'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for
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The toss: The ponders
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Guests: Robert Reich, Dan Choi, David Brock, Simon Greer
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Now the president confirms on short-term tax cuts for the rich, it's let's make a deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My number one priority is making sure that we make the middle class tax cuts permanent. I continue to believe that extending permanently the upper income tax cuts would be a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Democrats' possible plan: allow a temporary extension of all cuts and then go for a permanent vote extending only cuts for the middle class. Details with Richard Wolffe, impact with Robert Reich.
"Don't ask, don't tell" your husband:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I will filibuster or stop it from being brought up.
CINDY MCCAIN, SEN. MCCAIN'S WIFE: Our political and religious dealers tell LGBT youth that they have no future. They can't serve our country openly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McCains at war. Our guest: Lieutenant Dan Choi.
Glenn Beck's unconscionable untrue accusation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: George Soros was part of it. Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to their death, death camps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: David Brock's progressive and honest answer to the Rove groups and the U.S. Chamber of Congress - and he is a surprise winner of a charity lunch for six with Rupert Murdoch - win lunch, schedule lunch, lose lunch.
And "Decision Points" - or as it might be subtitled, "The 43rd president borrows from Bob Woodward." "Bush at War," page 80, "The second option combined cruise missiles with manned bomber attacks." "Decision Points," page 189, "The second option was to combine cruise missile strikes with manned bomber attacks." I like what you did there, sir, changing "combined" into "to combine."
The dramatic reading, and all the news and commentary - now on
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: All I ask is that people read the book.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, November 12th, 725 days until the 2012 presidential elections.
And after the president today said yes, extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich is a bad idea but we can talk bit, the outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, in effect, not on what's left of my watch.
Our fifth story tonight: What the battle lines look like and with tax cuts for the middle class and the debt for America's future generations hanging in the balance, how this battle will proceed once the president returns to United States soil.
In his news conference overnight, Friday morning his time, President Obama was asked point blank not just about where he stands on tax cuts but on top adviser David Axelrod's signal earlier in the week that the White House might compromise, and despite Obama's campaign pledge to kill the Bush tax cuts for the rich and extend them temporarily in return for Republican support of extending tax cuts for the middle class, Mr. Obama did not quite deny that that's where he stands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Some are interpreting your senior advisor David Axelrod's comments to a newspaper back home that your compromised position is to temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts. Is that the wrong interpretation?
OBAMA: That is the wrong interpretation because I haven't had a conversation with Republican and Democratic leaders.
Here's the right interpretation: I want to make sure that taxes don't go up for middle class families starting on January 1st. That's my number one priority - for those families and for our economy.
I also believe that it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to permanently extend the high income tax cuts. I think that would be a mistake - particularly when we've got our Republican friends saying that their number one priority is making sure that we deal with our debt and our deficit. So, there may be a whole host of ways to compromise around those issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Democratic Senator Mark Warner, one of those putting forward a way to compromise, specifically suggesting that the Bush tax cuts be extended on household income of less than a quarter million, and instead of using up $70 billion more every year on additional tax cuts for people who make more than a quarter million, use the $70 billion - use it for tax cuts that actually create jobs, tax cuts targeted to reward businesses that hire and incentivize investment.
Meanwhile, "The Huffington Post" reports that unnamed other Democratic senators have another idea in mind: pass a temporary extension of all the tax cuts and turn right around and force Republicans to vote on a permanent extension of just the middle class cuts.
Speaker Pelosi, not seeming warm to that idea, saying that, quote, "Even one year would be around $70 billion. That's a lot of money to give to a tax cut at the high end. And I remind you that those have been in effect for a very long time. They did not create jobs."
Nor is big labor opened to temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel telling "The Plum Line" blog Congress ought to vote on the middle class cuts and not even hold a vote on tax cuts for the rich.
Let's turn first to MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, also the author of two books on Mr. Obama, "Renegade: The Making of A President," and now out on Tuesday, "Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House."
Good evening, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: It's one thing to be open to compromise. But why keep advertising this fact like he's carrying a banner around with him or - and yet keep denying that you're doing it? Are these trial balloons? Is there a jujitsu strategy? Tell me something.
WOLFFE: If only - if only I was successful at jujitsu.
What they - I've been speaking to White House officials today and they clearly want to say they're open to compromise, they want to say to voters we get it, we hear you, we're ready to reach across the aisle - important for independent voters, especially who moved against them in the last couple of years.
But the follow-up question from everyone is: if you're open to compromise, what is the compromise look like? And that's when you get into this vague quagmire which is where they're at right now. They're negotiating against themselves. It's a pattern we've seen before with this White House and if they give stuff up at this stage, Republicans just drive a Hummer through it.
So, the problem they have here is that clearly, there is going to be room for debate about - is it $250,000, is it $500,000, what the limit? Is it temporary? Is it permanent?
There is going to be a compromise clearly, but that dividing line - if they get out there too much and they fear that David Axelrod may have spoken too vaguely for everyone's liking, but if they get out there too much, then they are negotiating against themselves yet again.
OLBERMANN: But never mind the Hummer being driven through it. What about the election being driven through it?
I mean, if the tax cuts get extended, any job that's created after the 1st of January will be credited to the Republican, the stimulus will be called a failure, and come 2012, it will be, oh, Republicans saved the economy. Why not take this opportunity to let all the tax cuts expire and hammer home the lesson of the Clinton years that, you know, taxes going up can be part of a good plan to strengthen the economy in the country?
WOLFFE: Simple answer is: number one, the economy isn't strong enough right now, and number two: middle class families, those independent voters, those folks out in the Midwest, upper Midwest, will be really upset about this kind of thing and they have not exactly got that political feet on the ground right now. They are still shell shocked after this election last week or two and they're trying to figure out what the right path is.
I think they have a path when it comes down to this debate about the deficit. If independents care about the deficit, and Republicans say they also care about the deficit, then that's where this issue - this whole tax cut debate has to go.
But right now, seeing taxes go up for the middle class is electoral disaster for them. They have to call them on their political gimmicks about their concerns about the deficits, but they also have to be aware that this economy, this recovery, is still very fragile.
OLBERMANN: What does the president want the House to do in a lame duck session with all this?
WOLFFE: Well, he wants this done. They cannot be in a situation where Democrats get blamed for doing nothing when it comes to taxes going up. So, he has to bounce Nancy Pelosi off of this position. You know, Nancy Pelosi obviously wants to hold her caucus together.
But this is going to be yet again - if they're not careful - a case of the president negotiating with his own Democrats. He's got to avoid that. This has to be him calling out Republicans on the rhetoric - the very same language they have used in the election. If it's about him and Pelosi, it's health care all over again.
OLBERMANN: And lastly, what is the president going to do when he gets behind closed doors with Pelosi, with Reid, with Boehner, with McConnell about this?
WOLFFE: Well, he's going to try to look reasonable. But one of those people has said he wants him to be a one-term president, and, you know, that's not Nancy Pelosi here. So, this is - this is one giant photo-op.
He has to try and pry them apart in some fashion. But the idea that they're going to find a compromise, these four together, it's got to have to be forced, and that forcing is going to come with those votes - as you suggested at the top of the show.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, the new book comes out Tuesday. It's "Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House" - thanks. Have a good weekend.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Now, let's turn to former Clinton labor secretary, Robert Reich, also author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future."
And great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: At the risk of spawning an acronym, what would Clinton do?
REICH: Well, look - Bill Clinton did triangulate. That is, he separated himself from both parties and tried to create the impression that he was above everyone. But, in fact, Clinton did raise taxes and that 39 percent tax rate, that marginal tax rate on the very wealthy - well, that was Bill Clinton's tax rate.
It was not a terrible economy by the end of the 1990s and anybody who is at the top and says, "Oh, please, please, don't send us back there to the 1990s, we can't live with a marginal tax rate of 39 percent," doesn't remember what happened in the 1990s.
OLBERMANN: All right, say, neither side budges at this point, and all the Bush tax cuts manage to expire during the lame duck or as the lame duck ends. Economically what happens then?
REICH: Well, that is a problem, Keith. I agree with Richard. The economy is not strong enough right now. It's not nearly as strong as it was in the 1990s when Bill Clinton did succeed in raising taxes.
Right now, for the vast middle class and working class of America - no, you don't want to raise taxes. But when it comes to people at the very top, they are doing fine. They're getting bonuses. Their wages are going up. They're doing wonderfully well even now.
And so, they cannot only afford a little bit of a tax increase, but also they need to participate in this long-term problem of getting the deficit under control.
OLBERMANN: What do you think of this Warner plan, what Senator Mark Warner said, that spend $70 billion, all right, but do it on job incentivizing?
REICH: Well, everybody is in favor of job incentivizing and I like the idea in principle. The problem is: businesses are already sitting on about $1 trillion of cash and they are not building jobs. They are not incentivizing anybody except more mergers and acquisitions and buying back their shares of stock and actually taking the money abroad and creating more capacity outside the United States in fast growing places like China and India and Brazil.
So, it's nice to talk about it, but really what we need to do is create incentives in the middle class, in the working class, among the poor people - get money in their pocks. I'd rather take the $65 billion or $70 billion that the rich otherwise would get in a tax break and give it to the states to and localities to preserve the jobs or get the job back of teachers and firefighters and police officers.
I mean, we need them and they will also spend 100 percent of what they get back. I guarantee you.
OLBERMANN: But what if it, in fact, it turns out to be what it's looking like at the moment, which the Democrats sign off on a temporary extension of all of the Bush tax cuts a year, $70 billion, whatever the figure is or the time is to the high end people in the economy - does it hurt the economy as a whole? Or does it, as we suggested, hurt the president politically by letting Republicans take credit for any subsequent maybe inevitable job growth?
REICH: Well, it certainly hurts the economy is in the sense you got -
you know, just next year alone, millionaires basically shirking those taxes, getting a tax break of $70 billion that they otherwise had no reason to expect and that money not going elsewhere in the economy where it could do much better as we talked about a moment ago.
But it also hurts the president because, you know, Keith, right now, he is in the 2012 presidential election, like it or not. He's got to define himself. He's going to define who he is - who he stands for, who they are, who they stand for in terms of the Republicans.
And what better way of doing it than saying, look, I am in favor of extending the tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of Americans, but they, the Republicans, are in favor of only extending it or at least extorting the bottom 80 percent and say, you know, you don't get a tax cut unless we at the very top are going to get our tax cut - look who they represent and also look how hypocritical they are about the budget deficit.
That gives the president, in other words, a huge way of defining who he is, who they are, and what the next election is going to be all about.
OLBERMANN: Robert Reich, the author of "Aftershock" - thank you again for your time. Have a good weekend.
REICH: Thanks, Keith. You, too.
OLBERMANN: John McCain vows to filibuster the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." His wife publicly protests that our political and religious leaders dell LGBT youth that they no future, they can't serve our country openly. But now, she tweets she supports her husband's position. Next.
OLBERMANN: As John McCain continues to insist that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" will destroy the military, his wife appears in a public service announcement saying the policy puts a government stamp of approval on bullying gay kids.
Unbelievable and unconscionable, untrue charge - even from the man without a conscience, using the 14-year-old George Soros of being a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.
A lot on his plate, trying to start a liberal and honest answer to the U.S. Chamber of Congress and lunch with Rupert Murdoch? Don't get your fingers too close to his mouth.
And "Fridays with Thurber" and a friend of the earth is no friend of Thurber's - ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: He once said if the military leadership said it was time to end it, he would listen. They did. He still did not.
But in our fourth story: What will John McCain do now that his wife has publicly advocated, in a sense, for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell"? Will he listen to her?
"The New York Times" reporting that a draft of the long-awaited Pentagon report on "don't ask, don't tell" concludes that repealing it will not have an adverse effect on the military. But the majority of active duty service members welcoming open service. The report details that repealing the law may cause temporary disruptions, but nothing that couldn't be overcome with the right leadership.
It seems like it would be a great opportunity for this Senator McCain from 2006.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, "Senator, we ought to change the policy," then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That day came in February. The Defense Secretary, Mr. Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying, end the policy.
McCain, the ranking Republican told them: you're wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McCain led the successful filibuster to block the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in September, and he may do it again in the lame duck session.
So, (INAUDIBLE) intrigued over this anti-bullying message from the No Hate Campaign featuring Cindy McCain - the senator's wife blaming government policies for contributing to the problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY MCCAIN, SENATOR MCCAIN'S WIFE: Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't get married.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't donate blood.
MCCAIN: They can't serve our country openly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's worse, these laws that legislate discrimination -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - teach bullies that what they're doing can acceptable.
MCCAIN: Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens. Why shouldn't they?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call in, Lieutenant Dan Choi, former Army officer and Iraq War veteran who is discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" - currently an advisory council member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Thank you for some of your time tonight.
LT. DAN CHOI, DISCHARGED UNDER "DADT": Great to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Am I overstating this? I mean, there's some further information from her, but it seems like an extraordinary thing for her to do given her husband's position on this and given that she probably could have made a case in that public service announcement without contradicting him at all.
CHOI: I think it's very significant what she said because it underscores the values behind the repeal effort and the values behind any kind of movement to restore justice or to increase freedom and to support our basic values.
What you're seeing, though, I think in the McCain family is Mrs. McCain misses what Mr. McCain was when probably she married him - a maverick who was able to stand up for what he knew was right, saying that, look, if the military leadership says let's get rid of it, let's do the right thing and get rid of it.
It looks that in my opinion, there is a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, not only in the military but in certain political parties, where we're saying, we shouldn't be able to say what we know is the right thing to do.
OLBERMANN: There is this as I suggested update from her. She tweeted not long ago, "I fully support the No Hate Campaign and all it stands for and am proud to be part of it, but I stand by my husband's stance on DADT."
I guess the simple question on that: is how is that possible?
CHOI: It contradicts everything that the No Hate Campaign stands for and it makes no sense.
I think when you talk about, as she did in some of the PSA, that bullying leads to the suicides and when you talk about the legislation that OKs the bullying, we have to realize that if you speak one way and then your actions speak in a different way, it's irreconcilable and it's immoral. We have to realize one thing, that there's allowed homophobia on the part of certain people with certain platforms, but there's also a silent homophobia on the part of certain people who have the power but do nothing. Loud homophobia and soft or silent homophobia end up having the same result.
OLBERMANN: For months, the Republicans said, you know, wait until this report is out from the Pentagon before voting on repeal. Now, we've got a preliminary sense of what's in it.
How does Senator McCain - how do the others continue to justify their position?
CHOI: There's no justification for discrimination. I don't know how they got away with it in the first place.
I think when you take a look at what the study was saying, we are validated in the fact that if you listen to the veteran, if you listen to those soldiers who are serving on the ground right now, and the younger generation who says, why are you even making an issue of this? There's gay people everywhere. There's gay people in our military units, in our churches, in our families, in our communities and there is no reason to have any kind of discriminatory policy or unjustified study or poll.
Well, we talk about when we want to get rid of discriminatory and unjust policies and unconstitutional infringement on our way of life, I think we have to realize that if we don't speak up because it's the right thing to do, then we really are failing in the beginning, and to say that we need to have a study, that's the reason why we're here in the first - why we're here in the first place with only so many more weeks in a lame duck session to get rid of "don't ask, don't tell." If you really want to do a study, you could have started that immediately.
But the bottom line is: you don't need to study discrimination. You just need to do the right thing and get rid of it.
OLBERMANN: Last thing, maybe the overarching news. There's a linkage today that I don't think a lot of us wouldn't jump to immediately. Does "don't ask, don't tell" in the military actually connect to bullying in the civilian world?
CHOI: Absolutely. When you have justified discrimination in any government agency or in any public policy, you give cover to those people, to those young kids who can say not only that's so gay or give negative and pejorative statements about these things and calling, that's the gayest thing I've ever heard, or when you use the term "faggot" - I think you're giving cover to those bullies on the playground when you are a bully in the legislative arenas, and that's what we need to learn.
We need to learn some responsibility in parenting. We need to learn some responsibility in our leadership and our public discourse.
OLBERMANN: Lieutenant Dan Choi, discharged from the military under "don't ask, don't tell" - as always great thanks.
CHOI: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The McCains may or may not be in disagreement. But perhaps everybody should be in disagreement about the latest offense from Glenn Beck - it's not even joke worthy. Ahead.
BECK: To attack a prominent liberal, Glenn Beck stoops to accusing him of being a teenage Jewish Nazi collaborator.
First, the sanity break and the tweet of the day pertains to the merger of "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek." I have made the lame joke that the new entity would be called the "Daily Week." Benji Godfried answers, "Why not 'News of the Beast'? May give FOX a run for their money."
Actually I think FOX has that name already and saving it for when they start a second channel.
OLBERMANN: To the Internet, an epidemic that is sweeping the ranks of youth football league's the trick play. We begin with your basic wide receiver goes in motion, then begins to do back flips, the refs seemingly out of confusion blew this play dead and dejected the coach. Wrong sport.
And then there's the classic wrong ball play where the quarterback pretends they have been given the wrong ball and as the center hand it over his back to him, and it works pretty well. They're not going to get him.
And yet another example found on the Internet, everything is doing it. So, why hasn't the NFL team, hadn't they adopted a trick play? Down goes Frazier!
Still I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to see T.O. doing back flips. Get your popcorn.
On to the highway and I understand the desire to be able to use a car pool lane, but this person is really bucking the law. You are not seeing things. That's a horse in a car.
Got it all figured out. By dame they roam free around the neighborhood. At night, it will nestle snuggly between the cars in the garage.
Although it makes sense he'd sit in the back. For some reason, the horse got a little spooked when the driver talked about all his horsepower.
And we travel down under to the Australian Open where Robert Allenby
is about to tee off on a 370. Oh, it looks as though he's using a driver -
uh-oh, it looks like it's heading left. Pow, right in the kisser.
The errant ball has a spectator flushed (ph) - knocks the spectator down, Jim. A fan, OK, Jim, a little woozy. Allenby signed a ball, Jim, for the man, Jim, though the biggest, Jim, concern, Jim, is the increase in the man's, Jim, handicap, Jim.
Time, Jim, marches on.
Glenn Beck and George Soros, David Brock and Rupert Murdoch. And later, Fridays with Thurber ahead.
OLBERMANN: This week during his attempt to destroy George Soros, Glenn Beck of Fox News claimed that as a 14-year-old boy in Nazi occupied Hungary, the future billionaire and political activist helped, quote, "send the Jews to the death camps."
In our third story, there are jokes to be made about what Mr. Beck does and how his employers permit him do it, but not when he throws out accusations that a teenage Jewish boy collaborated with those who destroyed his family, his religion, his nation.
All week long, Mr. Beck has dedicated TV and radio shows to taking down the man he calls the puppet master. According to Beck, George Soros intends to destroy America as we know it, so he can create a new world order with one world government. The usual paranoid crap from the '50s.
Beck begins his conspiracy theory with Soros as a teenager. The following is what we know about Soros. The "Daily Beast" writing today, quote, "when Soros was 14 in Nazi occupied Hungary, his father bribed an agriculture official to pretend that the boy was his Christian godson. Soros once had to accompany his protector to inventory a confiscated Jewish estate."
Michael T. Kaufman writes in in his Soros biography that the family that was living in that estate had fled. They were living in Lisbon by that point. And quote, "Soros collaborated with no one and he paid attention to what he understood to be his primary responsibility, making sure that no one doubted he was Sandor Kiss, his fake Christian identity."
Soros told "60 Minutes," quote, "I had no role in taking away that property, so I had no sense of guilt."
This week, Glenn Beck gave his version of those events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: George Soros was part of it. He would -
he would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening. Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death - death camps. And I am certainly not saying that George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice.
He actually had to endure watching people sent off to their eventual murders. Watching people gathering their stuff, sending them off, knowing that they were going to go to their death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Anti-Defamation League put out a statement about these remarks, reading, in part, "for political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say inaccurately that there is a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps as part of a broader assault on Mr. Soros, that's horrific."
Fox News was typically unmoved, telling the "New York Times," quote, "information regarding Mr. Soros' experience growing up were taken directly from his writings and from interviews given by him to the media. And no negative opinion was offered as to his actions as a child."
Clearly they did not see what Mr. Beck said. Joining us now, Simon Greer, president and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice. Mr. Greer, thanks for your time tonight.
SIMON GREER, CEO, JEWISH FUNDS FOR JUSTICE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Those who are recognizing your name here may do so because they might remember that you've been a target of Mr. Beck. Last May, he had said that your claim that putting the common good first was, in his words, what led - leads to death camps. And in his words, as a Jew, you should know better.
You had a meeting with the Fox people about that. Explain what happened.
GREER: That's right. I sat down with Roger Ailes and Joel Cheatwood of Fox News earlier this summer, and I conveyed to them my horror and my outrage. I simply asked them that if I sat with my son and watched their TV program night after night and heard the 400 references to Hitler, Holocaust and Nazis, what would I say to them? What would I tell my child? Would I say it's a joke? Would I say we should be scared?
And they said there was unanimous agreement at Fox that the ultimate sensitivity need to be displayed in reviewing and looking at issues related to the Holocaust and the events that led up to it. And I believed at the time that they were sincere in their commitments. And obviously what we've seen this week shows that they were not.
OLBERMANN: Did - do you get some idea that Mr. Ailes or anybody had talked to Mr. Beck about this?
GREER: I did. I actually received a handwritten note from Mr. Beck two days later, where he under - he expressed that he felt how serious this issue was, that he had sensitivity to it, that he took my candor and my concerns to heart. And I actually believed for a minute that his values were values, and that he would stand by them and keep his word. And this week the invocation of anti-Semitic rhetoric and a form of Holocaust revisionism shows that clearly he will do anything to score political points and the Jewish community won't stand for it.
OLBERMANN: These comments about Soros, who was one of the victims of this atrocity, in both the small - focused on his life and the larger one of the Second World War and the years leading up to it. Is that defied - is the term anti-Semitism enough to describe that? Isn't there - isn't this with an asterisk? This is anti-Semitism in the remarks by Mr. Beck, but it's also an accusation of collaboration, which is about the worst thing you could do in this circumstance, isn't it?
GREER: Yeah, I would say that it is a form of Holocaust revisionism, which is grotesque in any form. And suggesting these kind of things is completely outrageous. Using it to try to paint a picture of this notion of a puppet master takes us back to the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," some of the worst anti-Semitic text in the last 100 years. And it somehow makes it OK again to bring up these stories and these images.
And, Keith, what I would say is what we've seen across the Jewish community is - you know, there's this old saying that for every two Jews there are three opinions. And this week, there is only one opinion in the Jewish community. And that's that Glenn Beck is way out of line. And I think that's because of the kind of language he used to score these sort of cheap political points.
OLBERMANN: Do you think that's true in this occasion? Because there seems to be - he's defending himself by saying that he's a great friend to Israel and to the Jewish people. And he says that if anybody is anti-Semitic in this, it's Soros, and that if there has been some restraint in some of the organizations, the Jewish organizations' response to this. I mean, if this had been said in some other context by somebody else, there would be rightfully protests on the streets. But it doesn't seem to be happening.
GREER: I think the comments from Elon Steinberg (ph) from the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, who said Beck's remarks from monstrous. The quote from Abe Foxman that you mentioned earlier. I think we're seeing that whether people disagree or agree with Mr. Soros on politics, what they know is that we slip into a very dangerous place when we can misuse and misappropriate the Holocaust and invoke images of anti-Semitism to score points.
And I think across the Jewish community in the weeks to come, I wouldn't be surprised if we see people like Representative Eric Cantor coming out and saying this is unacceptable, because this truly is a sacred realm in America. That's something the Jewish community has accomplished here. And we won't let it slip away.
OLBERMANN: At this point, the man has been described, essentially, as a Jewish Nazi collaborator, puppet master, which is almost all of the cliches, except some of the physical descriptions.
Simon Greer of Jewish Funds for Justice, great thanks for your perspective and you insights?
GREER: Thanks so much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Then there is an ironic postscript to the Glenn Beck puppet master conspiracy theory. According to Beck, Soros is currently pulling the strings of every progressive in the media and government, particularly the strings of an advocacy group that he founded in Washington, the Open Society Policy Center. Salon.com today reporting that since 2003, the Open Society Policy Center has paid 150,000 dollars to a firm called Orion Strategies to lobby on their behalf.
I forgot to bring my blackboard. Orion Strategies is run by lobbyist Randy Scheunemann. That would be the same Randy Scheunemann who is a foreign policy adviser to - Sarah Palin. Look out, the puppets are inside the house.
How about this connection? David Brock of Media Matters and Rupert Murdoch; fortunately it's just for lunch. And then there's the treat we do our best to offer every Friday, Fridays with Thurber; "A Friend of the Earth," no friend of Thurber's.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, hey beard, the latest in the Alaska Senate vote count, and the growth that has all of us here on the right just grossed out.
OLBERMANN: Media Matters' David Brock will join me in a moment, as promised. He's attempting to start up a 527 group that might begin to counter the conservative money machines of Karl Rove and the U.S. COC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And in our number two story, also this other adventure, a lunch. The prize for Brock's winning bid of 86,000 dollars in the online auction to benefit the Global Poverty Project, Mr. Brock along with five other attendees of his choosing will dine with Rupert Murdoch, you know, the head of News Corp, Fox, about which Mr. Brock's Media Matters so regularly performs a fact check. Still looking for one.
I can hear it now. No, no, Rupert is here; he's just invisible at the moment, David.
Joining me now, the founder and CEO of Media Matters for America, David Brock. Good evening, David.
DAVID BROCK, FOUNDER AND CEO, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Can you - let's go to the 527 group thing first. Can you confirm that is something you are trying to establish?
BROCK: Well, yeah, this is what I could tell you: so as you know, starting Wednesday, an enterprising reporter Greg Sergeant from "the Washington Post" reported my intention to form an independent effort to elect Democrats and defeat Republicans in this next election cycle, OK?
BROCK: "The Post" was accurate in all respects except for one. The Post said that I was forming a 527 with partial donor disclosure.
BROCK: It was an easy mistake. I don't know who Greg Sergeant talked to. He talked to people who talked to me. And to most people this is a lot of gobbledygook. And frankly, you know, I'm not a lawyer and it can seem that way to me too.
So let me just clear that up. What I am forming is an independent expenditure committee that can accept unlimited donations from individuals, from corporations, from unions, can raise money online in small dollars. These kinds of federal committees are required by law to fully disclose their donors and to release every expenditure and report to the SEC any expenditure over 200 dollars. So we're going to follow that law.
OLBERMANN: So you're going to set up - obviously this is an answer to some degree to the Chamber of Commerce and the Karl Rove thing. However, they aren't raising money without having to reveal, you know, whether or not it came from this planet. And you're obviously going to be not just partially disclosing, but totally transparent and total disclosure essentially anything, as you said, above 200 dollars. Can you compete -
BROCK: That's right.
OLBERMANN: Can you compete when you're playing under rules and they're not playing under any?
BROCK: Sure. Look, here's the thing - first of all, let's look at what has just happened. OK? The Republican independent groups versus the Democratic independent groups in this cycle; they spent about 100 million dollars more than the Democratic independent groups. I think what people are missing in this, though, is if you look back, you know, progressive donors have stepped up when asked to advance our values, our American values through politics. They've come through.
So I think the problem in this last cycle is very simple. No one asked.
BROCK: We know - we know and, you know, particularly since last week, that elections have consequences. We know we can't sit on the sidelines. We know we cannot disarm. And so why we're doing this is really for the future of the country, Keith, for the folks out there who are suffering. The Republicans are not going to help them.
This effort for these folks, it's going to help them. And what we're going to do is we are going to win, House, Senate, president. And one of the lessons we learned this year is we need to start now.
OLBERMANN: David Brock of Media Matters, great thanks. And as to the Murdoch lunch, my only suggestion is make one of those invitees a food taster. All the best.
BROCK: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: We were going to do a segment on similarities between George W. Bush's new book and the works of others, particularly Bob Woodward's books. And there are some, one in particular we mentioned at the start of the program. Only when I saw the actual books just before air tonight was it evident that a lot of these so-called similarities appear only when some very selective editing is done, either in Bush's book or the other ones. So the segment is dead.
Back instead, in a moment, with a Thurber story appropriate to the mood, his war of words with the local character everybody else loves, "A Friend of the Earth."
OLBERMANN: Ah, the rural rustic stage, the standard character in every small town, from Bangor, Maine, to Soda City, California. James Thurber hates his guts. I'm reading tonight from "Thurber Country," originally printed in 1949. At the time when the author really was living in the wilds of Connecticut, where one of these local yokels really, really ticked him off. Never get into a war of words with an author, as Mr. Thurber reminds us in "A Friend of the Earth" by James Thurber.
"When my mother was in Ludlow, Connecticut on one of her visits ten years ago, she took a fancy to Zef Leggen (ph). Practically everybody did except old Miss Elden and me. And he gave her a picture of himself. People were always taking pictures of Zef in one or another of his favorite and locally famous pose, playing his harmonica, whittling, drowsing in a chair against the lull of his shed, eating a hard boiled egg.
The most celebrated of the egg studies shows him on his 36th day or his 36th, rather, the day he ate three dozen at a sitting on a bet. Zef Leggen was a character in the classic mold, a lazy rustic philosopher whose comic criticism of the futility of action and accomplishment made up, I was told, for his inability to complete a task, his failure to show up on time, or sometimes even at all, his genius at waggish confusion, and his light regard for the convenience of others.
'Wait till you meet Zef Leggen,' an ecstatic neighbor said to me just after I came to Ludlow. He'll drive you nuts, the old rascal, but you'll love him. We all do. Except Miss Elden.
We always hire him for odd jobs. Used to be a master carpenter, they say, but now he doesn't give a good goddamn. Funniest guy I ever heard talk though. Lost my wife ten years ago, he'll say to you. Play it straight. Say that's too bad. Yep, he'll tell you. Lost her in a dry goods store, slipped out the back door. Ha, ha, ha.
For such bewildered foreign eyes as may fall upon these lines, I should perhaps explain that ours is a good natured commonwealth of straight men and stooges, willing and eager to let a wall crumble or a roof sag or a pipe freeze, if the vandal responsible for the trouble has a Will Rogers grin, a soft drawl and a dry way of saying things.
Must be something grave the matter with me. From the moment I set eyes on Efraim J. "Zef" Leggen, I wanted to poke him in the nose.
For the sake of a fair record, I must report that Zef took an instant dislike to me too. Zef was "a-sitting" in front of his shack and "a-playing" his mouth organ. He called it Old Maria, I heard later. When Paul Morton, the neighbor I quoted earlier, led me up to him one afternoon. I was presented to Zef Leggen. It was regard as an honor, I had been told, if he stopped playing, opened his eyes and deigned to speak.
"Zef, I wanted you to meet Mr. Thurber," said Paul. Zef kept right on playing. "He's come to Ludlow to live, a new neighbor of hours," Paul went on.
Zef finished another bar of "Nelly Gray" and looked up at Paul, not at me. "He a married man," he asked. That nettled me. He hadn't acknowledged the introduction by so much as a nod. And he didn't like the practiced twinkle in his eye. I can see what was coming and I beat him to the punch. It was small of me, I suppose, but I offered the purely human excuse that we had come to dislike each other in the first few seconds.
"I lost my wife ten years ago," I heard myself saying in a strained but chilled tone. Twinkle in Zef's eyes died and a hard look took its place. With a rapier's crossed and clashing, we searched for each other's gullet. He was shrewd all right and not slow of mind. He knew that I must have been tipped off to his opening gambit. He threw a quick baleful glance at Paul, who he must have figured was the tattle tale.
"Lost her in a dry goods store, eh," Zef asked me, and the devil took hold of my tongue. "She died," I said, coldly. It almost brought Zef up out of his tilted chair. Then he saw the astonished look that Paul gave me and he knew I was trying to knock his foil from his hand by an inexcusable trick.
"That's too bad, bub," he said nastily. "Come on, Jim, let's go," said Paul. I want to show you my studio. But Zef and I were glaring at each other. "Yes, she died laughing, I said, at a back woods Voltaire."
"Come on, Jim, for god's sake," said Paul, taking me by the arm. Zef closed his eyes, leaned back and began to play "Nelly Gray" again on his harmonica. The bargain of our enmity was sealed.
The only thing Miss Eden and I had in common, I found out later, was our lonely immunity to the magic spell of Zef Leggen. And since she was a hard and hollow old lady, there were dark moments when I felt I must belong to the wrong school of thought in the case of the Ludlow Minstrel.
Miss Elden had not spoken to Zef or allowed him on her premises since the day of the great insult, May 16, 1934. She kept all dates, important and otherwise, neatly arranged in the back of her mind, along with her fine collection of old platitudes. On the day in question, she had summoned Zef to her house - rather, she had summoned him a week before and he had finally shown up on the 16th.
She told him that her problem was beetles in the pantry. Zef had a considerable reputation as an exterminator. He would never tell what it was that he used, except to say that the secret formula had been given to his great grandmother by a sick Indian she had nursed back to health.
"Hey, beetles in your pantry, ma'am," said Zef. "These cockroaches."
Miss Elden's nose expressed disgust at the man's frank vulgarity.
"Well, whatever they are," she said, "there's big as mice." She had asked for it and she walked right into it. Zef's eyes twinkled and he put on his Sunday drawl. "The only way to get rid of cockroaches as big as mice, ma'am, is to stop drinking."
She ordered him out of the house and he shambled away playing "Polly Wolly Doodle" on his harmonica. "The man is gross," she told me. I had some difficulty maintaining an expression of grave disapproval of the gross man, but I managed it."
Part one of "A Friend of the Earth" by James Thurber.
That's November 12th, 10 days since Republicans took control of the House. Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?
I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now with more on Mitch McConnell's country first request to President Bush in 2006, that he pull troops out of Iraq to help the GOP with the midterm elections, ladies and gentlemen, having not caught Jon Stewart's intestinal flu or his case of the Ponders, here is Rachel Maddow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END