'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
Guests: Chris Hayes, Rep. Rush Holt, Coleen Rowley, Baratunde Thurston, Carlos Olivas,
Jr., Anita Rueles
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The long, dismal tide of surrender.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yeas are 81, the nays are 19. The motion is agreed to.
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OLBERMANN: Next to fail on the tax cut deal: the House.
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REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: At the end of the day, I think we're going to have to pass a bill. That's the view of many of us.
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OLBERMANN: Only a few accurately see what this is a precursor to.
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REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: It changes the very nature of Social Security.
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OLBERMANN: Our special guest: Congressman Rush Holt.
Most importantly, Republicans are now enraged about the war on Christmas vacation.
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SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing - frankly, without disrespecting the institution, and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate.
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OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes on new noise about not raising the debt ceiling without cuts, and the war on Christmas vacation.
Quantico, it's the new Gitmo. The alleged WikiLeaks source, Bradley Manning, is in the brig, in solitary, in conditions that are being compared to torture. Our guest: FBI whistleblower, Coleen Rowley.
And the little child shall lead them. The Arizona 13-year-old raising money to get a liver transplant for Jan Brewer death panel victim, Francisco Felix.
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CARLOS OLIVAS, JR., 13-YEAR-OLD: I'm only a seventh grade kid trying to help a guy to live another day.
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OLBERMANN: Our guest: Carlos Olivas, Jr.
Crash and burn: Sarah Palin's book sales plummet another 29 percent, on top of last week's plummet.
And which word is he saying here, "censor" or "censure"? He claims censure.
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REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: And I think we that we also should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled him.
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OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to have an honest conversation.
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, December 15th, 692 days until the 2012 presidential election.
And to that point, the White House says that congressmen couldn't know firsthand, because the president has not spoken to him about this, nor said this to him about any of this, but Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon is tonight saying that the Mr. Obama is, quote, "Making phone calls, saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this the bad deal," end quote.
That, the context for the fifth story tonight, after blasting Senate Democrats for caving to President Obama's deal with the GOP and a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans, and a lower estate tax even than President Bush had, House Democrats are now standing their ground - at least until tomorrow, when they're expected to cave, too.
Today's vote was in the Senate, 81 to 19, an overwhelming and bipartisan majority. Five Republicans on the right joined 14 Democrats on the left in imposing the bill, including Senator Jim DeMint.
DeMint, however, not opposing the bill with any of his trademark stalling tactics, tactics he only unleashed after his purely symbolic "no" vote against the deficit exploding tax cuts. His actual stalling on further votes for "don't ask, don't tell" and the START Treaty, leading Senate Majority Leader Reid to warn that he will call the Senate back into session between Christmas and New Year's.
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SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I hate to report all of this to you, but, you know, there's still Congress after Christmas. So, if the Republicans think that, because they can stall and stall and stall, that we take a break, we're through, we're not through. Congress ends on January 4th. So, we're going to continue working on this stuff until we get it done.
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OLBERMANN: This prompting Republican Senator Jon Kyl to cry blasphemy over the concept of the war on Christmas vacation.
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KYL: It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing - frankly, without disrespecting the institution, and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.
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OLBERMANN: And the ironic humor, in the Republican claims of a Democratic war on Christmas vacation, drained away quickly by a report in "USA Today" on the real Christmas war American families are fighting, a war to clothe their kids. The newspaper reporting: an all-time high in kids' letters to Santa, asking not for toys, but for clothing, boots, winter coats.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today unfazed by such struggles and mounting a new struggle instead today on behalf of millionaires, again, trying in vain to change the Senate bill to make the tax cuts permanent, even on income above a quarter of a million dollars and to lower the estate tax for multimillionaires to nothing - this after warning the House just yesterday to not try to change the bill.
Whether House Democrats will comply is still uncertain, although they are widely expected to pass this bill tomorrow, without changes. There has been talk of trying to increase the estate tax, or as our next guest, Congressman Rush Holt, would like to see, swapping the cut in the Social Security payroll tax for another form of tax credit. Karl Rove's group, Crossroads, now up with ads targeting a dozen House Democrats to approve the Senate bill as is.
The president, on the same page in this case as Mr. Rove in his message to House Democrats this afternoon.
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REPORTER: Mr. President, do you want the House to pass the Senate version of the tax bill with no changes?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. I want - I want them to get it passed as soon as possible.
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OLBERMANN: This as a new poll finds three out of five Americans do not think the $858 billion hole in our deficit will help the economy. Only 36 percent said it will help; 43 percent said no impact, it's their prediction; 17 percent saying it will hurt.
How could it hurt? As we reported yesterday, the ratings agency Moody's says the tax cuts could force them to reconsider America's credit rating for the first time in history. The Council on Foreign Relations in a new analysis today warning that the debt increase, quote, "could spur higher U.S. borrowing costs and greater dependence on surplus countries like China."
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown tried to get bipartisan support to attach to the tax cut bill, a deal that had already passed the House, that would address China's manipulation of its own currency, which keeps the prices of Chinese product well below that of U.S. competitors. Even though such a move would create jobs estimated in the hundreds of thousands, the administration opposes it, depending on China to keep financing our growing debt, even sending the secretary of state there last year to vouch for America's credit.
In new figures to today, the Treasury Department revealed that just in the past month, China alone had acquired another $26 billion in U.S. debt and now holds more than $900 billion in U.S. treasuries.
The Treasury tonight still refusing our request to reveal how much debt is being held by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, possibly even Iran. Senator Reid and Republican leaders are also not interested in releasing those numbers.
Speaker Pelosi's office, more than a week after first trying to get the numbers from Treasury, telling Countdown, quote, "We continue to discuss this issue of disclosure with Treasury."
As we reported last week, in 1974, the U.S. Treasury got Saudi Arabia to start buying billions in U.S. debt in exchange for keeping it a secret.
In a statement to Countdown tonight, the Treasury Department announced, quote, "Treasury has been reporting this data in the same way for many years. In response to recent requests for additional detail about foreign holders of treasury securities, the Treasury Department general counsel is reviewing how this information is disclosed to the public."
See, in the year 9,000 for more information.
Now, as promised, Democratic Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey joins us.
Much thanks for your time tonight, sir.
HOLT: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How will you vote tomorrow?
HOLT: Well, we haven't yet seen how it's going to be tomorrow, but it doesn't look too hopeful. You know, a colleague of mine said, "Oh, don't think that Congress will sacrifice its vacation for the middle class." I said, "Oh, no, we'll stay and do the right thing."
Now, I have my doubts.
OLBERMANN: You have talked, as I mentioned, about an alternative to cutting the payroll tax that funds Social Security. Would you explain why?
HOLT: Sure. I mean, what this deal does is a lot more than just extending some tax cuts. It certainly is desirable to put more money in the pockets of Americans and stimulate the economy that way. But by taking the 2 percent off of the Social Security tax and then replenishing that lost revenue from the general funds, they do real damage to the very rationale of Social Security.
Social Security, when it was passed in 1935, was a political master stroke. FDR and the other people had a hard time passing Social Security. And they came up with a very shrewd rationale. And that is that this is an insurance program that people have a sense of ownership for.
And that has kept it alive in the face of really determined enemies over 75 years. Now, they're saying, Social Security is on the table. It's on the table with AMT and estate tax and whether or not the Bush tax cuts cutoff is going to be $250,000 or $1 million. And it's on there with expensing of business appreciation - depreciation.
In other words, it's just another bargaining chip. Well, if Social Security becomes just another bargaining chip, it's going to go away in no time at all. The political rationale, the support for it will unravel quickly.
OLBERMANN: You told Talking Points Memo of your concerns about Social Security and you said that they fell on deaf ears at the White House or were completely ignored. And the full quote was, "It must be because the advisers around him," the president, "don't have a sense of history."
What history are you saying that Mr. Obama needs to know here? And which advisers are you talking about?
HOLT: Well, no one in particular, I guess, Keith. But in 1935, it really was a political master stroke to create Social Security. It's one of the great programs of America. You know, there are - two-thirds of seniors depend on Social Security for most of their livelihood. And that's not counting the millions of surviving spouses of children and people with disabilities who depend on Social Security.
It has stayed alive. It has paid on time. Nobody has missed a payment. It will be financially secure for at least a few more decades. And this is all because of the ingenious way it was set up as a - not just as another government program, but an insurance program into which people paid their money.
And FDR said explicitly, Roosevelt said explicitly, this is not to be funded from general taxation. And that has helped keep this program safe from - well, as I said, the determined enemies it has had over the decades.
OLBERMANN: The quote with which I began this portion of the broadcast, "The Hill" is the source of this, from Congressman DeFazio. He said tonight that "the president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal." Presumably, even in that quote, he's not saying the president called it a bad deal, from his perspective.
But the gist of this, can you confirm any of that?
HOLT: I can't personally confirm that, no. I mean, I think there are some problems with the bill the way it shifts more of the burden of running our government on to the backs of middle income people, and a number of other things. And of course, the estate tax will provide tens of billions of dollars to a few thousand Americans, if it goes through as proposed.
Those are, in my mind, fixable in a year or two. I don't like them, but if Social Security goes bad, that's bad for decades.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Democratic Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey
great thanks for your time tonight, and good luck with your project of protecting Social Security.
HOLT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let's bring in MSNBC contributor Chris Hayes, also the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.
Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Two things to talk about here. The first one being Washington seems to think we have a deficit problem. Senate and House now rejecting tax increases as the solution to the deficit problem, whether or not there really is one.
So, other than asking Superman to go to another planet and find the money, what would be the one and only remaining option to make up that shortfall?
HAYES: Well, that - that's as leading a question -
HAYES: - as the way the fiscal commission was set up, right?
OLBERMANN: Yes, exactly. I'm applying for the job on the next one.
HAYES: That's right. Well, the answer is slashing spending. And slashing spending in ways, particularly going after the sort of backbone of the American social welfare state, which is, you know, Medicare and Social Security, specifically, which are the broad social insurance. I think it's great that Congressman Holt stressed to the degree the in which they really are social insurance.
Going after the social insurance that we as a society have come together to provide that have provided tremendous benefits for millions of people for years, that is the core of - that has been always the goal, from the Liberty League going, you know, opposing Social Security with FDR to Goldwater, and the Birch Society, and the right wing for seven years in this country has hated Social Security and it's hated Medicare. And it's wanted to get rid of both of them for as long as it's existed and that's always been in its sights.
OLBERMANN: The second part of this, the debt to China, up by another $29 billion in the last month, and even to Saudi Arabia. This was an issue in 2008 and 2010. And if Democrats now pass and the president now signs a bill that increases that debt by almost $1 trillion and nobody's going to reveal how much debt they're selling to the Saudis, how is that not an easy to digest Republican Christmas present for 2012?
HAYES: Well, here's the problem. There's such tremendous disingenuous around deficits and the debt. I mean, anyone - first of all, the rule is no one in Washington who talks about caring about the deficit actually cares about the deficit.
HAYES: Almost without exception. I mean, it is a way of talking about other things that right now polls well. So, you have to kind of like penetrate the rhetoric of the deficit and every time you hear the word, figure out what the person is really talking about. Because in most cases, in nine times out of 10 times, it's not actually about the deficit or debt, it's about going after Medicare and Social Security or it's about other anxieties about declining U.S. influence.
I think the other thing to say here is that, you know, China owns, you know, with $13 trillion debt, $4 trillion of that is held, you know, by foreigners and a quarter of that is China. So, China is buying more and more of our debt as we issue mor.
But most of the debt is held by Americans. And the big secret is most of it is held by Wall Street, right? It's in the big banks. That's where it is. It's in pension funds. It's in U.S. financial markets and in the big banks.
And they're the ones that are actually driving this train much more than China is.
OLBERMANN: Let me turn again to this Congressman DeFazio quote out of "The Hill," that Mr. Obama is saying if he doesn't get this deal, that's the end of his presidency and it sits back the liberal cause for oomphty eleventy billion years.
Does that sound legitimate to you? Do you know anything about that?
And what are the implications? Because it sounds astonishing to me.
HAYES: Well, yes. I mean, I think that sounds hyperbolic to me, frankly.
OLBERMANN: Hyperbolic in Mr. DeFazio's case or a statement of the president's?
HAYES: I don't know if the president's actually saying that. If the president's actually saying that, then I think it's hyperbolic.
HAYES: I mean, the president's trying to get a bill passed and he's trying to scare people into passing it because he says - now, he may believe that, and the people in the White House may believe that. I don't know whether or not they do.
I think that - you know, I think a defeat here, there's no question there would be a news cycle or several news cycles of sort of histrionic rending of garments about how he couldn't get his deal through. But, you know, in the long run, this is something the president has said over and over again, and it's something I respect tremendously about his world view, good politics is good policy. And the question is: is this substantively good on the merits? If you don't think it is, then that short run political consideration really shouldn't be foremost in your mind if you're casting a vote in the United States Congress tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: Yes, he had this choice between this defeat and a larger one later. He chose the larger one later. He'll get them both, one way or the other.
OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation" - as always, thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: If what the western democracies are trying to do to Julian Assange is not evidence enough of how much of a nerve Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have hit, what our western democracy is doing to its alleged source, Private Bradley Manning, will be to you. The word used is "torture," next.
OLBERMANN: He is alleged to be the serviceman behind the WikiLeaks mother lode and his treatment in our name is alleged to be akin to torture.
One of the man you've met here, his life-saving transplant reneged upon by the state of Arizona. The bid to raise the money privately led by a 13-year-old - who will join us.
More book sales data is in, and hers is in the same sinking boat as the book written by the Kardashian sisters.
And he said "Censor the media." He now claims he said "Censure the media." He might as well claim he said, "Census the media."
OLBERMANN: The tactics sound downright Bushian, though it got executed well into the Obama administration.
And the message to an Army private allegedly responsible for the biggest WikiLeaks revelations to date is simple: you try to be a whistleblower, exposing the lies of war, then a kind of war will rain down on you.
In our fourth story: The soldier awaiting trial has been held for several months - seven months, rather, in solitary confinement, a condition that many experts and nations view as torture or nearly so.
Army intelligence Private First Class Bradley Manning, believed to be the source of WikiLeaks' most high-profile releases earlier this year, has been held for seven months in solitary, this according to Salon.com, citing several people directly familiar with Manning's detention, as well as a Quantico brig official, Lt. Brian Villiard, who confirmed much of it. Specifically, Manning has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico for five months, and for two months before that, in a military jail in Kuwait.
He has been designated a maximum custody detainee, despite reportedly being a model prisoner, exhibiting no signs of violation, under no suicide watch. Manning, nonetheless, spends 23 out of every 24 hours alone in his cell. This has been true for seven months. He is prohibited from exercising in that cell, strictly monitored and enforced.
He has denied prison basics like a pillow and sheets. Medical personnel administer antidepressants regularly to prevent Manning from mentally deteriorating due to the effect of such isolation.
As "Salon" also noted, many reputable experts equate solitary confinement with torture. And a 2006 bipartisan commission on U.S. prisons recommended the elimination of prolonged solitary confinement which it deemed as tortuous conditions.
The recent hysteria over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange throws a new spotlight on Manning's alleged leaks, even if details of his incarceration have not, because of what Manning allegedly provided to an ex-hacker which eventually made its way to WikiLeaks. Including this, video from July 12, 2007, ostensibly filmed from one of two Apache helicopters searching for insurgents in Baghdad.
But according to "The Guardian," the air crew falsely claims to have encountered a firefight. A dozen people on the ground are killed, including two Iraqis working for "The Reuters" news agency.
In July of this year, WikiLeaks released other information repudiated connected to Manning, the Afghan war logs. "The New York Times" called that an unvarnished ground level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal.
Bradley Manning faces charges of unlawfully transferring classified material to a non-secure computer and to an unauthorized third party. A spokesman for Manning's defense fund tells CBS News that Manning's trial is far from beginning. The Army must complete a psychological evaluation first. And Manning's defense and prosecutors can't degree on who to conduct that evaluation.
Let's turn now to former FBI agent and whistleblower, Coleen Rowley.
Thanks for your time tonight, Ms. Rowley.
COLEEN ROWLEY, FORMER FBI AGENT: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: What is the significance do you think of solitary confinement for this particular detainee, Private Manning?
ROWLEY: Well, I can tell you, in my 24 years as an FBI investigator, and 13 years teaching FBI agents criminal procedure, I've never heard of punishing someone pre-conviction like this in solitary confinement. It really sounds vindictive and in a way, it seems like some of the harsh interrogation tactics have kind of bled over now into the criminal process, which is just shocking.
OLBERMANN: The devil's advocate question, was what Manning allegedly did materially different from what you did? Were his alleged actions different from what WikiLeaks did, because of the oath that he took and his duty to the U.S. military?
ROWLEY: Well, I've had a chance, you know, to meet many other whistleblowers, and, of course, a famous one, Daniel Ellsberg. And I think what Bradley did is on all fours what Daniel Ellsberg did in leaking - actually, Ellsberg leaked higher level, higher classified documents than even Bradley Manning.
So, I think, you know, if you look at shooting the messenger, this phenomenon - that's exactly what happens in almost all of these cases. It's the same old thing.
OLBERMANN: Is there any important distinction to be made between WikiLeaks and what is sort of collectively ascribed journalism? Particularly considering that either kind of thing is often accused of essentially treason when it gets too close to the truth by one of the relevant governments?
ROWLEY: Well, again, if you go back to the Pentagon Papers, you will see 19 newspapers defying the president's orders at this time, Nixon, who actually tried to shut down the newspapers for publishing classified information. Our Supreme Court said, no, that's the First Amendment right. I see all the time that there is information - even in today's "New York Times," there's classified information that was leaked.
And so, I really don't see a distinction that matters between mainstream media and what WikiLeaks is doing.
OLBERMANN: Yes, if we issued licenses, that would be one thing, but we don't issue licenses. Anybody can be a journalist.
Are you disappointed? You mentioned what the Nixon administration tried to do. Are you disappointed about how effectively the Obama administration has been, either, you know, browbeat into retaining or employing practices that are reminiscent of some of the worst aspects of the Bush administration.
ROWLEY: Well, I and many other whistleblowers were very disappointed, because Obama campaigned on protecting whistleblowers. He promised that he would enact whistleblower protection.
There is a bill right now that I think has passed the Senate, but it still contains no protection for someone in the FBI or 16 intelligence agencies. And he's also prosecuting whistleblowers who blew the whistle on Bush's illegal actions - if you remember the warrantless monitoring.
So, that very much cuts across what he promised. And it's very disappointing to see this type of repression on the media.
OLBERMANN: Is there any relationship to your experience between the amount of reaction from the total number of governments relative to the comparable truth of what has been whistle-blown, what has been released by somebody like Assange?
ROWLEY: Well, the comparison - of course, WikiLeaks hasn't released a lot of documents, but they have not all been published. And he is working with mainstream press. So, again, I think it's quite responsible.
In my case, my memo leaked on its own. It was not my own intention to have it leaked, but once it got into the papers, it was my sole protection. I didn't realize that in the government, there really was no whistleblower protection.
OLBERMANN: Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistleblower - thank you for that and thank you for your time tonight.
The news from the Arizona death panels that Governor Jan Brewer had been uniformly grim until today brought the story of Carlos Olivas, Jr. He is raising money to try to fill the role that Arizona's Medicaid said it would fill for a man you know who needs a liver transplant, Francisco Felix. A week from Friday, Carlos turns 13. He'll join us.
OLBERMANN: A 13-year-old doing what the state of Arizona is too heartless to do, try to save a stranger's life.
First, another exclusive Countdown book report. The already soggy sales of Sarah Palin's "America By Heart" just got soggier. Publishing sources confirm that at a time when 43 of the 50 nonfiction best sellers saw sales jump on Nielsen book scan - what with Christmas looming - Palin sold 29 percent fewer copies than the week before, 36,000 compared to nearly 51,000.
One of the other titles to sell less, "Kardashian Confidential." Total sales through three weeks, 144,812; total sales of "Going Rogue" through three weeks, 811,491. That's an 82 percent fall off from the first book to the second. Nielson Book Scan does not include sales at Wal-Mart. But even if the book has sold as many copies just there as it has everywhere else combined, you're still looking at 70 percent of the print run of a million copies sitting in warehouses waiting to be returned to the publisher. Oops.
Let's play Oddball. We begin in Sian City (ph). In this age of Tupperware and Gladware, people are keeping their leftovers longer and longer, like 2,400 years. Archaeologists in China recently unearthed a bronze pot at a terra cotta grave site containing soup. Mm, 2,400-year-old soup.
Unfortunately, due to the oxidation from the bronze, the soup was inedible. Also, they forgot to bring spoons. Is it soup yet? Tests are being run to identify the exact ingredients, possibly an attempt to recreate the recipe. When a reporter asked when they would be able to taste the recreated soup, the lead archeologists shot back, no soup for you, and yanked the press credentials.
To Whiskey Island. Wow, really? Anyway, to Whiskey Island, Ohio, where winter is in full swing. This is not the witch's castle - white watch's castle from Narnia. High winds and frigid temperatures blew water up from Lake Erie, covered the lighthouse and the other navigation markers in layers of ice, disproving the myth that whiskey keeps you warm.
But the ice glistening in the sun has turned Whiskey Island into a winter wonderland, for everybody except the lighthouse keeper.
Finally, to the Vatican. This is not fake. Someone decided it would be a good idea to have acrobats perform for the Pope. How could this turn awkward. Oh, boy. Hey, ho, hey, yep! Hey, their act is based on Abu Ghraib.
As uncomfortable as this situation seems, there is little to actually warrant any sort of editorial comment. It's not like these shirtless men caused the Pope to get out of the chair and leave or - uh-oh, too many comments. Must resist.
Time marches on!
What was that?
The seventh grader trying to do what Arizona's governor is too heartless to do, save a stranger's life. He joins us next.
OLBERMANN: Once his homework is done, his free times these days is spent not playing baseball nor video games, two of his favorite activities, but rather collecting donations on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. In our third story, the money seventh grader Carlos Olivas Jr. is gathering is not for a school field trip, nor little league, but for a man Carlos has only met one, Francisco Felix, one of the nearly 100 Arizonians denied money for life saving organ transplants by Jan Brewer's death panel.
You have met Francisco Felix and his family on this news hour. Mr. Felix suffering from Hepatitis C and liver cancer needs a transplant in order to live. Carlos found out about Mr. Felix by watching the local news. Wanting to do something, he started collecting money on busy street corners, a dime at a time every day after school, and weekends too.
Carlos' work was so inspiring that his school decided to get involved in the cause by organizing a dress-down day. Students at Don Menson (ph) School in Glendale, Arizona, raising over 1,500 dollars. And tomorrow, Carlos gets to present the Felix family with a check at a school assembly. If you have been inspired by Carlos and you would like to donate to the Francisco Felix fund or anybody else's, go to NTAFund.org. Your donation will help someone in need of an organ transplant, like Mr. Felix, like Randy Shepard, who you've seen here, and Tiffany Tate and David Hernandez and Douglas Grivajna (ph), who was on the show last night.
Money donated will give them and others the opportunity to be listed for a transplant, as well as to afford the associated costs once they get the transplant.
And joining me now, as promised, is Carlos Olivas Jr., and his aunt, Anita Rueles.
Thank you both for some of your time tonight.
Hi, Carlos. How much money have you gotten - have you raised so far?
Do you know?
CARLOS OLIVAS, JR., RAISING MONEY FOR ORGAN TRANSPLANTS: By myself or by my school?
OLBERMANN: By yourself, sir.
OLIVAS: I have raised over 800 dollars by myself.
OLBERMANN: That's tremendous. Now, you found out about Mr. Felix while watching the local news. What made you decide to collect money for somebody you'd never met?
OLIVAS: I decided to collect money because my dad has crisis of the liver. And what if my dad ever needs a liver transplant and we won't have enough money. And what if a kid my age steps up and says, oh, if he could do it, why can't I bring my school rather than me?
OLBERMANN: You finally got to meet Mr. Felix at this news conference, when all the people who need the transplants were talking to the reporters. And you got to speak to him with the help of a translator. What was that like for you? What did the two of you talk about?
OLIVAS: We're talking about, like, how was I trying to help him and what was my goal. And he kept on thanking me and thanking me.
OLBERMANN: Was he surprised that you were doing this?
OLIVAS: Yeah, very surprised.
OLBERMANN: And did you tell him about your dad?
OLBERMANN: But he just got the impression that you were a kid who cared about other people?
OLBERMANN: Good. Where did you get the idea to go out on busy street corners? And when you're out there, how do people react when you tell them what you're raising the money for?
OLIVAS: I got the idea of going on street corners because when somebody in our family passes away or needs a surgery and they don't got insurance, we'll go out and ask for donations or a car wash. And since it's winter, I started to go out on the corners and ask for donations.
And my - what was the other question you asked me, I'm sorry?
OLBERMANN: What do people say when you tell them why you're asking for money? What is their reaction?
OLIVAS: Their reaction is shock, because I'm only 13 years old and trying to help save a man's life and letting him live another day and watch his kids grow up.
OLBERMANN: Your mom works for this Medicaid program that this is all a part of, the Access Program, and your father's currently receiving money from the Access Program. You know, the Arizona legislature has talked about making more cuts. And your sign talked about the cuts in the Access Program.
Are you worried about the money your dad will need from this program?
OLIVAS: Yeah, because what if we don't have it? As you say they cut more stuff out, like Access, it's going to be harder for us to help them help my dad.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask a question to you, Anita. When Carlos first approached the family about doing this for Mr. Felix, what was everybody's reaction?
ANITA RUELES, AUNT OF CARLOS OLIVAS, JR.: Well, we all just started crying. Everybody was crying in the kitchen. And we got ourselves together and then we had told him we would support him all the way.
OLBERMANN: And you go out - the family goes out and helps him now too?
RUELES: Yeah, we all kind of take turns on it - on going out there and watching after him. And whatever next step he wants to make, one of us are with him.
OLBERMANN: So Carlos, what is the next step? Is this something - have your experiences been enough for you to want to go and do this later, as you grow up? Is this something you've been very satisfied with, that you've gotten something out of too?
OLIVAS: My next step is to start my own foundation for transplants of any kind. But I don't want to start it when I'm already grown up. I want to start it as soon as next year, because maybe my dad might need it next year, and you never know. We might not have the money. And the foundation will help a lot, and help other people, not just my dad.
OLBERMANN: Got that exactly right, my friend. Carlos Olivas Jr., seventh grader trying to save our friend, Francisco Felix. Well done, sir. Happy birthday in advance. Thanks to you and thanks to Anita Rueles, your aunt. I really appreciate your time and what you're trying to do. Thanks a lot.
OLIVAS: Thank you.
RUELES: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: More good news, everybody. Texas is now 100 percent sanity free. After two state Democrats vote for the GOP, giving Governor Rick "nice hair dye" Perry, an internal super majority.
And this man calls fat jokes about Governor Christie of New Jersey racism. Guess who made a fat joke about a Democrat a year ago? Correct!
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, why the GOP is so determined to stop Start. Her guest, Senator John Kerry.
OLBERMANN: Texas goes all-Republican, just in time to make sure the Republicans get the blame for the cutting that will be required to make up for a 25 billion dollar state shortfall, next.
First, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for today's nominees for the worst persons in the world.
The bronze to the ludicrous new No Labels political organization. Its sales pitch is it's nonpartisan. Its sales pitch is also, in part, plagiarized. These are the No Labels' animals, designed by a Fly Communications, whose Dave Warren's insisted that they made this out of free clip art, and had not lifted it from the animals designed five years ago by Thomas Parastaki (ph), used by the More Party Animals political organization, whose sales pitch is it's nonpartisan.
Later, the No Labels contractor admitted, no, it wasn't a coincidence; it wasn't clip art, it was a rip off. Nice start for No Labels, which since it is a bunch of fraudulent conservative Democrats pretending to be moderates, and a bunch of fraudulent Republicans pretending to be independents, it really should have stuck with a different animal motif. Maybe, you know, wolves in sheep's clothing.
Our runner up, Neil Cavuto of Fox Noise, offended at recent jokes about the girth of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, offended enough to say, quote, "judging our leaders not by the qualities that matter, but the nonsense like this that does not - where greatness is defined not by who you are but how you look. You know what that is? That's racism with a scale."
So if that's racism with a scale, Neil, what's this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Brilliant, dedicated and experienced, and, oh yes, fat. The president's pick for surgeon general is fat. Not a lot fat, but enough fat for my next guest to say, fat chance, Dr. Regina Benjamin should even be considered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: When there are fat jokes about a Republican, that's racism; when there are fat jokes about a Democratic president's nominee for surgeon general, that's a segment. When there is hypocrisy, that's Neil Cavuto.
Just to add to it, last Friday, during the filibuster by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cavuto made a Depends joke.
But our winner, Congressman-elect Allen West of Florida. Golly! It's one thing to have disgraced the uniform of your country. It's one thing to ask your supporters to threaten your opponent during your election. It's one things to have delusions that you have a higher security clearance than the president does. And it's one thing to call for suppressing freedom of press in the Wikileaks case.
But it's quite another to be a bald-faced liar. From Mr. West's
Facebook page: "the media is clearly misled on a statement made by me
during a recent radio interview on what to do concerning Wikileaks. I am
heard on the African-American Conservative Radio show saying the media
should be censured, meaning harshly criticized. In no way would I ever ask
to censor anyone or any organization. It has never been my intent to quiet
or censor the press or anyone, for that matter, utilizing their right of
freedom of speech granted to them under - "
Bull crap. You listen, you decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN WEST (R), CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: And I think that we also should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled him to be able to do this, and then also supporting him and applauding him for the efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Censor. Not censure, censor. Let's play it again in slow motion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEST: We also should be censoring the American news agencies -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You know, if you want to tiptoe along that bright line of fascism, buddy, go right ahead. Just have the courage to admit it when you get caught.
Congressman-elect Allen West of Florida, liar, today's Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: in terms of modern day Tea Party pedigree, the state of Texas is nearly unparallel. It is home to the original libertarian Tea Partier, Ron Paul, and Astroturf Tea Party leader Dick Armey. And last year when Fox News and Glenn Beck were looking for a venue to hold its inaugural Tax Day Tea Party, they brought Ted Nugent with them to the Alamo.
Somebody's got a crush.
In our number one story, the state of Texas now has a Tea Party government that would make the Nuge proud. Yesterday at a news conference in Austin, the GOP - with the hair, what's with the hair - the GOP was happier than a gopher in sort dirt.
Governor Perry, a staunch Tea Partier, who's been known to beat around the succession bush, announcing the new super majority his Republican party in the statehouse has. November gains had put Republicans close to it in the House of Representatives.
Yesterday, two Democrats announced they would switch party, giving Republicans a two thirds super majority, 101 seats to 49. The upshot, the Democrats in Texas are now as relevant as the mythical Chupacabra. And the second largest state in the union is now a wholly controlled subsidiary of the Tea Party.
It means it gets to tackle the Texas-sized Republican created 25 billion dollar shortfall the state faces next year. Also, according to the "Dallas Morning News," this means, quote, "an easier path for an ambitious GOP social agenda that would crack down on immigrants, restrict abortion, and allow guns on campuses."
That will help the economy.
"Republicans also can approve constitutional amendments, such as bans on key provisions of the federal health care overhaul, all without a single Democratic vote."
To help me envision what a Tea Party Texas will look like in the future is Baratunde Thurston, comedian and director of Digital for "The Onion." Good to see you, sir.
BARATUNDE THURSTON, COMEDIAN: Good to be here, Keith. Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Just for frame of reference, have you ever been to Texas?
Have you ever been to a Tea Party rally?
THURSTON: I have never been to a tea party rally, but I have a long history in Texas. It's a large and unique country, with strange customs. I've had family live there, some of my best friends are from there. I was even a precinct captain for the Obama campaign in Dallas. And I visit every year. I'm really going to miss it.
OLBERMANN: Have they changed the textbooks ten times in your experience with Texas, or 25? Because rewriting history to fit the Tea Party's version has been kind of an institution lately. I imagine now that the revision of the history might now increase.
THURSTON: It's hard to imagine it getting much worse. There's been an extreme right-wing takeover of the curriculum down there, and that affects what happens to the textbooks in the rest of America. So it's actually a big deal for the entire country, not just Texas.
We're talking about stripping civil rights, reducing women's history, taking evolution out. And when you start messing with science, things get a little tricky, because I kind of feel like that's an all or nothing game. You take science or you leave it. You don't have the world be 6,000 years old and then use the Internet to talk about it. That's inconsistent.
THURSTON: "The Onion" actually did a story about how they might be teaching Spanish in English in Texas. And people thought that was absurd, but in Rick Perry's super majority, maybe not so much.
OLBERMANN: And the other point, of course, is that huge state is extremely diverse. In fact, at current rates of projection, the Hispanic majority will be in place within about 20 years in the state. Not everybody's going to fall in line with this Tea Party agenda. Is there a backlash coming, and a big one?
THURSTON: I can imagine a backlash, certainly in the future elections. I think there's going to be some backlash to the backlash. I can imagine reservations being set up, little socialist reserves in places like Austin, and outposts in a lot of the mostly metro areas of the state. But I do think there'll be a particular backlash for these Democratic representatives, who not only switched party, but I was reading - "Burnt Orange Report" did a great analysis of this, talking about the fact they did it after the election is the real crime against democracy here.
They sort of shamed the title representative, because they're not really representing the people who sent them there and the money that got them there.
OLBERMANN: One can also envision some day like an Austin airlift, by the way.
THURSTON: Well, there'll definitely be passes to go in and out. Got to have a lot of checklists.
OLBERMANN: And as I mentioned, the state's governor has alluded to succession from the union in the past. Is that now - are they just going to talking about it because it's - you know, it's political masturbation, basically, is what it is. But are they just going to talk about it, or might they actually do it?
THURSTON: Texans love to talk about Texas. Don't mess with Texas is a big phrase down there. And Rick Perry has done more than flirt with succession. I say don't talk about it, be about it. Let's see. You've got your super majority, there's nothing stopping you. I am going to miss the music scene and the barbecue from Salt Lick. But I think Texas will miss that net flow of income from the federal government into its coffers.
OLBERMANN: And also the NFL moving the Cowboys out and the NBA moving the Mavs out.
THURSTON: It's going to get ugly.
OLBERMANN: Baseball teams having to leave. According to the "Morning News," the GOP social agenda that could get fast tracked would include legislation that would allow guns on campuses. Any problems with that?
THURSTON: Besides the obvious ones, no. I think that's probably not going to be far enough for some people in this new GOP majority. They would probably like to see a world where you're required to see a gun, kind of like car insurance, except with guns. You'll be fined if you're not actually holding.
OLBERMANN: And going back to revising history, have we misunderstood all these years why Texas was admitted to the union in the middle of the 19th century. Were they just sort of like a prototype of Iraq? Did we just take them for their oil, and now it's time we let them sort of toddle off on their own?
THURSTON: You're suggesting maybe we liberate Texas in the 1800s. I don't quite see it that way. I certainly don't see Texas' future that way. And even as we talk about these extremes, which seem to be a very big deal for folks not in Texas, certainly not from there, it's also good to remember that the same state that produced Dick Armey and Rick Perry also produced Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower. So things can swing back and forth. I have faith in the future of Texas.
OLBERMANN: As a proud winner of the Molly Ivins Award, yes, I'm glad you brought her up. And I wish you were in charge and with us to this day. Baratunde Thurston, the director of Digital at "The Onion," great thanks for your time tonight.
THURSTON: Thanks so much for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's December 15th, nine days since the Republicans got the deal for taxes for the rich. Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?
I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
now to discuss the game the GOP is playing with national security with Senator John Kerry, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END