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The Ed Show for Thursday, December 27th, 2012

December 27, 2012

Guests: Charlie Rangel, Antonio Villaraigos, Ruth Conniff, Frederick Haynes, James Peterson

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

Breaking news from Washington tonight: NBC News has confirmed that the
president will host a meeting with all four congressional leaders at the
White House tomorrow. This could be their last chance to get something
done before we go over the cliff.

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


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The American people are waiting
for the ball to drop. But it`s not going to be a good drop.

DYSON (voice-over): Senator Reid says we are going over the cliff. The
market drops. Then House Republicans announce they will return to

Congressman Charlie Rangel and Richard Wolffe will sort out the late-
breaking news.

The L.A. gun buyback is a major success, but is it enough to stem the
explosion of gun sales in the wake of Newtown?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve seen huge uptick in business. Our AR`s have been
sold out because people are very concerned about them becoming banned.

DYSON: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joins me live.

Plus, the Louie Gohmert plan to arm teachers is going forward in Ohio and

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I wish to God she had had an M4 in her

DYSON: Michelle Obama gets definitive on a future run for office.

And tonight, I will deliver my verdict on Spike Lee versus "Django

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your name?



DYSON: With little more than four days until the fiscal cliff, we now know
that all the relevant parties will be in Washington in three days. That`s
right. Three days from now. On Sunday evening before the Redskins beat
the Cowboys, the House will finally reconvene.

Why? Is it to finally strike a deal? Honestly, no one knows.

But one thing is certain. House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow
Republicans could no longer weather the incredibly bad optics of sitting at
home while the President of the United States and the Senate were in
Washington. President Obama arrived back at the White House this morning.
The president will host a meeting tomorrow afternoon with Senate Majority
Leader Reid, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and leader
Pelosi at the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor this morning to,
shall we say, let Boehner have it.


REID: You know, if we go over the cliff, and it looks like that`s where
we`re headed, Mr. President, the House of Representatives as we speak, with
four days left after today before the first of the year aren`t here with
the speaker having told them they`ll have -- they`ll give them 48 hours`
notice. The American people I don`t think understand the House of
Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives. It`s
being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker, not allowing the vast
majority of the House of Representatives to get what they want.


DYSON: Lo and behold, the markets started to tank, in part on fears of
Reid`s warning that it looked like we were going over the cliff. Within an
hour, word came that the House would return to Washington and be in session
on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Boehner repeated his assertion that the Senate would pass the two bills
that the House has already acted on and included an extension of all the
Bush tax cuts, something that has zero chance of passing the Senate.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knocked heads with Reid
but also sounded amenable to some kind of deal.


that the majority leader keeps referring to passed with only Democratic
votes. Last night I told the president it would be happy to look at
whatever he proposes but the truth is we`re coming up against a hard
deadline here. And as I said, this is a conversation we should have had
months ago. Hopefully, there`s still time for an agreement of some kind
that saves the taxpayers from a wholly, wholly preventable economic crisis.


DYSON: But is it just more political posturing?

Senate Majority Leader Reid returned to the floor to urge Speaker Boehner
to take the deal President Obama offered before Boehner tried to pass his
disastrous Plan B.


REID: Again, the speaker can`t take yes for an answer. The president has
presented him something that would prevent us from going over the cliff.
It was in response to something the speaker gave to the president himself.
But again, I guess with the dysfunctional Republican caucus in the House,
even the speaker can`t tell what they`re going to do because he backed off
even his own proposal.


DYSON: I know I need one, so here`s one for you. Here`s a friendly user`s
guide on who has offered real solutions to each of the fiscal cliff issues.

On taxes, President Obama`s offer compromise, agreeing to $400,000 as the
new cutoff point. Speaker Boehner tried to sell a million as the dividing
line, but couldn`t get it past his own party. President Obama is therefore
offering his original position, $250,000 and below.

On spending cuts, President Obama proposed $1.2 trillion, about equal to
what he was asking in revenue. Boehner passed draconian spending cuts in
the House with no revenue component.

On extended unemployment insurance, another check for the president. Nada
for Boehner.

On the debt limit, President Obama proposed a structure similar to what
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed last year. Boehner wants to
hold the nation`s full faith and credit hostage once again to attain even
more spending cuts. President Obama even threw in an added incentive for
Republicans, by agreeing to a change in the way Social Security increases
are calculated. No such olive branch was ever extended by Republicans.

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

Tonight`s question: is John Boehner`s move to reconvene the House a face-
saving political move or a genuine effort to reach a deal?

Text A for political, text B for genuine effort, to 622639. Or go to our
blog at I`ll bring you the results later in the show.

Joining me now is legendary Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York.

Congressman, welcome to the show.

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Doctor.

DYSON: Speaker Boehner is finally reconvening the House. But is this just
so much posturing? Is there anything substantive that can get done?

RANGEL: Something could happen. But you realize that some of the people
that he can`t get support of have already been defeated and refuse to
accept it. There are a lot of Republicans in the House of Representatives
that wanted Obama beaten, and they cannot believe that some of them got

Obama really has tried, and he`s shaking up his base a little bit by
reaching out to these people. But the truth of the matter is that I don`t
see how Speaker Boehner could stay in Ohio with the Senate in Washington,
the president in Washington, and he`s given us 48 hours` notice.

Now we have it. I just hope that he has the courage to say he`s going to
lose some of his people and do what`s good for the country and not for his

DYSON: Well, you mentioned him shaking up the base -- that is President
Obama -- a bit.


DYSON: He seems to be more willing to be self-critical and to shake up his
own affiliations and alliances than do the Republicans. But do you fear
that he might go too far? Are Democrats fearful that the president will
compromise too much, or do you think he should really take advantage of the
bully pulpit that was given him with re-election?

RANGEL: Well, we really felt a little embarrassed that the president went
there with the CPI -- that`s the cost of living and adjusting -- because
with all of this debate if you take the poorest of the poor people, those
that are living on Social Security and believe they should be the target,
and knowing you`re negotiating with someone that`s trying to protect the
top 2 percent of the people, it`s kind of hard for just rational people to
go along with that. And, of course, under no circumstances can a lot of
people understand $250,000. The president kicked it up to $400,000. And
Boehner said go to the devil, it should be a million dollars.

And so, we hope at some point the president`s going to realize that he`s
not dealing with people that are sincerely dealing with him and get back to
what he campaigned for.

DYSON: Well, are the Republicans at all concerned that the nation must
look on them protecting the interests of the super wealthy and those with
deep pockets and big spending, protecting them at all costs, especially at
the risk of hurting the working poor and the middle class? Are they not
ashamed? Or do they not fear the perception that they`re really for the
rich and not for the average working person out here?

RANGEL: Yu know, Doctor, when they said they wanted to get rid of Obama at
any cost before the election, I thought it was just campaign rhetoric. But
when the debt ceiling came and they said they were prepared to allow the
fiscal integrity of the United States of America to go down the tube, that
was a game of chicken I`ve never heard of in all of my years in politics.

How much could they hate the man or hate his politics or be so insensitive
to the poor that they would tell the entire world that the United States is
not prepared to pay its obligations?

DYSON: Right.

RANGEL: And that taught me a lesson which we`re learning now. How far are
they willing to go to you hurt the United States of America? And when is
it not going to be party politics but what is good for our country?

DYSON: Well, let`s listen to Senator McConnell -- more of what he has to
say, because his words haven`t provided much comfort to those who feel that
the Senate should be serious in its obligation to the American people.
Let`s take a listen.


MCCONNELL: As I indicated, the president called me and probably called
others last night. My impression is he would like to see if we can move
forward. We don`t have very many days left. And I`ve indicated I`m
willing to enter into a discussion, see what the president may have in


DYSON: Now, McConnell said, you know, look, the president should have been
talking like this months ago. Well, you were trying to unseat him. That
was your major obligation. You told us that.

Now that you`re back on board here, does this sound like something sincere?
Or is this more posturing, do you think?

RANGEL: Only his campaign manager knows for sure. You know, he has -- he
has a serious threat as relates to his re-election ability, and Boehner has
a serious problem when it comes to being re-elected speaker. I have to
admit as a politician, you start dealing with re-election, you`re dealing
with some very serious emotional problems.

DYSON: Right.

RANGEL: And I just hope that as we go home, we`ve been home for the
holidays, we listen to the religious leaders, the political leaders, the
people who are really dependent on Social Security and health care -- if we
listen to the people who put us in office and those who supported the
president, we should be rational in coming back to the table and trying to
hold on to this much credibility if we have any left at all and get this
job done.

DYSON: There it is -- rational and perhaps even rational exuberance like
the market. Congressman Charlie Rangel, thank you so much, my friend.

RANGEL: Thank you, Doctor.

DYSON: Now let`s turn to MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, vice
president and executive editor of

My friend, there`s more movement today than we`ve seen in a while, but is
this just the optics? Are they really trying to save face literally or is
there something substantive in the offing here?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, more movement than we`ve
seen in a while isn`t actually saying very much. You know, we have seen so
little here. Don`t get your hopes up.

I am actually an optimist by nature. So I don`t want to make people feel
bad as we go into the New Year. But this is a desperate situation.

It really does look like we`re going to have to cross this threshold, watch
the markets tank, watch everyone get worried about going into another
recession before people can feel -- and really we`re talking about
Republicans -- before Republicans can feel they can vote for increases in

And that`s what actually Speaker Boehner, to be fair, has put something on
the table there, but he hasn`t brought his party along with him.
Republicans need to understand as a group that they need to support their
own leaders before the country can be supportive, because if they cannot
support their own leaders what are you negotiating with?

DYSON: Yes. Well, he`s giving with one hand and taking back with another,
to be sure, being snatched back at the behest of his own caucus, but not
the broader interests of the country.

So answer me this, Richard Wolffe, you`re a smart guy. Is this a true
statement? Each side, both President Obama and John Boehner, may not
really want to go over the cliff but they have at least some interest in
letting that happen because of possibilities it presents on the other side.

Do you think that`s a fair assessment? And even if they don`t want to do
it, do you think some good can come from it?

WOLFFE: Well, no, I don`t think any good comes from it because frankly
real people get hurt by this kind of thing. And do I think the president
would like to go to the other side of this cliff (ph)? No, I don`t,
actually. We`ve been here before and actually were here before with a more
reasonable Republican Party that was at the very start of the first term.

Four years ago almost to the day when the president came in with a stimulus
act, the Recovery Act, at a time of huge economic global crisis. It was
the first time it was a real wake-up call for the president and senior
aides because every other time of national crisis, and remember, this was
an international crisis, the country had come together. Republicans had
come in. And what did he get for it? He got three Republican votes in the
entire Congress. He won`t get three now for this kind of plan.

So if Republicans wouldn`t step into that crisis at that point, why would
they step into this crisis at this point? In fact, what we`ve seen is
they`re willing to make the crisis worse. We heard from Secretary Geithner
talk about us bumping up against the debt ceiling again -- tremendously
damaging for the very markets Republicans say they care about. I think
they`re going to have to hear from the markets to understand just how bad
this is again.

DYSON: Well, you know, there were rumors that the president was going to
offer a smaller deal but that was not true. But let`s just say a smaller
deal gets through, especially the Senate. Will Speaker Boehner get it to
the House floor even if he thinks it will only get a minority of Republican
support? Because that`s been his real concern here, as Speaker of the
House I don`t want a minority of the majority to be represented here.

WOLFFE: He said that. That`s still not going to be the case for him. But
just to be an optimist for a minute here, the one man who really holds the
deal in his hand is Mitch McConnell. If Mitch McConnell comes one a deal
and he says it`s doable, then we have seen before in the last year or two,
even with all of the misery of the last debt ceiling crisis, Mitch
McConnell can get things done not just in the Senate but he can present it
as a fait accompli to the House.

So, he could do something if he wants to. As you just heard from
Congressman Rangel, though, he`s got his own personal political challenges.
That doesn`t bode well either.

DYSON: From the honorary chairman of the optimist club, Richard Wolffe --
thank you so very much.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Michael.

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

Coming up, the city of Los Angeles buys back thousands of guns, but gun
sales across the country are up, following the massacre at Sandy Hook
Elementary School.

I`ll talk with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Stay tuned.


DYSON: Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf has died at the age of 78.
Schwarzkopf commanded the U.S.-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein`s
forces out of Kuwait in 1991. Known as Stormin` Norman, Schwarzkopf was a
larger than life presence during Operation Desert Storm."

Colin Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, he
released this statement earlier: "With the passing of General H. Norman
Schwarzkopf, America lost a great patriot and a great soldier. Norm served
his country with courage and distinction for over 35 years. He was a good
friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him."

President George H.W. Bush, who is intensive care at a Houston hospital,
said Schwarzkopf epitomized the duty, service, country creed.

Coming up, as a major American cities try to get guns off the streets, pro-
gun groups are trying to put them in the hands of teachers. We`ll join
that debate ahead.



MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: What does somebody need this
for? The answer is there`s no reason they need this except they want to
kill quietly.


DYSON: That was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talking about one
of the weapons acquired at his city`s gun buyback program.

Los Angeles just wrapped up its most successful gun buyback event to date.
Over 2,000 firearms were turned in, including 75 assault weapons.

The program started in 2009, and guns are turned over in exchange for
supermarket gift cards. The event is usually held in May, but the city
moved the event up in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook
Elementary in Connecticut.

And while Los Angeles has had success in getting guns off the streets,
across the country, gun sales are up. Gun shop owners report that high-
capacity magazines and assault rifles are flying off the shelves. Why?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve seen a huge uptick in business. Our AR`s have
been sold out because people are very concerned about them becoming banned.


DYSON: One Nevada gun shop owner credits President Obama with the boost in
sales. "Obama is the best gun salesman since Bill Clinton. Every time a
liberal opens his mouth and says something stupid about guns, I sell a
gazillion of them."

Need further proof? One Iowa reporter went inside a Des Moines gun shop.


REPORTER: The most popular is the AR-15, one of the weapons used in the
Sandy Hook shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two days before Christmas, I maybe have 30 of these.
And I had 10 in my safes. And now I have zero.


DYSON: I`m joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Welcome to the show, Mr. Mayor.

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, Michael, thank you for having me on. Happy holidays
to you.

DYSON: The same to you, my friend.

Does the uptick in gun sales surprise you in any way?

VILLARAIGOSA: No. I think we`ve seen this happen before. You`ve heard
one of the people interviewed saying that it happened in the 1990s, when
Bill Clinton was talking about and trying to do something about gun
violence and responsible gun laws. You see it happening again after Sandy
Hook, after the two firefighters who were assassinated just the other day
and two police officers who were killed on Christmas Eve.

The fact of the matter is, these people buy these guns because they can,
because it`s so easy to buy assault weapons in the United States of
America. And we`ve got to do something about that. Yes, we`ve got to get
people to get involved in the way they did here in L.A. with a gun buyback
program, very successful program. It would have been even more successful
if we hadn`t run out of money.

There were people waiting in line for hours to give up these guns,
including assault weapons, a grenade launcher. You saw that automatic
weapon with a silencer. These are weapons that don`t really have any
purpose except to kill and to kill a lot of people.

And it`s not just gun buyback programs, assault weapons ban on a federal
level. We need to eliminate the Tiahrt amendment, which makes it very,
very difficult to have background checks that work. It requires that we
destroy background checks after 24 hours.

DYSON: Right.

VILLARAIGOSA: It doesn`t force the states to participate in the background
check system. There are many things that we could do to really toughen our
laws or make it tougher for people who buy guns legally and then sell them
to people who can`t buy guns.

DYSON: Right.

VILLARAIGOSA: Toughen the definitions of the mentally ill so people who
are sick can`t buy these guns.

There are a lot of things we could do that don`t violate the Second

DYSON: Well, right. We don`t want to violate the Second Amendment, but
there`s at lot of room between violating the Second Amendment and having
sensible gun control policies.

You moved your program up from May until now, of course, in part, in
response to the recent travesties and tragedies we`ve seen. But tell us
why you think your program was so successful. You mentioned if you had
more money you could have bought more guns and therefore been more

But what made you successful to begin with? Was it the nature of the
tragedy that collectively galvanized the consciousness of this nation?

VILLARAIGOSA: Yes, Michael, I think it was. And I`m hoping that this
isn`t just another tragedy that starts a conversation that gets aborted
within a few days of the tragedy. I`m hoping that we are reaching a
tipping point, that reasonable people are saying hold it, we can as I said
support the notion that we have a Second Amendment and not allow guns that
have no other purpose except to be on a military battlefield.

We can do a lot more to strengthen our background checks, to do responsible
things to toughen our gun laws in this country. And I`m hoping that`s the
point that we`re reaching.

It was clear that people want to participate. They wanted to do something.
They didn`t want to wait on state legislatures or the Congress. They
wanted to do their part.

In fact, something like 74 percent of the people that participated said
they just wanted to do this to make a difference. They just wanted to do
something concrete. They wanted to act and not just talk.

DYSON: Well, that`s better than hand wringing, and turning in those guns,
of course, is a first step.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thank you so much, my friend.

VILLARAIGOSA: Thank you, Michael.

DYSON: Coming up, would you want your child`s teacher to bring one of
these to class? Find out why one congressman thinks this weapon is the
answer to mass shootings at school.

And if we go over the fiscal cliff, the unemployed will take the biggest
hit. Reverend Dr. Frederick Haynes will tell us what falling off the cliff
means for the less fortunate.



WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE V.P., NRA: The only thing that stops a bad guy
with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


DYSON: Welcome back.

It`s been less than two weeks since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary
School. Today, shooting clubs in at least three states started training
teachers to carry handguns. Two hundred people signed up for the teacher
training in Salt Lake City. A gun club in Ohio says it`s swamped with
training requests from teachers and administrators. Arizona`s even
offering classes, too.

The teachers unions are against the idea of arming faculty. But putting
guns in schools is not new. In fact, 1/3 of all public schools had an
armed staffer on campus during the 2009 school year. The NRA`s answer to
Newtown is to simply arm more teachers.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her
office locked up so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn`t
have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands but she takes him out,
takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.


DYSON: This is the M-4 Louie Gohmert was just talking about. This is what
he wants your child`s teacher to carry around. He wants the principal to
have this gun handy in the hallways. It`s only been 13 days since the
massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school. We`ve already started arming
more teachers just like the NRA wanted.


anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.


DYSON: What kind of change do we want? Real change means arming teachers
with more resources, not guns.

Let`s turn to Ruth Conniff, political editor for "Progressive" magazine.

Miss Conniff, will arming teachers make our kids safer really?

RUTH CONNIFF, THE PROGRESSIVE MAGAZINE: Yes, I mean, you`ve got to wonder,
have we lost our minds? You know, I understand why individual teachers,
just like individuals anywhere who feel threatened might personally seek
the solution that they want to get some training with a gun. They`re
worried about their personal safety. But this is not a public policy
solution. This is not a systematic solution. And you know, as a mother of
two little girls in elementary school and one in middle school, you know,
how can we as parents, as a society say that we want to send our kids out
to buildings that are bristling with more weapons? It`s just nuts.

And for the teachers themselves, small wonder that the AFT., the largest
teachers union in the country, is opposed to this. Teachers don`t go to
school and learn how to educate little children so they can become
sharpshooters. And they don`t want to go to a workplace where they`re in
danger of being mowed down. We need to do something to actually protect
schools from being shootout zones. And this proposal is just not serious.
And it`s too bad because I remember actually, professor Dyson, when you
yourself said let`s give the NRA chance because this was this terrible
shocked silence after this tragedy, where the whole country was grief-
stricken and thinking, what`s the plan? What are we going to do because we
can`t live this way? And so they come back and this is the plan? This is

DYSON: Yes, more than ridiculous, to be sure. So a teacher in Oregon made
an interesting point in support of arming faculty. Here`s what she said
about getting a gun.


ERIN HEIDEMAN, OREGON SCHOOL TEACHER: I don`t think guns in a school
system will ever be very palatable. I also think that we need to give
teachers an opportunity to buy some time. Whether that`s with, you know,
district-issued pepper spray, maybe a teaser, something that`s not
necessarily lethal that buys us some time to protect our students.


DYSON: Now, I can see the consequences to that. All kinds of misuses and
misapplications of what is in the teacher`s hand that can have deleterious
consequence for our children, but I don`t want to speak for you. What`s
your reaction to what she said?

CONNIFF: I think we have to ask ourselves, what`s our aspiration? You
know, we can imagine these bloody scenarios, and what if? What if there`s
a gun? And of course, you know, there`s a lot of research to show that
being armed does not in fact make you safer. That you`re three times as
likely to be a homicide victim if you have a gun in your house. The NRA
has its own, you know, statistics. There`s a whole argument about that.

But I think fundamentally, philosophically, we have to ask ourselves, are
you kidding? Kids who go to a school, like the Sandy Hook elementary
school, little 6-year-old children in the classroom, were thinking about
this bloody scenario where we want teachers to be prepared to murder
somebody, to blow somebody`s head off as the congressman put it? I mean,
this is not how we want to live. And it doesn`t have to be like this. You
know, it is just not acceptable.

And that`s what I think -- that was the moral question to the NRA. Is this
just the cost of doing business to you? Are you willing to accept that we
live in this kind of society where these kinds of horrific tragedies
happen? And I think the whole nation stopped and waited to hear the
response. And I think the answer is very disappointing because we can do
better than this. You know, there are many countries, 23 of the richest
industrial countries on earth except for us have 1one-twentiet of our death
rate from guns. This can be done. It`s not that it can`t be done.

We can ban assault weapons, as Senator Feinstein is proposing again,
including the very weapon that was used in Sandy Hook, legally bought by
the perpetrator`s mother. You know, that could have been banned. The
large magazine rounds where you can fire off multiple rounds that should
have banned, back ground checked, 40 percent of guns are bought by people
who don`t have to go -- that`s on the secondary market, they can avoid a
background check. This is not necessary. We can do something like this.

DYSON: Eloquently stated. Ruth Conniff, thank you so very much.

There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour on "the Ed Show." Stay



BARACK OBAMA: She`s got a few.

DYSON: Michelle Obama entering politics? She answers the big question,

Plus, Reverend Dr. Freddie Haynes on the millions of Americans who stand to
suffer when we go over the fiscal cliff.

And when it comes to "Django Unchained," I`m with Sarah Silverman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you can`t really tell art what to do.

DYSON: Dr. James Peterson joins me tonight to talk about the movie Spike
Lee is calling disrespectful.


DYSON: Welcome back. Most of the focus on the fiscal cliff debate has
been on the issue of tax increases for the wealthiest Americans. But the
matter of -- the fact of the matter is unemployed Americans will be the
ones hardest hit come January 1st if Congress fails to act. The great
senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is calling for action.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We must not fail the unemployed workers
of this country now. If Congress does not act, it will mean that some two
million people and their families will really be at a loss as to how to
survive economically.


DYSON: If an unemployment extension is not included in the fiscal cliff
deal, 2.1 million Americans will face an immediate loss in federal
unemployment insurance. It will result in a cut of $284 a week for the
average beneficiary. And that`s a lot of dough for the average American.

It`s important to keep in mind the unemployment cliff is really a cliff,
urban a slope. Tax increases and other spending cuts will fall into place
over time, but not with unemployment insurance. Unemployment Americans who
rely on federal aid will be cut off on January 1st, 2013.

However, there is some good news on the unemployment front. The four-week
average of job claims dropped to roughly 356,000. It`s the lowest level
since March 2008. But unfortunately, the national unemployment rate is
still 7.7 percent. And if Republicans in Congress fail to accuracy
millions of unemployed Americans will be off to a very rough start for the
New Year.

For more on this let`s turn to the Reverend Dr. Frederick Haynes III,
senior pastor at friendship West Baptist church.

Dr. Haynes, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Professor Dyson.

DYSON: Isn`t it ironic, Dr. Haynes, through this entire debate the focus
has been on the wealthiest Americans paying more taxes, not people who will
lose unemployment benefits come January 1st? You`re the pastor of a huge
church in Dallas that talks about poverty and social injustice. What`s
your reaction to this?

HAYNES: Well, not only is it ironic. I think it`s almost sinful,
especially during this season where we have just celebrated the birth of
one who was born homeless. I think that unfortunately if the wise men had
been replaced by the Speaker of the House as well as the Senate minority
leader, instead of bearing gifts, they would have taken away from him
unemployment benefits. And so, I find it painfully sinful that this is
both immoral, because when we talk about any faith expression that faith
expression is always concerned about those who are most vulnerable.

And please understand, we`re not talking about persons who are going over
the cliff. They are already -- they`ve already gone over the cliff. And
now, they find themselves victimized by the jagged rocks of unemployment
and impoverishment. And in a nation like this, it is to our everlasting
shame that we have spent so much time trying to protect those who are
richest that we have forgotten about those who are going to be most
impacted by this fiscal cliff.

DYSON: Well, speaking of that, after that eloquent and powerful insight,
the current African-American unemployment rate is currently sitting at
something like 14.1 percent. If we go over that cliff, and you say there
are many who are already there, and these cuts kick in, will they have a
disproportionate impact on black Americans, who are already suffering, as
you`ve indicated?

HAYNES: No question. And pastoring the church that I do, and serving in
the community where I serve, I cannot tell you how sad it has been, a
heartbreaking I should say, to watch the numbers of persons coming to our
churches who are seeking help now because they have no place else to turn.
And I can`t even imagine what`s going to take place after the 1st of
January if we allow this crisis to become magnified because we`re so
determined not only to protect those who live in gated -- not gated
communities, but gated homes but at the same time we want to just throw
over the cliff an economy that has already had an uneven recovery.

And so, when you look at that uneven recovery and how it has negatively
impacted the African-American community, again, I cannot help but say and
plead in the name of those individuals who are suffering and struggling,
let`s do something significant because it is our moral obligation. The
soul of America is at stake here if we don`t do something for those who are
most vulnerable and yes, I dare say especially African-Americans and
minority communities.

DYSON: Well, let`s tick it off here. If we go over the cliff, the
American opportunity tax credit will expire. This credit provides relief
for college students as you know.

HAYNES: Right.

DYSON: If you look at the numbers, 70 percent of black students rely on
financial aid for college. What impact will this law have on those
particular members of the black community? Because you know we go from the
gated to the ghetto. So, we know that we have a lot of different, you
know, minorities there. But tell us about what impact it will have on the
most vulnerable in the black communities?

HAYNES: It`s not hyperbole to suggest it literally kills hope in the hood
because individuals who, begin, desire to go to college, what are they
going to do now because of the cliff that we go over? They will find
themselves unable to continue their education. Those who are already
struggling with unemployment and underemployment will find themselves
victimized even further. So, it`s almost as if you`re saying to those who
are on the jagged rocks of unemployment, the jagged rocks of limited
opportunity, what we are going to do is ensure now that we just I guess
take it as they did in the old road runner cartoon, where they had a
boulder to go over the cliff. You`re already over the cliff, but now a
boulder comes over to ensure that you`re smashed.

And so, again, I`m not engaging in hyperbole. I`m asking this nation to
check its conscience, to check its soul because we are not just talking
about doing something that will hurt those who are wealthy. We`re talking
about the rest of us sacrificing for the rest of us. And especially again,
we`re talking about those who suffer in minority and African-American
communities, those who all too often have been ignored or have been used as
political pinatas.

DYSON: All right. You see why he has over 20,000 members there at
friendship west Baptist church, the reverend, Dr. Frederick Haynes. Thank
you so much, my friend.

HAYNES: Thank you.

DYSON: With an approval rating in the 70s, is there anything Michelle
Obama can`t do? Barbara Walters asked the First Lady if she`d consider
running for public office. We`ll bring you her answer, next.


DYSON: Welcome back.

We love hearing from our viewers on Facebook and Twitter. Today, many of
you responded to the fact the House will reconvene on Sunday to await
passage of a bill that doesn`t exist.

Chris on Twitter said, a Senate bill from July does exist but Boehner won`t
bring it to a vote.

And Deb thinks the economic damage has already been done. She says
consumer confidence is down. The GOP has failed the American people again.

Keep sharing your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter using the

Coming up, I`ll share my thoughts on "Django Unchanged." Dr. James
Peterson joins us to explore the controversy surrounding the film. Stay


DYSON: She`s got a sky-high approval rating, but First Lady Michelle Obama
says she`s not interested in running for political office. At least that`s
what she told Barbara Walters.


BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You said you that don`t have the
patience for political life, patience for what?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I have learned from my husband watching him that it does
require a great deal of patience to really feel the full impact of the work
you do on the ground. It doesn`t happen right away.

BARACK OBAMA: And she has a bigger difficulty biting her tongue.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I think I`ve done pretty well at that.


DYSON: But despite her reluctance, there are some who say she would make a
great lawmaker. Congressman Jim Clyburn believes Mrs. Obama would be a
breath of fresh air in D.C. She`s honest and straightforward. She`s
exactly what we need around here.

And recent polling shows Mrs. Obama beating Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois
by double digits in a hypothetical match-up. But her husband`s adviser
David Axelrod is warning Michelle Obama fans not to get their hopes up.


any desire to be a politician. She`ll find ways to make contributions, I`m
sure. But the last thing I think she would do is run for public office.


DYSON: Of course there are a number of ways for the First Lady to make her
mark after her husband finishes his second term. As Samuel L. Jackson
tells "Newsweek," Michelle is superwoman. "What w can`t she do?"

I agree with that. Run, Michelle, run.

Tonight in our survey I asked you, is John Boehner`s move to reconvene the
House a face-saving political move or a genuine effort to reach a deal?
Ninety seven percent say political move, three percent say genuine effort.

Coming up, Dr. James Peterson joins me to discuss "Django Unchained." I`ll
share my thoughts on the movie that director Spike Lee is calling


DYSON: Welcome back.

Last night I discussed the controversy surrounding Quentin Tarantino`s
latest film "Django Unchained." The film has been criticized for its
frequent use of the n word, its graphic violence, and its depiction of
American slavery. Director Spike Lee, who has been critical of Tarantino`s
use of racial slurs in the past, says he won`t even see it.


SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR: The only thing I`m going to say it is it would be
disrespectful to my ancestors to see that film. And that`s the only thing
I`m going to say. I can`t disrespect my ancestors.


DYSON: Lee went on to say American slavery was not a Sergio Leone
spaghetti western. It was a holocaust. My ancestors are slaves, stolen
from Africa. I will honor them.

As promised, I saw the film today. And I must tell you that it was a
fascinating study of slavery and the extraordinary capacity of an
exceptional individual to embody the best traits and the aspirations of the
group. There are problems with that exceptionalism to be sure, but I would
ask my very dear friend Spike Lee, see the film first before making
criticism because people have dismissed my books without reading them. If
my book you do not read please don`t attempt to make me bleed. I hate to
come up with that grating jingoism but I have to do that.

I`m joined by Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies and
associate professor of English at Lehigh University.

Professor Peterson, you saw this film as well. Give us your siskel &
ebert. We know they`re dead, siskel is dead, but we respect them.


DYSON: So, give us your analysis of that film.

PATERSON: Well, I think it`s a powerful film. I think it will go down in
history as maybe even a classic film. I think it has its limitations and
certain folk have pointed that out. I think the women characters in there
are pretty flat. Although I don`t think it`s sort of a tight slave
history, there are certain things historically that are really, really
powerful. A lot of the props are really, really powerful. I don`t want to
-- spoiler alert here, but all of the sort of the chains and the masks and
the different ways in which through the props they demonstrate the
brutality of slavery are fairly accurate and important.

And to be honest with you, it is powerful to see a black man win in that
kind of narrative. And I hate to reduce it to that, but he wins. You
know, he keeps his dignity. He saves the love of his life. And he`s also
able to escape essentially scot-free. He`s one of the first superheroes
constructed on film in the sort of genre of slave narratives.

Listen, this is less of a slave narrative and more of a liberation
narrative, part romance, part comedy, right? So, there`s different pieces
too it that we can talk about. But I don`t understand the dismissal of the
film without seeing it.

DYSON: Yes. Let me say this. Let me make it even more controversial.
I`m a fan of rap. You`re a fan of hip-hop. We`re both scholars of it. I
see a bunch of guys in hip-hop disking their women calling them the H-word,
B-word, skissers (ph), sluts and so on. There`s nothing like that in this

This guy risks his entire life for his woman. So first of all, take notice
there. And secondly, you said liberation film. He risks everything for
her. Yes, the women characters are not as fleshed out as they can be, but
doesn`t that say something redemptive about the quest of black masculinity
to find a partner there?

PATERSON: It`s definitely a more male-centered film than anything else.
But yes, it does say some important things about that. I mean, again, at
the end of the day, you have to see the film in order to critique it and
engage it. There`s important little pieces of history there. The
brutality to me, if you understand the kind of film that Tarantino makes,
is not gratuitous.

One of the more brutal scenes which is the battle royal scenes between the
two slaves, who are fighting is a difficult scene to watch but speaks of an
important part of not just slave history but American history where black
men are pitted against each other for white audiences to watch them
compete. So, there are different significant things in the film that are
worth us talking about. And the conversation at the end of the day is
what`s most important.

DYSON: In an interview with Henry Louis Gates Jr. for the root Quentin
Tarantino responded to Spike Lee`s criticism of his use of the n word and
the depiction of slavery in this film. Here`s what Tarantino said.


ridiculous because it would be one thing if people were out there saying,
well, look, you use it much more excessively in this movie than it was used
in 1858 in Mississippi. Well, nobody`s saying that.


TARANTINO: So if you`re not saying that, you`re simply saying I should be
lying. I should be watering it down. I should be making it more easy to
digest. No, I don`t want it to be easy to digest. I want it to be a big,
gigantic boulder, a jagged pill, and you have no water.


DYSON: Look, I want you to respond really quickly. Then I want to get
summation to the quote in.

PATERSON: Listen, the n word piece, we should throw that out. The thing
is that Tarantino`s been clumsy about race in the past and that`s what
makes people sensitive to him using the n word or anything to do with race
in the film like this.

DYSON: All right, here is what (INAUDIBLE) said.

And the emphasis on black exceptionalism has been a problem in the post-
civil rights era. Racial progress is too often determined by the
exceptional success of people such as Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. And
she makes a great point there, but at the same time can they be
representative of the aspirations of the group at the same time? Her point
is brilliant but is also represented. Joe Louis represented our interests.
So did --

PATERSON: Sure. Sometimes exceptionalism works against the African-
American community. I think that`s what (INAUDIBLE). But also, to
(INAUDIBLE) point about how this soldier reflects our current moment.
There`s something to be said about the way race operates here and reflects
our society today.

DYSON: Dr. James Peterson, thank you so much.

That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Ezra Klein is filling in for
Rachel tonight. Not Django.

Good evening, Ezra.

you very much.

DYSON: All right, sir.



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