Wednesday, January 5, 2011

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
video podcast (fixed)

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guests: Howard Fineman, Rep. Barney Frank, Akhil Reed Amar, Kyrsten Sinema, Howard Dean



KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?


LORRAINE MILLER, HOUSE CLERK: Therefore, the honorable John A. Boehner of the state of Ohio, having received the majority of the votes cast, is duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives.



OLBERMANN: Here we go. Wait for it. Not yet.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Knowing that I am but its caretaker.




BOEHNER: After all, this is the People's House.


OLBERMANN: Weeper Boehner promises tax cuts without paying for them, will he live up to his promise of cutting $100 billion. Maybe $30 billion.

Just a little reminder: the stimulus, health care, financial reform, "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, Lily Ledbetter, SCHIP, minimum wage increase, 300 more bills the Senate didn't have the chops to pass - and as it says in red, white and blue: "Best Speaker Ever."

First bold Republican move? They will prove they can read aloud.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here. I got a book here called the USS Constitution.


OLBERMANN: No, that's a boat. To quote the "Princess Bride" -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep using the word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


OLBERMANN: The surprises for the GOP the Tea Party in that Constitution.

Death panels real and imagined. Imagined? Real - a Tucson hospital confirms tonight a second person denied transplant coverage by Arizona has died.

Emanuel gone, Summers out, and now, Robert Gibbs resigns. New advisers - are they the liberation of the president 2011? To paraphrase James Watt (ph), "Let Obama be Obama" - with Howard Dean.

And -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say something with that great radio voice.

TED WILLIAMS: When you're listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you're listening to Magic 98.9.


OLBERMANN: From no home to "no letup in the job offers."

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.


WILLIAMS: And we'll be back with more right after these words.




OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, January 5th, 671 days until the 2012 presidential election.

And it's morning sickness in America. The one-night stand against Congress in November resulting in a brand-new speaker of the House in January, Congressman John "hankie please" Boehner.

In our fifth story: a headache from the diminished Democrats but also from the emboldened Republicans already breaking their Tea Party promises. Welcome to the 112th Congress, discount house of worship and flea circus.

But first, the now former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who unlike President Obama himself, delivered just about everything the president promised, even when the grossly dysfunctional Senate did and could not.

Speaker Pelosi, four years in that post, handing it over.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of Mr. -

Speaker Boehner, I now pass this -


PELOSI: I now pass this gavel and the sacred trust that goes with it to the new speaker. God bless you, Speaker Boehner.



OLBERMANN: Coming up in inadequacy, Johnny?

Mr. Boehner of Ohio became the 53rd speaker of the House describing this day as a time of great challenges.


BOEHNER: Nearly one in 10 of our neighbors is out of work. Health care costs are still rising for American families.


OLBERMANN: So, one of the first acts of Republicans will be to try to repeal health care reform, the Affordable Care Act. If that repeal actually became law, it would increase health care costs as well as add to the deficit. More on that in a moment.

The new speaker heralded new rules.


BOEHNER: Old rules that have made it easy to increase spending will be replaced by new reforms that make it easier to cut spending.


OLBERMANN: In fact, House Republicans today weakened budget rules known as PAYGO. The GOP's new rules exempt most tax cuts from offset requirements, making it easier to pass tax cuts that add to the deficit.


BOEHNER: And to my colleagues in the majority, my message is this: we will honor our pledge to America.


OLBERMANN: But the pledge by House Republicans to cut $100 billion from this year's budget has quickly morphed into something far less. Since by the time the current stopgap measures expire, the fiscal year will already be halfway over, a circumstance the GOP is blaming on Democrats for not getting the budget through last year.


BOEHNER: (AUDIO BREAK) openness. You will not have the right to willfully disrupt the proceedings of the People's House. But you will always have the right to a robust debate in an open process that allows you to represent your constituents to make your case, offer alternatives, and be heard.


OLBERMANN: And ignored.

But the new House majority leader, Eric Cantor, has already suggested that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would not employ that open rule that allows for amendments. Quoting him, "It's a straightforward document. This was litigated in the last election. Most people out there believe that this health care bill has been litigated."

What Republicans are trying to avoid are amendments by Democrats that would carve out popular elements of the health care bill to force Republicans to take a stand on those provisions one by one. Of course, it is mostly moot since health care repeal will not get through the Senate. But House GOP members want to get these symbolic Tea Party-fueled votes out of the way.


BOEHNER: And say what - say - do what we say we're going to do.


OLBERMANN: That was not an affliction there but it may be telling.

And this - this is not quite crying.


BOEHNER: That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing that I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the People's House.


OLBERMANN: It looks like the keg on a stick.

The proudly weepy speaker made it through his speech even though he needed the help of his hankie to get him there. And today's big winner here, the corporate elite.

"Think Progress" reporting that David Koch, hosting a party for Republicans this evening. Koch Industries responsible for Americans for Prosperity, one of the classic cases of corporate interests leading the so-called Tea Party movement by its nose. Koch Industry lobbyists entered the Capitol, along with members of Congress and their families for Mr. Boehner's swearing in - according to "Think Progress."

Let's turn to Congressman Barney Frank from the fourth district of Massachusetts.

Thank you for your time tonight, Congressman.


OLBERMANN: You survived the Bush era Republican Congress. What do you make of the look of the one that took power today?

FRANK: Well, it's going to be worse. The extreme right wing - I guess you got to quote Ronald Reagan. The right hand doesn't know what the far right hand is doing.

Mainstream conservatives were knocked off in the primary by people very much on the right who, frankly, have made unrealistic promises. That's why you see them breaking their promises. And what's going to happen, I think, is a great deal of chaos.

When I was in the minority, and Michael Oxley is chairman of the committee I'm now going to be ranking member on, we were able to work together. He was very distressed by a group of extreme conservatives who we considered to be disruptive. They're now running the place.

For an example, one of the first things they're going to do in the area where I'm involved is to try to reduce funding that's needed to the Security and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission so they can regulate derivatives. These people are very angry at the fact that we said we're going to try to regulate these derivatives, credit default swaps, et cetera, and they are going to be literally trying to disarm the two agencies that are supposed to be doing it.

As I've said, they yearn for the thrilling days of yesteryear when the lone ranges can ride again.

OLBERMANN: Sir, tangentially to that, there's been a lot of informed speculation already that the Republicans will either use the debt ceiling vote and/or threatening to shut the government down, whether they say, it's that way or not, just the same thing either way, in order to try to extract major concessions from Democrats on spending, maybe touch Social Security.

Is that what you're feeling? And how were this latest addition of governance by blackmail?

FRANK: That is appalling. And, by the way, we have two wars going on. I wish we didn't.

I voted against the war in Iraq, the greatest waste of money in our history.


FRANK: The war in Afghanistan I originally was for. I think we have long since passed that point. They're going to shut down the debt limit. They're going to shut down the government while we've got young men and women in combat positions?

These are the people who often talking about how patriotic they are. Have they no brains whatsoever to understand what that means when you've got troops out in the field?

And I want to be very clear. I see them saying, well, if the president is nice to us, we'll agree to raise the debt limit. (INAUDIBLE) to me. I voted against going to war in Iraq. I didn't vote to incur these trillions of dollars of debt in many cases that came from that policy.

Again, the notion that these patriotic, "let's support our troops" people would even threaten to shut down financing with the government when you've got troops in the field is just bizarre.

OLBERMANN: On the subject of health care reform, obviously, there is a new debate that should be had about health care reform since the American public is becoming aware of some of the early benefits. In this House, under this speaker, is that debate going to be permitted to happen?

FRANK: No. This is just, again, fantastic. On the one hand, Boehner says we're going to have open debate. Cantor says there are going to be amendments. And they say, oh, and, by the way, the bill is coming up next week with no amendments. And we adopted the rules today with no amendments.

I mean, again, you become dumbfounded. The view is we will say "X" and then we will do the opposite of "X," and so what? Again, it's a kind of a Marxist approach when they talk about how open they are going to be and the Marxist I'm talking about is Chico (ph) when he said one thing, who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes? I'm going to believe my own eyes. These people are just lame.

I mean, and they say, yes, it's going to be open and then the most important bill, health care, is going to come up with no amendments. The rules, no amendment. We tried to offer an amendment, they move to the table, they shut off debate. So, it is just extraordinary. They said to us, they think they can just say one thing and do the exact opposite.

And then, of course, the final thing - and this is the biggest hypocrisy, these are people who talk about cutting spending, cutting spending, and they're critical of the president for not spending enough on the military. And under them, military spending will go up and up and up, and it will blot out our ability to do anything else about the quality of life in America.

OLBERMANN: Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, it must be hell in there. Good luck in the next two years.

FRANK: Well, I'm not working as hard. I'm frustrated that we're not doing better, but there's a certain interest in watching these gyrations which are - just as I said, bizarre.

OBLERMANN: And Chico Marxist. Thank you again, sir.

Let's turn to the senior political editor of "The Huffington Post," MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.

I guess we'll talk about Groucho.

Good evening, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Keith, it's a great privilege to be on Countdown. It's not so great to follow Barney Frank.

OLBERMANN: OK. You know, on fire as they used to say.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

OLBERMANN: This $100 billion budget cut promise by the Republicans, changing - and what's the latest on this? Are they down to two $5 off coupons?

FINEMAN: Well, I was literally chasing that number all around the Hill today during the first day. And, you know, you didn't read the fine print, Keith, clearly, when you heard them say during the campaign that they were going to cut $100 billion from the federal budget.

Well, now it turns out - first of all, that they weren't talking about the whole budget. They were talking about the budget minus defense spending as Congressman Frank pointed out and homeland security and veterans benefits and entitlements. So, it was a smaller pie that they were going to have to cut.

But then you didn't read the fine print where they were talking about cutting $100 billion from the president's budget. And, of course, the president's budget never passed and the Democrats' budget which also didn't pass which were, of course, bigger, which would have allowed them to claim a bigger cut.

So, now, they're going to cut - they're going to have to cut from, you know, what's left, which is the continuing resolution budget, which is already half done for the year. So, if you follow that bouncing ball all the way over to the Senate, where I talked to the realists over there today, one top staffer said, "Look, when it's all said and done, we'll probably be able to cut about, if we're lucky, about $30 billion out of what's left of this year's budget. So, we've gone from $100 billion to about $30 billion."

OLBERMANN: All right. Thirty percent promised return.

Also, some of these budget decisions, are these going to be the first sort of clash of the titans here, the reality setting in for the Republicans, the Tea Party forces versus constituents and even some of the Republican state governors who don't actually want draconian cuts and guts in government spending?

FINEMAN: Yes, well, first of all, a lot of Tea Partiers are going to be upset by the numbers that I was just telling you, on the one hand. On the other hand, a lot of - a lot of members, including some new members, are going to realize that if they're actually going to cut even $30 billion from what's left of the half year of the budget, it's going to greatly affect things like transportation projects and some education stuff, not earmarks now, but, you know, money for roads - real money for roads and schools and so forth that as you point out, state governors don't want to see cut, some health care spending and so forth.

So, when you talk to somebody like Peter King, the Republican congressman from New York, you said, you know, $100 billion, unrealistic, $50 billion, you know, maybe, maybe not. But we've got to be really careful. He's now a committee chairman.

So, a lot of the older guys, a lot of the guys that Barney Frank was talking about who started out as revolutionaries perhaps and maybe still right-wing Republicans in certain respects are also committee chairmen and they want the right to spend some money.

OLBERMANN: We know Mr. Boehner has a plan - a strategy to have a gavel that looks either like a keg on a stick or a croquet mallet - do House Democrats have an overarching strategy? Did congressman frank hint at it, sit back and let the two parts of the GOP sort of kill each other?

FINEMAN: Yes. I think that's what they're going to - they're going to sit back and watch and issue press releases on go on Countdown because there isn't a whole lot else they're going to be able to do - because actually if you look carefully at what Speaker Boehner is doing, he's taking power away from the committees and centralizing it further in a few places.

So, even a lot of Republicans, especially these Tea Party Republicans who came in thinking they're going to have a lot of power and they're going to do all these amendments on the floor and they're going to do this and they're going to do that, they're going to be answering to the central authority at the top of the chain, which is - which is Speaker Boehner and leader Cantor. Those are the people who are going to be making all the decisions.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst, and of "The Huffington Post," of course - as always, great hanks for your time tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: In their first full day of power, the Republicans are going to get right to work reading the Constitution. Funny, you would have thought they had read the Constitution by now. Regardless, they will do it aloud tomorrow and an expert on it from Yale says they will be surprised when they hear it and realize this was not written by, nor amended by people who wanted a small federal government - next.


OLBERMANN: This out loud reading of the Constitution done twice before, both times by Democrats. A Yale constitutional scholar on the surprises tomorrow in that document for the GOP.

The confirmation by a Tucson hospital that a patient needing a transplant has died due to her death panel.

His statement today from the president can now come into his own with the resignation of the last of his old school advisers, Press Secretary Gibbs.

And, the new voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers? Ahead.


OLBERMANN: It is unclear at this hour whether when they read out the Constitution tomorrow as if they wrote it and as if they own it, House Republicans will skip those little amended clauses like the part about slaves being three-fifths of a person. The reading was a Tea Party priority, but in our fourth story tonight: Progressives have seen an opening. They are relishing the prospect of incoming Tea Party Republicans forced to read aloud from the Constitution the proof that their ideas about the Constitution are wrong.

The reading embraced by new Speaker Boehner but originated by Tea Party original intent, Founding Father worshippers who think that tomorrow's reading will somehow part the seas for their vision of the country to emerge. They might be in for a shock tomorrow. That is, if they even understand the words they will read. That's not a gratuitous jab.

The ability to understand the Constitution relies on the ability to understand words and that ability is by no means certain. Tea Party Congresswoman Michele Bachmann having called the words, we the people, quote, "infamous," unquote.

Mr. Boehner himself said last fall that, quote, "We always hear members of Congress talking about swearing an oath to represent their constituents, when in reality, the only oath we take is to the Constitution."

But if tomorrow, at least, they hear the words of reality, what they will learn about the Constitution, the founders' original intent, may surprise them. After 10 years of the Founding Fathers' original plan, the Articles of Confederation which let the states run the show, they trashed the thing, substituting the Constitution to create a stronger central government with powers both vague and specific.

Article I, Section VIII, Clause I, the power specifically to raise your taxes and then to spend it on pretty much whatever the government wants. The quote, "to provide for the general welfare." The power to regulate commerce across national borders and across state borders, the power to write the rules of naturalizing citizens.

Eight separate amendments give the federal power even more power to ensure voting rights, civil rights and levy income taxes.

The 17th Amendment took away the power of state legislatures to elect U.S. senators. Adding to existing constitutional limits on the states: no separate foreign policies. No state currency. No taxing goods to or from other states and the list goes on.

As Garrett Epps of "The Atlantic" wrote, "The U.S. Constitution even refers to international law."

Joining us now on the horrors that await the Tea Party and the Constitution tomorrow, Akhil Reed Amar, the associate professor of law and political science at Yale where he teaches constitutional law.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

AKHIL REED AMAR, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: It's an honor to be here. I'm a real fan.

OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.

Is the headline from tomorrow's reading, should we expect that the revolution was not conducted by and the Constitution was not written by conservative people?

AMAR: Exactly. The American revolutionaries were just that. They actually took on the world's most powerful monarchy. They were the liberal Democrats of the era. And the people who gave us the Constitution were the nationalists.

So, liberal nationalists gave you the Constitution. We call them federalists. The states rights folks, the Articles of Confederation folks, the conservatives, they were against it. They were the anti-federalists.

Then, we have a great Civil War, ad it's once again, the liberal nationalists, the Party of Lincoln, the Republican Party, who add 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment to the Constitution - again, egalitarian liberal nationalizing. Then in the 19-teens, we have a series of amendments, the income tax amendments, women's suffrage, changing the Senate - again liberal egalitarian nationalists. And once again in the 1960s a series of amendments ending poll taxes, bringing D.C. into the system in a stronger way. A lot of black people live in D.C.

So, these are, again, liberal nationalizing anti-states rights amendments. A whole bunch of amendments end with the words "Congress shall have power" and you got it just right. The longest article of the Constitution, Article I, its longest section is Section VIII. I'm going to pull it out right here, and it doesn't just say taxes once. It says it, in effect, four times.

Just in case you missed the point. "The Congress shall have the power to collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises." So, they're very clear we're going to have taxes and we're going to have them because that is necessary for proper purposes, for common defense and general welfare.

OLBERMANN: Tea Partiers and even members of Congress, Professor, have been known to add this word expressly to the phrase that says that any powers that are not given to the federal government go to the states or to the people. But that word expressly has its own little interesting history in the failed original plan, the Articles of Confederation, correct?

AMAR: It does. It was a word in Article II of the Articles of Confederation. It was purposely omitted from the necessary and proper clauses, from Article I, Section VIII, from which I just read. And by the way, I always carry this with me and have for 20 years. When I'm not in the shower, that's the one exception.

But I'm with them and reading the thing, let's take it seriously. The framers purposely omitted the word expressly. This was emphasized in two different federalist papers, numbers 33 and 44 and then a Tenth Amendment is added. It's affirming the idea that the federal powers are still limited.

States rights folks wanted to add the word expressly to that. It was the guy from South Carolina, of course, it would be from South Carolina, Thomas Tudor Tucker, who proposed it.

Let me read what you Madison said in response. This is James Madison, the father of the Constitution, the father of the Bill of Rights. He fights off this effort to put expressly into the Tenth Amendment. Here is what he says. This is a direct quote from the first Congress.

"It was impossible to confine a government to the exercise of express powers. There must necessarily be admitted powers by implication, unless the Constitution descended to recount every minutia."

If you actually have to specify every single power of the document, it would be way too long. Ordinary people couldn't understand it. It wouldn't come from we, the people. It doesn't say, for example - there's no bank clause in the Constitution, and yet we have a federal - we have a federal bank early on, the great John Marshall, affirmed that Congress could do that even though there's no - and he says this very clearly, there's no expressed provision. It's an implied power.

OLBERMANN: Well, as you know, James Madison was a well-known socialist. Just have to throw out anything that he says.

What about the idea that to a certain degree the Tea Party and even Republicans look at the Constitution as if it were the Bible, both in how they seem to think it's holy and perfect, but also this ability that they seem to have, especially, they don't understand the words to read into it whatever they want?

AMAR: Well, it's - I respect their reverence for the document. I have it, too. But it's not wholly writ.

That's why it can be amended. We don't go around general adding new scriptures. But this thing has been amended over the years and, in fact, the Tea Partiers themselves say, well, we want to rethink, the 14th, the 16th, the 17th Amendments.

So, in that way, it's not quite wholly writ. It's manmade. It can be perfect still with amendments. And those amendments can be liberal or conservative.

OLBERMANN: Akhil Reed Amar, the professor of law and political science at Yale - great thanks for your time. Very informative and entertaining at the same time.

AMAR: Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN: Yesterday, he was a homeless American with a great voice. Today, he's on the verge of going to work for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. Next.


OLBERMANN: The Republicans keep pushing the lie of death panels in health care reform, while ignoring the actual death panels in Arizona, which we are told tonight claimed a victim last week. The push to repeal what Jan Brewer has wrought, including the efforts of some Republicans next.

First, the sanity report and an update on Ted Williams. Ted Williams? You met him yesterday on this news hour, a homeless man at the intersection of I-71 and Hudson Street in Columbus, Ohio, a homeless man, an ex-announcer with pipes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say something with that great radio voice.

TED WILLIAMS, EX-ANNOUNCER: When you're listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you're listening to Magic 98.9.


OLBERMANN: The Ohio Credit Union League has offered him a job doing voice-overs on its next marketing campaign, plus a place to live. Local station WNCI offered him up to 10,000 dollars in radio announcing work. And basketball's Cleveland Cavaliers have offered him work as an announcer, and also to replace LeBron James.

It's not all beauty and light, though. reporting Mr. Williams was to fly to New York this afternoon for a reunion with his 92-year-old mother. TSA wouldn't let him get on the plane. No ID.

Let's play Oddball.

Also in sports, we travel to Japan for the final leg of the 87th annual Tokyo Hockoney (ph) Collegiate Acedian (ph), a relay race between Japanese universities. Each leg is about 20 miles long. Gritty, gusty Kro Ku Gakuchan (ph) Freshman Natsuki Tarada (ph) passes three other racers with 200 meters to go. He goes to make the final turn and he in the race, with one slight problem, there is no final turn.

The other three racers continued straight ahead as Mr. Tarada did a quick about-face, and able to recover and re-pass a runner, which gave his team tenth place, the final qualifying spot for next year's race. And maybe next year he will learn the layout of the course before the race begins.

Springhill, Florida, hello. Let's meet James Jablon (ph). Mr. Jablon is the director of Wildlife Rehabilitation in Orlando. He's come up with what he thinks is a genius way to raise some money. Saturday, he moved into his facility's lion's den.

Mr. Jablon says he plans to live with the center's two lions, Ed and Lea. He will even sleep alongside them on a bed and hay. He says he plans to do this for 30 days. Or until they get hungry.

Time marches on.

There is now a fatality attributable to Governor Jan Brewer's death panels. The efforts to stop her before it isn't just reports and it isn't just one, next.


OLBERMANN: The Associated Press tonight confirms that a second patient whose transplant insurance coverage was reneged on by the state of Arizona has died. There are two death panels in the country, the imaginary one with which Republicans scare the stupid, and the real one they ignore because GOP Governor Jan Brewer is running it.

Our third story, the White House pushes back against the newest fake death panel witch-hunt, while Arizona's lawmakers fight back before Brewer lets more of her citizens die. First, "the New York Times" reporting today that the Obama administration would revise a Medicare regulation to delete references to end of life planning as part of the annual physical examinations covered under the new health care law.

Those end of life planning references had spawned the lie that the new health care reform law would create government run death panels. Before another political and perhaps legislative fight, the White House removed the language, though a spokesperson for Health and Human Services told us, quote, "nothing in this action prohibits patients having voluntary advanced care planning."

Still, that did not stop one of the main instigators of 2009's Politifact Lie of the Year from crowing. According to health insurance industry paid liar Betsy McCoy, this is, quote, "victory for American seniors." Perhaps that's because end of life planning appears to still be viable via Medicare.

And then there is Arizona, where Monday Governor Brewer was inaugurated to her first term as an elected governor of that state.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I can tell you from experience that there's nothing like an election to make the office feel a whole lot better.


OLBERMANN: Guess who is not feeling better? Viewers of this program over the past few months have been introduced to several of the roughly 100 Arizona citizens who have been denied the opportunity for lifesaving organ transplant because Jan Brewer decided the transplants and the people were optional.

Governor Brewer's cuts to the state's Medicaid program took effect in October. Since then, Democrats and the victims of the decision have repeatedly called for the government to convene a special session of the state's Republican-controlled legislature to act to save people's lives.

Brewer has refused. Yesterday, the Republican State House Appropriations chairman said he would review the cuts to the transplant program as part of the budget hearing for the state's Medicaid program early in the 2011 legislative session.

We're joined now by Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat from the Arizona 15th district. Senator, thanks for your time tonight.

STATE SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D), ARIZONA: Keith, it's great to be here with you.

OLBERMANN: Today, your incoming minority leader, David Shapira issued a statement about this. And it said "University Medical Center in Tucson has confirmed that a UMC patient who was awaiting a transplant but was refused the life saving procedure because of Republican budget cuts has died."

The hospital spokesperson told the Associate Press that hospital officials say that the death was most likely a result of this scaled back coverage, the insurance coverage, from the state of Arizona for transplants.

SINEMA: That's correct.

OLBERMANN: Are we seeing the beginning of the nightmare scenario we feared at the end of last year?

SINEMA: That's absolutely right, Keith. In fact, many of us said time and time again during the budget process last spring that cutting these transplants would, indeed, lead directly to the deaths of these individuals. There were 99 Arizonans on the wait list for these transplants. Now there are only 97. Two have died.

OLBERMANN: The Republican House Appropriations chair said, as I just quoted him, that he is going to take this up early in the session. What do you know about when and how this will get corrected, if at all? Read the temperature there.

SINEMA: Well, we're not quite sure what Republicans plan to do. But I can tell you this, Keith, on Monday, which is the opening day of our legislative session, I'll be introducing two bills. One bill that restores the funding for transplants, and a second bill that closes a tax loophole for big businesses in order to pay for those transplants.

Governor Brewer has been saying that we just can't afford these transplants. She put forth a challenge to Democrats to find a way to pay for that. So I found a way, and I'll be offering that legislation. And I fully expect my Republican colleagues in both the Senate and the House to take up that legislation and debate it seriously.

OLBERMANN: Now you've been in touch with in the past with these 97, as you point out, remaining members of that kicked off the transplant list. Have you been in contact with any of them since the news happened today?

SINEMA: I heard from one of the gentlemen, a gentleman whose wife was actually on your show. He was the gentleman who had actually received a donor. A family friend passed away and offered their liver to him. And because of the cuts, he wasn't able to get that liver.

That liver went to someone else who had health insurance. So I did hear from that family today. And they are grieving, as are, I'm sure, many Arizonians around the state for this unnecessary loss of life, due solely to the capricious whim of Governor Brewer and legislative Republicans.

OLBERMANN: That would be Francisco Felix, obviously. As somebody who has been vocal about this issue from the beginning in Arizona, how does it sit with you that the only death panel being talked about on a national level, and not just in the Fox News of this world, but in some supposedly reputable news organizations, is this fake one that Republicans made up out of whole cloth to get ordinary people to act against their own self-interests?

SINEMA: Well, you know, the sad thing about that, Keith, is it takes a very real issue and politicizes it. So while individuals across the country are pretending that there are death panels in the federal congressional legislation, right here in Arizona we actually see them every single day.

Jan Brewer is just refusing - refusing - to look at the options that are available to her to easily refund this program. You know, Keith, a lot of people don't know this, but the program costs only 1.4 million dollars a year, which in the context of a state budget is very small - very, very small.

And so this really is a capricious decision made on the part of Governor Brewer and legislative Republicans.

OLBERMANN: Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema, great thanks, as always. Take care.

SINEMA: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: We remind our viewers again that if you want to help any of the Arizona families we've had on the program, or anybody at all - we mentioned Francisco Felix - you can donate to the National Transplant Assistance Fund online at

The president of Romania has a deficit reduction plan. It involves taxing witches. Guess which special interest group does not like this plan.

And it's only the departure of a press secretary. Why Howard Dean thinks it could be part of the re-energizing of the presidency, ahead.


OLBERMANN: Howard Dean on his theory that the change in advisers could amp up the Obama presidency. He is next. First, name that tune in three notes. Get out your pitchforks and torches, time for today's nominees for the Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to the unnamed woman in Wanetka (ph), Illinois, who got a garbled phone call from her husband. She could just barely hear him. But more importantly, she could hear gangster like warnings about killing or mayhem or something. Naturally, she concluded her husband was being held hostage. So she called 911 and within minutes 30 SWAT team members had descended on her husband's office, which is in the same building as the Carlton Washburn School.

The place was locked down for three hours. Then they found the guy safe at home. It wasn't a hostage situation. It was a butt call. He had his cell in his back pocket. As he was driving home, he shifted weight and pocket phoned his own wife. The threatening language she heard? He was listening to rap on the car radio.

The runner-up tonight, President Traian Basescu of Romania. His government is now under assault for new taxes on witches and fortune tellers. A dozen witches are headed to the beautiful Blue Danube to put a hex on the government, which opposed the taxes in hopes of making up a budget deficit. Alicia, the witch, says the law is crazy because witches and fortune tellers make almost no money to begin with. The president and his government are reportedly defending themselves by wearing purple on Thursdays, which is supposed to ward off hexes and spells.

How ridiculous is this? A country where the government is terrified of people dressed up in clothing from the 18th century shouting meaningless catch phrases and threatening dire consequences unless taxes are rolled back on - oh, yeah, the Tea Party.




OLBERMANN: But our winner, David Williams, president of the State Senate in Kentucky. He wants to be governor, so naturally, in this environment, his best path is to introduce Senate Bill VI, which makes Arizona's Papers Please Law look like a mass mailing of invitations to a Christmas Party.

Mr. Williams' bill would allow Kentucky police to stop any person and ask if they are in the country illegally. If they can't proven they are not, they could be charged with trespassing, booked and jailed, whether they're American citizens or not.

Apart from the human rights obscenities included in Mr. Williams' bill, and his heart, he wants to do this in a state nationally known for the horse business, an industry that would collapse without undocumented workers.

Genius. David Williams, Republican, would be governor of Kentucky, or, as it would be, dictator of Kentucky, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Add Robert Gibbs to the alumni association. Rahm Emanuel, Lawrence Summers, David Axelrod next month, now Gibbs resigned as press secretary today. Departure date to be determined. All of this, in our number one story, is imperative to the future success of the Obama administration.

That is the opinion of no less an authority than former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who joins me presently. Speaking this morning at a breakfast with reporters, Governor Dean said he's not talking specifically about Gibbs or Emanuel, but rather the entire mind set perpetuated by President Obama's outgoing senior staff members. Quoting, "there's a huge desire to change the way Washington does business, and the president hires a senior staff, mostly people with 20-year careers in Washington. If you want to change Washington, you can't hire people that benefited from the old system to change it into a new system. That was a fundamental problem."

Lest you think this is a new realization for the governor, here are his comments on the White House staff just shortly after the professional left jab by Mr. Gibbs last summer.


HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: The people around the president have really misjudged what goes on elsewhere in the country, other than Washington, D.C. I don't think this is true of the president, but I do think his people, his political people, have got to go out and spend some time outside of Washington for a while.


OLBERMANN: Governor Dean says he's encouraged by news that Clinton-era Commerce Secretary William Daley is in the running for the chief of staff position, calling Daley, quote, a grown-up who gets that you don't treat people like you know everything and they don't.

I'm in trouble.

NBC News reporting that Daley met today with the president and acting chief of staff Pete Rouse at the White House.

And as promised, here is the former governor of Vermont, former chairman of the DNC, 2004 presidential candidate, consultant to Mckenna, Long and Aldridge, consultant to Democracy for America, contributor to cNBC, physician and fancy dancer, Howard Dean.

Governor, good evening.

DEAN: There we go. How are you? What an introduction.

OLBERMANN: I make the introduction longer each time. It's been my feeling for a while that the president was unchanged from the candidate, but that he had been hamstrung by a lot of these advisers. I take it that you agree, to some degree, with that. But if you do, give me an example how it actually worked out.

DEAN: Well, the health care bill I thought really hurt us at the polls. And the reason was not because there was no public option or all the things that the progressives wanted. The reason was that the deal went down with the same old business that it always does in Washington. That is the various interest groups paraded into the White House. Deals were cut.

And that is what people really wanted to see changed. In fact, oddly enough, the Tea Party was able to take advantage of that sentiment, because we didn't. And we should have. I think that's partly because inside the Beltway folks thinks that's how you're supposed to do business in Washington. I don't think most Americans believe that.

So I think now - you know, Bill Daley is much more conservative than I am. And - but I think this is a good thing, if this is, in fact, what happens. And the reason I do is you can do business with a person who cares what the facts are and is respectful of everybody. And he will be respectful of everybody in the party.

He will be conservative, by Democratic standards. But he knows Washington. He's not of Washington. He gets what the rest of the country is thinking. And I think that's very, very important in this White House.

OLBERMANN: It's the only part of what I heard of what you said today that I didn't follow, in the sense that, you know, having been in the administration for President Clinton, and now being at a major financial company, at a time of major financial companies screwing the country, how is he outside of Washington then?

DEAN: Well, because I think he spends his time in Chicago not Washington, I know Bill Daley. I've spent time with him over the years. I don't know him very, very well, but I know him and I respect him. I think he's a thoughtful, smart guy.

I agree with you that the background on Wall Street is certainly something that you want to be careful of, because it is Wall Street that really precipitated this enormous economic crash we have just been through, and are fortunately now I think on the way out of.

So you do have to worry about that. The labor unions are going to have some concerns about him. The reason - and as I said before, I want to have some disagreements with him. He is not a progressive. But I don't care so much what somebody's point of view is. All I want to know is can you deal with him straight up, and will they keep their word? I think Bill Daley will. That matters a lot to me.

OLBERMANN: How does he play into this question, because this is one that has been bothering me since I don't know, maybe June of 2009. Assessing it at this sort of midpoint, was it the president who mistakenly thought that the Republicans would give him the respect that any president deserves? Or was it the advisers? Because, clearly, somebody was flat-footed about having to fight from the beginning and even having to fight now.

DEAN: Well, I think we have sort of put down where the advisers are and I agree with that. They were inside the Beltway folks. It was all about the deal, not necessarily about the substance. By the way, that's not true of the president's policy people, who I think are, by and large, terrific. The policy people got it. It was the political people that didn't get it.


DEAN: But I think that the president - here's the problem for the president: he was elected by people under 35 years old. In huge numbers, they turned out. First time in my lifetime more people under 35 turned out than over 65. Those people really do want bipartisanship. They are not particularly partisan, the younger generation.

And I think the president is not particularly partisan. He was 47 when he was elected. But he's of the new generation. Somehow I don't think he fundamentally understood just what the Republicans were about.

When you have a leader in the Senate whose only stated objective is to get rid of you, it's somewhat of a clue that they're not interested in doing anything that's good for the country. All they are interested in is politics. And that's what you saw from the Republican party in the last two years.

So we'll see what happens now. The president has learned a very hard lesson. I don't think his senior staff was terribly helpful to him. But I think he's - Bill Clinton had a rough first two years as well. This is the time where you start to recalibrate.

And I'm going to be interested in seeing the kinds of people he brings in. Of course I care about what their ideological perspective is. But the kind and the character of the people he brings in is more important to me than their ideological view.

OLBERMANN: About the position of press secretary, I worked a little bit with Robert Gibbs and I liked him a lot. And I know - and I won't go into detail about it. But I know from conversations at the time that the whole professional left thing was a combination of not setting some ground rules with some reporters and a lot of misunderstandings and frustrations. I don't think that was really as big a deal as we probably all thought it was at the time.

Can a new press secretary do anything to more successfully exploit the president's many successes, particularly the policy successes, and with the former DNC spokeswoman, Karen Finney, mentioned as a candidate, do you want to endorse her while you have the floor?

DEAN: I would endorse her in five seconds. She has done a terrific job for me. She did a great job for me at the DNC. She would be absolutely - that's a great thought. I hadn't considered that. That would be a very good thought, would be Karen Finney.

Look, think - when you think about press secretaries, probably the best one I can think of in either party over the last 15 or 20 years was Mike McCurry, because Mike McCurry had an enormous integrity. And when he said something to the reporters, he wasn't pushing them around. He wasn't playing games with them. He was pretty much being straight up with them. I thought that was very, very important.

And so that kind of a person would be terrific. I think - again, I hadn't thought of Karen. But she did an incredible job for Hillary Clinton's first Senate race. She did an incredible job for the Board of Education in New York, which is really tough. And she did a great job for the Democratic National Committee. That's a great suggestion. I hadn't thought of that. I would put her at the top of the list.

OLBERMANN: It's very possible that somewhere right now, she is going, no, no, I like my life. Former Governor Howard Dean, great thanks as always for your time tonight, sir.

DEAN: Thanks a lot, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's January 5th, 30 days since the Republicans got the deal for taxes for the rich. Mr. Boehner, since you didn't mention creating them in your speech today, where are the jobs already? I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

And now to discuss why Republican math means 100 billion equals 30 billion, in for Rachel Maddow once again tonight, here's Chris Hayes. Good evening, Chris.