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The Ed Show for Monday, December 23rd, 2013

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December 23, 2013

Guests: Michael Eric Dyson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Bob Shrum, James Peterson, Dr. Rani Whitfield


PHIL ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY: The greatest gift that I ever gave the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These 15 -- 10 -- 10 Commandments for all to obey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: How blessed are we to be able to (inaudible)

REP. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: But we think he`s got a right to say
what he wants.

ROBERTSON: And boy is there some immorality going on around here.


JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC HOST: The Duck Dynasty star that has proven one thing
-- the culture wars may be over and let`s face it, they are over. But the
insurgency has only just begun.

And the American Right has put aside any notion that needing to be the
least bit embarrassed by bigotry is the order of the day. So long as it`s
couching Christianity, if you`re a member of the Christian Right that means
that almost anything you say has a ready defense and even more ready

After Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson made a series of remarks in a GQ
article that were clearly offensive to gays and to black Americans, the
Right responded this way. Sean Hannity said on his radio show, "Phil
Robertson is just an old fashioned Christian."


SEAN HANNITY, SEAN HANNITY SHOW HOST: What he expressed here was probably
more old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and value, whether you
like it or not. I mean has the country now gotten to the point where if
you express your faith, and you believe in good, evil, sin and not sin
which is a concept that I would argue, culturally society has maybe even
rejected. But if you express it, now it means your show is at risk of


REID: OK. Fox News star, Ann Coulter, also came to Robertson`s defense.
She said for Christians, "There`s nothing offensive about the Duck Dynasty
star`s comment."


ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It`s outrageous. It`s unbelievable
and people who believe -- I mean first I`d say Christians, but far beyond
Christians, with people who believe in speech. I mean there`s nothing
offensive about what Phil Robertson said.


REID: Republican Congressional Candidate, Ian Bayne, even compared Phil
Robertson to Rosa Parks because clearly she too has lots to say about gay
people and thought black Americans were better off during segregation. No.
Actually she didn`t.

And finally, we have failed presidential candidate, Newt Gingrinch, who
weighted with this jam of a comparison.


NEWT GINGRICH, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Ironically, if you read the whole
interview and not just take one section, he talks very specifically about
loving everybody. He talks very specifically about not being judgmental
towards anyone. That`s God`s decision, not his.

I mean it is remarkable. There are sections there where he sounds a lot
like Pope Francis.


REID: That`s right. Newt Gingrich just compared Phil Robertson to the
Pope. Remarks like these had been a norm for the Right in defending Phil
Robertson and it`s the "aw shucks defense" as columnist (inaudible) called
it in the Daily Beast.

If you`re a Christian and Southern and aw shucks you just don`t know any
better. It`s totally acceptable on the Right for you to be a bigot. And
you know what? The aw shucks defense? It`s working. Any network
suspension of Robertson? Forget about it. The network announced Robertson
will be in the new Duck Dynasty episodes next year. And they`re even
running a Duck Dynasty marathon over the Christmas holiday for the kids.

Following the controversy, Cracker Barrel stores Yates all their Duck
Dynasty merchandise. But that didn`t last long either. Duck Dynasty fans
went ballistic on the country cooking chain. Fans bombarded the store over
social media and Cracker Barrel cracked.

They released a statement on their Facebook page saying, "When we made the
decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended
many of our loyal customers. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty
products back in our stores and we apologize for offending you."

Now this comes at the same time, there`s a new video of Robertson that has
surfaced. Here`s Robertson giving a sermon back into 2010.


ROBERTSON: Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts
with one another, and they received in themselves the due eternal sin for
their perversions. They`re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are
insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless .


REID: OK. The religious context to this Duck Dynasty controversy is very
important. Robertson`s defenders say his remarks are OK because he`s a
devoted Christian, and certain parts of the Bible preach against
homosexuality, and that actually is true.

But we should point out that certain parts of the Bible also appear to
preach against, let`s say, I don`t know, Christmas trees. Here`s Jeremiah
10:10 it reads, "For the practices of the peoples are worthless they cut a
tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They
adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it
will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot
speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them;
they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

Now keep in mind, the Bible preaches against homosexuality, that is true,
but it also may preach against Christmas trees. This actually puts Phil
Robertson in a tough spot.


WILLIE ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY: Phil takes great pride in trimming the
Christmas tree.

Which always creates quite a mess.


REID: The aw shucks defense is bogus, but sadly at least for now it`s

All right, take your cellphones out. I want to know what you think.
Tonight`s question, does being a Christian excuse bigotry? Text A for Yes,
text B for No to 67622 or go to our blog at and I`ll bring you
the results later in the show.

For more on this, let me bring in Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown
University Professor and MSNBC Political Analyst. And importantly for the
purposes of this discussion, a theologian in his own right as well as a man
of great verbal mellifluous talent. I`m trying to be you but I couldn`t be
you, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.


REID: So, well I mean the religious part of this I think actually is
important because the Bible as plainly interpreted can be complicated,

DYSON: Sure.

REID: It can be also somewhat vague sometimes.

DYSON: Absolutely.

REID: And can`t you find as much exhortation against Christmas trees if
you want to read it that way as you can against homosexuality?

DYSON: Not only Christmas trees. You can find exhortations against
everything, everybody`s doing right now. All the stuff they do in the Duck
Dynasty can be exhorted against in terms of the Bible because the Bible can
be taken out of context. I know we`ve heard it before. But if you take
the text out of context, you use it as a pretext and as a subtext, it just
all mixed ups. You might be into excess.

So the reality is this that the use of the Bible to justify that aw shucks
bigotry that Brother (inaudible) spoke about is brilliant because what it
says then is that everything that is bigoted, the Right Wing and who are
Conservatives and Christians can say, "Hey, that`s just a -- you`re being
politically correct."

REID: Right.

DYSON: Oh, so the line of bigotry against black people or gay and lesbian
people or other peoples meets a -- in the sense where Christianity asserts
itself and now these people think you`re taking away my free speech .

REID: Right.

DYSON: . you`re taking away all of my Christianity. No. There was a
whole movement out here. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian but he
said, "I want to use my Christianity to work toward a just nation, not use
my Christianity to use it as a pretext to justify bigotry against everybody
else in the nation."

REID: I mean what`s interesting is that it does play into sort of the
persecution narrative that you do see .

DYSON: Yeah. Right.

REID: . on the Right, the sense that we`re being persecuted. There is a
war on Christmas. There is a war on our free speech.

DYSON: Right.

REID: Even though no government, let`s just be clear .

DYSON: Right.

REID: . there`s no government that intervene to do anything to Phil
Robertson, these were private companies.

DYSON: Absolutely right. And look, not only are they, you know, talking
about persecution but their putting up they`re own nails, they`re climbing
up their own tree and they`re hanging up on Golgotha by themselves. There
ain`t nobody hosting them up there. They`re putting themselves on there it
was like, "Look at me because I`m raised up and look at me being a victim

So the victim mentality is amazing here. They`re always talking to Left
Wing people or Progressives or liberals or black people or women saying,
"Stop that victim mentality." Who`s a bigger victimizer than Sean Hannity
and Ann Coulter and Phil Robertson and the whole Duck Dynasty because now
all of a sudden your ability to be un -- if you will -- subtle about your
bigotry gets you in trouble. Now you then want to turn to Cracker Barrel.
And look at Cracker Barrel, let`s take a poll test here because now if we
offend our listeners and people who come to our stores because all of a
sudden the bigotry against African-American people and gay and lesbian
people, you know, outrages them. What about if we had done that during the
Civil Rights Movement?

Hey, you know what? The citizens can`t go on because the white people here
are upset and they are offended by the fact that we now have black people.
So use that as a litmus test is not only ridiculous, it is against the very
interests of the nation more broadly and against Christianity at its base.

REID: Well funny you should mention black people, Michael Eric Dyson,
because -- so when Ann Coulter says there`s absolutely nothing offensive,
nothing has been .

DYSON: Right.

REID: . I had to write it down, I was so amazed.

DYSON: Right.

REID: Nothing offensive about what Phil Robertson said .

DYSON: Right.

REID: . but one of the things he said is that black people were happy .

DYSON: Right.

REID: . and better off before the Civil Rights Movement.

DYSON: Right.

REID: What -- I`ve noticed that the Right is not explicitly defending
that. They`re just pretending he didn`t say it. Why do you suppose that

DYSON: Well we don`t even account. I mean this is where, again, even
among those who have been victimized, this is why it`s important as Martin
Luther King, Jr. said, "Hey, I`m not Russian but if something happened in
Russia against people who are victims I would speak out against it. I`m
not Catholic but if it happens among Catholics, I`ll speak out."

I want gay and lesbian people to speak up against the interest of African-
American people like I`ve been critical with black people not speaking up
for the interest of gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual people. That`s
number one.

But number two, of course it`s ridiculous because we are, again, relegated
to the margins here. Happy? We were happy Negroes because we were trying
to fake out white people and we were trying to convince them that we were
happy so we could survive long enough to rebel against them.

Look, Jim Crow was a vicious system. It was a system of economic
subjugation, it was a system of -- that where black people could lose their
lives, where rape was a reality for African-American women, where lynching
was a reality for African-American men -- and Mexicans by the way. And it
was one of the most vicious systematic acts of injustice.

And so much so that in 1910, 90 percent of black people lived in the South
where Jim Crow flew. That`s why they get out of there. They said, "We`re
going to rise up out of here and the great migration is testimony to the
fact that black people hated the Jim Crow." So next time you come up with
a happy Negro, happy feet movement, just remember the fact that African-
American people used their spirituals as ways to signify each other, and
the arts and crafts that they used were finding ways to subvert the tyranny
of white supremacy so that they can get the heck out of there.

No, we were not happy with it. But in the midst of that, we try to adjust
to it so that we could move beyond it. And sometimes, some Black people,
of course, were cajoled into agreeing with it but we never were happy about
it and we never accepted it, and Jim Crow was a heinous act of injustice
and Anne Coulter and Sean Hannity and the rest of those folks ought to be
ashamed of themselves. And gay-lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people
ought to speak up and link their own fate to African-American people
because ultimately, we`re in the thing together.

REID: But what do you think of this attempt to recruit essentially Rosa
Parks .

DYSON: Oh my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: . because this is something that has been done before
in the Right?

DYSON: Right. Right.

REID: Like in anytime that something they say is taking as offensive by
African-Americans or taken as offensive by the LGBT community .

DYSON: Right.

REID: . you get well -- Martin Luther King, Jr. would`ve been on our side

DYSON: Right.

REID: . or Rosa Parks or, you know, Phil Robertson is the next Rosa Parks.
What do you think of that as a tactic?

DYSON: I mean it`s -- well, first of all, it`s (inaudible) but it`s the
same as using Jesus in making a Jesus co-sign all of this bigotry here.
Jesus was a Jew who -- around whom our religion was made. So the anti-
Semitism of many of the Christians is ironic to begin with.

And then secondly, the gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual stuff look
through the Bible. There`s a lot of interesting things. The same man who
will stand up in the church of all men. "I put my God, Jesus overall
women. I love him more than I love her."

Do you really? That sounds interestingly homoerotic to people who are
outside your religious traditions. I`m not suggesting it is but I`m
suggesting that there are some very interesting, subtle, narrative tensions
within the Bible itself and within Christianity beyond that. But to use
Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and every other Black person, you can
think, my good friend Jimmy down the street who didn`t find it a problem
when Negroes were being happy. I mean, to use them as test cases for their
own bigotry is again to ratify the ignorance upon which bigotry rests and
it`s an insult to African-American people because, again, they don`t even
know their history.

Rosa Parks was an activist against rape culture. And then subsequently,
against White supremacy, E.D, Nixon, the same, Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Ralph Abernathy, you know, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, all of them were in a
contest against the, if you will, the devaluation of African-American
culture and more broadly, wanted to embrace the rights of everybody in the
way. So for, you know, those who would then adapt to the Civil Rights

So for me, for the Duck Dynasty and others of their defenders to appeal to
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks is a denial of the legitimacy of
those movements and it cheapens it by the way.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a not a Christian in the same way that these
folks are Christians. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this, "I, sometimes
look at their churches and go what kind of God are you serving? And if
that`s the God you`re serving, don`t count me in."

Martin Luther King, Jr. when he heard that George Wallace was supporting
the school prayer, said, "I had to be against it." Now, that`s Martin
Luther King, Jr. .

REID: Right.

DYSON: . Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. because he knew the
difference between white supremacy and dressing up your bigotry in the garb
of religion as opposed to exposing yourself so that all peoples who fall
before God recognize they are sinners and therefore, in the need of love.

They don`t -- I don`t see the self-critique among these Christians on the
Right. Where is your self-criticism? What would God be distressed with?
What would God be disgusted with? How would God be critical of you? They
are so righteous. You know, it`s like, you know, everybody thinks that if
Jesus were to come again, they`d embrace him.

No, you are the kind to put Jesus on the end, you know? We don`t want
anybody in this church. We don`t want anybody who`s snotty nose. We don`t
want anybody who`s black, we don`t want anybody who`s gay. These are the
people Jesus came for. "I have come for the least of these," and as a
result of that, the people`s inability to make those distinctions
reinforces the very bigotry that Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks
stood against.

REID: All right. The Reverend, Doctor Michael Eric Dyson. Well said and
hopefully, somebody on the Right will listen at least to Jesus .

DYSON: Lord, have mercy.

REID: . if not to Michael Eric Dyson. All right, well thank you so much
and remember to answer tonight`s question. It`s right there at the bottom
of your screen and do share your thoughts on Twitter at Ed Show and on
Facebook. I do want to know what you think.

And coming up, our commander-in-chief handles being commander of teens.
President Obama talks about his life as a dad.

Stay ahead. Baby, you can see her halo. Beyonce gave a very generous gift
to hundreds of strangers for Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere
you go. Take a look in the five and 10 glistening once again.


REID: Time now for the Trenders. You can find the show at Twitter -- up
on Twitter @EdShow and you can find me on Twitter @theReidReport.

The Ed Show social media nation has decided and we`re reporting. Here`s
today`s top Trenders voted on by you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes, it`s harder to be a dad than just be

REID: The number three Trender, first dad.

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: They grow up so fast. They`re both
wonderful young ladies. And Malia and Sasha are very sensible. So I trust
them to make good decisions.

REID: President Obama discusses some family matters with Steve Harvey.


OBAMA: I`ve got men with guns following them around all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dad with his own armed secret service.

OBAMA: That kind of makes me a little less nervous about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes being president has its advantages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything happens to my daughter, I got a .45 and a
shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you.

REID: The number two Trender, oh Christmas B.

BEYONCE KNOWLES, SINGER, ACTRESS: Hello, (inaudible). It`s Beyonce

REID: Beyonce plays secret Santa for some last minute shoppers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And sometimes waiting until the last few days to do
your holiday shopping does pay off.

KNOWLES: I want to give everyone a little gift. For everyone in the store
right now, the first $50 of your holiday gifts are on me. Merry, merry
Christmas from Beyonce.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And today`s top Trender, Blue Christmas.

ED SCHULTZ, THE ED SHOW HOST: Republicans have thrown unemployed Americans
under the bus.

OBAMA: Because Congress didn`t act, more than 1 million of their
constituents will lose a vital economic lifeline at Christmas time.

BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: There are people that are having trouble making their
miracle happen.

REID: The grinchy old party leaves more than a million Americans without
unemployment benefits this weekend.

SCHULTZ: The burden is on the Republican Party to pass unemployment

MURRAY: You have to convince them. You have to take a chance.

SCHULTZ: The clock is ticking. People got bills to pay.


REID: And joining me now is Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.
And Congresswoman, you know, this is obviously the most wonderful time of
the year for so many Americans. But for a lot of people, this is about to
be a really difficult season with unemployment benefits expiring. How
serious is this for your constituents and for Americans?

REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: Well, it`s very serious for my
constituents who`re unemployed and for America. We`re talking about 1.3
million people that will come off the road.

Now, just think about it. If at least half of that 1.3 million was able to
buy one doll for their daughter, then it would increase the supply chain,
the manufacturers would make money, the retailers would make money.
Without that, it really affects that supply all the way down the line so it
affects the recovery for the economic status of our country.

REID: Yeah. But, Congresswoman, that is such a Conservatives of obvious
case for doing unemployment benefit extension because as you said, it
ultimately helps business. Do you find that your colleagues on the other
side of the aisle are at all persuaded by that argument?

JOHNSON: No. What I hear also is that these people are too lazy to work.
That is not the truth. We have not passed a jobs bill. We have not
created more jobs. As a matter of fact, we have cut out a lot of jobs with
all the cuts. When we cut, it is doing a way with jobs. That is the
effect of cutting.

And so then a lot of the people cannot find jobs, they`ve been laid off,
they are looking for jobs. You know, it`s interesting. All these so
called deadly people that they are looking for, that are unemployed, they
don`t live in my district. And I don`t get in touch with them. I don`t
know where they are but they must be in the Republican`s districts if
that`s their attitude about it.

REID: Well, you know, given that that actually is a pretty weak assessment
for where we`re going in the House. Senator Harry Reid has said that the -
- on a Senate side, the unemployment benefit extension is expected to come
up. Do you expect Speaker Boehner to do the same in the House?

JOHNSON: I would hope that he would. I have a great deal of respect for
Speaker Boehner. I know that he`s operating on a great deal of restraint
and pressure but this is very much needed. And, you know, the other thing
is it`s always implied that its minorities not wanting to work. This is
not a minority issue. This is a very inclusive diverse issue.

You know, if African-American make 15 or less percent of the total American
population and it is true that they have a larger percentage unemployed but
when you consider that small number that is a small number of people as
compared to the rest of the population. So it`s not an issue of color or
race. It is the Americans who are unemployed.

REID: And, Congresswoman, are you hearing from constituents on this?

JOHNSON: Yes, I am. And I can say this. Most of them that I`ve heard
from are not minorities.

REID: All right. Well, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, we really
appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much.

REID: All right. And coming up, (inaudible) wants to know why we don`t
just win the war on poverty already.

Still ahead, former Congressman Tom Tancredo thinks the silent treatment
will keep his party faith. The Right Wing`s arbiter, which, American
cities are in the Third World, yet Congressman Miami remembers that land in
tonight`s Pretenders.

But next, I`m taking your questions. Ask Joy Live is just ahead. Stay


REID: Welcome back to the Ed Show. We love hearing from our viewers
including tweet (inaudible). Michael Dyson and I really do speak really
quickly and we`ll try to slow down just a tiny bit.

All right. Tonight in Ask Joy Live, our question is from Brian Keith. Why
do Republicans refuse to help the president?

OK, Brian. I think the reason for that is because pure politics is driving
the party not policy.

We have a jump ball election coming up in 2016 and the last thing
Republicans want to do is give the president accomplishments that the next
Democrat, Hillary Clinton, can take into the election. Republicans just
want the White House back so helping Barack Obama doesn`t help them. And I
think that`s what`s behind their decision and also obviously there`s a huge
ideological gulf between the two parties.

OK. Our next question is from Jimmy Bear. Can you mention one thing
positive about the Republican Party?

OK. I will. Dwight David Eisenhower.

All right. Stick around. The Rapid Response Panel is next.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC NEWS ANCHOR: I`m Hampton Pearson and this is your
CNBC News Now. Stocks closed higher in extending the record breaking Santa
rally. The Dow gaining 73 points, the S& P up 10, the NASDAQ earning 44

Apple has signed a long anticipated deal with China Mobile to sell iPhones
in the world`s biggest mobile phone network. iPhones will be available to
China Mobile customers starting January 17th, although the company will
begin taking orders on Wednesday. The deal gives Apple the ability to
compete for China Mobiles` 750 million customers.

Meanwhile, retail stocks are in focus with only two shopping days left
until Christmas. Retail in excess. People bought less in the final
weekend before Christmas, usually one of their busiest weekends despite
those deeper discounts.

And triple A says, a record number of Americans, 86 million, are traveling
by car over the holidays. And the Lundberg Survey says, they`re paying a
little less for gas. The national average for regular is down two cents in
the past two weeks to $3.26 a gallon after a month of increases.

And that`s your CNBC News now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 1965, we started the war on poverty and we failed
drastically. So whatever we did to win this war on poverty has been an
abject failure. I`d like to see someone come in much like (inaudible) came
in and said, "Why don`t we just win the Cold War? Why don`t we just win
the war on poverty? And why don`t we come up with some new ideas because
whatever we`re doing is failing." And so, we can`t keep repeating what
we`re doing.


REID: Welcome back to the Ed Show. Could have been cents disaster got one
thing right this pass weekend and it was this. In the war in poverty,
poverty seems to be winning. Let`s be clear. If the heartless ebonies are
screwed Reaganite Republican approach a refusal to raise taxes on the rich
while slashing billions from snap and unemployment benefits that`s actually
losing the war on poverty in America. Let`s take and have the GOP fight
the war on poverty.

Last week, Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston made headlines when he
suggested children should sweep the cafeteria floors to earn their school
meals and get the myth out of their head that there`s such a thing as a
free lunch.

Kingston was referring to the National School Lunch Program where children
from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of federal poverty level
are eligible for free lunches.

So in that case, the GOP war on poverty tactic is to target a program which
provides literal sustenance to children. On Friday, Kingston was forced to
clarify exactly what he meant.


REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GERORGIA: The greater discussion was about the
American work ethic and how do we pass that on to the next generation?
And, you know, given that to my critics in terms of -- well, I did not
specify clearly that this was not an indictment on anybody in a particular
socioeconomic group and this would be good for all children. I never did
say poor kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that you weren`t talking about kids who
get free lunches that that wasn`t mentioned all?

KINGSTON: Well, I think I could have clarified that a lot better.


REID: OK. But let`s actually clarify. The only kids who are eligible for
those so called free lunches are poor kids. So he never said poor kids but
that doesn`t really matter. All that matters is the sentiment behind
Congressman Kingston`s suggestion which is essentially a perpetuation of
the insidious sort of idea of makers versus takers because I (inaudible)
the idea that Republicans continue to insist on that Americans who rely on
benefits are somehow lazy or lacking work ethic.

So of course, clearly, their kids should be taught to have a work ethic by
being socially humiliated and sweeping the floors while the affluent kids

Now, Kingston`s comments got attention because he was talking about
children. But most of the time, it`s a little bit more subtle. Take this
exchanges that I had on Saturday with Avik Roy, a former adviser to the
Romney campaign.


insurance and then you get a job. You lose that benefit. That`s what
creates the distance sense to seek war. If the benefit is consistent
regardless of whether you have a job or not, you have more than incentive
to actually seek war.


REID: Now, the case he made here is that the recipients of unemployment
benefits are unmotivated to find work because if they do, they`ll no longer
be given a handout. So instead of receiving a fraction of their former
income in the form of unemployment benefits, they should just go on
welfare. That`s really what he was arguing.

But here`s the catch, Conservatives also opposed the welfare programs that
Avik Roy suggests as an alternative. So where are these people supposed to
go? (inaudible) it`s this (inaudible) of the poor that makes it so
difficult for Democrats to enact efficient policies that actually do fight
the war on poverty.

Joining me now is our Rapid Response Panel Democratic Strategist Bob Shrum
and MSNBC Contributor James Peterson.

So, Bob, I want to start with you and I want to rely on your institutional
memory just for a minute because it is interesting the way (inaudible)
framed it. That essentially since 1965, we`ve been fighting a war on
poverty and it failed so we need to go back to Reagan.

But isn`t it true that really that the time when you saw the income gap
widen, when you saw inequality gap really widen was during the Reagan

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sure, that`s right. Look, the history
here is wrong. The policy is despicable. The morality is odious. The
fact is that under Lyndon Johnson, the war on poverty, the number of people
who are in poverty in this country was going down. Then Nixon became
president, slashed those programs then poverty began to rise again. Same
thing happened after the Clinton years.

Look, you have a Republican Party here that believes in the form of Social
Darwinism that is take care of the rich, take care the fittest, and the
poor just get left out in the cold. My hope is that if these Congressional
Republicans and (inaudible) say a prayer this Christmas season, that
they`re going to go in there and they`re going to say an active contrition
for cutting food stamps and cutting unemployment benefits and taking food
out of the mouths of hungry children.

It`s one of the worst arguments that I`ve ever heard in public policy.
That somehow or rather the way to help poor people is to make them poorer.

REID: And you know what, James, I think what really struck a lot of people
about the Jack Kingston idea, this idea that you should make kids sweep the
floor, he says not just poor kids but it is self evident that the only kids
who get school lunches are, by default, poor kids.


REID: I guess this it`s an aspect of social humiliation, right?

PETERSON: Exactly.

REID: This idea that because their parents don`t have any money, these
children should be subjected to essentially, a form of social humiliation.
Is that how you read it?

PETERSON: It is and it`s disgusting in that sense, right? If you ever
worked with young children who are impoverished or who live in poverty, the
fact that they live in poverty, Joy, is burden enough. You don`t have to
shame them anymore, you don`t have to challenge them to understand what the
value of a meal is. They understand better or the value of lunch is than
rich kids who can afford to grab and buy lunch wherever they want.

I mean, so that just -- it`s inverted and it`s really insane that the
challenge here though is if, you know, people want to talk about poverty,
largely because the president has finally started to talk about poor folk
and talk about poverty so people were trying to respond and kind of a
jockey [ph] for a position around what kind of policies are going to be

The policies that work, that we know that work to end and to address issues
of poverty are not policies of the Republican Party will ultimately
endorse. Those are things like affordable access to health care, those are
things like absolute and actual reform for our public educational system,
not talking about vouchers, not talking about charter schools, but like a
reforms in our education system that can be brought to scale.

The things that we need to do in terms of our food system, the Food and
Drug Administration and the reform that`s required in terms of how food
gets processed, again, the lobbyist that control many members in our
Congress are not going to allow and to do those things. So there are clear
cut ways to end poverty and has to do with education, has to do with food,
and has to do with access to health care, but those are not the kinds of
issues that a lot of Republican politicians can get behind.

REID: Well, I mean, Bob, it`s easy to say that the Republican attitude
toward how to fight the war on poverty comes down to simple cruelty, right?
But their argument would be that they just feel that they have a more
efficient way of doing it, that helping businesses, they`re doing tax cuts,
somehow or other does benefit the poor.

SHRUM: Yeah.

REID: Have Democrats done a good enough job of arguing against the
Republican? I won`t call them idealist because they`re not really policy-
based and so their Republican norms, they put into the system that it`s all
about deficit reduction and tax cuts.

SHRUM: Well, it depends what period of time you`re talking about.
Obviously in the progressive era in the new deal, in the new frontier, or
the great society, Democrats were making this argument. I think it is a
shame that for too long, too few Democrats and too few Democratic leaders
talked about the problem of poverty in this country.

PETERSON: That`s right, exactly.

SHRUM: Even as they were doing something about it, I mean, under Bill
Clinton, as I said earlier, the number of poor people went down. It went
back up under George Bush.

But Republicans do not have an idea here. They have a history. It`s a
history that goes back to the 19th century. It basically says if you let
people on their own, if you deny them unemployment benefits, if somehow
where they got a scrape and beg and hope to get health care, that they`re
going to pull themselves up by their own boot straps. But, you know,
Lyndon Johnson said it very well at Howard University in 1965, this is a
theory that says that somehow or either you can run a race and it`s a fair
race to get to the finish line of a decent line where some people start
half way around the track then other people start way at the back. That`s
the Republican theory. It`s wrong. It`s profoundly wrong. And I think
the country is ultimately going to reject it.

REID: Well and, James, you really kind of can`t get away from the racial
component here because part of what .

PETERSON: That`s right.

REID: . Reagan sort of inject into the system in his campaign when he first
ran for president and part of what`s sort of become glommed on to this
argument about poverty is a notion that programs that the federal level
that helps people mainly helps people mainly help minorities and therefore
they are away of buying the votes of black and brown people.

How did Democrats counter that argument? Because it has become pretty
ingrained on the Right.

PETERSON: It has. I think first, Democrats have to acknowledge the fact
that the entire conversation around so called entitlements that most of the
conversation around access to affordable healthcare are racialized

So, we have to first acknowledge what some of the challenges are. One of
the reasons why you`re able to sort of stigmatize some of these policies is
to try to inject reason to those conversations and a lot of our folks on
the Right continue to do that.

But I think we have to, you know, we have to push really hard around this
particular issue because the kind of systemic change that is required it
means that with this kind of set politics decide in some ways. I`m not
sure if Democrats are willing to do that. But you really have to do that.

One way you do that is talk about yes, you can talk about percentages and
this proportionate ways in which people of color represented in terms of
poverty and in terms of programs that are so-called entitlement programs.
But the large majority of folk who`s been for the most programs are not
people of color.

And so, this is an American issue and then the nation that`s as rich as
this country when your 46 million people in poverty and the number of
people and across the all demographics that will enter in and out of
poverty over the course of their lifetimes. It just doesn`t make sense
that we can`t have common sense, conversations about policies that
strengthen the social safety net about a jobs bill that puts people back to
work about access to affordable healthcare, about really reforming our
educational system.

I mean those are the things and you can talk about into the war on poverty
all you want to, but we`re not talking about those issues. We`re not going
to end poverty in this nation.

REID: OK. (inaudible) to our Democratic (inaudible) have to talk a little
bit politics with you. Because it does seem that where Democrats want to
go in January, where they`re going to first is not so much on the anti-
poverty issue, but really the unemployment insurance benefits.

Give us some idea of what Democrats can do realistically to try to get that
issue through, because it`s going to be very difficult as you can imagine
to get it through the House of Representatives.

SHRUM: Well, I think they can get it through the Senate. I think they
will get it through the Senate. I think then, there has to be a lot of
pressure on Boehner. There`s some polling date out today that suggested
even in his own district people are overwhelmingly in favor of extending
unemployment benefits.

But he is the only one with the Caucus that does believe in this kind of
Social Darwinism. This reaction where he view the world.

You know, when I was listening a few second, a few minutes ago I have the
image in my head of the children of middle class and wealthy people walking
by the children of poor people who are sweeping up the lunch room before
they can get something to eat.

Now, somehow or other, we have to get past that in the society. We have to
get to some basic ideas of social justice and what`s fair in giving people
a chance to compete in life.

I think the only way to do that is for Democrats to pound away at this
issue in January. And by the way, I think unemployment benefits is an
issue of poverty because if you take away those unemployment benefits many
workers who were formally middle class. They`re going to be poor and we`re
going to see the ranks of the poor increase.

REID: You know, it does sound very (inaudible) because that`s the image I
have, is that literally these children happen clean in front of other kids
and we know how .

SHRUM: Absurd.

REID: . strong social pressures are, you know, as young people.

So, James, looking prospectively now, looking forward. Because the next
sort of big issue on the table for Democrats is how they negotiate with
Paul Ryan and others on budgetary issues. And Paul Ryan who maybe had a
little bit of a come to Jesus moment because suddenly he`s talking about
poverty too. You got the Pope, putting a lot of pressure on .

PETERSON: That`s right.

REID: . Conservative Christian politicians on the Right by talking about
anti-poverty. Is this a space where Democrats can then maybe move a little
bit to the left in terms of what they`re demanding in budget, in budget
negotiations, and get off of this track of deficits and debt?

PETERSON: Let us please hope so, Joy. Let`s hope that the Democrats can
be involved in by the kinds of conversations that are going on and yes move
to the left. You know why they need to do that politically though, Joy?
Is because the constituents that are voting Democratic are to the left, to
the politicians who are in office.

And so, they need to sort of align themselves with their constituency. The
progressive people within the Democratic Party want to address issues of
poverty and had been talking about poverty for years who had been
researching and doing (inaudible) on it for decades.

And now is the time not just because deficits have been cut, but because
the budget has been stabilized at least for the next couple of years for us
to think really, really critically about what we can do to end poverty in

REID: All right. Well Bob Shrum and James Peterson thanks to both of you
and happy holidays.

SCHRUM: Happy holidays to you.

REID: All right thank you.

An ObamaCare curve ball that could actually work in your favor. Details
ahead in the Punch Out.


REID: In Pretenders tonight, the confrontational ex-Congressman Tom
Tancredo. The Colorado Republican told the Denver Post he won`t debate his
fellow Republican challengers running for governor of by former state.
Because he wants to quote, "Reduce the number of self-inflicted wound
Democrats can use for campaign fonder."

And we get it, Tom, foot and mouth disease does seem to be contagious in
your party.


REP. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Its three agencies of government when I get
there that are gone. Commerce, education and the -- what`s the third one

RON PAUL (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: That`s why freedom is all about,
taking your own risks, this whole idea that you have to prepare and take
care of everybody.

(inaudible). It doesn`t .

10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?


RIED: But Tom Tancredo needs to be reminded. Cameras don`t just roll
during debate. Here are some of his finest non-debate moments caught on


TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: We do not have a civics literacy test before
people can vote in this country. People who could not even spell the word
vote or say it in English.

Put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House.

The president of the United States who wants to destroy the Constitution.
He doesn`t want to physically destroy America as Al-Qaeda does. But he is
as dangerously -- he`s more dangerous, simply because he is inside.


RIED: Oh, yeah. Tom Tancredo thinks running away from debates makes him a
winner. He can keep on pretending.


RIED: Welcome back to the Ed Show. And now, for some important
information for Ed Show viewers, we`re in the final hours for last minute
shoppers and we`re not talking about Christmas. It`s the last call to sign
up for sign for insurance under the Affordable Care Act to have coverage
starting New Years day.

The White House has been very flexible on this deadline. Officials say if
people are still in line to sign up tomorrow they will be covered on
January 1st.

President Obama himself will join the millions of Americans enrolling in
the Federal Exchange today. The president will log in to
while on vacation in Hawaii to symbolically sign up and show his support
for the program.

But even at this 11th hour to sign up for 2014, lawmakers are still arguing
over the benefit.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The President is working to fix it. We
are working in the Senate to fix it. We redraw Republican colleagues to
join us in fixing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I would say is we need to change healthcare. But
what they`ve done -- you can`t fix this mess.


RIED: This vice and negativity, new number show. Fewer Americans are
losing insurance and more are signing up each day. More than half a
million Americans signed up for the Affordable Care Act insurance in
December alone.

Many states say that there`s an up taking demand last week leading up to
today`s deadline. And Dr. Rani Whitfield, the Medical Director of the
National Association of Free Clinics also known as the hip hop doc joins me
now. Thanks for being here doc.

Hi, Joy, how are doing?

REID: Very well, thank you. So talk about the significance of this. I
mean we are now seeing more sign ups to the Affordable Care Act. As a
medical professional, what is the significance of people being able to
access this care?

WHITFIELD: Joy, you know, thousands people die each year because of lack
of access of healthcare. There are millions of people who are uninsured or
underinsured. And the marketplace in the past has been very unfair to our
citizens. They had high premiums, they were medically under written. And
many of them incurred very high companies of healthcare cost.

So, you have to get involved in this care plan today. If you have
Medicare, you have Medicaid or you have healthcare insurance by employer,
you`re not at the sense of urgency today. But if you are uninsured, if
you`re the janitor that`s in my practice, or the barber that`s in my
practice that does not have health insurance, you need to get signed up
today so that you could provide healthcare services to yourself and your

People are dying because of the lack of healthcare insurance. So this is a
very important day, this instrumental day to be signed up.

RIED: And it`s also produces an extra burden on organizations like yours,
National Association of Free Clinics that has worked with MSNBC to provide
these free clinics that actually increases the burden on organizations like
yours, right? When people don`t have healthcare?

WHITFIELD: Right. Joy, even if they -- exactly, even if the healthcare
plan and the role out was perfectly, you know, no flawless, no flaws, no
problems at all, there will still be about 30 million people in this
country who will go without healthcare insurance. And that`s why the
National Association of Free Clinics and the free clinic systems around the
country, about 1,200 clinics provide that safety net for individuals who
still will go without healthcare insurance.

Unfortunately, many people think that the working poor are - have access
but they not. And just because you have a job does not mean you can`t have
access to insurance. Even with the Affordable Care Act. So we`ve got to
get the individuals out that are qualified to sign up today. It`s so
important that they do that.

REID: Yeah, and yet you have a new CNN/ORC poll that shows its support for
the countries new healthcare law actually dropped to a record low. But at
the same time, sign ups are increasing, really increasing pretty rapidly.
What do you think is going on here?

WHITFIELD: Well an interesting about their poll, Joy, is what 1,035 people
put the Washington Post/ABC Poll also showed that, you know, enthusiasm and
support for Affordable Care Act was on the up rise up to pre-roll out
levels. So I`m so much into polls when I know that, again 30 million
people will go without healthcare insurance when the roll out is done and

There`s millions of people that are uninsured still and thousands again
will die each year. So not so much as statistics when I know that there`s
people that in my practice that I can touch daily that are going without
insurance and need help instantly.

The polls, not a big deal to me. More importantly, 12 23 getting excited
today and of course some of the private state exchanges are extending that
enrollment period and it`ll be retroactive if you make your premium
payments instantly. So we`ve got to get people enroll today. It`s so
important that we do that.

REID: And what do you think about the messaging of opponents of healthcare
reform, actually telling people not to sign up, encouraging young people
especially not to get health insurance?

WHITFIELD: I think that is ludicrous. You know, I`m part of some programs
in Louisiana and Democratic Party here in Louisiana, doctors for America,
we try to dispel some of the myths and the garbage in the baggage that`s
been put out there by the Affordable Care Act.

Joy, people are dying. And so were not signing up for this healthcare act,
if not sign up for the healthcare then your going to -- a few are going to
loose their lives. So that rhetoric has been out there, is just what it
is, it`s rhetoric and it`s not fair to the American people.

It has been proven poll by poll that the American people don`t want to
repeal this law. They want to fix this law and that`s what we need to be
doing now.

REID: All right, Dr. Rani Whitfield, thank you so much for your time and

And that is the Ed Show. I`m Joy Reid and for Ed Schultz`s Politics Nation
with the Reverend Al Sharpton starts now.

AL SHARPTON: Thanks Joy Reid and Merry Christmas to you, Joy and to your

REID: Merry Christmas to you Rev. Merry Christmas.


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