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'The Ed Show' for Thursday, July 16

The Ed Show

July 16, 2009



Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Roy Sekoff, Charmaine Yoest, Jay Rockefeller, Robert Reich, Ron Christie, Joe Madison, Chrystia Freeland


ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I'm Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.

Live from 30 Rock in New York, it's THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

The Republicans, believe it or not, are using al Qaeda as an excuse to break the law. Not on my watch. I want an investigation, and I know Americans want the House Intelligence Committee to move forward.

I want to know what Democrat is willing to care health care reform? After everything we've heard from the public, I think it will be political suicide.

President Obama is putting the pressure on one on one until he gets that 60th vote. I'll have an update on that headcount from Senator Jay Rockefeller at the bottom of the hour.

And Sarah Palin, she's heading south-in the polls, that is. It seems like the righties don't like quitters.

Plus "Psycho Talk." All that and a great panel.

And I want you to get your phones out, because we're going to have another text survey coming up tonight on a big issue.

But first, tonight's "OpEd."

Well, this is undoubtedly, in my opinion, a new low for the Republicans. They're trying to defend Dick Cheney for telling the CIA to break the law and not brief the Congress on a secret program. Get this-the ranking Republican who was the chair of the House Intelligence Committee is now defending breaking the law. At least that's the way I heard it.

Listen to Pete Hoekstra this morning on MSNBC.


REP. PETE HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: It is shocking to me that in the aftermath of 9/11, we would have a program in place, or even being considered that would think about considering killing al Qaeda leadership and disrupting their organization.

I guess the real question that we've got to ask some of our colleagues is, wouldn't you have wanted our intelligence community and our Defense Department to consider a wide range of activities and programs to decapitate al Qaeda?


SCHULTZ: I wonder if he ever was a college wrestler? I'll have to check that out, because that's a pretty good reversal on the way this things is supposed to work.

Hoekstra revealed the conservative Republican mindset to the American people right there. The Republican narrative is this in a nutshell-it's OK to break the law, as long as you're doing it for God and country.

These are the same people that are raking Sonia Sotomayor over the coals about what she said, what she meant, when she said it. They want full disclosure from her where her heart and her mid was, yet when it comes to them in getting full disclosure from Republicans on where their heart and mind was when it comes to the rule, oh, no, that's totally out of bounds. We can't do that.

Another crucial piece of information here about the program and the cover-up has just come out. Now, we know that George Tenet canceled the program. President Bush's guy, Porter Goss, well, he reinstated it. He knew Congress wasn't briefed.

So the plot really thickens here.

The Republicans keep accusing the Democrats of playing politics with intelligence, which is what they always do when they are trying to dodge an investigation. I say the former vice president, Cheney, he politicized intelligence when he stepped in and told a career CIA professional, don't brief the Congress, we're not going to do this.

So, let's recap where the righty talking points are on all of this.

First, the Republicans claim the CIA wasn't required to brief the Congress. If that's the case, then tell me why Cheney got involved at all?

They claim it wasn't really a program. Now, I don't know what you think, but what did cost a million dollars? That's an awful lot of money for something that doesn't exist. You mean there was no intent at all here?

Now, it's a pattern. When they're stuck in a corner, they always play the Osama bin Laden card, saying it's OK to break the law as long as you're going after the bad guys.

Now, I think, folks, we have to be curious about this as Americans.

What else haven't they told us?

I think the country wants this investigation. I think liberals in this country want this investigation. They want justice.

I think the Democrats could pay a political price if they don't do what hardcore lefties in this country want-go for the jugular. Let's find out the truth. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We're going to get the stimulus package working. We're going to get this health care thing going. We're doing a lot of things, but the House Intelligence Committee now has got to take the first step forward to go into what some people refer to as the Bush crime family.

How much did they do that we didn't know about?

Joining me now is Congresswoman Jan Schakowksy. She's a member of the House Intelligence Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. They're going through votes right now. She joins us on the phone.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

I know you're busy, but we've got to clarify this. Are you on the same page-or should I say is Silvestre Reyes on the same page with you when it comes to this investigation possibly taking place?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: We're meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30 to discuss the investigation. Let me say that, as far as I'm concerned, the investigation has begun already. There's been a request for documents, for collecting information, and I think that there's no question that the committee feels that this should go forward.

Exactly, you know, what the nature is, we're going to start talking about tomorrow. But I have to say that I completely agree with you.

And the other thing is, not informing Congress, there's no excuse for that. And they're making the assumption that if Congress were informed, that we would not have endorsed a program.

But let's remember, after 9/11, everyone was on the same page. The whole world was on the same page. But to cut Congress out and deny us the oversight capacity we have, you know what? The committee might have even had a good idea. That is possible, that we might have actually been able to contribute to this.

SCHULTZ: OK. So the committee's on the same page. You're telling us unofficially this investigation is under way, you're collecting documents.

That's right.

SCHULTZ: All right. And I also had another member of the House Intelligence Committee tell me that earlier today, Adam Smith.


SCHULTZ: OK. So, the Republican narrative here is that this is all cover for Nancy Pelosi, and that there really is a "gotcha" kind of attitude amongst the Democrats that, oh, we're going to prove to them that they were really breaking the law and we're going to prove that Nancy Pelosi was right all along.

Is there some kind of "gotcha" going on here?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know, if you take Nancy Pelosi out of this, which is the proper thing to do, because this has nothing to do with her, then what are we supposed to say it's all right for the vice president to not inform the Congress, to order that the Congress not be informed, that any time the executive branch decides that they don't want to tell us what's going on? No, the law is pretty clear, as far as I'm concerned, and we at least ought to explore whether or not there have been any laws that have been broken.

SCHULTZ: What do you make of Pete Hoekstra's comment this morning, you know, playing the card that, gosh, we're going after the bad guys, the people have got to realize what this is all about? Are you going to get him on board with this investigation?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, the assumption is that the Congress-the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee aren't for getting the bad guys, that we want them threatening Americans. I mean, he knows better than that. He absolutely knows better than that.

And so I think what Pete Hoekstra is trying to do is make it a political issue, a diversionary political issue, bring Nancy Pelosi into this when she has nothing to do with it, to take the heat off the last administration that was so irresponsible in the way it acted.

SCHULTZ: OK. Congresswoman, I know you've got to go vote, but I think the plot thickens now that we know that George Tenet canceled the program. That means that he knew that Congress wasn't briefed.

SCHAKOWSKY: That's right. Well, actually, I say that's right. I learned that from you, so I have yet to know that for sure.

SCHULTZ: All right.

Congresswoman, thanks for your time.


SCHULTZ: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Chicago. She's on the House Intelligence Committee.

For more, let me bring in Roy Sekoff. He is the founding editor of "The Huffington Post."

Roy, what if the Democrats drop the ball on this? What is the backlash, if any, politically?

I mean, I think that the folks that put Barack Obama in office, they want justice. I think core Democrats want to see, you know, nothing but the truth out of all of this, forget the political gamesmanship. But the fact is, is that I think the lefties want this done.

If the Democrats don't do it, do you think there will be a political fallout?


I think you've got to take it in context.

You know, it's like the old Pink Floyd song "Another Brick in the Wall." Another brick in the wall. We've seen this pattern starting to develop. And I think this is a real problem area for Obama.

I mean, you know, it's one thing to be disappointed in "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," or maybe he's been too coddling of Wall Street, or maybe there wasn't enough money put into the stimulus. But this executive power, the question of the wielding executive power, cuts right to the core of, what kind of nation are we?

And I think that's the question. I mean, I think we've got to throw away the political calculators when you come to this kind of issue. This is much bigger. This is, are we a nation of laws, or are we a nation that pays lip service to being a nation of laws?

SCHULTZ: But do you think that the lefties of this country want this to go forward? Do you think they're satisfied with the position of the White House on this? Which has been, you know, pretty waffling on this whole thing. They don't want to look in the past, they want to move forward.

SEKOFF: No, like I said, I think it's the accumulation. I mean, you have the state secrets. Maybe you give a little bit there.

It's the definite detention. OK, you say. But as it keeps piling up and piling up, it's got to come to a moment where you say, who are we? What defines us?

And I think this is a core issue. This is a defining moment, I think, for America to say, what kind of country are we? And it transcends party.

I think everybody would be disgusted by this. You know?

And what you said, Ed, is the key here. We don't really know what this program had going on. That's the key. That's why we have to investigate.

It can't just be what the guy said about, oh, getting al Qaeda. If it was just getting al Qaeda, that's no surprise to everybody. They would come to Congress for that.

SCHULTZ: And so, Roy, what's the downside for the Obama administration if they put this investigation on steroids and go and fast forward here? What's the downside? What's the loss here?

SEKOFF: Well, you know, the political guys who have their abacuses and they're counting up votes, and they're doing this, they're saying, well, we don't want to use our chits up. You know, this may hurt us if we go for the health care vote. As you said, they're fighting for every head. This may impact us if we need a second stimulus.

I think that's the kind of calculation, which is why, from the beginning, Obama said that he wants to keep looking forward. But at a certain point, you can't turn a blind eye on what happened in the past.

SCHULTZ: All right. Roy, thanks for joining us tonight...

SEKOFF: All right, Ed.

SCHULTZ: ... Huffington-you bet. Good to have you with us.

SEKOFF: See you next time.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

I want to know what you think, folks. I believe in my instinct that the American people want this to go forward.

So get your cell phones out. Will the Democrats pay a political price if they don't investigate? Text "A" for yes and "B" for no to 622639.

We'll bring you the results later on.

All right. Coming up, today was I guess you could say attack day on Sonia Sotomayor. A bunch of right-wingers told the Senate why they think she's not fit for the Supreme Court.

I'll go head-to-head with one of them next, right here on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Today marked the fourth day in the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's pick. Looks headed for the Supreme Court, no question about that.

The ranking Republican on the committee, Jeff Sessions, said the righties would not block the confirmation vote. Good news.

Today the judge showed her cool, answering questions on hot-button social issues like abortion and guns.

My next guest was one of the witnesses who testified against the judge, believing that she should not be on the Supreme Court.

Joining me now is Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life.

Doctor, good to have you with us tonight.


SCHULTZ: You bet.

What is the red flag here? I mean, I've listened to these hearings and watched them. She seems very mainstream. Certainly liberal, but not whacked out. OK?

What's the red flag here for your group?

YOEST: You know, that's a great way to ask the question, Ed, because the truth of the matter is, if there was one big, huge red flag, or if she was, as you say, whacked out, she wouldn't be sitting there in front of the senators. She has a really compelling personal story, a distinguished professional record, but the truth of the matter is we have to look at the totality of her record. And we're putting together a couple of different factors that we find very troubling.

SCHULTZ: Number one is what?

YOEST: The first thing is the speeches that we've heard about this week, where she really repeatedly, over time and on a number of occasions, has really expressed the fact that she brings her personal preferences to bear at the bench. And that undermines...

SCHULTZ: Well, what human being wouldn't bring their personal feelings and experiences to the bench to give her a better understanding of the law and the situation that people in the courtroom are going to be facing?

YOEST: Well, the human being who wouldn't is supposed to be the judge that we put in that job. In fact, the judicial oath that you take, you swear to be impartial and to not bring your personal preferences to bear.

SCHULTZ: So, why is it that the white guys who are on the Supreme Court didn't get the same line of questioning that she's getting? Does she have to think like an old white guy to be on the Supreme Court? She can't say that, hey, I'm a Latina woman and this is what I've been through in life, and I see the world through a different glass, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go outside the law?

YOEST: Well, to be fair, the reasons she's getting these questions, Ed, is because she's the one who's been pretty aggressive out there giving these speeches not just once, but multiple times, saying-you know, for example, one of the quotes that I used in my testimony that hasn't been heard as much is, she talked about the creative juices that you use. You know, that's just really outside our understanding of what an impartial judge is supposed to be and what Americans expect from their judiciary.

SCHULTZ: OK. Now, for two days she had to answer the question about that speech she gave eight years ago, referring to being a Latina woman and the insight that she might have.


SCHULTZ: Why is that such a big deal, number one, eight years ago? She's done a lot on the bench since then, and then she basically apologized both times she was pressed on it.

YOEST: Well, let me bring my testimony in, if you don't mind.


YOEST: Because as I said, we're looking at the totality of her record and we're putting a couple of different pieces together here.

The first is the speeches. Those are not-you don't take those in a vacuum. You take those, and then you look and you see she spent 12 years serving on a board from a group, from our perspective, that had a very radical pro-abortion agenda. They took six cases forward to the Supreme Court where they argued over and over again repeatedly that abortion should be a fundamental right that shouldn't be restricted in any way with any kind of commonsense regulations like parental notification, informed consent, bans on partial-birth abortion.

You know, Ed, you and I might disagree on abortion, but an awful lot of people even that I disagree with on abortion, you know, come together over this question of parental notification, for example. As a mother, I don't want my daughter to have a surgical procedure without my knowledge. And these are the kinds of things that are very common sense, but...


SCHULTZ: Well, Doctor, why are the Republicans not going to in full force vote against her then?

YOEST: Well, you know, I think there's still time to go. It will be interesting to see. I think you've seen the Republicans give her some tough questioning, and we're still planning on it.

SCHULTZ: Well, you had the chairman-you had the ranking Republican tonight, Mr. Sessions from Alabama, saying she's going to get in.

So what you're bringing up doesn't seem to be resonating with the Republicans on the committee.

YOEST: Well, it will be interesting to see what happens because we still have the floor discussion to go. So we'll keep putting forward the truth about how extreme her record was as she was associated with the fund, and I think it's important for the American people to know that, for that to be on the record. There are still people who are learning the extent of her record, and so we're very interested in getting that information out there.

SCHULTZ: All right.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life.

I've appreciated the conversation tonight. Thanks so much.

YOEST: Thanks, Ed. Great to be with you.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

Next up on THE ED SHOW, "Psycho Talk."

Righty lawmakers are out of control on health care again? They're saying if the Democrats pass this bill, we're all going to die. I thought that was the case anyway, but anyway, we'll talk about it there in "Psycho Talk."

You're watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.


SCHULTZ: Tonight's "Psycho Talk" has me confused. We're all going to die, it's going around. I guess you could say that we are pre-terminal.

Now, the Republicans are out there saying that we're going to die if we go with a public option. That's the argument that they're using now in the health care fight.

All right. Now, they're getting some help from "The Washington Times." They set up Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma with a dandy leading question here.

Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will government-run health care in the United States end up killing more people than it saves?




REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA: They're going to save money by rationing care, getting you in a long line, places like Canada and the United Kingdom and Europe. People die when they're in line.



REP. LOUIE GOHMERT ®, TEXAS: One in five people have to die because they went to socialized medicine. Now, I've got three daughters and a wife. I would hate to thing that among five women, one of them is going to die because we go to socialized care.


SCHULTZ: Where do they get this stuff? Who writes their material?

These guys are so scared of their big insurance buddies possibly losing a dime down the road, that's what it's all about. They're terrified of the government, even though they work for the government. They're resorting to absolute lies.

First of all, can I say this again? Hold it right here. This is an option. How many times has the president said you can keep your insurance if you like it?

Second, now, compared to Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Great

Britain and, yes, Canada, the United States ranks dead last-pun intended

in quality, access, efficiency, and healthy lives. That's right, we're 50th in the world when it comes to life span. So encouraging for the big one coming, huh?

Now, saying that we're going to die if there's a public health care option, that is desperate "Psycho Talk" and that's lying "Psycho Talk."



BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have talked and talked and talked about fixing health care for decades, and we have finally reached a point where inaction is no longer an option, where the choice to defer reform is nothing more than a decision to defend the status quo. And I will not defend the status quo!

We are going to change health care reform!


SCHULTZ: That's my man. Now we're getting into it.

President Obama got fired up on health care today, I guess you could say on the campaign trail in New Jersey. He wants reform now, and he's sick of the naysayers who have been out and about.

Earlier today, he met one-on-one with a couple of senators who just aren't quite sure about this public option plan.

Shut up, Ben Nelson! Stop acting like a Republican!

And of course Olympia Snowe is one that they might be able to bring over.

Now, Nelson told Obama, slow down. For what?

Meanwhile, health care legislation took a big step forward in the recent days with the Senate doing their thing on the Health Committee. And also, they approved a reform plan.

So here's the hurdle, folks-getting the bill through the Senate Finance Committee. Joining me now is the chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, Senator Jay Rockefeller.

Senator, great to have you with us tonight.


Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: We got to get this thing done. The big hurdle seems to be the money, because even the Democrats are saying, gosh, we don't know how we're going to pay for this thing. Take us down that road right now. If you had to pay for any plan that was out there, what would you want to do?

ROCKEFELLER: You would want to do the public option, which you and I both believe in. And you want to do Med-Pack. And then there's a whole welter of other things. But the two pillars of saving money over the long haul-it doesn't all happen over the first couple years, as nothing ever does in life. You do a public option, which forces down the price that insurance companies are now successfully getting, and in many cases scamming, out of our consumers. And you do Med-Pack, because you don't want the lobbyists in Washington-and, frankly, you don't want the Congress in Washington-

I mean, I have a lot of respect for their fellow Congressmen, but there are relatively few who understand the ins and outs of health care. So what do you do? You take it away from Congress. You take it away from the lobbyists, who are paid six, seven-figure salaries to promote a particular project. And you give it to a presidential committee, something like Med-Pack, and they make a decision, all of them experts, coolly, calmly, collectively, with total knowledge, no influence from the lobbyists.

They decide how Medicare is going to be spent. They will decide correctly. And then we do it.

SCHULTZ: OK. Now the Republicans-I want to play this sound cut. This is Mr. Boehner and Cantor on the cost of it all. And I want to get your response to this. Here it is.

The one thing that they've been pushing, of course, is saying there's no way that the American people can afford 1.5 trillion. Here it is.

So I guess we'll get to that sound bite at a later time. But here's one of the things that's being tossed around right now, senator, and that is that the top 1.2 percent of Americans would have to pay 5.4 percent. Would you go along with that? Would you go along with taxing the wealthy?

ROCKEFELLER: I not only would go along with it, but I've been trying to push it. If you want to-if you want to solve all the problems of financing health care reform in one shot, you tax the rich, the top one percent, or I think it's probably closer to two percent. It doesn't make any difference.

You get up to half a trillion out of that over ten years. That will financial everything we have to do. And we'll have health reform.

SCHULTZ: Now, Senator Ben Nelson visited with the president today. And his advice to President Obama was to go slow on this. I was wondering, because I knew you were coming on the program, what your response would be to that about going slow, seeing as you've only been working on this for 30 years. You say that a lot of the folks in the Senate don't understand the finance of all of this, and understand how this would all work. Why don't they just go along with what the president wants, then, if they don't understand it?

ROCKEFELLER: I think that's a very good suggestion. I also think sometimes senators and Congressmen are scared of change. They're scared of getting away from what they're accustomed to. They're scared of not being able to come back to their district and say, I got you a big increase on this or that on Medicare.

That's a lousy reason to do Medicare. Maybe the thing-the hospital, whatever they get a raise for, isn't doing a very good job. That's what this Med-Pack, neutral public health experts, are for, to wean all of that out, and then present it to the president. The president sort of gives it to the Congress. The Congress gets to look at it, but not really vote on it.

And it's a very good plan, Ed. People are scared of change. People in Congress in an election year, with a lousy economy, things go awry abroad and here, are scared of change. This is not the time to be scared of change.

SCHULTZ: No, it's not. It's time to put the throttle down. Senator Rockefeller, thanks for joining us tonight on the program.


SCHULTZ: Now let's turn to Robert Reich, former labor secretary under the Clinton administration, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. He is also the author of the book "Super Capitalism." It is available in paperback.

Mr. Reich, what do you make of all of this discussion right now, as far as the public option is concerned, how to pay for it? Is this one that the Democrats could lose?

ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: They certainly could lose, Ed. The last 75 years, the American Medical Association and the private insurers have all fought against anything reassembling any government intrusion into health care whatsoever, even though the health care system has gotten more and more insane. So it can be lost.

Look, the good news is that you've got a very good bill coming out of the House that has a public option in it, that pays for health care for everybody by taxing the very, very wealthy.

And you also have a good bill coming out of the Senate Labor and Health Committee. So what you really want to focus on, and what the president needs to focus on right now, is the bottleneck. And that is the Senate Finance Committee. And then get both chambers to vote on this before they head off for the Summer. Timing is essential.

SCHULTZ: Mr. Reich, why do you think there are some Democrats who are afraid of change, all of a sudden? That's all we heard before November. Change was the hot word.

REICH: I don't know that they're afraid of change. With due respect for Senator Rockefeller, I think what they're afraid of is the lobbyists. They're afraid of not getting the campaign contributions that they have been getting from the pharmaceutical industry, from the private insurers, from the hospitals and doctors and all of the-the health industrial complex in this country.

Well, it's time to put all of them aside and think about average working people, who are desperate right now, not only the 45 million who don't have health insurance, but the 120 million American families just barely holding onto the insurance they have.

SCHULTZ: All right. I want to play this sound. I think we got it now. This is what the Republicans are saying about having to pay for this thing. They say it would dig us in a big hole. We'd never get out of it. Here it is.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: The 1.5 trillion dollars that this plan is going to cost is going to be a new tax on small businesses that will destroy more American jobs.

REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: The cost is going to be born by the people of this country, the middle class, the wealthy, those who can least afford it. All of us are going to be paying an astronomical cost at a time that we just cannot afford this ambitious grab.


SCHULTZ: Do you believe that, Mr. Reich? What do you think?

REICH: Look, Ed, we've heard this fear mongering every single time there's a national health care bill. When Bill Clinton came up with a plan that was, granted, too complicated, we had the same groups making the same claims.

Look, this time around, all you have is a public option. No, it's not a requirement. Anybody can keep their own private insurance. But there is a public option.

And also, there is coming out of the House and hopefully the Senate a small, very tiny tax on the top 1.2 percent of Americans who, by the way, now are taking home about 20 percent of total national income. I mean, if anybody can pay for the health of everybody else, it's the wealthy. Let's have the wealthy pay for everybody else making sure that America's healthy.

It's a good bumper sticker, but it also makes a lot of sense, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Mr. Reich, great to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your time here on THE ED SHOW.

REICH: Thanks very much. Bye-bye.

SCHULTZ: Now let's go to our panel, Sirius XM radio talk show host Joe Madison, and also US managing editor for the "Financial Times," Chrystia Freeland is with us tonight, and Republican strategist Ron Christie.

Joe, let's start with you. A fired-up President Obama today. Is that going to help at all?

JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it is going to help. I bet you within about a half an hour from now, he'll fire up about 3,000 delegates to the NAACP convention not far from here. The message is very clear. He has to fire up the constituency, like you have tried to, I have tried to on my show, because that's really the only thing we have to counter what you just heard the senator talk about and the former secretary of labor. And that is the power of lobbyists.

SCHULTZ: They're all there. Chrystia, how much of a role is the president going to play from this point on? He's been very clear on public option. It seems like, for lack of a better term, he might be doing some arm twisting right now on conservative Democrats. But if he doesn't deliver on the public option-as Joe just said, he's going over tonight to talk to the NAACP.

If he doesn't deliver a public option, is he really failing his constituents who helped put him in office? Labor? Wage earners in this country? New people to the process? The young demographics that are out there in the political process, that all know about this hope and change? And, of course, the NAACP? What if he doesn't get public option in?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, "THE FINANCIAL TIMES": Well, this president likes to talk about the best being the enemy of the good, and is very much someone who is focused on achieving what is achievable. Having said that, I agree with you that the public option is really essential for true health care reform.

One of the nightmare outcomes that you could have is some sort of reform which is a half measure, and ends up making things worse. I think the way you could get to that would be maybe to have coverage extended, but not to have action taken to bring down the costs, which is one of the things that the public option could do.

One of the really the ridiculous things about the American health care system, if you look at it from the outside, is America spends more on health care than other western industrialized countries, significantly more, but actually has equal or, in most cases, worse outcomes. So you should be able to have reform that gives more coverage and cost less money. I think it has to be the target that the president aims for.

SCHULTZ: Ron Christie, I've been wondering about this; why don't the Republicans just give President Obama what he wants? And if this public option is so bad and it doesn't work and it costs so much money, heck, you guys will stroll right back into power and get whatever you want in a few years? Why not let him go down the road? It's what the people want?

FREELAND: I think that's a really good point. And I think also the Republican opposition to the public option reflects a certain lack of faith in the competitive powers of the free market. Right? If you think private health care is so terrific, then let it compete against public health care.

SCHULTZ: Ron, what do you think of that?

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I got to tell you, Ed, I think the Republicans are doing the smart thing by putting their foot down and ending the trifecta of Democratic irresponsibility.

First, you had the stimulus bill. We were told it was going to keep unemployment underneath eight percent. Now it's 9.5 percent. Then we had the cap and trade bill. The Democrats said it was going to reduce global emissions. Well, China, the largest emitter in the world is exempt, and so is India.

Now you have this health care bill. Nobody has read it. The cost is astronomical. What I find astounding, Ed, if you look in American today, nearly 49 percent of the American people have chronic diseases or they are going to develop chronic disease. Nearly one in three people in this country are obese.

This is a 1.6 trillion dollar bill. And they haven't spent anything in this bill dealing with prevention. Yet, 75 cents out of every health care dollar spent in America is dealing with chronic disease.

SCHULTZ: I think there is quite a bit about this in prevention, coming from the Health Committee. And there's also quite a bit about prevention, Ron.

CHRISTIE: I hate to tell you, Ed, I'm a health care expert; 75 cents out of every dollar spent in this country is for chronic disease. There is not hardly a nickel in this bill dealing with prevention of chronic disease. That is the major driver of health care costs in this country, Ed. So if we want an honest discussion about-

SCHULTZ: We're having an honest discussion.

CHRISTIE: If we want to talk about how to reduce health care, why aren't we dealing with chronic disease?

SCHULTZ: Chronic disease? How people who have a chronic disease, Ron, and they can't go get coverage because of a preexisting condition? That's what this public option is going to do for people.

CHRISTIE: I'm more worried about the costs. If we're talking-

SCHULTZ: Now, wait a minute, it's not about what you're worried about, Ron.


CHRISTIE: We're doing nothing to ensure that the people are taken care of.

MADISON: What an elitist statement. I'm more worried about the cost than I am people staying alive? I'll tell you what you can do. Wait a minute. Let me get it this time.

Here's what you can do about chronic disease, as someone who had comorbiditis (ph) a few years ago, and was 100 pounds overweight. You put tax on things like potato chips, fast food, cigarettes, tobacco. I know I'm losing some friends here. Let that be used to help pay for this.

But did we not just hear Senator Rockefeller, who I think is among that top one and two percent, say, look, I don't have a problem with us paying a little more and making sure we've got a healthy country? If we've got a healthy country, we've got a country that can go to work. People can go to work. People can pay taxes.

And we've got a problem. But you have one other option action. And my dear friend there in Washington, the other option-and Ed, you're absolutely right, not only the trifecta, but here's the fourth option. You've got an election coming up. If it doesn't work, you know and he knows the Democrats are out of there.

SCHULTZ: That's right. And if this does go through and people get covered, I don't know politically why Republicans would want to sit there and say, we're the obstructionist party, even though the American people want this. I'll tell you what-

MADISON: The fear is that it will work.

SCHULTZ: Exactly. You start covering Americans, and guess what, there are going to be a bunch of Democrats. That's how they're going to view this thing. We'll talk more about it. Stay with us. We got a lot more coming up.

Right now we got new details of the soldier who just will not go to Afghanistan because he doesn't believe President Obama is an American citizen. It looks like this was nothing but a right-wing set up. That's next in my playbook and more with our panel. Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. A page from my playbook tonight. I want to talk about this birther soldier, US Army Major Stephen Frederick Cook, a reservist in Florida. This is a guy who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he believes that President Obama wasn't born in the United States and, therefore, he's not fit to be commander in chief. Cut me some slack.

Now I want you to look at the play by play of this, and tell me if this isn't politically motivated. On May 8th, Cook volunteered for a year deployment to Afghanistan. He actually submitted a formal written request to Human Resources Command in St. Louis volunteering to serve there for a year.

OK. Now, Cook's orders were then issued on June 9th. On July 8th, he filed a suit with the US District Court from the middle district of Georgia. Now, the Army revoked his deployment orders. Today, the "Ledger Requirer" says a federal judge dismissed the suit, saying it was moot, since Cook has been already been told he doesn't have to go to Afghanistan.

Listen to the garbage this guy said outside the courthouse.



CERTIFICATE: If one cannot establish the validity and the legality of the order, by the very nature of the oath we serve, the oath we swear, and how we serve, we would be following illegal orders, and subject to prosecution.

I could be prosecuted both by the US judicial-correction, the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And if captured, I would not be privy to protections under the Geneva Convention.


SCHULTZ: This guy made a deliberate and political move, and he used the United States Army to do it. He crossed the line between duty and personal politics. How shameful the military has allowed him to do that.

Coming up, Sarah Palin's numbers, well, they are taking a hit. I guess Republicans don't like quitters. But the conservatives don't have a whole lot of options. The panel is going to be weighing in on the future. I mean Republicans, who's your star? That's next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Sarah Palin now out of Alaska. Now it looks like the Republicans may be quitting on her. A new Gallup poll shows her popularity has dropped since she announced her resignation;

72 percent of Republicans view her favorably now. It was 81 percent of the folks feeling that way after the election.

Among all voters, only 43 percent say they have a positive view of Sarah Palin.

Here's my take. Sure, the Republicans don't like the fact that she's quitting her job and stuff like that, but show me who the star power is. Who's got the star power in the Republican party right now? She still is the rock stair for the Republicans. If you were going to go out on the stump tomorrow and you're running for office, who would you want there right there with you?

We'll throw it to our panel tonight, Joe Madison, Chrystia Freeland and also Ron Christie. Ron, we'll start with you. What do you make of Sarah Palin dipping a little bit when it comes to the numbers?

CHRISTIE: Gee, Ed, you know, you guys on the left, you crack me up;

72 percent favorability ratings and you think there's a crisis. President Obama doesn't have 72 percent approval rating.

SCHULTZ: Ron, I agree with you 100 percent; 72 percent is a high approval rating. I just wish you guys would use that number when it comes to health care, because that's how many people in this country want a public option. Buddy, you can't have it both ways.

CHRISTIE: Ed, let's not even go there. Let me just say this; five years ago, there was an obscure state senator from Illinois by the name of Barack Obama. We're three years out from a presidential election, and you guys are obsessed with Sarah Palin. You're scared of Sarah Palin. She's in great shape.

SCHULTZ: I think there's probably a little bit of talent difference there.


CHRISTIE: Ed, let me finish that point, since you're going to be snarky. Yes, there is a difference. She was mayor of a city. She was a governor of a state. This insulting, this terrible behavior towards Sarah Palin-You guys are going to rue the day you went after.

MADISON: I got to be in this. Let me tell you, what goes around comes around. I was talking to Thelma Houston today. And she felt like I did. When Sarah Palin was at that Republican convention and you talk about being snarky, about being a community organizer, those of us who have been community organizers felt that insult.

What goes around comes around. The reality is I was at a Republican event when she walked into this fund-raiser for members of Congress, and she barely got a recognition or a round of applause.

Look, I don't care one way or the other. Come on, be honest, she has cashed in. And that's what she's going to do, write books, and she's going to go on shows, and she's going to start a PAC.

SCHULTZ: Let's go to this number right here; Gallup 2012 GOP candidates, if you were to throw the names in the hat right now. Look at Romney. Chrystia, what do you make of this? Is Romney the guy that people would take on the campaign trail if they had to resurrect the party?

FREELAND: I think Mitt Romney looks good when you're not campaigning and when you're talking about issues, especially when the economy is the issue you're talking about. What we did see during the Republican primary is that he has a hard time translating that into-I don't know what you want to call it, charisma, star power, especially in the Republican primaries.

Maybe the ideal candidate would be someone who can talk about the economy that Mitt Romney can, but who has the charisma of Sarah Palin. And I do agree with you, Ed, that I think it's a little bit too early to write her off. I think her decision to resign was a mistake, and it was very badly communicated.

But not only does she have a great deal of personal appeal, she could, if she played it smart, tap into this sort of populist, anti-elitist sentiment that I think inevitably is going to grow as this recession continues as, and as the jobless numbers continue to grow.

SCHULTZ: I think her husband was involved in getting some independent party going in Alaska at one time. Wasn't she, Joe?

MADISON: Some time ago.

SCHULTZ: They've been kind of fringies for a while. Ron, let me ask you, what about Mitt Romney? He looks like he's in for the long haul here.

CHRISTIE: I hope he is. I informally advised him during his last presidential campaign. I think he's the real deal. And I think he really does have the ability to connect with a lot of Americans, regardless of their party of their affiliation.

Here's what we're looking at, Ed; in the last election, I think people were tired of an administration that had been in power for eight years, and they were also very concerned about the direction that was going on in Afghanistan and Iraq.

SCHULTZ: So now that is going to swing.

CHRISTIE: I think it's going to swing. I think the 2012 election will be about the economy. And Mitt Romney is an expert on the economy.

SCHULTZ: I don't disagree with that. Earlier in the show, I asked you folks for your views; will the Democrats pay a political price if they don't investigate Cheney and the secret CIA program. Ninety percent of you said yes; 10 percent said no.

What does that tell you? Let's go, go, go when it comes to an investigation. I'm all about it, and the Democrats should pay a political price if they don't get after this.

That's THE ED SHOW. I'm Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to or check out my radio website at

Town hall meeting coming up Sunday night in Madison, Wisconsin, 7:00 at the Barrymore Theater. Hope to see you there.

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