The Ed Show for Thursday, August 4, 2011
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Guests: Michael Eric Dyson
Guests: Kamala Harris, Pat Garofalo, John Nichols, Prof. James Peterson,
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.
Today`s Wall Street nosedive was a slap in the face to anyone who owns
stocks. Everyone else who doesn`t own stocks, like the poor and the
working class, they`ve been getting slapped around for decades. That`s why
this country needs to keep its promises. Even though Republicans say we
This is THE ED SHOW. And as Ed would say -- let`s get to work!
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You elected me
president to do the tough things, to do the big things, even if it took
DYSON (voice-over): On his 50th birthday, Barack Obama is fulfilling
the promise of America. Today, Republicans are saying we just can`t keep
that promise anymore.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Promises have been made
that frankly are not going to be kept.
DYSON: Tonight, my commentary on keeping promises.
Five days away from the Wisconsin recall elections. John Nichols of
"The Nation" is here with today`s major developments.
And SpongeBob SquarePants gets caught up in the right-wing war on
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: Clearly, Nickelodeon is pushing a global
GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Every time they choose that show, I`m
DYSON: The United States of America was built on a promise. The
second section of the Declaration of Independence clearly states, "We hold
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Two hundred and thirty-five years later, those very words are under
attack by decades of conservative economic ideology. Democrats like FDR,
JFK, and LBJ tried to create a more perfect union by taking care of our
sick and elderly, giving every American a chance for a great education and
striving to make everyone in society more equal.
You see, Republicans have a completely different idea of "life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." They`ve been on a mission to
destroy the New Deal and the Great Society in order to line the pockets of
the privileged few.
Even after Republicans got 98 percent of what they wanted in the debt
ceiling fight, they`re still planning to break America`s promise of Social
Security and Medicare.
Take a look at what House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said to "The
Wall Street Journal" today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANTOR: What we need to be able to do is to demonstrate that that is
the better way for the people of this country, get the fiscal house in
order, come to grips with the fact that promises have been made that
frankly are not going to be kept for many. The math doesn`t lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Republicans have no problem keeping their promise not to raise
taxes. But they`re determined to bankrupt every other obligation America
Congressman Paul Ryan is even gloating about it. In an op-ed in
Rupert Murdoch`s newspaper, Paul Ryan said, quote, "During the negotiations
over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama reportedly warned Republican
leaders not to call his bluff by sending him a bill without tax increases.
Republicans in Congress ignored this threat and passed a bill that cuts
more than a dollar in spending for every dollar it increases the debt
limit, without raising taxes."
Republicans need to drop their religion of tax cuts at all costs.
Ronald Reagan was not God. He was just another man with flawed priorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Government is not the solution
to our problem. Government is the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Ronald Reagan, like Nixon before him and two doses of Bush
after, wanted to wipe away social and economic progress.
The great legacy of Democratic presidents is that, at their best,
they`ve been concerned about the little guy, the poorly educated, and the
socially and economically vulnerable, and the person who yearned to use
education as an elevator of upward mobility. Without them a middle-class
kid from Hawaii couldn`t have borrowed money and made his way through life
with programs that aimed to lift the poor and working classes to the
heights their talents could carry them.
At this hour, President Barack Obama is the guest of honor at a party
to celebrate his 50th birthday.
The president can`t be enjoying himself very much, however. The stock
market dropped over 500 points today. We still have over 9 percent
unemployment. And the Republicans just rolled him into making the largest
cut in spending in the history of America.
If that ain`t bad enough, the conservative media machine is in high
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: After sitting on the sideline for most of the
debt debate, President Barack Obama -- well, he`s giving himself a not so
well-deserved pat on the back at this hour in the form of a lavish birthday
party. But in light of the U.S. surpassing $14.3 trillion in debt, the Dow
crumbling, millions still out of work, and the country flirting with a
double-dip recession, perhaps the president could find a better way to
spend his time.
CARLSON: President Obama`s 50th birthday present to himself? I want
to know. Hmm. $3,580,000 in cold hard campaign cash.
But if his focus is on creating jobs, should he be out raising re-
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
DYSON: President Obama is on the ropes from the scurrilous and vile
attack from the right and from people on the left who voted for this guy
back in 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we
wait for some other time. We are the ones we`ve been waiting for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Let`s be honest. While a lot of black men are doing well,
succeeding at their jobs, nurturing their families, and holding down their
communities, they just don`t seem to get that much good press. And the
great thing about Obama being president is that there`s a guarantee that on
most days, a real smart black guy with impeccable credentials and an
incredible wife and kids will snag the headlines on television and the
front covers of newspapers and Web sites around the globe.
If you`ve got to show a black man living in public housing, it might
as well be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And when we stop to think about what made Barack Obama possible, we`ve
got to nod to the remarkable freedom fighters that gave body and blood to
make America all that it should be. Those nameless and faceless heroes
were hard-working Americans who were maids and milkmen, ditch diggers and
truck drivers, longshoremen and train porters, cooks and accountants, and,
yes, engineers, doctors, lawyers, preachers and teachers too. Without
their sacrifice, without their blood, sweat, and tears there would be no
They longed to see America fulfill its promise and embrace all of its
citizens as brothers and sisters in one national family.
That point was lost on the birthers as they pummeled the president day
after day until he finally shut their mouths, trumping one man in
particular, showing the Donald that he need to log more time as an
apprentice of fact and truth.
Let`s remember this now that Obama is in office -- carrying the
desperate hopes and deep desires of millions of Americans who feel that no
one will ever speak for them or care about their well-being.
Obama is worthy of criticism, as is any public official. But it
should be principled criticism, not unprincipled assault. Some black
critics have claimed that their loving hearts belong to Martin Luther King
Jr. at his best, while their lashing tongues seem to belong to Malcolm X at
his worst. From the mainstream, attacks on the president have often
projected the worst of our racist past -- Obama as monkey, tar baby,
terrorist, and unpatriotic un-American rather than the glorious
possibilities of our rich and diverse future.
As Barack Obama turns 50, let`s wish him the courage to embrace the
full range of his remarkable challenge to change America for the best. And
let`s give him our steadfast support so that he won`t be punished for doing
And so, American to American, citizen to citizen, brother to brother,
black man to black man, happy birthday, Mr. President, and many returns.
Joining us now is California attorney general, Kamala Harris.
Attorney General Harris, welcome to the show.
KAMALA HARRIS, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you. It`s
wonderful to be here. Thank you.
DYSON: You know, before we even get into the specifics of President
Obama, and, of course, this is his birthday -- you have a similar story to
Barack Obama. And you brilliantly used the outlines of your story when you
were campaigning for attorney general because you had to win a statewide
Give us some of the parallels between your experience and Barack
Obama`s experience that resonate for so many voters.
HARRIS: Well, of course, our president is very unique in many ways.
But we do have I think a shared experience and focus. I talked a lot in my
campaign about the fact that I`m one of two daughters of parents who met
when they were graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley
when they were active in the civil rights movement. And I grew up then in
that environment, where all the adults around us were marching and shouting
for that thing called justice. And in many ways, that`s why I decided I
wanted to be a lawyer in the tradition of Thurgood Marshall and Charles
Hamilton Houston and Constance Baker Motley.
I went on to Howard university, went to law school, and I became a
prosecutor. And have personally prosecuted some of the most serious and
violent crimes you can imagine.
And then I ran to become district attorney of San Francisco and won
and was re-elected, and then ran to become attorney general of California -
- based on a belief that government and these systems, including the
criminal justice system, can and must do the important work of being a
voice for the vulnerable, but we also must be committed always to being the
best that we can be, and that includes reform of broken systems.
And in light of that extraordinary experience, do you think President
Obama himself, having grown up in similar situations of course with his own
unique story, is doing enough to really resonate with those people who
identify with him so powerfully? Is he doing enough to live up to
HARRIS: I think he is an extraordinary individual and president.
Part of what he talked about and what really was powerful in that campaign
for president in 2008 and continues to be is the power that Barack Obama as
president and then as a candidate had to really build coalitions. And by
that I mean to bring together people who seemingly have nothing in common
but have everything in common. When we think about what most people want
for their children or the dignity with which they want their elders to
live, with, you know, thinking about what we all want in terms of having a
quality of life that allows hard-working people to understand and truly
realize the American Dream.
That`s what Barack Obama talked about. That`s what he did. And it
was the strength of building a coalition of people, understanding and
embracing the diversity of our country, and bringing everyone together
under one flag.
DYSON: Yes. A lot of people, however, have said that Barack Obama
has been willing to compromise too much, that he`s gone the other way, that
compromise turns into capitulation and that negotiation turns into
What do you say about those people who task him with the unenviable
responsibility of holding harder to his Democratic principles and pushing
those on the table with equal ferocity?
HARRIS: I think he understands that the reality of leadership is --
and success is an embrace of compromise. And some might interpret
compromise to be defeat. But what I think we all know, in any
relationship, be it a personal or professional relationship, is that the
way it is a functional relationship is that usually each individual who is
a part of it engages in compromise for the better and greater good.
And this president appreciates that. He has led and I think has
demonstrated the importance of leadership that does not allow pride to
associate with any one position and instead is committed to bringing the
And if we want to talk about what happened recently -- listen, we were
on the verge of collapse. We now have a situation where we will pay our
debts, where people will have their Social Security benefits, where small
businesses will be able to continue being in business, and that`s about
leadership under very difficult times.
This president is someone who came into office under unprecedented
difficult times and has shown I think a remarkable level of dignity and
maturity in his leadership.
DYSON: And given the fact that the Republicans have been so vigilant
in pursuing their particular philosophical commitment to no new taxes and
to cutting spending, do you think if America`s safety net is cut -- will
they ever see a middle-class kid like Barack Obama become president again?
I mean, you`ve got to raise so much money you can`t even be educated in the
same fashion and you can`t even pay your bills.
HARRIS: As a career prosecutor I`ll tell you that I believe one of
the greatest threats to our public safety is a lack of education for our
children. I believe there`s a very direct connection in fact between
public education and public safety. And if we are truly committed to being
smart on crime, we will be equally committed to making sure that our public
school systems have all the resources they need.
I think that the president is right in wanting to help people
understand that most of these issues are actually not even bipartisan,
they`re non non-partisan. Whether you`re a Republican or Democrat, you
want your child to be able to live a productive life, and that`s going to
start with a meaningful education.
Well, that education is going to be a function of our priority as
political leaders to give the education system the resources it needs.
And I think that most people regardless of their party affiliation
would agree with that, and it`s time that we act like adults when we sit in
these positions of leadership in legislative houses and we stay committed
to the values that we have as it relates to our own family. We should see
our responsibility as being -- responsibility to our constituencies that is
equal to the responsibilities we have to our own family, which is to make
decisions based on what is in their best interests and not ours.
DYSON: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, thanks so much for
joining us tonight.
HARRIS: You`re welcome. Thank you. It was wonderful to be here.
DYSON: It was the worst day on Wall Street since the height of the
2008 financial crisis. How much of an impact did the recent debt deal have
on the market tumble?
And the Wisconsin recall elections are right around the corner.
Democrats are looking strong. They`re also getting some help from clumsy
Stay with us.
DYSON: The public is weighing in on the results of the prolonged debt
debate in Washington and it`s not pretty for Congress. Only 14 percent of
Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, 82 percent are unhappy with
their elected representatives. It`s the highest disapproval rating for
Congress since "The Times" and CBS started this poll in 1977.
House Speaker John Boehner is the individual who fared the worst, 57
percent say they now disapprove of the job he`s doing, a 16-point jump from
the last poll.
The Tea Party also took a hit in the debate. A plurality of voters
say they have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement, with an 11-
point jump in negative opinion since April.
Opinion on President Obama remains steady at 48 percent approval and
47 percent disapproval. But while the president`s numbers survived the
debt standoff, will they survive a ravaged economy?
We`ll have the latest on today`s ugly financial numbers, next.
DYSON: It was a day that had everyone thinking back to September of
2008, when stocks bottomed out and the economy was on the brink of
disaster. Worries about the weak U.S. financial outlook and fears of
looming economic catastrophe in Europe caused a massive stock sell-off.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 512 points, a drop of more than 4
Markets are complicated and volatile. So, it`s a fool`s errand to
come up with a single reason with today`s sell-off and why it happened.
But we already know that the recent debt deal in Washington hurts the
country`s financial future. The spending cuts in the deal will cost the
economy an estimated 323,000 jobs next year. Lack of a payroll tax holiday
and unemployment and benefit extensions could cost an additional 1.5
Financial giant JPMorgan Chase echoed that grim outlook. In an
analysis of the debt deal the company wrote, "All in all, by our estimates
federal fiscal policy will subtract around 1 to 3/4 percentage points from
GDP growth. This doesn`t bode well for next year."
Let`s bring in Pat Garofalo, the economic policy editor for
How much of this plummet has been related to the debt deal? A lot of
people have been weighing in thinking there`s a direct correlation between
the fiscal crisis we just endured and the lack of security Americans now
PAT GAROFALO, THINKPROGRESS.ORG: Well, I think there`s a correlation
in the sense that now that the debt ceiling debacle is over, now that the
dust has cleared, the theater`s done, investors are looking around and
realizing that the economy`s in really bad shape. Unemployment`s really
high. The latest manufacturing data was really bad. As you said,
prospects for growth are sluggish at best.
And investors realize that. They`re just looking around, and they`re
not seeing much to feel good about.
DYSON: Well, some people would say, look, things are getting worser
We expect another dismal jobs report tomorrow. Do you think that`s
going to push stocks down even further?
GAROFALO: It`s absolutely possible. And even if the number is higher
than the last few numbers have been -- and there`s really no reason to
believe it will be -- at the rate we`re creating jobs, we`re not even
creating them fast enough to keep up with the number of people entering the
labor force, never mind the 14 million people that were unemployed because
of the great recession.
DYSON: You know, the president`s ideological opponents are already
linking him to this stock slide. No surprise there. A "Wall Street
Journal" column remarked that the last time the stock market slid on nine
straight days, quote, "Jimmy Carter was president and the country was
struggling to come to grips with a period of anemic economic growth and
high inflation. Isn`t it comforting to know we`ve made such progress over
the last three decades?"
They`ll blame Obama when the stock market dips, but you won`t hear
them giving him credit for the rise in the Dow Jones Industrials over the
past 2 1/2 years.
Do you think the president has any control over the way the market
GAROFALO: No, he doesn`t. I mean, if anybody has control, it`s
Congress in the way it is implementing fiscal policy. And right now,
Congress is cutting back and putting in austerity measures. And investors
realize that, and they realize that means growth is going to go down.
DYSON: Well, do you think there`s a benefit from a market correction
like this? Because doesn`t it give the economy a chance to rebound so
there`s some, you know, positive news there?
GAROFALO: I think that`s right in the sense that we shouldn`t take
one bad day as indicative of anything. You know, markets bounce up, they
bounce down. But I think this many down days in a row on the heels of an
austerity package are really worrying because people are looking at the
long term and they`re not seeing anything to feel good about. They`re not
seeing prospects for the kind of job creation that we need.
DYSON: Yes, well, obviously, it seems that the lack of familiarity
with the complicated nature of the market has led to a lot of
disgruntlement. Do you think Americans at any rate will become more
familiar and more informed about what`s going on here? If we could give
them some kind of economic lessons, an economics 101 that would help in a
sense defray some of the anxiety? Or do you think this is going to be
reinforced by the objective market itself?
GAROFALO: I think the market, like the deficit number, is something
kind of like when people hear those numbers are bad, then they realize the
wider economy is bad, and so it kind of becomes a projection of their wider
economic woes. And people shouldn`t be worried about the stock market
going down per se. They should be worried about the reasons it fell, which
is that the numbers coming in are bad and they`re not looking good for
several quarters out.
DYSON: All right. Pat Garofalo of ThinkProgress.org -- thank you so
GAROFALO: Thank you.
DYSON: The FAA shutdown is almost over -- for now. How Democrats are
rescuing the tens of thousands of workers being held hostage, next.
And a billionaire puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to
job creation. It just so happens that he`s also the mayor of New York.
We`ll have more on Mike Bloomberg`s remarkable jobs initiative.
DYSON: Senate Democrats and the Obama administration have figured out
how to end the FAA shutdown and rescue the 74,000 workers being held
hostage by Republican political demands -- at least temporarily.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a, quote, "bipartisan
compromise" this afternoon. Under the deal, the Senate will approve a
House bill that extends FAA funding through mid September. The bill still
includes $16.5 million worth of cuts in subsidies to rural airports. But
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will sign a waiver negating those cuts,
effectively making it a clean bill.
The controversial anti-union measure that has dominated the FAA fight
is part of a longer-term funding extension, and it does not factor into
this short-term deal.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller indicated the
battle was far from over, releasing the following statement today. Quote,
"It`s clear the right wing of the GOP wants to undo worker protections and
may again block progress on the FAA bill in September in order to get its
way. Thankfully, for now, this deal allows the FAA to restart, maintain
workers` rights, and ensures that rural airports can get the resources they
The Senate is expected to pass the bill by unanimous consent as early
as tomorrow, allowing FAA employees to get back to work by Monday.
With five days to go until the Wisconsin recall elections, money is
pouring in. Ultimately, up to $30 million will have gone into the nine
races. John Nichols tells us where it`s all coming from, next.
And he`s working with the government to brainwash your kids. Why
SpongeBob SquarePants is the newest enemy of FOX News.
You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
DYSON: We`re heading into the final stretch of the Wisconsin recall
elections. Voters head to the polls on Tuesday. Democrats need to pick up
three seats to take control of the state senate. And they`re running
strong in at least two races.
A third seat they might be able to flip is the one currently held by
Alberta Darling. She ran into trouble this week when she was asked to name
a company in her district that created jobs this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTA DARLING, WISCONSIN SENATOR: I have several manufacturing
companies in my -- there`s a chemical company. I`m just -- they`re in
Germantown. There was just an article about a company in Menominee Falls
(ph). There are several manufacturers -- I`m in my moment. I`m forgetting
But yes, there are several manufacturers who have grown jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: What had happened was even after Palin-esque responses like
that one, Darling is still stunned she`s being recalled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARLING: You just have to say to yourself, why are we being recalled
when so much is going right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: She answered her own question less than 30 seconds later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARLING: I just went to a woman today and she said, you know, do you
believe -- you know, why are you giving tax breaks to the wealthy? I said,
what do you consider wealthy? She said 250,000 dollars and above. And I
said that is small business. Those are small business people. Those
aren`t wealthy people.
A lot of people just don`t understand that these are not rich people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Let`s help her understand. Only about one percent of people
in Wisconsin make more than 250,000 dollars a year. Senator Darling, the
fact that you give tax breaks to the top one percent while slashing the
rights of working folks is why you`re being recalled.
Joining me now from Madison, Wisconsin is John Nichols, the Washington
correspondent for "The Nation" magazine. Welcome to the show.
JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": It`s great to be with you.
DYSON: John, money is pouring into these recall elections to the tune
of 30 million dollars. Where`s all that dough coming from?
NICHOLS: Well, it may add up to 30 million. We don`t know exactly
how much because it`s very hard to track it all. Remember, we live in the
Citizens United era. This is the post-Supreme Court decision time now,
when corporations can spend whatever they want and do so without much
But we do know that some of the primary sources of money coming into
Wisconsin are classic right-wing funders with an agenda. The Koch Brothers
have poured money in via the group Americans for Prosperity. And also the
Devoss family -- these are the heirs to the Amway fortune over in Michigan.
Dick Devoss, a former candidate for governor of Michigan, who was defeated,
and his wife, who is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.
They`re billionaires. They`re very, very wealthy.
They fund a group called the American Federation for Children, which
sounds wonderful. But in fact it`s really a organization that pushes for
privatization of schools, for really gutting out the funding of our inner
city schools, of our rural schools. And they have poured money into these
races, especially into the Alberta Darling race that you`ve been
DYSON: Well, there`s no doubt that that Supreme Court decision had a
deleterious impact on the common good, as a result of, you know, lobbying
from so many different parties and of course pouring this kind of unlimited
capital into the coffers of these particular races. It certainly has a
Alberta Darling`s race is shaping up to be the most expensive
legislative race in state history. Will Dems be able to win this one or do
you think they`ll be able to take control of the state senate?
NICHOLS: Well, that`s a great question. Of course, it`s the 30
million dollar question at this point. That`s why so much money is pouring
in. All of these national groups that are coming in to defend Alberta
Darling wouldn`t be doing so if they didn`t think she was vulnerable.
That is a swing district. It is a tough district. But her opponent,
Sandy Pash, is a nurse, an educator, a state representative who has run a
very, very effective campaign. And at the end of the day, with so much
money coming on television and radio and in direct mail, I think it kind of
begins to overwhelm people.
And they go back to those core questions. What did Governor Walker
do? Who stood with Governor Walker? Who stood against? The Darling race
is a classic test, because Alberta Darling is Governor Walker`s point
person on budget issues, whereas Sandy Pash, as a state representative, was
one of the leading people in the capitol fighting against the governor`s
It`s going to be a clear choice. And my gut tells me that there`s an
awfully lot of people over there in the north side of Milwaukee and in some
of those near-in suburbs who really don`t think the state`s headed in the
DYSON: Well, there`s a lot of motivation out there then for the
Democrats. They`ve already survived one recall election. They`ve got two
more coming up. Are either of those in danger?
NICHOLS: Well, I was up in northern Wisconsin the other day. And the
most targeted of the Democrats is a guy named Jim Holperin. He`s a veteran
state legislator from near the Michigan border up there. He has a very
aggressive opponent. They`re spending an immense amount of money. That
area`s never seen so much spending.
But as I drove through the district, I was struck that those Jim
Holperin signs were out on the country roads in front of the farms and in
the small towns. And my sense is that he`s done what he needs to do to
Still, it will be a tough race. The other race in southeastern
Wisconsin is a guy named Bob Wirch, a veteran state senator as well. They
nominated a corporate lawyer against him. And my gut instinct that this
just isn`t going to be a good season for corporate lawyers.
So I will predict that Bob Wirch will win pretty easily.
DYSON: All right, my friend John Nichols of "The Nation" magazine,
thanks for your time.
NICHOLS: Great to be with you. Good story.
DYSON: And we want to remind you that Ed will be broadcasting live
from Madison next week. He`ll be outside the capitol building on the
corner of East Washington and Pinkney on August 8th and 9th.
Washington is asking where are the jobs? New York`s mayor is showing
everyone how to create them. I`ll talk with Professor James Peterson about
Mike Bloomberg`s jobs plan.
DYSON: Mayor Michael Bloomberg says more than 300,000 underprivileged
New Yorker`s need the city`s help to improve their lives. And to pay for
new jobs and education program, he`s turning to himself. The program
called the Young Men`s Initiative will focus on careers, education, and
family issues for the city`s black and Latino youth.
Bloomberg will help finance the 127 million program with 30 million
dollars of his own money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: You have to provide a solution
rather than just sit around and complain. And that solution is to engage
those kids and to give them an opportunity, so that they see a path out of
poverty, out of desperation, out of a life of crime, they can participate
in the great American dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Wow. Also kicking in 30 million dollars to the program is one
of the right wing`s favorite progressive bogeymen, George Soros. Let`s see
how long it takes for someone to call the program a part of the Soros
liberal media conspiracy.
Joining me tonight is James Peterson, director of Africana studies and
associate professor of English at Lehigh University. He also blogs for the
Welcome to the show, Professor Peterson.
PROF. JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me, doc.
DYSON: While Washington will only talk about spending cuts, Professor
Peterson, what kind of message is Bloomberg sending by pumping millions of
his own dollars into a public program like this? Pretty remarkable, no?
PETERSON: Well, I think that the effort on his part and Mr. Soros and
the matching effort of the city, these are great supplemental programs.
And I actually want to applaud him on this initiative. It`s really, really
But I really also think we need to look at the numbers and understand
there has to be other structural changes in order to make these sort of
supplemental things much more effective and the changes we need for black
and brown men in inner cities much more permanent.
For instance, New York City has about eight million people in it,
right? So the black and brown males make up maybe somewhere between one
and a half to two million of those. Forty million dollars over the course
of three years for that segment of the population is probably not all that
So it`s a great supplement, but we also need structural changes,
educational reform, addressing the prison-industrial complex more directly,
addressing the issue of indoctrination of the police forces against black
and brown men.
So there are a lot of other things that need to happen. Also bear in
mind here, Mayor Bloomberg is the largest employer in the city of New York,
correct? And it`s not his Bloomberg media empire. That`s the city itself.
So the city has the capacity to employ young men and to engage them in
constructive ways. But we can`t think about supplemental things. You
know, supplements are not substitutes. Right?
And as you know, Dr. Dyson, charity and philanthropy is no substitute
for justice and equality.
DYSON: No doubt. Dr. King made that clear. And you talk about the
structural changes that are necessary to, of course, make these
supplemental additions to their particular economy something that`s
attractive. But do you think the giving of the money itself creates such a
groundswell of tremendous media attention and attracts other donors who
might follow suit with their pocketbook backing up their rhetoric?
PETERSON: I hope so. But I don`t want folks to think that we can
have private solutions for public problems. I hope other people do give
their money. This is really, really important. And again, I applaud his
But we can`t have private solutions for very, very real public
problems. I`ll give you an example. The New York viewers will be familiar
with the Monumental Five, a group of black and brown young folk who were
profiled and mistreated by the New York City Police Department at a very,
very peaceful event in New York City honoring the release of an album,
So we`ve got to address those issues. And so yes, we can support and
supplement financially and other ways young men in inner cities, but we
also have to understand that our police force, our educational system, our
job structure, all of these things have got to be addressed structurally
What happens when this money runs out? Or what if other folk aren`t
feeling charitable? We need justice and equality and structural change to
make the kind of progress that we need in our cities particularly here.
DYSON: Well, finally, give us in your sense, what will happen with
this kind of money stimulating the young people themselves? What will be
the impact, in 30 seconds, upon the young people themselves?
PETERSON: Well, it`s exciting. Young people will feel galvanized.
And they`ll feel valued. But without the structural complement, it just
doesn`t work. So I hope they`re very, very strategic about how they use
this money. I hope they give it to grassroots organizations. I hope they
do the research and make sure they`re doing very, very comprehensive
things, because sometimes these donations and these kind of foundations
turn into sort of capitalistic money grabs.
So I really hope it`s a grassroots effort. I hope they go to the
right people, they use the right resources, and I really, really hope that
people understand that private efforts like this are great, but they`re no
substitute for our larger public issues.
DYSON: All right, Dr. James Peterson, thanks for joining us.
PETERSON: Thank you for having me, doc.
DYSON: Coming up, the far right goes after another made-up bogeyman.
This one happens to live in a pineapple under the sea.
DYSON: The made-up specter of Sharia Law has found a permanent home
in far right political discourse. In the latest hyperventilation from the
Islamophobic crowd comes over the appointment of a Muslim lawyer to the New
Jersey Superior Court.
Suheil Muhammad represented several individuals wrongly detained after
9/11. This prompted some right-wingers to call him, quote, "a long-time
mouthpiece for radical Islamists." end of quote.
Well, the man who nominated Mr. Muhammad to the bench is fed up with
the baseless attacks. His name, Governor Chris Christie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Ignorance is behind the
criticism of Soheil Muhammad. Soheil Muhammad is an extraordinary
Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all. It`s crazy. It`s
crazy. The guy`s an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to
practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of
New Jersey, the Constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the
Constitution of the United States of America.
This Sharia Law business is crap. It`s just crazy. And I`m tired of
dealing with the crazies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: It`s not often that you will find Chris Christie getting a
round of applause on this program. But when so many on the right are using
fear tactics to improve their poll numbers, Governor Christie has stood up
for what is right.
DYSON: Progressive sponges are taking over this great nation and
indoctrinating our children. One sponge in particular of cartoon origin is
working in conjunction with the U.S. government and doing the unthinkable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Department of Education using Spongebob
Squarepants now to teach kids about global warming. The government agency
showed kids this cartoon and handed out books that blame man for global
warming, but they did not tell kids that that is actually a disputed fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: I mean, where do they find these people? That was Gretchen
Carlson of "Fox and Friends" exposing the far left propaganda machine. But
Miss Carlson got a few things wrong.
Yes, the Department of Education held a literacy event for D.C. school
kids last month. However, as an agency spokesman tells Media Matters,
students were not shown a cartoon, but, quote, "participants were permitted
to choose one of dozens of diverse books to take home with them, and the
Spongebob book was one of those options."
And as far as climate change being a disputed fact, the reality-based
scientific community disagrees. Here`s just a small sample of the
consensus: The American Meteorological Society, "human activities are a
major contributor to climate change."
The National Research Council, "the preponderance of scientific
evidence points to human activities."
The Geological Society of America, "human activities account for most
of the warming since the middle 1900s."
Nevertheless, Steve Doocy and not Steve Doocy have their own set of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly Nickelodeon is pushing a global warming
The big question is: is it man made or is it just one of those
gigantic climactic, you know, phases? The science on both sides -- there
are a lot of scientists who say it`s this. Others say it`s that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. It`s unproven science. And again, this is
a public education system that we all pay our tax dollars for. And the
Spongebob book says that it`s a man made problem that requires human
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re presenting it as fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Facts aside, Miss Carlson admits that her main issue with the
cartoon`s titular character is his intricate plot line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My kids watch limited TV, but anytime they
choose that show I`m like, why? Anyway, it`s hard to even follow
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Joining me now is Eric Burns, Democratic strategist and
founder of Bullfight Strategies. Mr. Burns, welcome to the show.
ERIC BURNS, BULLFIGHT STRATEGIES: Thank you, Michael. How are you?
DYSON: I`m doing fine. Should we be disturbed that a cartoon sponge
knows more about facts than the hosts of "Fox and Friends"?
BURNS: Yeah, I mean, look, that doesn`t come as a surprise to me in
my work at Media Matters. I think that, you know, a bowl of wet noodles I
think could probably do better than Steve Doocy and Gretchen do in the
morning, in terms of getting their facts right.
But I`m really shocked that Nickelodeon -- the fear mongering going on
over there. Can you believe it? You know. But at least the Tele Tubbies
are off the hook now.
This debate has just gotten so absurd. Because it`s not a debate.
You know, it`s 2,500 scientists -- 2,500 in 2007 came out and said yes,
humans -- human beings are contributing to climate change. What is wrong
with teaching kids to respect the environment?
I don`t imagine that Steve Doocy would want his kids being taught that
it`s OK to litter on the streets. And even if he doesn`t -- even if he
doesn`t buy into the fact, the proven scientific fact, he ought to at least
understand that it`s good for -- it`s good for kids, you know, to learn how
to take care of the world around them.
But the best -- the most ironic and the really kind of delicious part
of this, if it weren`t so damaging and serious, is that Rupert Murdoch, the
-- I mean, the chairman and founder of News Corp., has himself acknowledged
that humans contribute to climate change.
And he even tried to take News Corp. carbon neutral several years
DYSON: Wow. Allow me to read a passage from the offending
literature. I promise this is not out of mom`s box. Go the heck to sleep.
"The residents of Bikini Bottom returned home and worked hard to make their
community beautiful again. They planted trees to add oxygen back into the
air. Instead of driving their motorized boats, which burn fuel for power,
people started riding their bicycles more. To conserve energy, they used
less electricity and unplugged appliances when they weren`t being used.
"Spongebob worked night and day to help repair the damage he created."
Now is that indoctrination?
BURNS: I mean, look, I think it sounds like common sense. And I just
wonder, maybe we need to put Spongebob in charge of the news division over
at Fox. And we might actually get some accurate facts and some accurate
reporting coming out of what is supposed to be the most powerful and
popular news organization in the country, that is just filled with lies.
And I really challenge Steve Doocy to really come back on this and
admit that he`s just deceiving his audience and lying. And it`s hurting
DYSON: OK. Here`s co-host David Briggs attempting to explain
America`s school performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, we`re talking about 14th in the world in
reading, 17th in the world in science, 25th in math. So we`re forcing an
issue that is not yet proven. We can`t even teach our kids the adequate
math, reading, and science at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: The right wing, with Fox as a mouthpiece, has been successful
in convincing a segment of the population that the idea of climate change
is based on junk science. By encouraging folks to ignore facts and
scientific evidence and not consider science important, doesn`t that
contribute to students` poor performance in science? We`ve got about 30
BURNS: Oh, of course it does. And I`ll tell you, I looked up those
stats today. And I found that we were ranked, the United States, 23rd in
science. And I`m wondering if that segment on "Fox and Friends" actually
accounts for that difference between Steve Doocy`s numbers and mine over
the course of a day because that`s the kind of stupidity that these folks
are putting out.
DYSON: OK, Eric Burns, thanks for your time.
BURNS: Thank you.
DYSON: That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson. I`m in for Ed
Schultz. "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell starts right now. I`m
going fishing with Ed.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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