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The Ed Show for Friday, March 18th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Richard Engel, Joe Sestak, Sen. Bernie Sanders, John Nichols

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  That does it for us tonight.  Rachel will be back on Monday.

Now, it‘s time for THE ED SHOW.  Good night.



ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight on this Friday night.

This is what‘s on the table:

How about World War III?  Another front?  We‘ll get to it.

And a radical bill rammed through the Wisconsin legislature by Governor Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans has been stopped dead in its tracks.  Today, a judge issued a temporary restraining order.  Folks, this is a big win for the lefties and a big win for workers.  We‘ll talk about it.

Vice President Joe Biden talks about unions and wage earners of America as if he heard my recent criticism of the Obama administration.  You don‘t want to miss what Uncle Joe has to say in his own words.

And in Japan, nearly 300 engineers are working inside the 12-mile nuclear evacuation zone, struggling to avert an even worse disaster at those reactors.  We will have the very latest.

But, first, it‘s Libya.  Today, President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to Moammar Gadhafi—impose an immediate ceasefire in your country and stop the advance on rebel strongholds or there will be military action.

Tonight, there are reports from Libya that the deadly fighting continues and Gadhafi‘s forces continue to bear down on the rebels.  We are on the verge of a third war in three different countries.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS:  Moammar Gadhafi has a choice.  The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met.  The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a ceasefire must be implemented immediately.  That means all attacks against civilians must stop.

Gadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misurata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity, and gas supplies to all areas.  Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

Let me be clear: these terms are not negotiable.  These terms are not subject to negotiation.  If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences.  And the resolution will be enforced through military action.


SCHULTZ:  Tough talk from the president.  The Libyan government claims that they are enforcing a ceasefire but “Reuters” and Al Jazeera reporting today Gadhafi‘s forces bombarded the rebel-held city with tanks and heavy artillery, killing at least 25 people.  Al Jazeera is running what they say is an unconfirmed evidence of the fighting.

The Libyan foreign ministry is disputing those reports.  They keep saying that they are honoring the ceasefire.

Today, the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who has reportedly been pushing President Obama to act in Libya, said the United States was more interested in the actions of the Libyan government and not in their words.

Our ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, says that as far as—now, Gadhafi is in violation of U.N. resolution 1973.

That means military action could begin soon.  British war planes are now preparing to head to the Mediterranean Sea.  Tomorrow, there will be a crisis summit in Paris with the U.N. and Arab allies.  The French ambassador to the U.N. predicted foreign military intervention in Libya within hours of the meeting on Saturday.

In his address to the nation today, the president was as hawkish as we have ever seen him.  During his speech, he promised that no American ground troops would ever enter Libya.  He also said the decision to act wasn‘t easy.


OBAMA:  There is no decision I face as your commander-in-chief that I consider as carefully as the decision to ask our men and women to use military force.  Particularly at a time when our military is fighting in Afghanistan and winding down our activities in Iraq, that decision is only made more difficult.  But the United States of America will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security.

So, I‘ve taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary and that we will not be acting alone.  Our goal is focused.  Our cause is just.  And our coalition is strong.


SCHULTZ:  For more on the dramatic events unfolding today in Libya, let‘s turn to NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel—



RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:  Ed, clearly, the U.S. military does have capabilities and resources that it can bring to bear in this conflict, specifically, aircraft carriers.  The U.S. military has more aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined.  There are intelligence assets, satellite capabilities, a lot of things that can be helpful to Arab allies, European allies in enforcing this no fly zone.

The question is: what exactly is the mission?  Is it strictly a defensive shield to try and protect the rebels, to protect population setters like Benghazi?

That could help save lives but it doesn‘t necessarily bring the rebels any closer to their goal of toppling Gadhafi‘s regime in Tripoli.  Remember, there were no no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq for years.  They eventually allowed the Kurds to establish a degree of a safe haven but it wasn‘t until ground troops were on the ground, heading toward Baghdad and ultimately arriving in Baghdad that Saddam Hussein was removed from power.

So, you could have a situation where there is this defensive bubble put up with U.S. support, with U.N. support, with the European involvement in place helping the rebels for a long time, but without really achieving very much and without driving Gadhafi from power—Ed.


SCHULTZ:  So many questions.  NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel—thanks so much for joining us tonight.

For more on America‘s military involvement in Libya, let‘s turn now to former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, who was the former director of defense policy on National Security Council for President Clinton, also a former vice admiral in the United States Navy.

Joe, great to have you with us tonight.

FORMER REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Good to be with you, Ed. 


SCHULTZ:  In your career you were involved with no-fly zones.  You‘ve been down this road.  I guess what a lot of Americans I think want to know tonight—who calls the shots here when the shooting starts?

SESTAK:  That‘s going to be the commander on scene.  And that‘s why what we haven‘t heard, what are the rules of engagement?  If we do a no-fly zone and it doesn‘t work, and he keeps driving on, has the president laid out what the real purpose of any type of military intervention, how far will we go?

I mean, there are no planes—excuse me—we had—to never have to take on any planes by the Taliban, we controlled the air, but look what they‘re doing down there.  And the rules of engagement are tough.

I was on the ground early in that conflict because we had to look at the rules of engagement.  We knew the Taliban had purchased thousands of white Toyota trucks and the rules of engagement were if it‘s a white truck shoot it.  We were killing innocent civilians.

I don‘t think we‘ve laid this out clearly, nor defined what our real national interest is in here.  We seem somehow to have dithered almost into this with the rest of the world bringing us into it rather than defining for ourselves whether this is, with two wars already going on, in our national security interests.

SCHULTZ:  Admiral, what is the mission?  Is it to get rid of Gadhafi, is to contain him, is it just to stop the killing?  There are more questions than answers it seems.  And, of course—

SESTAK:  Absolutely.

SCHULTZ:  You know, what do you think of all that?

SESTAK:  With due respect to the president, as commander-in-chief, he has not laid that out.  It should have been laid out sometime ago.

The French just today are saying we‘re going to cover the entire country with a no-fly zone, not just a city or two.  We really have to think this through.  We have humanitarian interests and yet hundreds of thousands were lost in Darfur as we did very little and millions in the rest of Africa.  If we go in there, we will be there, and I have yet to hear a very concise purpose for the end game of military intervention.


SESTAK:  Potentially, there are other things we can do like a naval blockade or jamming of their—of their—not somewhat robust communication systems.  But none of those have been laid on the table from what I‘ve heard.

SCHULTZ:  Well, our technology is far superior to anything that Libya has.  But don‘t we confine ourselves quite a bit with this resolution where no ground troops are going to be made, put in there however?

I mean, the rebels are rebels.  They‘re not organized.  They‘re not commanded well.  They‘re not resourced well.  They have a lot of passion, a lot of heart.  They want to get rid of Gadhafi.

Are we going to help them do that?

SESTAK:  Yes, but the way I read the resolution, it said no occupation forces.  So, there is some wiggle room there.  But remember President Clinton said no ground troops in the former Yugoslavia and yet, after 78 days of air bombardment and basically no-fly zones, you might say, in order to win, we had to put boots on the ground.

Look, we are playing into this, I think, without truly defining what most I think military men and women want as they‘re given a mission.  What is the end game?  What is the purpose?  What is the next step?

We certainly didn‘t do that in Iraq.  And I don‘t think we have done it here.  And I would have great caution and actually do not think that we‘re taking the right step.

I honestly think these types of decisions and explanations to the public should have taken place a week or two ago, one way or the other.  And I fear, again, we‘ve stumbled into this rather than leading ourselves as clearing—clear of it and explaining why, or leading in there rather than almost being pulled in by the Europeans, the Arab league, and the United Nations.

SCHULTZ:  How are they going to survive—the rebels—if they are under resourced?  Do you think the United States could get in a situation where we start supplying them with materials?

SESTAK:  That possibly could be.  I mean, there‘s a score of other things that can be done.  I was surprised that it‘s only a day or two ago that we began closing down on the financial resources of, for example, the Libyan foreign minister.  We need to clamp all that down.

What about a naval blockade?  We did it around Cuba against the Soviet Union and then getting in some aid possibly through those ports that are controlled.

There is a lot more I think that should have been done and could have been done aggressively early on.  I‘m not a supporter of this no-fly zone in the way that we‘ve kind of gone into it because the question, Ed, is: what if?  Does it become a no-drive zone?  How do we know what‘s good or bad down there?

How about all these sophisticated—well, they have SA-2s, 4s, and 6s missile systems that are mobile.  They‘re not fixed many of them.  What if they‘re driving around and going back—that takes a lot of strikes in order to make sure our pilots are safe.

This is an enormous undertaking with hundreds of aircraft.  And how long do we keep it if you do get in the midst of a civil war?

Look, we have stretched our military immensely with the folly in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, letting our troops out downward because of Iraq.  I think we have to think this through very seriously, particularly about our present posture of our forces.

SCHULTZ:  And our conversation next week, I‘m sure, Congressman, will be: who‘s going to pay for all of this?  We‘ve got a heated budget battle going on in Congress.  This is more expense to the American taxpayer.

Congressman Joe Sestak, former admiral, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

SESTAK:  Good to be with you, Ed.


SCHULTZ (voice-over):  We called on Democrats to call out Wall Street speculators for driving up gas prices.  Now they are.  Senator Bernie Sanders on how we stop them.

Badgering Wisconsin.  Walker‘s anti-union bill blocked from becoming a law.  But did he break the law by meeting with FOX‘s pollster?

And the administration finally comes out in support of the American public worker.  Wait until you hear Joe Biden trying to fire up the base.



SCHULTZ:  Be sure to check out our new blog at  There you‘re going to find links to my radio Web site at, Twitter, and Facebook.

But next: Democratic senators call out Wall Street for jacking up gas prices.  It affects your budget.  But where does the president stand on all of this?  Senator Bernie Sanders has some harsh words.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.

Last week, we did a series on this show and showed you one of the sneakier ways Wall Street is waging war on the middle class—by speculating on gas and food commodities, driving up costs, and adding a Wall Street premium to every dollar you pay at the pump or at the grocery store.

Where were the Democrats on this?  That‘s what we asked.  Well, they have been totally silent.

Well, on the fourth day of our series, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi put out a press release on high gas prices and put the blame squarely on Wall Street.  She also called out Speaker John Boehner for not trying—for trying to cut the budget of the CFTC, the agency that is supposed to rein in these Wall Street speculators.

Then, on Tuesday, New York Senator Chuck Schumer got into the act, the head of the Democratic Policy Committee.  He told his members to start making Wall Street speculation an issue on the campaign trail and start talking about gas prices and demand that the CFTC take action.

Well, yesterday, 13 senators sent the CFTC a letter doing just that.

But where is the president on this issue?

Last Friday, the day after our series ended, the president finally admitted there is at least a possibility Wall Street speculators are manipulating prices.  But if you listen carefully, he also implies that your local gas station has been gouging you at the pump.


OBAMA:  We‘re also using the resources at our disposal at the federal level to monitor any possible manipulation in the oil markets.  And I‘m asking the attorney general and relevant agencies to work with states attorneys general to monitor for price gouging to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of working families at the pump.


SCHULTZ:  Even some Republicans in Congress admit oil speculation is a problem.  And just this week, the CFTC said oil speculation by hedge funds is at an all time record.

Moody‘s analyst Mark Zandi, a former McCain adviser, said that about two-thirds of President Obama‘s 2 percent payroll tax cut is getting eaten up by gas prices.  So, I guess we could say, in other words, we gave the rich a tax cut in order to give the middle class a tax cut but the middle class, they have to send their tax cut right back to the rich.  Kind of a vicious cycle, isn‘t it?

As we told you last week, CFTC Commissioner Michael Dunn—well, he has joined with the two other Republicans on the commission in their reluctance to restore caps on Wall Street speculation.  We said that we would be watching who President Obama nominates to replace Dunn because his term is up in June.

Well, today, “The Financial Times” reports the nominee will be an aide to Senator Harry Reid who helped write the very same Dodd-Frank that empowers the CFTC to rein in speculators.

So, is this the moment for the Democrats?

With us tonight, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the 13 who signed that letter to the CFTC.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

This ought to be a slam dunk for the Democrats, shouldn‘t it?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Should be a slam dunk for the American people.

Look, I come from a rural state.  The price of gas is soaring.  People drive long distances to work.  This is money coming right out of their wallets.  It is an outrage.

You know, this is not the first time we‘ve seen this movie.  In 2008, you will recall that you had the oil companies.  You had Marathon Oil and Shell saying that 25 percent to 50 percent of the huge increase in gas prices at that point when prices went over $4 a gallon were due not to the fundamentals of supply and demand but to speculation.  We‘re seeing that movie again today.

SCHULTZ:  You know, Senator, I have to ask.  Does the White House understand what‘s going on and the severity of this on middle class families and everybody?  Because the president was suggesting local gas station owners are gouging at the pump.  It‘s Wall Street, isn‘t it?

SANDERS:  I agree with you, Ed.  You know, the truth of the matter is we can beat up on the CFTC all that we want, and I should tell you—I put a hold on Gary Gensler when he was nominated based on his past actions when he was involved in the deregulation of Wall Street.

But the truth of the matter is: if the president is strong and the president makes it clear that the American people cannot afford to pay 75 cents a gallon more today than we did a year ago, and demands that the CFTC does the right thing, I think that they will act.  So, I think we‘ve got to ask that the president of the United States stand up today for working families.

SCHULTZ:  And you‘ve got to replace Mr. Dunn with the kind of commissioner that‘s going to realize the severity of this.  Do you think that the Republican -- 

SANDERS:  We‘ve got to do the -- 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, go ahead.

SANDERS:  I just want to say, Ed, we do have to do that.  But that is not going to be for many, many months.  What we need is action right now.

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s not only gas.  It‘s food prices.  We just saw the biggest jump since 1974 in vegetables, up 50 percent.  I mean, how much are speculators costing working Americans not only at the gas pump but at the grocery store?

SANDERS:  Well, here‘s the irony—as you know as a result of the financial reform bill, we made sure that the CFTC had the capability to deal with excessive speculation.  That‘s what we wanted them to do.  And, unfortunately, they‘re not doing that.  I think the president has got to be active and action is needed right now.

SCHULTZ:  How do you feel about the Republicans blocking the funding of the CFTC?  How much is a road block is this going to be?

SANDERS:  Well, it‘s obviously a problem.  It‘s nothing new.  What the Republicans do is believe in deregulation.  They want to allow large corporations on Wall Street to do anything that they want without proper regulation.  It is not dissimilar from many other actions they‘re taking.

I should also point out that one of the things that‘s going on now is that the re—it seems to me that Wall Street is taking advantage of the Middle East crisis.  You know and I know that right now the supply of gasoline in the United States today is at an 18-year high, an 18-year high.  And yet I think what Wall Street is doing is using the guise of the Middle East crisis to raise prices and force prices up through market speculation.

SCHULTZ:  You‘ve got 13 Democrats onboard.  Every Democrat should be onboard with this in my opinion.  And, finally, Senator, do you know for a fact where the president stands on position limits?

SANDERS:  No, I don‘t.  No, I don‘t.

But I do know that on this whole issue of Wall Street speculation, he has not been anywhere near as strong as he should be.  In fact, he has not been strong at all.

SCHULTZ:  Senator Sanders from Vermont, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate you joining us.

A judge in Wisconsin blocked Scott Walker‘s union-busting bill.  But it‘s only temporary.  So, what happens next?  We‘ll answer that.

And FOX News has a new science expert.  Doggone it, it‘s Ann Coulter.  You know, she says nuclear radiation is really good for you.  Not even Bill O‘Reilly can keep a straight face on that one.  “The Takedown” is next.


SCHULTZ:  And welcome back to THE ED SHOW—time for “The Takedown.”

A lot of people say Ann Coulter is toxic.  But we had no idea that she would take that literally.  Coulter says there‘s no problem with exposing yourself to high levels of radiation.  You would laugh at her if she wasn‘t making light of a terrible tragedy.


ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE AUTHOR:  There‘s a growing body of evidence that radiation in excess of what the government says are the minimum amounts you should be exposed to were actually good for you and reduce cases of cancer.


SCHULTZ:  In a titled column, “A Glowing Report on Radiation,” Coulter dismissed the dangerous effects of nuclear disaster in Japan.  She wrote, “The only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.”

Her basic premise is what the scientific community calls hormesis. 

It‘s the theory that low doses of radiation can help fight diseases.  Recent reports by the United States National Research Council, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation all concluded that insufficient human data on hormesis exists.

So, while it‘s possible there may be health benefits to low doses of radiation, you won‘t find any international scientific agencies promoting that theory just yet.

But Coulter isn‘t just talking about low doses.  She‘s giving the impression that high level radiation exposure is safe, even though a reading at the Fukushima plant showed enough leakage to cause acute radiation sickness in anyone exposed for more than a couple of hours.

Coulter even goes back to the old myth that only 31 people died as a result of the Chernobyl meltdown—a myth we debunked on this program earlier this week.  If you remember, some studies have the resulting death count from Chernobyl as high as 500,000 people.

Coulter probably thought her expert opinion would find a captive audience on FOX News, but watch Bill O‘Reilly‘s reaction to Coulter‘s theory.


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  What you say may be true.  There may be some doses of radiation that the human body can ward off infection.  But in something like this, you have to get the folks out of there.

COULTER:  OK.  But the point is

O‘REILLY:  And you have to report—you have to report worst-case scenario.


SCHULTZ:  Even Bill O‘Reilly can‘t get onboard with Coulter‘s scientific method.  This Bill O‘Reilly:


O‘REILLY:  Tide goes in tide goes out.  Never a miscommunication.  You can‘t explain that. 


SCHULTZ:  Radiation in, radiation out; who knows.  When Bill O‘Reilly is lecturing you about your shoddy science, you know you‘re off the rails.  But Ann Coulter doesn‘t care about science.  She only cares about being provocative so Fox will keep putting her on TV. 

She is so predictable.  You could write a scientific formula for her.  Ann goes on TV.  Ann goes off TV.  There is always misinformation.  That‘s the Takedown. 

Coming up, the nuke crisis continues, as Japan admits the situation is much more serious than they had been letting on to the world. 

Plus, a huge news day in Wisconsin.  We‘ll explain why a visit from a right wing message guru Frank Luntz might just land Governor Scott Walker in hot water.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  There‘s a major development in Scott Walker‘s power grab in Wisconsin.  You would think this Wisconsin story would back off.  It just hasn‘t. 

This morning, Dane County Circuit Judge Mary Ann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order blocking Governor Walker‘s radical bill from becoming law. 


The judge‘s order prevents the law from being implemented until she can rule whether the legislative committee violated the state‘s Open Meeting Laws.  Wisconsin assistant attorney general said the state would seek an appeal.  He also left the door wide open for the Republicans to do a do over. 

He said “if the legislature decides to go back and re-act on these provisions, they have the right to do that.  And we‘ll see what happens.  No kidding.” 

There is a chance this ruling could get delayed long enough for the recalls to kick in and for some of these Republicans to lose their jobs in the process. 

This just was not a good day for Governor Scott Walker.  The governor‘s office had to turn over thousands of e-mails and his calendar under the Open Records Law request.  Now the governor of Wisconsin has been acting like a king. 

Today, he has to face the fact that Wisconsin has three branches of government. 

Joining me now is John Nichols, Washington correspondent of “The Nation.”  John, good to have you with us tonight.  This ruling, does it have teeth?  And will it—does it have the potential of slowing the process down to the point where we might even see people recalled before we even know if this law is a law or not? 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  Well, it‘s a good ruling, Ed.  There‘s no question of that.  Mary Ann Sumi is one of the most respected jurists in Wisconsin.  She got this case because, frankly, her fellow judges felt that she was a very strong player, somebody who would rule very much from the middle. 

She is not thought of as a big liberal or a big conservative.  And I‘ve read her decision.  It was extremely well written.  It went into detail about the Open Meetings Law and also about the requirements of transparency in government. 

She was clearly sending a signal.  So if this goes forward, I think you‘re very likely to see her statements and her views sustained not only in her own court, but potentially in appeals courts. 

Now, of course, the governor may well recognize that and try an end run and go back to the legislature. 

SCHULTZ:  What would be the end run?  It would have to be a modified bill, wouldn‘t it? 

NICHOLS:  It would have to.  It‘s very complicated.  Remember, you‘d have to go back and restart this whole process.  You‘d have to have hearings again.  You‘d have to have a debate again, both in the assembly and in the senate. 

That‘s what we just went through for the last month.  Remember, with the recalls coming on, many of these Republican senators have begun to indicate rather clearly that they‘re very uncomfortable with this. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, there is no doubt this was a big day for the Democrats.  This is definitely a legal stall.  And it will give the recall folks a chance to do what they want to do. 

John, stay with us.  I want you to respond to another major development in Madison. 

Late this afternoon, the Wisconsin Democratic Party filed an official complaint against Governor Walker with the State Government Accountability Board. 

Here is the back story in all of this.  You won‘t believe this.  On the afternoon of February 22nd, Walker took a phone call from a blogger posing as billionaire David Koch.  At 9:00 a.m. the next morning, the prank phone call story broke in the national media. 

Two hours later, Walker‘s calendar shows he had a meeting with Republican message man guru Frank Luntz in the governor‘s office in Madison.  That evening, Walker held a press conference and he said this. 


GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  I welcome those in from other states, as long as they‘re here to inform the debate, add to the debate, inform in a positive way, in terms of offering opinions pro or con.  We certainly don‘t want individuals from outside of the state, particularly some of the national political leaders coming in from Washington and elsewhere, trying to interfere with the process of having this debate. 


SCHULTZ:  They sure are.  Later that night, Luntz did his best to interfere with the process of the debate by doing one of his so-called focus groups on Sean Hannity‘s show.  He never mentioned that hours before he had met with the governor. 


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  So what do the people of Wisconsin think about all this?  Joining me now to get the answer to that important question is pollster Frank Luntz, who is in Madison, Wisconsin tonight with a special focus group.  Frank? 

FRANK LUNTZ, FOX NEWS POLLSTER:  Sean, I don‘t know what‘s going to happen.  So let‘s go right to the group.  Who should win this?  Is Wisconsin broke? 

CROWD:  Yes. 

LUNTZ:  OK.  We have one thing we agree on.  That‘s not that.  Why is Wisconsin broke? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Doyle ran us in the ground. 

LUNTZ:  So you blame Doyle. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Corporate welfare. 


LUNTZ:  Hold on.  One second.  Do you believe that this government spends too much, yes or no?  And I‘ve been there, Sean.  I was at the state capital, and I saw those signs.  Are those signs appropriate, Gloria? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Absolutely not. 

LUNTZ:  Then how do you engage in this debate?  How should you? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I think we talk a great deal about money and we should be talking about power as well.  The union is extremely dictatorial. 


SCHULTZ:  Many of you may not be aware of who Frank Luntz is.  He makes his living telling Republicans to turn the estate tax into the death tax and health reform into government take over of health care.  He instructed Republicans never to mention the Iraq war without tying it to 9/11. 

Walker‘s office says, quote, “the meeting was about moving Wisconsin forward and ensuring our state has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs.” 

Walker wants us to believe that he was talking to the most important Republican message man in America about creating jobs?  OK. 

Mike Tate, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democrats, said “you absolutely, positively cannot hold these kinds of plotting sessions with Republican operatives in the people‘s house.  These are cut-and-dry violations.” 

Let‘s go back to John Nichols tonight.  John, what do you make of all of this?  Was this meeting with Luntz possibly illegal? 

NICHOLS:  Of course it was possibly illegal.  The question we have to go to is whether Frank Luntz is a good pollster, whether there are people who pay him a lot of money for his advice. 

SCHULTZ:  Speaking of the money, who paid for his trip there and counseling on the side there?  What do you make of it? 

NICHOLS:  Fox News, right?  Remember, Frank Luntz‘s clients also include Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch and some of the largest mortgage and banking companies in the United States.  Interestingly enough, a month before he was meeting with Scott Walker, he was identified by “Politico” as having breakfast at the Four Seasons restaurant in Washington with David Koch. 

SCHULTZ:  So what do you think they met about?  Why did Luntz meet with the governor? 

NICHOLS:  I can tell you exactly what they met about.  I wasn‘t in the meeting, but I looked at the pattern of conversation.  Luntz, remember, is a guy who gives you the terms, the ways to talk about things that obscure the reality. 

And after that meeting, the governor began to constantly talk about all of these attacks on unions, this undermining of the ability of unions to represent workers, as tools that would be given to local governments so that they could balance budgets. 

Instead of talking about getting rid of collective bargaining, instead of cutting benefits and pay, it was all tools, tools, tools.  And clearly, that to me sounds just like a Luntz term. 

SCHULTZ:  Does this move by the Democrats today have any teeth, in your opinion? 

NICHOLS:  It‘s got potential.  Again, we go back to that question.  Is Frank Luntz worth any money?  If his advice was valuable to the governor, and helped him to advance a partisan or political agenda, as I think is happening, then that was a violation of our state laws, which say that you cannot take anything of value in your official capacity, in your office at the capitol. 

SCHULTZ:  Those open record laws will get you every time, won‘t they? 

NICHOLS:  Mr. Nixon had some troubles with them. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt about it.  It‘s just one story after another coming out of Wisconsin.  I mean, you can‘t make this stuff up.  It is amazing.  Great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

NICHOLS:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Up next, the vice president on the importance of organized labor in this country.  It‘s impressive stuff.  But you may not—might not be enough to fire up the base.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back.


SCHULTZ:  Thank you for watching THE ED SHOW on this Friday night. 

The Obama administration—this is a story that came out this week.  They‘re trying to heal up a restless base after numerous compromises.  I think you can say that lefties aren‘t really feeling the love of 2008.

SO the Obama team acknowledging that.  They‘re looking for ways to reinvigorate I guess you could say the disgruntled.  You could always count on the good old union folk, can‘t you? 

How is this for a start?  Vice President Joe Biden on a mission now.  He does a virtual town hall meeting with the AFL-CIO last night.  I tell you what.  He lays down the concrete, the foundation.  Here it is. 


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You guys built the middle class.  And I would just emphasize what Hilda said and say it slightly different.  We don‘t see the value of collective bargaining.  We see the absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining. 

Let‘s get something straight.  The only people who have the capacity, organizational capacity and the muscle, to keep as they say the barbarians from the gate is organized labor. 

And make no mistake about it, the guys on the other team get it.  They know if they cripple labor, then the gate is open, man.  The gate is wide open.  And we know that too. 


SCHULTZ:  First of all, I‘m so excited, I don‘t know what to say, which is rare.  “Positively a necessity.”  He referred to them as barbarians.  Vice president, you‘re watching cable.  Aren‘t you? 

Barbarians.  That‘s what the Republicans really are.  They want to take down organized labor.  They are the barbarians at the gate. 

OK.  Now we‘re getting somewhere.  I like it. 

Now, that was a great sound bite.  I mean, it was an awesome sound bite.  And it‘s politically perfect.  It would play in Wisconsin.  It would play in Michigan.  It would play in Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, everywhere. 

It would play everywhere.  Now, the story is that the Obama administration, they‘re looking for ideas on how to invigorate the base.  You know, get you and me excited about doing all the work to get President Obama re-elected. 

Well, I have a suggestion.  First of all, the sound bite was so good I‘m going to infringe upon you to ask you to listen to it again.  It was so good.  Can we hear it again?  It was just fantastic. 


BIDEN:  You guys built the middle class.  And I would just emphasize what Hilda said and say it slightly different.  We don‘t see the value of collective bargaining.  We see the absolute, positive necessity of collective bargaining. 




BIDEN:  Let‘s get something straight.  The only people who have the capacity, organizational capacity and the muscle, to keep as they say the barbarians from the gate is organized labor. 

And make no mistake about it, the guys on the other team get it.  They know if they cripple labor, then the gate is open, man.  The gate is wide open.  And we know that, too. 


SCHULTZ:  What are the chances?  Vice President Biden, what are the chances of you getting that in the next State of the Union speech?  We‘re not going to have an election between now and the State of the Union. 

You know, but State of the Union, that would be really cool to have that talk of barbarians, to make sure that the union folk of America—that it‘s positively a necessity, you know? 

So you can practice it as you are speaking in front of the AFL-CIO on a virtual town hall meeting.  It‘s great to practice that stuff in front of the choir.  But you got to get out and you got to sing that to the entire country, over and over and over again. 

You want to know how to fire up the base?  Talk like that all the time.  And I mean lay it on them all the time, that you are with labor, and there is nothing that is ever going to take the Democratic party from labor, and that labor is the foundation for the middle class in this country, and they are a necessity, and you will never back down, and as the attack on labor comes at labor, you‘ll be there with them to call them who they are, barbarians at the gate. 

Vice President Biden, you got a real new fan.  Actually, I was always a fan.  But now I‘m a groupie. 

Next, an update on the nuclear crisis in Japan.  A last resort option is considered that some experts warn might make matters worse.  Stay with us. 



SARAH SMITH, CHANNEL 4 NEWS:  In the midst of catastrophe, the whole of Japan stopped for one minute this morning.  People who lost everything in the tsunami that followed the earthquake are still praying for a resolution to the nuclear crisis. 


SCHULTZ:  At this hour, a potential breakthrough at Japan‘s Fukushima Nuclear Plant.  A Japanese news agency is reporting engineers were able to restart a water pump to douse the reactor number five, which is great news. 

This news comes less than a day after Japanese officials admitted the situation at the plant is far more critical than they had first let on.  Japan‘s nuclear agency officially raising the level of seriousness to a level five on a scale of seven.  That‘s up from a level four. 

The international community pegged it at a level six just days ago. 

With a power cable in place at the site, now the main priority is to restart the water pumps.  Officials hope to have electricity hooked up to reactors one and two this weekend. 

In the meantime, spraying water from outside is holding off a full meltdown.  If cooling efforts—


SMITH:  Their hopes now rest on a few brave volunteers.  These firefighters know they will be risking their lives as they try and put out the fires at the Fukushima nuclear reactors. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator):  We expect a lot of difficulties with the mission we have been given.  I think it is really a dangerous assignment.  The reputation of Japan and the lives of many people rest on your actions. 


SCHULTZ:  If cooling efforts fail, there is an option of last resort:

bury the nuke plant in sand and concrete.  It could prevent radiation from escaping.  But some experts believe creating a nuclear tomb would make the situation worse.  It could potentially heat the fuel rods, cause the concrete floor to break down, and complicate efforts to trap harmful radiation. 

And as the focus remains at Fukushima, attention is being diverted to what‘s happening on Japan‘s northeast coast.  It‘s been a week since the earthquake and tsunami struck.  Over 7,000 confirmed dead.  Over 10,000 still unaccounted for.  Nearly 3,000 -- 350,000 homes are still without electricity. 

Nearly one million homes remain without running water.  Analysts estimate the economic loss of nearly 200 billion dollars or three percent of Japan‘s GDP. 


SMITH:  Seven days into this crisis, the destruction in many towns remains so complete it is now hard to imagine the thriving communities they once were.  Other cities like Tono (ph) up north are ghost towns.  Little damage but the people are indoors fearing radiation. 

LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  With no fuel, patrons at this restaurant are facing the real possibility of being trapped if radiation comes. 

There is no complaining though.  Instead just a quiet determination. 

(on camera):  If they told you had to leave right now, what would you do? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We would have to die.

IAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  All along this coast, there are reminders of the raw power of the tsunami.  This fishing boat, one of several ripped from its moorings and simply dumped by the side of the road here. 

(voice-over):  This city survived the tsunami better than most.  Yet here more evidence of the toll suffered by Japan‘s elderly. 

“They‘re exhausted and shaken,” said the manager of this evacuation center.  Japan‘s a rapidly aging society.  Nowhere more so than in these devastated coastal communities.  And the relief effort will increasingly have to focus on them. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Very occasionally, people find a little bit of good news like these cousins who each thought the other must be dead. 

Far more typical though is this woman who can‘t find her husband, her parents, or her husband‘s parents. 


SCHULTZ:  And just hours ago, some very rare good news.  A young man was pulled out of the rubble alive, eight days after the quake destroyed his town. 

I‘ll be doing radio town halls across the country.  We‘re going to start things out in Madison, Wisconsin Wednesday night, April 13th, at the Barrymore Theater.  We‘re already being told that it‘s not big enough. 

Well, that‘s where we‘re going to hold it, at the Barrymore Theater, Madison, Wisconsin, April 13th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.  It will be open to the public. 

Next week on this program, we‘re going to do a story on manufacturing.  The number now being told out of the United States Senate is 58,000 factories have been lost in the last ten years in this country.  An analysis coming from the Alliance for American Manufacturing—they are saying that if we could replenish all of those jobs lost, we would not be in the economic situation that we are in this country right now. 

And as the focus on the battle over the budget continues, the big question remains: can we afford another military action, more military action, this time in Libya?  And spending money on the no fly zone?  A lot of questions and not a whole lot of answers. 

Also, Citizens United; the conservatives on a number of fronts are opening up new legal action around the country to strip and undermine more laws that would restrict funding to campaigns. 

That is all coming up next week on THE ED SHOW.  Hope you enjoy it. 

We‘ll be here.  Hope you‘ll be here.

That‘s THE ED SHOW tonight.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to  We‘d like to direct you to that site. 

Up next, a special MSNBC presentation “Caught on Camera, Disaster in Japan.”  We‘ll see you next week. 



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