updated 3/29/2011 12:37:42 PM ET 2011-03-29T16:37:42

Guest: Dave Weigel, Joe Sestak, Lawrence Korb, John Nichols, E.J. Dionne, Robert Greenwald

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW, tonight from New York.

This is what‘s on the table tonight:

Commentary on the president‘s performance coming up.

           

Republican extremists like Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin are getting Democrats fired up.  Good for us.  Is it time to call this a liberal awakening in America?  I hope so.

Donald Trump is still banging his drum about the president‘s birth place.  So, he returns to “The Takedown” tonight.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and a bunch of other Republican presidential hopefuls were in Iowa this weekend, letting their freak flag fly.

But this is a story that has to be fired up first tonight: President Obama clearly—clearly—laid out our military involvement in Libya during his address from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  earlier this evening.

The president was quick to label the villain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Moammar Gadhafi—he has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world, including Americans who are killed by Libyan agents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  In the run-up to this, the president at no time used that kind of language or description of the Libyan leader.  Now, there was no sell job at all to this.  The president made the case he tried to avert military action but he had no choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Gadhafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing or face the consequences.  Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women, and children who sought their freedom from fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The military mission has been focused and on the mark, and to save lives and prevent the killing.  That‘s what it‘s been about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We targeted tanks, military assets that had been choking off towns and cities and we cut off much of their source of supply.  And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi‘s deadly advance.  To summarize, then, in just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no fly zone with our allies and partners.  To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia, in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What do you think?  Do you think the guy‘s got any leadership skills?  Think he has any guts, any good reasoning?

President Obama reiterated that there will be no American troops in Libya and the transfer, as expected, will take place for command and control going to NATO.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  So, for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear.  The United States of America has done what we said we would do.  That‘s not to say that our work is complete.  In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator but to its people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The president more than stated his case and reasoning with the facts and made his strongest point during the speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  In this particular country, Libya, at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.  We had a unique ability to stop that violence, an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people, themselves.  We also have the ability to stop Gadhafi‘s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You know, if those words were coming from George W. Bush the Republicans and the conservatives and the righties in this country, they‘d be waving the flag.  In fact, they‘d have the flags on their cars going to work tomorrow.

But because it‘s President Obama, let‘s get not too excited about this operation, you know?  He might look like he has some leadership skills and that would make him look good for 2012.  There are lives on the line here.

The president slammed the ball in a very classy way on his decision to use force in Libya.  This was exactly the right time to give the speech because he‘s back in the country.  He was kind of working overseas, you know, on trade issues and jobs.  And the American people have been starting to show signs of doubt.

Well, the president knocked it out of the park tonight in my opinion.  According to the latest Pew Poll, 50 percent of Americans say that they don‘t believe that the United States and allied forces have a clear goal with their mission in Libya.  Thirty-nine percent say that there is a clear goal.  Those numbers taken before the speech tonight I assume that they‘ll change.

Even though the majority of Republicans approve of our military involvement in Libya, they‘re still using this issue to make President Obama look confused.  This is how Bush‘s brain put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE:  You know, a great communicator, President Obama has been incoherent and inconsistent at best on this and the great message machine that the Obama administration or at least the Obama campaign gained a reputation for has turned into a bunch of babbling voices.  You know, one day, it‘s we‘re going to remove Gadhafi.  The next day, it‘s no, we‘re not going to remove Gadhafi.  One day, it‘s we‘re no fly zone.  The next day protect humanitarian assistance.

Next day, it‘s—I mean, it is just inconsistent.  And as a result, the president is undermining people‘s confidence and therefore their support for the actions he‘s taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, let‘s be fair.  Did you think tonight that the president was incoherent?  Did you hear any babbling voices or did you hear voices of conviction?

The conflict in Libya has exposed the soft under belly of the Republican Party.  They still can‘t be trusted with national security.  Half of them want to bomb the daylights out of Gadhafi and the others want to let the terrorists stay in power.  What do they want?

The thing that is so unique and so different for the conservatives in all of this—you see they haven‘t been subjected to any sell job on the American public.  There have been no lies, no deception, no games, no catch phrases or half truths.

This is who we are.  This is the mission.  This is the reason.  This is the scope of the operation.

We are a good coalition partner.  We don‘t go it alone.  And we don‘t do it like a cowboy.  We think this thing through.

This is responsible foreign policy, the Obama way, the American way.  And I guess you could say to really slam it as a broadcaster who supported Obama—so much for all this executive experience, the shortcomings there, so much for this cutting and running on being a good partner, so much for all the talk that he‘s not ready to be president, doesn‘t have the executive experience, hasn‘t made tough decisions.  Oh, gosh, this was just less than two and a half years ago we were hearing all of this.

I said the other night on this broadcast that the president deserved the benefit of the doubt.  Tonight, there is no doubt.  He is a decisive leader and the commander-in-chief and is doing the correct thing for the country and for the world.

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think.  Tonight‘s text question: did the president articulate a clear policy on Libya in his speech tonight?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  And you can go to our new blog at ed.MSNBC.com.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining us now is Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan.  And Joe Sestak, former vice admiral in the United States Navy and former congressman from Pennsylvania.

Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Nice to be with you.

FMR. REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  It‘s good to be with you both.

SCHULTZ:  Joe, may I start with you?  You were asking questions not really sure that this had been well thought out.  As you‘ve seen this go on for 10 days, as you‘ve seen the president speak tonight, where do you stand on this?

SESTAK:  Well, I thought he provided good clarification of what America has accomplished this evening.  I also thought he spoke with great precision about why we did it.  But I do think that having provided that nine days ago would have stood him with his most important constituency, Americans, much better earlier on.

Now, that said, he also, I think, spoke with great strength, and the

word I think you used was “resolve,” about where he had led America.  But

there is still something that I think we have to watch carefully, and that

it‘s vague about the road map for America where we‘re headed to in a coalition that we now no longer lead.  And that really is something to be very careful of because as you saw on the news this evening, the rebels basically were doing drive-thrus in the three towns they ripped through or four towns and now, all of a sudden, they can‘t move without U.S.—excuse me—coalition assistance.

           

And we have now given that leadership for understandable reasons according to the president to share this burden to the coalition.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Korb, how did the president do tonight?

KORB:  Well, I thought he did terrific.  And I think this was a good time for him to give the speech because he could say we have stopped the killing and we‘ve turned it over to NATO.  And I think what I liked best about it was he talked about the arguments of his opponents.  He didn‘t just dismiss them.  He said some people, you know, argue we shouldn‘t have gone on this regime change and he talked about the fact that we tried regime change by force in Iraq and it‘s cost us over a trillion dollars and, you know, close to 5,000 American lives, over a hundred thousand Iraqis.  Is that what you want?

He also said this is not going to be won militarily—which we know, same way in Afghanistan.  Even our commanders say it‘s not going to be won militarily.  We‘re going to achieve our objective politically.  We‘ve tied up his financial assets of $33 billion.  We‘ve got an embargo.  He is getting weaker all of the time.

And he didn‘t promise, you know, mission accomplished or done in a week or anything.  He said we have to be patient but it‘s not going to cost us as much as these other operations did because we got, you know, other people who have more at stake than we do bearing more of the cost.

SCHULTZ:  Admiral, wouldn‘t you say that the president just has not over played his hand in this at all?  And tonight, he said we couldn‘t afford to do it and he said that we‘re going to be a good partner.  I mean, I thought he made really a brilliant case.  He hasn‘t deviated from day one on this at all and worked within the guidelines of the resolution 1973.

SESTAK:  I think he made a very important distinction.  Without using the term vital interests and humanitarian interests, that there are times we will use U.S. force unilaterally, no matter what, because it has to do with our survival, something so dear to us.

But this, he well said was a humanitarian interest where you had to measure the cost versus the benefits.  And as he said, the cost would have been greater if we hadn‘t gone.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

SESTAK:  It was a tough call.  But, Ed, I thought he spoke well.  But I would argue that, again, I come from a temporal moment now where out there as I ran around Pennsylvania everywhere in this last election—

SCHULTZ:  Sure.

SESTAK:  -- they‘ve watched and they are weary after 10 years of two wars.  One that was such a gross misadventure that I just thought that early on would it help that constituency better and it would have helped me a lot better.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  And so, the American people are now going to have to render judgment.  The moral equation in all of this—we can‘t be the world‘s policemen, but after 40 years of this man brutalizing the citizens of his country, this is an opportunity for a coalition to make real change as we‘ve seen change take place in the Middle East.  And every situation is different.

But the question now is: Mr. Korb, can we maneuver through this without helping the rebels?  What do you think?

KORB:  Well, we are helping the rebels by protecting them from Gadhafi‘s forces.  He also talked about the fact that we would give them aid to ensure that they, you know, have enough to eat and medical supplies which will help them survive.  So he did talk about that.

And another point he made which I thought was very interesting, he said, look.  We use military forces for humanitarian—

SCHULTZ:  Sure.

KORB:  -- like helping the Japanese, we helped the Indonesians back in 2005.  We helped the Pakistanis.  So, we can use our military to accomplish other goals than things like regime change or total victory.

SCHULTZ:  I think it was a 10, gentlemen.  I mean, I think the president tonight had to come here to the American people and give reason, make the case, explain it.  I thought he was very academic and very forceful with a moral equation.  And I do believe that there is an end game and I think he told us that.

As a military man, Joe, do you agree or disagree with what I‘m saying?

SESTAK:  Everything but that very end, Ed.  I mean, really to be up front about it.

SCHULTZ:  Sure.

SESTAK:  I thought that as he said, you know, our military has done the heavy lifting and it‘s over now.  But yet, he did say the mission is not accomplished, which is Gadhafi, eventually.  And so, the question comes which I thought Larry addressed well, that right now we tend to use force when we strike—forces when we do humanitarian assistance.  The key here is, Ed, that we have a lot of heft still going in there from as he well said, the president, intelligence, refuelers, and things like that.  We are now in the hands a bit and bit hostage to what the rebels do.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

SESTAK:  And that‘s the eerie part where I‘m not quite sure we have the end of the campaign in sight.

SCHULTZ:  Lawrence Korb, Congressman Joe Sestak—good to have both of you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

Remember the answers tonight to answer the question at the bottom of the screen.  I want to know what you think.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  Ohio Republicans say you can‘t vote without a photo ID.  They claim they‘re just trying to prevent voter fraud.  I‘ll show you how they‘re the real fraud.

The race is on in Iowa.  Michele Bachmann wants to raise taxes on single parents.  But Herman Cain steals the show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?

HERMAN CAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No.  I will not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And poor little rich boys.  The Koch brothers don‘t like all the negative publicity.  Get used to it, fellows.  Just like your refineries.  Politics is a dirty business.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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 at WeGotEd.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

A Republican candidate for president admits that he will discriminate on the basis of religion if elected.  And he won a straw poll in Iowa this weekend.

That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  That‘s my question to you today here in Iowa.  Are you in?  Are in for 2012?  Are you in?  Are you going to make it happen?

Are we going to take our country back?  I agree with you.  I say we do!  I‘m in!  You‘re in!  We will take this back in 2012!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

That, of course, was Michele Bachmann out of Minnesota channeling (INAUDIBLE), trying to pump up the Republicans in Iowa over the weekend.

It turns out her crowd liked the message but not the messenger.  Five 2012 presidential hopefuls were in Des Moines, Iowa, this weekend at Congressman Steve King‘s conservative principles conference.  After all the speeches, 127 people voted in the presidential straw poll, hardly worth mentioning.  Bachmann placed, of course, fourth behind Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain.  That‘s Herman Cain, the radio talk show host and former CEO of godfather pizza.

Here‘s what he had to say this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN:  But, you see, I get called a whole lot of other names as well for being conservative because I won‘t stay on the Democrat plantation like I‘m supposed to just because the color of my skin.  It ain‘t about color.  It‘s about content and character.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  He says it‘s about content and character.  I agree with that.

But at the same conference, Mr. Cain also said he would screen federal employees on the basis of their religion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?

CAIN:  No.  I will not.  And here‘s why: that is this creeping attempt, that is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government.  It does not belong in our government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What the heck.  It just doesn‘t belong anywhere.  They‘re kind of like Martians.

The Council on American Islamic Relations took issue with those statements.  They say the Republican straw poll winner‘s comments go “even beyond the almost routine Muslim-bashing we see coming from the right wing of the political spectrum.”

Today, Cain went on FOX News Channel to clean up his mess and instead it really made things worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN:  A reporter asked me would I appoint a Muslim to my administration.  I did say no.  And here‘s why.  But the reporter didn‘t tell you this.  I would have to have people totally committed to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this United States.  And many of the Muslims, they are not totally dedicated to this country.  They‘re not dedicated to our constitution.  Many of them are trying to force Sharia law on the people of this country.

And so, yes, I did say it and that is because I don‘t have time to be watching someone on my administration if they are not totally committed to the Declaration and the Constitution of the United States and the laws of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So, where does Congressman Keith Ellison fit in on all of that?  Does he measure up?

Joining me now is “Slate” political reporter and MSNBC contributor, Dave Weigel.

Dave, good to have you with us tonight.

DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Is it good or bad for the Republicans to have Mr. Cain out there talking so radical?  What do you think?

WEIGEL:  That is the easiest question I have been asked in a very long time.

No, it‘s not very good.  As you pointed out, there were other candidates here who the mainstream—media people like us—have been taking more seriously.  Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour, I‘ve paid attention to these speeches.  I haven‘t heard much about them because Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann have garnered all the attention.  They‘ve garnered it by talking about things that are quite popular with people who are going to vote in the Iowa caucuses in the ballot—I‘m trying to do math in my head—you know, about 10 months.

SCHULTZ:  Well, I find it amazing and I think that he is playing the race card trying to get favor because he speaks really with no basis on any of that.

Turning to Michele Bachmann—she says there would be no truths on social issues and then she said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN:  Our government needs to prefer a tax code and a policy that prefers family formation and the building up of families so that children have a safe environment to grow up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What do you make of that?

BACHMANN:  Well, she hasn‘t expanded on that since then.  What she could be talking about is something, you know, Rick Santorum, who is also running for president, sort of, has talked about in making the—going further than we‘ve already gone with the marriage penalty and making it more attractive to have kids, have a family, have more deductions.  She also sometimes talks about scrapping the tax code.

I heard kind of an inconsistency there because about, a month ago, Michele Bachmann was blistering the first lady for being happy with the IRS‘ change where mothers can deduct breast pumps for breastfeeding.  She said that was nanny state politics.  That was anti—you know, anti-family basically.

So, she is as she‘ll point out very well trained on the tax code.  She hasn‘t really come up with a policy yet.  And this is tricky territory.  You don‘t want to free associate about taxes in a presidential campaign.

SCHULTZ:  Does she play well in Iowa?  Does she have a chance, a legitimate chance to win the Iowa caucus and get off to a great start?

WEIGEL:  She can make it complicated for people.  You know, Frank Luntz, the pollster, the focus group master who does some work for FOX News -- when he was there a month and change ago, she came in third in the list of 11 people in a room.  And if Sarah Palin does not run—which seems very likely at this point, at least very possible—there is a lot of voters that say that she‘s their second choice that showed up in this straw poll, too.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

WEIGEL:  You know, it‘s actually George W. Bush, in 2000, was one of the very few Republicans who won the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.  What sometimes happens in Iowa is that candidates like Cain and Bachmann give these—give the Iowa caucus-goers just a dream to cling to.  You can vote—you know, you can vote your hopes in this candidate and elevate your message and you‘re not going to cast the strategic vote for somebody who might win the general election.

That‘s a risk.  That‘s something that could change the importance of Iowa and also change the entire debate of the Republican Party.  Again, you don‘t want to be Tim Pawlenty and having to respond to somebody free associating about a tax policy that might come back and bite you in 10 months.  I mean, this is an under played issue in 2008, what McCain said about taxes.

SCHULTZ:  I think Michele Bachmann‘s biggest quality, and it‘s an intangible, but I notice it how I view it.  She has tremendous confidence.  I mean, the confidence just pours off her.  She seems very self-assured of herself.  She knows—she has no reservation about the way she presents herself.

And I think politically that‘s infectious with voters.  I really do.  I think voters—they gravitate to that.  It‘s going to be very interesting because of the money that she has proven to be able to raise.

Dave Weigel, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

WEIGEL:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Governor Scott Walker rewrites the rules again?  Wisconsin Republicans ignore a court order and start implementing the anti-worker law.  That‘s right.  Can they get away with it?  We‘ll talk about it.

Donald Trump is spending a lot of time demanding to know more about President Obama‘s birth place.  But we‘ll tell you the real reason he‘s turning himself into the king of the birthers.  “The Takedown” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s time for the Takedown.  Last week, Donald Trump said that he has some doubt about where President Obama was actually born.  But as he proved today during a phone call to Fox News, the Donald has gone full on Birther.  Listen to the explanation. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, “THE APPRENTICE”:  They give you a certificate of live birth, which anybody can get.  Just walk into the hospital and you get a certificate of live birth.  It‘s not even signed by people. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Yeah, a certificate of live birth, like this one.  This is the certificate of live birth the Obama campaign released in 2008, verified by the state of Hawaii.  But like all Birthers, Trump isn‘t about to let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  You have no doctors that remember.  You have no nurses—this is the president of the United States—that remember.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Apparently Trump thinks that some babies come out looking like this.  Any doctor or nurse should immediately be able to recognize a future president of the United States.  But some people do remember Obama‘s birth.  Hawaii‘s current governor, Neil Abercrombie, says he does.  Not good enough says the Donald. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  The governor of Hawaii says oh, I remember when he was born 50 years ago.  I doubt it.  I think this guy should be investigated.  I doubt it.  He remembers when Obama was born.  Give me a break. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The previous governor of Hawaii, Republican Linda Lingle, also verified Obama‘s birth place.  But Donald is still not convinced. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  That ad that was placed in the Houston paper, that was placed in the paper days after he was born. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure. 

TRUMP:  So he could have come into the country and they did it for social reasons, they put it in. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Houston?  I think he means Honolulu.  I‘m surprised none of the anchors caught that.  And Trump says the ad was placed there a few days after Obama‘s birth.  I guess he thinks all papers stopped the presses for any babies born in 1961. 

Continue, king Birther. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I don‘t even like the term “the Birthers.”  I think it is unfair to them.  These are people that want to see a birth certificate.  They want to know that the president was born here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Once again, with feeling, OK?  Moving on. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  He spent millions of dollars trying to get away from this issue.  Millions of dollars in legal fees. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Millions?  No one can point to any case where Obama‘s lawyers have spent millions to fight Birtherism.  But plenty of Birthers have been forced to pay legal fees for bringing frivolous lawsuits related to Obama‘s citizenship.  So why is Donald Trump so happy to throw himself into the Birther pool? 

Long time Trump casino lobbyist and GOP adviser Roger Stone told “Politico,” “personally, I think it is brilliant.  It‘s base building.  It gives voice to a concern shared by many on the right.” 

Well, you can say this for Donald Trump.  He sure panders like a presidential candidate.  And if it‘s not going to run, you can—if he is not going to run, then you can bet that Fox wouldn‘t be asking for a birth certificate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Donald Trump, who we all know was born in this country—all you have to do is read the side of his building. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Yeah, well, even Donald Trump wasn‘t convinced this was good enough proof for citizenship.  That‘s why he released his own certificate of live birth to the website News Max today. 

But about giving Donald a taste of his own medicine, look at that certificate.  It says he was born in Jamaica Hospital.  Hmm.  Oh, I know there is a Jamaica, New York.  But you don‘t think Donald was born in the country of Jamaica, do you? 

And did you know that Trump‘s mother was born in Scotland?  And that his airplane is registered in the Bahamas?  What‘s wrong with the United States registration?  All sounds pretty fishy to me.  That‘s the Takedown. 

The Koch Brothers have been criticized for using their money to back the Tea Party and attack President Obama.  Now we‘ve hurt their little feelings. 

Big news out of Wisconsin today.  Governor Scott Walker circumvents a court order.  Is he king?  He starts implementing the anti-worker law.  That‘s next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight and staying up with us.  Republicans are rewriting the rules once again in Wisconsin.  Governor Scott Walker has started to implement his anti-collective bargaining legislation, despite a court order blocking it. 

What does this mean for state workers?  Well, the Walker administration is no longer collecting dues on behalf of unions and is now charging employees more for their health care and pensions.  Those changes will start with the April 21st paycheck. 

Nearly two weeks ago, a judge blocked the law on procedural grounds.  The order specifically banned the secretary of state from publishing the legislation, the final step needed for the law to take effect. 

So the Republicans took matters into their own hands.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had the law published online by a different office.  Fitzgerald told the Associated Press that the online publication means the law is now in effect.  Conveniently, his brother Assemblyman Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald agreed.  And the state attorney general is also backing up that claim. 

But the Wisconsin secretary of state isn‘t buying it.  He says the law has not been enacted, because it has not been published by his office in the state‘s official newspaper.  In the midst of all of this, we go to John Nichols for clarification, Washington correspondent of “The Nation.”

John, good to have you with us tonight.  He‘s on the phone because all the cameras are tied up in Wisconsin tonight.  John, let me ask you, legally do the Republicans have a leg to stand on in this one? 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  Well, not if you read the constitution of the state and the laws of the state, which clearly outline a set of procedures based on the secretary of state.  The secretary of state must order the publication of this law.  And he has been told by a judge, via a temporary restraining order, that he cannot do so. 

So we have law professors at the University of Wisconsin, at Marquette University in Milwaukee, the Dane County district attorney, the Madison city attorney—basically every legal player in the state who doesn‘t have a tie to Governor Walker saying that this is not law, but Governor Walker and his Department of Administration is already in the process of implementing this law. 

So we‘re going to have a real clash here. 

SCHULTZ:  In the midst of all this recall conversation, this governor going full speed ahead, not paying attention to any of the recall talk, and bound and determined to get this through.  How is this going to play with the folks of Wisconsin? 

NICHOLS:  Well, I think it‘s going to play very badly, Ed.  In fact, it already is.  There is going to be a court hearing tomorrow and just about everybody believes that that hearing is going to be packed.  There will be protesters outside. 

And everyone is focused on the fact that one week from tomorrow, we have an election for state Supreme Court that is going to be very hot, because, in many senses, it‘s becoming a referendum on this. 

SCHULTZ:  And there is a chance that Walker could get an ally on the Supreme Court, correct? 

NICHOLS:  He has an ally on the court right now.  His mentor in the state legislature, now a judge named David Prosser.  That judge is being challenged by a woman who is a deputy attorney general, who‘s worked for both Republicans and Democrats.  It‘s a real clear clash between someone who is a definite Walker ally and someone who wants to be an independent jurist. 

SCHULTZ:  Despite the court order, the restraining order, this governor moving forward, it‘s going to be a legal battle to watch.  John Nichols, great to have you with us tonight to talk about the bigger picture. 

Joining me now is “Washington Post” columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, E.J. Dionne. 

The latest move by Walker is just the latest example of I think Republican overreach.  E.J., you write about that.  Who is going to be the beneficiary in all of this? 

E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  You know, I was listening to you talk and I thought maybe Al Gore should just have taken the oath of office in 2001.  You don‘t like a court decision, you say well, that doesn‘t count.  Would have been interesting. 

But I do think that this sort of move on the part of Governor Walker is part of a kind of win at any cost process that‘s actually hurting them.  For that column you kindly referred to, I interviewed a lot of Democratic politicians in the Midwest.  And Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota said that their approach to it, as much as the content, but the way in which they kind of rammed it through the legislature had turned off a lot of middle of the road voters who were kind of up for grabs on this issue.

But the Midwest is well known.  Minnesota, Wisconsin, a lot of other states are well known for kind of good government approach and a consensus building approach.  That is the exact opposite of what they‘ve been doing in Wisconsin. 

You think of somebody like Tommy Thompson, very conservative Republican governor, but he was a guy who liked to work with Democrats.  There is none of that anymore.  So I think this just adds one more piece of evidence to the idea that this is being rammed through no matter what the rules. 

SCHULTZ:  And I think the public is on to it.  You got Schneider in Michigan.  You got Daniels in Indiana.  You got this guy over here, Christie, in New Jersey.  You got Kasich in Ohio.  And of course, we‘re giving a lot of attention to what‘s going on in Wisconsin with Walker. 

I mean, is there going to be a backlash of independent voters that think this has just too been politically—too heavy handed on the middle class?  And the beneficiary could be President Obama. 

DIONNE:  Right.  I was talking to a Democrat close to Obama last week, who said that after the election they were really worried about the Midwest, because the Republicans—the Midwest played a central role both in the Republicans taking the House and with all these Republican governors. 

SCHULTZ:  Has that changed? 

DIONNE:  What they were saying is this really has changed it.  The people who really moved are working class white voters, the kind of voters who voted overwhelmingly Republican this last time, partly because they were mad about unemployment.  And they‘re looking at this and saying, this is not what I voted for. 

These folks still have some feeling for union members.  Mayor Tom Barrett in Milwaukee told me, well, we‘ve dealt with the Reagan Democrat problem now.  So I think these are former Reagan Democrats who are saying, this isn‘t what—this is not our politics. 

SCHULTZ:  E.J. Dionne, always a pleasure.  Always insightful.  Good to have you with us tonight. 

DIONNE:  Good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  The most restrictive voter identification law in the nation. 

It is voter suppression.  It is voter disenfranchisement, is what it is. 

It‘s just the wrong thing to do.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW tonight.  Sometimes I think there is a real disconnect with people when it comes to people‘s abilities to obtain something.  Like everything is so easy.  It‘s easy for me, so it should be easy for everybody else.  We get in that mind set sometimes. 

The most restrictive voter identification law in the country has now passed the Ohio house of representatives.  Now what this would do would require a photo identification at polling places. 

And that‘s what makes this law really bad.  Really bad.  There are significant portions of the population, believe it or not, who don‘t have a photo I.D., because they don‘t drive.  They don‘t have a driver‘s license, and they don‘t have the money to travel. 

Believe me, there are Americans like that, a lot of them in Ohio.  That‘s why typical voter I.D. laws allow many other kinds of identification, like maybe a paycheck or a bank statement or a utility bill.  But house Republicans in Ohio have passed this law, this photo I.D.  law.  It‘s House Bill 159.  And it will hit low income voters, minorities, the disabled, seniors, and students. 

House Bill 159 would not even allow students to use their student I.D.s.  So let‘s just call this what it is.  It‘s voter suppression.  It‘s going to disenfranchise a lot of people.  A lot of people are going to see this as a disincentive to go out and be part of the process. 

Republicans say these photo I.D. laws are necessary because of voter fraud.  But they never offer any real evidence.  The Ohio bill‘s Republican sponsor is a guy named Bob Meckelenborg.  Mr. Meckelenborg could not offer one single example of voter impersonation, but he did say, quote, “I believe it happens.” 

Representatives from the Ohio Board of Elections told Think Progress that they had not heard of one case of voter impersonation.  And a statewide survey of Ohio found only four cases of ineligible voters from the election cycle of 2002 and 2004. 

Think about that.  Four out of nine million votes.  The consequences of this kind of law I think are very real.  House Bill 159 is expected to affect 900,000 folks in Ohio.  In the 2004 presidential election, President Bush beat Senator John Kerry in the decisive state of Ohio by 118,000 votes. 

You be the judge. 

In 22 states across the country, Republicans are moving to pass laws like this one in Ohio.  Remember, this is voter suppression, and it‘s all about making sure people just don‘t want to be hassled, so I won‘t vote this time.  It‘s to disenfranchise a lot of Americans who are put at an economic disadvantage. 

The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 12 percent of this country‘s voting population do not possess a photo I.D.  The percentage is higher for people of color, low income voters, seniors, the disabled, and students. 

The Ohio law goes to the Republican controlled Senate next.  It‘ll pass.  Then it goes to the extremist Republican Governor John Kasich, who can‘t stand Democrats. 

The Koch Brothers finally speak out.  And wait until you hear what the billionaire Tea Party bank rollers are complaining about.  They‘re victims.  Yeah, right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Finally tonight the Koch Brothers, Charles and David, put together would be the third richest person in the country.  Their company is consistently one of the top two biggest privately held companies in this country.  They are worth more than 21 billion dollars each.

But now the “Weekly Standard” reports that their feelings are hurt because people have actually started calling attention to the fact that they bank rolled the Tea Party, opposition to health care reform, and opposition to anti-pollution measures.  Those poor, thin skinned billionaires, I‘d say, huh? 

They are so sensitive that two months ago, we learned they had hired Michael Goldfarb to help defend them against the claim that they used their money to help themselves.  Goldfarb is a contributing editor at “The Weekly Standard,” the conservative magazine owned by Philip Onshoutz (ph), a friend of the Koch Brothers. 

And sure enough, “the Weekly Standard” has come to the Koch‘s rescue, literally painting them as victims of a witch hunt in a cover story by Matthew Continetti.  Continetti, like Goldfarb, is the past recipient of the fellowship funded in part by Koch money.  What a fraternity these guys have. 

Here is some of the Koch self-pity he passes on.  Remember the fake David Koch who called Governor Walker of Wisconsin?  David Koch calls it identity theft.  And then Koch says the press attacked him instead of the prankster, when it was really Walker they went after. 

And listen how badly President Obama hurt them.  He has done more damage to the free enterprise system and long-term prosperity than any president we‘ve ever had.  That‘s David Koch, 21 billion dollars, whining about the president who has overseen a 50 percent leap in the stock market and record corporate profits. 

With us tonight, documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, whose latest project is called “Koch Brothers Exposed,” a series of web videos launching Wednesday at KochBrothersExposed.com. 

Good evening, Robert.  I would assume you have quite a bit of material to work with.  What do you have for us? 

ROBERT GREENWALD, KOCHBROTHERSEXPOSED.COM:  We have so much, Ed.  We‘ve been on this for about four months now.  Our researchers have been uncovering fact after fact, campaign after campaign, much of it Astroturf, much of it where they‘re hiding, what they‘re doing. 

But the numbers, Ed, are really extraordinary.  It‘s truly hundreds of millions of dollars that are being funded and being used at every step along the way. 

So from the way they fund, they‘re actually very smart.  They fund ideas.  They fund activists.  They fund people to go on television.  And then they fund politicians.  It‘s a full and complete chain. 

SCHULTZ:  Even at 21 billion dollars net worth for both of them, they‘re pretty thin skinned, which tells me that they are—they have an emotional stake in all of this.  What do you think?  Does that come out? 

GREENWALD:  Very much so.  In fact, my daughters came up with a great word that I hadn‘t heard before.  They call it a pity party.  That seems to be what‘s going on with them right now.  You would think, because they are truly affecting hundreds of millions of people‘s lives, Ed, the number of issues that they take on, everything from union busting to climate change to unemployment insurance to student loans—you would think that people who were so dedicated and so hostile to so many of the positive American values would be ready for this kind of attack and blowback, which is a long time coming.

And we all owe a huge debt to Jane Mayer and Lee Fang and Ady Stan (ph) at Alternet, who have been researching this.  And what we‘re going to do with our Koch Brothers Expose Campaign is show this, issue after issue, video after video. 

SCHULTZ:  Robert Greenwald, thanks for doing this work.  It‘s going to be interesting to follow.  We‘ll talk more about it. 

Tonight in our survey, I asked did the president articulate a clear policy on Libya in his speech tonight?  Ninety four percent of you said yes; six percent of you said no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  “Rage and Revolution,” the Mideast in Crisis with Chris Jansing starts right now. 

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