Skip navigation

The Ed Show for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guest Host: Michael Eric Dyson
Guests: Bill Maher, Laura Flanders, James Hoffa, Maxine Pruitt

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to THE
ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.

Republicans held the country hostage to cut spending and hurt the president
-- and they hate it when people say that because it`s the truth. I know
it`s the truth, because today Republican leadership admitted it.

This is THE ED SHOW. And as Ed would say -- let`s get to work!



BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: In a very coordinated effort, the far left in
America is once again trying to marginalize the Tea Party.

DYSON (voice-over): Apparently, Republican leadership is in on Bill
O`Reilly`s left wing conspiracy theory.

Today, Mitch McConnell admitted that the GOP held the country hostage.
Tonight, the great Bill Maher weighs in.

And then there`s the other Republican hostage crisis. The FAA shutdown is
killing thousands of jobs. We`ll have the latest.

And in Minnesota, a student is suing her high school for allowing kids to
hold an annual Wigger Day. Tonight, the girl`s mother is my guest and
she`ll explain her case.


DYSON: The level of right wing self-victimization over the words "hostage"
and "terrorists" are at a fevered pitch. Republicans are crying foul
because of a report accusing Vice President Biden of allegedly referring to
the Republicans as terrorists. The vice president has denied that he used
the word.

But that doesn`t stop the half-term governor and TV reality star Sarah
Palin from playing the victim.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Heck, Sean, if we were real
domestic terrorists, shoot, President Obama would be wanting to pal around
with us, wouldn`t he? I mean, he didn`t have a problem palling around with
Bill Ayers back in the day.


DYSON: The only other Republican politician who`s used more reckless and
politically charged words than Palin is her pal Michele Bachmann -- the
congresswoman who went to the House floor and accused the Democrats of
running a gangster government, also bemoaned Biden`s non-quote. Bachmann
is using it to raise money.

This line was in a fund-raising e-mail she sent out yesterday. Quote, "I
am offended by Vice President Biden`s irresponsible words and need your
immediate support to defend myself and fellow Tea Party members right

The attack on Biden for an unsubstantiated quote isn`t the only game in
town. The king of no spin is accusing me and other liberals of unfairly
equating the debate over the debt ceiling bill to a hostage-taking
operation by the Republican Party. Mr. O`Reilly took offense to my analogy
on his program last night.


O`REILLY: You may remember that the radical left tried to brand the Tea
Party racists, but that attempt failed as the election last November
demonstrated. Now, the uber left legions are at it again, equating the Tea
Party`s staunch opposition to a debt compromise with terrorism.

economic terrorism. These Tea Party guys are like strapped dynamite
standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour and saying either you
do it my way or we`re going to blow up, ourselves up and the whole country
up with us. So, you tell me how those kinds of stand-offs happen.

DYSON: Once having been successful at blindfolding the American public,
putting a gun to the president`s head, forcing him to read into law or to
sign into law this extraordinary act of, I think, unpatriotic and
irrational frenzy, I think that they`re emboldened.

VAN JONES, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Any faction in America that would
put a gun to the head of 310 million people and say, if you don`t do it our
way, we will blow your dreams away, we will blow a hole in the American
economy, that is un-American.

O`REILLY: Now, notice the nearly identical language used by those three
individuals. There is no question that the designers of far left
propaganda are very well-coordinated.


DYSON: Nobody in this business, and I do mean nobody, can fake outrage
like my good friend Bill O`Reilly. I used a metaphor to describe
Republican tactics. O`Reilly and his kind have actually accused President
Obama of associating with the terrorists. There`s a huge difference.

Beyond that, my analogy was spot on. If you don`t believe me, take a look
at what the minority leader of the United States Senate had to say.
Republican Mitch McConnell said, quote, "I think some of our members may
have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at
shooting," he said. "Most of us didn`t think that. What we did learn is
this -- it`s a hostage that`s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress
on something that must be done."

Isn`t it amazing and just plain hypocritical, that the folk who have most
of the power, do most of the griping about not having power. Republicans
and other conservatives constantly blast the liberals, leftists and
minorities for playing the victim card. And yet, if playing the victim
card won any awards, the right wing would take home the Oscar. They don`t
want to own up to what they did, which amounted to something like -- and
that`s a key word here -- suggesting that an analogy is in the building,
economic and legislative terrorism.

The word terror comes from a Latin word verb terere, meaning to frighten.
I don`t know about you, but the Tea Party Republicans sure frightened the
heck out of most Americans when they pushed the country to the brink of
financial catastrophe. They held the debt ceiling negotiations hostage to
their outrageous calls to cut spending while generating no new revenue
through taxes.

To paraphrase a patron saint of the right, now, there I go again. What`s
wrong with me? I`m using the word hostage and ruffling the feathers of the
right wing. Poor babies!

But they took this nation hostage when they placed their partisan and
parochial beliefs above the good of this country. They hijacked -- oh, my
God I just can`t stop it -- a routine gesture in the past, between
Democrats and Republicans of raising the debt ceiling and loaded on their
imperious demands to make the rest of the nation cut in to their

And what`s that philosophy? Rewarding huge corporations, stuffing the
coffers of the rich, and kissing the imagination of the big business - and
all the while the poor, the working poor, which means they labor at least
40 hours a week and still can`t make it above the poverty line and the
middle class has taken on the chin, as the wealthy rub their bellies and
pat the heads of those in Congress.

They`re sipping tea while the rest of America is trying to find a suitable
beverage to dull the economic pain we`ve had to endure.

So, yes, the right wing acted in a shameless passion -- a passion that felt
frightening because they just wouldn`t listen to reason. They were
completely unwilling to compromise. It was like they held a gun to the
head of the nation, forced us to read a note pledging our faith to an
economic austerity that is little more than a heartless attack on the most
vulnerable in our nation.

And when the crisis was over, they got mad that we called them out for what
they really are. So, now, they want us to have the Stockholm syndrome,
too? Where we empathize with our hostage takers?

No, that`s where I draw the line. The right wing may act like terrorists,
but I refuse to play Patty Hearst.

And, Bill O`Reilly, my friend, you can believe I`m in a no spin zone.

Joining me now is my very good friend, Bill Maher, host of HBO`s "Real Time
with Bill Maher."

Bill, thanks for coming on the show.

BILL MAHER, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Hey, anything for you, Mike.

DYSON: Thank you, my friend.

Look, despite blow back from the right wing saying that leftists and
liberals who compare the Tea Party hostage takers were wrong, Mitch
McConnell today admitted that his party acted like hostage takers during
the debt ceiling negotiations. Do you agree?

MAHER: I think anyone who`s sane agrees. I don`t see any could be
controversy there at all. I mean, lots of people have been calling them
hostage takers for a long time. What`s interesting, though, is that their
view was if we shoot the hostage, it`s not really that bad for the hostage,
you know, because that was their idea about the debt ceiling, right?

DYSON: Right.

MAHER: That if we default -- you know, it`s not the end of the world.
Which to me is the equivalent of saying, we have the hostage, if we shoot
them in the head, it`s not that bad for the hostage. It`s crazy.

DYSON: Yes. Well, maybe they`re boning up by looking at "Ransom," an old
Mel Gibson movie to figure out how to get this thing done right.

What`s your response to Palin and Bachmann playing the victim over the
alleged Joe Biden terrorist comments?

MAHER: Well, surprised as I was to see Palin and Bachmann saying and doing
something ridiculous and hypocritical, I would say -- I would say for them,
it`s par for the course.

But, you know, I don`t know -- I don`t know why these people are always in
need of being the victim. I guess that`s part of the mentality if you`re
in the Tea Party and if you`re the kind of person that wants to join the
Tea Party. It`s always the Alamo, Mike. They`re always with their back
against the wall.

I think what threatens them the most is winning, which they just did big

Boehner bragging they got 98 percent of what they wanted. But that takes
away their victim status.

I think just for the sake of fair play, to make it interesting, once in a
while, they should let Obama win one, because otherwise it`s just boring
and the other kids go home.

DYSON: Do you think that Michele Bachmann can really ride victimhood to
the presidential nomination of her party?

MAHER: Absolutely not. I think the Republican nomination is going to come
down to mano-a-mano between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. That is the fight.
Everything else in my view is the undercard. I think as soon as Rick Perry
gets in, he will suck up all the -- or most of the crazy vote that`s
divided now between Bachmann and Santorum and whatever other mouth
breathing wing nuts are out there -- I know there`s a lot of them on the
Republican side. I haven`t memorized the whole roster.

But I think Rick Perry quickly becomes that part. And then it`s -- you
know, it`s the old school plutocratic wing of the Republican Party
represented by Mitt Romney, the scummy business side of it with the crazy
tea bagger side of it. Then somebody will combine those, the scummy
business and the crazy tea bagger and they`ll be scumbaggers.

DYSON: Well, certainly, if Rick Perry ends up absorbing all of the kind of
right wing Tea Partyism of Sarah Palin, that leads, of course, Michele
Bachmann and the contest between them.

But if Mitt Romney is the front-runner, do you think Republicans -- the
base, that is, are ever really truly going to place their faith in the guy
who`s a Mormon?

MAHER: No. That`s what`s going to be so interesting, is when Rick Perry
and sly and underhanded and no fingerprints methods starts putting out the
idea, which is a true idea, by the way, that Mormons are not really
Christians. You know, once America, which is a very Christian nation,
finds that out, I think they`ll have a -- certainly in the evangelical part
of the country, those folks -- they will not be very fond of Mitt Romney.
Once they find out that Jesus Christ is like third in the hierarchy there,
it really was about Joseph Smith.

Actually, Mormonism is closer to Islam, because in Islam, Jesus is also a
revered figure. He`s a wonderful prophet. He`s just not the ultimate
prophet. You know, he`s like the middle act. He`s certainly not the

When they find out that about the Mormons, I don`t think they`re going to
like him. And, of course, then Mitt Romney will play the "how dare you
denigrate my faith" card. Oh, I can`t wait for this one. I think when
this gets going, I should release "Religulous."

DYSON: Well, he certainly might play the grace card. We`ll find out.

What`s interesting here, of course, is the fact that the Republicans are
trying to vet who they think is going to be the front-runner, and Obama at
the same time is said to be losing his mojo. But recent polls suggest that
the base thinks pretty highly of him, Democrats, 77 percent. Those who are
supportive of him, 83 percent.

So, despite claims that he`s lost his mojo, if Reagan was the Teflon
president, Obama appears to be the titanium man. And if Bill Clinton is
the comeback kid, Obama appears to be the never say die kid.

Do you think anyone in the Republican Party or anybody on that playing
field could beat President Obama in a head to head match?

MAHER: Absolutely, I do, especially where the economy is going. I mean,
they`re getting what they want. They want the economy to tank, because
that`s their best ticket to beat Obama.

And the bill they just forced him to sign is a great start to ensure that
we have this double dip recession, and that unemployment stays high, and
that nothing is moving in the economy.

They`re choking the recession in the crib. That`s just what they want to

Ad Obama signed along with it. I just don`t understand this man, this idea
-- let`s go half in on a really bad Republican idea.

Why is he parroting their talking points on economics all the time instead
of presenting the counter argument? I mean, maybe he`s doing well in the
polls, he`s not doing well in this poll.

You know, and I don`t think I`m alone. I think for a lot of people who
like Obama and always will like Obama. We love him as a person, you know,
he`s such a breath of fresh air as a president, a hip, smart law professor.
You know, but -- there`s just something missing there, as far as the way he
fights back.

Unless he`s just more conservative than we thought. But whatever it is, I
have to tell you, the magic is gone. After the Bush tax cuts, after he
rolled over on that and a number of other things. And this latest one -- I
mean, he has no credibility with me.

I mean, I heard him the other day, getting right back on the podium saying,
well, now, we need tax increases, we need to get some revenues and those
corporate jet owners and the oil companies -- you know, it`s like, wait a
second, I just heard this for three months and you gave up on all of it,
and didn`t get any of it.

Why would you get it now? Why would the bully now give you what you want?

DYSON: Well, let`s talk a bit more about Obama when we come back from a
break. Bill, stay right where you are.

We`ll have more with the host of HBO`s "Real Time with Bill Maher," next.


DYSON: Tonight, the president is celebrating his birthday at a fundraiser
in Chicago. Up next, I`ll ask Bill Maher to give the president some
birthday advice.
And more than 70,000 people are out of work, and the taxpayers are on the
hook for more than a billion dollars -- all because Congress has yet
another hostage situation on its hands. We`ll have the latest on the FAA


DYSON: Bill Maher and I will talk about whether the president needs to
drop the no drama Obama routine and shows some anger.

I`m Michael Eric Dyson and you`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.


DYSON: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Let`s bring Bill Maher back, host of HBO`s "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Take a look at what Speaker Boehner said to CBS News.


final agreement we came to with the White House, you know, I got 98 percent
of what I wanted. I`m pretty happy.


DYSON: You know, Bill, I mean, if a party has got 98 percent of what they
want, why in the heck are they belly aching and kvetching now that they`ve
been victimized by -- you know, progressives who have talked about them as
hostage takers, and they got 98 percent of what they want, according to the
man who leads their party?

MAHER: It`s like I was saying before. They need that sense of victimhood.
That is their identity. They always have to be fighting the man, and I
don`t know if they know how to be winners.

Look at how they`re sort of cannibalizing their own. Who`s crazy enough
these days to be pure enough for the Tea Party? Their threat is always to
primary each other. If you don`t fall in line with Robespierre there, we
will primary you, we will find someone even nuttier.

I mean, they went after Alan West. Alan West, the guy from Florida? Who`s
nuttier than Alan West? Well, when he said he would vote for one of the
Boehner plans, they said, OK, Mr. West, we`ll find somebody who will be
pure enough for us.

And let me tell you, if Alan West isn`t crazy for you, you got to shop
pretty hard for crazy.


And, Bill, look, Obama seems to be in a tough position. On the one hand
people say, we want a guy who steps up, who gets angry and I know you`ve
called for him in the past to get angry. We want to him to be angry.

But an angry black man is not what got Obama where he is today. On the
other hand, if he capitulates to the right wing, he`s seen as a wimpish

How does a guy who`s trying to appeal to the masses of America, who are
kind of still teetering on the edge of discomfort with a strong and
articulate black man who seems to be angry and at the same time step up and
be presidential -- how do you balance those two?

MAHER: I think he has to give up on the worries about looking like the
angry black man, because maybe that`s what`s been holding him back the
whole time.

I understand the concern there, and I understand that we live in a country
that has still a lot of racism -- especially racism among people who don`t
even know that they`re being racist and what their perceiving might be

But you know what? You got to pick your poisons here. If that`s what has
been the problem all along with Obama, and I think it is, then he`s got to
throw that out the window. It can`t get any worse than it is. I saw right
after they made the deal, or maybe it was the day before, Obama went out
there and said, you know, I`ve been working with John Boehner, he`s very
reasonable -- he says nice things about him.

And then Boehner comes out and says, well, you know, that Obama, he`s a
Muslim socialist out to destroy America. You know, he`s just too nice to
these people. His approach from the very beginning -- first of all, he
screwed it up in the first 100 days. You know, everything was too half
assed. The stimulus program should have been twice as big. He should have
come into office saying, we are in a crisis mode.

It`s 1933, I`m FR, we -- you voted for radical change and here it is, he
never did that.

And that`s the problem he finds himself in now, is that he goes along with
really what the other side does. I said this a few months ago on our show.
I said, wouldn`t it be a shame if four years of Democratic rule came to an
end without ever trying Democratic policies is? That`s really the
situation we`re in.

Everything is a Republican policy, including the stimulus, which was
something like 40 percent tax cuts. It was never big enough. But he gets
all the blame when it doesn`t work or doesn`t work well enough, and people
will say, a Democrat was president, the economy was bad when he came in,
and he left it bad, because the Democrats are not good at running an

And I would say, well, a Democrat who uses Republican policies is not good
at it.

DYSON: Well, Bill, finally, look, Obama turns 50 tomorrow. If you were
standing around the birthday cake, what would you wish for him to help this
nation forward?

MAHER: I would tell him just flip the script, stop worrying about being
liked by the conservatives. It`s never going to happen. You`re the wrong
age, the wrong party, the wrong color. There`s a good 40 percent of this
country that wouldn`t vote for you if you personally saved them from

So get rid of that baggage, stop caring about the people who will never
vote for you anyway, and be a strong liberal Democratic president. You`re
50 now. You owe it to yourself and us.

DYSON: That`s Bill Maher, host of HBO`s "Real Time with Bill Maher."
Bill, thank you so much for joining us today.

MAHER: My pleasure. Great to see you, Mike.

DYSON: The right wing has a new kind of birther, this time they want you
to believe that birth control will cause the decline of western

And President Obama is going on the road to talk about jobs, and he`s
urging Congress to get on board. Republicans are choosing to call him a
wet blanket instead.

More on August upcoming political battles, ahead.


DYSON: The Obama administration is requiring new health insurance plans to
cover patient`s birth control costs. Yesterday, a U.S. congressman went to
the floor of the House, not only to denounce the plan, but to denounce the
very idea of birth control.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: They called it preventative medicine,
preventative medicine. Well, if you apply that preventative medicine
universally, what you end up with is you prevented a generation.
Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. It`s not constructive
to our culture and our civilization.

If we let our birth rate get below the replacement rate, we`re a dying
civilization. Right now, we`re about 2.1 babies per woman.


DYSON: Oh, boy. Allow me to help the congressman understand why birth
control is inherently conservative. Contraception reduces the number of
abortions, and saves states billions of dollars a year in costs related to
unwanted pregnancy. In Congressman King`s world, this leads to a dying
civilization. In reality, it leads to financial savings and improved
women`s health.

Congress is on vacation, but tens of thousands of workers are jobless
because of political games in Washington. We`ll have the latest on the FAA

And kids at a Minnesota high school turn a school dress up day into Wigger
Day. One African-American student is suing her alma mater for not stopping
it. Later, I`ll talk to her mother.

You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.



labor management relations in the private sector with government.
Government cannot close down the assembly line. It has to provide, without
interruption, the protective services which are government`s reason for


DYSON: That was President Reagan exactly 30 years ago today. At the time,
he was threatening the striking Air Traffic Controllers union. But today,
it sounds like he could be talking directly to Congress.

Congress did not pass a routine funding extension for the Federal Aviation
Administration before going on vacation. Nearly 75,000 workers were laid
off, and it`s costing the government 1.2 billion dollars.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman, mind
you, is outraged.


RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: On 20 other occasions, Congress did
not hold hostage 75,000 people. What they did is they passed a clean bill.
Congress could come back. They could come back today or tomorrow,
compromise, pass a clean bill, work out your differences.


DYSON: Joining me now is Laura Flanders, the host of "Grit TV" on Free
Speech TV. She`s also the editor of the book "At The Tea Party."

Laura, welcome to the show.

LAURA FLANDERS, "GRIT TV": Nice to be with you.

DYSON: Explain what`s going on here, how we have Republicans who have
turned a simple funding vote into an assault on worker`s rights. And
they`ve come out of this over the debt ceiling victors. Are they extending
more of the same?

FLANDERS: I want you to be very careful here, because you are in serious
danger of having to use that hostage taker word again. We have got, as Ray
LaHood said -- I mean, he`s talking about 20 times raising the budget for
the FAA, routinely -- in the last few years. And yet this is being held.

There`s two things going on. One is a fight around small regional
airports. And surprise, surprise, the GOP wants to shut down the ones in
Democratic controlled areas.

The other is a labor issue, that the Republicans have tied the renewal of
funding for the FAA to a move that would restore a type of evisceration of
fair labor practices, having to do with union votes, taking us back a
decade or more.

They have refused to move forward unless these fair union rules are
eviscerated. And they`ve run out of town. The amazing thing about this is
these are the people who a minute ago were talking about how much they hate
deficits. This is costing the U.S. Treasury some 35 million dollars a day.

Clearly, as other people have said today who know, they hate deficits, and
they hate workers worse.

DYSON: Right. Well, Republicans are blaming the Senate for not passing
the House funding bill. If the Senate doesn`t pass the bill, if they don`t
agree on the amendments, why don`t they just pass a temporary funding
measure that will fill in the gaps?

FLANDERS: This has been proposed. Reid, Schumer, they`ve all been out
there over the last few days saying, we`re prepared to make concessions on
the regional airport part of it, for example, if we can just have a clean

But somehow the Democrats are getting blamed for saying, stop beating up on
us, stop having these additional requirements. It`s like the wife being
blamed when she says, wait a minute, you can`t keep beating me like this,
I`m not going to do what you say.

Democrats, for once, are actually standing up. They could do a little help
from their leaders, frankly. Barack Obama keeps talking about Congress
being the problem. It`s not Congress. It`s the Republicans.

DYSON: Well, do you see any similarities in this attempt to weaken unions
and Reagan`s strike breaking 30 years ago that we just saw on the camera?

FLANDERS: We have to be careful. People shouldn`t be freaking out. It`s
not air traffic controllers affected in this case. But there are safety
workers who are being required to come in or being expected to come in and
work. They may or may not be paid. That`s different even from Reagan`s
time, when people were furloughed like that. They were guaranteed to be
paid at the end of the day.

You have 4,000 people out there right now who do not know when their next
paycheck is going to come in. It`s all about weakening unions. It`s all
about weakening unions.

And this gets us back to the fight that we`re engaged in and you`ve been
talking about. This is a big ideological fight by a bunch of people that
my friend Bill Fletcher, black commentator, talks about as Kamikaze pilots.
What Obama is not understanding is that these people -- they don`t want to
govern. They want to do damage. They are on an agenda here. They`re on a
flight path, if you will, where they don`t care if the plane goes down.

It`s cruel to -- it`s hard for a lot of us to get our heads around that,
but I think that`s what we`re looking at. This is about destruction. And
union destruction is a big piece of it, destroying the power of working

I mean, this debt agreement that we just saw is one that leaves 26 million
people without full time work who want it. There is nothing in our
situation right now in that debt ceiling agreement that is going to do
anything to stop it being 45 million people looking for full time work six
months from now.

DYSON: Thank you, Laura Flanders, as always. Very provocative and very
insightful. We appreciate your time.

FLANDERS: You`re welcome. >

DYSON: President Obama is urging Congress to cooperate to create jobs.
But Republicans are still more interested in getting tax cuts for the rich
than in helping Americans get back to work. The president of the Teamsters
Union, James Hoffa, sounds off next.



self-inflicted wound like we just saw over the last couple weeks. We don`t
have time to play these partisan games. We`ve got too much work to do.
Over the next several months, I hope Congress is focused on what the
American people are focused on: making sure that the economy`s growing.


DYSON: That was President Obama earlier this evening speaking at his 50th
birthday fund-raising party in Chicago. The president plans to emphasize
his renewed focus on jobs with the three-day bus tour across the Midwest,
starting on August 15th.

Yesterday, Obama urged Congress to follow his lead and get back to work on
the economy with legislative measures like the extension of payroll tax
cuts and unemployment benefits. But Republicans have already dismissed
most of Obama`s suggestions.

And GOP leaders are distributing their own marching orders as Congress
heads home for the August recess. Senate Republican Conference Chairman
Lamar Alexander is sending his members off with talking points written on
handy pocket cards.

One side of the card tells Republicans how to sell their agenda. It says
"we`ll make it better. Making it easier and cheaper to create private
sector jobs."

The other side of the card is what Republican leaders want their members to
say about President Obama. "He`s making it worse, a big wet blanket on the

Get ready to hear a lot of wet blanket talk in Republican town hall
meetings this month. Meanwhile, House Republicans have released a
supposedly new jobs plan. But it sounds a lot like the old policies.
Deregulation, tax cuts, oil drilling and more spending cuts.

It sounds like the same old policies. Guess what, because it is the same
old policies. This plan was released in May. Now it just has a shiny new
website to promote the same failed policies that got us where we are today.
It will take more than a bus tour for the president to convince these guys
to play ball on job creation.

With me now is James Hoffa, general president of the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters. Mr. Hoffa, welcome to the show.


DYSON: Sir, what do you want to hear from President Obama on his upcoming
jobs tour of the Midwest? What would tickle your fancy?

HOFFA: Well, number one, I`d like to have him have a real policy. And
basically come up with something that articulates getting this trillions of
dollars that corporations have right now, and making then start to hire
Americans, build plants in this country, stop sending jobs overseas,
propose changing the tax law that`s going to penalize people that send jobs
out of this country.

When he`s on that bus tour, I wish he could go to Wisconsin and get
involved in the Wisconsin race. And he ought to go to Ohio and start
mobilizing those people, because those are the people that are leading the
fight that we`re going on right now. The fight that`s going on to get jobs
back in America, to keep unions alive.

He`s got to get involved in that. He`s got to go to his base right now.
And he has to mobilize his base. He has to mobilize working families to be
involved in creating jobs in America.

They are sitting on three trillion dollars right now. You know, Merck, for
instance, just announced they made record profits and are laying off 13,000
people. Does that make any sense? That`s what`s going on.

The more money they make, the more they lay off. Or they send it to Mexico
or they send it to China. We have to change that policy by having one that
basically penalizes companies that send this out.

We have to appeal to a nationalistic streak in the corporate people to say,
hey, what are you doing laying off Americans? Make them ashamed of what
they`re doing to this country. They have laid off eight million people
just since the recession.

And we have to get those jobs back here. We have to start turning this
thing around. And he`s not articulating that. He can`t be afraid to go to
Wisconsin. He can`t be afraid to go to Ohio, and say I`m with you, I stand
with rebuilding America, getting family jobs back, getting America going
again, and mobilize his base, instead of just going on in giving these airy

DYSON: Well, it`s a two-way street, right? So the president has to be
more articulate about the things you say he should be articulate about,
especially when it comes to distribution of resources behind those who need
- who are the most vulnerable, who need it, and, of course, job creation.

On the other hand, you have a Congress that just went through this whole
debate about the debt ceiling crisis. Do you have any confidence, A, that
Congress will be supportive of any kind of job creation? And B, whether
the president will be able to muster, if you call it the muscle and the
power, to go out and make that kind of argument in the way that you think
he failed to do, perhaps during the debt crisis?

HOFFA: Well, what he`s got to do is to go out and start mobilizing people
right now. Maybe this is going to be about the 2012 election. This is the
issue. Make this the issue in the election.

We just did this in upstate New York, where we took back what it would
basically be a Republican seat. It can be done. Let`s expose them for
what they are, the trickle-down economics. How they want to destroy Social
Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

Make those the issues. That`s how we`re going to get Congress back, so we
can start getting an economic policy that will put America back to work.
Maybe he`s not going to get it done in the next couple weeks. But he`s got
to start laying the basis right now for the 2012 election, to say, hey,
this is what this is about; this is how we`re going to take it back.

Maybe we can get the House back. We already have the Senate. And make it
stronger. I don`t think we should be in retreat right now. People are
responding around the country. People are outraged what`s happening, what
they just saw with the hostage taking with regard to the debt ceiling, with
regard to unemployment, and now with the FAA bill, on and on and on.

We`re going to see more of that because it`s working. He`s got to turn
that tide and say, hey, we`re going to take back the Congress, because
we`re going to run on a policy that`s going to be what makes sense for
working families. He`s not doing that. He has to be more articulate and
he`s got to say, hey, we`re taking back the Congress so I can put you back
to work.

That`s a simple message and he can do it.

DYSON: Thank you, Mr. Hoffa. James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters
Union, thank you so much for joining us.

Working with Barack Obama is like touching a tar baby? That`s what one
Republican had to say about the president. Now the law maker claims he
didn`t know what the term meant. That`s next.


DYSON: The election of the first African-American president led some in
this country to declare the beginning of a post racial age. They did so


REP. DOUG LAMBORN (R), COLORADO: Even if some people say, well, the
Republicans should have done this or they should have done that, they will
hold the president responsible. Now, I don`t want to even have to be
associated with him. It`s like touching a tar baby and you get it --
you`re stuck and you`re part of the problem now.


DYSON: That was Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn talking about
compromising with the president on the debt ceiling. At first, Mr. Lamborn
believed he said nothing wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then his office started to get flooded with phone
calls. Lamborn told me he didn`t know that the phrase he had used had a
negative racial connotation.


DYSON: Well, let`s help him out. The term tar baby comes from the Uncle
Remus stories, used to describe a (inaudible) made of tar and turpentine.
The tar baby was used to entrap Brare Rabbit in the story. But it has
devolved into a racially loaded slur.

Lamborn now claims he meant to use the word quagmire instead of tar baby.
Yes, they sound alike to me.

His office issued this statement: "Congressman Lamborn sent a personal
letter to President Barack Obama apologizing for using a term some find
insensitive. The congressman is confident that the president will accept
his heartfelt apology."

Coming up, Wigger day. It`s become a tradition in a predominantly white
high school in Minnesota. I`ll talk to the mother of a former student
suing the district for racial insensitivity, next.


DYSON: Allow me to play Tony Morrison, the novelist, and set the scene for
you. It was homecoming week 2009. And here`s how students at one
Minnesota high school chose to show their school spirit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As part of homecoming week, kids were allowed to dress
in tropical clothing. But instead, 60 to 70 students took part in what
they`re calling Wigger Day or Wangster Day, dressing in baggy shorts, do-
rags, jerseys and gang colors.


DYSON: That, by the way, was not a one-time incident. And now one Red
Wing High School Graduate, Quera Pruitt, is suing the school district over
creating a hostile and racist educational environment. Quera was just one
of a few African-American students at the predominantly white school.

Pruitt filed the suit on behalf of all student who experienced
discrimination as a result of Wigger Day. For those unsure of what the
term means, it`s a derogatory term used to describe a white person who
mimics black hip-hop culture.

A report from around the time of the incidents states: "officials did
require the students to change their clothes immediately. No more
punishment was followed. But the district does plan to use the incident to
teach tolerance."

According to the lawsuit, that plan to teach tolerance never happened. >

Joining me now is Quera Pruitt`s mother, Maxine Pruitt. Ms. Pruitt,
welcome to the show.

MAXINE PRUIT, MOTHER OF QUERA PRUIT: Why thank you for having me.

DYSON: Yes, ma`am. So when your daughter came home and told you what had
happened at school, what was your initial reaction?

PRUITT: At first I was a little shocked. But I was also a little upset
because she came home in tears, because these were students she had gotten
to know and were actually friends with a few of them.

DYSON: Was she very surprised? Was she shocked? Was she ambushed by
this? Or did she expect this kind of behavior out of her school mates?

PRUITT: She was angry by it. She didn`t expect this type of behavior from
the students at the school.

DYSON: Right. So the lawsuit says that this was not a one-time incident.
Do you believe the district officials and teachers were aware of the racial
implications? Were they sensitive to it? Or do you think they mostly
ignored them?

PRUITT: They were aware that the Wednesday of the homecoming week had been
deemed Wigger Day several years before. And when I talked to the officials
about it, it was like -- it`s just kids having fun, you know? It was like,
they didn`t take it -- the seriousness of it.

DYSON: Right. Now, I think that the city in which the school resides is
something like 94 percent black -- 94 percent white and one percent black.
There are not a great number of black people there. Do you think this
accounts for the kind of racial insensitivity there?

PRUITT: Exactly. Absolutely. Because there were only like maybe five
African-American kids in Quera`s senior class. Having lived down south,
this type of behavior, you know, we just couldn`t believe that it was
allowed to happen. And the students at the school are -- they`re not used
to a diverse population, because most of them have spent their entire life
in the town.

When we moved here, it was culture shock to Quera and I, some of the
behaviors we have witnessed in Red Wing.

DYSON: Since you were a southerner and you grew up in the south, did you
do anything special to prepare her for the potential problem that might
arise because she was a strict minority in a dominant majority situation?

PRUITT: Absolutely. Because I went to school during desegregation in the
`60s, and I knew that she would face these problems when we got to Red
Wing. And I prepared her by telling her the stories of how I was called
the N word every day, and there was never anything done about it.

And in my heart, I knew that I could not let this type of behavior happen
to my child, because she has someone to speak up for her. She has me.

DYSON: Right. Well, she`s --

PRUITT: This type of behavior -- this Wigger Day stuff is just unheard of,
you know? It`s -- I was in desegregation, as I said. Every day, you get
called that, and there was no one to turn to. Well, I decided at Red Wing,
and being a mother of this child, that came home in tears, that I needed to
step forward and make a difference.

DYSON: Right. And do you blame any of the black popular culture, hip-hop
culture, the proliferation of the use of the use of the N word as a
background to this? Or do you think this is something that they do

PRUITT: No, I think this is something that`s just done regardless.

DYSON: And so what do you think the school system should do? What kind of
action should they take to make certain that nothing like this ever happens

PRUITT: Well, I -- the story that I like to tell, Quera went to school
with a scarf one day. I received a phone call from the school on my job
that she was wearing head gear, and they didn`t know what kind of message
she was portraying. So when the student population came dressed and
calling it Wigger Day, the parents should have been notified and
disciplinary actions should have been taken.

DYSON: All right. Maxine Pruitt, thank you so much for joining me on THE
ED SHOW tonight.

That`s THE ED SHOW, I`m Michael Eric Dyson in for Ed Schultz.

"THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell starts right now.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2011 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

The Ed Show Section Front
Add The Ed Show headlines to your news reader:

Sponsored links

Resource guide