'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
McCain's disturbing lack of faith in America
via YouTube, h/t fferkleheimer
Guest: Paul Eaton, Brad Schrade, Justin Halpern
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
From Times Square to arrested in 53 hours and 30 minutes. And a
president is not crowing and not trying to terrify the citizens for whom he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Americans and as a
nation, we will not be terrorized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The suspect is Faisal Shahzad and he is singing like a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He has been talking to us and
providing us with useful information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Providing it before and after he was read his Miranda
rights, such as: he was trained in a Pakistani terror camp - arrests
there. All this despite Pete King's moronic quote, "I know he's an
American citizen, but still," despite John McCain calling the mirandizing,
"a serious mistake."
Our guest: General Paul Eaton who says King and McCain are putting
American lives at risk.
And my "Special Comment": What part of America does John McCain
Republicans push for more offshore drilling even as the cataclysm from
the destroyed Gulf rig gets worse and closer.
Nashville - FEMA arrives. Nineteen dead in Tennessee alone. We go
live to Nashville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How Mother Nature can be cruel and, certainly,
she's dealt us a really bad hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: "Worsts": the latest lies from Charles Krauthammer, "No
successful attacks in the United States" under Bush after 9/11. What were
the anthrax letters, junk mail?
And stuff my dad says. "A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid.
If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you
failed." The Twitter sensation has written a book. "Pressure? Get
married when you want. Your wedding is just one more day in my life I
can't wear sweat pants." Justin Halperin joins us.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The man accused of trying to detonate a car bomb only blocks from here
in Times Square in New York under arrest tonight, now formally charged with
terrorism and tried to use a weapon of mass destruction. Authorities in
Pakistan are adding that they had arrested seven or eight people in
connection with the bombing attempt.
But in our fifth story on the Countdown: If for a time last night, it
looked as if the American suspect Faisal Shahzad might have been able to
leave the country undetected, his own mistakes it would seem, ultimately,
to blame for bringing him down - last night, Shahzad who lives in
Bridgeport, Connecticut, on his way to JFK Airport when he made a
reservation to on an Emirates Airline flight to Dubai then was to head to
Pakistan, paying the ticket in cash when he got to Kennedy. The Pakistan-
born naturalized American citizen already having boarded the flight, the
doors having closed before they were abruptly opened again and Shahzad
hauled off by Customs and Border Control agents.
The plane then pulling away from the gate before this further command
from ground control.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Emirates 202 have the Kennedy tower 22 right
position. Actually, I have a message for you to go back to the gate
immediately. So, make the left turn when able.
PILOT: Twenty-two, 202, turning left here.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Hi, Emirates 202, making the left turn onto
echo, left alpha, back to the ramp. I don't know exactly why, but you can
call your company for the reason.
PILOT: I'll do that. Left onto echo, then onto alpha and back to the
gate, via gulf.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Yes, whatever is convenient.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After that mundane exchange, at the gate, two more
passengers taken off the plane just questioned about their travel
documents, a criminal search that began at 6:30 Saturday night in Times
Square ending at midnight at Kennedy Airport 53 ½ hours later.
Many are now questioning how the suspect, Shahzad, ever was able to
board that flight in the first place having been placed on the no-fly list
on Monday morning. A senior U.S. official telling NBC News that the
reservation and ticketing process alone should have been enough to keep
Shahzad off the airplane, and if not then, when he was issued a boarding
pass. But it was only after the airlines submitted its final manifest to
customs that an alert agent caught the name and the doors were reopened.
How did agents know that Shahzad was the man they were looking for?
From the wealth of clues he left behind, the vehicle registration number on
the car is still there because the poorly designed bomb never had a chance
of going off really and destroying that evidence. The accurate e-mail
address Shahzad gave to the college student who had sold him the vehicle
intended to use as a murder weapon.
Once the FBI knew Shahzad was the man they wanted, they found out what
he looked like from a photo he himself had posted on Facebook. In the
undamaged SUV, keys to his house and to another car that he owned were
left. A prepaid phone card was left behind. It had been used to arrange
the purchase of the car and call a fireworks dealer in Pennsylvania -
fireworks having been a key component of the bomb along with fertilizer,
except he gotten the kind that did not detonate.
In custody today, Shahzad providing evidence both before and after he
was read his Miranda rights, including that he recently received bomb-
making training in Pakistan. FBI officials saying today Shahzad was
initially questioned by authorities under the public safety exception to
the Miranda rule, later read his Miranda rights, and he continued to
cooperate after that reading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN PISTOLE, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Suffice to say that he provided
valuable information and intelligence and evidence during that time and
then, as the attorney general noted, he was mirandized later and continued
to cooperate and provide valuable information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: President Obama is saying today that if the aim of
terrorism is to stoke fear, this attempted attack failed in more ways than
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We know that the aim of those who try to carry out these
attacks is to force us to live in fear, and thereby amplifying the effects
of their attacks, even those that fail. But as Americans and as a nation,
we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be
intimidated. We will be vigilant and we will work together, and we will
protect and defend the country we love to ensure a safe and prosperous
future for our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to NBC News terrorism analyst, Michael
Sheehan, former counterterror official for the city of New York.
Mike, thanks for coming in.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: What does this saga tell you about: A, the quality of the
training that he's now being given at these so-called camps in Pakistan and
perhaps elsewhere, and B, the quality of the trainees?
SHEEHAN: Well, clearly, the trainee was a good recruit. He's an
American naturalized citizen, a guy with an education, with a Masters
degree, able to travel. How he bungled this is still a bit of a mystery.
The training camps that they have - obviously, some of them are very,
very good because they're conducting all sorts of sophisticated attacks in
Afghanistan and Pakistan - suicide bombs blowing off all the time. But
this guy, whatever training program he went to, clearly failed or he was
asleep during class. But obviously, it didn't work.
OLBERMANN: Do we - do we assume that he was working off verbal
instructions and forgot key details, or was it possible that the level of
the instruction, wherever he was, was so poor that they didn't know what
they were doing either, let alone he didn't know what he was doing?
SHEEHAN: Keith, the design of this makeshift bomb wasn't good to
start with - using firecrackers to ignite a bomb. This isn't very
So, this was clearly not the "A" team forces that they have in
Pakistan and Afghanistan. They do have capability over there. He clearly
didn't get his way into one of those courses. He probably was new to the
organization, just showed up, self-recruited, self-identified, and either
didn't get the training or perhaps forgot something in his panic.
And, by the way, Keith, that happens in some attacks. In my book, I
talk about how even some killers can bungle their way and still have
violent attacks. It's not that unusual a guy makes mistakes.
OLBERMANN: And the more mistakes you make, not only the more likely
you are not to accomplish your goal, but you are likely to get caught while
doing it, as this the case, right, correct?
SHEEHAN: Yes, exactly right. And in many cases, these terrorists
make mistakes and get caught and that leaves the roll up of the cell. And
this case, hopefully, it leads back to the groups that prepared him in
Pakistan. We got a few arrests there in Pakistan. It remains to be seen
whether if they can roll up some of that infrastructure.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of mistakes, was that - was there a mistake
involved in him getting as close to getting out of the country as he did?
Are we clear what happened there?
SHEEHAN: Well, you know, Keith, the last check is when the final
manifest is prepared, because it always changes in the flight at the last
minute, they're going to know some people missed, some people jumped on.
The final manifest is always checked against the no-fly and it worked.
However, there were opportunities to check before that that failed and
that needs to be scrubbed. But, fortunately, the last check worked and we
were able to pull this guy off the plane.
OLBERMANN: Was anything improved in terms of that process from
Detroit where they know that they missed keeping him off the flight to
Detroit by a matter of minutes? Was there any indication of that? Can you
infer any of that from this?
SHEEHAN: I have some concerns, Keith, that this needs to be reviewed.
Why wasn't this guy's name that was on - a day before that plane took off
that his name was on the watch list, why hadn't he been picked up by TSA
during the booking? Earlier procedures and scrubbed out of it.
It's not a catastrophic failure. They did find the guy in the last
check. They got about three strikes. They get the guy. They got him on
the last and it worked.
But, you know, this - getting civil aviation right, you know, you
just got to be really focused. It needs to be reviewed and try to correct
any errors that might have happened before.
OLBERMANN: Now, one assumes though that the idea of him getting away
and getting free to Dubai, you know, just a matter of minutes - however,
there's a long flight to Dubai, that time, plus the landing. The Emirates
would have turned him back over, would they not?
SHEEHAN: Oh, absolutely. So, if he had been - if his name had been
identified anytime between when the door closed to when he was in Dubai, we
have a good relationship with them. He would have been sent right back.
OLBERMANN: What do you infer about our ability to be both proactive
and reactive to situations like that based on the elapsed time between the
event and the capture, which was less than 54 hours?
SHEEHAN: Well, the reaction was tremendous. And the NYPD and FBI
guys were all over that car. They knew to go to the VIN number. They knew
the VIN number would lead to the owner of the car - the owner of the car,
and then it went to the sale, then back to the Internet, then to the
individual - like clockwork cops working around the clock. It worked
pretty well, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What - and I don't want to get too political, but as a
function of tamping down fear, what did you think of this president today
saying - congratulating the police in this city, the residents in this
city, and saying, you know, this is not a country that's going to be
terrified or terrorized?
SHEEHAN: I think he got it right on. And when he said, if we
overreact to a terrorist attempt or terrorist attack, we amplify the attack
of the terrorism. They're really - terrorism is an instrument of the weak
and of cowards. And they're really attacking our psyche.
If we overreact to a terrorist attack, we are playing into their
hands. We're amplifying their power. We're building them bigger than they
So, I think he got that message right.
And, by the way, Keith, New Yorkers get this. They know they live in
a city of risk. You can get hit by a bus walking across the street.
There's terrorist - any thing can happen.
It's a city. Life is full of risks. New Yorkers get it. We
shouldn't be cowering in fear. And, you know, this city - the day after
this attempt, there were 10,000 bicycles riding through Times Square. And
I thought that was great.
OLBERMANN: Former New York counterterrorism official Michael Sheehan,
also now of NBC News - thanks for coming in, again, Mike.
SHEEHAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As we mentioned, authorities today questioned Shahzad both
before and after having read him his Miranda rights, using the public
safety exception to the Miranda rule as grounds for their initial
Republicans not letting the facts stand in the way of their rapid
attempt to politicize how the arrest has been handled. Senator Cornyn of
Texas is saying, quote, "If someone acts like a terrorist and cooperates
with people intent on war against the United States, they should be treated
as terrorists and not as a common criminal, and no, they should not be read
their Miranda acts."
The suspect, Shahzad, as we mentioned, although born in Pakistan, is a
citizen of the U.S. "The New York Times" reporting he was naturalized in a
ceremony in Bridgeport, Connecticut, more than a year ago, April 17th,
In an interview, Senator John McCain said it would be a serious
mistake to remind Shahzad of his right to remain silent until all the
information is gathered.
Congressman Peter King, meanwhile, the top Republican on the homeland
security committee, telling Politico.com that he wants to know whether the
Justice Department consulted with the intelligence community before they
decided to hold his trial in civilian court.
Again, Shahzad, an American citizen, to which King said, "I know he's
an American citizen, but still."
Thus, lots to talk about tonight with Major General Paul Eaton,
retired U.S. Army general who was in charge of training the Iraqi military
from 2003 to 2004, and who is now a senior adviser at the National Security
General Eaton, thanks for some of your time tonight.
MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, RET., NATIONAL SECURITY NETWORK: Hey, Keith,
great to be here and thanks for the invitation. But I am a little surprise
that we are here to defend our Constitution against a Republican senator
and Republican representative's attack on it.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, you heard those remarks. They basically were
just short of demanding that the Times Square suspect should not have been
read Miranda. It makes them sound tough on national security.
What do you think is the practical result, though, of saying something
EATON: From a national security perspective, it's damaging. You're
going to have - right now, the FBI and our police forces are looking over
their shoulder every time they hear a Republican come off with a remark
like that. And we've got to reinforce our men in blue and our men in suits
that they're doing a great job, they're doing the right thing, they're
following procedures, they're following the law.
And we are a nation of laws. So, we know what we're doing.
OLBERMANN: Do you have a sense of the motive for comments like these?
I mean, obviously, my tendency is to - is to attribute this to pure
politics. Do you see anything else behind it?
EATON: It's a purely partisan approach. They are after trying to
frustrate the president and his role as providing for the national
security. And in so doing, they are actually attacking the viability of
the national security of the United States.
So, rather than rallying around the flag, rather than avoiding a
divisive approach, they've chosen to go off the reservation and they are
doing a bad job.
OLBERMANN: Attacking the national security violate of the United
States. Break that down for us. What do you mean exactly by that?
EATON: One of the most important things we have going for us, before
our own citizens and before the citizens of the world, is our judicial
process, is our state of law, our Constitution. And the president is
demonstrating strength and honor. He is demonstrating strength to get
after these terrorists and he's demonstrating that we do it in a context of
honor, that we follow our laws, that we - that we - that we support and
defend the Constitution of the United States, the way every legislator and
the way every soldier, airman, seaman, marine out there swears on entry
OLBERMANN: General Eaton, if the Obama administration wanted to try
this man in some sort of military tribunal, would there be any
justification for that? I mean, materially, legally, even as an aspect of
state of war, how is this man - or might he be different legally from the
Unabomber or the FALN which planted bombs in New York throughout the '70s
and '80s, or anybody else? How?
EATON: Spot on, Keith. This is a civilian court venue. It is not a
military venue. The military commission approach is absolutely
inappropriate. This is an American citizen and he will be tried in civil
court as the criminal that he is.
OLBERMANN: If you are the FBI agent and the police officers who spent
53 hours straight on the manhunt that was successful and as Mike Sheehan
pointed out, you throw in the time of the flight that they had as a pad to
Dubai, they didn't catch him at the last second before he left the country
or would have gotten out of the grasp of this country. They got him about
a day before and got him after about two days and a few hours' work.
What would it feel like to have done this job and have lawmakers back
at home of any stripe criticizing you in the job that you just did?
OLBERMANN: Well, not good is the answer. Since January of 2009, we
have seen a relentless attack on our FBI, on our armed services, on our
policemen by the Republican Party. Any opportunity that they can find to
see a seam to get in there and lay in an attack they have pursued. And,
frankly, as a retired soldier and as a guy who supports my police, who
supports my FBI, I want them to cut it out.
OLBERMANN: What - what do you think - is there anything
psychologically behind this? This idea - we have heard comments that we
haven't killed enough terrorists, we haven't made them fear us, we should -
we shouldn't be respected in the way you just described, we should be
feared. Is there something else to this that you and I perhaps don't
understand viscerally, that people are trying to achieve by positing the
idea that they should be handled with force and with military effectiveness
and with torture and everything else that we've seen rolled out since 9/11?
EATON: Keith there is a retired judge advocate, Navy Jag admiral
named John Hudson (ph), who said it about as well as I could find anywhere.
And he said, you know, the use of torture and these techniques is - that's
the tool of the stupid, the lazy and the pseudo tough. And that's, I'm
afraid, what we've got going on in the Republican Party playbook to excite
their base and it's an unfortunate attempt and it's counterproductive to
the national security of the United States.
OLBERMANN: You had it right - the stupid, the lazy and the pseudo
General Paul Eaton, U.S. Army retired - once again, great thanks.
EATON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: "Special Comment:" on Senator McCain's reports and on
Senator McCain - next.
OLBERMANN: As promised the briefest of "Special Comments" on the
statements by the senior senator from Arizona after the arrest of Faisal
Shahzad, the suspected Times Square terrorist.
"Don't give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it is
all about," said John McCain. "Obviously, that would be a serious mistake
at least until we find out as much information as we have."
Mr. McCain, apart from the obvious fact that following your advice
could mean that because of you Shahzad could walk free on technicalities.
It is clear that your comments or, really, your utter lack of faith in the
system of justice that has kept this country free and safe for 234 years -
the laws are not there to be switched on and off at your discretion,
Senator. They are not applicable to all except when you are having trouble
getting renominated and you need to boost your poll numbers with the
lunatic fringe in Arizona.
This man, whatever other reprehensible thing he appears to be, is an
American citizen. And if you can decide that he shouldn't have the same
rights we would give to the man who shot President Reagan or to serial
killers or to Bernie Madoff, then the precedent that you set in doing so
can someday end thusly - someday for some crap reason, somebody will be
able to arrest you, Mr. McCain, and declare that you are not entitled to
your Miranda rights and that perhaps you should be tried by a military
While you pander to a group that tries to dress up its bitching about
paying its fair share of taxes as "the government is taking away freedom,"
you propose that the government should take away freedom. You shame
yourself in the eyes of American patriots and in the eyes of your fellow
veterans who sacrificed and the honored dead who gave their lives to
protect the freedoms and the laws - you have today suggested should be
Freedom loving Americans look back with horror at what could have
happened on Saturday night six blocks from here. And we also look back
with horror on how a man who thinks America is some kind of brand name, who
does not respect the laws and honor of this great nation, could have come
so perilously close to becoming its leader!
OLBERMANN: At a public forum yesterday, Texas Governor Rick Perry
said the Deepwater Horizon oil spill should not, quote, "cause a kneejerk
reaction that says we are going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of
According to ThinkProgress.org, Governor Perry rejected the suggestion
that deregulation might be blamed for the spill or the Massey mine
disaster, or the financial meltdown. He said the spill might have been,
quote, "an act of God."
In our fourth story tonight: The forum was partly funded by B.P. to
House Republican Leader John Boehner also not backing down from the
Republican position of pushing for more drilling onshore and off.
or is it just Republicans. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who
represents thousands of Louisiana fishermen whose fishing season came to an
abrupt end at 6:00 p.m. prevailing local time tonight is unmoved by the
implications of this spill, budging not at all in her demand for new
drilling, even after Jon Stewart pointed out on the "Daily Show" that her
position on the safety of that drilling has budged quite a bit from the
days when she line up squarely to defend it, along with the long line of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: It is safe to drill and we
need to do more of that.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: We can do this in an environmentally
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Our companies have done a
wonderful job making sure that we are both environmentally sound but also
able to produce energy.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: They do drill today in an
environmentally safe way.
OBAMA: Oil rigs generally don't cause spills. They are
technologically very advanced.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: The environmentalists are wrong,
actually. We can drill safely off the shores of America.
JON STEWART, TV TALK SHOW HOST: Spoken like true scientists from the
first reel of a disaster movie.
STEWART: If only these pre-spill politicians like Senator Mary
Landrieu, Louisiana, had listened to post-spill realists, like Senator Mary
Landrieu of Louisiana.
LANDRIEU: No one has ever claimed, including myself, as an unabashed
proponent of the industry that drilling is risk free.
STEWART: No. You never claimed it. You emphatically stated it.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: "Dallas Morning News" reports also Monday, at that
conference funded by British Petroleum, Governor Perry defended the safety
record B.P. compiled prior to last month's death of 11 people at the
Deepwater well. B.P., he said, quote, "historically had a very good safety
record from my perspective." It would seem then that Sarah Palin never
mentioned to Governor Perry that in her brief tenure as governor of Alaska,
B.P. pleaded guilty to criminal charges there for which B.P. is still on
probation after neglecting one of its pipelines there for more than eight
years, including Palin's entire term on the state's oil and gas
conservation commission, allowing bacteria to build up and erode it from
within, spilling more than 200,000 gallons on the Alaskan tundra.
Less clear, however, is why Governor Perry's perspective did not even
include his own state, during his own tenure as governor. March 23, 2005,
Texas City, Texas, just last year the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, OSHA, issued its largest fine ever, $87 million to B.P.,
not just for safety violations that led to the massive 2005 explosion which
killed 15 and injured another 170, but for 270 violations of its agreement
afterward to clean up its act, plus 439 new violations. Four people died
at the Texas City refinery in separate incidences after that blast.
And what about deep water offshore drilling - is there any evidence
suggesting stricter regulation rather than a less angry god might have
prevented or mitigated this disaster? Cleanskies.com reports B.P. was
cited in 2007 for poor training in well control. It was fined only
$41,000, fined $75,000 for lacking adequate water pressure in one rig's
firefighting system, fined only $80,000 for bypassing safety alarms.
Regulators last year and this, honored B.P. for its outstanding safety
record - a record B.P. trumpeted in pushing back just last year on a new
attempt to have government safety audits replace the industry's voluntary
self-audits. According to a lawsuit filed some family members of the 11
missing and presumed dead oil rig workers in the Gulf, the oil services
company Halliburton improperly and negligently sealed the Deepwater Horizon
pipeline to the well itself.
Improper seals, ABC News reports, are responsible for more than a
dozen previous blowouts in the gulf.
"The Wall Street Journal" reporting that Deepwater Horizon did not
have a remote-controlled shut off valve that is mandatory in at least two
other countries, and is used voluntarily by other drilling companies in
this. In 2000, the Minerals Management Service began considering making
that and other backup measures mandatory. The oil industry pushed back
against the device.
Three years later, an administration led by two oil men, including the
former CEO of the aforementioned Halliburton, decided not to mandate any
new backup systems. The shutoff valve being, in the words of the
administration itself, quote, "not recommended because they tend to be very
costly." They cost half a million dollars - less than Mary Landrieu has
received from the oil industry.
Far less than the $5 million that B.P.'s CEO, Tony Hayward, makes per
year. His company reporting $5.6 billion for the first three months of
this year, not revenue, profits. The kind of profits apparently that can
prophesize a future free of regulation but full of acts of God.
OLBERMANN: The Twitter sensation Spit My Dad Says joins us. So he
will count as the Twitter report, including the Tweet of the Day. We have
a lot to do here. Let's play Oddball.
Philadelphia, hello. Phillies hosting the St. Louis Cardinals.
Teenage Phillies fan calls dad from the ballpark, quoting, "dad, can I run
on the field." Dad responds, quote, "I don't think you should, son." Spit
My Dad Says this is the result.
Youth, 17-year-old, whose name we chose not to reveal, tasered by a
police officers. The boy's father described the phone call as an effort to
get permission. The boy's mother apologizing for his actions. From
Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney, quote, it seems to me that people
from the suburbs think when they come into the city they can act like
By the way, he would only get about a B-minus on the scale of
psychotic bar fans there in Philly. Don't tase me in the city of Brotherly
Elsewhere in the NL East, Senate bipartisanship. Republican Senator
Johnny Isaacson of Georgia, Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West
Virginia, with Republican Senator Jim Bunning of the 1968 Pittsburgh
Pirates, honoring manager Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves, who is scheduled
to retire after this his 29th years as a Major League manager, 25 of them
in Atlanta. We think Cox might have batted against Bunning in Spring
Training during the two years Cox played third base for the Yankees.
Anyway, the senators extol Bobby's leadership, and he, as ever,
produced the mo juiced (ph).
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
BOBBY COX, MANAGER OF ATLANTA BRAVES: One thing I would I like to ask
you gentlemen to do, speak at my funeral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To Manomonowy (ph), Wisconsin and the deer crashers. Two
deer blasted through the glass doors of the Stout Ale House. Deer like
beer. The bar/restaurant was not prepared for the unexpected guests. The
hoofed ones therefore wrestled down to the floor for their own protection.
Since the regular patrons were watching a basketball game at the time, a
Milwaukee Bucks game.
That's sports. I'm Vip Burns, now back to Lou Waters and Bill
Zimmerman in Atlanta. Sorry, I had a flashback.
The crisis continues in Nashville. Off the back burner news wise,
thank goodness, but the death count in Tennessee alone is now 19. We go
OLBERMANN: Just in here, and of great sadness to baseball fans, Ernie
Harwell, a Major League Baseball announcer, principally with the Detroit
Tigers, in a career that spanned 1948 to 2002, has died of cancer. He was
diagnosed a year ago. Ernie Harwell was 92 and was one of the best people,
let alone one of the best broadcasters in sports.
As the Gulf Coast grapples with the flood of oil, Tennessee has been
blindsided by a fatal natural disaster, a flood. In our third story in the
Countdown, rescue, recovery and the emergency federal response continues;
29 people in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky, 19 in Tennessee alone.
After a weekend record-setting rainfall caused flash flooding, with
the Cumberland River, which runs through downtown Nashville, cresting last
night nearly 12 feet above flood level. That followed 14 inches of rain, a
new two-day record for the Nashville area.
Rescuers expect more bodies to emerge from muddy flood water. But at
least the waters are now receding. Police managed to evacuate some from a
tent city of homeless people in downtown Nashville. But they are bracing
for the possibility of finding bodies there as the water ebbs.
Authorities also fear finding additional fatalities in more remote
areas. Nashville's fire chief, Kim Lawson, saying, quote, "we certainly
hope that it is not a large number."
Authorities and volunteers in fishing boats have been rescuing
stranded Nashville residents and tourists; 500 people were rescued from the
Windham Resort alone. The flooding was not limited to the Cumberland.
Lakes, rivers and drainage systems were deluged in the three states,
bridges washed out, thousands of homes damaged. Nashville businesses also
hit hard, include the country music landmark the Grand Old Opry House, and
its hotel and convention center, with 1,500 guests rushed to shelter.
That prompted a wave of Twitter postings from music stars like Reba
McIntire, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley. They appealed for help for the
entire area. The president offering federal disaster assistance. He sent
FEMA's administrator to Tennessee to review the damage firsthand. The
governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, had declared 52 counties as disaster
Let's speak now with a reporter for "The Tennessean Newspaper" in
Nashville, Brad Schrade. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
BRAD SCHRADE, "THE TENNESSEAN NEWSPAPER": Hi, Keith. How are you
OLBERMANN: Well, how are you doing? What is the latest with the
emergency relief efforts, rescue and recovery alike?
SCHRADE: Well, it has been quite a harrowing few days here in middle
Tennessee. Today, the effort moved from a rescue to more of a recovery
effort. They're trying to restore power in the downtown district, but
floodwaters are still at some stations there. So the power company is -
could be days before some of those areas downtown are restored to power.
And there is still some residents, 3,000 to 4,000 in the Nashville area,
that do not have power.
The Army Corps of Engineers is focusing on trying to strategically
bring down some of the reservoirs around Nashville, without creating more
flood problems. The concern there is that if additional rains were to
come, that you could have more flooding, because they - without the - the
dams are very full right now, so they want to bring those waters down to be
able to control the river if additional rains were to come.
OLBERMANN: Is - I can't imagine any natural disaster like that is
not a surprise, no matter what forecasts might have been made or forecasts
not been made. But is there a particular history that should have
suggested such a thing was possible in this day and age for Nashville and
SCHRADE: Well, in Nashville, we have a lot of rain this time of year.
What is of bigger concern generally is we are in kind of a tornado alley
here. So I think that was the big fear among residents over the weekend,
as the storms were coming in from the west. So really the flash floods and
the flooding caught a lot of people off-guard, because we just haven't had
this level of rains.
I think a congressman here said it is a 500-year event. So the rains,
while we don't usually have this amount, this level of intensity and the
way it just hung over and wouldn't pass through, created major flooding
OLBERMANN: What is needed? I mean, people who are seeing this for
the first time in this unfortunate confluence of news stories that kept
Nashville off the radar for the last few days, and what has happened there
just not getting the publicity until today really - what else needs to be
done? We have thrown up the texting number for the Red Cross, which had
set up some 30 stations as of yesterday. Are there other things that
people can do, who are seeing this and appalled by the circumstances?
SCHRADE: Well, there's a lot of - one of the issues here is a lot of
these homes that flooded are not in the flood plain, or people don't'
traditionally expect them to flood. So there are a lot of homeowners who
just didn't have home insurance and they're afraid they're going to lose
their homes or not be able to rebuild. The news out of the White House
today was a good first step, but I think the city and the region is really
just trying to first get the waters to recede and then kind of come to
grips with what our next step is.
OLBERMANN: The situation in Nashville as described for us by Brad
Schrade, reporter from "The Tennessean." Great thanks, Brad, and good luck
with the community's effort to recovered from this.
SCHRADE: Thanks, Keith. Thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: My pleasure.
From Tweeting to a TV pilot to a book? Like paper? The march of a
Bit My Dad Says. George Will's cherry picking data about bird deaths to
argue for drilling and nuclear, against wind power. Maybe it is cherry
pecking. We'll see it in Worsts.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, live from New Orleans,
new testing at the Gulf suggests the oil might be thicker than originally
thought and thus tougher to disperse.
OLBERMANN: Justin Halpern is not well known. His dad and the spit he
says and the way Justin disseminates these priceless pearls via Twitter are
very well known. We'll introduce you to the man behind Stuff My Dad Say,
only it's not stuff, next.
But first, tonight's Worst Persons in the World. A reminder, you can
see who did not make the cut exclusively on Twitter. Follow me, the name
is, creatively, KeithOlbermann, one word. Get the three Twerst people in
the world each night.
The TV version, meanwhile. The bronze to Fixed News analyst Charles
Krauthammer. I'm assuming he's not mentally impaired and wasn't drunk when
he said this: "the Bush administration had seven years after 9/11, no
successful attacks in the United States. There's already been one
successful attack under the Obama administration. The Bush administration,
which was attacked, excoriated for its tough interrogation, nonetheless,
kept us safe."
The SUV attack on students at North Carolina in 2006, the El Al
counter at LAX in 2002, the D.C. Sniper, Anthrax in 2001. The last three,
by the way, were pronounced terrorist attacks by the Bush administration.
Charles Krauthammer is a stone cold liar.
Runner-up, James E. Glassman, managing director and senior economist
at JP Morgan Chase. Wrote a letter to his clients yesterday insulting the
U.S. Senate after the Goldman Sachs hearing. "The financial reform debate
is in the final innings. It is time for the grown-ups to step in. Flip
assertions about what is and is not socially valuable, reflect a confusion
about our market economy." He showed a graph of job losses in Carl Levin's
state of Michigan titled, "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw
Say, Mr. Glassman, which of the following statement is closer to the
truth? The U.S. government ran out of money in 2008 and Wall Street had to
bail it out to save the national economy? Or Wall Street turned itself
into a casino and, in 2008, the Senate and the rest of the government and
U.S. taxpayers bailed out your sorry, overpaid asses to save the national
In short, Mr. Glassman, what Jon Stewart said.
Our winner, poor George Will, still operating in those dear, dead days
when people could not easily check his facts and find he had scrubbed them
of so much context that they were left laughably misleading. As Media
Matters reported on ABC this week, Mr. Will said "wind farms kill a lot
more birds daily than are probably going to be killed in this oil spill."
In "Newsweek" last month, he wrote "birds beware, the American Bird
Conservancy estimates that the existing 25,000 wind turbines kill between
75,000 and 275,000 birds a year. Imagine the toll that 186,000 turbines
My god, that is terribly disturbing. Each wind turbine might kill
from three to 11 birds per year. And if we achieved Obama's goal of 20
percent energy from wind turbines, and safety measures were not improved,
we could kill as many as half a million, maybe two million birds per year.
That is terribly disturbing.
But if you look at that site that Will quoted the, American Bird
Conservancy, which supports the wind turbines, here are its estimates for
bird deaths in this country right now: collisions with communications
towers, four to 50 million, power lines, 75 million birds, collisions with
buildings, 100 million birds, hit by cars, 200 million to 300 million, cats
365 million birds a year. You left out the cats, George.
By the way, the buildings, the towers, the lines, the cars and the
cats rarely also destroy all the other flora and fauna in the area and
damage the ecosystem for years, and become an excuse for nature to raise
the price of wind. George "Once Again I Was Hoping You Wouldn't Go to the
Website I Quoted" Will, today's Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Just eight months ago, writer Justin Halpern made lemons
out of the proverbial lemonade after being dumped by his girlfriend and
having to move back in with his parents. He started a Twitter page called
Stuff My Dad Says. Only Stuff is actually a word that rhymes with Spit.
The page's content is taken exclusively from remarks made to Halpern by his
father, Samuel. A sample Tweet reads, November 8th, 2009, "here's a
strawberry, sorry for farting near you. Hey, either take the strawberry
and stop bitching, or no strawberry, that's the deal."
The number one story, Junk My Dad Says is a runaway hit, spawning over
a million twitter followers, also a sitcom pilot starting William Shatner,
and a book. How Luddite. Justin Halpern joins me in a minute. First, for
the uninitiated, Schmutz My Dad Says went live last August. Halpern's bio
says, quote, "I'm 29, I live with my 74-year-old dad. He is awesome. I
just write down shift that he says."
Halpern has Tweeted only 118 times. I do that in like an hour. Yet,
he has over 1.3 million followers waiting for another nugget from his dad,
who is on the left. Before we talk to the son, one more Tweet, February
22nd, "a parent is only as good as their dumbest kid. One wins the Nobel
Prize, but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed."
Joining me now from Los Angeles is the Tweeter and now author of Sugar
My Dad Says, Justin Halpern. Welcome.
JUSTIN HALPERN, TWEETER: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: There was a period during which your dad did not know he
was a sensation on the Internet. Can you explain that and how did he find
HALPERN: Yeah. I had started this page just to show friends and then
it exploded without me having any control over it. At that point, I
started getting calls from book agents and people like that. At that
point, I pretty much had to tell my dad. I called my brother first and he
was like, no, destroy the page. Don't tell dad. It is not worth it. Pack
all your stuff. Get ready to leave.
I thought, no, I think I have to try this out. I went and told my
dad. I thought he was going to explode. He just laughed for a couple of
seconds and he goes, I can't find my cell phone. I need you to help me
find my cell phone. I was like, are we good? He said, yeah, I need my
cell phone. That was kind of it. I don't know if he gets the scope.
OLBERMANN: I'm sure he will.
HALPERN: The book would do it. Wouldn't the book, by itself, get the
point across to him?
OLBERMANN: You'd think. He's starting to get the scope now, yeah,
with the book coming out in stores. But, yeah, he is pretty excited about
HALPERN: Another great - they run the range from great is the low
end to unbelievably spectacular. The one from September 7th, "the worst
thing you can be a liar. OK, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be a Nazi.
But then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two."
Do you provoke him or prompt him or is it more or less organic, this
HALPERN: That was like an hour-long argument that ended with that
statement. No, I don't provoke him. He says whatever he wants, whenever
he wants to say it.
OLBERMANN: I don't know. Based on the idea that that's the end of an
hour, maybe you provoke him more than you know, Justin. Have you
considered that possibility?
HALPERN: I definitely provoke him quite often, never to get the
OLBERMANN: I know you are a writer by profession. It would seem,
having dabbled in this now for about three weeks, that going from this
limited space that is a Tweet or even a series of them, to turn it into a
book - how difficult was it to do that?
HALPERN: It was actually a pretty interesting process. I had all
these stories that I had always told my friends about my dad. When I got
to write this book, I got to sit down and think about the times in my life
where probably if you had a normal parent, it might have been a little bit
of milquetoast, but in this case it was with my dad. I thought it was a
lot of fun to sit back and kind of relive traumatic moments in my life that
maybe I can laugh at now.
OLBERMANN: How does the - we had to use euphemisms just to describe
to your Twitter name. How is that going to translate to a television pilot
with William Shatner?
HALPERN: Yes, obviously, we're not going to use that word, or he's
not going to dropping any F-bombs. We try to keep sort of the aggressive
honesty of the page. We tried never to change the S word to poop or
something like that. So we figured - we made the rule, if my dad wouldn't
say it, then we wouldn't put it in the show.
OLBERMANN: Was Shatner your first choice? Is that a good match
realistically? Does it provide verisimilitude? Describe the comparison
between your father, real life, and the Shatner character.
HALPERN: Shatner is basically a refined version of my father.
They're both sort of older gentlemen who don't really want to engage in any
unnecessary conversations with people they don't know. But, yeah, Mr.
Shatner was definitely our first choice. He is every bit as awesome as I
hoped he would be.
OLBERMANN: Well, I think he also - if it hasn't occurred to you, he
may provide you with that euphemism in the way of a title, if you want to
go this direction. Just throwing this out from one Tweet guy to another,
"Shatner My Dad Says." It's sort of - all right, it wasn't that good an
idea. Justin Halpern, the creator of Things My Dad Says - it is not
really Things. Great thanks and good luck and thanks for making the
Twitter world that much more exciting for the rest of us.
HALPERN: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Good luck with the book. It's out now.
That is Countdown for this the 2,560th day since the previous
president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good
night and good luck.
Now from New Orleans, with the news that the spilled oil may be
thicker than first though, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED. END