Guests: Carolyn McCarthy, Mark Potok, Kent Conrad, Rep. Rob Andrews, Michael Crowley, AB Stoddard, Kevin Madden, Robert Greenwald>
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.
Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
I‘m a lifelong hunter. I own firearms. But the Second Amendment shouldn‘t apply to psychopaths.
It‘s time for us to discuss responsible gun ownership. We‘ll talk to a leading advocate on gun control in the Congress.
President Obama takes his health care plan to the heartland. He is strongly backing a public option, and he slammed the righties today, who are screaming about socialized medicine.
Exclusive video from Afghanistan. We‘ll show you what‘s really happening to innocent people over there. Legendary filmmaker Robert Greenwald joins us tonight.
And I‘ve got a commentary on executive pay. When is enough enough?
Plus “Psycho Talk.”
All that and a great panel, but first tonight‘s “OpEd.”
Tonight, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, it is always a hot topic. James von Brunn, an 88-year-old known criminal, known hater of Jewish and black people, walked up to the museum in Washington yesterday with a .22 caliber rifle, right in broad daylight, and started shooting.
Now, we have a system of laws, and the laws clearly state that this man is innocent until proven guilty. I respect that, we all respect that as Americans. He‘s going to be judged by a jury of his peers. OK?
But let‘s look at what kind of activities Mr. Von Brunn was involved in. He was a proud and vocal white supremacist. He took pride in hating Jews. He ran a Web site that trafficked in hatred, trying to rally people to the cause with his writings.
Police found a notebook inside Von Brunn‘s car. Inside the notebook he wrote that President Obama was “... created by Jews and does what his Jew owners tell him to do.” This, unquestionably, absolutely disgusting to all decent people and all Americans, regardless of your political leanings and stripes.
But I want to make another point here tonight. Mr. Von Brunn is exactly, exactly the kind of threat the Department of Homeland Security warned us about.
In April, they put out a report warning about an increase in extremism in the wake of President Obama‘s election. The right wing? What did they do? Oh, they went bonkers.
They mocked it. They called for Janet Napolitano‘s resignation. They claimed President Obama was trying to put a target on anybody who disagreed with him politically.
Since that warning, what have we seen? Well, we‘ve seen a series of deadly shootings. Hate groups are using the information highway to organize, incite and act on hateful beliefs.
Sooner or later, here we go, we‘re going to have to get into the discussion in this country again on gun control. Why does an 88-year-old psycho have access to weapons? Because groups like the NRA make it possible?
Now, look, I‘m a lifelong hunter. I own a lot of firearms, deer rifles, shotguns. I‘ve shot more pheasants I know than anybody in New York City, maybe even on the East Coast.
It‘s recreational, right? And it‘s legal.
But I can tell you that this has nothing to do with the shooting sports, has nothing to do with hunting and recreation. It has everything to do with a psychopath who advertised on his Web site hate after hate pieces of material.
We knew what this guy was all about. We knew what he was capable of.
He had a prior. He had served time, and continued his hateful ways. But because of the Second Amendment that we just can‘t touch, we just allowed this to happen as a society. That‘s my take.
If someone is going to go out and spew this kind of hate, I‘m not convinced as a citizen they should have the right to own a firearm. I mean, I think we need to reel this in.
There are too many—too many loopholes in gun ownership in this country. It has nothing to do with freedom. It has a lot to do with responsibility and security.
More on the hate groups in a moment, but I want to talk first about guns in the hands—key here, folks—guns in the hands of the wrong people.
Joining me now is New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
Congresswoman, good to have you with us tonight.
I know that you have been an advocate for gun control. I‘m an advocate for responsible gun ownership. Whether that‘s gun control or not we could argue that until the cows come home, so to speak, but is there anything that we could do in your opinion that might have prevented something that happened yesterday in Washington, D.C.?
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Well, you know, first let me say, Ed, I happen to agree with you. I‘m not for gun control. I‘m for reducing gun violence in this country.
And I also agree with you that, as far as anybody going hunting or sportsmanship, I don‘t have a problem with that. It‘s the other guns that are out there and the loopholes that are out there. Last year I had a bill passed called the NICS bill, which was the NICS Improvement Act, which would have looked back in the courts years ago to find out if this person had bought that gun, and then he would have been able to not be able to have that gun.
SCHULTZ: Should a guy that went through the life that this Mr. Von Brunn went through, should he own a firearm? I mean, we know what his activities he was involved in, we know his feelings. He was very threatening, and he‘s got a firearm.
Now, should there be legislation that would take that freedom away from this guy?
MCCARTHY: Well, to be very honest with you, when you really think about this, we know that the FBI had been watching some of these groups, and especially the group that he belonged to. So, with that right there, you know, they infiltrate those particular groups, and they have basically a very large amount of guns. And I‘m sure that many of those guns are also sold to other groups that legally—without going through a background check.
With the shooter, certainly he should have never been able to have a gun, that‘s for sure, mainly because he had been convicted of a felon. We don‘t know how old that gun was and we don‘t know if he got that gun before he was convicted. But these groups that are out there, I know that people, you know, make—they don‘t want to believe that they‘re out there with these different militias that believe that they should be able to have machine guns. They believe they should be able to have tanks.
Do I believe that? No, I don‘t.
Now, you made the comment on your release in the wake of that terrible tragedy yesterday, “Many of the wrong people have access to guns.”
How could you reel that in? Obviously this guy was one of them, and we knew what his makeup was, but he had a firearm, and he went and he killed a security guard and ruined the lives of a lot of people.
So what would you suggest we do to prevent something like that happening again?
MCCARTHY: Well, depending on where he got the gun, but I will tell you a lot of the guns from people that can‘t get a gun legally go to gun shows. There—you can go there and you can buy any type of gun you want without going through a background check.
SCHULTZ: So that‘s the key. I mean, people just can‘t walk up to a gun show and just get a gun. They can do that right now, but that‘s a loophole.
Is that something that you think that the Congress should look at?
MCCARTHY: I think it is something. And we have introduced legislation basically to stop hose loopholes on the gun shows.
SCHULTZ: All right.
MCCARTHY: New York did it, and it‘s working. And by the way, everybody is still going to the gun shows, everybody is still able to buy a gun that they see and they like, but they have to go through a background check and pass that.
SCHULTZ: Congresswoman, thanks for joining us tonight.
Congresswoman McCarthy from New York.
And we should point out that gun sales and ammunition sales in this country are on the rise.
Now more on these hate groups and hate speech on the Internet.
Let me turn to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. They follow groups such as this.
Is there increased activity? I mean, I‘ve read a lot of material in the last 24 hours about how it‘s at an all-time high. Now, average citizens may not feel that.
Tell us about it.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, no, I don‘t think this activity is at an all-time high, but I do think that hate groups have grown pretty substantially over the last nine or 10 years. Our accounts substantiate that in a very clear way by about 50 percent.
I think in addition, we‘ve seen a lot of activity, as you suggested in your intro, really in the last just half year or so. I think the election of Obama has definitely spurred some people to become very angry. I think it‘s fairly clear, in fact, that this shooter at the Holocaust Museum was angered in large part because of Obama‘s election.
So, you know, it‘s quite active. It‘s reminiscent in some ways of the beginning of the militia movement in the earlier or the mid ‘90s.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Potok...
POTOK: We‘re seeing a lot of this kind of rhetoric.
SCHULTZ: Yes. The Department of Homeland Security issued a report back in April, it was mocked by a lot of conservatives in this country.
Should we be paying more attention to what they put out? I mean, is this just a horrible wake-up call? Because the activity is up.
I‘ve been told it‘s at an all-time high, you‘re questioning that, but this guy that committed this crime yesterday, we knew what he was all about. In fact, your organization was tracking him.
So what do you do to prevent this kind of stuff, in your opinion?
POTOK: Well, look, I mean, the guy, as the congresswoman pointed out, the man was a convicted felon. He could not legally own a weapon. So, you know, there were laws in existence right now that should have prevented this fellow from having a gun.
It‘s certainly true that gun sales to characters like him very often do happen at gun shows, where really right-wingers in the Congress wrote that loophole in intentionally. This was not some kind of accident.
You know, one thing I think bears saying here is that it is not true, at least to my knowledge, that this person was a member of a group. He had been a very active person on the radical right for some 40 years, but as far as I know, and I think this is right, he was not a member of a group. He was apparently acting as a so-called lone wolf, but very much his actions and his ideology came out of the movement that is, you know, moving towards white heat (ph) right now.
SCHULTZ: Here‘s—the FBI had this reaction to what took place yesterday and where they go from here, and giving analysis to all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH PERSICHINI, JR. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, FBI, D.C. FIELD
OFFICE: We know what Mr. Von Brunn did yesterday at the Holocaust Museum. Now it‘s our responsibility to determine why he did it. We have to ask ourselves, did all these years of public display of hatred impact his actions?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And, of course, the Internet is now the superhighway for these type of thinkers out there. Tell us more about that and how they—are they actually organizing more on the Internet?
POTOK: Well, I‘m not sure—look, they organize some of their more public events on the Internet, certainly. I mean, I think, essentially, the Internet has allowed these groups to more easily build a movement. It has also allowed the people who are essentially members of the radical right but who formerly felt very isolated, very much at odds with the society around them, to feel that they are part of a kind of culture, a movement that‘s happening, that‘s moving forward.
So, for instance, you know, when this shooting occurred yesterday, it was a matter of minutes before there was all kinds of excitement on the white supremacist forums on the Internet and so on. So, clearly, I think the Internet, if nothing more, has helped this movement to essentially energize itself to organize activities. I don‘t think what you see on the Internet are mass murders and bombings planned. That clearly happens elsewhere and is largely carried out by individuals acting on their own or in very tiny groups.
Nevertheless, the Internet really has been important and has helped the groups to expand.
SCHULTZ: No question about it.
Mr. Potok, thank you so much for joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW.
Coming up, President Obama hit the road today. The president isn‘t taking any garbage from anybody in the GOP when it comes to health care. He slammed conservatives who are calling a public option socialized medicine.
That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.
And how are we going to pay for all of this?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘ve always puzzled when people—they go out there creating this bogeyman about how, you know, Obama wants government-run—I don‘t want government to run stuff. Like I said, I‘ve got enough stuff to do.
I think it would be great if the health care system was working perfectly and we didn‘t have to be involved at all. That would be wonderful. That‘s not how it‘s worked. We have got a 50-year experiment in that. It‘s not worked well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The Republicans have been attacking President Obama‘s health plan for weeks, trying to scare Americans by talking about socialized medicine.
I commend him. He took it to the heartland today, Green Bay, Wisconsin, where there‘s been a lot of tough times. The president punched back, he slammed right-wingers for creating a bogeyman, but President Obama also had a serious message aimed at conservative Democrats—any reform plan must include a public option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I‘ve already said, if you‘ve got a private plan that works for you, that‘s great, but we want some competition. If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest, and it will keep—help keep their prices down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So where is that competition coming from?
Joining me now is North Dakota senator Kent Conrad, and he‘s wearing two hats here. He‘s working on putting together a plan, and he‘s also the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
I want to talk finances first, if we can. We‘ll get to the public option in a moment.
Kent, how are we going to pay for this, no matter what it is, without raising taxes?
SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: First of all, there are very dramatic savings to be had out of the health care system. The providers met with the White House a week or two ago and told them they could save $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years by reducing the growth of cost. So that‘s one piece of the puzzle.
In addition, as you know, the tax system has huge subsidies for the health care system, so we‘re going to have to consider some limitation perhaps on the tax exclusion for health care insurance, perhaps cutting it off at $17,000 of tax exclusion a year per family. That would raise hundreds of billions of dollars, largely on wealthy folks who have health care policies that are, in some cases, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
SCHULTZ: So you would be in favor of taxing health care benefits. Is that right?
CONRAD: Look, I‘m not prepared to say what the final package would be because we don‘t yet know what the health care reform package itself is going to cost.
CONRAD: But clearly we have under discussion that as an option.
SCHULTZ: Senator Conrad, you have offered up an idea, a plan of a co-op that works like electric cooperatives and such stuff as that, where members are actual owners and it‘s nonprofit. Are you convinced that this could actually hold insurance companies in check and bring rates down?
CONRAD: Yes, that‘s the genesis of this. How do you have a competing delivery model that could put pressure on for-profit insurance companies to lower their costs and improve their quality?
Co-ops are all across America. You‘ve got Ocean Spray, you‘ve got Land O‘Lakes, you have real electric cooperatives, telephone cooperatives. In health care you‘ve got Puget Sound, 580,000 people that get their health insurance through a cooperative structure. It‘s not government-run and government-controlled, it is membership-owned and membership-controlled.
SCHULTZ: But Senator, does the president view that as a public option? Does that qualify for public option, in your opinion?
CONRAD: I don‘t know how the president would qualify it, but you just ran a clip of the president saying we need a competitive model, and it certainly serves that need. And at the same time, reduces the opposition by some Democrats and many Republicans who are adamantly opposed to a pure public option.
SCHULTZ: And Senator, I‘ve got to ask you about a comment you made. You said you didn‘t care about what health care groups were saying, you‘re more concerned about how people vote.
Explain that for just a moment.
CONRAD: Yes, actually that was somebody picked up who wasn‘t even in the conversation. What I was saying was this—we‘ve got all kinds of groups taking all kinds of positions on every element of health care. What really matters is the people who are going to vote in terms of what passes.
You know, we‘ve got to get 60 votes in the United States Senate, and that‘s difficult because we‘ve got a lot of different points of view, people hearing from their constituents in different parts of the country with different philosophies.
SCHULTZ: But Senator, the Congress is listening to the people? You can guarantee that?
CONRAD: They better or they won‘t be in Congress very long.
SCHULTZ: All right. Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
CONRAD: You bet.
SCHULTZ: Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” A conservative rabbi says President Obama‘s views are as dangerous as the Nazis. What?
It‘s next in “Psycho Talk.”
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives?
It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Well, in “Psycho Talk” tonight, this is a tough one, the rabbi Dr. Morton H. Pomerantz for writing a column titled “Obama Breeds Climate of Hate Against Jews.”
I can guarantee you George W. Bush never had to put up with anything like this.
While we‘re out it, let‘s also throw in Newsmax in “Psycho Talk” tonight for publishing such garbage.
Just hours after the 88-year-old white supremacist James von Brunn entered the Holocaust Museum and began shooting, Newsmax published this:
“Our new president did not tell a virulent anti-Semite to travel to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to kill Jews. But he is most certainly creating a climate of hate against us. It is no coincident that we are witnessing the level of hatred towards Jews as President Obama positions America against the Jewish state.”
I mean, that‘s just unbelievable. The rabbi goes so far as to compare the president to Nazis?
“If his”—meaning Obama—“views are not vigorously opposed, they will create a danger as great as that posed by the threat by the Nazis to the Jewish people.”
Obama is as dangerous to the Jewish people as the Nazis? That‘s unbelievable.
As the people who conducted the systematic extermination of six million Jews? Again, this is “Psycho Talk” and way out of bounds.
The rabbi blames the president for breeding hatred in the shooter, a guy who has probably has hated the Jewish people since before Obama was even born? You think a white supremacist would even listen to President Obama, our nation‘s first black president?
That is really sad “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. You know, health care is the assassination‘s number one issue to American families. I don‘t know about you, but it makes me crazy how the Republicans are out there lying their tails off about a public option, scaring the heck out of American people. They‘re telling people the government is going to take over, going to make all these different changes, and what not, and you‘re not going to have any choice. They‘re lying.
The government‘s going to ration care and take you way out of the box, and you‘re never going to be able to see a doctor again. But you know what? Sadly enough, it‘s not just the righties. Conservative Democrats are also as bad. Today, President Obama took his plan on the road to the heartland and he hit back at these ridiculous claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What you‘ve heard is some folks on the other side saying, I‘m opposed to a public option, because that‘s going to lead to government running your health care system.
Now, I don‘t know how clearly I can say this, but let me try to repeat it. If you‘ve got health insurance that you‘re happy with through the private sector, then we‘re not going to force you to do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: See, now, President Obama, you should be saying, if you like your health care costs going up 25 percent, we can arrange it; you can keep doing it. I think it‘s got to stick with the American people. Joining me now is Congressman Rob Andrews of New Jersey.
Congressman, thanks for joining us tonight. It‘s almost as if we have to use the perfect language to get the message across to the American people. I want to ask you, taking the message to the heartland, will this mobilize more Americans to understand what the heck is going on? What do you think?
REP. ROB ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY: I think it will. I think Americans are sick and tired of being abused by insurance companies. They understand that they get a lot of run around. They don‘t get the care that they‘re paying for all the time. And the costs are exploding. What the president is saying is let‘s have some honest, American competition between these insurance companies and a public option. I think he‘s exactly right.
SCHULTZ: Yesterday, I was at the Capitol, had a conversation with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And she told me this about taxes and everything being on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You have mentioned being able to pay for it. Are you willing to raise taxes to pay for it?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Everything is on the table.
SCHULTZ: Are you going to support taxing health care benefits?
PELOSI: Everything is on the table, and our chairman of our Ways & Means Committee has not been receptive to that point of view. But again, we want quality, affordable, accessible health care for all Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Congressman Andrews, it just appears to me that the Democrats, who are in control, White House, House and Senate, are just afraid to come out and tell the American people, you‘re going to have to pay for this, and your taxes are probably going to go up. What do you think of that?
ANDREWS: I think the president‘s going to do what he ran on. He said that people making over 300,000 a year are going to have to make a greater contribution to help pay for health care. He got elected running on that. That‘s what we‘re going to do. We‘re not going to raise taxes on people who drive a bus or teach school or run a small business. We‘re not going to do that.
But we are going to do what the president ran on and got elected on.
And I think that‘s right.
SCHULTZ: Do you go along with this co-op, that there would be—would you go along with that kind of system as competition? Would that be enough for the insurance companies to keep the rates down?
ANDREWS: No, I don‘t think that‘s enough. I think there needs to be a strong, robust, public competitor, just like private universities compete against public universities, just like the Postal Service competes against UPS and Fed-Ex.
Competition is an American value. The insurance companies are afraid of it, because they‘re doing, in many cases, such a poor job. Let‘s have some competition and keep them honest.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, you‘re in the middle of this fight. You‘re on a key committee in the House. Why aren‘t the Democrats just coming out hammering the Republicans, because they‘re being obstructionist? They‘re saying no to everything. You‘ve got a couple people over there in the Senate that are saying a couple politically correct things. But I don‘t feel the intensity from the Republicans to do something, but I also don‘t see the Democrats getting after it.
ANDREWS: We want to give them a chance to pass the bill and work with us. And, look, if we can have their help, we welcome it. But I assure you, if they try to stand in the way, as they have for decades, we‘re not going to let them do it. We passed a special procedure where, if we have to, we can pass a lot of this plan with no Republican votes. We can pass in the House with no Republicans. We‘d rather have their help, but we‘re not going to sit and wait for it.
SCHULTZ: That‘s the most aggressive thing I‘ve heard so far. You‘re willing to run them over. I like that.
ANDREWS: Get used to it because we‘re going to be more aggressive than this.
SCHULTZ: All right, congressman, thanks so much. Congressman Andrews with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.
For more, let‘s bring in our political panel tonight. Michael Crowley is the senior editor of the “New Republic.” AB Stoddard is associate editor of “The Hill.” And Kevin Madden is former senior adviser to Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign, and the managing director of the Glover Park Group.
Let‘s start with you, Michael. Going on the road, is that going to help? This guy sells better than anybody.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: This is what he does best. I keep noticing this, even the White House press conferences, he‘s funny, and people like him. But the thing that really set his campaign on fire was when he had a big crowd; he was on the stage; he looks good when he is working an audience. I think he looks like he‘s sort of at his full power when he‘s out there with a lot of people around him. So I think it‘s always smart for them to do this when they‘re selling something.
SCHULTZ: Kevin Madden, what about the Democrats going after Democrats? Joe Trippi, who‘s been around the ropes for a long time, he‘s going after Ben Nelson, saying that he‘s backing off on a public option. Is this what you guys like to see?
JOE MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I think that underscores the complexity of the haul here on getting health care reform. There are many Democrats that have built the Democrat majority by sitting in moderate seats. And a lot of them are not going to want to be forced to take a tough issue that‘s going to eventually be framed in a campaign season as having been for a big federal government bureaucracy when it comes to health care.
So I think that more underscores the complexity of how hard it is to get something done on health care up on Capitol Hill.
SCHULTZ: AB, do you sense Democrats are starting to get at each other‘s throats on this, that they might screw this thing up? What do you think?
AB STODDARD, “THE HILL”: I do sense, from liberal to conservative Democrats, there is a real a engagement on this issue. They feel now is the time, and if not now, forget it. They have a few good years before they really will take some hits in the midterm elections, if not in ‘10, in ‘14, if President Obama wins a second term. They‘ve raised the deficit. They‘ve bailed out industries. And a lot of this is, obviously, as you‘ve seen in recent polls, of great concern to the public and increasing concern.
They know that this—health care is the number one issue they want to pass. It‘s not that the conservative Democrats‘ hearts aren‘t in it, because they are. And I‘ve spoken to them about it. But Kevin is right, there‘s only so much political breathing room. The House majority is teetering. It‘s a fragile majority, a 52 marginal seats. None of those people want to pass a public plan that‘s so easily demagogued by the Republicans.
That‘s why there‘s a lot of tension about—it‘s not that they don‘t want to pass it, but there‘s a lot of tension about how.
MADDEN: Can I make a point? AB makes a great point, except for the demagogue part. You know, everybody up on Capital Hill, liberal Republicans to conservative Democrats, will tell you that they‘re for health care. But when you get to the specifics, that‘s when you see a lot of people start to fall off and argue. There‘s a dawning awareness on a lot that specifics that would go into a plan that sort of alienates certain voting blocs.
CROWLEY: Maybe it‘s the other way around. I think AB is a very shrewd commentator, but I would say, maybe Democrats assume these issues can be demagogued to death. They‘ve been afraid of them for a long time. But you have a really popular president right now, and a really unpopular health care system, and an economy where people are struggling. And the Republican party right now is a joke. So maybe the demagoguery is just not what it used to be. These guys should go for it.
SCHULTZ: That‘s what I don‘t get about all this. The Democrats are too nice. They won the election. They‘ve got a popular president. They control everything. Why don‘t they just go smoke it and get what they want on this deal?
MADDEN: Ed, on that point—that‘s a good point, too. But you have Barack Obama, President Obama is out there talking in very broad terms about health care reform. But you have a very activist Congress that‘s really getting their hands in the clay. That‘s where, again, the specifics are meeting—those two are clashing right now.
SCHULTZ: All right. We‘ll have more from our political panel in just a moment. Stay with us. We‘ll come back to some other issues as well tonight. We want to hear more from our political panel.
But first, filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who has exposed labor practices at Walmart and showed us who was really making a killing in Iraq; he has a new film. It‘s called “Rethink Afghanistan.” Greenwald traveled to Afghanistan to show Americans a different side of the war than we usually see, the civilian casualties of the war. One of the victims of airstrikes was interviewed in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now to talk about his film, “Rethink Afghanistan,” is legendary filmmaker and political activist Robert Greenwald. Mr. Greenwald, you just came back from Afghanistan, correct, with this footage?
ROBERT GREENWALD, “RETHINK AFGHANISTAN”: That is correct.
SCHULTZ: What is the sentiment of the people there? Is the United States doing the right thing or the wrong thing?
GREENWALD: Well, there‘s a tremendous—as you know, there‘s a tremendous amount of respect and affection for the United States. Unfortunately, it‘s going downhill at a rapid pace, because of the bombings of innocent civilians, and because of the fact nobody wants their country invaded by foreign troops.
Over and over again, men and women throughout Kabul told me about the fact that they—this is the third poorest country in the world, Ed. And billions of dollars are being spent on the militarization of what is clearly a political problem.
If we were to send teachers and educators and doctors, we would be welcomed with open arms. Sending people who are bombing houses and, tragically, killing innocent civilians, is not a way for success of any shape or kind.
SCHULTZ: Now, if we‘re killing innocent civilians, how is this going to breed any goodwill among the people of Afghanistan? I mean, war is an ugly thing. Do they know we‘re there to try to take out terrorist camps and get people who want to destroy the United States? Is there a connection there? Or is that off the side?
GREENWALD: Well, it‘s very much a country built of lots of small communities. So when we drop a bomb or shoot someone who is an innocent civilian in a village of 300 or 400 people, and two or three people are killed by us inadvertently, that‘s worse proportionately than 9/11 is to this country.
So what happens is lots of the positive things that we may be trying to do are totally overwhelmed by the use of force and military force, whether it‘s bombing from the air or invading and breaking into people‘s homes. Right outside Kabul, Ed, is a refugee camp that was too dangerous for me to go in. But I met and interviewed several of the people from that camp. It‘s thousands of families who have no plates to go, no jobs, and literally, Ed, we have an interview of a father trying to sell his daughter, because he can‘t pay for food for this young girl.
SCHULTZ: What do we do, Mr. Greenwald? We have a new commander over there. You‘re stating here tonight, we have the wrong policy, this isn‘t working. That‘s what I‘m hearing.
GREENWALD: Our campaign is called “Rethink Afghanistan.” There are lots of brilliant people in the Obama government. There are lots of incredibly smart Afghanistan voices. One of the things we‘re deeply committed to is, unlike Iraq, we want to make sure that America hears from voices of Afghanistan, and not those who are bought and owned by the neo-cons. There‘s lots of possibilities.
This was a change administration. There‘s no way the same old/same old military solution is, any shape or form, a change. But there‘s lots of options and ways to handle what‘s a tribal problem, what‘s an ethnic problem, what‘s a political problem, what‘s an education problem, what‘s a job problem. But a way not to handle that—a way not to handle that is men and women with guns.
SCHULTZ: Robert, you‘re saying that there‘s no other media coverage on this focus?
GREENWALD: There‘s very little of it. Look, the footage you just showed before, Ed, there are real dangers. The gentleman who filmed that for us was arrested by the Taliban. I could not go into many areas of even Kabul, the central city, because it‘s deeply dangerous, because of the bombings and the kidnappings. So I don‘t want to suggest that it‘s easy for the media.
But on the other hand, we know from recent history the devastating impact if we don‘t tell these stories, if we don‘t put a face on policy, and if we don‘t begin to really understand the implications of what we‘re doing in this faraway place.
SCHULTZ: How do you feel about people who would say, Robert Greenwald, you‘re anti-American for doing this?
GREENWALD: Well, I would say the opposite. One of the most heartbreaking things that I‘ve ever seen, Ed, is when these refugees, again, they would talk about how much they disliked the Taliban. But then they said in the same breath, they were just as frightened of the foreign troops and the United States as they were about the Taliban.
As a patriotic American, it breaks your heart. And when my friends took me through Kabul and they showed me—they said here‘s a school that was built by India, and here‘s a clinic. I wanted to hear them talk that way about the United States and what we were doing.
SCHULTZ: The documentary is “Rethink Afghanistan.” I understand this is a portion of it. You obviously have not finished. We‘ll have you back to talk more about it. Legendary film maker and political activist Robert Greenwald here on THE ED SHOW. Thank you, Robert.
GREENWALD: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Next up, thousands of workers are losing their jobs, but CEOs are walking away with millions. My take on executive pay in my playbook tonight. That‘s next.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, I want to talk about executive pay. Yesterday, the White House laid out a two-part proposal. First, they name Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg as the new pay czar. This is the same guy that oversaw the Federal Compensation Fund for victims of September 11, 2001. His job will be to approve executive compensation at the seven largest companies that took government money under Tarp.
In addition, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced yesterday a plan that would give shareholders more say on executive compensation. Now, today, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on this. Now, this is an important topic, folks. In today‘s “New York Times,” they highlighted the compensation of the top executives who have taken billions of bailout dollars.
I want to focus on General Motors, not associated with Tarp, but it‘s still taxpayers dollars, and former CEO Rick Wagoner. He‘s no longer there. But in 2008, this guy‘s total compensation came to a whopping 14.9 million dollars. Now that figure includes Wagoner‘s salary, bonus, stock options, all that stuff, and his perks, 14.9 million dollars.
Now, we‘re talking about a company that is now in bankruptcy, a company that will lay off 47,000 workers by the end of the year. Now, you tell me where is the fairness in this? I think it gives the Obama administration the moral right to stick their hands on any system or company that allows this kind of stuff to happen.
Now, this isn‘t the free market. In my opinion, this is the free rip-off. And in my opinion, the president can‘t get tough enough in this area.
Up next, a suspect is in custody for deadly shooting at the Holocaust Museum. But there are hundreds of hate groups in the country. It‘s time to take action before another extremist strikes again. That‘s next. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. James Von Brunn, the 88-year-old charged with yesterday‘s murder at the Holocaust Museum, was a known white supremacist. He had served more than six years in prison after attempting a violent crime before. He was well known to organizations that track hate crimes.
Scott Roeder, the suspect in the death of Dr. George Tiller, belonged to an anti-government militia group. He had been convicted of holding explosives in his car. And he regularly harassed workers at Tiller‘s clinic. He was known to authorities. And there‘s almost a thousand hate groups operating in the United States today. We know who they are.
So what do we do in this information age, where hate can spread on the Internet? What do we do to stop it? Let‘s go to back to our political panel, Michael Crowley, AB Stoddard, and Kevin Madden tonight.
Michael, we‘re in a new age. Where groups like this couldn‘t spread as fast—then you get into the copycat. It‘s so easy to grab people when they‘re going through tough times. How do you think the Obama administration should handle this?
CROWLEY: Well, it‘s really tough, Ed. You can‘t stamp out stupid, evil, hateful ideas. I would say, one thing is, if any good comes out of this tragedy, is that people will understand that things like that Homeland Security report that said saying we‘re seeing a rise in extremism and hate groups—it was ridiculed by conservatives. They said this is big brother government. They‘re monitoring us. They‘re spying on military veterans.
This stuff is for real. There really is this wave of vile feeling out in the country right now. And if the government is trying to keep an eye on it to keep people safe, to keep people alive, the right needs to understand that that is a legitimate priority, and that is not some kind of creepy, big-brother, political thought police. That‘s the first step.
SCHULTZ: Kevin, what about the Second Amendment? We‘re going to get into that, I‘m sure, as a society, with discussion again. But how do we keep firearms out of the hands of the wrong people? It‘s almost like we‘re back to square one again. What do you think?
MADDEN: Well, look, I‘m wary and quit weary actually of anybody who tries to politicize this and turn it into a political argument. I think that this is, in effect, a law enforcement argument. And if we‘re going to fight hate groups, then we ought to give law enforcement the resources they need to do so. If we‘re going to enforce the Second Amendment rights of Americans, and if we‘re going to enforce gun laws across the country, we ought to give law enforcement the resources to do that, and really take the politics out of it.
SCHULTZ: AB, what about those resources? There‘s a lot of them operating on the Internet. They‘re well known supremacist groups. They‘re hate groups. How far do we go to intrusion and taking away their freedoms?
STODDARD: Well, I agree this is a law enforcement issue. If the FBI can‘t handle it, I certainly can‘t come up with any prescriptions for this. Every time it is—in every case, it is an individual who‘s gone off uncorked and committed a heinous crime, and is not taking a group down with them. So that‘s why we‘re not able to come in and come up with a policy where we can deal with groups that are exercising their free speech rights, and might say violent things, but haven‘t done anything wrong yet.
As for the Homeland Security Department report, which we discussed on this show months back, the problem with that one was that it offended veterans, and other people mentioned in the report, because it didn‘t back up the claims with evidence. If you want to rile up extremists, write reports from the government without evidence.
I think that if the Obama administration wants to come out and be vigorous about a public relations complain about the rise in extremist that has resulted from Barack Obama‘s election, I think they need to put some meat behind it, and be very specific about --
SCHULTZ: I think that‘s a fine point. Although, I‘m not sure—AB, correct me, if I‘m wrong—that that report was meant to be public. I think it might have been a leak. Just in defense of the Homeland Security Department—but I think you make a good point.
Ed, one small kind of media criticism point I would make is it frustrates me when these nuts go and shoot someone, and then their crazy, disgusting writings are all over the Internet. A lot of blogs on both sides post this stuff to ridicule it, to say look at this crazy guy. I say, let these people‘s hateful words die with them.
SCHULTZ: What about that, Kevin?
MADDEN: I think that‘s right. I don‘t want to criticize your particular show, Ed, because I think you engage in a thoughtful and fair debate with those. But you looked at psycho-talk before, I don‘t think that Americans need to hear that back and forth. I think maybe there are those that believe when we show them and expose them for what they are, that there are lessons learned. But I think a thoughtful discussion like this about policy, about how we move forward, about maybe education—I think that‘s a much more solid contribution to the public dialogue.
SCHULTZ: The point on that is that, you know, when you‘ve got news organizations like Newsmax, and you‘ve got rabbis out there who are laying claims on the president that are simply so far out of bounds, creates the thought process out there that fuels these hate groups. And I have to say, Kevin, I think that‘s psycho talk.
MADDEN: I think you‘re right, that‘s a good point. But I think it‘s not emblematic of the larger, smarter discussions.
CROWLEY: Particularly if it‘s an underground nut. This guy had no other platform. He wasn‘t being published by any semi-mainstream outfit at all. So let his words die with him.
SCHULTZ: Wish we had more time tonight. I want to thank all of you for being here. Thanks so much. That‘s THE ED SHOW. We‘ll be back here tomorrow night, same time, 6:00 Eastern, right here on MSNBC. Town hall meeting coming up Saturday night in Buffalo. We‘ll be at Canesius (ph) college. Go to our website for more on that. “HARDBALL,” Chris Matthews coming up next here on MSNBC.
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