columbia University saying that the risk of an earthquake is much, much bigger than they ever imagined when they built this plant. So how can you grandstand when you‘ve been saying the same thing for three years?
SCHULTZ: Are you surprised by the NRC data?
GALLAY: Not at all. Indian Point has been on River Keeper‘s radar for nine years. We‘ve understood that the information that Indian Point was built on is about 30 years old. It says you could have maybe a 3.0 magnitude earthquake.
Guess what? Columbia says you could have a 7.0. They even identified a second fault line that they didn‘t even know about when this plant was built.
Can you picture what would happen if you had a disaster like in Japan within 30 miles of the middle of New York City?
SCHULTZ: So what was your reaction today when you heard the president say this afternoon that he wants a full review of our nuclear facilities?
GALLAY: Well, I hope he means it. And I hope he intends to do it independently. I hope it‘s going to be reliable. I hope it‘s going to be tough.
In the meanwhile, this is the toughest situation we have in this country. We‘ve got the plant with the worst earthquake risk next to the most people. It‘s one of the oldest plants in the country. Until it‘s proved safe, it needs to be shut down.
SCHULTZ: So one-third of the electricity that comes to New York City is supplied by that facility right there?
GALLAY: No way, 12 percent. As a matter of fact, one of those two plants is out right now for refueling. It‘s six percent. In California, when they had their rolling blackouts, they made up 14 percent in six months in the middle of the summer. We can do without Indian Point.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today saying, quote, “we believe Indian Point is safe? If we didn‘t believe that, we would have shut it down. And what about the relicensing of it?”
GALLAY: You know, yesterday the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said he hadn‘t even read the study that his agency released in September, 2010, ranking Indian Point the most dangerous plant. And, you know, the odds of a meltdown, of core damage at Indian Point, are bigger than the odds that you‘ll buy a Powerball ticket and win a hundred bucks.
SCHULTZ: The governor said he wants to obviously shut the plant down.
You heard the sound bite. You say he‘s been advocating that for sometime.
What is stopping him from doing just that?
GALLAY: Nothing is stopping him from doing that.
SCHULTZ: Why doesn‘t he do it?
GALLAY: He is going to go to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, just like River Keeper is, and say this is not safe. You can‘t relicense these people. We‘ve got to have a sustainable energy future. We‘ll conserve in the short run. We‘ll have renewables in the long run.
Listen, continuing to rely on Indian Point after what we‘ve learned and what we‘ve seen in Japan would be like sending Bernie Madoff more of your money after you see him led away in handcuffs.
SCHULTZ: And where does the public stand on this? Any data in that regard?
GALLAY: You know, I read a study today that said that the public, 70 percent of the people in this country are more worried about nuclear accidents now than they were. It‘s just human nature. You see what‘s going on halfway across the world. You know what their officials must have told them before March 11th. Don‘t worry. Focus on something else. Go about your business.
Now we know. Anybody who tells you that we don‘t have to worry about this in the United States on the banks of the Hudson, you need to understand they‘re not telling you the truth.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Gallay, thanks for your time tonight. We‘ll stay on the story.
Next on THE ED SHOW, what Republican budget cuts could do to U.S. Preparedness, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, severe weather. The simple truth about insane budget cuts and the lives that could be lost. One congressman says lives will be lost if these cuts go through. That‘s next.
SCHULTZ: Thanks for watching tonight THE ED SHOW here on MSNBC. Even in the face of natural disasters, earthquakes, tsunamis, I can still tell you the Republican philosophy for cutting government spending is really three words, if you look at what‘s happened in the last few days. The three words are, ready, fire, aim.
So today House Republicans held a hearing on the effect of cutting budgets for emergency warning systems. You see, the hearing came two days after the House voted for 61 billion dollars in cuts that would gut the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, and NOAA.
Ready? Fire. Aim.
Yesterday, Think Progress asked Oregon Congressman Peter Defazio, a real American, about the effect of these cuts. Defazio‘s district had one harbor devastated by the tsunami, and at least four people swept out to sea. Defazio told Think Progress if the cuts go through, people will die. And it won‘t be just on the coasts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON: If you cut on a detection of tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, severe weather events, weather buoys, satellite observation and weather patterns, those sorts of things, people will die. People will die from tornadoes in the Midwest, you know, hurricanes, you know, or volcanic eruptions or, you know, earthquakes.
So they‘re also cutting on the preparedness funds that go down to the local organizations, down to the cities and counties who have to be the first responders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Yeah, the infrastructure of America. At those hearings today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said the GOP cuts would hurt America‘s satellite programs, reducing our warning period for severe weather from seven days down to as few as three days. “There is no way they can avoid compromising the programs that safeguard our country,” he said.
And Marsha McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey was even more blunt, warning house Republicans about the cuts they‘ve already voted for which would cause 21-day furloughs at U.S. tsunami warning centers and cripple America‘s ability to maintain its tsunami warning buoys or analyze their data.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIA MCNUTT, USGS DIRECTOR: Japan was just hit by a tragic and devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. Shame on us if we don‘t learn from their misfortune.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Christian Parenti joins us tonight, contributing editor of “The Nation” magazine and author of the upcoming book “Tropic of Chaos, Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.”
Thanks for your time tonight.
CHRISTIAN PARENTI, “THE NATION”: Thanks for having me on.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of these cuts? Are they as devastating as Congressman Defazio depicts them?
PARENTI: They sound like it so far. There is a whole history to this. It reminds me of 1994, when they did the same thing. These cuts are not just stupid and greedy, but there is also a political logic to it. And it relates to the history of nuclear safety.
In this context, what happened was after Three Mile Island, there was a real rethink about nuclear safety in this country. And there developed a whole infrastructure. The NRC pulled away from the industry. It was no longer captive of the industry. It had some autonomy. It was still always essentially very soft on them.
Certain people in Congress got very serious about doing investigations and about holding the industry accountable. And the industry pushed back through the Republican party, and slowly eroded this improvement and safety culture. The final part of that came in 1994 with the Gingrich revolution, where they did the same kind of cuts they‘re doing now.
You will remember they were going to eliminate air traffic control radar, all sorts of stuff, a lot of which didn‘t happen because it was so crazy. But what happened at that time was Pete Domenici brought in, then the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and told him—he said I am going to gut your department unless you shape up and stop harassing industry. In other words, unless you go soft on allowing the relicensing of plants, overlook these violations, et cetera, et cetera.
And you see that what happened was nuclear safety declined. There were less enforcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And the whole sort of set of practices --
PARENTI: -- and also personnel that went with that disintegrated.
SCHULTZ: Spending a good portion of my broadcast career on the prairie, I know what tornadoes can do. There are some Americans who did not heed the warnings and they died. So what would it be like if they don‘t get the proper warnings when the tornadoes are on the way? I mean, I just cannot believe that the Republicans want to go down this road.
If cutting weather and geological spending will cost lives, doesn‘t it, you know, follow that really increasing spending would both save lives and, you know, reduce damaged property? It would seem to me that we could do a better job than what we‘re doing right now if we would invest in it.
PARENTI: Yeah. No, it‘s especially in the face of climate change, this is going to become increasingly important. There‘s going to be more and more freak weather. And there needs to be preparation and planning for this.
SCHULTZ: Well, the Republicans have never bought into that to start with, but I do agree with you on that. Wouldn‘t businesses have a stake in excellent warning systems? I mean, it would seem to me that if you‘re upper business and you‘re warned about your business and protecting your employees, protecting your property, it just makes no sense to me where they want to go with all of this.
PARENTI: As you know, there is a wing of the Republican party, and they‘re in the ascendancy right now. And their ideology has taken flight at certain times of any larger rational interests. And they are on a kind of Jihad, and particularly in the face of this earthquake, this tsunami, and the atomic meltdowns in Japan, to consider cutting this stuff is insane in my opinion.
SCHULTZ: Christian Parenti, thanks for joining us tonight.
PARENTI: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, and every state in the United States where wage earners are fighting a battle they didn‘t ask for it and they certainly didn‘t deserve. Who you are and what you stand for is the very essence of who we are as Americans.
And we have to ask ourselves tonight, do we care about all of this that‘s going on? Commentary coming up next.
SCHULTZ: Finally tonight, sometimes in this business you get personally connected or engrossed in a story or an event. And I think in this case, it‘s the disaster in Japan.
For almost a week, we have been reminded, hour by hour, newscast after newscast, just I think how lucky we are as Americans. We are lucky this didn‘t happen to us here in the United States. What Japan is going through is being shown really no mercy. It‘s brutal.
It‘s gut wrenching. And it‘s tough to consume, to see these pictures, the strife that these people are going through. Now, as Americans, we do have a pulse. And we do have a heart and a conscience. And it is very much like us to think about losing everything, I mean everything—your family.
Earlier tonight, we showed you videotape of relatives looking for relatives and the emotional breakdown. Losing your possessions. Losing your personal security of knowing that just don‘t worry; everything is going to be OK.
Those folks don‘t feel like that right now. And I think we‘re at a moment in history as a country that is an ally of the United States, we have to ask ourselves the question, how would we deal with that? Now, we‘ve been through Katrina, but certainly this is unbelievable what we‘re seeing beyond imagination, and how it continues to unfold in Japan.
And what troubles me in the midst of this disaster, we have lawmakers who refuse to invest in our own security, refuse to realize that we are not prepared to the best of our ability. When I was growing up, I remember America wanted to be the best.
I remember John F. Kennedy talking about America being the best, that we took pride in making stuff. We took pride in being the best and bouncing back and caring about our fellow man.
We are so good, but sometimes we get stupid. And I just don‘t have any other word for it tonight. I think it is flat out stupid for the United States Congress not to pivot and put full attention on preparing this country for something that happened in Japan. It could happen here.
And you know what? The pictures are so devastating, the damage is so horrific, how could you ever prepare for that? Well, you can. You can prepare for it. If you save one life, one life, if you save one family, it was all worth it. All worth it.
I know that there are a lot of Americans out there that say, Eddie, we got a lot of stuff happening in our country, and this has really grabbed the news. You know what? I think it‘s grabbed the news in a positive way, if I may go so far as to say that, because it gives us a chance as Americans to realize just how good we can be, how good we have been, and the challenge that is in front of us.
We need to do everything we possibly can to help the people of Japan. And we need to do everything we possibly can to ready our nuclear plants, to have state assistance fortified for preparedness on all levels.
Can I ask you tonight, is that so radical? Or is that just common sense? Now, if I were like Glenn Beck and giving a mock speech in the Oval Office, well, I‘m going to give you some insight. This is what I would probably say to the American people.
Hey, I‘m on TV. I‘m saying it tonight. This isn‘t brain surgery. This is about soul. This is about heart. This is about desire. This is about being an American. This is about caring about your next door neighbor. This is about caring about a country that we were at war with one time, but all those days are gone because we have found to be better people as time has gone on.
And we should help the Japanese as much as we can. Oh, I‘m going to be out and about on the countryside giving a lot of people a chance to talk about this and what‘s in their back yard. And I‘m going to be doing radio town hall meetings.
We will announce them. And the first one being announced tonight at the Barrymore Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday night, April 13th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. It is open and free to the public, a series of town halls which will be conducted by the “Ed Schultz Radio Show.”
Michigan, I think your governor is wrong. New Jersey, I know your governor is wrong. Ohio, we‘re going to try to correct it by pushing back with the working folk of America. We can do this.
You know what? There is nothing lost until you give up. Whereas we‘ve had other stories on of major magnitude here in the last week, I want you to know, in the Heartland, I haven‘t given up. We‘ll get to your stories. We won‘t give up on you.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz.
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