'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, July 12th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Oddball
The toss: High school
Guests: Bob Cavnar, Mac McClelland, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, MG Siegler
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Moratorium, take two. The Interior Department issues new no-drill orders.
Cap and prayed. On day 84, the new lid on BP's Gulf disaster is almost in place. Sort of. Maybe.
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ADM. THAD ALLEN (RET.), NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: We've made significant progress and this could lead to a shut-in of the well.
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OLBERMANN: As BP talks about cutting payments to the affected and the afflicted, the oil commission is talking about the use of dispersants.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody's got to get upset about this and make the government work for us!
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OLBERMANN: With Bob Cavnar on the new stack cap on the underwater gusher, and Mac McClelland from New Orleans on BP's cutbacks.
Political weak-knees as the governor's conference splits on supporting the administration's lawsuit against Arizona - and at least one Democratic governor criticizes the suit.
The NAACP finally calls out the tea party for its, quote, "racist element." One of the Astroturf backers of the nearly all-white movement says, "I just don't see racism in the Tea Party Movement" - with Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell.
The New Black Panther Party, an old story. FOX News whips up paranoia, claiming an Obama racist plot to dismiss criminal charges against harassers at a polling place - except that now turns out the criminal charges were dismissed before Obama was president.
"Worsts": Miami contemplates a new law: Do no feed the homeless.
That fine would be 300 bucks.
And "Consumer Reports" does a new 180 on the new iPhone 4. First, it said there was not antenna problem with drop calls. Now -
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Consumer Reports" engineers have confirmed that iPhone 4 has an antenna problem, and it's right here.
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OLBERMANN: But they offer a solution - yes, our oldest friend.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello? Hello? What happened?
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Breaking news: Near sea floor near the Gulf of Mexico, ending the "it's getting worse" part of the Gulf oil disaster is potentially just hours away. Video images now showing BP putting into place, within the last hour, a 150,000 pound new cap on top of the broken well - testing to follow over the next six to 48 hours.
Day 84 - and our fifth story - if not yet the end in sight, possibly the beginning of the end in sight.
This as the Obama administration responds to a judicial repeal of its drilling moratorium with a new moratorium. But we begin with the new capping effort. The new cap painstakingly lowered throughout the day, as we mentioned - lowered the last 40 feet into place just a short time ago.
If all goes according to plan, phrases that have been repeated for the last 2 ½ months, it will be latched shut tonight with testing to follow, ending the surface collection efforts to determine whether the new cap can withstand the pressure. Keep your fingers crossed.
Surface collection itself suffering a setback this weekend, technical glitches delaying the vessel Helix Producer from full collection capacity for another day or so. The first relief well port was - relief well, rather, was at last report less than 200 feet from its target, aiming to hit the pipeline about the size of a dinner plate thousands of feet below the seabed. And then over weeks, potentially, pump in enough drilling fluid to cap this well permanently.
The White House today dispatched the first lady, Michelle Obama, to meet with officials in Panama City and remind people lots of beaches remain untouched in the area. To protect those beach, the interior secretary, Ken Salazar, this afternoon, unveiled a new moratorium on offshore drilling, arguing that it is needed to make sure the new wells are up to snuff without acknowledging that we don't know whether they're up to snuff because he failed to reform his department.
The new moratorium expiring November 30th affects all new offshore drilling, but also gives oil companies ways to win exemptions. The White House, according to the "London Daily Telegraph," also apparently having cleared the way for Exxon and Chevron to pursue possible start takeover bids of BP - a possibility BP is expected to pushback against hard in next week's quarterly update for investors.
This amid new allegations about BP's behavior. Louisiana secretary of children and family services, Kristy Nichols, revealing that BP starting July 1st has been cutting payments to people whose claims forms were incomplete - not telling them they were incomplete, not trying to complete them, just cutting their payments. More than 40,000 people possibly seeing reduced payments as a result.
A former BP contractor is now telling WDSU News that BP is not worried about cleaning up the spill, just about the bottom line. Claiming he was fired for having photographed dispersant operations. The dispersant sprayed into the Gulf both toxic and controversial, leading to an outburst on the first day of the hearings by the presidential commission on the spill.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, when you are - when you're injecting dispersants over time -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to ask you, please -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be an opportunity for public comment
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I can't sit here -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if would -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: - listen to all this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you would please to allow the admiral to complete his answer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the actual facts are, we know the dispersants on the column. They're not telling us BP is blocking LSU from doing any kind of research. Everybody has got to get upset about this and make the government work for us.
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OLBERMANN: On that note, let's turn to former oil industry executive, Bob Cavnar, who now writes about the industry for "The Huffington Post" and his own Web site, "The Daily Hurricane."
Bob, thanks for your time, again, tonight.
BOB CAVNAR, OIL INDUSTRY EXPERT: Happy to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How possible is it that we're actually about to see the last drop of oil leaking into the Gulf, from this spill, anyway?
CAVNAR: Well, I think we're a couple of days from the possibility of that. About an hour ago, they landed what they're calling the capping stack, which is basically a mini-blowout preventer on top of the old blowout preventer, and it looks like by the ROV feeds that we're looking at, that they're latching that on with one of the ROVs.
OLBERMANN: Anything that you've seen in watching this process that suggests it's going well, going poorly? Obviously, this could be a picture of something, somebody's boiler having fallen into their swimming for all the rest of us now.
CAVNAR: Yes. It's like doing heart surgery on the moon, I can tell you.
CAVNAR: It's gone remarkably well.
Once the Coast Guard took authority and forced BP to move forward, the process has gone pretty well. The only thing I was worried about was the second piece of drill pipe that they discovered stuck inside the blowout preventer - so they had to get this new spool, landing spool over those two. And that went really well on Saturday. They bolted those down yesterday and they landed the BOP stack just a little while ago. So, it's gone well.
OLBERMANN: If this stack is not used to funnel gas to the surface, but just caps the flow, does that mean we ultimately never get the hard number, the kind that BP cannot fight in court in terms of how much spill there actually was - obviously, the number that would determine fines and penalties?
CAVNAR: It's very possible, Keith, because if they do succeed in getting this shut in, they'll never open it again before they get it killed from the bottom with the relief well. But I have to tell you, I'm real concerned about this shut in integrity test they're going to plan in the morning, because of the down hole damage that we've talked about for the last several weeks, plus there are some components in that blowout preventer stack, the flex joint below this new assembly that doesn't rate the pressure I'm worried about it's going to take to shut it in.
OLBERMANN: You just described down hole problems. Let's go through
that again. That's the possibility of other breakage of the pipe under the
under the floor of the ocean and thus essentially providing it with new avenues to leak through.
CAVNAR: Right, exactly. That is - remember, on Memorial Day, we had the issue of shutting down the top kill in the middle of the procedure. And it shut down so quickly that there was a challenge, they thought, with down hole problem, where there was a casing failure or possible subsurface valve failure that caused them to shut it down.
So, that left the casing weak, where shutting the well in could cause it to blowout underground.
OLBERMANN: Since this has been the most productive thing we've seen done, I think the amateurs of us can see that it looks like it's going to well, to whatever degree that's of any value. Why didn't this stack cap exist on April 19th, sitting on a dock or in a rig somewhere, you know, just in case?
CAVNAR: Well, that's where I've just worn a flat spot in the middle of my forehead from banging my head on the desk, because this is one of the first things they talked about on the first week of the blowout, of doing a cap. All these components in this stack are all standard Cameroon components that could be built very quickly.
I don't understand why it took 2 ½ months to set this, and that's what's really concerned me about what BP's ultimate motivation has been here.
OLBERMANN: And that's a - is that a Transocean device? Somebody set what purports to be a screen cap that shows a Transocean logo on the side of the thing? Is that - in other words, is this - is this stuff that was sitting somewhere?
CAVNAR: It could very well be. Typically, Transocean and other large drilling contractors keep spares sitting around. And so, there's not a dearth of ram cavities around. There's plenty of those here, especially with this situation. Any drilling company would give up their blowout preventer to do something like this, to get this well shut in. So it wasn't a matter of a lack of equipment. I'm just very confused why it took 10 weeks to get it built.
OLBERMANN: Yes, me too. Bob Cavnar of Dailyhurricane.com and "Huffington Post" - - as always, Bob, thanks for the information.
CAVNAR: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: From stack caps to cutbacks, let's turn now to Mac McClelland, human rights reporter from "Mother Jones" magazine.
Good evening, Mac.
MAC MCCLELLAND, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Do you have any details or contacts in which to flesh out the story we mentioned earlier, the claims against BP that the Louisiana official says are getting cut now?
MCCLELLAND: Yes. So, basically what happened is the Department of Children and Family Services has independent auditors who are double-checking to make sure that BP's doing what they're supposed to be doing. It turns out they are not. They've had half as many checks going out as they have claims coming in at the end of June. And of those checks that actually are going out, 40,000 of those people are going to have the amounts that they're receiving drastically reduced, some by up to 80 percent.
OLBERMANN: Do we have any sense - do you have any sense of whether this includes medical claims? Are we now just talking about the money for pure interruption of business, or is it wider than that?
MCCLELLAND: Well, it covers anything that you would need to cover if you had a personal loss of income. So, this is money that these people need for medical bills, sure, also rents, their utilities, groceries to feed their families.
Catholic Charities down here has just been one of the many organizations that's been picking up BP's slack. And two weeks ago they were serving 14,000 people. Last week, they were serving 17,000 people. And they've asked BP for an additional $12 million for them and 30 other NGOs that are trying to feed these people and keep them on their feet - and that $12 million is only going to get them through the next three months.
OLBERMANN: They better make sure the paperwork is filled out completely.
MCCLELLAND: That's right.
OLBERMANN: Secretary Nichols also said that analysis of the payouts from BP revealed that the numbers of claims that BP paid spiked twice in this process, and each spike came after the state had put pressure on BP. I'm presuming that's just a coincidence.
MCCLELLAND: That's right. They just found their magnanimity at that time. They - part of the reason that the department is filing this letter is because they're hoping that it is going to get the same sort of results. They are going to go back to doing what they're supposed to be doing, even though they've never quite fully fulfilled those responsibilities, they're already starting to shirk them.
So, this is a way of sort of holding their feet to the fire, and the department talked to BP today, I talked to BP today. They said that they are writing a response letter and that it is coming very soon.
OLBERMANN: Another point that Secretary Nichols made, that seems to be, you know, a disaster within a disaster, that BP compensated the boat captains of the fish and oyster vessels, as if they were individuals rather than businesses and just individuals who don't have the traditional business expenses like - to pick a business expense at random, boats.
Is there any government oversight of this - of this decision making process? Is BP just - are they now judge and jury together?
MCCLELLAND: Well, that appears to be the problem, is that there isn't any government oversight. BP has been making these cutbacks in their checks since July 1st. That was 12 days ago. And the Department of Children and Family Services just happens to have these auditors checking on them.
I don't know where the government was on this, but apparently, nobody would have noticed. They just didn't tell anybody.
But as far as the personal expenses versus business expenses, you're right - these boat captains obviously own boats and they have giant payments to make on them, similar to a mortgage. You know, a lot of these boats are brand new since Katrina and Gustav, they had to be replaced. And their checks are going to be being cut down now to $1,000 a month, which is certainly not going to cover those payments on those boats, much less cover their rent and feeding their families.
OLBERMANN: And they just - the disasters come like waves of oil at the people of the Gulf.
Mac McClelland, the human rights reporter for "Mother Jones" magazine, joining us tonight from New Orleans - thank you again, Mac.
MCCLELLAND: It's my pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Democratic governors criticize the administration's decision to challenge Arizona's "papers please" law. The NAACP finally challenges the Tea Party over its racism.
Both stories - ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: This Democratic governor complaining about the Justice Department lawsuit against Arizona because suddenly immigration has gotten in the way of his message for the fall election about jobs.
This Republican senator says you must cut spending in one area if you increase it in another. But tax cuts for the rich? You don't have to cut spending in any area to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
The shocker from "Consumer Reports," they were wrong. The new iPhone does have an antenna problem, but they also say they have a way for you to fix yours - which is words you'll never hear from FOX noise, even after news today that their phony New Black Panther party story is just that - a phony.
Ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: If the Democrats could forcefully frame the immigration debate, maybe they would not be so frightened by the Justice Department lawsuit against a grossly misguided Arizona immigration law.
But instead in our fourth story: Democratic governors have expressed deep concern about that lawsuit, about its timing, and how the perception of it might affect all Democrats running for re-election in November.
Democratic governors shared their anxiety with White House officials in a private meeting this weekend, that according to "The New York Times."
Quoting Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, "Universally, the governors are saying we've got to talk about jobs and all of a sudden we've got immigration going on."
And from Governor Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, who chose not to run for re-election, quote, "I might have chosen both a different tack and a different time. This is an issue that divides us politically."
Governor Christine Gregoire, Democrat of Washington, focused on perception, quoting her "They - White House officials - described for me a list of things they are trying - going to do - or doing to try to help on that border, and I said, the public doesn't know that. We've got a message void and the only thing we're hearing is that they're filing a lawsuit."
The governors were in Boston for their annual conference and most Democrats publicly defended the Justice Department action, while Republicans were quick to defend Arizona's immigration law and to predict copy cats.
On that last point, the administration would seem to agree anytime Attorney General Eric Holder explained why the federal government's lawsuit against S.B. 1070 focused on federal preemption rather than the more contentious issue, the possible racial profiling and how that might in turn lead to a second lawsuit.
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ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We wanted to go out with what we thought was our strongest initial argument and to focus what we thought - on what we thought is the most serious problem with the law, as it now exists. It doesn't mean that if the law, for whatever reason, happened to go into effect that six months from now, a year from now, we might not look at what impact the law has had and whether or not - see whether or not there has been that racial profiling impact. And if that was the case, we would have the tools and we would bring suit on that basis.
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OLBERMANN: Let's bring in "Newsweek" magazine's senior Washington correspondent and political columnist and MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Do the Democrats think they can't simply appeal to any sane voter by, you know, simply articulating that this is a deeply flawed law in Arizona and has nothing to do with good immigration policy. In fact, has almost nothing to do with border security. They think that's not going to work?
FINEMAN: I don't think all Democrats think that. I spoke just a little while ago to Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, who is no wild-eyed radical, by any means. I think he's got one of the best political guts in the business, in either party.
And he said a lot of the other Democrats, frankly, are acting, and this is to quote Governor Rendell, "like scaredy-cats on this." In Pennsylvania, it's not really an issue. Republicans brought it up, trying to get it going and the Republican - in the legislature, it didn't get anywhere.
Governor Rendell's point is, it's unconstitutional, because it does preempt what is clearly in the Constitution about the federal role in terms of naturalization, which means immigration, and because it's too easy for it to lapse over into racial profiling. So, his view is that the - his fellow Democrats are being a little too timorous on this.
OLBERMANN: When they discuss timing and how this is going to preempt what they really want to talk about in the elections, are they - is this sort of whimsical, because this law is scheduled to take effect on the 29th of this month, unless there is some sort of preliminary injunction or local action. What - when did they want the Justice Department to file? Like, you know, next January?
FINEMAN: Yes, no. And I think the problem is, again, to talk about what Ed Rendell told me, he also said that the Democrats from this minute to election day need to be talking about jobs, jobs, jobs, and what they regard as the Republican idiocy in dealing with the economy, rhetorically. Things like, you know, "ant" (ph), Boehner, and Sharron Angle and so forth.
And that - so to that extent, the Democrats are united in believing that their main message should be something other than this for this fall. But the administration had no choice, they either could have filed it, you know, a month ago or now. They had - they really had no choice. And they had to challenge the law. There's no question.
OLBERMANN: Well, putting everything together, has anybody gone - to Governor Ritter and said, well, look, why don't the Democrats continue just to talk about jobs and what the efforts are being made to revive the economy and let the Republicans go with immigration and see which topic is even of interest to the most voters, let alone where that leads them to vote.
FINEMAN: Well, I think that's - I think that's a pretty good idea, and I think that's sort of what's going to happen. I do think there are going to be other states, other border states in the southwest or other red states, whether it's in the Deep South or the Great Plains or so on, where they're going to pass these things and they're going to pound the table and say, if you Democrats are not for this, it means that you're week on immigration and they're going to, you know, sort of make the national security claim there.
But if you look at any polls and you talk to voters in almost any state, the overwhelming concern is about the economy. It's about unemployment. It's about jobs.
It's about what the government can or cannot do. It's about what Wall Street did or did not do. It's about who in Washington really cares or does not about the economic livelihoods of the American people in the midst of what is still the great recession.
That's got to be the overwhelming concern and that's what Rendell told me that Democrats need to keep their eye on.
OLBERMANN: One intriguing final point here that Governor Gregoire made from Washington, that the administration simply hasn't explained all that it is doing on the issue of immigration. Is that true and are they going to?
FINEMAN: I think that is true and they better - they better. You know, one thing that's happened is, in the Bush days, the immigration policy featured a lot of sort of like Vin Diesel raids on places. You know, it was great video and it was very dramatic.
What Obama, in his methodical way, is doing is trying to do is spread the resources using computer technology, using all kinds of, you know, financial ways to get at this - actually being much more successful in rounding up illegals, in many ways. And that's a point that really has not been made by the administration itself.
I think Obama has a lot of room to maneuver on this politically, Keith, because even most Hispanics are in favor - Hispanic voters are in favor of tough enforcement of the border and in terms of rounding up illegal immigrants. They want it as part of a big reform package.
FINEMAN: And Obama has more room to maneuver on that than he realizes.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "Newsweek" and MSNBC - as always, Howard, great thanks. Have a good evening.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The remarkable fact that just disproved the big Black Panther conspiracy theory consuming FOX News that buffoon O'Reilly is talking about it as we speak - despite the startling revelation that the decision not to make a criminal case out of some election-time harassment was not made by the Obama administration - ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The NAACP calls out the Tea Party. One of its Astroturfers responds, I just don't see racism in the Tea Party Movement."
First, the sanity interruption, beginning with the Tweet of the Day from PaulainTulsaOK. The hash tag topic was "Movies to avoid" - "Beck to the future." Brings a new meaning to that famous quote, "My density."
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: Now on the road in West Deer, Pennsylvania, where in this case, the deer not the problem. Another black bear has wandered out of the woods, possibly in search of picnic baskets. Veteran "Oddball" viewers know their routine, police bring out the tranquilizer gun, shoot the bear, and they set something up underneath to catch the bear. The trampoline in a pinch, it broke his fall.
All right. Let's see how they pull it off in West Deer. They shot the bear and now they need to catch the bear as he falls. He will be all right. Yes, he's all right. Even if he wasn't, this is television and we would tell you he was OK anyway.
All right. Let's go to the next thing.
Now, some humans looking silly. Laguna Niguel, California, hello! And hello. These cheeky folks expressing their passion for our nation's railways with the 31st annual Mooning of Amtrak. Legend has it that the tushy tradition started as a bar bet growing from there and the words one fame Amtrak rider, it became a big F-ing deal.
Most witness just laugh the event off, though, it did frustrate some passengers when the train schedules got a little behind.
NAACP hits the Tea Party for its racism. The Astroturf backers of the Tea Party insists its nearly all-white membership is not racist, just, you know, merely all white.
OLBERMANN: For some time now, supporters of the Tea Party insisting it's nearly all-white membership is not racist, some of them just happen to carry racist signs; some of them just happen to yell racial epithets at black members of Congress; some of them just happen to sell t-shirts declaring, yep, I'm a racist. Our third story on the Countdown, as the nation's largest civil rights group vows to repudiate the racism of the Tea Party, one astroturfer, in turn, claims the Tea Party movement has a lot in common with the civil rights movement. No, in this country.
The NAACP holding its annual convention in Kansas City this week, and members will vote on a resolution condemning the, quote, racist, unquote elements of the Tea Party movement tomorrow. The resolution calling on all - quote, "all people of goodwill to repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties and stand in opposition to its drive to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era," charging that "Tea Party supporters have engaged in explicitly racist behavior, and displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally, and President Obama specifically."
The resolution also points to the incident involving African American Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver and John Lewis. Protesters hurling racial epithets at Mr. Lewis and spitting on Mr. Cleaver as they walked into the Capitol to vote on health care reform. It also cites polling data that finds 52 percent of Tea Party voters believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people.
But never mind all of that. Brendan Steinhauser of the Astroturf group Freedomworks claims, "I just don't see racism in the Tea Party much movement, and racism is something we're absolutely opposed to." He added, "the NAACP has more of a political agenda now, but I would hope that they would appreciate the fact that the Tea Party movement has a lot in common with the civil rights movement. I'm personally inspired by what the civil right movement did. And I want them to know that."
Joining me now, MSNBC contributor, columnist for "The Nation," and associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, Melissa Harris-Lacewell. Professor, good evening.
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: There are videos, photographs, documented incidents and polls. How would you answer Mr. Steinhauser and the others who claim to not see any racism in the Tea Parties?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I wouldn't quite go as far as you would, which is to assume or assert that simply because they're predominantly white or almost exclusively white institution or organization that that necessarily means they're racist. We want to leave room for the fact that there can be groups of people who are of the same race who are not necessarily racist.
But what I do want to suggest is that he may, in fact - Mr.
Steinhauser and others, might be honest when they say, we don't see racism. And what I mean by honest about that is that there is, in fact, a deep perceptual gulf - and I really mean not just attitude, but perception - between black and white Americans in the United States. It's one of the most durable findings of social psychology, of political science, of sociology, is that white and black Americans really do see the world vastly differently.
And again, not just attitudes like support for affirmative action or support for the Democratic or Republican party, but things like the fact that many white Americans misperceive the percentage of African-Americans that are in the country, will say things like, about 25 or 30 percent of the country is black, when, of course, we know that that is a massive over-representation. You know, it makes me think that sometimes maybe the reason that a white woman grabs her purse when a black man is walking towards her is because she really sees four of them instead of just one.
OLBERMANN: I was going to ask you about this sincerity of misperception. I've always wondered if we're dealing with the kind of mental euphemism that in previous - when there have been previous backlashes against advances in relations between races, they were still in a time when it was OK to come out and campaign on the "we've done enough for them" platform, which was essentially done in 1966 by the Republicans. They won a boat load of seats in the House running on those platforms after the Civil Rights Acts.
You can't say something like that anymore in almost any aspect of society. The fringes, obviously, but not anywhere in the mainstream. Is this inability to see racism and to need to provide a euphemism for it internal? They need to believe there's no racism, and therefore they don't see it?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Maybe, but it could also be simply that we've done a really bad job in this country talking about what racism is. So many may feel that if they don't use the "N" word or if they don't actively keep a black person from getting a job or spit on a black person when they see them, then they're not racist. And we haven't done a very good job of talking about the fact that if you regularly support public policy which will have a disparate impact, creating greater inequality for people of color, that that is racially biased.
And we haven't talked about, for example, privilege, or we haven't talked very well in the public about privilege. So that many white Americans feel like, well, I have a difficult circumstance; I'm losing my job; bad things are happening to me. So why should we be talking about race and racism? And we haven't talking about, for example, how white privilege operates in the context of even, you know, an economic downturn. So it could be, in part, just sort of our fault in terms of a collective incapacity to talk about what racism really is.
OLBERMANN: One quick question about the NAACP. The quote from one of the officials to the "Kansas City Star" was, "I think a lot of people are not taking the Tea Party movement seriously and we need to take it seriously. We need to realize it's really not about limited government."
No offense to the NAACP, but did anybody make that statement a year ago when all this ugliness began?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, you did.
OLBERMANN: I'm not the NAACP, unfortunately.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: You and I have talked about. It does feel a little late. It's kind of like saying, passing a resolution that the BP oil spill is bad for the environment. You know, most progressives already have picked this up. You know, I think that the response from most blogs and publications will be, duh.
But it does matter for the NAACP, 100 years after its founding, to take a moment to once again point out the ways that American racism, engaged in American politics, can have real effects for our lives as a country.
OLBERMANN: Melissa Harris-Lacewell of Princeton University, great thanks for taking some time out from your other more important work to be with us tonight.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Thanks. Always glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: Apple gets slapped around for antenna flaws in the new iPhone. Apple says, it's not the antenna, it's the signal strength indicator. "Consumer Reports" says, no, it's the antenna, but we could help you fix yours at home.
Would that there was a similar solution for Fox News. The new Black Panther party saga, seemingly like all sequels, bad acting, transparent fiction, and, we learn today, huge holes in the plot line.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the other right-wing nut job conspiracy lives on. Congressman Paul Brown and others insisting the Obama administration wanted the leak and it was an inside job. There's some oil on your tinfoil.
OLBERMANN: The major American city proposing a 300 dollar fine if you feed the homeless, next in Worsts.
First, no, this is not your water coming to a boil, it's our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It's Tea Time. If you've not noticed, they've been having one long continuous fake news gas, over there at Fox, drumming up paranoia among their more racist viewers, by covering 24/7 something they call the new Black Panthers case. The allegation being pushed like grease through the very willing Fox News viewing geese is that a couple of new Black Panthers threatened voters at a polling station in Philadelphia on election day, 2008. and that one of the guys was caught on video, and another time shouting inanities about killing, quote, cracker babies, but that voter intimidation charges were dropped by Attorney General Holder and President Obama, and, thus, they are about to murder all of us in our beds.
Got it? New Black Panthers intimidating voters, killing cracker babies, Obama didn't prosecute. There is, as it proves, one huge flaw in this latest Fox-driven conspiracy. The decision not to prosecute was not made by Obama, nor the Obama administration, nor the attorney general, Mr. Holder. It was made during the administration of President Bush George W.
Adam Serwer of "The American Prospect" found the smoking gun in the testimony last May of the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Thomas Perez was talking about this new Black Panthers nonsense to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in May and he said this, "After reviewing the matter, the Civil Rights Division determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes. The department did, however, file a civil action on January 7th, 2009, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief under 11b against four defendants." .
January 7th, nearly two weeks before Obama took office, nearly a month before Holder was confirmed, nearly three months before the Fox News main target in this, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, was confirmed. There's also a deputy assistant attorney general whom Fox claims ordered that no lawsuit against the black or other national minority ever be brought. Unfortunately for the conspiracy fantasy, she didn't even get to the Justice Department until the end of June, five months after criminal prosecution was dropped.
So here's the real story Fox and the other malefactors of mankind will not tell you, based not on rumor nor innuendo, but court and congressional records. New Black Panthers, intimidating voters, killing cracker babies, Bush didn't prosecute.
OLBERMANN: Did Apple lie about the antenna glitch on the new iPhone? "Customer Reports'" damming new consumer report and their solution for the problem. That's next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches. Time for tonight's Worst Persons in the world, brought to you by -
"American History for Real Dummies," official history book of Glenn Beck's "I have a scheme" speech. Read how Woodrow Wilson started the Civil War, what president Saul Alinsky did when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. "American History for Real Dummies" prepared by the faculty of the university of - the university of - I don't remember.
The bronze to Tea Party Senate Ken Buck of Colorado. The other day, when ex Congressman Tom Tancredo went all xenophobic at a Buck rally and said the greatest threat to liberty, quote, "is the guy who in the White House today," Buck stuck it to him. "I don't agree. I think there are a lot of threats in this country. I don't think that the man in the White House is the greatest threat to this country at all. I was surprised when Tom said that. I think Tom tends to exaggerate sometimes. I respect, frankly, President Obama. I disagree with him on a lot of his policies."
Guess what happened to Ken? The Tea Party called him a heathen and a
disbeliever and foretold he should boil in bipartisan respectful oil for
all eternity. Mr. Buck now, "the other day my good friend and supporter
Tom Tancredo said that the greatest threat to this country is the man who
occupied the White House, Barack Obama. And there's a lot of truth - a
lot of truth in what Tom Tancredo said"
You know what else is true? Ken "Pass the Buck" doesn't have a shred of moral force in him. He said something honest and admirable, and, pressed to defend it, he folded like a handkerchief.
Runner up, Chairman Mark Cernoff (ph) of the Miami Downtown Development Authority, which has approved and has now asked the Miami City Commission to approve a new ordinance. It would prohibit, with a fine of 300 dollars, unauthorized people and groups from giving food to the homeless. You heard me, you got a sandwich and you eat half and you want to give the other half to a homeless person, you can be fined. You want it throw it away while he watches, you're fine.
Now Mr. Cernoff assures us that this is meant for groups trying to feed many homeless people at once, except the proposal doesn't say that. You can take a course in feeding the homeless, which is designed to teach you how to make sure the food is safe to eat and how to clean up the, quote, mess afterward.
OK, here's a question: the Miami Downtown Development Authority, which apparently believes "Les Miserables" was some sort of instruction manual, can we feed them to the homeless?
But our winner, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona. I'm not really sure if Kyl is winner of the worst person award or he's just the winner of the dumbest person award. But perhaps stunned by an actual tough question from Chris Wallace of Fox, it was swing and a miss time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: How are you going to pay the 678 billion dollars just on the tax cuts for people over - making more than 200,000 dollars a year?
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Chris, you should never raise taxes in order to cut taxes. Surely, Congress has the authority and it would be right to - if we decide we want to cut taxes to spur the economy, not to have to raise taxes in order to offset those costs. You do need to offset the cost of increased spending, and that's What republicans object to. But you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Got that? If you increase spending in any way, you have to offset the loss of that money by making cutbacks somewhere else. But if you decrease income in any way, like by keeping the tax cuts for the rich people, you do not have to offset the loss of that money by making cutbacks somewhere else. Increased spending on government services, evil socialism. Increased spending on rich people's tax cuts, cookies and ice cream.
Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona is a fool, and today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: The same day the Apple iPhone-4 came out, a glaring design flaw was discovered. If you hold it like this, it doesn't work. It's been dubbed the death grip. Our number one story, Apple had been telling people they had been holding their phones wrong. "Consumer Reports" initially agreed, but today it was told - told consumers not to buy iPhone-4 until the death grip issue is fixed. But it does have a temporary solution, which we'll show you in a moment.
Meantime, a federal district court in California ruling that a class action lawsuit trying to end Apple and AT&T's death grip on iPhone customers may go forward. At issue, Apple's practice of locking iPhones so consumers can only use AT&T as their carrier. The lawsuit alleges that Apple and AT&T have a secret five-year exclusive provider deal, and that customers who bought an iPhone with a two year service contract were, in effect, locked in to five years with AT&T. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would keep Apple from locked iPhones in the United States.
As for the iPhone-4, after millions of units have already been sold, the nonprofit watchdog group "Consumer Reports" now officially not recommending the product. There is an antenna problem. It is demonstrated in countless Youtube videos, phone calls drop out when death grip applied. Apple said it found a software issue and would offer a free download to fix it about the bars. They also told their customers they were holding it wrong. "Avoid gripping iPhone-4 in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of the many available cases."
"Consumer Reports" today posting its findings, and they came up with a workaround.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Consumer Reports" engineers have confirmed that iPhone-4 has an antenna problem, and it's right here. We tested iPhone-4 in a signal-proof room that allows engineers to bombard a phone with the signals of a particular carrier to simulate a variety of real-life conditions. Our engineers found when you place your finger on the gap between the two antennas on the lower left-hand side of the iPhone-4, signal strength can drop by about 20 decibels, and that's enough to drop a call.
We tested multiple iPhones, as well as other phones from AT&T, and found that the problem is really only with the iPhone-4. Bottom line, we can't recommend the iPhone-4 until Apple fixes this design flaw. But until then, we have our own solution for dealing with with the problem. By using nonconductive tape, like duct tape, and covering the gap on the side of the iPhone, we were able to reduce the reception problems. However, it does spoil the look, don't you think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As I try to get the duct tape off my ear, where it stuck because my jury rigged kluging of the iPhone didn't work that well, let's talk to MG Siegler, writer for TechCrunch.com. Thanks for your time tonight.
MG SIEGLER, TECHCRUNCH.COM: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A portion of the blog that was the companion of that video from "Consumer Reports" reads, "our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone-4's signal strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software." Is this a polite way of saying Apple was deceiving its customers, even after this problem was discovered?
SIEGLER: Yeah, I mean, basically, that's exactly when they're saying. Apple is saying that a software fix that's forthcoming in the coming weeks will be able to fix this, but they're going directly against that and saying that it is, in fact, a hardware issue.
OLBERMANN: The "you're holding it wrong" explanation, it sounds like a bad Henny Youngman (ph) joke. Does it cost Apple anything in terms of credibility, if you buy what's supposed to be a mobile portable phone and you can't hold it a certain way?
SIEGLER: Yes, it's a little bit maybe of a mistake for Steve Jobs, of all people, to come out and start e-mailing people and saying that. I mean, certainly people have the way that they're going to hold their phone, and that's a pretty common way to hold it. So to say that you're holding it wrong is not the best argument.
OLBERMANN: There have already been lawsuits related to the iPhone for the dropout issue. Is Apple capable of resolving this quickly? What do they do, like give away free Apple-brand duct tape or something at the stores?
SIEGLER: Right. They've already had like internal memos that have leaked out to Apple store employees, saying, basically, don't give out the cases that are specifically made for it for free. You know, we're going to issue a statement about that and the statement was the software fix. But I can't see how, eventually, if this really is that big of an issue and people are complaining about it - I can't see how they can get away without giving away something. People can return them right now, but that's really not going to be enough for some people. They want to still use this phone, but they need a way they can use it without dropping calls.
OLBERMANN: The antitrust lawsuit for a second here. Is there any way that makes a difference ultimately in how Apple and AT&T and thus AT&T and the buyers of the iPhone-4 do business?
SIEGLER: Maybe a little bit. There's been a lot of pressure from many different groups and from many different writers, from different blogs and everything, to try and say that Apple and AT&T need to break this exclusivity agreement. The problem is that the iPhone really is still not as big of a player in the smart phone field as even Rimm is, you know, with the Blackberry. So it's going to be kind of hard to argue that, you know, well, they have such a huge lock-in because you have to use an iPhone with AT&T, you do have to use it, obviously, for the two-year agreement that you sign. But, of course, you can just, you know, not use an iPhone and go to a different carrier, if you want to.
OLBERMANN: Back to the tech quality of this thing. This is - phone calls are fairly importantly on what is ostensibly a phone with stuff on it. But other than - the quality of the phones and the dropout have been a problem with the iPhone since the first one came out. It's been inferior to most other cell phones and even, in many cases, blackberries being double used as phones. How is the thing being assessed otherwise, technically? Because I think I had all of them, and this is the first one where I really went wow to anything since the initial concept, which is the quality of the camera, which I just think is light years ahead of the previous ones. How is it being received technically on the whole?
SIEGLER: Yeah, that's one of the major problems about this. Everything else across the board is pretty great for this phone. Even with this "Consumer Reports" report, it's kind of interesting that this is their highest rated phone. That's what makes this such a big deal. They're basically saying, here's the best phone in our opinion, but don't buy it.
OLBERMANN: Now let's talk about the credibility of "Consumer Reports" for saying something like that and telling people - they sound like the Bush Homeland Security Department, wrap everything up in duct tape and plastic wrap.
SIEGLER: Right. Perfect. Yeah, exactly.
OLBERMANN: Does it take a notch out of the belt of "Consumer Reports," as well, to come out with an idea like that?
SIEGLER: Maybe they should go about rethinking how they actually do these reports, if the best one out there is one that just doesn't work for people.
OLBERMANN: Don't buy a phone, go to somebody's house and talk to them in person.
MG Siegler, writer from "Tech Crunch," great thanks for your time tonight.
SIEGLER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for July 12th. It is the 2,629th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, and 2,218th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 84th day of Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.
I'm Keith Olbermann in New York, good night and good luck. Now to discuss the conspiracy from the right that the Obama administration wants the oil leaking in the Gulf - remember the new slogan, you've got oil on your tinfoil - ladies and gentlemen, here, back from the wars or something, 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