'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, October 14th, 2011
Special Comment: (replay)
The Four Great Hypocrisies
via YouTube, h/t CookieBounces
ShowPlug1: Bloomberg reaches out for meeting w/ #OWS Organizers after peaceful end to Zuccotti Park "cleaning" crisis has not-so-peaceful PS
ShowPlug2: A Countdown Special Report on #OWS including @NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman, co-author of OWS Statement, witness this AM
ShowPlug3: + Michael @MTracey free-lancer for The Nation, victim of a police punch, Twitter updater this AM on how the violence started
ShowPlug4: Plus NEW video of a Legal Observer run over by a police motorbike; he's still in jail, his attorney @YettaKurland joins me
ShowPlug5: While NYPD formally alleges victim "purposely put his legs under the scooter and then claimed falsely he was trapped."
ShowPlug6: Did Geithner's comments on Wall Street regulation hint at actual influence by #OWS? @Markos Moulitsas joins me
ShowPlug7: Today Milan, tomorrow the world - as Occupy goes Global. Perspective from activist and comedian @JamieKilstein
ShowPlugLast: And its meaning now changed by last 74 days, a reprise of the 8/1 Special Comment on how to fight against Debt Deal + gvmt
ShowPlug PS: First segment opens with two minutes of sound-full video from #OWS, Park, Rally, Mayhem today
watch whole playlist
#5 'Showdown Postponed', Ryan Hoffman & Michael Tracey
YouTube: part 1, part 2
#4 'Observer Attacked', Yetta Kurland
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#3 'Politics of Protest', Markos Moulitsas
The website mentioned: We Stand With The 99 Percent
#2 'Tomorrow The World', Jamie Kilstein
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#1 Special Comment: The Four Great Hypocrisies
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Debt ceiling, NYPD, Occupy Together, Occupy Wall Street
Categories: From the Show, Show Transcripts
Guests: Jamie Kilstein, Michael Tracey, Ryan Hoffman, Yetta Kurland
Contributors: Markos Moulitsas
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Brookfield Properties said they are postponing their cleaning!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: This was a big victory. I mean, while the sun was down, we were getting ready to be arrested. The sun broke, and the park was ours.
OLBERMANN: But the streets were not. When Occupy Wall Street goes off script and on to Wall Street - what one reporter described as something like the running of the bulls at Pamplona with police on motorbikes as the bulls.
They then arrested him for knocking over the bike. This is "Countdown" special coverage of Occupy Wall Street, Day 28. With lawyer Yetta Kurland, attorney for the protester run over by the police. With Occupy statement co-author Ryan Hoffman. With witness - and punching victim - Michael Tracey. And with details on the rolling up of Occupy Denver, and the rolling out of Occupy Globally - Occupy Milan, Italy.
And with Markos Moulitsas on the possibility that the protests have already moved the needle in Washington, after the Treasury Secretary talks this morning about new rules for Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) TIMOTHY GEITHNER: You have seen very, very dramatic enforcement actions already by the enforcement authorities across the U.S. government, and I'm sure you're going to see more to come.
OLBERMANN: And with a special reprise of a special comment - from 74 days ago on the debt deal - and the cuts to the social safety net and the only way to fight back.
(Excerpt from video clip) OLBERMANN: We must protest this deal and all of the goddamn deals to come in the streets. We must rise non-violently but insistently. General strikes, boycotts, protests, sit-ins.
OLBERMANN: All of that and more now on a special edition of "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTERS: The people united!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York this is Friday October 14th, 389 days until the 2012 presidential election, and this is a special edition of "Countdown."
This was the day when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly managed to snatch violence from the jaws of peaceful protest. Even as the cleaning up and cleaning out of Zuccotti Park was postponed, New York police still managed to clash with the protesters who didn't clear off Wall Street fast enough to their liking. Arresting about 15 protesters, punching at least two and running one over with a motor bike, this after marchers left the park in two streams - one toward City Hall, the other down Wall Street itself, where some of the worse confrontations took place. All that followed this dramatic announcement at about half past 6:00 this morning.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: We received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTERS: We received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Brookfield Properties said they are postponing their cleaning!
(Excerpt from video clip) YDANIS RODRIGUEZ: I'm proud of this movement. I believe that this movement has bring a voice to millions of people that never was heard.
(Excerpt from video clip) STEPHEN SANCHEZ: You could call us left wing. I call this people. I call this people who believe and people - and that we should have an equal chance the way this country was founded on.
(Excerpt from video clip) SETH HAHN: We're all pretty pumped up right now, a bunch of us are walking down to Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTERS: All week, Occupy Wall Street. All day. All week, Occupy Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) POLICEMAN #1: Move! Guys, move! Move! You're in the street.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #1 Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2 He's having a seizure! He's having a seizure! He's having a seizure!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #3: Lieutenant!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2 He is having a seizure! He's having a seizure!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #3: Lieutenant! He did nothing wrong. Lieutenant, he was run over, Lieutenant. He did nothing wrong, lieutenant!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN # 4: Oh, my God! Holy crap!
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTERS: The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!
OLBERMANN: The man in the altercation with the police scooter, which was then parked on his leg, is a National Lawyers Guild legal observer - Ari Douglas - and he remains under arrest tonight.
His attorney Yetta Kurland - who's also part of the Liberty Park Working Group supporting Occupy Wall Street - will join us later in this news hour with this latest on his condition, on what happened, on her response to a police allegation that he deliberately put his feet under the scooter, and was never really trapped. Though even that claim would address the fact that he was apparently hit by the vehicle in the first place.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg said, Brookfield Properties had agreed to the postponement of the cleaning only after threats from local officials, who the mayor claims told Brookfield they would "Make your life more difficult." Bloomberg also saying that while Brookfield wanted to work out an agreement with Occupy Wall Street, a confrontation over Zuccotti Park may have only been postponed.
(Excerpt from audio clip) MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: If they want to take a couple days to try to work something out, they're welcome to do that. I've asked what happens if they cannot. And the answer I got was then they would want to go ahead and do exactly what they were going to do this morning.
OLBERMANN: There were more arrests as police clashed with Occupy protests around the country. At least 23 in Denver, Colorado, after protesters there refused to leave Veteran's Park, across from the state capital, Governor John Hickenlooper - heretofore considered a progressive - has ordered that park closed until further notice.
Ten more arrests in Seattle, where protesters refused to leave Westlake Park, but city officials there say they will allow Occupy protesters to gather near City Hall Plaza.
At least one arrest in San Diego, protesters there had refused to move their tents from a plaza behind city hall.
And in Gainesville, Florida, four arrests at Gain - Occupy Gainesville, including Ellas McDaniel - Bo Diddley, Jr. - the son of the legendary rhythm and blues performer, for trespassing and the place that Bo Diddley, Jr. was trespassing in? Bo Diddley Plaza.
In Chicago, Occupy marchers were boosted by support from the AFL-CIO, the service-employees union and the teamsters. No one would have believed that in 1970.
And in Detroit, at least 500 protesters gathered at the Spirit of Detroit statue, for a planed march to Grand Circus Park. Once marcher telling the Detroit Free Press, "There's something wrong with the direction of this country, and it's got to stop."
I'm going to talk with several eyewitnesses to today's violent events in lower Manhattan. Ryan Hoffman, co-author of the "Occupy Wall Street Declaration," previous guest on this program. Good evening, Ryan.
RYAN HOFFMAN: Good evening Keith.
OLBERMANN: And Michael Tracey, a journalist and a contributing writer to The Nation, who was both an eyewitness and a police victim during today's march. Welcome to you, sir.
MICHAEL TRACEY: Hello, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ryan, did you expect a confrontation? What was the atmosphere like in the park when the announcement was made that the cleaning had been postponed?
HOFFMAN: It was electric. I mean, we were all so excited, and we - we knew that it was sort of time that we express ourselves, and you know - direct action has never really been sort of part of the general assembly. Part of that process is, if you want to go celebrate by marching, you celebrate by marching. If you want to stay and hold the fort, hold the fort. So, a group of people decided that they wanted to go march down Broadway, and that's where we started doing that. And that was that.
OLBERMANN: Which way did you go, and what did you see when you got there?
HOFFMAN: I went with the first march down on Broadway, and we made a left down at the bowl, and we sort of made a circle up of Pearl and then came back and joined up with a larger march, who then went again, down towards the bowl. And that's where the mopeds first showed up.
OLBERMANN: Michael, did you see the violence start? Do you see this - the protesters, was there confrontation? Did they taunt the police? What was the origin point? Is there any way to be clear on that?
TRACEY: Well, evidently, Keith, the NYPD has determined that its most effective crowd-control tactic is to simply send a fleet of motorcops, I call them - or police officers on motorcycles - into crowds of demonstrators who have assembled on streets there in lower Manhattan near Wall Street. And, when you inject law enforcement into - into a situation in that manner, it's not surprising that you're going to come out with confrontations, tensions escalated and ultimately violence.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, when it looks like an episode of "Rollerball" it usually - it winds up looking like an episode of "Rollerball." What happened to you? Were you threatened with arrest? Or what happened? What was - walk me through what happened to you personally.
TRACEY: Sure, well I was in the plaza when the announcement was made that - contrary to previous insinuations - the park would not be evicted by the authorities. So, there was a very palatable sense of elation there, excitement percolating throughout the crowd, so it wasn't surprising to me when a breakaway march went south down Broadway.
So, I trailed along to document what happened, and - the next thing I know - the entire thing descended into pandemonium. Again, you had those cops on motorcycles, zooming down the street.
I witnessed a photographer, who was kneeling on the ground, taking a photo right directly in front of me, just get pummeled by a police officer. I witnessed a police officer - actually a white-shirted officer, so a higher-ranking officer -
TRACEY: - a lieutenant, deputy inspector, et cetera, just outright clock a guy in the face -
TRACEY: - seemingly without provocation, and I have to tell you -
OLBERMANN: We have - we have the tape of that. That's your tape, right?
TRACEY: That is my tape.
OLBERMANN: The green - the green video, as it were.
TRACEY: Yeah. There is a video right now on reason.com, Reason Magazine, I contributed a video report. I have to tell you, Keith - it was disturbing to witness, because - especially in a place like New York City where we have such a rich history of political dissent - not only being tolerated, but embraced in public fora. To have law enforcement clamp down like the way that they have, it's troubling, and - I think - forebodes poorly for, you know, for the nation.
OLBERMANN: Ryan, how many - do you have any idea all told how many people were at Wall Street or were theoretically in violation of whatever the cops wanted them to do? How big a crowd it was by that point?
HOFFMAN: Sorry, when we met up with the larger march it was about 500 people.
OLBERMANN: Okay. So - the claim that it could have been blocking traffic and all this - was there any validity to that?
HOFFMAN: There's some validity to it. I mean - but that doesn't mean we deserve to get run over with mopeds. And I saw a police officer - while he was riding a moped - reach over his shield and give a protester a right cross. It was like something out of Jason Statham movie. It was really intense, and, you know - to the NYPD's credit - they actually pulled that officer off of his moped. And I don't know if he's awaiting disciplinary action or not, but I know that he was pulled off.
OLBERMANN: Give me your assessment on that. And we always talk about this - the ratio of aggressive officers - aggressive policemen to use the generic term for officers and the blue shirt guys - the ratio of the aggressive ones to the not-physically-aggressive ones? Was it the usual mix? Was it more or less?
HOFFMAN: I'd say it's always - it's always hard to tell because you have a few certain individuals who decide to go above and beyond their call to inflict violence on protesters, and then you have individual police officers - that I have had conversations with - that are just there to do their job, and don't want any confrontation, and, you know, those are the people that want to let us have our voices heard. And so, it's hard to demonize the entire police force, but then you also have to take a look at their training. Over the past ten years -
OLBERMANN: Yeah, every situation is a fatal threat.
HOFFMAN: Yeah, they've become so militarized that they don't know how to deal with peaceful protesters anymore. And I think that's - that's a shame.
OLBERMANN: Michael, all things considered, given what Ryan just mentioned about what has happened to police force - and it's not just here, but it is largely here, it's absolutely true here, it's a distinct difference, and it has roots that are based in fact, it's not just paranoia, so one can understand where it comes from - having said all of that, do you have a sense that the message is, in fact, getting out, and perhaps - when these confrontation occur - the percentage of the message getting out to the percentage of people around the country is, in fact, increasing because all of this - only serves to draw attention to what you are doing?
TRACEY: I think it's unquestionable that the out-of-hand police response to these demonstrations around the country is galvanizing support for the movement. And I also think it's compelling people to rethink how they consider police around the country. When you see riot officers showing up in Denver in full warrior gear to subdue a group of non-violent demonstrators, when you see the mass arrests that have occurred here in New York City, when you see 30 arrested in front of the state house in Des Moines, Iowa, it has to bring to mind - are police officers out to safeguard order and ensure public safety? Or are they being given political directives by superiors that may actually end up impeding the maintenance of public safety.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and if the answer is, in fact, the first - why are they doing such a bad job of conveying that, and making everything look like a photo op? Which leads to the last question - where my understanding is at least one of your friends in the organizing group behind Occupy Wall Street was approached about a one-on-one meeting with mayor Bloomberg? Do you know anything about that?
HOFFMAN: As far as I know that - a few organizers or people who have been perceived as leaders have been approached about that. But, you know - like myself - we're all just individuals here. I can tell you why I'm down at Occupy Wall Street, but I have no authority to negotiate on behalf of the GA, nor does anybody else. And that's sort of - part of the process.
We have a very horizontal process, and it's pretty hard for some people to get their minds wrapped around that, that there's no hierarchy here. So, you can talk to us as individuals. And I'm sure those people have a lot to say. But as far as negotiating on behalf of the GA, it's just fruitless, and it's null and void. There's no - there's no authority there.
OLBERMANN: Ryan Hoffman - who co-wrote an occupy statement and who was good enough to update my movie references from the movies of ten years ago to something a little bit more current - and freelance journalist Michael Tracey, both of whom were in this morning - and in Michael's case - hope it's something with scars to prove it here. Thank you, gentlemen, for coming in.
HOFFMAN: Thanks so much for having me.
TRACEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we had hoped to talk to the man that was run over, collided with - however you want to describe it - that police bike, Ari Douglas, except - of course - he's still in custody despite his injuries. His attorney, though, joins me. That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The story of the one "Rollerball" episode, the man and the police motor bike, his attorney joins us. She's also part of the legal team representing the whole protests and will tell us what's newest legally. An unlikely indicator that the protests have had some kind of impact what the Treasury Secretary said today about regulating Wall Street. Tomorrow it all officially goes global. The rotten food being thrown is from Milano. Let me repeat myself. Special comment that first followed the infamous August debt deal, which bears repeating tonight. The only way to prevent turning this country entirely over to the corporations and the rich is to take to the streets. Ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: We continue with this special edition of "Countdown," following today's postponement of the confrontation between police and Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park in New York, and the police violence that followed as demonstrators marched down Wall Street.
The worst example of that we've seen was this: National Lawyers Guild legal observer Ari Douglas, in some fashion - at minimum - hit by a police motor scooter which was then left on his leg while he screamed in agony. Police spokesman Paul Brown, however, insists Douglas was not, in fact, run over by - nor trapped under - that scooter.
Brown claiming "Independent witnesses said he purposefully put his legs under the scooter and then claimed falsely he was trapped." A New York Daily News photographer, Joseph Moreno, reportedly having said that - while the scooter did, indeed, hit Mr. Douglas - "I saw him sticking his legs under the bike to make it appear he was run over."
An Associated Press photographer has also reportedly claimed that Douglas put his feet under the scooter, which still doesn't explain the blood you saw on Mr. Douglas' face, or on the street. Mr. Douglas has been hospitalized and arrested on charges including felony criminal mischief, obstructing judicial administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
p>Yetta Kurland is Ari Douglas' attorney, also a member of the Liberty Park Working Group, which supports Occupy Wall Street legally. Thanks for coming in.
YETTA KURLAND: My pleasure
OLBERMANN: Have you had a chance to speak with your client?
KURLAND: I have not. I have been trying all day. He's been incarcerated for over 12 hours, and I have not been able to speak with him.
OLBERMANN: Do you have any idea the extent of his injuries?
KURLAND: I know that he was forced - he had to go to a hospital to get emergency services. He had lacerations on his face. You saw the photos. He was bloodied all over his face.
OLBERMANN: And the police theory on this is - he threw himself onto the ground, and then purposefully stuck his feet under a moving motorcycle or moped - is probably a closer description - a moving vehicle?
KURLAND: Vehicle, yes.
OLBERMANN: He purposefully put his feet, one or both of them, under this thing in order to what?
KURLAND: That is a good question. Well, let's start with what we do know. Ari Douglas was a National Lawyers Guild New York City Chapter legal observer. He was standing with a number of other professional photographers and journalists. It's important to note he was not part of the protest. He was there in an official capacity to legally observe. He was run into by a motor vehicle, as you described, which unfortunately is one of the tactics NYPD uses to affect crowd control, and was clearly struck by the vehicle.
And then - instead of being attended to or the police officer helping him, it seems - as I watch the various videos - the police officer backed onto Mr. Douglas, pinning him under the motor vehicle. And then, again - rather than helping him - dismounted that vehicle, walked away from it, and left him trapped under that vehicle. He was finally able to dislodge from the vehicle, at which point the police officers jumped on top of him and proceeded to injure him so seriously that he had to be rushed to an emergency room. That is not what police officers should be doing in that type of situation.
OLBERMANN: Apart from the idea that everybody's made so far on the show, it's probably a really bad idea to be using not just - mounted police on horseback are dangerous enough. You put a horse into the equation, you put some sort of combustion engine into it, you are going to get combustion. Apart from that - if your client is going to be an attorney and he actually did what they're suggesting, wouldn't that have ramifications for his career?
KURLAND: So, let's accept the premise that a trained National Lawyers Guild legal observer found it prudent to, I guess, throw himself under a moving motor vehicle, and then, I don't know, pretend to have injured himself. Although, that's not what I see when I look at the video footage. I see someone clearly in distress, and if you look and listen to the audio, you hear people also around him also distressed over seeing him in distress. But let's assume, for argument purposes, that that's the case. That does not justify bloodying him and injuring him so severely that he requires emergency services. The police are supposed to be here to protect us.
I think it draws an interesting parallel to what our clients are fighting for at Zuccotti Park and Liberty Park for this kind of oversight and balance, and, you know, the NYPD is there to protect and serve the public in situations like getting run over by a motor vehicle. That's when the police step in to protect you.
OLBERMANN: Well, let's just step it one step back. Let's say he's there, and he believes he is about to be run over by the vehicle. This is not a lightweight - he's not being hit by a bicycle here, going zero miles an hour. Even if he is just panicking and just bawling like a child there, some attention needs to be paid to him at some point.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, we probably have exhausted the absurdity of this. Let me ask you - you mentioned that you're part of this legal team representing the entire movement - how is this going to resolve? Because the thing that seems to have gotten ignored in this entire equation is - the announcement today was, "The cleaning has been postponed." It is not - "There's not going to be a cleaning. Have a nice time. Merry Christmas." How is this going to be resolved? Is there going to be a negotiation, or how do you think this is going to turn out? Do you know?
KURLAND: That's a really good point. It's unfortunate that we're seeing such serious problems with excessive force in NYPD, and that overshadowed - I think all of us watched that video over and over today, and I think we're all sitting here this evening, saying, you know, I'm not sure the police have learned their lesson post the Republican National Convention and post 9/11 in terms of handling protesters and dealing with public space - but I think that that will, unfortunately, overshadow the fact that there was a victory today. The police did not go into Zuccotti Park and shut it down, and that's a good thing, and we're delighted by that.
But at the same time, we're not out of the forest. We're not over that. And it's great the Brookfield folks have put out a memorandum saying that they want to work with us, but we have heard nothing concretely in terms any type of opportunities to sit down or to clearly negotiate. So, that's something that we're looking for.
OLBERMANN: Is there any suspicion that what happened this morning was a ruse just to get witnesses out of the way, that the city will swing by at some point at 4:00 in the morning saying, "Oh, by the way, the owners have changed their mind again. Get out."
KURLAND: Right. I mean, there were a number of tense moments. To say that it was victory today is not to say that we didn't, at different points, worry that all sorts of things were going to happen. But I think that that's exactly right. I mean, it seems very much it was a pretext to basically shut down and stop folks from demonstrating and being in a space - constitutionally-protected use of the space - and to be there.
So, you know, and I think you played earlier Mayor Bloomberg's statement, which is basically saying, "Well, you know, we're going to negotiate, or if they don't negotiate, then, basically, we're just going to do the same thing." So, you know, it's great - again - that they've put out that they want to do that, but now they need to come to the table.
You know, we're attorneys - I'm just one of the attorneys representing these arrestees, we have a whole National Lawyers Guild here working around the clock to do this - and we need to hear from the folks at Brookfield to actually sit down and come up with some concrete solutions.
OLBERMANN: Otherwise, the next confrontation gets 1,000 times the publicity that this one did, which also would seem to be, at some point, going to occur to the police in the City of New York. Although, clearly, it has not.
Yetta Kurland, the attorney for the injured protester and one of the attorneys representing Occupy Wall Street, great thanks for coming in, and our best to your client.
KURLAND: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The biggest of all the other questions tonight, as we move from the events to the substance of the protest. Has Occupy Wall Street had any practical effects on the regulation of Wall Street? The Treasury Secretary, of all people, hints at perhaps just that.
Markos Moulitsas joins me next as our special edition of "Countdown" continues.
OLBERMANN: In less than one month, Occupy Wall Street has gone from an obscure plan to a protest that polling shows at least three-quarters of all Americans know about, and less than a quarter have a negative opinion about. And now, today comes the first tangible evidence, perhaps, that among that 77 percent is the Secretary of the Treasury. How Occupy Wall Street might have just spun off a movement inside the Obama Administration that we might call "Clean up Wall Street." Markos Moulitsas joins me next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" is live weeknights here at 8:00 P.M. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific. Our primary replays are at 11:00 P.M. Eastern, 11:00 Pacific. We call it our little miracle.
In about four short weeks, the Occupy movement has tapped a deep well of discontent in this country and mobilized thousands coast to coast. Now, a few signs that it might also be changing the nation's political direction.
In our third story tonight - the indications the Occupy movement could already be moving the political needle, if ever so slightly, to the left, as some top members of the Obama administration say they hear the protesters' message, and are considering tightening the rules on big banks.
Treasury Secretary Geithner, who has long faced criticism for perceived sympathy to Wall Street, saying on CNBC today that he plans to deliver on the administration's promise of financial reform, claiming that - in fact - he already has.
(Excerpt from video clip) TIMOTHY GEITHNER: We've seen very, very dramatic enforcement actions already by the enforcement authorities across the U.S. government, and I'm sure you're going to see more to come. You should stay tuned for that.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoing that message, telling a group of Manhattan business leaders today they are not off the hook, saying "The protests ought to be a reminder to all of us that we have a great deal of work to do to live up to the expectations of the American people."
This, after several high-ranking congressional Democrats - including the former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi - pledged their support for the protest. Still, that could be in the hopes of advancing their own causes, winning the upcoming elections, per se. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - the House Democrats' fund-raising arm - now circulating a petition asking supporters to join them and "Stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests." That was fast.
Joining me now, "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas, of course, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos. Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, happy Friday.
OLBERMANN: And to you, sir. What do you make of the (Treasury Secretary Timothy) Geithner comments about expecting regulation? I mean, didn't he sort of undercut himself when he said he'd already put harsh regulations in place - apparently, the invisible kind that nobody knows about?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I'm actually happy that they're being forced to talk about this. It's much easier to ignore and hope that this goes away. And I think they're realizing it's not going away. So, they have to hit it head on. And I'm happy that he says stay tuned, things are going to happen.
But when he says dramatic things have already happened, I mean - you know what? His definition of dramatic clearly is a lot different than mine, because I haven't seen anything that would even remotely come close to being called dramatic, so if we're going to get more of the same, then I'm not that excited. But if he's just trying to hint that there actually will be real action ahead of us, then that's a positive. I'm just not holding my breath right now.
OLBERMANN: And the Secretary of State's quote - that the protests ought to be a reminder to all of us that we have, note the us and the we, have a great deal of work to do to live up to the expectations of the American people - that seems like it's slightly above, kind of, boilerplate. It - translate that to - who's the we? Who's this we, Kemo Sabe? Is she referring to herself and Wall Street or just Wall Street, or who?
MOULITSAS: That, actually, is a lot more encouraging, I have to say.
MOULITSAS: When we talk about - I mean, it's funny to me, for a movement that's been criticized as not having demand, what does it stand for? - people know what it stands for. I mean, there's no doubt what it stands for.
I mean, and Hillary doesn't need to see a list of demands to know what this is all about, and those business leaders she was talking to don't need a list of demands to know what Hillary Clinton is talking about. They all know exactly what this all about, and the fact is that they're going to have to pay more attention to it, and - if nothing else - this is what this movement has really been all about.
OLBERMANN: What about the - the fund-raiser from - the petition from the D.C.C.C.? I mean, is that a little disingenuous, or is that - is there a silver lining in that, or how do you read that one?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I mean, part of it is they're trying to maybe co-opt the movement. That's a little crass and a little unseemly. On the other hand, they're kind of tying themselves to this movement, so it gets a lot harder for themselves to try to carry Wall Street's water after they've sat there and said "We're in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street." Not that they won't try, don't get me wrong.
MOULITSAS: Crassness is not outside of the realm of politics, but, you know - in the past, what would happen is that they would run away from those "dirty hippies," right? "Oh, hippies, go away." The fact that they're not - the fact that they're trying to find ways to use this to their advantage - actually is a long term good.
OLBERMANN: Having - having looked at this landscape - obviously, politicians do not have to believe in something or even like it to advocate it, or to get it done. I mean, it's nice when they do that, it's kind of sweet, in an old-fashioned, "what they're supposed to be there for" way. But being scared of it is sufficient, and it really can change. We're not Great Britain.
But last spring - if you had told everybody that by fall, there would be 83 different investigations of Rupert Murdoch, that the tide had turned from a Rupert Murdoch teat-sucking community into a "let's see if we can put him in jail" community in a matter of three months - nobody would have believed you. Could it possibly move that dramatically in this country on something with far more substance that whether or not Rupert Murdoch is, you know - a bad guy and a bad influence on society?
MOULITSAS: Heck, if three months ago you had asked me - or had told me - that there would be this mass movement that was fixated on substance, not nonsense, right? Not the usual media crap, but actually substantive movement, that was focused on income and equality and the excesses of Wall Street, and that it was starting to get attention from politicians - I probably would have laughed. I would have said "That's really optimistic and cute, but really, that doesn't happen in this America."
Well, it's happening, and that's what's so exciting about this - is that this is actually, truly a movement based on substance, based on something more than death panels.
MOULITSAS: Or, you know, notions of "Obama wants to take away my guns and freedom." And this is actually based on empirical evidence that shows that the American people are not getting ahead except for that really tiny one percent.
And, to me, what's amazing about this is that Americans are getting the message, they're embracing it, and you even have people in that one percent and there's this great site - the one percent stand with you, I forget the exact url - but basically, it's people saying "Yeah, no, we're one of those lucky one percent. And, you know, this isn't fair. This is not what America is all about, and we stand with you. We stand with that 99 percent."
OLBERMANN: We'll see. "Countdown" contributor and the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, great thanks. Have a great weekend.
MOULITSAS: You, too. Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow, Occupy, and all the related protest groups, plan to act in unison around the world. The potential there with activist and comedian Jamie Kilstein, next.
OLBERMANN: "The whole world is watching." How close to literally correct can they make this? Tomorrow's international walkout and - today in Milan - protesters throwing rotten fruits and vegetables at the bank.
And it was August 1st and it was about the nefarious debt deal - I will bring you again a special comment, that in the wake of Occupy Wall Street has a far more relevant, far more urgent meeting tonight - coming up as this special edition of "Countdown" continues.
OLBERMANN: When Occupy Wall Street protesters are physically confronted by police, the demonstrators often chant, "The whole world is watching." But our number-two story on the "Countdown" tonight - we might be entering a new phase in which the whole world's participating against the concentrated power of the economic elite.
A movement called United for Global Change, at the website 15october.net, is promising demonstrations tomorrow in 951 cities in 82 countries. They are primarily in North America, Europe and South America, but protesters in Milan, Italy, got a head start today by marching, chanting, throwing fruit and storming the offices of Goldman Sachs. Yeah, let's see you do that against Bloomberg. Our cousins have much to teach us.
Beyond Italy, the United for Global Change website features posters in many languages. According to The New York Times, protesters in London hope to occupy the stock exchange. Our cousins there have many things to teach us. In France, they want to march from the stock exchange to the central city square.
Meanwhile, back here in New York, an Occupy event planned for Times Square at 5:00 P.M, its promotional poster designed by Shepard Fairey, who is behind Barack Obama's "Hope" graphic during the 2008 campaign. That's how quickly things change. Let's bring in Jamie Kilstein, the activist, comedian, co-host of "Citizen Radio," who's visited Zuccotti Park several times while covering these protests. Good to see you, sir.
JAMIE KILSTEIN: Thank for having me, and thanks for doing all this coverage.
OLBERMANN: Of course. It's news and - theoretically - we're supposed to be covering the news.
KILSTEIN: I hear that, and then when I turn to other stations, I forget that.
OLBERMANN: I know. Solyndra is the news apparently today. I missed it. Is it more correct, as we look at this worldwide phenomenon, to say that Occupy Wall Street is actually the American version of the European protests?
KILSTEIN: I definitely think they have a lot of similar grievances when it comes to austerity. We'll know for sure if, in five years, you know, Brooklyn hipsters are saying, "I like the European protests a lot more."
But I'm just excited that for the first time in so long, the entire world has solidarity with America. I mean, I remember during all of George Bush's administration, I'd go to perform overseas, and people would be like, "Where are you from?" And I'm like, "America!" or "Canada!" or whatever. And now, you go over there, and they're proud. You hear people in Egypt who have gone through, you know, so much, cite us as inspiration - that absolutely blows my mind.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, we have a good track record - just not recently - so they have something to go - but to watch those tapes in - that's, like, a new group in Milan that's just showing solidarity. And they have pink smoke flares. And they have paint to throw on the walls. And they're throwing fruits and vegetables at the buses. And I'm not saying we need to have that here - because part of the bar that's being raised for Occupy, both Wall Street and everywhere else in the country, is to be non-violent, even if non-violent means "Don't be violent against fruits and vegetables" - but there's still something,I don't know - refreshing, at least - to watch this and kind of, like - there you go. Those are people out there hanging their backsides off the end of the pier and waiting to see what happens.
KILSTEIN: Right, absolutely. But I think you had something - you had a non-violent version of that this morning. You know, you do watch that and you get so excited because it's everything you're feeling inside and they're doing it, and now I know not to mess with Milan ever. Right? But -
OLBERMANN: Seriously. "Drive some motorbikes into us, will you? Ciao."
KILSTEIN: But what's so exciting about this morning is - you know, things like this have happened before - not to this level, but they haven't been covered by the corporate media, right? And you even see how the corporate media treated Occupy Wall Street. You know, the first day, my wife - who writes for The Nation, Allison Kilkenny - a couple other journalists and, you know, you started doing it, and that was it. CNN mocked them, right? CNN said that they were a bunch of bongo-playing hippies. If that's the case, that means what happened this morning is a bunch of pot-smoking, bongo-playing hippies defeated a billionaire mayor and the entire NYPD. That's incredibly exciting, and just as moving as that clip you played from Milan.
OLBERMANN: Yep. What do we know about Occupy Times Square? Where are we going to occupy?
KILSTEIN: I don't know where we're going to occupy.
OLBERMANN: Know anything about this?
KILSTEIN: I'm showing up.
OLBERMANN: Because first off - it's going to be too crowded with the tourists to really get anything done, isn't it?
KILSTEIN: That's what's going to be so interesting because, you know - my wife and I, we went down to - the day Occupy Wall Street had all the unions come together, we went down, and that was the first time I saw Occupy Wall Street really collide with everyday people. And I didn't see what I thought I would see. I didn't see bankers heckling us. What I saw was people on tourist buses raising their fists. I saw shop owners outside, nodding, giving the peace symbol, and now - we're going to just the middle of it. We're going to absolutely, you know, the biggest place that you can't ignore. You can't - Erin Burnett can't ignore it. All those people, they can't ignore it anymore, and I think -
OLBERMANN: Poor Erin Burnett. Sorry. I know.
KILSTEIN: Part of it was timing. When I saw the commercial on CNN, and it was like, "straight from Wall Street." I was like, "CNN, are you looking outside? Do you know what's happening?"
OLBERMANN: Do you know what's even worse? Have you noticed how many times - I was down there once. The largest visible ad from Zuccotti Park is an ad for her show. That's like, "Boy, just blew that money right there. That's not going over well." The people in Wall Street are the ones in Times Square tomorrow maybe just saying, "Oh, these are the noisiest mimes we've ever seen."
KILSTEIN: Yeah, exactly. "Where's the naked cowboy? I'm confused."
OLBERMANN: End result of this - a statue from Mike Bloomberg as the unsung, unexpected and certainly undesirable or undesired hero in this?
KILSTEIN: Yeah, I think if - if you're going to pay tribute to Michael Bloomberg, if you're going to build a statue for him - as long as it takes over where all the offices that have pillaged our country on Wall Street are - I will happily help pay for that monument.
OLBERMANN: I'm glad you do - you're willing to do that - because I think it ought to be, like, probably three of four stories tall. Like - "This is the man who just kept doing the wrong thing and publicizing." They almost got away with a nice kumbaya moment this morning, didn't they?
KILSTEIN: I know. I know. I know.
OLBERMANN: He was like, "All right, no, you're right. We're being too tough and just go on - have a nice time. Protest your little hearts out in the rain."
KILSTEIN: I would have followed him to dinner last night and then started protesting. I was like, "All right, man. Like, your move."
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Well, and now he's going to have to do - again, he has to do that same move again.
KILSTEIN: You're not going to be able to kick him out. I mean, you're not at this point. There's so much support. You're not going to be able to do it.
OLBERMANN: And the attention will quadruple.
OLBERMANN: And they might even get Erin Burnett down there, although -
KILSTEIN: That would be amazing.
OLBERMANN: With a Sherpa guide and, like, a couple of Saint Bernards to help her out because otherwise she'll -
KILSTEIN: Yeah. There's a tie-dye shirt. It's Erin Burnett's Hippie Hour. Wow, changed her tune.
OLBERMANN: I don't know what happened. Nice woman. I don't know what happened. Nice woman, good journalist. I don't know what happened.
KILSTEIN: It's a business.
OLBERMANN: Activist and comedian Jamie Kilstein, great thanks. Appreciate it.
KILSTEIN: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Special comment that was written and aired for one purpose now has a new meaning and a new context. It's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, I've been - in many places - asked for a special comment on Occupy Wall Street. I may do one again. I did one already. Only, I didn't know it at the time.
Much to my joy, others had already thought what I had thought, but they had planned what I had only advocated. That's our number-one story. My special comment on Occupy on October 14th would be virtually the same as the one I made in the wake up the ludicrous debt deal on August 1st. So, rather than rephrase myself, let me repeat myself, with a few edits for time.
(Excerpt from video clip) OLBERMANN: Our government has now given up the concept of right and wrong.
We have, in this deal, declared that we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all political incumbents are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are re-nomination, re-election, and the pursuit of hypocrisy.
We have, in this deal, gone from the Four Freedoms to the Four Great Hypocrisies. We have superseded Congress to facilitate $750 billion in domestic cuts, including Medicare, in order to end an artificially-induced political hostage crisis over debt, originating from the bills run up by a Republican president - who funneled billions of taxpayer dollars to the military-industrial complex by unfunded, unnecessary and unproductive wars - enabled in doing so by the very same Republican leaders who now cry for balanced budgets, and we have called it compromise.
And those who defend it have called it a "credit" to a pragmatic president, who wins some sort of political points because - having stood for almost nothing here, he gave away almost nothing for which he stood. It would be comical if it were not tragic.
Either way, it is a signal moment in our history, in which both parties have agreed and codified that the political structure of this nation shall now be based entirely on hypocrisy and political self-perpetuation. And of what value would this mandated balanced budget be? Our own history proves that at a time of economic crisis, if the businesses aren't spending and the consumers aren't spending, the government must spend.
Our ancestors were the lab rats in the horrible experiments of the Hoover Administration that brought on the Great Depression - in which the government curled up into a ball, while it simultaneously insisted the economy should heal itself - when, in times of crisis - then and now - the economy turns out to be comprised entirely of a bunch of rich people who will sit on their money, no matter if the country starves.
The fourth of the Great Hypocrisies is the evident agreement to not add any revenues to the process of cutting. Not only is the impetus to make human budget sacrifices out of the poor and dependent formalized, but the rich and the corporations are thus indemnified again, and given more money not merely to spend on themselves and their own luxuries, but - more vitally - they are given more money to spend on buying politicians, buying legislatures, buying courts, buying entire states. All of which can be directed, like so many weapons, in the service of one cause and one cause alone - making, by statute and ruling, the further protection of the wealthy, at the expense of everybody else - untouchable, inviolable, permanent.
The White House today boasted of loopholes to be closed and tax breaks to be rescinded - later, by a committee. A committee that has yet to be formed. There are no new taxes, except the stealth ones, enacted on 99 out of 100 Americans by this evil transaction. Every dollar cut from the safety net is another dollar added to the citizen's cost for education, for security, for health, for life itself. It is another dollar he can't spend on making a better life for himself, or at least his children. It is another dollar he must spend instead on simply keeping himself alive.
Where is the outrage over these Great Hypocrisies? Do you expect it to come from a corrupt and corrupted media, for whom access is of greater importance than criticizing the failure of a political party or defending those who don't buy newspapers or can't leap website paywalls or could not afford cable TV?
Do you expect it to come from a cynical and manipulative political structure? Do you expect it from those elected officials who no longer know anything of government or governance, but only perceive how to get elected, or how to pose in front of a camera and pretend to be leaders?
Do you expect it from politicians themselves, who will merely calculate whether or not it's right based on whether or not it will get them more contributions?
Do you expect it will come from the great middle ground of this country, with a population obsessed with entertainment, video games, social media, sports and trivia?
Where is the outrage to come from? From you!
It will do no good to wait for the politicians to suddenly atone for their sins. They're too busy trying to keep their jobs, to do their jobs.
It will do no good to wait for the media to suddenly remember its origins as the free press, the watchdog of democracy envisioned by Jefferson. They are too busy trying to get exclusive details about exactly how the bank robbers emptied the public's pockets, to give a damn about telling anybody what they looked like, or which way they went.
It will do no good to wait for the apolitical public to get a clue. They can't hear the clue through all the chatter and scandal and diversion and delusion and illusion. The betrayal of what this nation is supposed to be about did not begin with this deal, and it surely will not end with this deal. There is a tide pushing back the rights of each of us, and it has been artificially induced by union-bashing and the sowing of hatreds and fears and now this ever-more-institutionalized economic battering of the average American.
It will continue and it will crush us because those who created it are organized and unified and hellbent. And the only response is to be organized and unified and hellbent in return. We must find again the energy and the purpose of the 1960s and early 1970s, and we must protest this deal - and all the goddamn deals to come - in the streets.
We must arise - non-violently, but insistently - general strikes, boycotts, protests, sit-ins, non-cooperation, takeovers. But modern versions of that resistance, facilitated and amplified by a weapon our predecessors did not have - the glory that is instantaneous communication. It is from an old, and almost clichéd, motion picture that the wisdom comes. "First, you've got to get mad."
I cannot say to you - "Meet here or there at this hour or that one, and we'll peacefully break the back of government that now exists merely to get its functionaries re-elected." But I can say that the time is coming when the window for us to restore the control of our government to ourselves will close, and we had damn well better act before then. Because this deal is more than a tipping point in which the government goes from defending the safety net to gutting it. This is wrong, and while our government has now declared that it has given up the concept of right and wrong, you and I have not, and will not, do so.
Good night and good luck.