updated 6/3/2011 2:56:10 PM ET 2011-06-03T18:56:10

Guest Host: Rev. Al Sharpton

Guests: Joe Vitale, Deborah Shupenko, E.J. Dionne, Dr. James Peterson, Clarissa Martinez, Eric Boehlert

REV. AL SHARPTON, GUEST HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Reverend Al Sharpton, filling in for Ed Schultz.

The greatest Republican hero finally coughed up the money to pay for his helicopter ride over New Jersey.  Now, Chris Christie says he wants to get back to business—the business of cutting state aid to the poor.

This is THE ED SHOW.  As Ed would say—let‘s get to work!

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY:  You know, the fact is that I‘ve got a lot of important work to do.

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SHARPTON (voice-over):  Chris Christie is back at work all right, slashing aid to the poor and disabled.  Tonight, I‘m talking to New Jersey residents who are fighting back.

Today, Sarah Palin stole Mitt Romney‘s spotlight.  She whacked him on health care.  I say he‘s got a problem with jobs.

Eric Holder takes a stand on behalf of crack cocaine offenders.  We‘ll tell you about the announcement from the attorney general.

And today, Glenn Beck announced the date of his last show on FOX. 

We‘ll help him kick off the farewell tour.

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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  Paul Revere did not get up on the horse and say, ha, I‘m going to do this for the rest of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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SHARPTON:  Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has been very busy this week.  He used a state helicopter to go to his son‘s high school baseball game.  He met with Republican donors from Iowa who want him to run for president.  And he‘s got a proposal to cut 2,300 of the state‘s working poor from Medicaid.  And you will not believe what Christie said in a news conference today.

The darling of the Republican Party responded to the outcry over the helicopter yesterday.  Yesterday, his spokesman said the governor does not reimburse for security and travel.  But today, the governor changed his tune and we‘re going to play you the tape.

But, first, you need to know what Governor Christie wants to do to Medicaid.  His proposal would take an ax to Medicaid for the working poor.  Right now, if in New Jersey, if a family of three makes an income of about $24,000 or less, that family qualifies for Medicaid.  Under Christie‘s proposal, a family of three would qualify for Medicaid only if its income was $5,317 or less.  If that family‘s income was more than that, they would not qualify for Medicaid.

It sounds too outrageous to be true but it‘s what Governor Christie wants.

So, a family would have to exist at one-third of the poverty level to qualify for Medicaid.  And let‘s put it another way.  A family of three that just makes $103 a week would be making too much to get Medicaid under Christie‘s program.

Now, with that in mind let‘s get back to what Christie said today about that helicopter.  He said that his schedule as governor, it‘s impossible with that schedule to do certain things by car.  He said that being therefore his son was important to him—and no one is going to criticize the governor for caring about his son‘s baseball game.  But then the governor said this.

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CHRISTIE:  I also understand that this is a really fun media story for all of you.  I get it.  And that you like to write about these things.

And so, you know, the fact is that I‘ve got a lot of important work to do.  I got a $54 billion pension under funding I‘m trying to solve, a $67 billion health insurance problem I‘m trying to solve.  And if me writing a check for 2,100 bucks and a $1,200 check from the state committee to pay for these two helicopter rides will allow us to focus on the really important issues to the people of the state of New Jersey, then I‘m willing to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  In other words, all of this helicopter nonsense is distracting Governor Christie from cutting poor people from the Medicaid rolls.  And think about this: he writes a check for $2,100 to pay for a helicopter ride.  But a family that makes more than $5,300 in an entire year is too rich to get Medicaid.

Here‘s what Christie said next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE:  But I want to make sure that the public understands that I‘m doing this because of the duty feel to them to have my attention and everybody else‘s focused 100 percent on the real problems of this state and not the political theater and media theater that people, you know, enjoy at times.  And so, Mary Pat and I wrote our check today and delivered it to the treasurer‘s office.  The state committee wrote a check for the leg of the trip that from Montville to Princeton and, you know, those things have been delivered to the treasurer‘s office, and I‘m sure Andrew Eristoff scurried over immediately, to endorse them and put them in there so we could add to the state police budget surplus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Let‘s bring in New Jersey‘s state senator, Joe Vitale, and Deborah Shupenko, a New Jersey resident who currently receives Medicaid but would lose it under Christie‘s plan.

Senator, let‘s start with you.  Your response to what Governor Christie wants to do.

STATE SENATOR JOE VITALE (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, not just this year but last year and this year he has applied now to the federal government for a waiver that would allow the state, allow the Department of Human Services to deny access for those individuals you spoke about earlier—anyone who earns more than 25 percent of the federal poverty level.

So, for a single mom who earns more than $3,000 a year, she would be out.  She could not enroll in the program.  So, her health care access would be in jeopardy.  Her life would be in jeopardy.  Every health care expert knows that.

You know, the insured people, our neighbors, live longer lives than those who are uninsured.  So, the governor is saying, we can no longer afford this.  For years, we‘ve been doing this.  For a decade or more, we‘ve expanded access to health care for children and parents who work for a living and do the right thing every day.  And now, we‘re saying, that‘s too much.  We can‘t do it any longer.

SHARPTON:  But, today, you know, the governor really made a connection between the helicopter mess and the work he needs to do by cutting pensions and health insurance.  But he missed the point, didn‘t he?

VITALE:  He missed the point.  The point is that there is a responsibility that he has to serve the people.  He says this is a distraction.  It‘s a distraction for all of us when it is that he should be doing the right thing for the state of New Jersey and for those working parents who get up every day, put on their boots and try to make a living.  He‘s cutting their health care.

SHARPTON:  Deborah, tell us about your situation and how Medicaid affects that.

DEBORAH SHUPENKO, NJ MEDICAID RECIPIENT:  OK.  It would be really catastrophic if I lose my insurance.  I have been under this New Jersey family care, which was instituted by Governor Whitman back in 2001, I believe, and it was for single adults like me that fell into the cracks of the system that had no other recourse.

Here was an opportunity for us to get insurance by having low income.  And I had this for quite sometime and I have a lot of medical issues.  And since I got this letter, which was approximately two weeks ago, from the governor stating that effective July 31st, my health insurance benefits will be terminated and without recourse, and I have preexisting conditions and I‘m unemployed.  And I have been able to sustain myself through my own savings, and I don‘t qualify for any other program.

SHARPTON:  If your savings is exhausted what would you do with cut off Medicaid?

SHUPENKO:  I‘m going to be in big trouble.  Since I got this letter, I haven‘t been able to sleep.  I went to my doctor and my blood pressure is up.  I‘m getting heart arrhythmia just from the stress of worrying about what‘s going to happen to me and there‘s just no recourse.

And the worst scenario possible, I could either end up homeless or I could end up disabled and homeless and be put in an institution.  And at 56 years old, I don‘t think I should be in an institution.  I don‘t—I think that my life as well as everybody else‘s life is valuable, and we can still contribute to society.  And without health care we can‘t be put up to anyone.

And, actually, it would cost the governor or state of New Jersey much more money than what it is now—if God forbid—I was to become homeless and had to go on emergency welfare or emergency food stamps or if I had to be hospitalized and had no more income and no place to go and had to be put in an institution or a rehab place.

SHARPTON:  Senator, Governor Christie talks a lot about shared sacrifice.  But just last year, when New Jersey legislature passed the millionaire tax, he vetoed it.  Is there shared sacrifice under this governor?

VITALE:  No, there is no shared sacrifice.  The people sacrificing the most are the low and moderate income individuals who live in the state, in terms of their property taxes, aid to schools, aid to communities, and health care.  She talks about those 1,400 individuals like her who will be kicked out of the program because they‘re a childless adult.  They don‘t have kids.  And so, they no longer are going to be welcome in the program.

Literally taking her health care card, ripping it up, and saying you no longer can play.  I can keep mine, the governor says, and he gets to enjoy some of the best health care taxpayer money can buy.

But those 1,400 individuals and tens of thousands of prospective enrollees in Medicaid will be denied access to health care.  It‘s not just morally wrong, which is I think the most important thing.  It‘s fiscally irresponsible.  It‘ll cost the state so much more in terms of charity care, hospital stress, closings, international stress.  It‘s just a bad idea.

SHARPTON:  Deborah, what do you think—what do say about shared sacrifice?

SHUPENKO:  I think that we‘re all one people and, you know, I know that in the end, when I‘m—I go to face my maker, I think it‘s going to be more important what we did for other people, the love that we gave to people, what we taught them, what we learned and, you know, and the love that we received other than—you know, instead of having more money, you know, or prestige or status.

If we can‘t care about the welfare of people, I mean, we came here without any money.  We came here without any job titles.  We were worthy of being here on this planet and being taken care of.  From infants until now, how did we get to depreciate to being, you know, not valuable because we have low income?  Or because we don‘t have a high status?  That we don‘t even deserve to be healthy?

You know, I don‘t think it‘s a luxury health care.  I think it‘s our human right.

SHARPTON:  Senator, it was particularly offensive the way he handled that helicopter press conference today.  As if he really had nothing to apologize for.

VITALE:  It was a backward apology.  He was really blaming the press for the distraction but it was he who created it in the first place.  And he does this a lot.

When he is wrong or someone disagrees with him, it‘s political.  When having a disagreement in terms of policy, on health care policy, for example, he‘ll say, oh, Senator Vitale is just being political. He‘s playing partisan politics.

What it is that we have all the data, all the information and the right information that makes sense.  If he doesn‘t agree, he demonizes everyone.  And that‘s the way to lead.

SHARPTON:  New Jersey State Senator Joe Vitale and Deborah Shupenko—thank you for joining us tonight.

Mitt Romney launched his campaign today promising to create jobs.  But his job creation—his record of job creation really isn‘t too promising.

Wisconsin Republicans have been caught on tape plotting to sabotage the recall elections.  Well, we‘ll let you listen to their dirty tricks.

And Sarah Palin talks symbol.  She thinks the Statue of Liberty was a warning from other countries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  House Republican leadership had a Libya problem in Congress this week.  Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio introduced a Libya resolution in the House, but Republicans blocked the vote yesterday.

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LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS:  That bipartisan resolution would have called for an end to the Libyan conflict outright.  Sources tell FOX News there is concern the measure could actually pass, effectively tying the president‘s hands on the operation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Today, House Majority Leader John Boehner huddled with Republicans to get on the same page.

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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Well, we‘re going to meet with our members this afternoon to talk about Libya.  And I think we‘ll see what our members have to say, but I expect that this issue will be resolved tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  After the meeting, Boehner released his own resolution.  It doesn‘t call for an end to the conflict but it asks the president for more explanations about the mission.

The new resolution says Congress can withhold funding for future operations in Libya.  It‘s expected to pass tomorrow.

Up next: Mitt Romney—

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SHARPTON:  Mitt Romney officially launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination today.  Speaking at a New Hampshire farm, Romney went after President Obama.

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MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Now in the third year of his fourth year term or his four-year term, we have more than slogans and promises to judge him by.  Barack Obama has failed America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY:  When he took office the economy was in recession and he made it worse.  And he made it last longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Romney avoided talking about his own health care plan from his days as Massachusetts governor.  Instead, he focused on his experience as a businessman.

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ROMNEY:  Twenty-seven years ago, I left my job and went to join with some friends of small business.  My work led me to become very deeply involved in helping other businesses, from start-ups to large companies, that were going through tough times.  Sometimes I was successful and we were able to help create jobs.  Other times I wasn‘t.

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SHARPTON:  Romney‘s record of job creation isn‘t much to brag about.  As CEO of Bain Capital, Romney made huge profits while bankrupting five companies and costing thousands of workers their jobs.

And during his term as Massachusetts governor, his state ranked 47th in job creation.

Let‘s turn to “Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne, who is in New Hampshire.

Good evening, E.J.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST:  Reverend, good to be with you.

SHARPTON:  What was your impression of Mitt Romney‘s announcement today?

DIONNE:  Well, I got to say, putting everything else aside, maybe I‘m old fashioned.  But it was nice to se a really old fashioned announcement they had piles of hay.  There was a barn nearby.

And compared to the sort of flying circus that is this strange Republican primary with Sarah Palin making a kind of guerrilla raid up on the sea coast here, Rudolph Giuliani dropping by, perhaps some of it planned long in advance, but he is not crazy about Rudolph Giuliani.  But compared to all the other craziness, it was nice to see that kind of event.

The other thing that struck me is it was far more a general election speech than it was a primary speech.  I mean the knots on President Obama obviously appealed to Republicans.  But there were no hot button issues in that speech.

But the one thing he said that actually bothered me is he said we‘re sort of inches away or this close to not being a free economy.  And he was using the share of government spending to make that statement.

Well, if spending on public schools doesn‘t—makes you not be a free economy, I think there is something flawed about that statistic.

But it was a very well done event down there.

SHARPTON:  Yes. But Romney avoided talking about his health care plan but he went after President Obama‘s health care plan.  How is he going to pull that off in a long election season?

DIONNE:  Well, you know, it is very interesting the way he did that.  He mentioned his plan briefly, emphasizing that it was, you know, a state solution.  And he got no applause from the crowd when he talked about what he had done.  The loudest applause line of the whole day was when he said he‘d repeal Obama care—as he and all the Republicans call it.

It‘s a real problem for him all the way through because the similarities between the Massachusetts plan and the one passed last year are really very, very significant, notably the individual mandate.

And I notice that Sarah Palin took a little shot at Mr. Romney saying that, you know, even at the state level, there was something wrong with a mandate.  I think it‘s going to be something he‘s going to have to deal with the entire campaign.

SHARPTON:  You know, you‘re right.  Sarah Palin was in Massachusetts today and listen to what she said, as you said.  Listen to this—this is what she said about Romney‘s health care plan for that state.

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SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing.  So obviously, and I‘m not the only one to say so, but there will be more of an explanation coming from former Governor Romney on his support for government mandates.

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SHARPTON:  E.J., can Mitt Romney get support from voters who prefer Sarah Palin or any of the Tea Party candidates?

DIONNE:  I‘m not sure he‘s going to get much of his vote there.  I mean, it‘s a real sign of how conservative the Republican Party has become.  Four years ago, Mitt Romney could still run on the Massachusetts health plan as an achievement.

Ryan Lizza, a great journalist for “The New Yorker” had a very good piece describing how he pushed through Romneycare in Massachusetts.

Normally, a governor running for president would brag about something like that.  And given the nature of opinion in the Republican Party right now, he can‘t brag about perhaps his most important achievement as a politician.

SHARPTON:  Well, then, how does he win the Republican nomination if he can‘t get their support?

DIONNE:  Well, I think he‘s got to hope that there are more Republicans than Tea Party Republicans.  And I still think the Tea Party folks are a minority within the Republican Party.  You also by the way, though, had Governor Huntsman here.

He‘s coming in tomorrow.  He‘s hoping to chip away at Romney from that end of the party.  If Huntsman takes votes on that side, Pawlenty takes votes on both sides, it‘s going to leave a very, very narrow space for Romney.

SHARPTON:  You know, a poll of Democratic insiders show that Romney is the biggest threat to President Obama.  Do you think that‘s true?

DIONNE:  Well, you know, if you looked at him today on that platform, he kind of looks like a president.  I think he could run a disciplined campaign and I think he might actually be more moderate than he is presenting himself.  It‘s hard to know exactly where he does stand.  That could all serve him well.

But the whole sense that even in the Republican Party that he doesn‘t have firm convictions and obviously anybody who is a governor has a record that can be thrown at him as you pointed out at the beginning of this segment.

So, I‘m not sure he‘s that strong a candidate, but I sure think he‘d be stronger than Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann.

SHARPTON:  E.J. Dionne of the Brookings Institution—thanks for joining us.

DIONNE:  Great to be with you.  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Another Wisconsin Republican has been caught on tape troublemaking.  That tape, coming up next.

And Congressman Anthony Weiner can‘t seem to figure out a good strategy for dealing with his Twitter picture controversy.  As a survivor of a number of controversies myself I have some advice for the congressman, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Wisconsin Republicans are plotting some dirty tricks for the recall elections this summer.  “The La Crosse Tribune” obtained a recording of the La Crosse County Republicans discussing running a spoiler candidate against Democratic Candidate Jennifer Schilling in order to delay the recall election of Republican Senator Dan Kapanke.

In the recording, you hear Party Vice Chairman Julian Bradley asking his fellow Republicans if they know anyone who can run as a Democratic spoiler.  The audio is a little tough here, so listen hard.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JULIAN BRADLEY, LA CROSSE COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY VICE CHAIRMAN:  We are actively keeping our ears to the ground and if anybody knows anybody for a candidate that would be interested on the Democratic side in running in the primary against Jennifer Shilling.  If anybody knows any Democrats who would be interested, please let us know.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Even some of the Republicans in the room knew this was underhanded.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

AUDIENCE:  I just hope that these meetings are not public or the minutes aren‘t public?

BRADLEY:  The minutes for our meetings are not public.  There are no recording devices that should be on except our own.  That‘s our own.  This is for our party only.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  This kind of shady behavior is nothing new for the Wisconsin GOP.  It always seems like they get caught on tape.  Remember when Scott Walk got pranked by a blogger pretending to be David Koch?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

“DAVID KOCH”:  What we were thinking about the crowds was planting some trouble makers.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  You know, well—the only problem

because we thought about that.

           

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Wisconsin Republicans either have to stop dirty tricks or figure out how to turn off the tape recorder.

In two and a half years on FOX News, Glenn Beck has given America major dose of nonsense.  Today, he announced his exit strategy.  We‘ll show you some of his best low lights.

We‘re losing the war on drugs, but the Justice Department is proposing one possible solution.  It‘s something I‘m passionate about, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  We‘ve been fighting the war on drugs since the ‘60s.  And guess what?  Trillions of dollars later, we are losing.  Now the Justice Department has a proposal that would help fix one of the war‘s many failed policies. 

Attorney General Eric Holder is backing the early release program for some drug offenders.  It would retroactively amend sentencing disparities between crack cocaine offenders and powder cocaine offenders, Those dealing or using powder cocaine are often white and affluent, while the overwhelming majority of those convicted for crack offenses happen to be African-American. 

Harsh punishment began in the mid ‘80s when crack cocaine plagued the streets of our big cities.  Low level crack dealers ended up serving sentences intended for high powered traffickers.  While Congress changed the sentencing law last year, it did not address the situation of thousands of prisoners still serving lengthy and often unjust sentences under the old system. 

Now I joined others in lobbying the attorney general to move forward with this proposal.  I think it‘s long overdue. 

Joining me now is Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies and associate professor of English at Lehigh University.  Welcome. 

DR. JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY:  Thank you for having me, Reverend Al. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you for coming.  You know, Republicans are pushing back at this proposal.  Congressman Lamar Smith says it sends a message that Congress doesn‘t take drug crimes seriously.  Why is that wrong, professor? 

PETERSON:  It‘s wrong for a number of reasons.  One, it doesn‘t take into account the history of the ways in which these kind of policies have impacted disproportionately poor communities and people of—communities of people of color. 

This is an important effort on the part of the Justice Department to really bring some justice to communities that are in need.  If you just think about it this way; for a long time this disparity in crack cocaine versus powder cocaine sentencing has only affected one segment of the American population. 

And so we need justice for that segment of the population.  And honestly this will come to us in the form of this retroactive early release effort on the part of Attorney General Holder. 

SHARPTON:  Professor Peterson, when you look at the disparities in sentencing drug offenders, hasn‘t this kind of injustice undermined the legitimacy of our criminal justice system? 

PETERSON:  Of course it has.  Listen, if you look at the rise of the prison industrial complex, the aggressiveness of our criminal justice system, the ways in which it is discriminatory against poor folk and people of color, you know, this is one of the outcomes of it, that we have a disproportionate amount of nonviolent substance abusers in prison. 

The bottom line is we know that even before this global committee or global commission—we knew that we needed to emphasize education and harm reduction over penalization of these kind of souped up penal codes that put people in jail for a long time.  We cannot continue to put nonviolent substance abusers in jail and continue to privatize the prison system and think that that is actually a war on drugs. 

That is actually a war on poor folk who have substance abuse problems. 

SHARPTON:  All right.  But if lengthy prison sentences is not the answer, then how should we address drug crimes in the country? 

PETERSON:  There are a number of different ways to address it.  Again, we need to emphasize education.  What I‘m referring to as harm reduction are things like needle exchange programs, educational programs, different efforts that try to be more proactive about substance abuse in the community. 

Now, obviously, what‘s going to have to be on the table eventually is some form of decriminalization, not legalization but decriminalization for select substances.  That will also help us to address sort of the ways in which the cartels control and meet the demands of illegal or controlled substances, and the ways in which the police force and the criminal justice system is completely overwhelmed. 

The court system is overwhelmed and the policing forces are overwhelmed with all these different sort of drug cases.  So we have to do some things that are dynamic and actually thinking a little bit outside the box.  Again, Attorney General Holder here is already doing that with this idea to try to address a problem that‘s been harming our communities for a long, long time. 

SHARPTON:  A new report from a global commission recommends an end to the war on drugs.  Why do Republicans want to keep fighting it?  Does it help their push to privatize our prison system?

PETERSON:  You know, again, if people are unfamiliar with the prison industrial complex, since the mid ‘70s, the United States has become one of the most aggressive countries in the world when it comes to incarcerating its own people.  And there is a whole system that underwrites that. 

So the criminal justice system, in some ways, leans on this aggressive policing and incarceration of nonviolent substance abusers.  So we‘ve increased our prison population exponentially.  And we‘re putting criminals into—we‘re putting substance abusers into a prison.  When they come out, they‘re sometimes worse off.  Sometimes they‘re committing worse crimes. 

so our recidivism rate is at two thirds.  We continue to sort of have these Draconian incarceration policies.  And the bottom line is these things are not working. 

What happens is the Republicans understand that law and order, for whatever reasons, historically, has had a lot of cache in the political discourse.  But what is good about the global commission is that we‘re actually now hopefully going to have some traction for things that we‘ve known for a very long time, which is that aggressive incarceration does not reduce crime. 

SHARPTON:  I think that that‘s important.  You‘re not saying that we should excuse criminal behavior, but we ought to deal with it in a way that is remedied and in a way that is fair and equal. 

PETERSON:  Absolutely.  Listen, why don‘t we focus more on rehabilitation versus penalization.  Right?  We are imprisoning and penalizing nonviolent substance abusers.  They‘re going into the system.  And some of them unfortunately are coming out as hardened criminals. 

So we‘re actually training some folk to become criminals in the criminal justice system.  We‘ve got to start thinking outside of the box.  Aggressive incarceration does not reduce crime.  In fact, in the state of New York, as you already know this, Reverend Al, as we‘ve tried to address these issues a little bit outside the box, we‘ve actually reduced crime in the state of New York by not aggressively incarcerating folk. 

The bottom line is you cannot put nonviolent substance abusers in prisons with hardened criminals.  We have to focus more on rehabilitation, education and harm reduction when it comes to substance abuse. 

SHARPTON:  Dr. James Peterson, thank you for joining us. 

PETERSON:  Thank you for having me, Reverend Al. 

SHARPTON:  Glenn Beck announced his end date on Fox News today.  I‘ll show you who is crying about it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  After a full day of interviews did nothing to quiet the Weiner-gate frenzy, today Congressman Weiner announced he is done talking about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  After hours, almost 11 hours of answering questions, any that anyone wanted to put, today I‘m going to have to get back to work doing the job that I‘m paid to do.  I appreciate your patience and understanding.  If I can do anything to make you more comfortable while you‘re sitting out here in the hallway, please let me know. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  As someone who has been through his fair share of controversy, I have some crisis management advice to offer Congressman Anthony Weiner.  Stop talking when you‘re faced with a controversy.  You either fully explain what happened or you shut up. 

And don‘t announce that you‘re not going to talk about it anymore.  Just stop talking about it.  I hope for the congressman‘s sake that he is able to keep his mouth shut from now on. 

And speaking of people who should keep their mouths shut, Glenn Beck has announced the last date for his Fox News show.  We‘re counting the days next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  When I took this job, I didn‘t take it because it was going to be a career for me.  Paul Revere did not get up on a horse and say, I‘m going to do this for the rest of my life.  He didn‘t do it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Glenn Beck is ready to get on his high horse and ride off into the sunset.  Today, Beck announced his last 5:00 p.m. show on Fox News would be on June 30th.  That means America has only 20 more chances to see Beck drop pearls of wisdom like this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  This president I think has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep seed hatred for white people or the white culture.  I don‘t know what it is. 

You‘re not alone.  I‘m turning into a fricking televangelist.  Let me tell you something. 

I‘m President Obama.  This is the way I feel.  I feel like President Obama is just saying, you know what?  I‘ve got the 3.5 trillion dollar budget that we‘re doing. 

You know, the government is full of vampires.  And they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy. 

Where did he come from?  We have Christian, eastern religion influences, Kenyan, agnosticism, Judaism and Islam.  But America is expected to be solidly convinced he is a Christian. 

Before all the political bull crap, Sarah Palin was just a mom of five doing a job that needed to be done.  She was my kind of leader. 

Governor Sarah Palin is joining us now from Alaska.  Hi, governor.  First, congratulations on being a grandma.  And you are one hot grandma, just saying. 

Dog hasn‘t barked? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Beck was never big on details.  Take a look at what he asked me last year on his show. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  I was thinking about this today with you.  You were at Martin Luther King‘s elbow. 

SHARPTON:  No, I was after King.  I worked more with Jackson. 

(CROSS TALK)

BECK:  You were not walking with—

SHARPTON:  No.

BECK:  I didn‘t know that. 

SHARPTON:  Mrs. King and Martin.  I‘m only 55.  I was 13 when King was killed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Beck has a real talent for entertaining and misinforming the millions of people who watched his Fox News program.  Millions of more Americans won‘t miss him at all. 

For more, joining me right now is Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters.  Will this be a loss for Fox News, Eric? 

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS:  It will be.  I mean, sort of our long national nightmare will be over, I guess, on June 30th, which is going to be the fond farewell. 

It will be a loss because it‘ll be a little less buzz for them.  But I think he had sort of worn out his welcome at Fox News, between the loss of advertisers and the loss of ratings.  I mean, him leaving is a big deal.  And as you said, we‘re down to the last 20 shows. 

It‘s almost incalculable.  We just had a short reel.  It‘s almost incalculable to figure out how much sort of garbage and trash he has dumped into our public discourse in the mainstream media. 

So him not having that Fox News platform is a big deal.  I know he has grand plans.  He says he is going to be bigger and better without Fox News.  The truth is before Fox News, he was kind of a nobody.  And there is a pretty good chance after Fox News he‘s going to be kind of a nobody. 

SHARPTON:  Do guys like O‘Reilly and Hannity like working with him? 

Do they like working with him?

BOEHLERT:  O‘Reilly did.  Hannity did not.  The reporting that we‘ve seen the last couple weeks, Hannity and O‘Reilly have never liked each other.  So Hannity I don‘t think has ever mentioned Glenn Beck‘s name in three years. 

There was a clash of egos.  There was a clash of titans.  And some people will be glad he‘s gone.  Some people will be less happy. 

I think anyone interested in the public discourse will be happy and relieved that Fox has ended this horrible experiment. 

SHARPTON:  Who will replace him? 

BOEHLERT:  That‘s a good question.  They‘ve been having sort of this bake off and—to see who is going to take the 5:00 slot.  Maybe Eric Bolling, maybe Judge Napolitano.  Both of these guys, unfortunately, are sort of just as unhinged as Beck.  They both sort of toil in conspiracy and a lot of hate rhetoric. 

So it doesn‘t look like they‘re going to put a Bret Baier type in at 5:00 and do more news.  My hunch is they‘re going to do more crazy at 5:00.  The question is, as crazy as Glenn Beck?  That we don‘t know. 

SHARPTON:  Is Media Matters still going to monitoring that hour and monitoring wherever Beck may—

BOEHLERT:  We monitor his radio show.  And, unfortunately, we have people who have to listen to that three hours a day, every day.  We‘re always going to monitor Fox News, no matter what they put up, no matter the misinformation, no matter the sort of hateful rhetoric.  We‘re always going to be watching Glenn Beck. 

SHARPTON:  And wherever he rides that horse to. 

BOEHLERT:  Wherever he goes. 

SHARPTON:  Well, Eric Boehlert, thank you very much for Media Matters for joining us tonight. 

Sarah Palin says she wants to educate Americans about the country‘s most historic sights.  We‘ll show you why she is the one who needs the education, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The wheels have truly come off the Palin bus.  Her One Nation Tour is supposed to educate and energize Americans, but it‘s becoming clear she‘s the one who needs educating.  On her way to Ellis Island yesterday, she was asked about the Dream Act, the legislation that provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to this country as children. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How do you feel about the Dream Act? 

PALIN:  The Dream Act?  Well, see, the immigrants in the past, they had to literally and figuratively stand in line and follow rules to become U.S. citizens.  I‘d lake to see that continue.  Unfortunately, the Dream Act kind of usurps that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  I don‘t think Sarah Palin has any idea what the Dream Act does.  She acts like it is an immediate ticket to citizenship.  In reality, it would give immigrants the chance to do exactly what she is talking about.  Stand in line it and follow rules to become U.S. citizens. 

For more on this, let me bring in Clarissa Martinez, the director of immigration for the National Council of La Raza.  How are you tonight? 

CLARISSA MARTINEZ, LA RAZA:  Very well.  Hi, Reverend Sharpton. 

SHARPTON:  Let me ask you, what do you think of Palin‘s comments on the Dream Act? 

MARTINEZ:  Well, you know, there are a couple thoughts I had.  One, I remember when I visit Ellis Island and thinking, walking through all those aisles, about the hateful rhetoric that accompanied immigrants in our history.  And blurring completely the line whether they were legal or not. 

There was very hateful rhetoric around the issue of immigration back then.  I think she completely missed the point about that, and the fact that that‘s exactly what we are seeing right now. 

In the second piece, as you mentioned, that in many ways Ellis Island served as that line that right now it‘s largely closed.  And immigration reform, the Dream Act, is actually about rebuilding that line, so that we can have a legal system of immigration, as opposed to the broken system that is fueling illegality right now, and that unfortunately many in her party are accomplices to.   

SHARPTON:  It‘s not just the Dream Act.  Palin needs help with—here is what she said in response to a question about the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  It is of course the symbol for Americans to be reminded of other countries—other countries warning us to never make the mistakes that some of them had made.  This is a symbol—a reminder of what it is that we can do right in the name of freedom.  And that‘s what I appreciate about the Statue of Liberty. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  She says the Statue of Liberty is a warning from other countries.  Does that play into this misunderstanding of American immigration she seems to have? 

MARTINEZ:  Well, you know, you‘ve done a lot of work on immigration.  You‘ve been part of the effort to push back against laws that legalize racial profiling like the one in Arizona.  And we know that, sadly, immigration—the immigration debate has become a fact free zone, where there‘s all sorts of misinformation that passes for fact, moving us further and further away from this solution that Americans are waiting for, and are so frustrated Congress hasn‘t acted on. 

I think a lot of politicians, unfortunately, do not want to follow the American public, who has a much more pragmatic position on this issue and understands that we are not going to massively deport 11 million people out of our country.  We need to find a way for them to get good with the law and to restore law and order by making sure that we have a legal system that works. 

SHARPTON:  You know, moving beyond Sarah Palin, the Republican party as a whole has taken a strongly anti-immigration stance, killing the Dream Act in Congress in December, passing laws like the one in Arizona.  With the Latino population soaring in this country, how tone deaf are they? 

MARTINEZ:  Well, that‘s a very interesting point.  I think that we know that the political landscape says in order to get to the White House, you need to get 40 percent plus of Latino support if you are a Republican.  If you‘re a Democrat, you need 60 percent plus. 

I think that even though immigration has not necessarily been the top issue for Latino voters in the past, given the vitriol in the immigration debate it has certainly been elevated in the priority of issues that need addressing.  That is creating challenges for Republicans who are seen wholeheartedly as pushing an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino environment. 

Frankly, it is also creating some challenges for Democrats, because there has been no progress on immigration reform.  And I think that is a very interesting position that the president is finding himself in as well. 

SHARPTON:  How much will the Republican position on immigration hurt them in 2012? 

MARTINEZ:  Well, you can look at 2010.  I think in 2010, it was apparent that if many Republicans had not decided to gratuitously pursue an anti-immigrant and anti-Latino strategy, they could have potentially captured the Senate.  So it is a gratuitous strategy. 

I think going into 2012, one of the things that they might try to do is simply attack Democrats for lack of progress and try to shield themselves from the fact that they have been doing a lot of the creation of this anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment. 

They should be held accountable for that.

SHARTPON:  Are any of the Republican candidates or even proposed candidates for the nomination addressing this immigration issue? 

MARTINEZ:  I think to the extent that it has come up until now, unfortunately, we‘re seeing people trying to position themselves carefully to still appeal to part of this nativist strand that is in the Republican base, which is not all Republicans. 

I think that is a losing strategy.  A lot of candidates on both sides of the aisle, frankly, made mistakes on this issue.  They either try to completely avoid it or they try to demonize it. 

Voters are ready for solutions.  And, unfortunately, not a lot of candidates are actively talking about that. 

SHARPTON:  Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, thank you for your time. 

MARTINEZ:  Thank you. 

SHARPTON:  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Reverend Al Sharpton, filling in for Ed Schultz.  You can find me on radio every day from 1:00 to 4:00 Eastern time at NationalActionNetwork.net.  Ed will be back on the air Monday night.  Be sure to tune in. 

“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. 

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