Guest: Sheldon Whitehouse; Cliff May, Barbara Boxer, Mike Farrell, Rep. Eric Massa, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Michael Medved
ED SCHULTZ, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
Good evening Americans, live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Oh, my good friend Dick Cheney is back in the news. What he told FOX News just house ago.
Female senators ask President Obama to consider the X factor in picking a Supreme Court nominee. The push for single parent health care system is pick up speed, but chairman Max Baucus still refuses to put it on the table. What does the Democrat leading the fight for single parents think about that? Well, I‘ll ask him right here on THE ED SHOW.
Credit cards back in the news, tonight, plus “Psycho Talk,” Rush Limbaugh takes a racist swipe at the president. All that, a great panel coming up, but first, tonight, “Op Ed.”
Oh, my friend Dick Cheney, he says we are not safe because we don‘t torture. Just hours ago on FOX, Cheney, he‘s right back at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FMR U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We‘d successfully defended the nation for 7-1/2 years against a follow-on attack to 9-11, that was a remarkable achievement. Nobody would have thought that was possible. I believe it was because of the policies we has in place, which they‘re not dismantling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By that definition, are more likely to be attacked now, is that what you are saying?
CHENEY: I think that we are stripping ourselves of some of the capabilities that we used in order to block, if you will, or disrupt activities by al Qaeda that would have lead to additional attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Oh, come on. Think about that. We spend billions of dollars protecting this country, but because we don‘t torture, we‘re not safe anymore? Cheney knows absolutely no boundaries when it comes to insults.
Folks, we have Americans on the frontline everyday, protecting and defending this country, people who are busting their ass to get it right, day in and day out—military personnel, law enforcement, investigators, FBI, CIA, the entire web of security. But because we don‘t torture anymore, we‘re just not safe. Talk about insulting.
Now, there are tens of thousands of Americans who are dedicated professions, protecting us right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: The administration appears to be committed to putting that information that sort of favors their point of view in terms of being opposed of, for example, enhanced interrogation techniques. They really began the debate then, with the suggestions that perhaps people should be prosecuted for having participated in the program, or the lawyers who gave us these opinions should be disbarred. No, I think that‘s an outrage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: They began the debate? No, I think the American public started the debate long before the last election.
What does it do for the moral when a former vice president comes out and declares we aren‘t safe because we don‘t torture? I mean, I personally, as an America, would like to know, operationally, what are we doing different? Are the CIA and the FBI, are they taking a nap every day? Are they just a bunch of slackers on the job, aren‘t we listening to overseas conversations anymore?
Cheney, you see, this guy will say anything, he will say anything to save his rear end. The guys knows he‘s guilty. He knows it was illegal and he knows it was wrong. But this is a guy who had five deferments, he knows how to maneuver through the system. Dick Cheney only loves America, you see, when it favors him.
If, God forbid, the county gets hit again, Dick Cheney, I guarantee you, will waste no time in the blame game to win public favor and save him from legal judgment of torture. The majority party needs to get it together, start the due diligence on this, this is what Americans really want. And oh, by the way, it all starts tomorrow.
Joining me now, is Rhode Island senator, Sheldon Whitehouse. He sits on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, tomorrow; he will chair a hearing on the torture memos.
Senator, good to have you with us, tonight. Starting right from the top, Dick Cheney just keeps throwing fuel on the fire for these hearings, doesn‘t he?
SEN SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: It‘s kind of amazing, when you think that he‘s blaming the Obama administration for shutting down the torture program and for shutting down the warrantless wire tapping program, when in point of fact, both of those were actually shut down during the Bush-Cheney administration because they were, in one case, determined to be illegal and the other determined to be ineffective. Do, it‘s really a bit of a stretch to blame those on Obama.
SCHULTZ: You know, Senator, there‘s a lot of Americans out there tonight wondering if this is the real deal, if anything is going to become of these hearings or is this just windows dressing? I need you to address that.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, there are a lot of different folks here in Washington who are looking into what happened. Probably the lead investigation is by Chairman Feinstein on the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is going to be a thorough going look into the entire torture program.
My hearings in the Judiciary Committee are designed to lay a foundation for our discussion later on of the report from Office of Professional Responsibility about the Department of Justice torture memos once that OPR report gets released.
I think we‘re at the beginning of a long series of investigations and I don‘t think this is window dressing. We‘re serious about it, The Chairman Feinstein is serious about it. I think the Office of Professional Responsibility, Department of Justice had been very serious about it, and there‘s a lot of work to do ahead of us.
SCHULTZ: Senator, I read your statement today. It sounds like your hearing tomorrow is going to be focusing on the legal justification as to where they actually got it and exactly what the Justice Department said. Do I have that right?
WHITEHOUSE: It focuses on three things, Ed. We have a witness who will comment on the factual underpinnings about the usefulness of torture and about what it actually produced, which were used to justify the torture program.
We have a witness who will talk about the effect within the Bush administration of these OLC memos and how horrified and scandalized a lot of lawyers were and how the response of the administration was to order that the memos be destroyed and shut off debate rather than get to the bottom of the legal question.
And we have an expert on the discipline of attorneys to give us the general framework for what the rules are and what we can expect to be setting the OPR report against in terms of evaluating the likelihood of people being disbarred or censured for their illegal behavior.
SCHULTZ: Do you think this is a road map to a special prosecutor, special investigation?
WHITEHOUSE: I would not at this point. I think that the Department of Justice is perfectly capable of handling this in house. I have enormous confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder. I think ultimately, this whole array of investigations will make the idea of a national accountability commission inevitable.
...people will have to pull it together.
SCHULTZ: Senator, do you want to give us your opinion tonight, why you think the former vice president continually goes out and does these interviews? Is he ginning up support in case there are some legal ramifications down the road that would involve both him and the former president?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, he wouldn‘t be the first potential defendant to try to influence a potential jury pool. I think this would probably be the largest scale effort of that variety. But certainly there‘s a very intense messaging program going on and I think one of the things that these hearings will reveal is that the messaging program is very false and very misleading. But, we want to develop it slowly and carefully through the evidence rather than run around making a lot of wild and unfactual assertions, as the vice president, I believe, is doing.
SCHULTZ: and finally, Senator, you‘re on the Intelligence Committee, can you tell the American people tonight watching THE ED SHOW that operationally we haven‘t changed anything when it comes to protecting the country? Or have we?
WHITEHOUSE: By all of the standards that Americans believe in, our country is as well protected as ever.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Senator. That‘s all we need to hear tonight. I appreciate it so much.
WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Senator Whitehouse.
Let‘s turn now to Cliff May, who is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Mr. May, you and I have gone round and round on this before. Do you think torture is legal?
CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY: No, torture is clearly illegal. There‘s no question about that. The question is what constitutes torture and the memos you described as torture memos, Ed, if you read them, or people in your audience read them, I urge you to do so, they‘ll see that they‘re not torture memos. They are tortures that say, here‘s the line that you must not cross because if you do as a CIA interrogator, you will be torturing and you may not do that. That‘s what those memos say.
SCHULTZ: All right, so waterboarding is not torture, at least in the last administration, right?
MAY: Waterboarding is torture if you do it, for example, the way the Japanese did it during World War II. What these memos say about waterboarding, again, I would suggest you read them, is to say, look, you can do this somewhat, but not beyond this line. Just like sleep deprivation, if you keep somebody up overnight, that‘s not torture, if you keep them up for three months, that is not torture.
So, they try to draw a line, you may disagree with where they drew the line, Ed, but you can‘t say they didn‘t attempt to draw a line, they obviously did.
SCHULTZ: Well, we‘re splitting hairs here.
MAY: No, we‘re not...
SCHULTZ: I have read the torture memos and we clearly have a difference in opinion and a difference of interpretation. So, clearly—so clearly these hearings are a must, are they not?
MAY: Yeah. Here‘s my problem, as you exactly put it and you‘re exactly right, Ed. We have a difference of opinion. And for the first time in American history, we‘re suggesting, I think you‘re suggesting, that government lawyers in this administration prosecute government lawyers from the past administration because they disagree with their legal opinions. It‘s as though Eisenhower had prosecute prosecuted Truman because he disagreed with the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
SCHULTZ: You just told me that waterboarding was torture, so, and then you tried to describe the techniques of it...
MAY: No, what I said was...
SCHULTZ: .describe the techniques of it.
MAY: No, what I...
SCHULTZ: I guess we‘re going to have demonstrations at these hearings. Maybe (INAUDIBLE) will do it then, finally, but then they‘ll do it.
MAY: No, that‘s not what I said. What I said was that as you read the memo, you know that what they tried to do was draw a line between what is torture and what is not torture and why you can disagree. They gave serious legal opinions. And if you‘re going to prosecute them for their opinions, that‘s a terrible thing to do in America. We‘ve never done that before. Ever before.
SCHULTZ: But, Cliff, by international standards, it was torture what we were doing and it went to the highest level according to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
MAY: Excuse me. Excuse me, you—first of all, we‘re under American law here and American law, the Constitution supersedes everything else. So, when you‘re talk about even under international law, no. I would argue that they looked at what the law was, nationally and internationally and said, on this basis we draw the line between...
SCHULTZ: ...on American soil. Is that what I‘m hearing?
SCHULTZ: These rendition flights were in Europe and all over the country where these techniques...
MAY: It‘s interesting that you mention rendition, because, as you know, the Obama administration is reserving the ability to conduct renditions. I supposed you‘re against that?
SCHULTZ: No. I‘m not, hey look, I‘m for the law. I‘m for the law.
MAY: Here‘s my point...
SCHULTZ: And just so it‘s clear here, waterboarding has been determined as torture.
SCHULTZ: Wait a minute, I‘ll give you time, Cliff.
MAY: All right. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: You had the White House go over and tell the Justice Department what the new rules are. Forget the law, we‘re just going to make it up. No one in Congress was briefed on this and we‘re going to get to the bottom of that (INAUDIBLE). I‘ll give you the final word.
MAY: There were briefings in Congress, we know that. And here‘s where we agree. You think torture is wrong. I think torture is wrong. Let me tell you, the CIA intelligence officers who conducted the interrogations, and the lawyers from Justice Department, all who advised them, they all thought torture was wrong. If you‘re going to prosecute them because you disagree with their opinions, you are establishing a tyranny you will come to regret.
SCHULTZ: So you‘re saying that we actually have to find out what techniques were used if we‘re going to get to the bottom of this?
MAY: I would say that if we‘re going to get to the bottom of this, and we‘ve released some memos, we do need to release other memos...
SCHULTZ: I‘m all about that.
MAY: We need to release the memos that show the effectiveness and we need to consider carefully where the line was drawn. A line has to be drawn according to the law between torture and other methods that are coercive, that are though, that get information. Don‘t forget Ed, only three people were ever waterboarded, they were all al Qaeda operatives, with knowledge of imminent terrorist attacks, all before 2003. Important your audience knows that.
SCHULTZ: OK, I‘ll let you say that. I disagree with that.
SCHULTZ: It will all come out in the hearings.
MAY: The hearings will be a show trial. I‘m really upset about that.
We‘ll talk about it more later, I‘m sure.
SCHULTZ: All right, we will come back on this at a later date. I appreciate you joining us tonight.
MAY: Anytime man, my pleasure.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
Next up, Mr. President, we need a woman, some female senators asking president Obama to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court. I‘ll talk to one of them, Senator Barbara Boxer, and she may weigh in on the torture thing, as well. That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: I told you this was going to be a fight. Arrests on Capitol Hill over who profits from health care reform. You‘re going to want to see this. That‘s coming up on THE ED SHOW, stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. In 220 years, only two women have served on the Supreme Court. Tomorrow, President Obama is going to meet with Senate leaders to talk about the court vacancy. With two senators, they have written to the president, asking to have a woman on the bench. Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe wrote, “The most important thing is to nominate an exceptionally well-qualified person to replace Justice Souter, and we are convinced that person should be a woman.”
Joining me now is. Senator Barbara Boxer of California.
Senator, great to have you with us, tonight.
SEN BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: How important is it? Why did you write this? Why should it be a woman?
BOXER: It‘s very important. We know that women are 51 percent of the population, here in America and we know that they are grossly underrepresented all over the place. Even in the Senate where we‘re proud to have 17, that‘s only 17 percent.
You look at corporate America, it‘s just a few percent. And if you want the court to, especially the court, to be relevant to the real live people, and President Obama talks about that, it seems to me, very clear, we want a diverse bench, we don‘t have it now. We should have a woman.
SCHULTZ: What about a woman of color?
BOXER: Well, women of color bring to the table even more diversity. So, I think it‘s wonderful. We do have a woman in California named Kim Wardlaw, who serves on the Ninth Circuit and Senator Feinstein has brought her name out and I can, today, have that opportunity. It‘s just an example of one terrific woman.
So, there are so many qualified women out there. And I have to tell you there‘s another reason that Olympia and I wrote this letter, we have read that various statements that have been made by Judge Ginsburg and by former Judge Sandra Day O‘Connor and they clearly state, it‘s very important. They‘ve said it over and over again. Now, these are folks who know—as a matter of fact, Judge Ginsburg said that she‘s really very lonely without another woman. And the point is, the perspective that each of us brings.
And I‘ll say to you as a man, if there were eight women on the court
and one man...-
SCHULTZ: I got it.
BOXER: Honestly, I‘d stand here and say, we‘ve really got to get a man.
SCHULTZ: I believe you would.
BOXER: I think we should look at it that way.
SCHULTZ: I believe you would, Senator. You and I have had this conversation in the past. Elections have consequences.
SCHULTZ: And I‘m going to be bullish on this. I want the president to put a liberal on the court. I want this fight. I want America to have this discussion. And I want your thoughts on that. Would you tell the president we need a liberal on the court? Flat out?
BOXER: Well, I would. The fact is, we need to have someone who is going to think like David Souter. He happened to be a Republican, but he was a liberal member of the court, a progressive member of the court. And this seat, therefore, certainly has to be maintained, it‘s key. And, yes, we need that balance. Right now we have a 5-4 court, it can go either way. If we don‘t have a progressive in this slot, we‘re really in trouble in terms of imbalance.
So, yes, I want to have a woman who is progressive, who brings, you know, as the president himself says, some empathy to the court, experience to the court, wisdom to the court, all those things.
SCHULTZ: And Senator, does this selection, in your opinion, have to be a judge?
BOXER: Oh, no, I don‘t think it does have to be a judge. I really don‘t. But, it has to be someone who is very qualified, very smart, and really very much centered around the set of values that I think have made our country great, which is ever expanding freedom, individual rights, you know, the things that we hold dear.
SCHULTZ: No doubt. Senator, good to have you on with us.
SCHULTZ: Senator Barbara Boxer of California with us, here on THE ED
Now, coming up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho-Talk.” Rush Limbaugh says President Obama is deliberately trying to wreck the economy. But that‘s not even the craziest thing he had to say. It‘s “Psycho Talk,” it‘s coming up next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Have you heard the crazy things that are being said by conservatives these days? That‘s right. It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.” Oh, we‘ve got a dandy tonight. We‘ve got dual conspiracy theorists entering the psycho zone tonight.
Now, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Congressman Pete Sessions, is accusing President Obama of wanting to kill capitalism, of intentionally trying to put Americans out of work. Sessions told the “New York Times,” Monday, the administration wants to diminish employment and diminish stock prices. Why? Because the Obama agenda is to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not kill. It‘s economic sabotage.
Well, guess who loves that paranoid theory? It‘s the drugster, who else? The de facto leader of the Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh thinks it‘s genius. But Rush takes the psycho talk a step further and brings in race. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And if the objective is to take the nation‘s wealth and return it to the nation‘s “rightful owners,” think reparations. Think forced reparations here, if you want to understand what actually is going on.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Think “forced reparations?” Well, now we‘re talking about racism. But, don‘t be surprised, this comes from the guy who said Donovan McNabb was getting a free pass because of the color of his skin.
This is the guy that had a good time playing the “Barack the Magic Negro” song over and over on his radio show. Now he‘s saying that the president‘s economic agenda is to get even for slavery? Economic conspiracy theories and forced reparations? That‘s sick, racist psycho talk.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. The grassroots push for universal health care is growing. Tomorrow, health care professionals and activists will march to Congress to call for a single-payer system. Now, the group organizing the march, Health Justice, is just rolling out a new ad campaign that speaks directly to President Obama. Take a look.
ANNOUNCER: A few years ago, then Senator Obama said he was a proponent of the single-payer health care system. He got a lot of applause for that line. Now as president, Mr. Obama says he wants to build around the system that we have, the system that‘s dominated by insurance companies.
Mr. President, the insurance companies have stiffed us time and time again. Don‘t give into them.
Yes, we know they are powerful. Yes, they have lots of money and lots of political clout. But don‘t sell us short. It‘s time to get the insurance companies and their costly red tape out of our health care system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Amen to that. Joining me now is Mike Farrell, former star of “MASH” and the man in that ad. He‘s author of the book “Of Mule and Man.” What a pleasure. Great to have you with us. Thank you for your tenacity to come out and tell it like it is.
MIKE FARRELL: Well, listen, it‘s got to be told. When we see Senator Baucus dismissing people out of hand.
SCHULTZ: Can you believe that?
FARRELL: No. I was stunned by it, frankly. I said—I‘m going to say tomorrow, 30 years ago, I was out in Montana campaigning for Senator Max Baucus to be senator. That was back when he was a Democrat.
SCHULTZ: It just doesn‘t sound like President Obama not to include, does it?
FARRELL: No, it doesn‘t.
SCHULTZ: OK. Can you trust the president on this? Do you think he‘s just almost like a godfather thing? Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer?
FARRELL: I‘m a big fan of the president. I think he‘s trying to do the right thing. And he‘s finding that it‘s difficult because the pressures in Washington, as we know, are tremendous. The money is beyond our imagination. And I think he‘s trying to position himself as best he can. But I think, like Roosevelt, he needs us to push him.
SCHULTZ: No doubt. Do you trust the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical manufacturers, AMA, all of these folks that are getting a seat at the table. All of a sudden, after all of the years of double-digit increases and for profits, all of a sudden, we can trust them.
FARRELL: That‘s right, yes. Of course, I trust them. I trust them tow ant to make a profit. What I want to do is take the profit out of it and make a single payer system that cuts, we know, 30 percent out of the cost of this thing.
SCHULTZ: The thing that troubled me out of Senator Baucus is he said we don‘t need a totally new system. Well, it‘s not a totally new system.
FARRELL: We‘ve been doing Medicare for a long time.
SCHULTZ: If you had a chance, Mike, to speak directly with the president, what would you say? Or are you just doing it in that commercial?
FARRELL: I said it. Senator, don‘t let us down. Don‘t give in. We know the pressures are there. We know the money is there. But you owe it to us to live up—years ago, you said single payer made sense. It still makes sense.
SCHULTZ: He says it‘s off the table. Max Baucus says it‘s off the table. Is he the final voice in this?
FARRELL: He can‘t be. No. President of the United States is the final voice.
SCHULTZ: How much pressure and how much sweat equity are you willing to put into this?
FARRELL: I‘ll be there tomorrow. I‘ll be marching with the nurses and the doctors. We‘ll be holding a press conference and letting them know.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Farrell, that‘s the thing that is so mind boggling to me, is that there are so many professionals, health care providers, who have experienced it, saying we‘ve got people dying because we‘ve got a failed system right now, in many respects. If you‘ve got money, you‘re OK.
FARRELL: Sure. If you‘ve got money, if you‘ve got a good job, then you can probably get good health care. But if you don‘t—we have, what, 47 million people in this country without health care? Health care ought to be a human right. Health care ought to be guaranteed to every person who lives in this country. And until and unless it is, we‘re not living up to who we‘re supposed to be.
SCHULTZ: Thank you for doing what you‘re doing. I‘m a big fan.
FARRELL: Right back at you.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, mike. Thanks so much.
Today, the Senate Finance Committee held its second hearing on health care reform. Five people calling for single-payer health care were arrested. Same old story. Democratic Chairman Max Baucus again said single payer is not on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAUCUS: We‘ve got health care reform in front of us right now. And we have to, in my judgment, work with what we have got, to make what we have work better. We cannot go to a totally new system. Some want to go to single pay. I don‘t think that‘s going to work in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Folks, don‘t think for a second that single payer is dead. There are a lot of Democrats who believe single payer is the only way to get true health care reform in this country. Congressman Eric Massa of New York, he‘s only been in Congress 126 days. He‘s leading the single-payer charge in the House, and is co-chair of the Congressional Universal Health Reform Caucus.
You‘re my new hero, my man. The way you‘re speaking up on this, what do you think you can get done?
REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK: Right back at you. Let me just say, it‘s not just Democrats. It‘s the entire American business community, who understand that we are absolutely hang tying our international corporate small and medium sized businesses by trying to do what Senator Baucus is saying, live with what we have.
It‘s a failure. It has not worked. If it didn‘t work, we wouldn‘t be here with, frankly, now, more than 50 million uninsured Americans.
SCHULTZ: You‘re a guy who is going to day 127 tomorrow. You‘re acting as if you have everything to gain and nothing to lose, which I really respect. But do you trust the president? We‘re in the early stages here. Do you trust him that he‘s going to put single payer into this equation?
MASSA: Here‘s what I want to do. I want to tell the president that we‘ve got his back. I‘m an old military guy. I spent 24 years in the United States Navy, and a little over a decade ago I was given a terminal diagnosis of cancer. I was told I had four months to live. With that life‘s history, what are you going to do to me? You can‘t intimidate me politically. It just doesn‘t work.
I want to make the president know that tens of millions of Americans, we‘ve got his back. We‘ll cover him to make the tough decision, both in the House and the Senate. And that‘s a central message we want to give to the administration.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Eric Massa, I have to ask you, are you willing to take on the corporate interest if it costs you your seat? They are going to target you, guy.
MASSA: Some would say, especially when you read the local press in Washington, that I‘m the most targeted member of Congress. I wonder what happens in the break room, Ed. That‘s where my heart is, not in the board room. For eight years. we focused on the board room. Look where it got us.
Greed, unlike what the TV show said, is not necessarily good. And, frankly, it‘s killing people. So let‘s have an honest conversation in this country about true medical reform that includes the single-payer option, Medicare for all Americans.
SCHULTZ: I got an e-mail, the CBS station in San Francisco ran a story last night about a lady who‘s coverage was denied. She‘s got cancer. She‘s dying. Americans, who are we? We‘re better than this as a country.
Can‘t we do something? Or are we that selfish?
And, finally, Congressman, I want to ask you, do you trust the insurance companies and all of these corporate guys in the room yesterday? I mean, all of a sudden they are going to say, we‘re going to reduce our costs and save two trillion dollars.
MASSA: Ed, I‘m not the most athletic guy and I trust them as far as I can throw them. They are in this business to make hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in profits. Profit is great, but not when it‘s at the expense of the lives of my fellow Americans, and the ability of American businesses to compete all over the globe.
No, I don‘t trust them. Not when it comes to this.
SCHULTZ: You‘re my new hero. I said that earlier. I‘ll say it again. Keep up the fight, my friend. We‘ve got to be heard at the table.
MASSA: We will not be quiet and we will not go away.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. For more on this, let‘s turn to our political panel tonight, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation,” Carlos Watson, MSNBC anchor and founder and publisher of theStimulus.com, Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk show host and author of “The Ten Biggest Lies in America.”
Katrina, this really is setting up to be a big political fall for the president, what I think, if he excludes these people. What a—what a bad move today.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: What Max Baucus did was unhealthy for our democracy, unhealthy for debate, unhealthy for real reform. It is a disgrace when nurses and doctors are arrested, and insurance company execs and big pharma execs are seated at the table and given red carpet treatment.
What is going on in this country? We should have a full fledged debate. People talk about the marketplace of ideas. If they really believe in a market, get those people at the table. And the president I think should take a stand, Ed.
I agree with your great guest before, Michael Farrell. Presidents doing a lot of good work requires citizens from below. That‘s where real change comes from. But he should take a stand and get those single-payer activists at the table.
CARLOS WATSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ed, I think Katrina raises a big question; are people going to be willing to put it on the line, like the five folks who got arrested. Are people going to be willing to march all summer in a very difficult situation?
I think people literally—two things are going to be needed, money and bodies. Right? It‘s not going to be easy.
HEUVEL: That‘s where real change comes from, below, as you said, the grassroots below activism, pushing, moving.
SCHULTZ: I think it‘s going to take, it‘s going to have to parallel a civil rights type movement that we saw in the ‘60s. I really believe that. Michael, let me bring you into this. Has President Obama changed his position? Is he caving into the corporate interests? What‘s your take?
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, he was always talking about building consensus and trying to put together a health care reform program that would involve all participants. I don‘t think he‘s going to get a lot of Republican support, in terms of setting up a new government Medicare program to cover everybody. And certainly he‘s not going to get any Republican support for single payer.
What I love about this, Ed, I love, as a Republican, watching Democrats cannibalizing each other and going to war with one another, allowing, from your point of view, it seems to me, the perfect be the enemy of the good.
SCHULTZ: Well, the president loves debate. I‘m willing to give him debate because I think there are millions of Americans out there who want this. So I‘m disappointed that—
MEDVED: I always hope.
SCHULTZ: I‘m disappointed that the president or Max Baucus has not been reeled in by this administration, said hey, wait a minute, that‘s not how we campaigned. That‘s not what we talked about. Single payer is going to be on the table.
MEDVED: All of the surveys show that about 70 percent of Americans feel personally satisfied with their own medical health insurance protection.
WATSON: Michael, Michael, I mean, that‘s the same kind of subject Dick Cheney was talking about when he said there were WMDs and slam dunk cases. That‘s not right. That‘s not true.
Here‘s a reality though, and Michael brings up a good point. Unless there‘s some real Democratic primary challenge, you‘re not going to move people off of that. You‘ve got to send a message. There have to be primary challenges. There can‘t just be Ed Schultz‘s voice. You know what you need? You need a Bobby Kennedy like figure to say, I don‘t care. I‘ll lose if I have to lose.
SCHULTZ: I would quiet down a little if they would just seat at them at the table. I want an actuary. I want an actuary on single payer.
HEUVEL: Michael‘s concern about Democrats is pretty laughable, because what real change comes from pushing, from more radical, going to the root of the problem, of a health care system that has failed us. That is single payer. We may not end there. It may take a decade.
But the public plan, which is incremental but important, that has to be where we don‘t let that impact. The public plan—if Michael is opposed to the public plan, he‘s opposed to competition. He‘s opposed to giving people a choice.
SCHULTZ: OK, what about that, Michael? Are you opposed to that?
MEDVED: No, I‘m in favor of competition significance. I was very struck by the fact that Senator Schumer said the other day that the public plan that he wants to set up would be exactly like private insurance, and would have the same limitations and the same rules as private insurance, and would also have to break even like private insurance.
If that‘s the case, why do it? The idea is that, ultimately, as the “Wall Street Journal” has pointed out, and I think they are right about this—the whole idea is, ultimately, you are going to have taxpayers funding the public plan in order to give it an advantage.
SCHULTZ: Hey, I‘m ready to write the check. I think most Americans are ready to write the check. Here‘s the bottom line, though.
MEDVED: If you want to pay for your neighbor‘s health insurance, that‘s fine for you.
SCHULTZ: Just like I want to pay for my neighbor‘s education when it comes to public education, when it comes to defense and fire and police.
WATSON: Now, remember, Michael represents probably a real 30 percent of the population.
SCHULTZ: He does. But they‘re at the table.
WATSON: Correct. They own the table.
WATSON: We actually have to link two things today. I think this is worthy of talking about. Obama is right that he only has so much political capital. And Ed, I think a lot of liberals have to ask themselves, if it comes down to it, and that this is true, that he‘s got to spend his time and energy around the torture issue or he‘s got to spend it on health care.
You and I don‘t like that. And that‘s a tough choice. But I think that may end up being a real political choice.
SCHULTZ: You know what, dog gone it, we have 100 senators. There‘s enough people around Washington to figure this thing out. We can do more than walk and chew gum. These issues are big. That‘s right, let‘s get it on.
All right. Panel, stay with us. We have so much more coming up. Credit card companies are putting the squeeze on students, small businesses. Some shocking numbers are out there. We‘ve got that coming up next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, President Obama wants to sign credit card legislation before the Memorial Day weekend? Well, it looks like that just could happen. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill this Thursday. It means that your credit card company can no longer raise rates arbitrarily on your existing balance. Amen to that. It also means it can‘t raise rates at all in the first year that you‘ve got the credit card.
It means bringing rates back down. That‘s what Americans want. The Senate version also goes after credit card companies for targeting young kids. College student credit card debt is at record levels. We‘re talking about nine out of ten college students who rely on credit cards to cover basic school expenses like books and tuition.
Did you hear that? Nine out of ten. A student‘s average credit card balance now stands at more than 3,000 dollars. That‘s a record.
This credit card bill is also important for small businesses. The National Small Business Association released a survey this past weekend; 59 percent of small businesses use credit cards to finance their business; 79 percent said that they‘ve were getting worse terms than before. Asked specifically if their credit card rates and limits had gotten worse in the last six months, an eye-popping 75 percent said yes.
Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd spoke about the legislation today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Having deceptive and fraudulent practices being used in the conduct of credit cards is hurting individuals and making it difficult for them to meet their obligations. It‘s putting them further and further behind in their ability to deal with the issues every single day. And it‘s harmful to our economy as a whole.
So this bill offers some real change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Real change. Let‘s see it. Dodd did strike a deal over the weekend with top Republican on the Banking Committee. That‘s Richard Shelby. With Shelby‘s backing, it‘s expected the legislation will get more than enough Republicans to pass with the Senate vote. Again, the vote is expected on Thursday, and we‘ll be watching it for you.
Now, they have found that student‘s average credit card balance now stands at more than 3,000 dollars, a record since Sallie Mae started doing a survey a decade ago.
Coming up, more from Dick Cheney‘s latest fear campaign. He says, Gitmo is a great facility. It‘s next on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. One more thing that Dick Cheney said at his interview. After trying to scare us into buying torture tactics, Cheney was asking about President Obama‘s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Listen to Cavuto, because the question is a beauty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: The administration‘s intelligence director had said that detainees who are just misplaced and are here have a right to, among other things, and could get welfare, for example. How do you feel about that?
CHENEY: I think it‘s a terrible idea. I think they need to keep Guantanamo open. I think it‘s a mistake to try to close it. If you didn‘t have it, you would have to invent it. If you bring those people to the United States, I don‘t know a single Congressman that‘s going to stand up and say, gee, send me some terrorists.
Guantanamo is a great facility. It‘s very well-run. These people are very well treated. It‘s opened to inspection by the International Red Cross and the press and so forth. And we ought to continue it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Welfare for al Qaeda. Gitmo a great facility. Time to bring back our panel, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, and also Carlos Watson and Michael Medved. Michael, I‘ll give you the first shot on this. Why is Dick Cheney continually doing these interviews and acting like a defendant? What‘s your take?
MEDVED: Well, because he cares about the security of the United States. There‘s obviously very little to be gained for him personally here. He‘s not promoting a book or promoting any political future.
SCHULTZ: He‘s trying to stay out of jail.
MEDVED: I don‘t think there‘s a realistic chance, Ed. In fact, I haven‘t heard anyone talk in the administration about indicting Dick Cheney for anything. What he‘s trying to do is trying to get the administration to focus on the fact that the war on terror is ongoing. It hasn‘t been won. It‘s not over. We are still menaced by people who want to destroy us and want to kill you and your family, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Do you think Gitmo is a great facility? Do you think the majority of Americans think Gitmo is a great facility?
MEDVED: I will tell you the majority of Americans probably don‘t. But I will tell you this, that I think President Obama will come to regret his premature announcement about closing Gitmo before he had any arrangements about what to do with those people who are there right now, who—Dick Cheney is absolutely right. You don‘t want them living next door to you and no Congressman wants them in their district.
SCHULTZ: Actually, I think the president was pretty well thought out on this. It don‘t think this was a knee jerk reaction, Mike. Katrina, what‘s your reaction to this?
HEUVEL: I was interested in what Senator Whitehouse said earlier on the show, Ed, where he talked about Dick Cheney traveling the country on this torture tour, almost like a defendant trying to work a jury. I think Dick Cheney is concerned about prosecution, as he should me.
Don‘t list ten to me. Listen to Major General Antonio Taguba, who on April 14th—and Taguba wrote the Abu Ghraib report for the military. He called for an independent investigation to prosecute war crimes which had come out of this White House. This is a man in the military, Ed. I think we forget that there were differences and that the military and military lawyers were horrified that security could not be provided within the context of American law and ideals, and, instead, we subverted our security by violating the very principles our country claims to be fighting for in this ongoing fight against terror.
SCHULTZ: Carlos, one thing is for sure. He‘s not fishing a lot of streams, and he‘s not playing around with the grandkids. And that‘s what he said he was going to do when he was done with the Bush administration. This is a relentless PR campaign. And I think we‘re going to see this every month.
WATSON: I‘m not sure. We‘re going to see it for a while, because it‘s ultimately going to lead to a 9/11-style commission. No doubt about that. Whether or not they want it or not, whether or not David Broder and others think it‘s a good idea or not, people are clearly going to say, we‘ve got to dive into this more.
I still am a little bit of a skeptic about whether or not there will be any real punishment meted out, to the extent that we find laws were broken at the highest levels.
But here‘s the other piece of this. I think fundamentally one of the other things going on is I don‘t think that Dick Cheney is communicating well. What he could say is he could say, we were disorganized. We weren‘t prepared. When September 11th happened, we were caught off guard.
Hold on a second. It is. There were a number of things that we did because we threw at the wall. We did the surveillance. We did the wire tapping. We did Guantanamo. We did all sorts of things. And you know what? Eight out of ten of those didn‘t make sense. We didn‘t know what to do and that‘s where we were.
He hasn‘t done that and that‘s why I think he could risk more serious scrutiny. I still don‘t think he‘ll end up in jail, but much more serious scrutiny.
SCHULTZ: Well, you never know. That‘s what I‘m wishing for. I don‘t know about anybody else out there. Here‘s another thing.
SCHULTZ: Michael, I would like to know, what operationally are we doing wrong that makes us less safe? I mean, Dick Cheney is out there saying that we‘re weak; we‘re less safe. Is it all because we‘re not torturing? Are we not listening to those conversations anymore? Is the CIA napping? Is the FBI cutting down on personnel? What are we doing that is different?
MEDVED: The essence of the Bush approach, which, say what you will, did keep the United States of America safe after 9/11 -- the essence of the Bush approach was taking the war very aggressively against our terrorist enemies.
WATSON: That‘s hard to say, say what you will, as though we didn‘t have any other choice. That was the only choice and therefore that validates anything that did or didn‘t happen. That‘s a weak argument every time we hear it.
HEUVEL: The history of our country, Michael, has been finding that balance between security and civil liberties. This administration, according to many military and security experts, provided, with their use of torture, one of the great recruiting tools for al Qaeda. That is an enormous security breach and failure.
SCHULTZ: Michael, you‘ve got the floor.
MEDVED: From a Republican point of view, we would want nothing more than for the administration to take us back into this debate. That would be a disaster for the Obama administration. And, frankly, it would do nothing to help the security of the United States by telegraphing our entire approach.
SCHULTZ: I just want to know what we‘re doing differently operationally. Are we not checking ports? Are we not doing the airport thing? Are we falling asleep? Torture?
MEDVED: I think what we have done is we have given the enemy very specific information about harsh interrogation that did prove, according to most of the people directly involved, useful in guaranteeing our survey.
SCHULTZ: But Michael, that is to try to gain the moral high ground and show the rest of the world that there is a better way, that people can live side by side without butchering one another.
Good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much, Katrina, Carlos and Michael. Thank you. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, just send me an e-mail. Go to ED.MSNBC.com, or check out my radio website at WeGotEd.com. Got a townhall meeting coming up in Buffalo on June 13th. Go to our website and sign up that.
To get text alerts of THE ED SHOW sent to your phone, just text the word Ed to 622639. We‘ll see you tomorrow night at the same time. Coming up next is “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. It starts right now.
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