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The Ed Show for Friday, December 28th, 2012

Read the transcript to the Friday show

December 28, 2012

Guests: Sheldon Whitehouse, Jan Schakowsky, Robert Reich, Marcia Dyson; Marc Morial; Jesse Jackson; John Nichols

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

The president of the United States just told Congress they have to get
to work. So as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.


watching what we do here. Obviously, their patience is already thin. This
is deja vu all over again.

DYSON (voice-over): We`re in the home stretch for the fiscal cliff,
but is there still hope?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative Jan Schakowsky will have
the latest on today`s high-stakes meeting at the White House.

Plus, Amanda Terkel of "The Huffington Post" and former Labor
Secretary Robert Reich on the sad shame of this year`s do-nothing Congress.

The gun violence continues in Chicago. Tonight, the Reverend Jesse
Jackson on the city`s grim milestone of 500 homicides in one year.

And it`s nearly 2013, but attitudes on race remain two centuries

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I look at it, it`s freedom of speech.

DYSON: The Reverend Marcia Dyson, and the president of the National
Urban League Marc Morial on the fresh bigotry of the supposed post-racial


DYSON: With three days left before the start of the New Year, it`s
put up or shut up time for congressional leaders. President Obama
addressed reporters from the White House this evening, roughly an hour
after meeting with leaders of the House and Senate.


OBAMA: I still want to get this done. It`s the right thing to do for
our families, for our businesses, and for our entire economy. But the hour
for immediate action is here. It is now.


DYSON: Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were back at the
Capitol in no time. McConnell gathered his members to inform them of the
work that needs to be done.


down at the White House. We are engaged in discussions, the majority
leader and myself and the White House, in the hopes that we can come
forward, as early as Sunday, and have a recommendation, that I can make to
my conference and the majority leader can make to his conference. And so,
we`ll be working hard to try to see if we can get there in the next 24
hours. And so, I`m hopeful and optimistic.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I`m going to do everything
that I can. I`m confident Senator McConnell will do the same. But
everybody, this is -- whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect and
some people aren`t going to like it. Some people will like it less, but
that`s where we are.

And I feel confident that we have an obligation to do the best we can
and that was made very clear in the White House. And we`re going to do the
best we can for the caucuses that we have and the country that`s waiting
for us to make a decision.


DYSON: But the president was in no playful mood. He warned Reid and
McConnell that Congress will be called to action, even if the leaders don`t
come up with a plan.


OBAMA: If we don`t see an agreement between the two leaders in the
Senate, I expect a bill to go on the floor -- and I`ve asked Senator Reid
to do this -- put a bill on the floor that makes sure that taxes on middle
class families don`t go up, that unemployment insurance is still available
for 2 million people, and that lays the groundwork then for additional
deficit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the New

But let`s not miss this deadline. That`s the bare minimum that we
should be able to get done.


DYSON: Majority Leader Reid is ready to follow through on an up or
down vote. Reid said in a at the same time, "At President Obama`s request,
I am readying a bill for a vote by Monday that will prevent a tax hike on
middle class families making up to $250,000, and that will include the
additional critical provisions outlined by President Obama."

President Obama pointed out the danger of inaction.


OBAMA: The economy is growing, but sustaining that trend is going to
require elected officials to do their jobs. The housing market is
recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller

The unemployment rate is the lowest it`s been since 2008. But
already, you`re seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back,
because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington.


DYSON: The president`s stern statement echoed the concerns of the
American people, who are tired of Washington gridlock.


OBAMA: Outside of Washington, nobody understands how it is, that this
seems to be a repeat pattern, over and over again. Ordinary folks, they do
their jobs. They meet deadlines. They sit down and they discuss things
and then things happen. If there are disagreements, they sort through the

The notion that our elected leadership can`t do the same thing is
mindboggling to them, and needs to stop.

So, I`m modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved.
Nobody`s going to get 100 percent of what they want. But let`s make sure
that middle class families and the American economy and, in fact, the world
economy, aren`t adversely impacted because people can`t do their jobs.


DYSON: This from a president who is incurably optimistic. For him to
be modestly optimistic, that says something. That means the 11th hour is

Will last-minute action be enough to avoid a fiscal cliff? To avoid a
cliff dive?

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

Tonight`s question: in light of the president`s remarks, will a fiscal
cliff deal get done? Text A for yes, text B for no, to 622639, or go to
our blog at I`ll bring you the results later in the show.

Joining me now is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a member
of the Senate Budget Committee.

Thank you, Senator, for joining us.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Thank you for having me.

DYSON: Sir, this is serious, this is even dire. Are you encouraged
by the meeting today and the president`s remarks in the aftermath of that

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think that the decision to move the forum for the
negotiations to the Senate was a necessary one. I have a lot of confidence
in Harry Reid`s negotiating ability. Mitch McConnell is a veteran
negotiator, and I think there`s a far better prospect of something being
worked out in the Senate than there was dealing with Speaker Boehner and
his completely dysfunctional House Republican Party.

DYSON: Sure. Well, abiding by convention and of course protocol, the
Senate won`t return until Sunday. Will there be enough time for the Senate
leaders to really craft a deal that is substantive and makes a difference,
especially to the most vulnerable Americans?

WHITEHOUSE: Yes, I think the two keys that the president laid out are
to protect middle class Americans from tax increases and to protect
families that haven`t been able to get back in the workforce have having
their unemployment insurance cut off. And if those two things can be done,
a lot of the rest can be worked in in the weeks and days to come.

We have other deadlines coming up for the debt limit and for the end
of the continuing resolution, so I think this is likely to be a bit of a
continuing process. But the really immediate stuff, I think they can
clearly do.

The big choice is going to be Republican leader McConnell`s. And that
is, does he insist on filibustering this effort? If he does choose to
filibuster there effort, then there is no way that we can make that fiscal
cliff deadline. It`s going to require the Republican leadership to be
willing to have a traditional up-or-down vote on the majority leader`s

DYSON: Well, for a man who`s filibustered his own legislation, that`s
a tall order, to be sure. Let`s --

WHITEHOUSE: It is, but it happens in the context of all of us looking
at what kind of filibuster reform there should be.

DYSON: Right.

WHITEHOUSE: And if Republicans want to show the American people that
at that juncture, with everybody watching and so much at stake, they`re
going to force a fiscal cliff breaking filibuster, I think that`s going to
have effects that they`re going to be very concerned about down the road.

So, we have kind of a filibuster window here, if the minority leader,
if the Republican leader, will let us proceed that way.

DYSON: Well, from your mouth to your 99 colleagues` ears, to be sure.


DYSON: Let`s take a listen at your leader, your Senate Majority
Leader Reid after the White House meeting.


REID: I hope everything`s a good sign. I`ve had my confidence
destroyed on other occasions, so I hope it`s not on this occasion.


DYSON: Do you share Harry Reid`s cautious optimism there?

WHITEHOUSE: Yes, I think so. He and Minority Leader McConnell work
together day in and day out. Harry is a very good negotiator, who is very
familiar with these issues, and we don`t, in the Senate, have the same
issue of the huge Tea Party Caucus in the House that the speaker, frankly,
can`t get a majority of his party together, because of.

So you really have such a dysfunctional Republican Party in the House
that the president had no place to turn, but to let these veteran
legislators, these veteran negotiators try to hammer something out, and I
think this is the best place for that discussion to take place.

DYSON: Well, this is being set up for an intra-congressional
showdown, so to speak. How will the nation react if the House rejects
something that the Senate has passed?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, what`s interesting about this is that the speaker
appears to have invited the Senate to come up with something and said that
he will give it a vote. The problem has been this Hastert Rule, this
policy of the Republicans in the House, that they won`t take a bill to the
House floor, even if it will pass, even if it`s important to the American
people, if it doesn`t have a majority of Republican support.

Now, if he was willing to break the Hastert Rule and take the Senate
bill to the floor of the House, just like the Democratic Senate bill that
would protect everybody under $250,000 a year, from any tax increase, it
would pass.

DYSON: Right.

WHITEHOUSE: It would pass.

DYSON: All right.

WHITEHOUSE: So his problem is a self-imposed one. It`s this
Republican policy that they won`t take a bill to the floor, unless a
majority of their caucus approves, and the Tea Party effect in their caucus
is so bad that they can`t get that done.

You saw that with the farm bill, you saw that with the highway bill,
you saw that with Plan B. It`s a repeated dysfunction.

DYSON: Well, let`s see if we can get past this Hastertenation, so to

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you so much.

WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.

DYSON: Now let`s turn to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.

Welcome, Congresswoman.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Professor.

DYSON: Is there any way Speaker Boehner can get enough House
Republicans to agree to any deal? Because this man so far has been
abysmally failing at trying to coordinate his own part and trying to
generate any kind of consensus.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, let`s be clear that this problem that we have has
nothing to do with the economy or what`s good for the American people.
This is about politics. And a good number of the members of the Republican
conference are worried about their next election, whether or not there`s
going to be a primary election, if they were to vote for some sort of a
deal, that raises taxes on anybody, no matter how much money they make.

And then you`ve got Speaker Boehner, worrying about just one election
that`s a few days away. And that`s whether or not he`ll get elected again
to be the speaker of the House.

So here`s his calculation. If something is sent over from the Senate,
does he try and get a vote, call the bill, know that it`s going to pass
with mostly Democrats and only some Republicans, and will that jeopardize
his election as speaker? Because he`ll look like a wimp.

Or is it worse for him to say no and go over the cliff and does that
jeopardize the Republican Party and make them look terrible?

So the considerations that are before him have nothing to do, whether
the majority of Americans are going to see their taxes go up $2,200, or
whether 2 million people are going lose their unemployment insurance, or
whether poor people are going to get a child tax credit or earned income
tax credit.

None of those issues are really on the table. And that`s the sad part
of this debate.

DYSON: But, you know, Congresswoman, you raised a very important
point here. On either side, most people only talk about the middle class.
They never speak about poor people, and those who are barely capable of
making it from day to day or from week to week.

Why don`t we hear more about the deleterious consequences that will
redound to those who are poor, who are way out of play, even much more so
than the middle class?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, my understanding is, from a briefing that I had on
the phone, just maybe an hour ago from the White House, is that it`s not
just those tax cuts for people under $250,000. But it will include the
education tax credit and the child tax credit and the earned income tax
credit. These are refundable tax credits that affect mostly low-income
people. So that will be on the table.

But, you know, the Republicans, the disdain that I have seen for poor
people, from people who are struggling, like senior citizens on Medicare
and Social Security, for low-income people and the women, infant, and
children program, we saw the Republicans last week vote to spending cuts
that would literally take food out of the mouths of hungry babies and in
this country, you want to talk about crisis, fiscal crisis, et cetera -- a
crisis is that one out of five American children is hungry at some point
during the year. That is just immoral. And they voted to even cut that.

And so I agree with you. I think we have to talk about the
consequences for real people, middle class -- and as the president said
tonight -- those who aspire to the middle class. And that would include
the unemployed right now, and we`re going to extend unemployment insurance

DYSON: Yes, that`s critical. GOP sources say that the sequester will
not be part of the deal, meaning the cuts will go into effect. What kind
of an impact do you think that will have?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think it won`t have a long-term effect, because I
think we`ll get to that right away. And the reason I say that, is because
the sequester also affects the defense budget, the military budget, the
Republicans aren`t going to stand for that. And we`re certainly not going
to just end a sequester, just for the military budget.

So I think that starting in the New Year, we`re going to a number of
fixes that we have to do for the doctors, make sure that they don`t have a
dramatic decline in their payments from the government, and certainly, that
we`re not going to do the sequester. We cannot tolerate, ordinary people
can`t tolerate these kinds of cuts in programs.

DYSON: Absolutely.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky -- thank you so very much.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question there 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, this Congress is on track to be the worst Congress ever.
That`s right. "The Huffington Post" Amanda Terkel and former Clinton Labor
Secretary Robert Reich will join me.


DYSON: Coming up, more on tonight`s breaking news of the fiscal cliff
with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and Amanda Terkel of "The
Huffington Post."

Then, Chicago reaches the tragic milestone of 500 homicides in 2012.
Reverend Jesse Jackson will join me to discuss curbing gun violence in our

We`ll be right back.



OBAMA: So the American people are watching what we do here.
Obviously, their patience is already thinning. This is deja vu all over
again. America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you
can`t get stuff done in an organized timetable.


DYSON: When the president has to quote Yogi Berra, you know it`s

That was President Obama lamenting the state of affairs in Washington,

Indeed, today`s Congress is on track to go down as the least
productive Congress since recordkeeping began. The 112th Congress will
come to a merciful end in early January.

It has passed 219 bills that have actually been signed into law by
President Obama, according to "The Huffington Post". Two hundred nineteen
bills -- many of them insignificant measures like naming post offices.

Speaker John Boehner`s Congress is about to take the prize for
inaction. This is not a bipartisan problem.

As stated by both liberal and conservative analysts, "We have been
studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never
have we seen them this dysfunctional in our past writings. We have
criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however,
we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with
the Republican Party."

Let`s not forget that this was also the year that Senator Mitch
McConnell filibustered his own bill, an act which drew the utter
consternation of Senator Dick Durbin.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: So this may be a moment in Senate
history, when a senator made a proposal, and when given an opportunity for
a vote on that proposal, filibustered his own proposal. I think we`ve now
reached a new spot in the history of the Senate we`ve never seen before.
I`m going to ask the parliamentary to really look into this. I don`t think
this has ever happened before.


DYSON: That`s not the kind of history you`re proud of making.

I`m joined by Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President
Bill Clinton, now professor of public policy at U.C.-Berkeley, and author
of "Beyond Outrage."

I don`t know how far beyond outrage you can get than this, Mr. Reich.

Can there be little doubt that this will go down as one of the most
obstructive congresses ever, including what we`re going through right now,
which is more than ludicrous, is just ridiculous.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: One has to look very far into
history to find a Congress that is at least as unproductive, as sort of
paralyzed as this Congress. I would say, basically, back to the 1940s.
Harry Truman had a Congress that he accused as being a do-nothing Congress.

Well, the 112th Congress just ending is probably worse.

DYSON: Yes, and that`s searching through history with a keen eye.

Let`s not forget last year`s debt ceiling debacle, which President
Obama has vowed never to repeat.


OBAMA: If Congress in any way suggests that they`re going to tie
negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once
again as part of a budget negotiation, which, by the way, we have never
done in our history, until we did it last year, I will not play that game.


DYSON: Won`t play that game. Never done in history.

Will the president stick to that and not allow another debacle, a
debacle, if we want to be British or American, of the debt ceiling vote to
be tied to budget cuts like it was last time around?

REICH: Well, either it`s a debacle or a debacle, we`ll find out very,
very quickly.

The president is standing his ground so far. He is saying that he is
not going to compromise on what was essentially a very central issue in the
campaign. That is, are we going to see Bush tax cuts continue for people
who are richer than $250,000 and, you know, the Republicans in Congress, as
you recall, last week, they said that they will not vote a tax increase,
even on millionaires.

House Republicans have been among the worst in terms of this
paralysis. I don`t remember -- for example, when you have a
reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, I mean, thing that has
had bipartisan support in previous years, you can`t even get that through
this Congress.

I mean, they had 30 votes in the House to repeal Obamacare. These are
Republican votes, John Boehner kind of presided, and, obviously, they were
going nowhere. But you have Republicans over and over again, simply
holding symbolic votes to make a point, and then when it comes to real
votes, they simply say, no.

The Tea Partiers, who were elected in 2010, really have had their way.
And the one distinction we see, coming out of that 2010 election and the
Tea Partiers, and what they did, is to have a Congress that is absolutely
at loggerheads and gridlock and is incapable of functioning.

DYSON: Let me ask you something, Professor Reich. You know, a lot of
us ignore common sense or what`s right beneath our noses, so to speak, or
like Edgar Alan Poe`s purloined letter, hidden in plain sight, what is the
deal? Why is it that Republicans are so bitterly opposed to President

Is it his race? Is it his youth? Is it his party? What is it that
has aroused such deep and bitter suspicion and resistance to this man?

REICH: Well, I think it`s some of all of the above. It`s also that
President Obama came into office at a time when we desperately needed
government, an active government. Remember, the economy was going off a
cliff, a real cliff, and not a symbolic fiscal cliff. I mean, but it was a
real economic cliff, over which we had no control at all.

He took the reins and prevented another great depression. We had a
very, very deep recession and we are still in the gravitational pull of
that deep recession.

But a lot of conservative Republicans, many of whom had been elected
in 2010, they looked at what President Obama had done with regard to the
stimulus package, and everything else, and they said, this is simply too
much government. We hate government, we don`t want government. And we
were elected on a very ideological platform of shrinking the federal
government, of kind of an anti-government obsession, of the sort that we
haven`t seen in this country in decades.

DYSON: All right. Well, we`re looking for the Isaac Newton to free
us from that gravitational pull of these Republican ideologues.

Robert Reich, thank you so very much.

And our sincere apologies to Amanda Terkel of "The Huffington Post,"
who was unable to join us due to technical difficulties beyond our control.

Up next, America`s murder capital, what makes this city so much more
violent than Los Angeles and New York? We`ll talk about the guns and the

And the country re-elected its first African-American president. Yet
that hasn`t stopped some from engaging in hate speech and racist stunts.
We`ll talk about this mannequin and much more with Reverend Marcia Dyson
and Marc Morial.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, stop the killin`.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys see what happened? Huh? You didn`t see what

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He don`t do nothing wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t take this! He ain`t do nothing to

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My grandson belonged to me, not whoever took
upon themselves to kill him.


DYSON: Thanks for staying with us.

Chicago marked a grim milestone today. It`s officially the murder capital
of America, reporting 500 homicides this year. Shootings are up 11
percent. Compare that to Los Angeles. L.A. is four times bigger than
Chicago, but it`s reporting almost half the number of homicides.

New York City is also four times bigger than Chicago, but the city
just set an all-time record for the fewest murders in its history.
Shootings are down almost nine percent. Why is Chicago so violent? Its
gun laws are similar to those of L.A. and New York. But police say illegal
guns are flooding in inner city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel blames illegal guns too. He also blames blight,
poverty, and gaps in policing. But the truth is, 80 percent of the
homicides in Chicago are black-on-black crimes. Groups like Cease-fire say
we need to change the way young people talk to each other.


looking at me crazy? If you come on this block again and look at me crazy,
you know what I`m going to do you, man. OK. A simple argument like that
could turn deadly. In order to stop a homicide, you have to have the
ability to intercept a whisper.


DYSON: Joining me now is the legendary civil right leader himself
Reverend Jesse Jackson, the founder and president of the rainbow push

Reverend Jackson, welcome to the show.

you, sir.

DYSON: Sir, you appeared on "the Ed Show" two years ago to talk about the
violence in Chicago. It`s only gotten worse. What needs to change now to
make certain that we have a different result next year than we had in
making a grim history this year?

JACKSON: Chris, in great contrast, the Newtown massacre, where our
hearts poured out watching those babies who will never have Santa Claus,
never have Easter. I heard those, so much. But I think Newtown
illuminated the darkness in Chicago in the sense that here it`s illegal to
sell guns from city of Chicago, they manufacture them. They manufacture
guns in the barrack and in the suburbs. They manufacture guns in rock
island. So guns in from the suburbs, drugs in Mexico, and jobs out.

That combination of jobs out, guns and drugs in, means there`s a kind
of low intensity warfare taking place. That`s why I`m hoping at some point
in time, we`ll have the light on Chicago that we have on Newtown, so we can
figure out the far more complex situation, Dr. Dyson.

DYSON: David Culver, a Georgetown law professor said, we`ve tolerated
this intolerable situation because black and Latino young men are largely
the victims of that violence. And as you have indicated, there is a low
intensity warfare that has been seeing this part of the landscape versus
what happened, of course, in Newtown. Both of them are egregious, but why
does one get accepted as the price of doing business in America, and the
other seen as an outrage that needs to change public policy?

JACKSON: I`m not quite sure. On the one side, there`s Austin and
Lawndale, on the south side, there`s Rosendale and Englewood. These areas
have around 45 to 55 percent of unemployment. There is a kind of recycling
of home and hopelessness. I went to the cook county jail on Christmas day
morning for our annual visit there. And about a thousand young men and
women and asked, how many of you have been shot? About three quarters
stood up. I asked them to engage with me in our organization, since they
know where the guns are coming from, they know where the purchases are, to
help us stop the gun flow, because they can only be in jail or they can
only be in the graveyard. So we must use everything available to us. But,
one thing about t, they have been trying very diligently, governor Emanuel,
very diligently. But we know, for example, where guns are manufactured.
And we know the three gun shops that surround the city. One gun shop is
counseled by 70 percent of all murders in Chicago. We cannot close that
flood. If we know where guns are manufactured, killing American soldiers,
if we know where they`re being dispensed from, we could stop it.

Here we know where the manufacturing spot is, we know where the guns
are sold, we don`t have the ability to protect ourselves from these
egregious gun laws.

DYSON: Reverend, a Chicago reporter talked to self-described
gangbangers about the gun violence. Here`s what those young men are saying
about guns.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no solution to violence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No solution. Killing. Killing is a solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you kill? If you had to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never killed before, but if I had a gun in my
possession, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could. Would you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I got to, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you shot anybody yet?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You afraid to shoot somebody?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. You`re not afraid of getting shot?



DYSON: Reverend, what`s going on here? Can we change their attitudes
about violence, or you know, are we going to suffer giving up an entire

JACKSON: This is the least wrong of the latter. We know the
international drug cartels coming across the border. Drugs and we know
about guns are manufactured, guns in, we know where the jobs are going. So
this is a deadly proposition here. A cocktail, as it were. That`s why I
hope at some point in time, the president`s presence should have, would
serve to illuminate a bigger national because I tell you, Dr. Dyson, it`s
not just about gun laws, about a gun for your house or a gun for hunting.
These are about semiautomatic weapons that could destroy planes. They have
the capacity to bring down planes. I went to Aurora, Colorado, after the
killing there, the massacre there. And these guns can not only shoot
people in theaters and schools, they can bring down planes. This is a
homeland security issue, not just a local police issue.

DYSON: All right.

JACKSON: And I would submit to you that poverty, these are big
factors in this deal.

DYSON: No doubt. Eloquent as usual, Reverend Jesse Jackson, thank
you so much, my friend.

JACKSON: Thank you, sir.

DYSON: There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour of "the Ed
Show." Stay tuned.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s my dummy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama`s your dummy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is. He don`t talk, he don`t make no
smart comments.

DYSON: A Kentucky man puts a watermelon-cradling Obama mannequin in
his front yard. Marcia Dyson and Marc Morial on bigotry that takes no
breaks for President Obama.

And later, John Nichols on the thousands that Republicans stance are
hurting their own districts if we go over the fiscal cliff.



DYSON: History was made this year in more ways than one. We saw
unprecedented efforts being made at the state level to suppress the vote,
targeting the poor, the young, the elderly, and minorities. We also saw
the re-election of the first African-American president. And with that
historic event came a whole wave of hate speech and racist stunts.

Social media provided a platform for the nation`s unenlightened to air
their grievances with the president`s skin color. One blog tracked the
origin of racist tweets, following the president`s re-election. The
majority of them coming from red states in the southeast.

Twitter saw another eruption of racist language when the president
interrupted Sunday night football to address victims` families in Newtown,
Connecticut. And for those not as technologically savvy, Danny Halfly of
Kentucky proves there are more old-fashioned ways to show one`s ignorance
in 2012.

Halfly says there is nothing racist about this Barack Obama mannequin,
holding a slice of watermelon. Halfly put the display up around Election
Day and doesn`t plan on taking it down anytime soon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a mix of white collar suits with blue-collar
clothes peeking out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d be a millionaire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And watermelon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he might get hungry standing out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Danny Halfly has seen many a picture standing out
here taking pictures with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s my buddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama`s your buddy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is? He don`t talk, he don`t make no
smart comments.


DYSON: "he don`t talk, he don`t make no smart comment." Might as we
say uppity. Halfly claims he doesn`t understand why the mannequin is
considered racist. He also says it`s his right to display the mannequin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I look at it, it`s freedom of speech.


DYSON: Freedom of speech, indeed. So, let`s hear some more speech
from social activist, spiritual writer reverend Marcia Dyson and Marc
Morial, president and CEO of the national urban league.

Mr. Morial, mayor, let me turn to you, sir. So, where are we heading
as a country when it comes to the issue of race. When we see this kind of
conflagration along the front of American race?

MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: It`s nothing new. I mean, let`s
look at the fact that perhaps social media and media attention has given
more visibility, if you will, and transparency to what you may have read on
graffiti walls or heard in private conversations. That`s number one.

Number two, there`s been a reaction to the rise of president Obama, an
ugly reaction, resentful reactions. But let`s understand, we just had an
election, and the president got re-elected for the second time which says
that a majority of the American people are not swayed nor influenced by
that sort of sick and sadistic thinking. But, what I prefer to focus on is
not simply that, but the underlying disparities, the previous segment on
violence, and the need for jobs for young men of color and people of all
colors, in urban communities which is, I think, the more appropriate thing
for us to discuss when we talk about how to address that. He`s got a right
to be a damned fool.

DYSON: Well, damned fool, he is, indeed.

Reverend Marcia Dyson, you were a maven of social media. Social media
has provided wonderful outlets for people to articulate their views, but
it`s also obviously showed to America the true colors of what some people
think and bigots with megaphones, so to speak.

So when the president interrupted Sunday night football to speak in
Newtown, Connecticut, twitter went crazy and interrupted with all kinds of
racial slurs. How do we as a society confront this sort of behavior?

MARCIA DYSON, SOCIAL ACTIVIST: Well, you know, it`s really kind of
difficult to do that, Michael, especially when you have leadership in
congress, that`s not only about its political party, but you know, when you
have southern states and southwestern states talking about they want to
secede from the nation, there`s a little racial tinge in that, I think as
well. So when you don`t have a leadership that can get along together,
what do you expect from the general population? I think leadership is the
key to that.

And as far as the social media, it`s no different than in 1990, in the
city of Chicago, where I come from. They actually still had in certain
neighborhoods, the graffiti. So in whatever way they can describe their
intolerance to other people.

DYSON: Well, wait I want to turn back to Mayor Morial, what can
leadership do, then? What do you expect leaders who are legitimate and
genuine on these issues to do?

MARCIA DYSON: Like the gentleman who had the effigy or the mannequin
of president Obama with the watermelon, and said, this is my freedom of
speech. You can`t take away someone`s freedom of speech. You can`t
legislate something that like I said, as somebody`s hat. But what you can
do is kind of, you know, cool hand look moment, well we have the way we
have to communicate education, and to appreciation. Therefore, you cannot
reciprocate in kindness. That`s people who know nothing about you, you are
suffering as Marc said, the disparity that a lot of things that we seen in
ratio, has to do a lot with why you have conflict in other parts of the
world. It is like what happen in certain things within your own community.

DYSON: Well, speaking of those disparities that the mayor spoke
about, you know, a lot of people, a lot of scholars and writers are talking
about President Obama in relationship to the black community. There is
unprecedented support for him, on the one hand, and some critics and
scholars have said, yes, but he could do more. With a second term, do you
expect the president to address those issues more directly?

MORIAL: I`m expecting and optimistic that the president is going to
address particularly the problem of the economic situation that many in the
black and Latino communities find themselves in. The recession hurt
everybody. But it really, really damaged a lot of economic progress that
African-Americans and Latinos had made. There has to be an intervention.
There has to be an interruption, there`s got to be a focus.

One way, I think, is to focus on young people to provide job
opportunities, public service, if necessary, job opportunities, for young
people, for young adults. Yes, education. That`s a long-term solution.
We need some immediate remedies, and I`m optimistic, I`m hopeful, and I can
tell you, we`re going to be offering the president thoughts,
recommendations, and advocacy.

DYSON: No doubt about that. The reverend Marcia Dyson, the honorable
Marc Morial, thank you both for joining us here tonight.

MORIAL: Thanks so much.

MARCIA DYSON: Thank you.

DYSON: Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell`s inaction on the fiscal
cliff could cost 25,000 unemployed in his state, their benefits. Details


DYSON: Welcome back.

We love hearing from our viewers on twitter and facebook page. Many
of you were heartened by the success of the Los Angeles gun buyback program
we reported on yesterday.

On twitter, Michael said, there needs to be more gun buyback programs
nationwide. Put food on your table, not guns in your home.

Sharon Omarosa said, this is the best news ever. I wish my city would
do it. But I`m sure there is not a lot of money out there for it.

And twitter user Dangergirl called the gun buyback program
heartwarming. Humanity learning curve in action, she said.

Keep shares your thoughts with us on facebook and twitter using

Coming up, as the fiscal cliff looms, 24,000 people in Mitch
McConnell`s home state could lose their unemployment benefits. John
Nichols has the details. Stay tuned.


DYSON: Welcome back to "the Ed Show."

Tonight in our survey, I asked you, in light of the president`s
remarks, will the fiscal cliff deal get done? Thirty three percent say
yes, 67 percent say no.

Coming up, federal unemployment benefits are set to expire tomorrow
unless Congress acts. John Nichols joins me to talk about the millions of
Americans that will be impacted, next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been the toughest year, probably, in my
entire life. Remember, these are people. It`s not just numbers on a piece
of paper. We are actually human beings, suffering out here.


DYSON: How moving. For millions of out of work Americans like Karen
Deduct (ph), the cliff has come early. If Congress doesn`t act to extend
the emergency unemployment compensation program, their benefits will stop
tomorrow. Get that, underscore it. Tomorrow.

Nearly a million more will be unable to collect any sort of federal
benefits in the first quarter of 2013. These are the people that
Republicans have used as pawns in the fiscal cliff debate.

Earlier this week, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell demanded
spending cuts to offset the estimated $30 billion cost of extending the
federal unemployment insurance program for another year.

McConnell was elected to serve the people of Kentucky. So how do
McConnell and junior senator Rand Paul justify letting federal unemployment
benefits expire for 24,000 people in their state? How can Senator Marco
Rubio allow nearly 119,000 unemployed Floridians to be cut off? Senators
John McCain and Jon Kyl should be fighting for the 28,000 people who would
be affected in Arizona. It`s not clear if they will.

And the list goes on and on. Unemployment benefits are vital to the
economic security of millions of Americans, and the continued recovery of
the U.S. economy as a whole. This should not be a bipartisan issue.

Let`s bring in John Nichols, Washington correspondent for "the Nation"

Brother Nichols, who will be most affected if no deal is reached? Not
the very rich who can afford to deal with in a very serious fashion. Not
even some of the upper middle class. But tell us about those clinging to
the bottom of the ladder?

those clinging to the bottom of the ladder are not the most impoverished
people in America. They tend to be folks who we know, our sisters, our
brothers, our cousins. Somebody down the street, who got laid off at the
start of this deep, deep recession. And as things started to get better,
maybe they lived in a part of America, particularly a rule area, or an
older industrialized city, where the economy has just not come back as
rapidly as it is in some, in better-off parts of the country.

This is a circumstance that people are in largely because of their
region, not because of laziness, certainly. And also, not because of race
or age or all the other factors. Those factors are always there, and
they`re always important. But there are some really targeted regional
sufferings that are taking place.

DYSON: Let`s be honest here. You mentioned race, gender, we can talk
about class. Those are the factors that have not motivated many Americans
to be as empathetic as they might otherwise be. But you would think that
the notion that somebody they knew, some uncles, some cousins, some person
in your family who`s out of work through no fault or his or her own would
at least garner the everyone think of these folk in congress. Why hasn`t
it worked?

NICHOLS: I think they`ve written these folks off. I think that
unfortunately, and you`ve written about this, and you know well, that the
politics of America is defined increasingly not by the whole of the
country, but by what political players think of as the voting class. Who
do they think will be at the polls, who do they think will punish them?
Unfortunately, an awful lot of folks who follow into this category, the
long-term unemployed, they may vote, but they tend to vote according to
patterns that a John McCain or a Mitch McConnell may not care about so

And the tragedy of this, this is the real tragedy, Dr. Dyson, these
benefits don`t cost us, they benefit us, the whole of the country. For
every dollar that goes to long-term unemployment benefits, because these
people put it right back in the economy, it creates $1.10 in economic
activity. So this is one of the best ways to continue to improve the

Cutting these benefits will do severe damage to rural counties in
Mitch McConnell`s home state, to counties in John Boehner`s home district
in Ohio, which is a terribly high and unfortunately high child poverty
rate. This is one of those issues where everybody should come together.
This shouldn`t have a political hue to it.

It also, I think we do talk a lot about the economics, we talk about
the money. There`s a moral component to this. A civil society in a
functional, western, well-developed economy should be able to take care of
the people who, through no fault of their own, as you suggest, have fallen
out of the economic system, for a period of their life. It does not have
to be their whole life.

DYSON: Right.

NICHOLS: But if you cut the benefits, it could be their whole life.

DYSON: Thirty seconds, how optimistic are you that something will get
done to help the unemployed?

NICHOLS: I have a feeling -- I know that President Obama takes this
very, very seriously, and I know that Barbara Lee and a number of the
members of the house have been really pushing this, as it`s something not
to be forgotten in the fiscal cliff fight. I put my faith in them to
continue to raise this flag and to say, we cannot let Congress leave
Washington without taking care of these folks.

DYSON: John Nichols, as always, thank you so very much, my friend.

NICHOLS: Thank you.

DYSON: That`s it for "the Ed Show.` I`m Michael Eric Dyson in for Ed

"The Rachel Maddow Show" starts now. Ezra Klein is filling in for
Rachel tonight.

Brother Ezra, always good to see you, my friend.


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