'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Worst Persons
Guests: Howard Fineman, Staff Sgt. Todd Bowers, Howard Dean, Amanda Terkel, Ronnie
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
General David Petraeus urges a Florida church to reconsider. "Let's burn some Korans on 9/11 to show 'em how much better we are than they are."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY JONES, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER: We have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely - we are definitely praying about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: "Even the rumor that it might take place," Petraeus writes, "has sparked demonstrations, such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday."
The general on the ground in Afghanistan speaks. Why aren't the right wing politicians listening to him and echoing his concern? The silence of the Republicans.
Silver lining among registered voters, the generic House seat:
Republicans 47, Democrats 45. The task for the Dems: how to inspire registered voters to become likely voters.
Amid reports of a Rahm Emanuel run for mayor of Chicago, and a new chief of staff in the White House - the president steps it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I said the sky was blue, they'd say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no. They just think it's better to score political points before an election than to solve problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: "That was an error if I said that." The governor of Arizona finally admits there are not decapitated torsos dotting her state's landscape. But she can't be sure she said there were.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Oh, our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.
REPORTER: What about the headless bodies?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: "Worst": Why are Rupert Murdoch and Kim Jong-il in business together?
And the tragedy of HealthAmerica Insurance versus Kyler Van Nocker.
Kyler has lost his battle with cancer. He was 5.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
During the Iraq War, Republican politicians told Americans that dissent would encourage a tax on U.S. troops abroad, that images of American torture at Abu Ghraib would inflame anti-American sentiment - and the Democrats should heed the words of General David Petraeus.
Tonight, in our fifth story: General David Petraeus, now the coalition commander in Afghanistan, says that a planned Koran burning this Saturday will encourage attacks on U.S. troops abroad and that images of the Koran burning will inflame anti-American sentiment.
So, where are those Republican politicians now?
Petraeus' remarks followed a protest yesterday in Kabul. Afghan protesters chanting, "Death to America," to throwing rocks at passing U.S. military convoys until the leaders of the rally told them to stop doing so. Petraeus then gave an interview to "The Wall Street Journal" about the Koran burning and gave almost identical comments to other media as well.
To quote him, "It could endanger the troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan. It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community. Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult.
Images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan and around the world to inflame public opinion and incite violence. Such images could in fact be used as were the photos from Abu Ghraib and this would, again, put our troops and civilians in jeopardy and undermine our efforts to accomplish the critical mission here in Afghanistan."
The U.S. commander in charge of training did nothing to discourage the notion that the Pentagon is of one mind on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY: Their very actions will, in fact, jeopardize the safety of the young men and women who are serving in uniform over here and also undermine the very mission that we're trying to accomplish. And, again, we very much feel that this can jeopardize the safety of our men and women that are serving over here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Last night, Terry Jones, the mastermind behind this 21st century book burning, said the military concerns would not stop him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is it something that discourages you from doing this? Do you care?
JONES: I don't believe it's something that's going to stop us. I mean, of course, we care. It would be tragical if because of this one person - one person died. But at the same time, we do not feel responsible for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tragical he said.
This morning, Jones said he would not listen to the generals and stop the September 11th book burning, but he might listen to his God.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: We are actually very, very concerned, of course. And we are taking the general's words very serious. We are continuing to pray about the action on September the 11th. We are indeed very concerned about it. It's just that we don't know - I mean, how long do we back down? When do we stop backing down?
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: So, you're saying you might well not go through with this? You're saying that you're praying about it, you may not burn the Koran on September 11th?
JONES: I'm saying that we are definitely praying about it. We have -
we have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely
we are definitely praying about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: There are currently 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This is the bloodiest year of that war. The current strategy is counterinsurgency - winning hearts and minds.
And so, today, Countdown asked several Republican politicians if they now, as they have in the past, urged Americans to listen to General Petraeus and support what he needs to win the hearts and minds of an Islamic country.
Senate candidate Marco Rubio in whose state the book burning is planned, recently lost his father and has not replied to media inquiries at the moment.
A spokesperson for President George W. "Listen to the generals" Bush replied with a "no comment."
And among other Republicans who claim to support the troops, total silence today. From Sarah Palin, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, House Leader John Boehner, House Whip Eric Cantor, Senator John McCain, et al.
With us tonight for some comment, Todd Bowers, the deputy executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and staff sergeant in the Marines who has served in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq.
Great thanks for your service and your time tonight, sir.
STAFF SGT. TODD BOWERS (USMC), AFGHANISTAN VETERAN: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Very unusual, the general is sounding out on the topic of domestic news. Why do you think he did it?
BOWERS: I'll tell you why he did it, because this is going to have an impact to the men and women on the ground in Afghanistan. Making comments from a general, like General Petraeus, about something like this, highlights to everybody that this is extremely urgent. We have got to deal with this and make sure that the men and women on the ground are ultimately safe.
It's not necessarily a political issue. It is just an issue that all Americans need to embrace, that we are putting them in danger by allowing actions like this to happen. And I hope that the reverend recognizes that.
OLBERMANN: This is in your opinion a very practical issue. This is not, we shouldn't be covering this because it's giving attention to somebody who's off sort of on the deep end and who is trying to get publicity for his own cause or somehow trying to bash - backlash against people he sees as an enemy. This is a practical thing with which you have essentially practical experience of your own first hand?
BOWERS: Yes. Last year, less than a year ago, I was in Afghanistan where the Taliban and insurgents in Afghanistan used this same sort of tactic, burning of Korans, defacing of mosques, and pitting it against American soldiers to put them in danger.
OLBERMANN: Blaming you and the people with which you served -
OLBERMANN: - for burning Korans. And then what would happen?
BOWERS: Yes, sir. Then we would have a backlash. All of the work to get to know the local nationals, the leadership, would, all of a sudden, be completely trumped because we were dealing with this propaganda campaign that the Taliban and insurgents had used against us. It was intolerable. It was awful - because the morale just plummets for the men and women on the ground when they work so hard at something and then it all goes away in a flash.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's stipulate: ugly as it may be, that the same kind of religious freedoms that say to us, that the entitle - the backers of Park 51 project in New York, they entitled to build that Islamic center two grounds - two blocks from Ground Zero, that gives Mr. Jones the right to burn those Korans.
But practically speaking, given your experience on the issue of burning Korans and having Americans blamed for it, how do you go about winning the hearts and minds of Afghan people or other Muslim nations who agree with the U.S. government in this case, that this is a bad idea, but who disagree with the American right to do it anyway?
BOWERS: I think the biggest piece to highlight is that this is a very small few of Americans that are taking part in this tactic. And most importantly, when I served over there, I served with many American Muslims in uniform, fully decorated individuals, who are proud of their service, proud of the work they do over there, and they are the ones that are ultimately being highly insulted by this happening. It's absolutely awful.
OLBERMANN: What do the troops, all of the Muslim-American troops and others, want to hear from their positions on the ground in Afghanistan, from U.S. politicians in general, in response to General Petraeus' remarks?
BOWERS: I hope that they will support General Petraeus' remarks and basically say, look, this is not America. This sort of sentiment - these freedoms that we're given, we all have a moral responsibility to ensure that whatever we're doing, we're supporting the men and women in uniform on the ground. So, with these freedoms, we are responsible, we are mature, and we make wise decisions by the way we use these freedoms.
OLBERMANN: What if the silence from Palin and McConnell and Boehner and former President Bush and the others, what if that's honest? In other words, what if the protesters in Kabul are actually right about this, that America really is becoming more and more anti-Islamic and this is another instance of this?
BOWERS: I think a big piece of this is that this isn't a political issue, that it's not left or right. It's not a donkey. It's not an elephant. It's about the men and women on the ground and ensuring their safety.
And those here on U.S. soil need to understand their actions will have impacts to those men and women on the ground, and ultimately their families. There's a lot of representation here in the United States of America that has a family member, a loved one over there, that is going to be put in danger because of these actions. So, it comes down to a moral responsibility as a nation as a whole.
OLBERMANN: Staff Sergeant Todd Bowers, deputy executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America - again, thank you for your service, and again, thank you for coming in. A unique perspective and I think we've learned a lot from it. Thank you.
BOWERS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: For the politics of this, let's turn now to former Democratic chairman, Vermont governor, and presidential candidate, Howard Dean. Now, of course, a CNBC contributor and consultant both to Democracy for America and McKenna, Long, & Aldridge.
Governor, good evening.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: And the guy with the longest introduction on television.
OLBERMANN: Yes, ever.
DEAN: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: General Petraeus wants this Pastor Jones to cancel the Koran burning. Why aren't people like Sarah Palin and John Boehner and McConnell and company helping to cut to the nut of this - General Petraeus protect our men and women in uniform?
DEAN: Unfortunately, I think the Republican Party has become the party, this really started back with Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, that appeals to hatred. And I don't think the majority of Republicans are haters, but there is a significant hate wing of the Republican Party, including the talk show hosts like Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh and people like that, and they don't dare cross them.
For a long time, we've thought that FOX worked for the Republican Party. Now, we know that FOX really runs the Republican Party.
OLBERMANN: If they don't really believe in that mantra of five, six years ago, "Listen to the generals," what is it that really guides them? And I guess I'm speaking more of the politicians than the announcers.
DEAN: I just think it's politics, pure and simple. Look, I hope that the pastor will think about what being a Christian is about and, I - you know, you don't fight hate with hate. That's not what Jesus was talking about.
So, as he's praying on this, I hope he'll think about the people in Afghanistan who are going to suffer, our people in Afghanistan, who are going to suffer if he does this. There is no need for this.
And it doesn't get you anything. It doesn't make things better. It doesn't reconcile.
And I think the gentleman, the service member, you just had on who talked about American Muslims in uniform fighting for our country, people ought to keep a mind out for that. My guess is - you know, I don't know what the pastor's military record is, but, you know, if he doesn't have one, he really ought to think twice about doing this. I don't think he ought to do it anyway but certainly he ought to think about what he is doing to our people.
OLBERMANN: Well, I think we could probably debate whether that next thought would be the second or the first that he's had on this. But let me get back to the political strategy here. If this book burning goes ahead, and Palin and Boehner and McConnell and everybody else stayed silent on it, do they not own the consequences - particularly the consequences on the ground in Afghanistan that we just heard Staff Sergeant Bowers enumerate?
DEAN: Yes. And I have to say, I just - one of the rare times, I'll stand up for George W. Bush. George W. Bush really did do a lot when he was president, most of which I disagreed with, but one of the things he did do was stand up and make it clear that American Muslims were not to be condemned because of the acts of the extremists in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And he does need to say something about this. I think it would be very helpful. And he is - he is the kind of person I know believes that.
I think these other people are mostly politicians. They're out for their own interests. But I think that the president was clear about that, to his credit, and I think he ought to stand up and say something about it now. I think it would be very helpful.
OLBERMANN: It wouldn't take much either. It's not like one of these people, the former president included, would have to come out and condemn an entire political party or cause or even - even the broad sense of we need to be suspicious or whatever angle they're going for. But just to come out and say this is a bad idea that could lead to the - to the harm, potentially the deaths of American troops, would be enough, a small message in this case, correct? I mean, politically, this isn't a big risk to speak out against something like this.
DEAN: No, actually I think - I think it would be refreshing.
DEAN: I think Americans are sick of the division and the hatred. I don't think, you know, there's not much of a "left" left in this country anymore, but certainly in the 1960s and 1970s, they were doing things that were very unhelpful, blowing up buildings and stuff like that. People got killed in some of them.
You know, you need to condemn extremism wherever it exists. Right now, the extremism is something that is driving the Republican Party and that's not the Republican Party my father grew up in. It doesn't have to be the Republican Party. It's only the Republican Party because Republican leadership stays silent.
OLBERMANN: You know, Staff Sergeant Bowers said something we didn't
get to talk to and I'd love your reaction to it, which was that in the
field, when he would be asked by the people in Afghanistan after his second
his trip and the second offensive on Fallujah after there had been American contractors dragged through the streets, whenever they would find even dead insurgents, they would make sure they were handled with the correct Muslim rituals and rites observing the religious practices, and many of the local people said, why are you doing this when these are the same people who defiled American bodies? And the answer was, because we're not going to stoop down to that level. And that was his -
DEAN: And that's very important.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Go ahead.
DEAN: It's very important. A great country doesn't stoop to the level of the extremists in Afghanistan. We are a great country. We have to remember that.
It's natural - it's a natural human reaction to hate and want revenge on the people that are attacking our troops and so forth and so on, the people who killed 3,000 Americans at the World Trade Center. That's a natural reaction.
But the fact of the matter is, great countries don't do that. The reason we're a great country is we don't stoop to the level of extremists and radicals.
OLBERMANN: Dr. Howard Dean, former chair of the DNC - as always, Governor, great thanks.
OLBERMANN: Does a new mayor of Chicago mean a new White House chief of staff? And when there is polling showing Republicans and Democrats in a flat-footed tie in the generic congressional races, how come you're not hearing about it on TV? Well, you will - next.
OLBERMANN: The polls about the midterms you are not hearing about, the ones that have the generic House seat in a virtual tie amid reports of him out the door as the White House chief of staff.
"No," she says, "there are not decapitated torsos in the Arizona desert after all." But now, she's not sure she ever said there were. How about headless bodies in clueless governor's chairs?
These are the unlikely business partners who bring you the cell phone bowling game based on the movie, "The Big Lebowski."
And a 5-year-old boy whose family had to fight an insurance giant just to get him a chance to beat his cancer has now lost his battle.
Kyler Van Nocker and HealthAmerica Insurance - ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: With the midterm elections now just 56 days away, there is no policy without politics.
So, in our fourth story: President Obama tries to reclaim the offensive on both.
And while the ugly poll numbers for Democrats keep coming, those very same polls tell a second story. If the Democratic Party could manage to turn out its own base, it would probably survive the midterms nearly intact. The same does not appear to be true, however, for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
President Obama unveiling two new initiatives to boost the sluggish recovery, the first $50 billion for transportation infrastructure, roads, railroads and airport runways. The six-year plan would be paid for by raising taxes on oil and gas companies. And tomorrow, the president will propose new tax breaks for businesses.
Republicans reacted to the spending proposal, true to form, from House Minority Leader John of Orange, "The White House has chose tone double-down on more of the same failed stimulus spending." The man who would be speaker is expected to unveil his own party's plan for governing in the coming weeks.
While the man who might have been president, Senator McCain, said that the Obama administration was flailing around on the economy and that the top priority should be to extend Bush era tax cuts for everyone, including the wealthiest 2 percent of the population.
Back then to President Obama and how he would like to frame the choice for November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have tried what they're peddling. We did it for 10 years. We ended up with the worst economy since the 1930s and record deficits to boot.
They're betting that between now and November, you're going to come down with amnesia. They figure you're going to forget what their agenda did to this country. They think you'll just believe that they've changed.
And then they got the nerve to ask for the keys back. I don't want to give them the keys back. They don't know how to drive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: On one point sadly, the president may be giving the American public too much credit. In the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll - when asked if Republicans win control of Congress in November, only 35 percent of respondents thought the GOP would return to the economic policies of George W. Bush, 58 percent believe that Republicans will have different ideas.
Look for Democrats who work on that mindset over the next two months.
The Democrats' other task: get Democrats to vote, since among all registered voters, party preference is dead even, 43 to 43.
Another poll Republicans have a 47-45 edge. But Republicans continue to register big leads among likely voters.
Meantime the question rises: did a major force in the Obama administration today get the opportunity he's been waiting for, the one that would lead him to step down as the president's chief of staff?
So far, Rahm Emanuel is not really saying but this much is certain. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago today announced he will not seek re-election, saying it is time to move on. That's the second piece of a puzzle, the first back in April, Mr. Emanuel expressed an interest in running for mayor of Chicago if Mayor Daley did not. But today, the president's chief of staff simply expressed surprise at Mayor Daley's decision and in the same statement, he praised the mayor for his leadership.
Let's put this all together with "Newsweek" magazine's senior Washington correspondent and political columnist, and MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.
Good evening, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Start at the end there. Rahm Emanuel out? Out after midterms, before the midterms? Anybody in mind to replace him?
FINEMAN: Well, a few questions there.
FINEMAN: First of all, before or after the midterms - I was trying very hard right up to air time to get an answer to that. And Rahm Emanuel and his people are lying low at least for tonight. That's the big question.
I don't think there is any doubt that Rahm Emanuel is going to run for mayor of Chicago. He said it on television and he said it to any number of people back in Chicago who I know and I talked two months ago when I was out there and they said, you know, we're ready to start fundraising for Rahm the minute he gives us the word. He's got to collect signatures at some point - easy thing for him to do. The deadline isn't until November 22nd. So, he could either wait until after the November election, or do it before hand, and I honestly don't know which he is going to do.
OLBERMANN: Well, does his - does he have any impact on the midterms?
If he left before hand, would it make any difference on the midterms?
FINEMAN: Well, I think from - I think from the president's point of view, it's - this is an unfortunate thing for him that's going to totally blot out the story about whatever he's going to say in Chicago - Cleveland tomorrow, for example, it's all going to be about Rahm and kind of shuffles around the chief of staff's office and who's going to be running what.
I think if Rahm leaves now, it will play right into the Republican story line about the need to - remember the Republicans are saying the president needs to change his economic advisers. They're going to jump on this and say, well, if Rahm is leaving, look, Rahm is gone. We should get rid of everybody else, etcetera, etcetera.
Is there a temporary chief of staff, a new permanent chief of staff? There are some names that automatically come to mind, as I've been calling around this afternoon - Ron Klain, who is the chief of staff to Joe Biden and who's very highly regarded.
Some people would like to see Tom Daschle's name be brought back into this because it's likely that the White House is going to have to be dealing with a more Republican Congress. Regardless, they might need somebody with a lot of Hill experience. If Rahm leaves, Daschle would be somebody who could do that.
OLBERMANN: All right, turning to the poll numbers. There has rarely
been such agreement by the pundit-ocracy since - I can't even say it
because I hate the term so much - since those guys - since Truman-Dewey -
OLBERMANN: - a GOP sweep in November. But the registered numbers versus the likely numbers depict another world. Are we - I know that likely means what it says - likely - but are we supposed to be ignoring the registered numbers or is everybody just doing that because it makes a better story line?
FINEMAN: Well, it's a better story line until it's not. In other words, it's a - it's a story line now about the free fall of the White House. At some point, if Obama is lucky, that story line will turn around.
Some people might argue technically that you don't go to likely voters yet. That it's still, you know, too early to focus only on likely voters since it's, you know, almost two months until Election Day. However, there's no doubt, Keith, that at the Republican grassroots - and you know this if you go out and talk to people around the country - the Republicans are fired up, they're eager to vote no, they're eager to cast a protest vote against Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress.
The Democratic base, the Democratic Party base, the liberal base, was not excited in the end about the health care bill. They're not excited about Afghanistan. They're not excited about a lot of the president's economic policies.
You know, Peter Orszag, who was the budget director under Barack Obama, had an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" in which he called for the extension of all of the Bush tax cuts, including the top rate. While his former boss is saying, we got to get rid of Republican policies, the guy who ran the budget office for Obama is saying just the opposite.
So, there's confusion and frustration at the Democratic grassroots, and that's why you see the numbers as they are.
OLBERMANN: Has the president, with these proposals this week, even begun to get his argument - this entire argument back on his turf?
FINEMAN: No. The Democrats are scared. They've got "the deer in the headlights" look about them. I asked them, some of them today, what about this infrastructure spending thing? One of them said to me, "I'm scared. The Republicans are going to paint it as son of stimulus." And he would only say he would support it if it was twinned up with more tax cuts.
So, the only way this was going to be palatable to this Democrat was if it had more tax cuts in it. That just shows you how much on the defensive Democrats are at this point.
OLBERMANN: "Newsweek's" Howard Fineman with another list of reasons we need a third party in this country - great thanks, Howard.
FINEMAN: OK, Keith. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And, Howard, as you know, if you can keep your head while all around you in the Arizona desert are losing theirs and blaming it on you, you could become governor of that state tomorrow. Jan Brewer admits, no the sands are not covered with headless bodies, but now, she isn't sure she really did say they were.
OLBERMANN: Best in a moment, and Governor Brewer of Arizona admits she was wrong about the headless body and limitless desert thing, but she isn't sure she ever really said it, except she, you know, did.
First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day from Jeff Berkovisi (ph) of DailyFinance.com; "Parker/Spitzer, that is what CNN is calling its new show? That's the best they could come up with?"
I don't know. Sounds like a description of his last week as governor to me. Parker/Spitzer? I don't even know her.
Let's play Oddball.
It's Jackie's first day back from maternity leave. We begin in Buckinghamshire, in England, with a different take on fast food. Meet Perry Watkins. That's not him sitting at the table. That's him. He decided that a stationary table was too easy to eat off of, so he added nitrous oxide to his, bringing his top speed up from zero to 130 miles an hour. So with this new table and Perry's master of microwave cooking, the Watkins dinner will never be late again.
To the Ukraine and a three day Medieval festival. We're knights of the round table. We dance whenever we're able. We do routines and chorus scenes with foot work and a cable. We dine well here in Camelot. We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.
None of the weapons were sharp, so rather than impaling, the warriors just clubbed each other over the head. Run away. No one seriously hurt, though now we have a new understanding of going Medieval on someone.
Orlando, Florida, hello. No, the bomb squad is not just horsing around. A suspicious stuffed horse was seen across the street from an elementary school. Rather than take a chance - some of those 4th of July videos - they decided to blow it up. They blowed it up real good. Blow it up real good!
And boom goes the dynamite. Except for that one hoof that seems to be left there inside the little circle. Everything else is vaporized. I think we can agree that the bar for show jumping has now been raised significantly.
A suspicious stuffed horse? You mean the governor of Arizona? Now she says, no, there aren't a bunch of dead headless corpses in the Arizona desert. But also no, now, she is not sure that she ever said that there were. Next.
OLBERMANN: Clueless governor amends a statement on headless bodies. Jan Brewer of Arizona admitting the state's deserts are not littered with decapitated torsos. And in our third story, now she has a new bizarre assertion. She won't admit that she made the headless claim in the first place.
Brewer first making the allegation on Fox News in June, repeating it two weeks later with a local reporter, claiming Arizona needed SB1070 to prevent the beheadings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which beheadings in Arizona were you referring to.
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Oh, our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Since state medical examiners and law enforcement had no
records of any such thing, Brewer was then challenged on the claim by her
Democratic opponent in last week's gubernatorial train wreck - I'm sorry -
debate. With a follow-up from the Arizona press corps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the headless bodies?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you answer the question, governor?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Brewer now telling the Associated Press that whole headless body claim, "that was an error, if I said that. I misspoke. But, you know, let me be clear. I am concerned about the border region because it continues to be reported in Mexico that there's a lot of violence going on and we don't want that going into Arizona."
Meanwhile, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada has been repeatedly asked about some of her more extreme claims. She refuses to disavow any of them. Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle saying she will be a, quote, main stream senator, despite previously advocating for armed insurrection suggesting Second Amendment remedies be used to, quote, "take Harry Reid out."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was all that about?
SHARRON ANGLE, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN ARIZONA: Those are not the issues that people are really concerned about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Angle, who agreed with a right wing radio host claiming that there are, quote, domestic enemies in Congress, is not backing down from that position either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we have enemies of the country in the halls of Congress?
ANGLE: Well, certainly people who pass these kinds of policies, Obama-care, cap and trade, stimulus, bailout, they are certainly not friends to the free market system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what are they?
ANGLE: They're not friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, White House adviser David Axelrod telling the "Huffington Post" that voters should be wary of Angle and the Tea Party agenda. "I saw that. Joe Miller, the Alaska Senate candidate, said that he would abolish Social Security if he had the chance. He is not alone. This is akin to what Sharron Angle has said in Nevada, and also a number of these other Republicans. So this could go one step beyond the policies of the Bush administration to something more extreme than we have seen."
Yes, well, no kidding. Time now to call in senior political reporter for the "Huffington Post," Amanda Terkel. Amanda, good evening.
AMANDA TERKEL, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Hi. Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: What Mr. Axelrod said is all well and good, but why isn't the White House doing more to drive home the message? How could they do that, if they finally decide to get around to doing it?
TERKEL: The White House is in governing mode, so it doesn't want to alienate conservatives. But I think now what we're seeing the White House doing is saying, look, you may be more conservative than us, but these candidates like Sharron Angle don't really represent your conservative values. Calling for abolishing the Department of Education or cutting back on Social Security, these aren't conservative proposals. These are very radical and the White House is trying to say, look, if you put these people into office, this is what's going to happen.
OLBERMANN: To Ms. Angle in particular, if she were a Democrat making those kinds of claims, wouldn't the GOP be demanding that statements like that be retracted? Why hasn't anybody sort of picked up the ball and run with that? And not just on the Harry Reid versus Angle, but on the bigger picture, the national picture?
TERKEL: We have to remember that Sharron Angle and people like Joe Miller, these aren't the candidates the GOP wanted representing them in these races. These were Tea Party backed candidates. They happened to beat the establishment backed candidate. So now they're stuck with them. But they're holding them at arm's length. And when they say something more extreme that they don't agree with, they're just sort of looking the other way and hoping that no one notices it.
So I think that is what the GOP is trying to do. But we have to remember that we already have a lawmaker in Congress, Michele Bachmann from Minnesota; she actually said in 2008 that some members of Congress are anti-American and she called for McCarthy-ite investigations into them. So we already have this in Washington.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, she said so on this very network, in fact. As to Governor Brewer and this bizarre continuing saga of the headless bodies out there in the desert, admitting that she misspoke, which is technically not what she did - misspeak is calling somebody Jan when their name is John or something like that. It is not inventing a story about dead bodies with no heads on them in the Arizona desert. But just acknowledging that it's not true seems to put a hole in one of the arguments for SB-1070.
How does SB-1070 survive? I mean, is the next story going to be there are pterodactyls crossing the Arizona/Mexico border and running off with Buicks in their teeth?
TERKEL: That would certainly be a fun headline, but Governor Brewer has said that the majority of undocumented immigrants coming to the United States are bringing drugs. That's not true. Most are coming here to work.
So, you know, she says this law is so necessary in Arizona, but if it's so necessary, why do you have to make up these extreme reasons for the law? I mean, this reminds me of the Iraq war, where the Bush administration said it was a war of necessity, but then they lied and said there were weapons of mass destruction there.
OLBERMANN: Is there any coherent Democratic strategy toward dealing with the off-the-wall gang on some sort of national basis? I mean, engage them as if they were not bizarre or, you know, keep them talking until they reveal something? You might call it the Aqua Buddha strategy?
TERKEL: I think what you said - the second point is what they're trying to do. They're trying to keep them talking. We see a lot of Democratic campaigns beefing up their tracking staff. They are sending staffers with cameras to get on camera every single thing these candidates say, and then will try to use it against them. I think many of these Tea Party candidates are realizing that their off-the-cuff remarks are a liability, which is why we had Jan Brewer, who had that disastrous debate the other day, saying I'm not doing any more debates now.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Senior political reporter for the "Huffington Post" Amanda Terkel, great thanks.
TERKEL: Thank you. >
OLBERMANN: In the end, the insurance company won. Kyler Van Nocker got the experimental drug he needed, but Health America did not pay for it. Kyler has died.
When you are selling fake Lady Gaga concert tickets, there is one thing you should never, ever, ever tell the victims of the scam. In worsts, meet the woman who did not know what that was.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she'll look at why in this primary season Republicans seem to have nothing but hate for other Republicans.
OLBERMANN: There is breaking news tonight; the chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, the imam of the Farah Mosque in lower Manhattan who is involved in the Park51 project, has written an op-ed that will appear in tomorrow's editions of the "New York Times," in which he says the project will continue. Faisal Abdul Rauf had been out of the country on an assignment from the U.S. government and is writing appearing at the "New York Times", concludes, "from those who recognize our rights from grass roots organizers to heads of state, I sense a global desire to build on this positive momentum and to be part of a global movement to heal relations and bring peace. This is an opportunity we must grasp. I therefore call upon Americans to rise to this challenge, let us commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 by pausing to reflect and meditate and tone down the vitriol and rhetoric that serves only to strengthen the radicals and weaken our friends' belief in our values. The very word Islam comes from the word cognate to shalom, which means peace in Hebrew."
He concludes, "how better to commemorate 9/11 than to urge our fellow Muslims, fellow Christians, and fellow Jews to follow the fundamental common impulse of our faith traditions." Faisal Abdul Rauf with a commentary, an op-ed in tomorrow's "New York Times" that is now up on their website.
The Republican committee in charge of trying to elect senators attacks this Democrat incumbent for not really being a part of the Evergreen State, which is interesting because he doesn't represent the Evergreen State.
And though he was only five, he was one of the heroes in the battle for health care reform. His family had to fight the insurance company just to get him a chance at another day. How his courageous days are now at an end. His story ahead.
OLBERMANN: A little more on the op-ed in tomorrow's "New York Times" by Faisal Abdul Rauf about the Park51 Center in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero. One headline that is included about midway through the piece, that probably isn't getting the attention it deserves. "I know," he writes, "there will be interest in our financing. And so we will clearly identify all of our financial backers."
This was a particular bone of contention in New York City. The prospect of funding from the Middle East was said to be a reason not to approve the building of the Park51 project, which, again, Faisal Abdul Rauf says, in a commentary in tomorrow's "New York Times," will go on as planned.
The sad conclusion of the insurance industry's inhumanity toward the late Kyler Van Nocker is next. First, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Debra Louise Brass, arrested in Hermosa Beach, California, on a charge that using Craigslist she sold fake Lady Gaga concert tickets to more than 80 people. Police had no trouble finding the 27 year old alleged scam artist because the instructions that the master criminal gave all the people she sold the nonexistent tickets to was to come pick them up at her house.
The runner-up, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the official Senate campaign arm of the GOP. It decided to attack an ad from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, in which people around him are shown reading the "Washington Post," while he is shown reading newspapers from Oregon. The NRSC is not impressed. In fact, they poo-pooed the premise. Here is their poo-poo: "despite his claim that he is like Oregon, it's clear from Ron Wyden's record that he has simply lost touch with his constituents during his 14 years in Washington. Senator Wyden is a career politician who has championed a reckless economic agenda, has driven our national debt to a staggering $13 trillion - failed to create jobs as the Evergreen State's unemployment has skyrocketed 10.6 percent. Like the rest of his out of touch rhetoric, Senator Wyden's new ad simply doesn't match reality."
Oregon is the Beaver State. Washington is the Evergreen State.
Talking about your out of touch rhetoric not matching reality.
But our co-winners Kim Jong-il and Rupert Murdoch. That's right, the dictators of North Korea and News Corps respectively. Turns out they're in bed together financially. Murdoch's published a mobile phone bowling game based on "The Big Lebowski," and another game based on "Men in Black." Bloomberg News reporting that each game was developed by North Korean computer programmers and sold to News Corp via Nasotech (ph) joint venture company.
Just remember, in some tiny way, Rupert Murdoch is helping Kim Jong-il build nuclear weapons in North Korea. Say nothing of training potential North Korean cyber warfare specialists. Kim Jong-il and his buddy Murdoch-il, today's worst persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: By Paul Van Nocker's count, his health care provider, Health America, spent between 1.6 and 1.8 million dollars trying to treat his son's deadly form of cancer. But in November of last year, Health America apparently decided that was as far as it would go. That's when the company refused to pay for treatments that would extend five-year-old Kyler Van Nocker's life.
In our number one story, Coventry Health Care, the parent company of Health America, posted earnings of 97 million dollars last quarter, better than analysts' expectations. On Sunday, the young patient whose cancer treatment it refused to pay for died in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
In June of 2007, Kyler Van Nocker, age two, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, cancer. He spent the next two years fighting for his life, two times requiring treatment from drugs that had not yet been approved by the FDA. each treatment paid for by his insurance.
In October of last year, Kyler's cancer, which had been in remission, returned. His doctor at Children's hospital determined a third drug, also not approved by the FDA, was needed. This time, Health America refused to pay. It called that drug experimental and cited the lack of FDA approval, even though that drug was considered standard care in Europe.
Still, doctors went forward with the treatment. And for a time, the five-year-old got better. Bankrupt, with no way to pay the bill, the boy's parents filed a lawsuit against Health America in February, hoping they could shame the insurance company into paying for their son's life saving treatment.
That's when Kyler's father Paul appeared on this news hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL VAN NOCKER, SON DIED OF CANCER: This is not about access to health coverage. I work hard. I have health coverage. Kyler actually has two health insurances covering him. This is about insurance companies making decisions instead of the doctors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Van Nockers turned to Medicaid of New Jersey to pay for part of their son's latest treatment. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia forgave the rest of the cost. The lawsuit was dropped and Health America was off the hook.
This Sunday, surrounded by his family three months before his sixth birthday, Kyler Van Nocker succumbed to complications of the cancer he had fought so bravely for three years.
Let's turn to Ronnie Polaneczky, the columnist for "the Philadelphia Daily News" who first brought the story to light, who has chronicled this family's plight over three years. Ronnie, thanks for your time tonight.
RONNIE POLANECZKY, "PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS": Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: You have spoken to Kyler's parents since this happened.
How are they doing?
POLANECZKY: Well, I think as any parents who have children who are sick as Kyler was - he had many setbacks along the way, and he would always rebound. You know, he always, always came back. And each time he got really sick, his parents would always say, if we could just have one more day. Just give us one more day.
So for three years - he had three years of one more day. And when I spoke with Paul on Sunday he sounded, you know, as you can imagine, very tired. But I think they're stunned that Sunday was the last day. So it's a pretty - a very difficult time for them. They are incredibly strong people. They've got wonderful family and support. So I think that they do feel like they're being carried through this.
OLBERMANN: Yes, they were spectacular in bringing this story public the way they did with you and then briefly with us in February. Another note about what Paul has told you, and this was today, that he had not spoken out before - couldn't speak out before because of that lawsuit. Is he able to say more about the health care provider now that the lawsuit is at an end?
POLANECZKY I think the world better prepare themselves for Paul Van Nocker, to be honest with you. I mean, he is a man with a lot of opinions and they're really well grounded. They're thoughtful. They're well researched. And once the lawsuit was filed, he didn't want to say anything that might in any way jeopardize Kyler's case. So I think now - you know, obviously they have things to tend to right now. Kyler's viewing is Friday. His funeral is Saturday.
They have two other younger children. The school year has started. I think they need to sit back and take some big, deep breaths and kind of recover from what the last three years have been like. But as Paul explained to me - he said, I am one pissed off dad and I think Washington is going to hear about it.
OLBERMANN: All of the fear mongering about government bureaucrats making end of life decisions, rationing, the death panel, crime against humanity that that phrase was, we saw all of that not with what they've dubbed Obama-care, but with the system that it intends to overhaul. This, the system the health care reform reforms, this was a death panel. Are people in the country brought to understand that reality through tragedies like Van Nocker - the Van Nocker story, and particularly this incredible, inappropriately timed, let alone being inappropriate at any time, battle over whether or not a sick child should get the medicine that he needs?
POLANECZKY: Well, I think people have an idea of what a death panel would look like. It would be a panel of people saying, OK, we're done. It's time. It doesn't happen that way. It happens with, you know, one small decision and then another decision and then another decision. And oftentimes the decisions usurp the opinions and the expertise of these experts who know best.
I mean, in Kyler's case, he was treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's one of the world's best places for treatment, particularly of this disease. Kids come from all over the world for it. OK? So he has - he had amazing doctors and they say this is the standard of care.
And you have an insurance company that says, no. It's not. Or, you know, it's considered - one thing that they said to me last year when I reported on this, they said, well, this isn't considered effective. And yet they wouldn't define what does effective mean? Effective means that this will cure him and he'll live 50 years? Or does it mean this is what he needs right now and he'll have more one more days?
And I think an important thing to remember, especially in Kyler's case, which he - they knew from the get-go that he was seriously ill. I don't know if some insurance companies decide, well, if this child is going to succumb anyway, the prognosis isn't great anyway, is this where we put our dollars? It's important to remember that about 30 years ago children did not survive childhood Leukemia. And they routinely survive it now. I mean, many forms they live well into adulthood and beyond. And that wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been treated.
So you don't treat - you don't learn how to cure something by not treating it. You treat it. And I think that could have been the case here.
OLBERMANN: Ronnie Polaneczky of the "Philadelphia Daily News," again, thank you for telling the world about Kyler and us, too.
POLANECZKY: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: That's September 7th. It's the 2,686th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,275th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 141st day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END