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The Ed Show forThursday,July 19th, 2012

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Hogan Gidley, David Cay Johnston, Chris Kofinis, Guy Benson, John
Fugelsang, Jimmy Williams, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.

There are 110 days until the presidential election and the president
is opening a new line of attack. You people are going to love it.

This is THE ED SHOW -- and as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: We`ve given all people need to know
and understand.

DYSON (voice-over): The Romney campaign says you people have seen
enough taxes, as the Obama camp opens a new line of attack.

seniors to pay more for Medicare just so millionaires and billionaires can
pay less in taxes.

DYSON: Tonight, David Cay Johnston on the new questions about Mitt
Romney`s tax returns. Karen Finney and Hogan Gidley on the president`s
frontal attack on Mitt Romney`s vision for America.

Mitt Romney picks up where John Sununu left off.

president, by his comments, suggests an understanding what it is that makes
America such a unique nation.

DYSON: Big panel weighs in on Romney`s attempt to paint Barack Obama
as un-American.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Parallel track of influence
from the Muslim Brotherhood and the highest levels of the federal

DYSON: And Michele Bachmann`s witch hunt continued this morning,
despite another firm condemnation from Republican leadership.

being thrown around are pretty dangerous.

DYSON: We`ll have the latest fallout from the new Republican red

GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: You guys are absolutely right, and it is --
it is a matter of national survival. Let me --



DYSON: No matter how hard he might try, Mitt Romney has not rid
himself of his tax return problem. And one of his campaign`s favorite
surrogates, his wife, this time actually made matters worse.

First, a few poll reveals -- a new poll reveals what the public wants.
By a 17-point margin, Americans believe Romney should release more than two
years of tax returns. Even 53 percent of independents think Romney should
release more tax returns. A plurality of Americans believe these
additional returns include damaging information, including 15 percent who
say they think the revelations would show he`s unfit to be president.

So, what does the Romney camp do? They use one of their most winning
surrogates, Ann Romney, because she`s been far more likable than her
husband on the campaign trail. But listen carefully to the first part of
Ann Romney`s explanation of why no more tax returns will be released.


A. ROMNEY: You know, you should really look at where mitt has led his
life and where he`s been financially. He`s a very generous person. We
give 10 percent of our income to our church every year.

Do you think that`s the kind of person trying to hide things or do
things? No. He is so good about it.

Then when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn`t take a salary in
the four years.


DYSON: Listen, giving charitable donations, however commendable, has
absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a presidential candidate
should release tax returns. They are two different issues.

Ann Romney suggesting that this means Mitt Romney isn`t hiding
anything is, with all due respect, a ludicrous argument. Mitt Romney not
taking a salary as governor is also totally irrelevant to the issue.

Here`s the second part of Ann Romney`s answer.


A. ROMNEY: There`s so many things that will be open again for more
attack. And you just want to get more material for more attack and that`s
just the answer. And we`ve given all you people need to know and
understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life.


DYSON: We`ve given all you people need to know. What about we the
people and what we need to know to form a more perfect union?

Again, this answer is condescending to the extreme. We the people is
the predicate of our democracy. We the people need to know the very
details of Mitt Romney`s tax returns to determine for ourselves whether or
not he is hiding something.

If he isn`t, come forth. Isn`t this the same extreme viewpoints about
Barack Obama`s birthday certificate?

They were extremely curious about that, but have no curiosity about
this? Come on, Mitt Romney. Let`s play fair. What are you hiding?

Then we have the candidate himself, who is trying to change the
subject from his very big tax return problem and is pushing a lie about
what the president said about business.


M. ROMNEY: When the president said that if you got a business, you
didn`t build it, come here and talk to Brian and you`ll learn that, in
fact, he did build this business. Someone else isn`t responsible for what
he did here.


DYSON: Now there you go again, Mitt Romney. We must play again what
the president actually said last Friday.


OBAMA: If you are successful, somebody along the line gave you some
help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped
to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you
to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you got a business,
that -- you didn`t build that. Somebody else made that happen.


DYSON: Am I missing something? Isn`t this the American way to
acknowledge others have helped us?

Mitt Romney, if somebody changed your diaper, you didn`t do it on your
own. All the president is doing is reflecting what Martin Luther King Jr.
said when he earlier, 50 years ago, suggested when you get up in the
morning, the world joins you. You get coffee, that`s from Colombia. You
got potatoes, that`s from Idaho. The world helps us do what we do.

Dr. King said there`s a ground crew that`s often present but not
talked about when we talk about flying. Yes, the pilot is there, but the
ground crew is important as well.

This is all the president is saying. This deconstructs the mythology
of self-made men, when indeed they`ve been helped on every side.

The president has moved on, opening a whole new line of attack against
candidate Romney, one that Americans better pay closer attention to.
Here`s the president in Florida today.


OBAMA: He plans to turn Medicare into a voucher program, so if that
voucher isn`t worth enough to buy the health insurance that`s on the
market, you`re out of luck. You`re on your own.

One independent, non-partisan study found that seniors would have to
pay nearly $6,400 more for Medicare than they do today. It`s wrong to ask
seniors to pay more for Medicare just so millionaires and billionaires can
pay less in taxes.


DYSON: Do you people get that? This is significant because Mitt
Romney supports Congressman Paul Ryan`s draconian budget and Americans need
to know what he would sign into law as president.

According to Greg Sargent of "The Washington Post", focus groups
commissioned by Priorities USA don`t actually believe Romney would enact
such extreme legislation -- so it`s incumbent on the Obama campaign to
inform the American people what they are in for with a Romney presidency.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think.

Tonight`s question: do you think Mitt Romney will cut Medicare and
give the rich another tax cut? A, for yes, text B, for no, to 622639. Or
go to our blog, I`ll bring you the results later in the

Let`s bring in MSNBC analyst and former DNC communications director,
Karen Finney, and Hogan Gidley, former national communications director for
the Rick Santorum campaign.

Let`s begin with Ann Romney`s comments, because I believe the Romney
campaign hurt themselves even more today.

What do you think about that, Hogan?

half. I think everybody can agree on that. A very likable woman, she`s
great surrogate for her husband, there`s no doubt.

But, you know -- I mean, look, she is right about one thing, and that
is if they keep the taxes and don`t release more than two years, he`s going
to get hammered for not releasing more taxes. If he releases the taxes,
he`s going to get hammered for what`s in them.

This has been an issue for Mitt Romney since he ran for Senate back in
`94, and it`s been a calculated move by the campaign not to release these
documents. For some reason, people in Boston believe what`s in the
documents will hurt more than the barrage of attacks for not releasing the
documents. So, they`ve made that political calculation, sticking to it,
and they are not releasing anymore documents.

DYSON: Well, it seems, Karen, that it`s not an effective strategy,
because they keep getting hammered, and more they keep getting hammered,
even their Republican allies are joining in.

And Ann Romney, usually pretty effective, really compounded the
problem, I think, don`t you agree? It sounds like she`s implying there
really is something to hide here.

the problem overall both in her answer and frankly, Governor Romney
himself. Every time he says, if I release them, you`re going to pick
through them and find things to attack me with.

Well, clearly, you believe there are things in there that are
problematic, that you perhaps believe that it is problematic how you can
explain to the American people how you can be a, quote-unquote, "job
creator" when you created much of your wealth by keeping that money
offshore in these accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and, perhaps,
various tax loopholes, which ironically -- you know, the other thing on
this attack on President Obama, somehow Mitt Romney thinks he got there all
by himself is somehow disingenuous, because guess what? He got a lot of
help, and those were called tax breaks and tax loopholes that he had no
problem exploiting when it came to accumulating his own wealth.

DYSON: No doubt about that.

Now, the Romney campaign is still after the president about his
business comments and Romney went to an auto repair shop in Massachusetts
to make the point today. But CBS News says the company in question,
Middlesex Truck and Coach, got government help and industrial revenue bond.

So, Karen, the Romney campaign is tripping all over this one, too,
aren`t they? I mean, they are just not batting a high percentage here.

FINNEY: Well, absolutely. I mean, the idea is very simple. In this
country, you move forward and you get ahead because somebody else helped
make sure there was an opportunity there for you. Nobody does it on their

And that`s, you know, that`s part of the role of government. That`s
part of the role of the individual and your own enthusiasm and hard work,
but there are opportunities in this country. That`s part of what Obama is
really talking about in terms of what makes this country so special. So to
try -- you know, these dog whistle politics of saying he doesn`t understand
what it is to be an American and he doesn`t understand, that is sort of
have this attitude of I`m going to talk about the president like this, but
then I`m not accountable to tell you anything about my taxes or about my
dealings or even, frankly, giving an explanation.

Every time you ask the Romney folks, you know, to give an explanation,
they say, well, go look at the plan, 59-point plan, that`s on the Web site.

DYSON: Right. Exactly. That hook a brother up deal they never talk
about specifically.

Hogan, Mitt Romney has made President Obama`s point. Here it is.


ROMNEY: I know that you recognize a lot of people help you in a
business. Perhaps the banks, the investors, no question your mom and dad,
your school teachers, the people that provide roads, the fire, the police -
- a lot of people help. There are a lot of people in government who help
us and allow us to have an economy that works and allow entrepreneurs and
business leaders of various kinds to start businesses and create jobs. We
all recognize that. That`s an important thing.


DYSON: So, Hogan, it`s good for Romney to say it, but not Obama?
It`s good when he says it out of his mouth because somehow he legitimates
it, as the person who is the source of that? So, Romney is lying about
what the president said.

GIDLEY: No, look, I think both sides jump on what these politicians
say quite frequently. And they hammer them over the head with it.
Speaking of someone working for Rick Santorum who had a propensity of going
a little bit too far every once in awhile and going back to explain the
things he said on television shows and I had to go out and explain what he
meant on some of these shows -- we don`t want robotic candidates, right? I
mean, we don`t someone so poll-tested and poll-driven that they just give
you pat answers every time.

DYSON: But you`re saying Romney went too far?

GIDLEY: This type of scrutiny -- I`m sorry?

DYSON: Are you saying Romney went too far?

GIDLEY: No, I`m not saying Romney went too far. I`m saying this is
what campaigns are. In the summertime, when no one`s paying attention, you
have to hammer somebody on things that are fringe elements that aren`t
necessary --


DYSON: Let me ask you this -- is it a fringe point when he`s simply
saying Obama is ridiculous somebody else helps you but he`s caught saying
the same thing? Answer that question, is that fair for him to deny the
contradiction in his own statement?

GIDLEY: No, I see what you`re saying. He`s making the attack and
coming back and kind of --

DYSON: Saying the same thing.

GIDLEY: That`s right. I see what you`re saying. But this is the
time in the race we`re going to focus on the tougher issues -- the Medicare
issue, like you mentioned in Florida. Obama hit on that today.

We`re going to begin to focus on what the American people care about.
And just to your earlier point for a second, one of the things with the tax
returns, you mentioned the Republicans coming out and telling Mitt Romney
to release these returns. One of the reasons we want him to release these,
quite frankly, for most of the pundits out there who are Republicans
because we`re pretty selfish. We don`t want to come on your show and have
these conversations about tax returns. We want to have a debate about
President Obama ruining the economy.

DYSON: Hogan, I thought you had love for me, my man. I thought you
had love for me.

Karen, you jump in and show the love.


FINNEY: OK. Well, two things. I think Hogan would agree, just as a
communications practitioner that probably the ideal thing to have done
would have been a year, year and a half ago for the Romney team to put
together a pact, maybe eight years, 10 years, and sit down with five or so
reporters and frame this story rather than now having this liability,
because part of what it`s doing is you`re seeing sort of the fraying of
what was already a pretty tenuous amount of support from the conservative
underpinnings for Mitt Romney. And that`s why you`re seeing across the
spectrum, people are not comfortable having to defend this, because they
know it`s a huge liability.

DYSON: All right. That will have to be the last word. Karen Finney
and Hogan Gidley, thank you so much.

FINNEY: Thanks.

GIDLEY: Thanks.

DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of
the screen. And share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook.
We want to know what you think.

Coming up, Mitt Romney says he`s not trying to avoid paying taxes. So
why is he sending his money overseas? We`ll talk about the high cost of
putting his money where his mouth is, next.


DYSON: Coming up, our expert tax detective, David Cay Johnston, will
tell us what he thinks Romney is hiding in his secret returns.

Later, the number of Republicans condemning Michele Bachmann`s Islamic
witch hunt is nearing an even dozen.

I`ll ask Chris Kofinis what it took them so long to figure out.
Bachmann has no clue what she`s talking about.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter using the

We`ll be right back.



ROMNEY: This is the land of opportunity. We welcome people here with
dreams and say to them, come build it.


DYSON: Welcome back.

Mitt Romney spoke passionately today about the importance of investing
in America. Keep that in mind as I ask you this next question, how much
money do you have in your IRA or your 401(k) right now?

Today, "The Wall Street Journal" estimated Mitt Romney`s IRA, listen
to this, is worth somewhere between $20 million and $101 million. IRA.

It makes you wonder, why would you keep $20 million in a retirement
account? One answer is tax savings. "The Wall Street Journal" found many
of the assets in Romney`s IRA were Bain Capital investments overseas,
places like the Cayman Islands. If you got enough lawyers and accountants,
you can avoid paying as much as 35 percent in taxes by using a retirement

But Romney`s people insist he`s not avoiding taxes. They say the
Cayman Island accounts are not tax havens and it`s false to say so.

So if he`s not saving on taxes, why put $100 million in a retirement
accounts? Romney admits, he`s, like, saving money on taxes.


ROMNEY: I can tell you, we follow the tax laws, and if there`s an
opportunity to save taxes, we, like anybody else in this country, will
follow that opportunity.


DYSON: Show me the money. That`s a Jerry McGuire moment here.

So remember this -- while Mitt Romney praises American opportunity, he
could be saving as much as $35 million a year by sending his money
overseas. Let`s turn to David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist, a columnist for "Reuters" and author of the book "Free Lunch."

Welcome to the show, my friend.


DYSON: So, if these investments are legal, what is Mitt Romney
hiding? I mean, all this suspicion being generated, cloud is hanging over
him, now it`s beginning to rain down.

JOHNSTON: Well, I think the question isn`t about the IRAs. That`s
actually a tax mistake because when he takes the money out, he`ll have to
pay the 35 percent.

DYSON: Yes, big money.

JOHNSTON: The real issue is, why is not he releasing his returns?
Now, the Obama has run an ad that says maybe you didn`t any taxes some

Obama`s a cautious man. Look at the way he got rid of Osama bin
Laden, you know, he took the action, but he was very cautious about it.
Well, I don`t think they said this without knowing that there are years
with no taxes. Remember, 23 years of returns from `84 up until 2007 were
given to the John McCain campaign.

So apparently, John McCain`s people can see them. The American public

DYSON: Right.

JOHNSTON: So there`s something in his tax returns he`s concluded it`s
safer and better not to disclose them.

DYSON: So you think the Obama campaign has sure knowledge of this.
Somebody`s leaked it, somebody`s seen it? Somebody`s --

JOHNSTON: Or there`s an abstract, or someone testified under oath, or
somebody made a mistake. You know, years ago, I wrote the story that
Donald Trump had a negative net worth. He wasn`t a multibillionaire,
because somebody gave me his personal net worth statement that his bankers
had prepared.

DYSON: Yes, somebody better be careful around you.

So, look, tell us how tax havens actually hurt America.

JOHNSTON: Well, I think the Cayman Islands is actually a threat to
the national security of the United States. Here`s what happens. American
corporations put their intellectual property, the right to, the logos
outside the building, you know, the sign that says Wal-Mart or Pfizer, and
they put them overseas.

DYSON: Right.

JOHNSTON: And then they charge -- they pay a royalty to this overseas
entity, a tax deduction in the U.S., tax free profits offshore. And it
appears as well more than $2 trillion of untaxed profits now sitting
offshore as a result.

Well, if tax to 35 percent, that would bring in $700 billion. How
much is that? All the income taxes you and I and everybody else in America
will pay this year up until around Halloween.

DYSON: Wow. So, David, why is it then, fat cats we can understand,
people with deep pockets, we get it. But why do these politicians claim to
love America so much and talking about economic patriotism have the
information you have and understand that these, you know, $750 billion
there, and then we talk about trillions of dollars that American
corporations is sitting on, isn`t that un-American much more than claiming
what Obama is doing is un-American because he wants to talk about
businesses didn`t start by themselves?

JOHNSTON: Yes. And this week in "Reuters", I broke the story, the
American corporations hold $5.1 trillion in cash, that`s the entire output
of the economy from New Year`s Day to May Day and a lot of it is held
offshore and untaxed.

And the reason that you hear these arguments are very simple -- the
people who are financing these campaigns are people who don`t want to pay
taxes, don`t believe that anybody helped them. They don`t believe what
Romney just said a moment ago. They believe that whatever the law allows
is OK.

DYSON: Right.

JOHNSTON: And then they go in and get the laws written to allow them
to do these things and go, but I`m just doing what the law says.

DYSON: But that`s where morality comes in, right? Because you could
say it may be legal, but it`s not necessarily ethical, but it`s really
suspicious morally, when you write the laws, then you say you`re doing what
the law says when you`re controlling the writing of the law.

JOHNSTON: And it also represents a very troubling kind of thinking.
When I was growing up, it was drilled into the head of everybody I knew --
you are stewards of the earth for the time you`re here. There are going to
be people who will come long after you, you may be a little kid now, but
some day, you`re going to be an old man with gray hair.

Yet the approach taken by many people in our country today is now,
now, now, now, now. And who are they? They`re the people at the top, the
wealthiest people.

DYSON: No differed gratification that they claim the poor always

David Cay Johnston, thank you so much.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

DYSON: Michele Bachmann goes on a witch hunt and now Republicans are
condemning her actions. Democratic Chris Kofinis weighs in.

And Mitt Romney says President Obama doesn`t understand what makes
America unique. Our panel will weigh in on Romney`s new bogus lines of
attack against the president. Stay tuned.


DYSON: Republicans are turning on one of their own. After she
launches a McCarthy-like attack on a long-time public servant, last month,
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and four other House Republicans sent
letters to top intelligence and security officials suggesting one of
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s top aides has ties to Islamic

Huma Abedin was born in the U.S. and has a Pakistani descent. They
five members of Congress alleged that members of Abedin`s family may have
been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. They want a federal investigation
to determine if Abedin is using her position at the State Department to
elevate the group.

Yesterday, John McCain, the senator, of course, from Arizona, defended
Abedin on the senate floor, demanding an end to the ugly and sinister
attacks. Following McCain`s reprimand, Bachmann wasn`t answering any


REPORTER: Hey, Congresswoman, how are you?

BACHMANN: Sorry, I can`t right now.


REPORTER: I want to ask you about this. Senator McCain was just from
on the Senate floor and he said that what you`re doing, going after Huma --

BACHMANN: I can`t do it right now.

REPORTER: Can you do an interview with us later?



REPORTER: All right. Thank you.


DYSON: Wow, Huma -- who me? That`s what Bachmann is asking there.

McCain`s defense of Abedin has triggered several comments from
Republicans. The speaker of the House, John Boehner, also weighed in.


know of her, she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like
this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.


DYSON: Yet Bachmann is standing by her rhetoric.


BACHMANN: If my family members were associated with Hamas, a
terrorist organization, that alone could be sufficient to disqualify me
from getting a security clearance.


DYSON: Let`s turn to Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis.

Welcome to the show.


DYSON: Bachmann says the content of these letters are being distorted
and this is about serious national security concerns. Come on. Tell us
what this really is about.

KOFINIS: Listen, I think this is about an extreme agenda that clearly
a wing in the Republican Party has, that Congresswoman Bachmann represents.
I mean, if you step back and you think about what she said, it has to be
one of the most despicable things at least I`ve heard in politics in a long
time. That says a lot. There`s a lot of despicable things said in

Here`s a young lady who is a public servant, who has given years of
her life. The pay is not great. The work is incredibly demanding. And
she`s doing it for her passion and love of the country. That should be
honored, not condemned or made these disgusting insinuations.

It`s truly a pathetic thing that the congresswoman has done.

DYSON: You make a great point about Huma Abedin, the service she`s
rendered at the low rates, not making the money that some of these people
who are her critics have been raking in. And yet her patriotism is being
subject to this immoral scrutiny.

Boehner was asked a follow up about Bachmann. Let`s take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you consider taking her off the
Intelligence Committee, Congresswoman Bachmann?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I don`t know that that`s
related at all.


DYSON: Boehner didn`t rule out the possibility, though. If she
doesn`t back down, will he have any choice?

KOFINIS: Well, I don`t know if he has a choice or not. But actually
I`ll go one step further. This is not the first time that Congresswoman
Bachmann has said these types of things. And this crosses the line.
Listen, when --

DYSON: About Huma Abedin or about somebody?

KOFINIS: About Huma Abedin. When you get into politics and you`re a
politician, you kind of expect the kind of rough and tumble nature of it.
But like I said, this young lady who`s a public servant -- and for her to
have crossed this line, Congresswoman Bachmann has to seriously consider
resigning. That`s how serious a statement she made.

To attack someone`s -- you know, their patriotism and the notion that
they love this country, I mean, it just crosses a line that cannot be
crossed in politics.

DYSON: Right, well, the focus has mainly been on Bachmann, but what
about the other four House members? What about them? What is their

KOFINIS: My guess is they are going to run for the hills now, because
they`re going to let Congresswoman Bachmann take the punches. But they are
all guilty of this. This is unacceptable. I give some of the Republicans,
specifically Senator McCain, credit for speaking out. But I haven`t seen a
tidal wave of folks speaking out.

That I think is a statement in and of itself. I mean, this kind of
behavior, this kind of actions from any member of Congress, but we`ve seen
this too much from Congresswoman Bachmann. I`m personally tired of it. I
can only imagine being the brunt of it. I feel really sorry for Ms.
Abedin. I really feel really bad for her.

DYSON: Huma Abedin is a wonderful woman and noteworthy and notable
public servant.

Mr. Kofinis, thank you so much.

KOFINIS: Thank you.

DYSON: There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour on THE ED
SHOW, Stay tuned.


ROMNEY: I just don`t think the president, by his comments, suggests
an understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.


DYSON: The Romney campaign picks up where Donald Trump and Sarah
Palin left off. The Big Panel weighs in on the latest effort to paint
Barack Obama as un-American, and Michele Bachmann`s McCarthy-like witch


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congresswoman, how are you?

BACHMANN: Sorry, I can`t right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just need to ask you about this. Senator
McCain was just on the Senate floor and he said that what you`re doing --

BACHMANN: Can`t right now.


BACHMANN: But I can`t right now.


DYSON: All of a sudden, Republicans care about government jobs. Dick
Cheney wants to keep the Defense money flowing to pay for the next war.

Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is here with reaction.



JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN CHAIR: The president, in making that
statement, doesn`t understand how America works, doesn`t understand how
business works. And I wish this president would learn how to be an


DYSON: My goodness. What would Barack Obama do without the sagacity
(ph) of John Sununu? Welcome back. That was Romney campaign surrogate
John Sununu using out of context remarks from President Obama to paint him
as un-American.

Today Mitt Romney used those out of context comments for the third day
in a row to attack the president. But this time, he took a page out of
Sununu`s play book, saying President Obama doesn`t understand what makes
America unique.


ROMNEY: I just don`t think the president, by his comments, suggests
an understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.


DYSON: For more on this, let`s turn to political comedian John
Fugelsang, MSNBC contributor Jimmy Williams, and Townhall political editor
Guy Benson.

Guy, let`s start with you. Isn`t President Obama`s background a
shining example of what makes America unique? If anybody understands it,
it`s Barack Obama.

GUY BENSON, "TOWNHALL": Well, sure. I mean, when we talk about a
personal biography, absolutely. I think he`s a great American success
story when it comes to his own background and the way that he`s become the
president of the United States, the first African-American president.
That`s obviously an amazing story.

But that`s a completely different question about whether or not he
understands the American social compact and what he`s said in Virginia last
weekend, I think, calls that very seriously into question. I don`t think
Mitt Romney`s comments are taking the president`s remarks out of context
whatsoever. And I think it`s a completely legitimate and, frankly,
devastating line of attack, which is why I think you`re seeing a lot of
damage control on the left from people trying to argue that it`s out of
context or to suggest that it`s un-American that -- like this un-American

Look, John Sununu apologized within minutes of saying that. The Obama
campaign still hasn`t apologized for falsely suggesting Mitt Romney might
be a felon. And let`s not forget --

DYSON: OK, let`s not get off subject. I understand your point.
Jimmy, you want to jump in here to talk about what it is that Barack Obama
is up against and the kind of depth of ignorance against he which he has to
pitch his own understanding of this social compact?

JIMMY WILLIAMS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Barack Obama, the president, the
sitting president of the United States, is sitting in a country where half
the country doesn`t like him. It`s just a simple, plain fact. And that`s

Let`s be clear about what`s happening, what Sununu said, not once, not
twice, three times. What other people have said over and over and over
again. It`s code. It`s code he doesn`t belong in the office of the
presidency of the United States.

When you speak in code, people get it. And you know what, that`s a
problem. It`s a racial problem. It`s a religious problem. And if you
don`t think it is, ask the Birthers. Ask the people that think he`s a
Muslim. Ask the people that say he`s un-American.

I`m sorry, but that`s a major, major problem for this country. This
is 2012, not 1963. This is not the pre-Civil Rights Bill. This is a

DYSON: Yes. John, let`s take a page from that Jimmy Williams` play
book, so to speak and talk about the dog whistles and codes here. Could it
be argued with Mitt Romney`s background, he doesn`t understand what makes
America unique? I mean, you could make that argument against him.

calling the president out of touch is like Mitt Romney calling the
president honky. But you know, when you think about -- when you think
about the use of the word un-American, the use of the word un-American is
un-American in itself. Only fascist societies or fascist people use that
kind of language.

You don`t hear someone say, hey man, that`s very un-Canadian of you.
That was really un-Belgian of you to say -- un-German, yeah, that sounds
right. We`ve seen this happen before. And it`s dog whistle politics.
It`s the Birthers. It`s why Donald Trump is now a dog whistle that can
only be heard by racists and the mainstream media.

BENSON: Can I ask a question real quick? Yes, when President Obama
called prosecute Bush unpatriotic for the debt that he racked up over eight
years, which by the way is less than the president has racked up over three
and a half years, was that a dog whistle of some sort?


WILLIAMS: -- unpatriotic. If you don`t think it isn`t, ask every
conservative in this country why we have a 16 trillion dollar deficit and
whether or not that`s a patriotic thing.


FUGELSANG: If you don`t like deficits, you`re morally obliged to
unlike the Ronald Reagan --

WILLIAMS: Do you like the wars that got us half those deficits,
because I think that was actually remarkably unpatriotic, to take us into
war on a lie?


DYSON: Guy, can you deal with the wolf whistle here? Is there
anything within the conservative conscience that understands the deployment
of code terms that are meant to be understood who receive them, and yet
have plausible deniability at the same time? Can you not admit that that`s
going on?

BENSON: I don`t see it. I`m not getting any of these secret dog
whistle messages --

DYSON: You don`t see it. You hear it.

BENSON: I don`t see it happening.

DYSON: Do you hear it?

BENSON: I don`t hear it. No, I don`t hear it either. I watch this
stuff all the time. You guys say, well, Bush was unpatriotic for the
policies that we don`t like what he did. But if a Republican says
President Bush -- rather, President Obama`s un-American, which they
immediately retract, for bad policies that he`s put in place, that`s all of
a sudden some sort of really nasty insidious code word.

FUGELSANG: No, no, no. No one was ever calling President Bush`s
policies un-American or unpatriotic in the sense of saying that he is the
other, he is not one of us. It`s all done in the context of Barack Obama
is not a real American. And I don`t want this to turn into all the guys
ganging up on Guy at all. My biggest outrage of what President Obama said
is he pretty much plagiarized a much better and briefer Elizabeth Warren
quote a few months ago.

DYSON: John Fugelsang, Jimmy Williams and Guy Benson, stick around.

Coming up, Michele Bachmann`s Islamaphobic witch hunt is just another
attempt to try and portray the president as un-American. The panel will be
back for more. Stay tuned.


DYSON: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. I`m joined again by John
Fugelsang, Jimmy Williams, and Guy Benson. Michele Bachmann actually
sources Frank Gaffney`s website in her Islamaphobic attacks. Gaffney has a
long history of fear mongering against Muslims. This is the video on the
front page of that website.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seemingly endless apologies are offered by
America`s leaders to people who are chronically offended and willing to
threaten or use violence against us, even without any pretext. The
constant apologies amount to groveling and are understood as the submission
of an entire nation.


DYSON: Oh, with that scary Walter Cronkite, maybe it`s Walter
Concrete voice there.

FUGELSANG: Actually, it`s read much better in the original German.

DYSON: My man (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). Guy, is this whole witch hunt
another attempt to paint the president as un-American?

BENSON: To paint the president as un-American?

DYSON: Of the United States, Barack Obama.

BENSON: Yeah, I know who he is, but what does this have to do with

DYSON: Well, we`re talking about the un-Americanization of Barack
Obama, his administration, people who are associated with him, Hillary
Clinton and Hillary Clinton`s aide. We`re talking about guilt by
association. We`re talking about the penetration of Islamic, you know,
Muslim extremism into America. You know what we`re talking about here.

Why is it that good conservatives can`t acknowledge what`s before us?

BENSON: No, you played the clip earlier of Senator McCain, who I
agree with, condemning Congresswoman Bachmann. Look, you don`t wade into
this. You don`t make these sort of vague insinuations and this
implication, well, maybe this woman is connected to something sinister,
unless you really have proof. There`s absolutely none.

DYSON: Unless you`re absolutely wrong and a bigot, bigoted in the
sense of having a narrow viewpoint about Islamic people in America and what
they are likely to do. That kind of bigotry should not be tolerated by
anybody, including in the halls of the Congress.

BENSON: My point is you don`t do that sort of thing unless you have
proof. She doesn`t have proof, so she was wrong to do it. And Senator
McCain was right to call her out.

By the way, one little irony about that is, this woman is married to
former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who`s Jewish. This would be a very deep
cover for her, right, if she were --

FUGELSANG: She`s a terrible Muslim fundamentalist.


DYSON: The guy who plunged a plunger up the rectum of an African man
was himself dating a black woman. The two are not necessarily related, my

WILLIAMS: Guy, I have a question for you. Probably speaking out.
Should the House of Representatives censure her for what she`s done? And
by the way, the other members of the Congress that signed that letter?

BENSON: I saw there was maybe four or five of them total?

WILLIAMS: Correct. But should they be censured for what they`ve
done? Frankly, I remember Margaret Chay Smith (ph) in June of 1950 -- I
don`t remember it, but I studied it in history, when she went to the floor
in her Declaration of Conscience, and went after McCarthy for what he did.
And McCarthy was absolutely, you know, condemned by the United States

Should the same thing happen to Michele Bachmann and those four GOP
members of Congress by the House of Representatives? And should Speaker
Boehner do it?

BENSON: I would like to see her answer some more questions about
this. I saw the video of her running away from the reporter, I think CNN`s
Dana Bash, I believe it was, refusing to answer. If you level this type of
accusation, and she said it`s not even an accusation, I`m just wondering.
That`s not good enough. I want to see --

DYSON: This is the kind of bias we`re talking about. John, isn`t it
un-American of Bachmann to try and paint certain Muslims as un-American?


FUGELSANG: I don`t like to use the word un-American, but I have a
Muslim cousin, a Jewish sister-in-law, an ex Nun mother and an atheist
brother. So I don`t get to hate anybody. What a lot of people don`t
realize is Michele Bachmann is one of the only congress people serving on
an outpatient basis. And what she did was actually rather deliberate.

She`s going to raise money from saying what she said. And she will
earn the ire of her colleagues, yes, even John Boehner condemned her. But
the fact is they need her because she makes them look so measured and
reasonable. To me, I think she`s an embarrassment to all ignorant and
lying Americans. And as an ignorant, lying American, I`m deeply ashamed of
her bigotry.

DYSON: I represent that, as Groucho Marx said. A number of
Republicans have attacked Bachmann for her witch hunt, including her former
campaign chief, Ed Rollins, who wrote this: "having worked for Congressman
Bachmann`s campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has
difficulty with her facts. But this downright vicious and reaches the late
Senator Joe McCarthy level. Shame on you, Michele. You should stand on
the floor of the House and apologize to Huma Abedin and to Secretary
Clinton and to the millions of hard working loyal Muslim Americans for your
wild and unsubstantiated charges."

You want to jump in, John, and then we`ll get to Guy.

FUGELSANG: I want to say that the problem here is not -- the problem
here is across the boards. It`s not Muslims. It`s the far right wing
fundamentalists of all religions causing all the problems. The far right
wing Christians, Jews, and Muslims are the ones making life really
interesting for the rest of us.

DYSON: Fundamentalists of all stripes.

FUGELSANG: The moderate and progressive -- and sane conservative
Christians, Jews and Muslims are getting along just fine right now today.
This is making headlines because Michele Bachmann is the most entertaining
member of Congress and the only one who thinks Rwanda was a J.J.`s sister
on "Good Times."

DYSON: Baramp, baramp, baramp. John Fugelsang, Jimmy Williams and
Guy Benson, thank you.

Tonight in our survey, I asked you, do you think Mitt Romney will cut
Medicare and give the rich another tax cut? Ninety nine percent say yes,
one percent say no.

Coming up, Dick Cheney tells Republicans on Capitol Hill to keep
spending money to prepare for the next war. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
will join me. Stay tuned. You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.


DYSON: We finally found government jobs that Republicans are willing
to save. Look no further than the Department of Defense. What brought on
this sudden change of heart? A meeting with former Vice President Dick
Cheney. Cheney came to Capitol Hill this week to discuss the automatic
military spending cuts that will start in January.

Apparently, Cheney proved to be very persuasive, because the very same
elected officials who want to cut jobs from other departments now are
worried about job loss at the Pentagon and the impact it will have on
defense contractors.


REP. BUCK MCKEON (R), CALIFORNIA: We`re looking at a potential, just
on the defense side, 1.5 million jobs. Think of what that`s going to do to
a fragile economy.


DYSON: According to Senator Lindsey Graham, Cheney predicted the cuts
would be devastating to the military. More important, it will make the
planning of the next war more difficult. According to Graham, "Cheney told
the group defense spending is not a spigot you can turn on and off, that
you need to keep money flowing in a predictable way so you can plan for the
next war."

Yet according to the CBO, "even with big cuts, the Pentagon will still
be able to spend as much money as it did in 2006 when we were fighting two

Joining me now is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff at
the State Department during General Colin Powell`s term, currently the
Pamela Haraman Visiting Professor at the College of William and Mary.
Professor general, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Mike.

DYSON: Thank you, colonel. Cheney oversaw drastic cuts to the
defense budget during his time as defense secretary. Why is he lobbying
for more military spending. Is it about helping out his defense contractor

WILKERSON: Well, the very first time I ever heard about Dick Cheney,
a congressman told me that he never met a defense program he didn`t love.
And his voting record as a congressman would bear that out. But the
statistics you threw out there at the beginning of your spiel, they tell
the story.

If you did what we`re recommending in an IPS cap, Center for American
Progress Institute for Policy Studies study, and cut a trillion dollars out
of the national security budget over the next 10 years, roughly 100 billion
a year, in the first year, you`d take us down to about 472 billion for the
core DOD Pentagon program.

And that would be about the equivalent in inflation adjusted dollars
of 2006-2007, which incidentally was one of the highest spending years in
the entire period, since World War II, including all of the Cold War. We`d
only be cutting by about 14 percent.

Dick Cheney myself, and my boss Colin Powell at the time and George
H.W. Bush cut about 25 to 27 percent. So this is not a Draconian cut, even
if it`s done by sequestration.

DYSON: Wow. So colonel, you`ve warned about the military industrial
Congressional complex, a nice felicitous turn of phrase there. Is there
any way out of it?

WILKERSON: Well, Dwight Eisenhower is the man we should give credit
for that. I don`t know anymore. That`s an excellent question. My former
boss, Colin Powell, mentioned about nine months ago or something, about us
having created a industrial terrorism complex. And when you look at the
Homeland Security budget, you look at 100 billion dollars-plus for the
intelligence community and you ask what are we getting for it, and you look
at this complex that we`ve created, Dana Priest and Bill Arcon of the
"Washington Post" did a great job of covering this complex, 800,000-plus
top secret security clearances now.

This is unconscionable. And it`s taking money away from programs that
we desperately need that more for in the United States. And this business
of borrowing to pay for these wars is simply unsustainable. We`re looking
at an even greater deficit in the future. And the DOD and the national
security budget in general has to pay its part of this need for us to get
the deficit down.

DYSON: Let`s follow up on that. So give us the sense of the danger
of a bloated defense budget then. It`s doing a lot of harm versus the good
calculated by its defenders.

WILKERSON: Absolutely. We`re talking about reasonable cuts, even
when we talk about a trillion dollars over 10 years. When you look at the
entire national security budget, you have to look at the 1.2 trillion we
spend, which incidentally that includes Homeland Security. That includes
the nuclear weapons in DOE. That includes the intelligence community. It
includes the 150 account at state. It includes veterans affairs and so
forth, 1.2 trillion.

That`s seven, eight percent of our GDP. That`s way too much. That`s
more than 17 other countries that are listed behind us in combination
spend. That includes China and most of our allies. We`re spending half of
the world`s expenditures on defense. This is just not necessary.

DYSON: Right. Look, in 30 seconds, Cheney is publicly predicting the
next war. Is he going to be an influence on a potential Romney White

WILKERSON: I hope not. I hope he`s not an influence on anybody`s
White House ever again.

DYSON: That cannot be more succinctly and brilliantly stated.
Lawrence Wilkerson, thank you for your time.

WILKERSON: Thank you for having me.

DYSON: That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed
Schultz. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.


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