THE ED SHOW with ED SCHULTZ
December 26, 2012
Guests: Elijah Cummings, Ryan Grim, David Cole; Hina Shamsi; David Cay Johnston
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson in for Ed Schultz.
The president cuts his vacation short to come back to Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are literally phoning it in.
This is THE ED SHOW -- and as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is something
within our capacity to solve. It doesn`t take that much work, we just have
to do the right thing.
DYSON (voice-over): Six days away from the fiscal cliff and there are
real consequences to millions of Americans if no deal is cut. Congressman
Elijah Cummings and Ryan Grim of "The Huffington Post" are here with the
A Tea Party giant stages a coupe with his own office. Ari Melber on
the stunning details of Dick Armey`s hostile takeover.
The NRA is catching heat from all directions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think the NRA is listening, I don`t think
DYSON: Georgetown University law professor, David Cole, on the
growing drum beat against the NRA.
Six days until the price of milk shoots up to $8 a gallon. David Cay
Johnston would tell us why House Republicans are taking America to the
Plus, Spike Lee takes on "Django Unchained."
And civil liberty groups take on the depiction of torture in "Zero
DYSON: If no deal is reached, the nation will go over the fiscal
cliff in a little more than five days and yet, House Republicans are doing
nothing more than posturing.
President Obama is flying back to Washington tonight from his
Christmas vacation in Hawaii to make one last attempt to get a deal before
midnight New Year`s Eve. The Senate is returning and will be in session
tomorrow for the same purpose.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to determine what kind of
bill he can get through the Senate with limited Republican support.
Meanwhile, Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii tonight announced that
Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz is as fit to feel the seat of the passed
Senator Daniel Inouye. "The Associated Press" reports that Schatz will
leave Hawaii for Washington tonight and he`s expected to be sworn in
sometime tomorrow afternoon.
The Democrats are wasting no time in the event Harry Reid needs the
vote to avert the fiscal cliff.
But the House? A different story. Speaker John Boehner held a
conference call with Republican leadership today, and basically decided to
do nothing. There are no immediate plans to return to Washington. And
even as that decision is made, House members have 48 hours to get there.
House Republican leadership released a statement today reading in
part, "The House has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the
entire fiscal cliff if enacted. Those bills await action by the Senate.
If the Senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed
into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the
House. The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass,
but the Senate must first act."
The House has passed bills that would never pass the Senate. So,
Speaker Boehner`s position is a joke.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded, "House Republicans pushed
middle class families closer to the cliff by wasting an entire week with
their incompetent "Plan B" stunt. The Senate has already rejected House
Republicans Tea Party bills and no further legislation can move through the
Senate until Republicans drop their knee jerk obstruction."
The House is literally phoning it in. Tomorrow`s conference call will
reportedly include the entire caucus, not just Republican leadership. The
irony is that if we go over the cliff, the president will get whatever he
wants on taxes, and there`s been a growing acknowledgement of this by some
house and Senate Republicans.
Here`s Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: If we get down to the end of this
year, and the only choice we have is to save taxes going up on the middle
class, then I would support that. But I wish we would have a comprehensive
bill that dealt with spending, dealt with entitlements and dealt with taxes
The truth of the matter is if we do fall off the cliff after the
president`s inaugurated, he`ll come back, propose just what he proposed
yesterday, in leaving Washington, and we`ll end up adopting it, why should
we put the markets in such turmoil and the people in such misunderstanding
and lack of confidence? Why don`t we go ahead and act now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: The real tragedy is that the people who would be immediately
affected by going over the fiscal cliff are those in the weakest position
to defend themselves.
Let`s take a look at the so-called fiscal cliff. The Bush tax cuts
will expire. But everyone, even Republicans know if we go over the cliff,
the Bush tax cuts will be restored for at least 98 percent of Americans.
Payroll taxes will go back to normal in 2013. But the payroll tax cut was
always intended to be a temporary measure.
The alternative minimum tax would hit middle class Americans. But
year after year, this has been fixed by lawmakers and like everything else
notice fiscal cliff, it can be done retroactively.
The harshest effects of spending cuts could be modified in the first
month or two of 2013. In fact, the Defense Department, the IRS and other
government agencies are planning no immediate changes because they`re
anticipating some kind of deal.
That leaves the unemployed. Extended unemployment insurance will
expire immediately if we go over the cliff. A deal later in January could
theoretically restore extended benefits, but the immediate damage will have
already been done.
So, for many people, this is all an interesting charade. But for the
unemployed, it`s the real deal.
Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think.
Tonight`s question: who will the public blame if we go over the fiscal
cliff? Text A for Democrats, text B for Republicans, to 622639, or go to
our blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. I`ll bring you the results later in the show.
Joining me now is Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
Congressman, welcome to the show.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Dr. Dyson, it`s good to be with
DYSON: Thank you, my friend.
What do you make of the House GOP leadership`s latest posturing? Will
the House even reconvene before January, much less pass anything? I mean,
they`ve got a lot of stuff to do, so clearly, they can`t make it back to
D.C. to do the people`s business.
CUMMINGS: It`s going to be very difficult. The -- as you said a few
minutes ago, we have been assured as members of the House that we would be
given at least 48 hours notice before we would have to come back.
So, that means right now, is that probably the earliest we will come
back is Saturday morning. That would only leave Saturday and Sunday to get
anything done, because I doubt that the House will be in session on New
Year`s Eve. I doubt it.
CUMMINGS: Basically what you`re talking about right now, Dr. Dyson,
we have two days. And this has been a game that`s been played on this.
This plan B that Mr. Boehner put forth was everybody knew it wasn`t going
anywhere. And sadly, that`s time that could have been spent seriously
dealing with the issues that you just talked about like the unemployed and
trying to make sure that we came up with a deal that would be reasonable.
DYSON: Well, look, here`s the reality, Boehner has lost a lot of
juice in his own caucus and his own party. What do you think can be done
by him? He`s already deferred to the president and the Senate to say, hey,
you all work the deal out.
But does this show him to be at his weakest? And what does this mean
for the rest of the nation?
CUMMINGS: Well, let me be clear. Speaker Boehner is now at a very,
very weak point. Keep in mind all day, you know, when they were about to
take the vote, they were telling us they had the votes, when in fact they
did not have the votes. For a speaker to bring forward a bill, Dr. Dyson,
and not have the votes is a travesty.
CUMMINGS: And then -- then what they were voting on, that is to
extend the tax cuts up to the people making a million dollars, that was not
-- I mean, you know, that is not the best proposal. But they wouldn`t
agree to that. They want not one dime of new taxes to go to folks who are
making all of this money.
And so, we have a situation right now where the speaker`s been
weakened, and you know what he did? He basically threw up his hands and
said to the president, look, there`s nothing I can do.
CUMMINGS: So I want you to deal with Harry Reid, possibly Senator
McConnell and you all come up with a deal. And, you know, in a way, that`s
kind of insulting to us in -- on the Democratic side in the House.
CUMMINGS: We all represent 700,000 people. The last thing we want is
our speaker throwing up his hands, not allowing us to come in to do the
people`s work but particularly, when we`ve got so many Americans who could
be harmed by our failure to act.
And it`s quite irresponsible. By the way, I would give some advice to
Speaker Boehner, he needs to talk to Nancy Pelosi, because when Nancy
Pelosi was speaker, she found a way even with maximum Republican opposition
to bring her diverse caucus. That is a caucus with diverse views together
to get things done like the Affordable Care Act, like Dodd Frank. She got
He needs to take some advice from her.
DYSON: All right. Well, that`s great advice, and we hope he listens.
Congressman Elijah Cummings --
CUMMINGS: I hope so.
DYSON: -- thank you so much, my friend.
CUMMINGS: My pleasure.
DYSON: Now, let`s turn to Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of "The
Mr. Grim, the jobless are really the only segment of the population
who get an immediate hit if we go over the fiscal cliff. Doesn`t this
strike even what appears to be heartless politicians that the people most
vulnerable are working class and working poor and middle class people who
will get stiffed by this?
RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, the jobless have been
getting pushed around by Congress for years now, you know, ever since the
economic crisis. And they implemented some extended emergency benefits.
They`ve been getting told that if they give them unemployment, it`s
going to make them lazy and it will make them not want to look for jobs.
States across the country have been insisting that they get drug-tested or
that they do work in exchange for getting their jobless benefits.
But that defeats the entire purpose. They want work, they had work.
GRIM: And they lost their job through no fault of their own and
they`re now, in order to get these benefits, out looking for more work.
The fact is, there are far more people seeking work than there are
jobs. That basic math -- you know, there`s nothing you can do about that
basic math, other than grow the economy.
GRIM: Humiliating the jobless is not going to do it. Now, the only
good news is that Obama and Democrats do seem to be committed to making
sure that unemployment is part of whatever eventual deal is passed.
Republicans backs are up against the wall here. So, there`s a decent
chance it gets in, at least shortly after the New Year if we go over the
cliff, then they`ll be eligible for retroactive benefits.
And, you know, and the hilarious thing here, you know, and the sad and
pathetic way is how expensive this chaos is.
GRIM: All of these unemployment offices are going to have to send out
letters and they`re going to have to refigure their computer systems and
they`re going to have to do it all over again. They`re going to put people
through all of this heartbreak over nothing.
DYSON: Right. Well, clearly, the unemployment are the ones that are
going to get stiffed here. They are benefits, even if retroactive, doesn`t
speak to the fact they`ll have needs that won`t be met immediately. And if
they had some reserve, they`ll be fine. But most especially, those who are
poor and vulnerable don`t have those kinds of reserves.
DYSON: Let`s listen to Senator John Barrasso on President Obama`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: I think the president is eager to go
over the cliff for political purposes. I think he sees a political victory
at the bottom of the cliff. He gets all this additional tax revenue for
news programs, he gets to cut the military, which Democrats have been
calling for, for years, and he gets to blame Republicans for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Now, let`s take the cynicism out of that. Let`s ask the
question from the president`s vantage point, is there in fact some benefit
to going over the cliff?
GRIM: I think that there is. I don`t think that the president does
want to go over the cliff. I think he`s made it extremely clear that he
doesn`t. And that`s because he -- you know the president, he`s not that
much of a risk taker. He`d rather come to a deal. He keeps saying over
and over that he`s eager to come to a deal.
I don`t think he`s kidding, he wants a big deal. He just doesn`t have
a partner on the other side. He`s right, and Republicans all know that
he`s right. If you go over the cliff at this point, tax rates
automatically go up, tax rates on dividends, and capital gains and estate
taxes automatically go up. So, if Republicans want them down, they have to
actively push to force them down. Democrats only have to lower them for
some elements of the population.
So, certainly, the political situation is much better for Democrats
after January 1st if they go over the cliff.
DYSON: Sure. Yes, that`s a complicated idea for some to absorb.
There have been a lot of ideas kicks around, the latest was the smaller
deal to blunt the worst effects of the fiscal cliff. What do you think are
the dynamics operating there, including Senator Mitch McConnell`s position?
GRIM: Right. So, Mitch McConnell basically has three choices here.
He can either find a couple votes to help Harry Reid get to 60 so they can
help a small piece through. He can say to Harry Reid, look, do it
yourself, we`re not going to filibuster it, so you can pass with just the
majority only, and then you own all the responsibility for this.
Or he can simply do nothing. And at this point he`s choosing the do
nothing route. I don`t know how long that`s going to last.
I think Boehner actually gave a hint of a little openness to something
in his statement that he put out today. If you notice at the very end, he
said, we passed a bill, the Senate doesn`t like it, they should amend it,
send it back and we will vote on it. That`s a commitment from him.
DYSON: All right.
GRIM: So, if the Senate takes up the House bill, amends to do exactly
what Reid wants, then you have a commitment for Boehner to vote on it. And
if it comes up for a vote in the House, it will pass, because there are
enough Democrats that will meet with Republicans to pass it.
DYSON: All right. My friend, Ryan Grim, thank you so very much.
GRIM: Thank you.
DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question at the bottom of the
screen and share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook. I want
to know what you think.
Coming up, an ugly power grab is causing some Tea Party turmoil. Find
out why one founding member is being forced to hang up his tri-corner hat.
The nasty details, next.
DYSON: Coming up, a Republican pollster says the NRA isn`t listening
to Americans. Who will congressional Republicans listen to? Professor
David Cole on the growing criticism of the NRA.
Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter using #EdShow.
We`ll be right back.
DYSON: Thanks for staying with us.
We`re learning new details about the nasty politics tearing apart the
Tea Party movement tonight. Late this summer, former Majority Leader Dick
Armey and his wife took an armed security guard to the headquarters of
FreedomWorks. Armey wanted to reorganize the most powerful Tea Party
organization in the country. He tried to get rid of this man, Matt Kibbe.
Armey was reportedly fighting with Kibbe over a book deal. Man, I`m
an author, I don`t know about those kinds of fights. Maybe the stakes
aren`t high enough.
"The Washington Post" reports that a millionaire organized the payoff.
Richard Stephenson reportedly gave Armey $8 million to go away.
Let`s review -- a Republican leader staged a hostile takeover of the
biggest Tea Party group in America. He got an $8 million payoff to walk
away from the movement three months before the presidential election. Not
exactly what Armey promised us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE MAJOIRYT LEADER: Instead of a hostile
takeover that is as it was by an inside job by a few entrepreneurs, let`s
make it an outside job by all of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: This is what FreedomWorks and the Tea Party looked like before
the midterm election in 2010. They tried hard to look like a grassroots
movement. Polls show 27 percent supported the Tea Party movement back
then. Even Americans who didn`t support it thought the Tea Party was good
for the system.
But over the last two years, the Tea Party has lost its luster. It`s
dropped 6 percent of its supporters, 30 percent say they`re opposed to the
Just last week, one Republican implied the Tea Party and FreedomWorks
were among the wing nuts who caused the embarrassing failure of Plan B.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVEN LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: I want to be clear, the Democrats
have their wing nuts too. But in our conference, yes, there are people
that respond, from Club for Growth, Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, starts
pounding them with robocalls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: This morning, "The New York Times" wrote, the Tea Party`s
clout is diminished. It will have to turn to narrower issues.
Tea Party supporters need to realize their so-called movement isn`t
grassroots at all. It`s getting mowed down at the top, pun intended.
Let`s turn to Ari Melber, correspondent for "The Nation" magazine.
Ari, always good to have you one, my friend.
ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Thank you.
DYSON: But you`re an enlightened contrarian. So tell me, do you
believe the Tea Party is losing its steam so to speak?
MELBER: I do not. If you look at then tire debate in Washington,
it`s constrained by the Tea Party premise, instead of growing the economy,
spending money and stimulating, we should be cutting spending.
Whatever deal we get out of all this fiscal cliff madness at the end
of the day, is going to be on their terms to some degree because of the
sequestration that they forced from the debt ceiling threat, which I think
was very irresponsible. But the idea, the Chip Gabriel (ph) in "The Times"
today made you think these guys are out of the picture, they do have some
scuffling at the top. But they remain a potent force in Washington.
DYSON: So, what do you make of the article itself? "The Post", "The
Times", you know, coming at it? Do you think they are trying to gin up
some kind of -- that is the people who are more interested in seeing this
article put forth, they`re trying to say the Tea Party is really declining
when it`s not? Or do you think it`s a kind of estimation of the relative
power of the Tea Party now in compared to say, a year or two years ago?
MELBER: Yes, I do think it reflects that shift and the fact that you
got more people and more money going into this thing.
MELBER: So, that`s that grass tops part you spoke to. But this
happens in Washington a lot. Everyone wants their group to sound as
powerful as possible.
You know, you wrote the book on hip-hop, with your blessing, I`d like
to quote some lines tonight. I`m reminded the blessing`s not all the way
there. I`m just -- for the audience at home, I`m just getting a skeptical
But, you know, Jay-Z said, would you rather be under paid or
MELBER: And must people would be overpaid. In Washington, you want
to be overpaid and overpowerful. And so, you`ve got a lot of people that
are -- yes, in the business of pretending the Tea Party is the biggest
thing ever, even as they have the splintering at the top.
So, what it suggests is people like Dick Armey want their money more
than they want to same ball.
DYSON: Right. Always my blessing to Ari Melber, my twin on
(INAUDIBLE) national TV.
So, was the Tea Party helpful to any political organization or even
political candidate in the last election, say Mike Lee or Todd Akin?
MELBER: Well, yes, they had their misfires. But, look, the bottom
line is what we have in the country right now is high participation and low
democracy. What I mean by that is, Washington`s broken, the Senate doesn`t
work, everything is filibustered and most seats are gerrymandered.
So, yes, if you are a Republican, even with the Tea Party losses,
you`re probably still more worried about running up against a Tea Party
primary than facing competition in the general election. That`s a deeper
systemic problem that to their credit, whatever you think of their
politics, these activists have learned how to endorse and get ahold of.
DYSON: Well, you know, a lot of people have said, look, it`s not a
grassroots movement, it`s really astroturf. You are familiar with this
DYSON: So, does this indicate that again you have all these rich, you
know, millionaire figures at the top arguing, book deals and buying out and
being quiet. Does it really belie the fact that this is not a grassroots
movement or do you think that`s inevitable with any group that`s been
funded with deep pocketed people?
MELBER: No, I think that`s the problem. They have struggled to
create a meaningful grassroots system within all the energy that they have
built. So, you know, there are other groups and examples, unions and Move
On, have systems whereby they still crowd source and build up their
membership to have a voice.
MELBER: I think viewers of THE ED SHOW know how unions do that, and
they do it effectively even under attack. This Tea Party right now has
people getting $8 million payouts. And that`s the part I will be critical
on. If you`re so against government spending, if you`re so worried about
the money at the top, why should Dick Armey be getting all this cash?
DYSON: Wow! Jay-Z spinning, Wu-Tang-alluding "Nation"-writing Ari
Melber, thank you so much for coming on.
MELBER: Thank you, sir.
DYSON: Coming up, the tragic Christmas Eve shooting in western New
York is furthering the gun debate. Georgetown professor David Cole will
tell us, is new gun legislation is in our future?
And, later, if you haven`t heard about the dairy cliff, you`ll want to
listen up. David Cay Johnston explains why you could be paying $8 for a
gallon of milk if Congress doesn`t act.
DYSON: Welcome back.
In the wake of the Newtown school shooting, another tragic incident in
the small town of western New York is again bringing the gun control debate
front and center. Early on Christmas Eve, 62-year-old convicted killer
William Spangler lit his home on fire in a plot to murder first responders.
When the volunteer fire department arrived, Spangler shot at firefighters
from a ditch. He killed two firefighters and wounded two others before
killing himself. A woman thought to be his sister was also found dead in
Police believe he used a Bushmaster .223 caliber assault rifle, the
same gun used in the Newtown shooting.
To say the town of Webster is shocked would be an understatement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very difficult situation. As people go out
in the middle of the night to put out fires, they don`t expect to be shot
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Meanwhile, the day before the Webster shooting, NRA chief
Wayne LaPierre was out defending assault weaponry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: And you`re telling me it`s not a matter of
common sense if you don`t have the ability to shoot off 30 rounds without
reloading, that just possibly you could reduce the loss of life? That Adam
Lanza may not have been able to shoot as many kids if he didn`t have as
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: I don`t buy your argument for a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: The NRA`s reach over Republicans is stunning. After the
Newtown shooting, not a single Republican lawmaker has come out in favor of
an assault weapons ban. And before Senate, and besides Senator Kay Bailey
Hutchison, no Republican has embraced the ban on high capacity magazines.
Even GOP strategist Frank Luntz who works for Mayors Against Illegal Guns
thinks the NRA is out of touch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ, GOP STRATEGIST: Most Americans would protect the Second
Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being
should own a gun. Not every gun should be available at any time. At gun
shows, you should not be able to buy something right there without any kind
of check whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: The Webster shooter was a convicted felon, so the gun-show
loophole could have been how he bought his weapon.
For more of this, let`s bring in Georgetown University law professor
Professor Cole, thanks for coming on.
DAVID COLE, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me.
DYSON: Yes, sir. After this outbreak of shootings, do you think new
gun legislation will happen? I mean, what will it take for this nation to
be so moves that we come to a sensible and sane policy?
COLE: Well, these have been an incredible tragedies. And it takes a
lot to shock the American people. But, I think the American people have
been shocked. And I think the American people are now, you know,
interested in having some sort of real reform. And for the first time, in
quite a long time, some of our leaders are suggesting that reform is
necessary as well.
President Obama did not suggest any reform after the Aurora shooting
last summer. And he didn`t suggest reform after the massacre of six people
in the Sikh temple in Wisconsin at the end of last summer. But, after the
Newtown massacre he did. And I think, you know, there`s a real possibility
that this may be a game changer.
DYSON: Sure. Well, look, in the New York review, Gary Will (ph) has
wrote about our worship of the gun. The idolatry of the American
imagination so to speak. In difference to guns before the alter and shrine
of the automatic weapon. You`ve written brilliantly about the same gun
culture, what role does our -- in the same publication. What role does our
culture play in preventing new legislation on guns?
COLE: Well, I think it plays a very powerful role. And of course,
the NRA builds on that role. But, you know, it`s this notion of the
individual American who protects himself, who provides for himself, who
joins the NRA and says, you know, my guns are the bottom line. But, you
know, the reality is, that the people who pay the cost of our romance with
guns with the fact that the United States is awash in guns are not the
people out in rural Arkansas or Utah or Nevada who are card carrying
members of the NRA. They`re young black men in the inner city. They`re
the ones who died from gun homicide and have much higher rates than young
DYSON: Well, then, let me pick up on that. You wrote a brilliant
piece after the movie theater shooting in Colorado saying, quote in "the
New York Review of Books," "in 2008 and 2009, gun homicide was the leading
cause of death for young black men. They died from gun violence mainly at
the hands of other black males at a rate of eight times that of other young
You went on to say, that while all tragedies justifiably spark horror
quote "politicians cowardice in the face of NRA is not the only obstacle to
meaningful reform and even greater hurdle lies in the fact that we seem
willing to accept an intolerable situation as long as the victims are, for
the most part, young black and Hispanic men," end of quote.
So, unfortunately, violence like this in the black community just
doesn`t get as much attention, or in Latino communities, just doesn`t get
as much attention as it does in these other communities, which, of course,
deserve the attention as well.
COLE: That`s right. And that`s the cost of gun rights. We talk
about we think about the gun owner standing there with his gun, maybe
hunting, whatever. But, what we don`t think about is the cost that imposes
on people`s lives and particularly in the inner city. But, I do think
there`s a possibility that things will change here. Part of what the
problem has been this myth, that I think political sciences have shown it`s
a myth. That the NRA basically defeated the Democratic Party, when the
Democratic Party pushed in 2004 or 1994 for the assault weapons ban.
Studies have shown since then it`s not at all clear that that vote was
what cost the Democrats the leadership of the House of Representatives, and
I think if Democrats are strong and if Republicans are strong, one of the
things that polls consistently show, is that the American people generally
and the membership of the NRA believe in things like licensing
requirements, more rigorous background checks. Not having this loophole
for private gun shows where convicted felons can go and buy guns without a
background check. Those are reasonable measures, it`s the leadership of
the NRA that`s oppose to them, not necessarily the membership. So, if
members of Congress can see that, I think we can get somewhere.
DYSON: Why haven`t we seen Republicans joined in with Democrats then
to support that comments since legislation? Because some of them been
waiting for the NRA to speak before they can even articulate a viewpoint or
a saying in cohesive policy here.
COLE: Well, I don`t see the Republicans joining in with the Democrats
on almost anything these days. So, I`m not sure this is different from
anything else. But, I think you know, they too are caught up by this, the
myth of 1994. They think, you know, they were brought to power by the NRA,
therefore, they`re beholden to the NRA. The Democrats are scared of the
NRA. But, I`m just not convinced that the NRA is as powerful as it is
particularly when it`s membership disagrees with its leadership about the
propriety of reasonable gun regulation.
DYSON: All right, Professor David Cole of Georgetown University law
school, thank you so much for coming on tonight.
COLE: Thank you.
DYSON: There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour on "the Ed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Got milk? House Republicans are holding up the farm bill, and
the price for a gallon of milk will begin shooting up in just six days.
David Cay Johnston weighs in on the dairy cliff, next.
Plus, two controversial movies are heating up the box office. We will
take a look at Spike Lee`s beef with Quentin Tarantino`s slavery saga
And the uproar over the division of "torture and zero dark thirty"
keeps getting better. Hina Shamsi of the ACLU separates the fact from the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Welcome back.
I hope the senator enjoyed every glass of milk as he made his way
across the U.S. this Christmas. Because if Congress doesn`t act by
December 31st, many Americans may not be able to afford his favorite
beverage next year. If Congress fails to pass a farm bill renewing federal
support for agriculture programs, the country`s milk prices could double to
as much as $8 a gallon. That`s because the government will be forced to
revert to a 1949 dairy price subsidy that requires the agriculture
department to buy milk at inflated prices.
Vincent Smith, the professor of agriculture from Montana State
University told the "New York Times" that similar to the current fiscal
cliff, the 63-year-old farm law was left on the books as an incentive
intended to scare lawmakers into action with the prospect of higher support
prices for milk and other agricultural products. Actually allowing it to
go into effect could be disastrous.
Farmers would rush to sell dairy to the government at higher prices,
limiting consumer supplies, leading to higher prices in stores and less
milk for manufacturing products like butter, yogurt and cheese which could
have the makers of those products looking for cheaper alternatives like
imported milk from New Zealand.
Now, how did we get here? It`s the same old story. Republicans are
refusing to act. The Senate passed its own bipartisan ten-year farm bill
in June. House Republicans haven`t even brought a competing proposal to
the floor for a vote.
I`m joined by David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer award winning journalist
and author of the "Fine Print" and I assume lover of milk.
Brother Johnson, if we go over the dairy cliff, would there be any
doubt as to who is to blame? We don`t have to figure out real deeply who
is at fault here.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, THE FINE PRINT: No, it`s very clear who`s
at fault. We have a group within the Republicans and Boehner has seen he
can`t control them who dogma trumps everything else. And I think, Eric,
that this is a foretelling of what we`re going to see for the next two
years, a group in the Republican Party who do not care about anything but
their perspective and making sure that their idea of how things should be
done gets done or nothing gets done.
DYSON: Yes, they`re curdling the milk to be sure. But, explain to us
how food stamps factor into this. This is one of the most ludicrous and
tragic elements of this entire story.
JOHNSTON: Well, statistically, every 50th person you pass on the
street is living on no income at all except food stamps because there are
not jobs for those people. They`re not slackers, they`re not people who
are indolent or messed up their lives, they can`t find a job because we
don`t have the jobs. So, we now have a situation in which the food stamp
budget has exploded, as it`s supposed to when you have this severe economic
downturn. And the Republicans just simply don`t believe that people who
are long term unemployed and their children should be able to get food
through a government program.
DYSON: Right. So, they are afraid --
JOHNSTON: So, if they can cut the agriculture budget. They want to
reduce food stamps and if milk prices are part of this, then so be it.
DYSON: Well, see. That`s the point. The paranoid view here is that
everybody is on the goal of trying to get over. And as a result of that,
we have to tamp down on all these excesses. But, what ends up happening is
it rebounds negatively to the middle class until working poor and poor
people and they get messed up in the process.
JOHNSTON: Well, and this can actually make the deficit worse in a
relatively small way. The fact is supermarkets are not going to be able to
sell milk at $8 a gallon. The government will buy it at that price or a
much higher price than it`s paying now, under the 1949 law back when cows
were milked by hand instead of machines. And it will have to sell that
milk at a loss.
DYSON: Yes, and that selling at a loss, of course, is going to do
tremendous damage to that industry. What would the real world impact of a
price hike like this be?
JOHNSTON: Well, if milk actually went up that much, you would see a
huge change in the dietary habits of Americans, particularly children.
People would simply be drinking water or much worse, soda. Remember we
have all these sugary drinks that people are letting their children have
and school have been letting children have.
JOHNSTON: And you would see this big shift away from milk toward
those kinds of drinks. But, the real underlying story here, I think the
important one is about how we are seeing the way the Republicans are likely
to behave for the next two years, I think this is going to turn out to be
an extraordinarily difficult and weird and unusual period in American
DYSON: David Cay Johnston, thank you so much for milking the story to
its full extent.
It is a war of words over the new movie "Django Unchained." Director
Spike Lee is calling the film disrespectful and says he won`t see it. Stay
DYSON: Welcome back. We love hearing from our viewers on twitter and
Tonight, people are reacting to the story on our blog about the
beating labor unions took in 2012.
On twitter, Brian Lafferty says, the tables need to be turned on
corporate America in 2013. Being pro-labor means being pro-America.
John Rudder agrees, he says once organized labor is beaten, no one`s
wages will be safe.
And Steven - and Sevenbowie says, it`s unbelievable people are so
ignorant about what the loss of unions has to do with our current economic
Keep sharing your thoughts with us on facebook and twitter using the
Coming up, two new movies are causing controversy. Find out why Spike
Lee says he won`t see "Django Unchained" and why CIA director Mike Morrell
is criticizing "Zero Dark Thirty`s" depiction of torture.
We will be right back.
DYSON: It was a record breaking opening for Quentin Tarantino`s
latest film "Django Unchained." The film, an homage to 60s era Italian-
made westerns, sent in the antebellum south raked in an estimated $15
million breaking the record for an R rated release on Christmas day. The
film is already sparked controversy over its repeated use of the n word,
and now, director Spike Lee says he won`t go to see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR: It would be disrespectful to my ancestors to see
that film. That`s all I`m going to say. I can`t disrespect my ancestors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Lee continued his criticism with this tweet. "American
slavery was not a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. It was holocaust. My
ancestors are slaves, stolen from Africa, I will honor them."
Lee has spoken out against Tarantino`s work before, taking issue with
the director`s use of racial slurs. Mark Anthony Neil, professor at Duke
University says arguing over the use of such epithets creates a division
and prohibits us as a society from discussing tough topics. Quote "it`s
much easier for us at this moment to gloss over historical realities and
turn to what words we use and how they were used, whether that`s getting
rid of the n word in books like Huckleberry Finn so as not offend young
folks who are reading the book or complaining about the use of a word in
the film like "Django Unchained."
I`ll be seeing the film tomorrow and talk about the film`s impact with
Dr. James Peterson on this show. Siskel & Ebert will be back, of course,
tonight later on to discuss more film.
Tonight in our survey I asked you, who will the public blame if we go
over the fiscal cliff, four percent say Democrats, 96 percent say
Coming up, the torture that lead us to Osama bin Laden? The film
"Zero Dark Thirty" poses that questions and now law makers and intelligent
officials are taking issue with it. We will separate facts from fiction
with Hina Shamsi of ACLU.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I be honest with you? I have bad news. I`m
not your friend. I`m not going to help you. I`m going to break you. Any
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: The film "Zero Dark Thirty" is getting rave reviews from
critics and fears put back from lawmakers and intelligence officials. The
movie chronicles the decade long effort to find Osama bin Laden and
includes a graphic portrayal of alleged Bush era CIA torture techniques.
It opens with the words, based on firsthand accounts of the events and the
filmmakers were given access to officials at the defense department and CIA
for research purposed.
But former CIA director, Leon Panetta, who oversaw the agency at the
time of the bin Laden raid said the information obtained from torture did
not lead to bin Laden`s hideout in Pakistan. Lawmakers and expert agree,
as does acting CIA director Mike Morrell. Writing in a message to
employees, the film, he says, creates the strong impression that the
enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention
and interrogation program were the key to finding bin Laden. That
impression is false.
Three members of the Senate intelligence committee are also taking
issue with the film suggestions that torture was an effective method of
obtaining information. Senator`s John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl
Levin (ph) are asking the head of Sony Pictures to correct the record. We
believe you have an obligation to state the role of torture in the hunt for
Osama bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film`s
Let`s turn to Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU national security
project. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Thank you for having me.
DYSON: The opening scene depicts the torture of a detainee of CIA
black sight, in a later scene, the detainee supplies a piece of
information, not while being tortured, but rather during a meal with his
interrogators. Do you think the film misleads public on torture and its
role in the hunt for bin Laden, does it not provide sufficient context?
What do you think is problematic about that?
HINA SHAMSI, ACLU NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT: I think the film
certainly starts out with the claim that it`s based on fact and it leaves
the strong but entirely false impression that torture in fact led to bin
Laden. And we know that that is false from the people who have reviewed
the CIA`s records.
Senator`s Feinstein, Levin and McCain are amongst the Senate
intelligence community personnel who know having reviewed millions of pages
of CIA documents that in fact torture did not lead to bin Laden. But, I
think that takes away from the larger problem.
The idea that torture was somehow effective which is certainly the
impression the film believes. It is a film told almost entirely from the
perspective of the torturers, it leaves out -- and the torturers are the
heroes. It leaves out the perspective of the true heroes at the time, the
other CIA agents, FBI agents, military officials from top to bottom who
said, not only is torture ineffective, it`s illegal, immoral and it will do
harm to our national security if we use it. That`s a story entirely
DYSON: Absolutely right. But, we know that those techniques played a
role in the war on terror, for better or worse as you have been indicated
for proverbs (ph). Did the filmmakers have an obligation to at least
acknowledge that role? Not making a moral judgment as to the validity of
the approach, but the accuracy of the fact that torture techniques were
SHAMSI: Look, in one sense it`s true, entertainment is entertainment
and fact is fact. But, this is a film that starts out by claiming it is
based on fact. And once that claim is made, I do think that the filmmakers
who now have a real platform given this controversy should acknowledge that
in fact torture did not lead to bin Laden as the facts have shown. And
also, I think acknowledged that there were real heroes at the time who
faced with the same kinds of pressures the filmmakers depicted said no.
DYSON: Right. Well, another interesting feature of the film is that
women are at the center, that is to say that the bin Laden unit so to
speak, after the war on terror has been largely staffed by women, that the
shift from male dominant to female centered perspectives suggests that
women are at the forefront of forging, if you will, progress in the war on
terror. Is that an interesting moment? Something that`s totally
incidental or does it make a difference in terms of how we understand the
war on terror?
SHAMSI: Well, as I understand it, the filmmakers were excited that
they could have a female hero, but I don`t think gender matters here when
you are committing war crimes, committing torture, it doesn`t matter what
your gender is, it matters that you are violating the rules of the United
States and seeking to break the minds and bodies of your fellow human
DYSON: All right, very well stated. Hina Shamsi, thank you so very
That`s "the Ed Show." I`m Michael Eric Dyson in for Ed Schultz. "The
Rachel Maddow show" starts now.
Ezra Klein is filling in for Rachel tonight -- Ezra.
Good to see you, my friend.
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to see you too,
Michael. Thank you very much.
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