Friday, September 30, 2011

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, September 30th, 2011
video 'podcast'
Guest host: David Shuster

watch whole playlist

#5 'Going Nationwide', John Samuelsen
YouTube, (excerpt)

#5 'Going Nationwide', Kevin Zeese
YouTube, (excerpt)

#4 'Drone Strikes Again', Jeremy Scahill

# Time Marches On!

#3'Call to Investigate', John Dean

YouTube, (excerpt)

#1'Primary Malfunction', Craig Crawford

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DAVID SHUSTER: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Occupy Everywhere.

(Excerpt from video clip) BERNIE SANDERS: We desperately need a coming together of working people to stand up to Wall Street - corporate America - and say, "Enough is enough. We need to rebuild the middle class in this country, and you guys can't have it all."

SHUSTER: The movement continues to grow as more defiant citizens rise up around the country - San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C. How many people need to speak up before those in power listen? Another al-Qaida leader dead.

(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Earlier this morning, Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in Yemen. The death of al-Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader efforts to defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates.

SHUSTER: Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric, killed by a drone strike in Yemen - another victory for the administration, or the murder of a U.S. citizen without a trial?

Justice Clarence Thomas has not made a peep in court in five years, but twenty House Dems speak up and demand an ethics probe after he failed to disclose his wife's income, income she received from groups working to repeal the health-care law which just so happens to be on its way to the Supreme Court. And the circus carries on:

(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: I heard it in Florida. I've heard it in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina - where I'm spending a lot of time - is that they're tired of the Mitt and Rick show.

SHUSTER: Don't worry about being ignored in the debates, Rick. They are so 1998. Nowadays, people get their information from the Internet and Google. Uh-oh.

All that and more, now on "Countdown."

(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I just love reading the newspapers.


SHUSTER: Good evening from New York. I'm David Shuster, sitting in for Keith Olbermann. This is Friday, September 30th, 403 days until the 2012 presidential election, as the Occupy movement continues to go national, with some protests more organized than others. The latest include marches in Boston and New York, while many others are planned for the coming weeks, including the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., starting October 6th.

Story number five on the "Countdown," Occupy Wall Street is finding friends and allies across the country, and - for an unstructured group that has yet to formulate any concrete demands - it also has a pretty good slogan to toss at the ultra-rich one percent that dominate Wall Street. "We are the 99 percent, and we are too big to fail."

Too big to fail, and maybe too long in the same spot, New York's Zuccotti Park, for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His Honor told the local radio program that, "People have a right to protest, but we also have to make sure that people who don't want to protest can go down the streets unmolested. You're worried about sanitation, and you're worried about lots of different laws on the books."

And those presumably include the laws against police brutality, which Occupy Wall Street may have had in mind as they march on New York's Police Headquarters following incidents Saturday, including pepper-spray attacks on demonstrators and passers by. And police tactics where - "Certain high ranking members of the NYPD punched through and stepped on peaceful marchers. Arrestees were handcuffed so tight their hands turned blue. Let us also be clear that - when approached as individuals - members of the NYPD have expressed solidarity with our cause."

No solidarity for Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna when he pepper sprayed four female protestors, seemingly without provocation, or when Bologna pepper sprayed several bystanders, including a uniformed police officer and a photographer with a New York press pass. We have details of that first assault today from Kaylee Dedrick, one of four women confined in an NYPD pen when Deputy Inspector Bologna approached with a spray can drawn.

(Excerpt from video clip) KAYLEE DEDRICK: It was definitely an unwarranted attack. I had turned my head just in time to be point-blank pepper sprayed in the face by an officer with the other girls who also got it as well. The pepper spray was directly in my face. It got in my eyes, my nose, my mouth and on my chest. It felt like someone had poured hot, burning fire on my face and my body. It was just - the pain was very intense. And at one point, I couldn't breathe because of the pepper spray in my throat. I was on the ground at that point. I wasn't able to see. I started calling out for a medic, whether it was one of ours or the police officers. Luckily, one of our medics was called to us, came over and started taking care of me with some water, with some eye solution and some milk. I couldn't see for about 45 minutes to an hour. The burning lasted for a couple hours afterwards.

SHUSTER: Kaylee Dedrick was not intimidated. She says it breaks her heart that one percent has the nation's wealth while everyone else is scrambling for change. The demand for change she represents was seen in San Francisco Thursday with a march through that city's financial center to Chase Bank. Six protestors who entered and staged a sit-in were arrested. Outside, City Supervisor - and mayoral candidate - John Avalos addressed about 200 marchers.

(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN AVALOS: Have you ever felt like you've been had?

(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTORS: Yes!

(Excerpt from video clip) AVALOS: That's why this building right here is a symbol of incredible greed and wealth that is accumulating into fewer and fewer hands in our country. And how do they stay wealthy? They took our tax dollars. They got bailed out.

SHUSTER: While fewer hands have more of the wealth, more hands are joining in to change that. Occupy Boston planned an ongoing protest to start in the city's Dewey Square today. And, in a few minutes, we'll talk to one of the key organizers for a major protest plan for Washington, D.C., next month. In Washington today, there was a major endorsement of the movement from a key labor leader, the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka.

(Excerpt from video clip) RICHARD TRUMKA: I think it's a tactic, and it's a valid tactic to call attention to a problem. Wall Street is out of control.

SHUSTER: And last night on this program, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont added his voice in an interview with Keith Olbermann.

(Excerpt from video clip) SANDERS: My message is: "Reach out to working people. Reach out to the unions. Reach out to the middle class. Bring people together, demanding real Wall Street reform so that the function of Wall Street is to provide capital to the productive economy, create jobs that we desperately need, rather than continue to engage in speculation and casino-type activities, i.e., real, real Wall Street reform."

SHUSTER: Joining us now, the first major labor leader to lend support to the Occupy movement, John Samuelsen, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union. John, thanks for being here.

JOHN SAMUELSEN: Thanks for having me.

SHUSTER: Why is the TWU getting involved?

SAMUELSEN: Well, I believe to a large extent, the protestors on Wall Street are singing the same song and fighting the same battle that our union has fought for the last 18 months - basically that working families in New York state are definitely getting shafted while the wealthiest folks in New York state are getting a tax break.

SHUSTER: What have your members been thinking as the protests have developed?

SAMUELSEN: Well, the protests in the greater context - the greater context of the protests are that New York state has just eliminated a tax on the wealthiest folks in the state while working people are truly suffering. If you make $1 million a year, you're bringing home an extra $408 a week under the eliminated millionaire's tax. We have a lot of folks in New York City that aren't even making $408 a week to take care of their families. So, in many ways, the protests on Wall Street resonates with the working folks in our union who run the system in New York City.

SHUSTER: I know that earlier you were checking in with some of your fellow union members to see how things were going. Any rough estimate as to how many members of your union took part in the protest today?

SAMUELSEN: We have a couple of hundred members down there. The executive board voted to endorse the movement just about a day and a half ago. So, as time progresses, we're going to have a more-organized presence and a more-coordinated presence. But certainly members did turn out today, and they do feel a sense of solidarity with the protestors on Wall Street.

SHUSTER: What about in other cities? Will TWU members in other chapters also join those protests - San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C.?

SAMUELSEN: I would imagine that's inevitable, and certainly our sister Transport Workers Union locals in New York City have already reached out to us to put forth a unified front to the TWU in New York.

SHUSTER: What do you hope that the protests, as they are joined - what do you hope that they will accomplish?

SAMUELSEN: Well, I think the speakers that spoke before me just now - they kind of nailed it on the head. There's a sense of desperation, I believe, for working people and working families in this country that the folks that run government just don't get.

You know, there's a lot of millionaires in the Congress that have no idea - a lot of millionaires in the New York state legislature, for that matter - that have no idea what it's like to have to go out and buy a pair of shoes for children every month, or what's it's like to have to feed kids or pay tuition or pay a mortgage. So there's lot of folks in government that are out of touch. These protests, for one thing, have brought attention to the disparity in wealth in the United States that's developed over the last few decades.

SHUSTER: How do these feelings about Wall Street in your particular union - your colleagues - have they been simmering for awhile, since the bailout?

SAMUELSEN: Absolutely, absolutely. I think there's - our union is representative of working families across New York City, and there's a - there's a sense of outrage. You know, just the attacks on the public sector in New York state, the attacks on public-sector unions. At the very moment when the wealthiest New Yorkers are getting a tax break, there's efforts to balance the budgets off the backs of the public-sector workers. We're a public-sector union. There's an expectation that we're going to accept zeros and greatly enhanced medical-benefits contributions while the wealthy folks in New York state are bringing home hundreds of dollars more a week than they were bringing home six months ago.

SHUSTER: Any concerns that, while the protests are now pretty effective in terms of catching on, they seem sort of - you can sense the passion there when you see those pictures, when you're down there - but, they seem better in a sense, at staging protests than in articulating their clear demands. Any concern about that?

SAMUELSEN: No, not at all. We - I think one of the great benefits that organized labor entering into this fight will bring is an ability to articulate the message and articulate that message on behalf of working families whether they're in unions or not in unions.

SHUSTER: Well, John, we certainly appreciate you coming in. John Samuelsen is the president of the Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union. Good luck to you and thanks again for being on the show. We appreciate it.

SAMUELSEN: All right. Thank you.

SHUSTER: You're welcome. With us now, a veteran activist who is playing a key role in organizing the coming protests - an occupation of Washington's Freedom Plaza - Kevin Zeese. Kevin, thank you for your time tonight.

KEVIN ZEESE: Thanks for having me on.

SHUSTER: You go involved in this protest effort before Occupy Wall Street started up. What are your goals and how do they fit into what we're seeing on Wall Street and around the country.

ZEESE: Well, as you can see on our web page - - on the front page we have seven areas of policy where a supermajority of Americans take one position and the government is taking another position. We're on the side of the people. And a lot of what was articulated by your previous guest is a lot of what we're talking about - jobs, taxing the wealthy, getting money out of politics, health care for all through an improved Medicare-for-all system, stopping the wars that are draining our economy and destroying so many people around the world - those are the kind of goals we're putting forward. Our basic goal is end corporatism and militarism. Put human needs before corporate greed. And we've been working our demands for quite awhile I think we're quite clear on them. I think they are the demands that people support.

SHUSTER: Is there a specific step, though, that our leaders, our government can do towards those - those efforts?

ZEESE: The problem is it's all tied together with corporatism. You know, it's interesting that the corporate media doesn't want to understand that. You have six corporate media companies that control the news media. They don't want to understand that the problem is concentrated corporate wealth. It's not surprising they don't get that that's the problem, 'cause they're part of the problem. One thing we're doing in our event is, we're advocating for a democratized media. We're telling everybody who comes - they are the media.

We can reach more people than the media if we work together to do it. And so come with your cameras, come with your cell phones to take pictures, be ready to get the word out. We are the media, we are the people, this is a goal to shift power to the people away from concentrated corporate wealth. That's our goal.

SHUSTER: Occupy Wall Street does seem pretty informal down here in New York. Is there a core group that is directing the takeover of Freedom Plaza down in Washington?

ZEESE: There are about 45 members on our steering committee and they cover a range of issues - from people who oppose the wars, people who are concerned about the treatment of Bradley Manning, people concerned about the wealth divide, health care, the environment - we have a wide range of people coming together.

October 6th, when we're starting, is the beginning of the eleventh year of the Afghanistan war, a war that should end immediately. It's also the first week of the new federal fiscal year. When we have an austerity budget for everything except for militarism. Environmental protection goes. Worker - development of jobs goes. We're going to see a decrease in funding for human needs and increased in funding for militarism. And that's why we started that day to bring all these people together. We have 150 organizations who signed on to endorse this. We have thousands of people who signed up to attend. This is going to be a significant shift in the power of the United States.

SHUSTER: How long do you expect to occupy the plaza down in Washington? What are you planning to do? Do you have the permits you need for all the activities and how do you expect the local police and authorities down in D.C. to react?

ZEESE: Well, just like in New York - the police, you know, are suffering with their pensions being threatened, in Washington, D.C. - the police had to hold back their salary to keep their health care. So, they're part of the same problem that we're a part of. And we're for the police, we hope that they're cooperative and support our First-Amendment rights. We have peacekeepers, we have non-violent trainings, we have people with cameras taking pictures, we have health - people coming from - who are health professionals ready to provide health care. So, we have a lot going on to prepare for that issue.

We're going to have a number of things going on throughout the day. We're going to have classes on developing alternative economies, we're going to have committee meetings on fifteen issues you can see on We have 15 core issues where we meet to discuss those. We've already been having kind of an online assembly on, discussing those issues.

So, we're going to build the foundation of a movement. We don't think this is the end, we see it as the beginning. A foundation of movement that does two things - one is train and resistance so we can demand what we want, and two - can build an alternative economy so we can opt out of the crony, capitalist, big-business economy. It's a long-term effort, but it's an effort that we think is really going to shift the power back to the people.

SHUSTER: And as you know, that effort can take a lot of time and a lot of attention and again, back to the question - do you envision the protest in Washington as a one-day sort of effort? Or do you anticipate it's going to continue essentially, the same - as long as perhaps it continues here in New York?

ZEESE: That's our goal is to stay and to bring people together and the longer we can stay - the longer we stay will depend on how many people we have. If people come out and show the kind of anger that we know is out there, as incomes drop and wealth increases - anger at the fact that 400 Americans have wealth equal to 154 million Americans, anger that our economy is worse than the Middle Age feudal economy. In the Middle Ages, two percent of the people owned 90 percent of the wealth. We're in a situation were one percent own 95 percent of the wealth. We're worse than the Middle Ages. We are serfs. It's time for the serfs to revolt.

SHUSTER: Kevin Zeese from Baltimore. Kevin, good luck to you and thanks for coming on.

ZEESE: Thanks for having me on. I appreciate the time.

SHUSTER: You're welcome. Ahead, Jenny Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas received over $700,000 from groups working to repeal the health-care bill. Never mind whether Thomas should have removed himself from all health-care cases. And new questions over the military's reliance on drone attacks even as they kill another top al-Qaida leader. You're watching "Countdown."


SHUSTER: The Obama administration has eliminated another top al-Qaida terrorist. Though the debate over drone attacks has intensified. Here at home, right-wing radio host and conservative bloggers have seized on the arrest of Rezwan Ferdaus - a terrorist wannabe - to bash U.S. mosques, never mind, of course, it was a mosque that tipped off law enforcement.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is supposed to reveal his family finances each year, but he neglected to disclose the money his wife got from a group that will be arguing at the court.

And no matter what any of us thought about the last Fox News Republican debate, at least we finally saw Rick Santorum stand in front of a big sign that said Google. Santorum now acknowledges that is the least of his problems.


SHUSTER: Anwar al-Awlaki, one of this country's most-wanted terrorists, was killed today in a drone strike in Yemen. His death deals another significant blow to al-Qaida, following the assassination of Osama bin Laden five months ago. But it also calls the attention to the legality of the President's drone-strike policy, particularly because al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen.

In our fourth story tonight, al-Awlaki's death could make it harder for al-Qaida to recruit Westerners. His fiery online sermons all in fluent English were thought to have inspired extremists in the West, including the perpetrators of the attempted Time Square bombing and the Fort Hood massacre. He was killed along with another American, Samir Khan, the editor of al-Qaida's online newspaper. President Obama said today al-Awlaki's killing proved the strength of America's campaign against al-Qaida.

(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: This is further proof that al-Qaida and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.

SHUSTER: Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico, then moved to Yemen at the age of 7. He returned to the United States and was - for a time - the imam at a mosque in Virginia where in 2001, he told The Washington Post this, about the Iraq War:

(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP) ANWAR AL-AWLAKI: In my personal opinion, I feel that the U.S. rushed into this war. There could have been some other avenues to solve this problem.

SHUSTER: Al-Awlaki's killing was praised today by even some of President Obama's harshest critics. Here is GOP hopeful Rick Perry:

(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: I want to take a moment and congratulate the United States military and our intelligence community and President Obama for sticking with the government's longstanding and aggressive anti-terror policies for getting another key terrorist - international terrorist, I might add - you know, the death of this American-raised al-Qaida leader, Anwar al-Awlaki.

SHUSTER: Others, though, raised concerns about the legality of the killing a U.S. citizen, even one with ties to al-Qaida.

Ron Paul told a New Hampshire audience today, "If the American people accept this blindly and casually - have a precedent of an American president assassinating people who he thinks are bad - I think that is sad."

An ACLU deputy-legal director Jameel Jaffer went even further saying, "The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law. This is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process."

The drone program has significantly expanded in the last 15 years. In 1998, President Clinton authorized the CIA to kill Osama bin Laden and his key lieutenants, fewer than ten people in total. Then six days after 9/11, President Bush authorized the agency to kill some two dozen al-Qaida leaders. He later expanded that to the - to the so-called "Reasonable Man" standard. If the CIA deemed a target reasonable, the drones could strike.

Drone attacks have now reportedly killed thousands of Pakistanis, and President Obama has expanded the attacks into two additional countries. Yemen and Somalia. The President has argued the attacks are authorized by Congress as part of its approval for the war against al-Qaida. Joining us now, "Countdown" contributor Jeremy Scahill, national-security reporter for The Nation. Jeremy, thanks for being here tonight.


SHUSTER: There are reports that al-Awlaki was connected to the Fort Hood massacre, the Times Square bomber, the so-called underwear bomber. How important was al-Awlaki to al-Qaida?

SCAHILL: I mean, Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't even mid-level management of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. His importance was largely the result of exaggeration and obsession with him in the U.S. counter-terrorism community, because of the fact he spoke English - and he was doing something that the U.S. considered to be very dangerous. He was preaching this message to a lot of young English-speaking Muslims in the U.S. and elsewhere, sort of encouraging them, or inciting them, to try attack the United States.

But on an operational level, it's a real stretch to say that he was the leader - or even a leader - of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He was more of a propagandist for the group. But there's been no evidence presented by the White House whatsoever that he played an operational role or was directly involved with an imminent threat to Americans, which would have been one of the standards to kill him off of the stated battlefield of Iraq and Afghanistan.

He wasn't shooting at U.S. forces or U.S. citizens. He was preaching hate and calling for violence on the Internet. Which, you know, under - under normal circumstances in U.S. law, if a U.S. citizen was doing that, we have a process to deal with it. It's called the justice system, not assassinating our own people.

SHUSTER: Are we now seeing what these drone attacks the emergence of the Obama Doctrine - whereby targeting killings on foreign soil, that's okay? And does this strategy perhaps give the president - any president - too much power?

SCAHILL: Well, yeah. I think that what is more important than looking just at the al-Awlaki case is looking at the precedent that it sets, David. Because this White House - much like the Bush White House - has asserted the right of U.S. military forces and CIA forces to not only go in and operate in any country that they wish, but also to engage in targeted killing operations in those countries.

What I think is particularly interesting about this moment is that President Obama, being a very popular Democrat with Democrats, has normalized some policies that - had Bush or President McCain implemented them - would have been the subject of ire and outrage from liberals. Today what you see is people defending Obama through a - with a partisan voice instead of taking a position that they probably would have taken against Bush that was very different than the one they're taking today.

In other words, what I'm saying is - President Obama is able to do things that a President McCain would not have gotten away with, because a lot of people would have pushed back and you would have had Congressional outrage over it.

SHUSTER: And one of the things that people would have pushed back at is the fact that the Obama administration has refused to essentially reveal its exact legal analysis for targeting al-Awlaki, and lastly the administration invoked the "state secrets" privilege to dismiss a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court.

SHUSTER: That's right.

SCAHILL: Is this legal?

SHUSTER: Well, I mean, the Obama administration is using a legal justification stemming back to the original Congressional authorization for the so-called war against al-Qaida, the Authorization for the Use for Military Force. But in order to pass the threshold for killing someone, you would have to show that they were posing an imminent threat, particularly when they're not engaged in direct combat with U.S. forces.

To me - and I'm glad that the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights have come out and made this clear - the real issue here is - what kind of a country do we live in where the president can serve as the judge, jury and executioner of one of his own citizens? This is a really tragic day, I think, in the American justice system because of how little outrage there is.

When Congressman Dennis Kucinich put forward a bill last year that simply said "The U.S. should not assassinate its own people without due process," only six of his colleagues joined on to sign in that, which is a pretty stunning commentary on where things stand right now in the U.S. Congress.

SHUSTER: We hear from Democrats off camera, away from the microphones, their frustration with this.

SCAHILL: That's where they love it the most.

SHUSTER: Yeah, they like, you know, when they pull you aside and say, "I'm really upset by this." What in your mind keeps them from saying it publicly?

SCAHILL: Well, I think going back to what I said earlier, President Obama - I know from talking to my own sources on the Intelligence Committee and on the Armed-Services Committee - he will personally call key members of those committees and sort of say to them - you know, try to convince them, you know, "This is really the right thing do . . . I know you don't feel comfortable with it, but we really need your support on this."

So, I think part of it is pressure from the White House, part of it is partisan politics. This is a president who, daily, is subjected to racist attacks, to bigotry, to a very well-funded lie machine from the right. And I think a lot of Democrats are afraid that if they start criticizing him that they're going to become part of the pile-on against President Obama.

I would push back against that and say a principle is only a principle if you hold it when a person you like is in power. It's defined more how we treat our enemies - what kind of country we are - than how we treat the people we love and adore. So, the standard should be - how do we treat Anwar al-Awlaki? Not - how do we treat Michelle Obama?

SHUSTER: And finally, what's the - what's the anti-American sentiment that we are essentially brewing through all those drones strikes, the 2,000 Pakistanis killed? How many family members of those killed by drone strikes - those innocents - suddenly become terrorists?

SCAHILL: Well, in Yemen, for instance, the Obama Administration authorized a Tomahawk cruise-missile strike in December of 2009 that ended up killing a tremendous number of innocent people, and that caused real outrage from people that may have been predisposed to support the United States. So, blowback has to be a big part of this conversation. When we engage in these attacks in Pakistan, maybe we kill a few dozen hardcore militants that were actually the intended targets. But when we kill innocent people, their families and many generations after that will be fighting to avenge those deaths. And we seem not to learn these lessons from - from studying our own history.

SHUSTER: Jeremy Scahill, "Countdown" contributor. Jeremy, thanks so much. Nice to have you on the program.

SCAHILL: Thank you, David.

SHUSTER: Just ahead, the momentum for an ethics investigation into Clarence Thomas is gaining steam thanks to the Supreme Court Justice himself. And more signs that God is telling our leaders in Washington, D.C., "Don't make Me come down there." "Time Marches On" is next.


SHUSTER: Coming up, Clarence Thomas and his supreme lack of ethics.

But first, the "Sanity Break." It was on this day in 1985 Faheem Rasheed Najm was born, better known as T-Pain. This Grammy award-winning rapper has made a career out of his use of the Auto-Tune pitch-correcting audio processor. Happy birthday, T-Pain. I hope you're celebrating - on a boat.

"Time Marches On!"

We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. Simon and Theodore are accounted for, but where's Alvin? Alvin? Turns out he fell asleep in this woman's hair. He looks pretty peaceful. We should let him sleep. But eventually, we will have to send in the Rescue Rangers to get him.

To our nation's capital - We all laughed last month, when Pat Robertson said the earthquake hitting the Washington Monument was a sign from God. Run for your lives! Run for your lives, tourists! But now, there's this. God strikes Washington once again and - this time - the wrath lights up the Jefferson Memorial. Fortunately, we're sending some people to the top of these D.C. landmarks to find out what God is so angry about. Hmm. Has Sarah Palin been talking U.S. history again?

And, finally, one for the nerds. Looking to pass some time, presumably in his mother's basement, this "Star Wars" fan found a way to put his antiquated floppy-disk drives to good use. And you were wondering what George Lucas has been doing with his time.

"Time Marches On!"

Just ahead, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose a salary paid to his wife from groups preparing to argue in front of the court. And later, Florida Republicans are messing around with the 2012 presidential primary schedule. Florida Democrats did it in 2008. What's with the obsession down there over early-bird specials?


SHUSTER: "Countdown" comes to you live each weeknight at 8:00 P.M. Eastern. The program is replayed at 11:00 P.M., 2:00 A.M., 7:00 A.M., noon and 3:00 P.M.

Twenty Congressional Democrats want the Justice Department to investigate the ethics of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Such an investigation could have an impact on how the court rules on the recent health-care reform law, a constitutional decisional that could come down next year, during the presidential campaign.

In our third story on the "Countdown," the letter from the Representatives cited Thomas' failure to report nearly $700,000 earned by his wife, Virginia, from the right-wing Heritage Foundation from 2003 through 2007. The conservative group opposes President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Virginia Thomas has said publicly, "I think we need to repeal Obamacare."

A letter was written by Louise Slaughter of New York. Among the other 19 signers were Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois. Among other things, Slaughter wrote, "It is reasonable to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income. To not be able to do so is suspicious."

Last February, 75 House Democrats asked Thomas to recuse himself from ruling on health care because of his wife's involvement with the issue and the money she earned. Republicans have called for the recusal of Justice Elena Kagan because she was Mr. Obama's top lawyer when the legislation was written. If the court takes the case, the decision could be historic and impact the election.

In a recent New Yorker profile of Justice Thomas, Jeffrey Toobin wrote, "Thomas' views both reflect and inspire the tea party movement, which his wife had helped lead almost since its inception. Thomas's entire career as a judge has been building toward the moment when he would be able to declare that law unconstitutional."

Let's bring in "Countdown" contributor John Dean, former counsel for the Nixon White House and author of "Conservatives Without Conscience." John, thanks for being here, good to see you.

JOHN DEAN: Pleasure, David, thank you.

SHUSTER: Will the Obama Justice Department really dare to take up the call to investigate the ethics of Justice Thomas?

DEAN: I don't know what they're going to do. They really - it's a statute that is applicable by the very terms of the statute. You mentioned that 75 letters - or 75 signatures of a prior letter - is really to get him to comply with the code of ethics, which doesn't apply to Supreme Court justices. When I pulled this statute - this is actually a new story - this statute does apply to justices on the Supreme Court and, indeed, they have followed the procedure in calling this to the attention of the Judicial Conference and in turn, the Judicial Conference may well send it to the Attorney General, but I don't know what he'll do with it.

SHUSTER: What do you imagine that he will do? I mean, do you think that he's gonna dig in his heels or, at certain point, will he very quietly announce, "Okay, I'm gonna recuse myself from this case"?

DEAN: You know, I have a number of colleagues who - Justia, the site we write columns for - who were former Supreme Court law clerks, and I asked them their thoughts on this. I sort of quietly polled them, and nobody seems to think that Thomas is going to recuse himself under any circumstances, and these are people who are not only law professors, a number of them are former Supreme Court law clerks, and they really followed the court's operation very closely. And I think that's pretty much a consensus. Just my reading of the man who's been pressed to recuse himself before, doesn't look to me like he's inclined to back down or - particularly on this issue - at all. As you say, he's been looking to make this decision for a long time.

SHUSTER: And he's also been somebody who defies the normal protocols. He doesn't speak in oral arguments. He hasn't spoken. This latest streak goes five years. He tends to see things a little bit differently than most everybody else. Is that the reason, you think, that he'll just say, "You know what? To hell with all these critics. I'm going to - I'm going to stay."

DEAN: Well, it is a decision that each justice has to make, and they make it in their own way. Some are more inclined - Elena, for example, Kagan has withdrawn on a number of occasions. She's recused herself on things she thought she had tangentially been involved with as Solicitor General, so she's been very cautious. Other justices like Scalia - really don't think they should step aside on much of anything, and I think Thomas is probably the hardcore of all of them, and he's going to make a decision on any case that comes before the Court, certainly anything he wants to, and I - he thinks he can, you know, judge impartially, and that's really the test, and they're not subject to the criteria of looking like they have a conflict. If they don't think they do and say they don't, well, there's nobody who can tell them to recuse themselves.

SHUSTER: Assuming the court does take up the health-care law case, so many people are predicting a close decision. Do you share that prediction that it's going to be close, or is it possibly - we'd be surprised here?

DEAN: Well, actually, that was my initial reaction - that we might have a 5-4, one way or the other, with Kennedy being the swing vote. And, you know, in polling these co-columnists at Justia, I've gotten some very different reads.

I think that these people who are really true, knowledgeable insiders of the Court really see the Court upholding the Obama health-care law. One of them, for example, saw it as much as a decision of 8-1. And one would obviously, probably be the Thomas. And these people are very knowledgeable about the Court, so I haven't found anybody yet who really knows this Court well and follows these things closely who thinks that the decision is going to overturn - it's all going to be decided on the narrow issue. They all think that, but they don't think it's going to overturn the law.

SHUSTER: As far as Justice Thomas himself - if he was a liberal and failed to report his wife's income from a liberal think tank, would the Republican House of Representatives be pushing for his impeachment?

DEAN: It would have started a long time ago. That's the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. There's just no question if it was the reverse. The Democrats think about it differently. They obviously have had the opportunity to do this when they controlled the House. They weren't inclined to do it, so I don't think that there's any doubt that if the shoe were the other way that - we know. We saw that Republicans go after a sitting president on some of the thinnest of grounds, so I - it's just a different mentality and a different way they see govern - government operating.

SHUSTER: Nixon White House council and "Countdown" contributor John Dean. John, always great to see you. Thanks for being on the program tonight.

DEAN: Thank you, David.

SHUSTER: You're welcome. Coming up, Rick Santorum is unhappy and not just because of what happens when you Google his name. We'll have the latest on the GOP presidential demolition derby. And Islamophobia from some right-wing radio talkers and bloggers hasn't stopped even thought the latest terrorist arrest came thanks to a tip from Muslim Americans.


SHUSTER: Rezwan Ferdaus wanted to put plastic explosives in radio-controlled planes and fly them into the Capitol and Pentagon. He was stopped thank to the help from Muslim Americans, but that storyline doesn't fit with some on the right, so they're ignoring it.

And Rick Santorum doesn't like it when the media ignores him and focuses on the Mitt and Rick show. Another day, another laugher from the GOP presidential race.


SHUSTER: This week, the FBI arrested and charged a 26-year-old man who was planning to use plastic explosives to attack the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. According to court documents, Rezwan Ferdaus early last year began plotting a "violent jihad" with the goal of terrorizing the United States, decapitating its military center and killing as many non-believers as possible.

Most news reports focused on the remote-controlled planes and explosives Ferdaus wanted to use to carry out his attack. And yes, those are radio-controlled planes that look like U.S. fighter jets.

On some right-wing talk radio shows and Internet blogs, the Ferdaus news has prompted another round of Muslim bashing. "Muslims hate America. They support terrorism." And on and on and on. The lies and Islamophobia have been on display in conservative media for years.

(Excerpt from video clip) PAMELA GELLER: We know from research done by S.A.N.E., that four out of five mosques preach a hate and preach incitements of violence. We know this. As I said, it's part of the Koranic text.

(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: Violent extremism and Shariah law is being condoned in seventy-five percent of the American Muslim mosques.

SHUSTER: Seventy-five percent? Religious scholars and experts call that conservative talking point "total crap."

And let's go back to the Ferdaus arrest. Lost in most of the news reports was the fact that last year - the mosque he belonged to in Roxbury, Massachusetts, kicked him out. Ferdaus had expressed radical Islamic views, showed hostility towards woman, and praised al-Qaida.

"We said, 'Look, that's not going to work here,'" said Atif Harden, a director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. "I cannot think of a mosque where he was welcome. He was clearly way out of step with the rest of the Muslim community."

Another mosque attendee, Ricardo Maestre said Ferdaus was an extremist. Maestre added, "Some Muslims are afraid to speak out against that. I'm not."

In this case, not only did Muslims speak out against Ferdaus, they called the police and told law enforcement to watch him. And this isn't the first time that's happened. According to federal law-enforcement officials, about a third of all foiled al-Qaida plots in the United States have relied on support of information provided by member of the Muslim community.

Furthermore, a study at Duke University found that many mosque leaders have put significant effort into countering terrorism by building youth programs, sponsoring anti-violence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts. And yet the crucial role Muslim Americans have played in fighting terrorism continues to be ignored or twisted.

I have no doubt the distortion and hatred will continue. Islamophobia exists in our society. It is pervasive. And it serves the political agenda of some folks on the right. But let's be clear - American Muslims are every bit as patriotic and committed to U.S. security as anybody else. They have proven it repeatedly. Not just this week, but for many years. And our society would be better served if all of us would stop and take notice.


SHUSTER: As the old saying goes, timing is everything. This goes for investing, relationships and life in general. And in our number one story, it definitely applies to presidential primaries. The Florida Republican party today announced that it would be moving up its primary from March 6th to January 31st, which would make it the first. This came as a surprise to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, who - according to RNC rules - are to be the first four events on the primary calendar. States that ignore the RNC's rules are subject to having half of their delegates taken away from them when the nominee is chosen at the convention - the convention, which happens to be in - you guessed it - Florida.

The fact that was not lost on Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn, who had some harsh words about Florida's actions, saying in a statement "The arrogance shown by Florida's elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising. Equally troubling is to see this petulant behavior rewarded with our national convention."

As harsh as those words seemed, it was nothing compared to what Mr. Google himself, Rick Santorum, had to say. He didn't just see a move by a state to raise its input in selecting a nominee. No, Santorum smelled conspiracy.

(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I don't understand what Florida's trying to accomplish, because whatever they're going to accomplish, they're going to fail . . What I believe is going on is somebody in Florida is shilling for Mitt Romney and probably Rick Perry. They want to shorten the playing field now that these guys are ahead. So, what - we'd rather have this election - I'm sure that they'd like to have the election tomorrow. So, by moving up the calendar, you help the favorites. . . And the chairman of the person who's organizing this is a Perry supporter. So, you can just sort of take it from there.

(Excerpt from video clip) GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Why would he want to help Romney, though? Why would a Perry supporter want to help Romney, then?

(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Well, he's helping the favorite candidates. Again, if you shave off a month, and you're looking at the top two candidates, you want this election to be as quickly as possible.

SHUSTER: Rick's outrage wasn't limited to Florida moving up its primary. He was also angry at what he feels is an overall lack of attention on his and almost everyone's campaign.

(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Yes, I heard it in Florida. I've heard it in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where I have been spending a lot of time - is that they're tired of the Mitt and Rick show.

SHUSTER: Oh, come on Rick. Your campaign has been getting plenty of attention, especially during the last debate. Remember when the gay soldier was booed by the crowd? That question was aimed at you. You botched the answer. But that was definitely the Rick Santorum Show.

Let's bring in Craig Crawford who blogs about politics on his website, and is the author of "The Politics of Life." Craig, thanks for your time tonight.

CRAIG CRAWFORD: Hey, Florida strikes again.

SHUSTER: Florida starts again - your old stomping grounds. Why is Florida moving up their primary? More money, more input? Maybe they want to follow what the Democrats did in 2008?

CRAWFORD: Yeah, well, I - you know, Florida's sort of kind of like the Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction" - "I will not be ignored."

But, there is a reason. There are a couple of reasons, really. Momentum means more than delegates in the presidential primary process, or candidates wouldn't be spending all that time on New Hampshire, for example, which has very few delegates. But Florida's more interested in getting in the early game to make a difference in who gets nominated.

And, you know, I think these conventions usually are a fait accompli, so, it really doesn't matter how many delegates you have. And there's one dirty secret, David - is that these early states get rewarded once presidents get in office. There's no accident, for example, that Iowa and New Hampshire are way above average in federal spending per person. So, there's that factor as well.

SHUSTER: If Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina all move their primaries before Florida, as they are expected to do, the order of primary events will still be the same, just earlier. Does that mean Florida Republicans - they just lost half of their delegates for nothing? Just the same way Democrats did in 2008.

CRAWFORD: Yeah, and there goes our Christmas vacation, David. Because, we could be looking at middle of December for these things if that happens, and I think it just might. Because, I mean, I believe it's in New Hampshire's constitution that they have to have the first primary. And Iowa, of course, is a caucus. And, they scheduled that eight days before New Hampshire. So, if you do the math, we are - we are climbing into December.

SHUSTER: Michele Bachmann came out last night and said "President Obama is showing weakness towards the Arab world." Then, today, another al-Qaida leader was killed in a drone attack. Is Bachmann done? And is the GOP talking point the Democrats are soft on terror? Is that going to work this time around?

CRAWFORD: I think Obama's going to have to be vigilant in countering - they're going to say it. Even before terrorism, Republicans hit Democrats with the "soft on defense" charge. And Democrats tend to get snake bit by that. They get defensive about being called soft on defense, and I think he's going to have to be very vigilant about countering that and say "Hey, I'm the one that killed bin Laden, remember?" I think he's going to want to remind people of that. He can also - he probably wouldn't want to put it in these words, David, but he can always say "Hey, I'm doing everything Bush did - in the war, and Gitmo and Iraq and Afghanistan. So, what are you talking about?" Of course, his liberal base doesn't want to hear that.

SHUSTER: A week from tomorrow, Mitt Romney is scheduled to share the same stage as the Director of Issue Analysis for the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, who recently made some pretty derogatory comments about Mormons. Does Mitt Romney not read the speakers list before he agrees to appear at some of these places?

CRAWFORD: No, Romney - now, this is a very influential organization in Republican politics. That radio network that guy has a show on, they - they have 200 Christian radio stations around the country in about 30 states. And, all the Republican candidates line up to go on their shows - very influential. So, Romney has to show up, at least show them some respect and take his lumps. Also, this group, I have noticed - I make myself listen to their shows a lot, and it's not easy, believe me - but, I mean, like that guy you were talking about - one of his claims, for example, is that Hitler preferred gay soldiers because they're more brutal. But this group has been leaning toward Rick Perry, I've noticed. So, it doesn't surprise me that they're taking some shots at Romney.

CRAWFORD: And real quickly here, Craig, at the end. Reports that Mike Huckabee might be considering getting back into the race - do you believe it?

SHUSTER: Could be, because that conservative chair is open now, it's vacant, it's getting late for such a vacancy. What I mean is - a true-red conservative in the race - Rick Perry may be falling apart, Bachmann's falling away, Palin - I guess - isn't getting in. So, that chair's open, which is - probably surprising Huckabee as much as anyone else. And that's another reason Herman Cain's coming on strong is - there's a market in the Republican race for that kind of thinking.

SHUSTER: Craig Crawford of Craig, thanks so much, we appreciate it.

CRAWFORD: Have a good weekend.

SHUSTER: You, too. And that's it for this edition of "Countdown." Thanks for watching. I'm David Shuster. On behalf of Keith Olbermann and all of us here at the show, have a terrific weekend, everybody.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, September 29th, 2011
video 'podcast'

ShowPlug1: Manhattan DA to investigate Pepper-Sprayings at #OccupyWallStreet + two unions join protest NY1's @ErrolLewis on news

ShowPlug2: Amid reports UAW may associate itself with #OccupyWallStreet - is US finally forming a real...Left? @SenatorSanders joins me

Showlug3: New GOP plan: cut Pell Grants, Heating Subsidies for the poor! Rep. @MaxineWaters joins me for the latest attack on...everybody

ShowPlug4: Roach Motel of counter-terror lists. How being acquitted doesnt get you off FBI list. EPIC's @GingerMcCall on the Catch-22

ShowPlug5: "If Sox win today, its only cause losing tomorrow will hurt more." Braves, too. BB's epic day w/Hou. Chron's @RichardJustice

ShowPlugLast: Worsts: Trying to make much union activity punishable by imprisonment, in Michigan, + Allen West's latest psychotic episode

I KNEW that was wrong: I'm joined on #OccupyWallStreet by NY1's @ErrolLouis - my apologies

playlist missing

#5 'Leftward Ho!', Errol Louis
YouTube, (excerpt)

#5 'Leftward Ho!', Sen. Bernie Sanders
YouTube, (excerpt)

#4 'Cold Cuts', Rep. Maxine Waters

# Time Marches On!

#3 'They Have A List', Ginger McCall

#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly, Al Pscholka (R-MI), Rep. Allen West, YouTube

#1 'Wild Wildcard', Richard Justice

printable PDF transcript

Topics: , , , , , , , ,
Guests: , , , ,

KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Manhattan's District Attorney to investigate the pepper spraying at Occupy Wall Street. New York City's transit workers union to join the protest march tomorrow.

(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTINE WILLIAMS: This is the union that runs the trains, the buses of New York City. This is the people uprising against evictions, unemployment, layoffs, you name it. Corruption going on Wall Street.

OLBERMANN: 38,000 members. 26,000 more retirees.

(Excerpt from video clip) WILLIAMS: People have finally woke up, and we're here, and we're staying, and we're not going anywhere.

OLBERMANN: And - waking up to a new possibility. In the streets of Lower Manhattan, is the country reforming a viable new left? My special guest, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Right-wing smash. Today's newest targets - cutting Pell grants for low-income college students, cutting heating subsidies for the poor. The roach motel of counter-terror watch lists. Names check in, but they don't check out. You can be exonerated, acquitted. You could never have deserved to be on it in the first place, and you still can't get off "the list." "Worsts," Allen West's trolley finally jumps the track.

(Excerpt from video clip) ALLEN WEST: The president is a Marxist because he believes in the separation of classes.

OLBERMANN: And Bill O. gives up. "I'm not real interested in policy on this program anymore." Also, baseball's epic night. Goats and heroes and horrible predictions, and all of them at once.

(Excerpt from video clip) DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I think the Rays are not going to win tonight. I think that the one thing that we have eliminated tonight is the Red Sox season is not going to end tonight. They live to play another day.

(Excerpt from video clip) DEWAYNE STAATS: 2-2 and a line shot, down the left field line. That ball is gone! And the Rays win it!

OLBERMANN: How could it ever get worse than the Fenway apocalypse? Oh, it could get worse. It could get way worse. It could get way, way worse. Couldn't it, sir? Now on "Countdown."

(Excerpt from video clip) TOM HANKS: There's no crying in baseball!


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, September 29th. 404 days until the 2012 presidential election.

Suddenly, Occupy Wall Street is Occupy Wall Street With the Help of Two Powerful Unions. Actually, make that three. Four? Possibly five. First, the Air Line Pilots Association associated itself with the movement last night. Now, the New York City transit workers have signed up to join the protests tomorrow, and in the United Federations of Teachers, the SEIU, and next, perhaps, the United Auto Workers.

Fifth story on the "Countdown," this while the pepper spraying incidents at Occupy Wall Street will prove to occupy some of the time of the Manhattan district attorney.

The unions first.

Transit Workers Union Local 100 alone has 38,000 active members and another 26,000 retirees. Spokesman Jim Gannon says, "It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students. They're voicing our message. Why not join them?" While the Auto Workers connection is - at this point - just a murmur we heard. According to New York's Village Voice, exuberant TWU worker Christine Williams was already on the scene last night.

(Excerpt from video clip) WILLIAMS: People have finally woke up, and we're here, and we're staying, and we're not going anywhere.

OLBERMANN: And while New York was hit by a brief but intense storm this afternoon, celebrities continued to turn up at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to show their support, including the Princeton University professor, author and commentator Dr. Cornel West.

(Excerpt from video clip) CORNEL WEST: They are taking a stand for justice in the face of the greed of Wall Street. They are standing for the best of America. They're concerned about poor children. They're concerned about working people. They're concerned about peoples of color.

OLBERMANN: And New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance - the district attorney for New York County, that is - also concerned with Saturday's incident that saw NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna spray pepper gas on four protestors already confined in a plastic police pen, to say nothing of a second incident involving the same officer and the same caustic chemical. Vance's Communications Director Erin Duggan saying, "The district attorney's office takes all allegations of police misconduct seriously."

The NYPD and New York's Civilian Complaint Control Board had already announced their own investigations after seeing the video we just showed, and this second video that came out yesterday that also showed Officer Bologna firing pepper spray at another group that included a photographer named Andrew Hinderaker. Hinderaker was wearing a press pass at the time he was hit.

He told The New York Times he also saw police grab a woman protestor from behind the barrier and throw her on the street. After taking pictures, he walked away, only to encounter Bologna. Seconds later, the photographer said, "I felt something wet on my hand and my face. It started to burn."

The head of another union - the NYPD's Captains Endowment Association - insists Bologna's actions "were limited, they restored order, and were motivated by his concern for the officers under his command, and by public safety." The videos documenting Bologna's conduct suggest otherwise.

While the protestors suggest they may be around for awhile. Asked how long Occupy Wall Street will be active in New York, protestor Shon Botado said, "Indefinitely. Until change is made to the financial structure." Given that the inequity that he's talking about predates JP Morgan and the Gould-Fisk attempt to corner the gold market and Diamond Jim Brady eating three steaks at a time at Delmonico's, it could be a very long time, indeed.

For more on the story, the investigation and on the impact that Occupy Wall Street's having on New York City, I'm joined by Errol Louis, the political anchor with the NY1 News and the host of one of the finest local news programs in the country "Inside City Hall," and author - co-author now - of "Deadline Artists." Pleasure to see you, sir.

ERROL LOUIS: Great to see you.

OLBERMANN: The Cyrus Vance Jr. investigation - is Manhattan, New York County, DA - of the pepper spraying. Is it typical, atypical? What's the context of it?

LOUIS: It's a little unusual, but then again, this is a pretty unusual event. I mean, we were talking around in the newsroom. Nobody in their memory could remember when a white-shirt command officer - command level officer - My dad was a cop, actually, was retired as an inspector - they don't go out and do stuff that ends up on tape that looks like that. They're supposed to be there to be looking over the shoulders of everybody else and make sure that they don't get out of line and that things don't get out of hand. So, this investigation is serious. It would have to be taken seriously. It's not a run-of-the-mill case. It's gotten a lot of attention. These viral videos, they do make an impact.

I mean, every prosecutor, including Vance, would say, "No, this is the dispassionate, neutral administration of justice." But the reality is, you get 400, 500, 600 complaints. You get press inquiries from all over the world. It's time to assign somebody above the level of intern to look into the case.

OLBERMANN: Like the case several years ago where the protestor was clotheslined by the guy - by the officer - the bicycle incident. There was video of it, and it was very compelling.

LOUIS: And that was a rookie. He was still on probation, and he lost his job.

OLBERMANN: This is different, though.

LOUIS: This is way different.

OLBERMANN: Do you even - have speculation as to why this senior officer would have been involved in this under those circumstances?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, I can tell you, knowing some people - including family members - I mean, they, you know, they get into it. They remain cops even if they're bosses, and they see something they don't like, they want to take action. That's very much the sort of - the profession calls for it, and that's the spirit of the department. I think there may have been, if I were to speculate, sort of a misunderstanding because when you do protests - and the police cover protests all the time in this town. Labor protests -

OLBERMANN: One an hour.

LOUIS: Yeah, and it's usually - usually organized, and it's usually choreographed. You tell them we're going to march over here, this number of people are going to get arrested, and then we're going go back to where we started from and so forth. It looked like this was sort of a wildcat action. It looked like - and the cops say over and over again, "We didn't know that they were going to go to Union Square. We didn't know they weren't going to say on the sidewalk like we asked them to" - and that, apparently, is where all of the trouble began.

OLBERMANN: Well, having had family members in my family who were both cops and protestors, I know that's the original idea of the protest. You don't get the permit, you just protest and whatever happens happens.

LOUIS: Here's a little secret, Al Sharpton - who's led dozens if not hundreds of marches in this town, he says it in his books, so I'm not telling any secrets, but most people don't know this - never gets a permit. Just does what he does.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, just go.

LOUIS: Yeah.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of permits and choreography, the NYPD investigation, the Civilian Complaint Board, do these things have any teeth, or does the NYPD - with this newly-reveled capacity it has to shoot planes out of the sky - does it pretty much run this town now?

LOUIS: The NYPD does run this town to this extent. The Civilian Complaint Review Board, although it's been beefed up, although for the first time over the last decade is really all civilians now, it really doesn't have the kind of clout or the number of investigators needed to really go in. On the other hand, they also said the Internal Affairs Bureau is looking at this, and they do have power.


LOUIS: And they do have clout. So, to the extent that the district attorney is looking, they have all the power in the world. I mean, they have prosecuted cops, not successfully in recent times on some high-profile cases, but they can - they can indict you. They can send you to prison if they get a conviction.

OLBERMANN: You read this city very well. Are you surprised that after ten days of barely moving the proverbial needle that the Occupy Wall Street group got some traction? Because usually - you get about 12 hours, and if you haven't made a mark, you're out.

LOUIS: This is true. I think they got - I've seen at least one article suggesting this - they got a boost from the NYPD, frankly. They were being ignored. That pepper-spray incident and the video that came from it has gotten them on the front page of newspapers all over the world. So, maybe it was calculated, maybe it was luck, maybe it was foolishness on the part of the NYPD, but they are on to something that maybe they weren't going to be on to.

OLBERMANN: And now the involvement of the unions. That's - that's the direct product of the attention, you suppose? It wasn't going to happen otherwise?

LOUIS: I don't know. You know, that's an interesting question. I mean, some of the unions that you ticked off - I mean TWU Local 100, they went on strike in violation of state law, and shut down this city a few years ago.


LOUIS: So, they have always been - that's very much their tradition. SCIU has also been one of the more militant unions.

OLBERMANN: Certainly.

LOUIS: These are sort of the ones that you could expect. Now if you start seeing some of the trade unions - the construction trades and some others come out - that would be big news. I don't know if this is them, you know, sort of throwing a little bit of a half-hearted lifeline there. But this is all taking place just a stone's throw from the United Federation of Teachers, one of the most powerful unions in the state. Their headquarters is right down there.

OLBERMANN: If they get started, then we are halfway to the "Communale."

Errol Louis, political anchor at the NY1 News and Host of "Inside City Hall," co-author of "Deadline Artists." Again, thanks for coming in.

LOUIS: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: With labor unions and progressives organizations now joining Occupy Wall Street, and similar "Occupy" protests planed around the country, the possibility exists that - together - they might be synthesizing something this country seemingly has not had in decades - an active, motivated left coalition to counter the right wing. I'm joined by one of the leading progressive voices on Capitol Hill, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent of Vermont. Senator, thanks again for your time tonight.

BERNIE SANDERS: My pleasure.

OLBERMANN: Is that what is happening here - dare I say this - an American left is forming?

SANDERS: Well, I certainly hope so. The middle class is collapsing in America today. Poverty is increasing, and institutions like Wall Street have enormous power over our economy and political life. So, we desperately need a coming together of working people to stand up to Wall Street, corporate Americans, say "Enough is enough. We need to rebuild the middle class in this country. And you guys can't have it all."

OLBERMANN: How long do you think it's been since we have had an active viable left, even one comparable to the right? Is it Reagan, pre-Reagan? Is it Vietnam era?

SANDERS: It's been a very, very long time, Keith. There's no question about that. But what I appreciate about what's going on New York City right now is there is a spotlight being focused on Wall Street. We desperately need that. If we're going to get out of this recession, if we're going to create the millions of jobs that we desperately need, we need real Wall Street reform. I mean, right now - a lot of people don't know this - you have six financial institutions, the largest six banks in the country, who control 60% of the assets of the United States of America. After we bailed them out, because they were "too big to fail," three out of the four largest financial institutions actually became bigger.


SANDERS: So, if we are going to create a situation where capital is going to flow into the productive economy, into manufacturing, into rebuilding our infrastructure, into transforming our energy system, rather than continuing the casino-type games that Wall Street is playing right now, we need a lot of pressure on Wall Street. No question about that.

OLBERMANN: So, give me a read in that context about Occupy Wall Street. I mean, I have always had a theory that nothing has ever changed for the better in the history of this world without somebody starting by saying, "Hey, this is wrong. I don't know how to fix it. But this is wrong," and we just need to keep saying, "This is wrong," until everybody is saying, "Okay, let's get together and fix it."

SANDERS: Absolutely. And focusing attention on Wall Street is exactly the right thing to do. Let me give you just one other example, Keith.

In the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill, we managed to get a provision in there, which allowed for an audit of the Fed during the Wall Street bail out. What we learned - amazingly enough - is the Fed provided $16 trillion - $16 trillion - in low-interest loans to every financial institution in this country, and to central banks all over the world and large American corporations.

Now just think about what would happen if the Fed today said, "We have to deal with unemployment. We are going to make billions of dollars in low interest loans available to small businesses to those institutions in America that are actually part of the productive economy producing products, producing services and creating jobs." So, I think focusing on Wall Street, ending their speculation, demanding that they participate in the productive economy, helping us create the millions of jobs we desperately need, breaking up these behemoths, which are strangling our economy, is exactly the kind of attention that we need to be focusing on.

OLBERMANN: Well, all right, those folks who have been out there now for more than a week and a half, sometimes I think must I think feel like they are on the moon in terms of the media attention they are beginning to get it. But in terms of people taking it seriously, I am not sure the mainstream of the country is yet. You are a respected figure in the United States Senate, which is a rare thing. What would your message be to them directly, who are out there right now involved in Occupy Wall Street?

SANDERS: My message is - reach out to working people. Reach out to the unions. Reach out to the middle class. Bring people together, demanding real Wall Street reform so that the function of Wall Street is to provide capital to the productive economy, create jobs that we desperately need, rather than continue to engage in speculation and casino-type activities, i.e. real, real Wall Street reform.

OLBERMANN: Last point. There is an Occupy protest scheduled for the 6th of next month in Washington. Do you welcome them coming to the Capitol? Would you attend? I mean, they have already asked me. I'm sure they would rather have you.

SANDERS: Any attention that we can play - pay - to the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street ought to - what the Fed is not doing, I think, is deserved attention. So, I will, you know, see if I can be there. But I think focusing attention on this issue is enormously important.

OLBERMANN: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of the few people in office to say anything about this subject, and saying it wonderfully as always. Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Because trying to rob them of their Medicare and Social Security is not enough, the Republicans are now going after Pell Grants for poor students and heating subsidies for their poor grandparents.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the latest proposed atrocities by the far Right, cutting Pell Grants for poor kids and heating subsidies for cold adults.

Guilty, even if proved innocent, the FBI counter-terror watch list from which there is no escape, not even if you're not guilty.

Even if you can't tell Evan Longoria from Eva Longoria, you already heard about the kaleidoscopic night of heroes and goats in baseball, now what's next?

And which of TV's unintentional comedians said this, "Once in a while" - gave it away - "Once in a while, we'll have an explosion, we'll have a pie fight. You become a caricature if you do it all the time." Hint, he's already a caricature. "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Just when it seemed House Republicans couldn't get any more heartless, they unveil a plan today that would literally leave millions of low-income Americans out in the cold, proposing cuts to heating subsidies, job-training programs and education grants.

Our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the Republican's proposed measure reads like a how-to guide to dismantle this nation's already endangered 75-year-old safety net. The Republicans would now block implementation of the 2010 Health Care Reform, cut off funding for both National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood, also slash heating subsidizes for the poor by $1.3 billion - that's nearly a third of the subsidy budget - and make it harder for low-income students to qualify for Pell Grants. Right now, 9 million Americans depend on those Pell Grants to access higher education.

House Republicans plan to wrap the measure into a larger omnibus spending bill in coming months, setting the stage for another months-long battle between their party and the White House. And they already are revving up the spin machine. They claim they aren't cutting vital services here, they're actually protecting them.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, of Kentucky, telling the Associated Press "To protect critical programs and services that many Americans rely on - especially in this time of fiscal crisis - the bill takes decisive action to cut duplicative, inefficient and wasteful spending." Cutting in order to not cut, Congressman Orwell.

It's as if the Republicans have stopped trying to come up with even plausible-sounding excuses for why they don't look out for the nation's most vulnerable. And in some ways, they don't have much to lose on this front. Already polling showing that just seven percent of Americans think Congressional Republicans favor the so-called "have-nots" over the "haves." I'm surprised it's that high. And that was even before they introduced this bill.

President Obama fares slightly better. About one in three Americans thinks he prioritizes the "have-nots." No political leader, however, is seen by the majority as prioritizing the country's poorest. So much for all that rhetoric about the government favoring low-income Americans and inciting class warfare. Joining me now, Representative Maxine Waters, the Democrat of California, member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Always a pleasure, Congresswoman, thanks for your time tonight.

MAXINE WATERS: Thank you, Good evening.

OLBERMANN: This is not tea partiers introducing extreme legislation. In fact - of all things - the tea party Caucus opposed this. What does that tell you about how mainstream - the mainstream Republicans - how extreme they have become?

WATERS: Well, it speaks to the fact they have become extremely, extremely harmful to the average American and, particularly, the poor people and people in need. You said it in your introduction.

How can you - in this country that supposedly cares about seniors, cares about the most vulnerable - how can you cut the home-heating program? I mean, this is a program that seniors - in particular, the frail elderly - depend on. In the wintertime, you have seniors who are alone in their apartments who have no money for heat and they depend on these subsidies and now they are going to cut them. It is just unconscionable.

This draft piece of legislation that they put out for the year 2012 - this is the Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill - comes as a surprise in the way that they're doing it. It's not even had a hearing. It looks as if they're gonna bypass the regular order of Congress and move forward with all of these cuts, not only to the low-income heating program, but also in Pell Grants - as you mentioned - education and all throughout the bill, they have defunded everything that have anything to do with health-care reform that they refer to as Obamacare.

OLBERMANN: This all amounts to - I don't even know, I was gonna say borderline sadism - I don't even know if it's borderline. I think it's just sadism against people who can't fight back. At what point are Democrats going to call it that and campaign on that and run these self-serving Republicans, who are there to defend the rich, out of town?

WATERS: One of the things I want my party, the Democratic Party, to do is to go into communities that are hurting. Go into rural communities, as well as the urban communities and say to the people, "You are not being represented by the persons that you have sent to Congress."

Many of these areas that are suffering, who have representatives who don't deal with their economic need, don't deal with their health needs - they get away with it and the Democratic Party is not taking it on. We are not educating them. We are not shining a light on the lack of representation that they have in their communities.

I think that we have to change our strategy and we have to get into these communities and we have to let people know they are organizing you, telling you somebody is burning the flag and getting you all fired up, but what they don't tell you is they're not supporting money so that you can live a little bit longer and have a better quality of life.

OLBERMANN: The Harry Truman quote from 1948 suddenly comes to mind, when he said, "How many times do you have to get hit over the head before you realize who it is that keeps hitting you over the head?" I mean, isn't that the premise here? To sell this to - to people who think they're somehow - they're going to win the lottery next month, so they want to be on the side of the rich? Is that what we're dealing with here?

WATERS: Well, one of the things I know that we are doing is - we are allowing people who have great needs to not know and understand how government is working and who's working in their behalf. And poor people in many of these rural areas who truly do not have representation and have right-wing conservatives and even these tea party people who claim to be representing them, but distracting them on issues that have nothing to do with their well-being are getting away with it. And we've got to do something about it.

Let me just tell you, you just talked about what is happening up on Wall Street and how the left is organizing against the abuses that have been perpetrated on all of us by Wall Street and I want to tell you - this is gonna grow. And it's not only gonna grow in relationship to the big - "too big to fail" operations. It's gonna grow because people sitting out here, wondering where their next meal is gonna come from, where their jobs are gonna come from - unemployment at 9.1%, 16.7% in African American communities, 11.3% in Latino communities - they cannot - we cannot - sit and allow this to continue to go on without speaking up and without getting involved and saying, "Something is wrong with this picture."

And the Republicans, who are leading the bandwagon for dismantling government, they're inflicting great harm on this economy. They are going to cut jobs. When you cut jobs, there's less money. You can't stimulate an economy by cutting the jobs. You cut all of these jobs that they are cutting, even in this bill, alone, you're going to feel the pain of that in our economy. And so, people are going to rebel against this.

OLBERMANN: Indeed. Representative Maxine Waters of California. As always, Congresswoman, great thanks for some of your time tonight.

WATERS: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: How do you get yourself removed from a FBI terror watch list from which nobody gets removed? Guilt is guilt and innocence is also guilt. Coming up.


OLBERMANN: The FBI's counter-terrorism watch list, the one you cannot get off of, no matter how guilty you are not. Next.

First, the "Sanity Break." And on this date in 1942 was born Ian McShane, Blackbeard in the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. Also, "The Parrots of the Caribbean" movie they're coming out with next week. And for 49 years, one of the most consistent actors here and in his native England - from "Lovejoy" to "Deadwood" to "Dallas" to "Disraeli." And we're very happy to say a "Countdown" viewer of long standing. So, happy birthday, Ian McShane.

"Time Marches On."

I'd quote him from "Dead Spin," but - from "Deadwood," rather, but we haven't started swearing yet. Yeah, there's a reason I'm distracted. It's two bear cubs wrestling with dad watching in the corner. "Hey, Boo-Boo, stop messing around the picnic baskets." In the end, they called a truce without declaring a winner. Aw, but really, when was the last time you saw the Cubs win anything anyway?

Also in sports, one more game on the schedule - the Brother Elephants and the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese league. I don't think it's playable. It's foul. The really foul part? The guy dropped his young daughter while going for the foul ball. Little girl's fine, but I can't say the same for the drive home with the missus. I think this look translates into all languages, and that was before her team, the Brother Elephants, blew that nine-game lead in the Wild Card race to the Monkeys.

Speaking of monkeys, here's a monkey riding around on the back of a mountain goat who's walking on a tightrope - You had me at the mountain goat. If this is real, it is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life - right here on the 17 mark - or is it? That's right. Let's increase the degree of difficulty. Put the goat on a vase - all right, little higher. The monkey does a handstand. You monkey have a nice handstand - do that handstand. I said does he have a license? If a monkey doing a handstand on a goat, who's balancing on a vase on a tightrope doesn't do it for you, my friend, nothing ever will. Unfortunately, the monkey later tested positive for performance-enhancing bananas.

"Time Marches On."

Real sports - as in the extraordinary night of baseball and the extraordinary repercussions it could have in one city where two World Series in eight years is suddenly not enough - plus the terror watch list where innocence is no excuse next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: "Arthur Murray's Dumont Dance Party" will not be seen tonight, so we can instead bring you "Countdown," live each weeknight at 8:00 P.M. Eastern, 5:00 P.M. Pacific and now in color.

When it comes to a criminal trial, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard the prosecution must meet to secure a conviction. And acquittal means you're not guilty. When it comes to counter terrorism, reasonable suspicion is all it takes to keep a suspect on the government's terrorist watch list indefinitely.

In our third story on the "Countdown," FBI files obtained through The Freedom of Information Act document now how people who have been acquitted of terrorist charges, or had terrorist charges dropped in court, can still be barred from planes or subjected to tight scrutiny at airports, border crossings and even traffic stops.

According to The New York Times, there are 420,000 names on the list including some 8,000 Americans with no official procedure that would allow them to find out if they're on the list or challenge the charges against them if they're on the list. The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed the suit that saw the info released. We'll talk to one of the group's attorneys in a moment.

Other groups are also speaking out. A counsel with the ACLU called the watch list system "a star chamber, a secret determination that you have no input into that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life, and you have no way to challenge it."

The FBI reviewed 224 pages requested in the FOI suit and released just 92. Many of those had blank spaces for redactions, others would leave most readers blank, like this one: "Typically, the FBI only nominates subjects of predicated investigations for watch listing. However, certain circumstances may arise in which the FBI determines a person who is not the subject of a predicated investigation warrants watch listing because that person poses a threat. This may include, in limited circumstances, the subject of a closed FBI investigation."

As we try to recover from that, let's bring in - from Washington - Ginger McCall, a lawyer with EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Thanks for your time tonight.

GINGER McCALL: Thank you very much for having me.

OLBERMANN: So, never mind "innocent 'til proven guilty." This thing is guilty even after you've been proved innocent?

McCALL: Yep, you may still be assumed to be guilty and included on the watch list even after you've been acquitted, even after your case has been dismissed.

OLBERMANN: And that's presuming you know about it, because - obviously Orwellian is such a cliché. I already used it once in the show - but here's a list you can't get off of even if you shouldn't have been there. Is it also true that law enforcement can't tell people on the list that they are in fact on the list?

McCALL: Absolutely. In these documents, we saw that there are three separate handling codes for law-enforcement interaction with people who are on the list. And every single one of those codes says absolutely do not let this person know that they are on the list. The list is federal property.

OLBERMANN: So, this is the perfect circle, then. This is, I mean, this is the ACLU's nightmare - your nightmare, my nightmare - and in fact, it is Catch-22. If you're too crazy, you can't fly. But if you tell anybody you're crazy, then you must be sane enough to fly.

McCALL: It's true, and it's even worse than that ACLU quote suggested, because what's not mentioned in that quote is the fact that you may not even know that you're on the list. So, not only can you not petition for redress, it's very difficult to actually get removed from the list. But you probably don't even know if you're on it, because law enforcement is expressly told not to let you know.

OLBERMANN: And is this the same - are we still in the same stage we were in six or seven years ago where a name on the list means everybody who has that name is conceivably subjected to this sort of extra scrutiny? If - there are, unfortunately - for America, there aren't any other Keith Olbermanns, but, if there - anybody else bearing your name, you were on the list, all 400 of you might be subjected to being investigated?

McCALL: I'm not sure if it would be all 400, but we've certainly seen a lot of instances where there was a mix-up with a name, a person who had a same, or similar, name to someone who was on that list who was also included on that list then.

OLBERMANN: All right, so the ACLU opposes it, you - EPIC - oppose it, but where are the elected officials, where are the Congressmen and the Senators, even just on bringing light to this, never mind actually taking a stance on something?

McCALL: It's difficult. You know, we really need to get more public support behind this. You know, we see the Patriot Act continue to be renewed. There's a real fear in this country to do anything that would be considered against national security policy, but we need to have a balance in this system between national security and civil liberties. And people need to create that sort of pressure on their elected officials.

OLBERMANN: Do they keep the balance swung in the opposite direction, not for any level of security, but because - once this thing would be opened up and people would find out they got on to these lists by rumor, innuendo, hearsay, typographical errors - somebody, you know, putting the wrong list page in the wrong order - that there would be lawsuits until the end of time?

McCALL: Yeah. I mean, there is a real problem with accountability here. With transparency would come accountability, and that's why we want greater transparency about this list.

OLBERMANN: All right. So, practically speaking, other than calling the Congress, what do you do?

McCALL: Well, calling Congress is always a good start. We'd like to see more oversight about the list, how many names are on it, how many names are added or removed every year. We'd like more transparency about the removal - way that you can get your name removed, the procedures behind that. You know, we just - we really need more oversight and more transparency. The list needs to be more in line with the protections of the Privacy Act. And the Privacy Act is the law that allows people - if the government has a database - to go to that database, to say to the government, "I want to know what information you have about me," and then to correct that information if it's wrong.

OLBERMANN: Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, EPIC. Thank you, and good luck on this issue.

McCALL: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: The Fenway-pocalypse, the indomitable Tampa Rays and the stricken Atlanta Braves, and all at once. Baseball's big night ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Funny that Boston baseball fans are ready to burn down Fenway Park because the Red Sox blew a nine-game lead in the pennant race last night, while things are calmer in Atlanta, because the lead the Braves blew was only eight and a half games. What happened? What will happen? And the greatest line ever about the plight of being a Red Sox fan.

First, the "Worsts." You don't want to know how just how far it's gone. This Michigan legislator wants to put teachers in jail for saying they like their union, next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Probably the single best day of baseball in 25 years, followed by the hangover that is threats, recriminations and the prospect of anticlimactic playoffs, next.

First, because - for these guys - every day is like blowing a nine-game lead, here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."

The bronze to Bill O. the clown, super genius.

Possibly to make up for his fluffing of Roger Ailes of Fox News, Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast released outtakes from his piece, including this gem from O'Reilly on what O'Reilly puts into his show: "I'm not real interested in policy on this program anymore. We used to do that, but it just didn't resonate. Policy is very complicated, and TV just doesn't have the time."

Policy's too complicated? Saves more time for demonizing immigrants, doing body-language segments, having more women on with large breasts and, of course, scotch. But wait, there's more:

"Once in a while, we'll have an explosion - we'll have a pie fight. You become a caricature if you do it all the time." Once in a while evidently means he does not come to your house, knock on your door and have a pie fight on your porch. And who needs to become a caricature when you're celebrating your 35th anniversary as a caricature?

Runner-up - Michigan State Rep Al Pscholka, of Stevensville. He is the sponsor of one of the nastiest pieces of legislation to come down the pike in a while, even in Michigan, which was taken over by the Republican fascists quite a while ago.

Pscholka's SHB-4052 is now out of committee, and it includes a small punishment for any teacher in Michigan who conducts either union or political business over, say, public-school email servers - a fine of up to $1,000 or a year in prison. You send an email saying the union is opposed to - I don't know, beating students with cat o' nine tails - whatever the Republicans have in mind next - you could go to jail. In theory, if you send an email that includes the phrase, "I think the union is wrong about this," you could go to jail. Way to take care of the people who are trying to turn your little rat Republican kids into potential human beings.

But our winner - the foremost failure of America's educational system - his self-appointed holy godliness - Congressman Allen West of Florida. His latest target? The President of the United States, Joe Stalin.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Do you think that President Obama, that the result - the negative result of his policies and the destruction in his wake, is inadvertent because he's inept? Or do you think - as some people increasingly believe, and as Rush Limbaugh has suggested - that this is intentional?

(Excerpt from video clip) ALLEN WEST: It is intentional, because - it's intentional because this is who the president is. The president is a Marxist, because he believes in the separation of classes. We have never heard of a president in the United States of America speak as he is. And when you have a national leader - you look throughout history - when you have a national leader that demonizes a certain segment of a society and attacks them, it has never ended up well. And yet, that's what we have. He is a socialist, because he believes in nationalizing production -

OLBERMANN: Congressman Goober, Ronald Reagan raised taxes on the richest people 11 times. I don't know if you realize this, Mr. West, but Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.

And 51 years ago, when Dwight Eisenhower was ending his term, taxes on the richest were 91 percent. And if you could pry yourself away from the mirror long enough, Colonel, maybe you'll remember that Eisenhower was a Republican like Richard Nixon, under whom the rate was 70 percent.

I know, I know. Reagan, Eisenhower, Nixon - Congressman, you think these are all mythical characters, and that the only reality is those four imaginary little men who follow you around all day and night, each of whom stands about two feet tall and smokes a corn-cob pipe, and will always sing "Walk Like an Egyptian" while you're trying to sleep - you think that's the only reality.

That and all those Marxists out there. Groucho Marx and musician Richard Marx and Mark Schattner and Marx - Congressman Allen West of Florida, seriously, you're in desperate need of professional help. Please, please get it. Today's "Worst Person in the World."


OLBERMANN: On September 3rd, the Boston Red Sox had what was estimated to be a 99.6% chance of making the baseball playoffs. The Atlanta Braves chances were 96.5%.

But, in our number-one story - as the great former Boston sportscaster, Clark Booth, observed 25 years ago this month - the permanent mindset of New England baseball remains "If the Red Sox win today it is only because losing tomorrow will hurt more."

Apparently, that's also true in Atlanta. Atlanta and St. Louis were tied for the National League wild card this time last night. Then St. Louis coasted over the Houston Astros behind a complete game shutout by Chris Carpenter.

Atlanta had a tougher matchup. They played a National League team called the Philadelphia Phillies. Holding a 3-2 lead in the ninth, Atlanta's rookie closer Craig Kimbrel allowed a sacrifice fly to Chase Utley to tie the game, which went to the 13th. Philadelphia's Hunter Pence - formerly of Houston, 'til they gave him away - drove in the winning run on a little flair towards second. Cardinals' clubhouse was watching and there was much rejoicing.

In the American League on September 1st, the Red Sox had been in first place in the Eastern Division - half a game ahead of the New York Yankees - and in the wild card, nine games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. But, we've all heard about that meteor that could hurdle from space and destroy life as we know it. It hit the Red Sox.

Last night they were tied with Tampa for that wild card. The Sox were facing the last place Orioles. The Rays were playing the first-place Yankees. It seemed as though Boston would hold on, especially when the Yanks jumped out to a 7-0 lead and the Red Sox were holding a 3-2 lead when a rain delay in Baltimore stopped play. At that point Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy - the man who popularized the curse of the Bambino - went on to the Red Sox broadcast and said the worst thing he could have possibly ever said in a million years.

(Excerpt from video clip) HEIDI WATNEY: What do you think the odds are that the Rays rally in this game?

(Excerpt from video clip) SHAUGHNESSY: I think the Rays are not going to win tonight. I think that the one thing that we have eliminated tonight is the Red Sox season is not going to end tonight. They live to play another day.

OLBERMANN: No sooner said than - with two outs in the eighth - the Rays scored six runs and then, with two outs and two strikes on him in the bottom of the ninth, Tampa's Dan Johnson - who hadn't gotten a base hit since April 27th - tied the game with a pinch-hit home run. Back in Baltimore, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up the lead on a double to Nolan Reimold and then Robert Andino stepped up to the plate.

(Excerpt from video clip) DON ORSILLO: Andino to left field, in comes Crawford, can't make the catch, he pops up. The throw to the plate is going to be off the mark. And the Orioles walk off with the win!

OLBERMANN: Carl Crawford, actually the best $500 billion ever spent in baseball free-agent history. Literally, three minutes later in Tampa.

(Excerpt from video clip) STAATS: 2-2 and a line shot, down the left field line. That ball is gone! And the Rays win it!

OLBERMANN: And - just like that - the postseason matchups had been decided, and Fenway apocalypse and the Brave-less new world were history. Let's bring in Houston Chronicle columnist, MLB Network Insider Richard Justice. Good to talk to you, Richard.

RICHARD JUSTICE: You're taking a little too much pleasure from this, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All my friends are with the Red Sox, or at least they were when the show started. This - this - this was not the single-best day in baseball history. That's the arrogance of now suggesting that. I understand people's exuberance about it. But - it's the best in at least a quarter century, right? At least since the epic games of the 1986 postseason, right?

JUSTICE: Well, it was great because it was scheduled -


JUSTICE: - and you look at the start of the day, and you said, "Hey, this is going to be fun." And when it was over, I was probably like you. I was saying, "Now, wait a minute, let me digest everything I just saw here." Dan Shaughnessy's next book will be to point out that Carl Crawford - three minutes before Longoria's home run - dropped the ball. Longoria hit that home run into a place in the wall that was carved out so Carl Crawford could hit home runs there when he played for the Rays.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, but it's not just that. Because Dan Shaughnessy's next book - I mean, he is the one who pushed the Babe Ruth jinx, the curse of the Bambino. So, absolutely, clearly - in Boston - the new curse is the curse of the Shaun-bino, right? I mean, it's his fault because he said that. He never does that. He's never like that. He's not a - he's not a Red Sox rooter, apologist, or anything else. He jinxed them. It's his fault, isn't it?

JUSTICE: Yeah, and you could see it coming. Ten days ago, probably when this month started, you and I both said, "No, this won't happen." They'll make it interesting. La Russa had a meeting with his guys when they were ten out and just said, "Hey, play respectable. You gained respect of all of baseball all year by overcoming adversity. Don't ruin it now."

But about ten days ago, you - knowing how this game plays out - you said, "It's not can happen, it's gonna happen." Because this game failure, this game eats away at you like no other. You have all day in your hotel room to think about your failures and then you got to go out and play again and try to overcome them. It's - it's - it's - it's why - it's the best game on Earth.

OLBERMANN: But it's not magic, and it's not curses. It can snowball, but the collapses would seem to be - as collapses go - relatively easily explained. My two theories and agree with me, or correct me if you will. Fredi Gonzalez - great man and great manager of the Braves - just overused his bullpen into the ground. The kids had nothing left. And he kept starting Derek Lowe about six months after Derek Lowe should have retired. And the Red Six pitching staff broke, and every one of the Red Sox hitters was out there, each pitch trying to hit the proverbial ten-run home run.

JUSTICE: Right, and I think in previous choke jobs, you look and there's a knucklehead factor. These are two of the great organizations in baseball. Smart general managers, smart managers. Yeah, you're right, Atlanta lost its two best starting pitchers. Lowe didn't win. Uggla didn't hit. The bullpen was just worn out.

And in Boston, that great rotation, that thing that lead them right through the season, it went - it went away. It - Clay Buchholz got hurt. Josh Beckett had a couple of bad games, and then the bullpen blew a couple of games. All things that are explainable, and when you start looking for people to blame - look, sometimes there's no one to blame.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, you don't need dramatic comeback - you don't need a team coming in - you don't need the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers and a 30-point margin being overcome. You can - incremental things can create that kind of drama, which is why baseball is better than the other sports. But, one thing - one plan about expanding the playoffs, and putting an extra round in there to increase the number of wild cards, or have a wild card play-in game - did that just get crushed by the drama of last night of the regular season, last night? Did we mercifully kill that thing off based on what happened last night?

JUSTICE: I don't think so. I think the TV partners want it, so it's probably going to happen -

OLBERMANN: Screw the TV partners.

JUSTICE: A month ago, we didn't think there would be this. I think when you add in two more playoff teams, you know, you have more moving parts, they're probably - we will have more excitement. But I don't know that we're going have another night like that one. That is just magical, and thanks to the MLB Network and ESPN we could watch it all and digest it all.

OLBERMANN: Okay. Predictions - no times for explanations. Just pick a team. Yankees/Tigers.

JUSTICE: Yankees.

OLBERMANN: I disagree, Tigers. Rangers/Rays.

JUSTICE: Rangers.

OLBERMANN: Okay, we agree on that. American League pennant then, you've got - I got Tigers/Rangers. You've got Yanks/Rangers. Who wins the pennant?

JUSTICE: I like the Texas Rangers.

OLBERMANN: Okay, we agree on that. Phillies/Cardinals?

JUSTICE: Phillies.

OLBERMANN: Phillies, agreed. Diamondbacks/Brewers.

JUSTICE: Brewers.

OLBERMANN: National League pennant?

JUSTICE: Phillies.

OLBERMANN: I think Brewers. All right, so you've got a Texas/Phillies World Series. Who wins the World Series?

JUSTICE: Phillies.

OLBERMANN: Okay. I got the Texas/Milwaukee series. I like the Brewers. We'll see how it turns out.

JUSTICE: Well, I like the - we all like the Brewers. That's the thing, you could make a case for eight teams here.

OLBERMANN: I know, we'll see it. Richard Justice, national baseball correspondent of the Houston Chronicle, also of MLB Network. Great thanks, Richard.

That's "Countdown" for this, the 60th day since the Republicans' debt-ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? Where's our credit rating? And where is Carl Crawford's refund?

I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.