'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, August 4th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Live on Countdown at 8E: New, disturbing evidence we tortured, not just at black sites but at Gitmo. W/ @JeremyScahill
ShowPlug2: Court rules US military translator stashed without charge near Baghdad for 9 months can sue Rumsfeld. His attorney joins us
ShowPlug3: Thank God that debt deal would stabilize the markets. Scale of 1 to 10, it's a Minus-513, w/Paul @NYTimesKrugman
ShowPlug4: Company born in March, donates $1M to Romney in June, folds in July. Job Creators In Action, w/ @BenjySarlin of TCM
ShowPlug5: It's A Treat To Dip Your Feet In The Martian Mud. NASA evidence of Mud on Mars = life? W/ @CoolAstronomer Derrick Pitts
ShowPlugLast: Fox toadies apologize to Palin, Newt's 92% Fake Twitter Follower Count, & guy builds atomic reactor in kitchen w/eBay stuff
watch whole playlist
#5 'Water Treatment', Jeremy Scahill
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Rumsfeld Torture Suit', Mike Kanovitz (attorney)
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'DOWN', Paul Krugman
Time Marches On!
#3 'Shady Money', Benjy Sarlin
#2 Worst Persons: Bob Beckel and Greg Gutfeld, Newt Gingrich, Richard Handl (DIY atom-splitter)
#1 'Soggy Red Planet?', Derrick Pitts
#4 'DOWN', Paul Krugman:
Keith Olbermann: Forty-eight hours after the Republicans got their debt deal, fear and selling on Wall Street today, with signs the economy could be headed back into a recession.
In our fourth story tonight, the Dow goes into free-fall following bad economic news out of Europe on top of the already fragile economy here. Stocks plunged more than 500 points by the time the closing bell rang, erasing all gains for the year in the largest one-day drop since the 2008 financial crisis. And investors fear the jobs report due out tomorrow could bring even more bad news.
While Washington was embroiled in the debt ceiling debate the last two months, the global markets have been on an almost uninterrupted slide. And there are now concerns that Italy and Spain might need more financial assistance from the European Union than that union is able to give.
Making things worse, the bleak unemployment picture here at home. Last week, the government reported the number of applications for jobless benefits had dropped only slightly. Investors now nervously awaiting the government jobs report tomorrow. If it’s positive it could be a rally. But many economists expect bad news that might send the economy back into a recession. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today the White House is doing what it can.
Carney: “The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, increase in oil prices, energy prices that resulted from the unrest in the Arab world and the situation in Europe, also. So our focus has to be on the things we control, which is to take the necessary measures, working with Congress to ensure that our economy grows, that we create jobs. “
Oh, like the debt deal. It's up for debate how much the government can control. Certainly after the debt deal and what its plan will be going forward, many in Congress left for the August recess vowing to make more spending cuts when they return. Joining me again tonight to discuss the wisdom of that, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Thank you again for your time tonight, sir.
Paul Krugman: Good to be on again.
Keith Olbermann: What was that about the debt deal stabilizing and markets and encouraging American businesses and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?
Paul Krugman: Yeah. You know, a grain of salt here. My old teacher, Paul Samuelson used to say that the stock market has predicted nine of the last five recessions. You don't want to read too much of this but this is pretty impressive.
And the thing you want to say is the crisis we are having is exactly what we are not supposed to be having, right? Warning us for ages that the big problem was U.S. debt, U.S. deficits and what’s going to happen is the market is going to lose confidence and drive interest rates up and that will tank the economy.
What’s actually happening is the interest rates plunged, as interesting as the Dow is, the interest rate on long-term U.S. government debt fell to 2.4 percent today. That’s incredibly low, which is saying people actually are not worried about the solvency of the U.S. government, they’re not worried about inflation. What they are worried about is this no-growth economy that we have got and it sort of finally sank into the market that, ‘Hey, this is not a recovery.’ And that's -- and I am afraid the market is probably right about that.
Keith Olbermann: So I disproved early theories that I was a mathematics prodigy about 1966 but what you just said to me sounds as if it would be a good time for the U.S. to actually borrow more money, not less.
Paul Krugman: Yeah. The U.S. government can borrow really cheap. If it protects, you know, inflation protected bonds, which is what you should look at. I think on the 10-year, they are like at a quarter of a percent interest rate. So the U.S. government can borrow money basically free.
Even aside from the fact we need to create jobs we have crumbling schools, you know, sewers that need repair. We should be doing this. The last thing we should be worrying about right now is cutting the deficit. What we are doing is exactly the opposite of what the doctor ordered.
Keith Olbermann: Is this an accurate layman's version of what happening, that investors are suddenly realizing that the debt deal guaranteed there is no government money to fuel a recovery here even just a token one in the near future?
Paul Krugman: I am not sure that the investors -- there wasn't going to be much money anyway. So I am not sure if the debt deal did it.
What I think is that after all of the distraction about the debt fight, they sort of looked around and said, ‘What are the basics here? What are the fundamentals? What's going on?’ They realized there is no recovery, there is no prospect of policy for recovery and they also were getting some blow back from the fact the Europeans are, you know, each unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way. And the Europeans are coming apart at the seams for their own reasons and that’s blowing back to us. So, bad stuff.
Keith Olbermann: If the market sank and lost a year's worth of gains in that period of time, is there some group of investor or business that benefitted from the results of the debt deal that just aren't affected by a number like the Dow Jones today?
Paul Krugman: If you had all of your money in long-term U.S. government bonds, you actually did very well. Right? Their price is up. Interest rates are down. The funny thing is, those are the people who are supposed to be -- they were supposed to be the ones who were nervous.
But, you know, I don't think this is -- I am all for believing in the evil that men do. But I don't think this was the result of some plot. I think this was genuine idiocy on the policy front and not helped by the fact that the White House, you heard Jay Carney, just now, and that was not impressive. That did not sound like people are in control of things.
Keith Olbermann: That was the -- we included that to make sure I was only the second-least understanding person of economic issues on the show tonight, that Carney would sound like he was worse than I was.
Give me the next bad news. Apart from the job numbers tomorrow, is there another shock that we need to brace ourselves for in the economy in the next couple of weeks?
Paul Krugman: We are looking, we get these monthly surveys. Actually one of the big things was the ISM non-manufacturing survey. Never mind. The surveys come in fast as the official economic data and that was bad and depressing. The ISM manufacturing survey was bad and there will be more of those in a little over three weeks so look for more bad news there.
You know, there is kind of a steady flow of numbers and every one of those numbers in recent weeks has been coming in bad. And then the European thing is pretty scary, too because we are really looking at Italy. There’s a category of “too big to fail” but “too big to save” and Italy is in that category.
Keith Olbermann: And I gather Italy has not been helped by the sort of standoffishness of their government, as if that should be an indicator to us?
Paul Krugman: I sometimes think we are in a race as to who can have the most dysfunctional political system. But at a time Italians are ahead in that race.
Keith Olbermann: Well that’s cold comfort. Nobel Prize-winning economist, columnist for the New York Times Paul Krugman. At least for these five minutes when we talk, I think I understand. So thank you for that.
Paul Krugman: Thanks a lot.
#2 Worst Persons:
Here are Countdown's top three Worst Persons In The World.
The bronze is shared tonight by Bob Beckel and Greg Gutfeld, two of the hosts of the show which replaced Glenn Beck after he was fired by Fixed News.
It's called "The Five"...which is short for "The Five Stupidest People We Could Find."
Gutfeld usually works overnight -- understandably.
Beckel is some sort of actor who frequently portrays a quote "Democratic Strategist" on Fox.
The two of them have admitted, they give preferential coverage to Sarah Palin on their Propaganda channel.
"The only problem with talking about Sarah Palin is that she works here and it's like a co-worker and, if I say something bad and I see her in the hallway, I feel really awkward and wrong. So I just kind of say, 'That was a good job.'" ... "It has nothing to do with that, It has everything to do with your paycheck. That's why you feel awkward about it. I know exactly what you mean. I mean many times, I'll be honest, I've pulled my punches."
One comfort to the first guy?
If she sees you in the hall, she'll have no idea who you are.
Our runner-up: Newt Gingrich, who has stepped on yet another rake in the vast untended yard that is his hilarious presidential campaign.
The long-ago Speaker complained that the media is ignoring the real measure of his popularity, the number of people following him on Twitter:
1,326,264. "Six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined," he boasted.
Small problem: a former Gingrich staffer tells the website "Gawker" that 80 percent of those followers are either inactive, or dummy accounts, created by companies paid to artificially boost your follower numbers, and half of the remainder are people who automatically trade "follows" to boost their own totals.
A firm that analyzes this stuff today concludes Gingrich only has about 106-thousand actual followers, 20,000 less than Mitt Romney.
Gingrich is hardly the only public figure to pad their twitter numbers. It certainly looks like many of Sarah Palin's 600,000 followers are vacant accounts, and the trick has also been done by media personalities.
Megalomania is a helluva drug.
But our winner tonight: Richard Handl of Angleholm, Sweden.
Arrested yesterday for trying to build a kind of back-up power generator in his apartment.
A nuclear reactor.
On his kitchen.
Handl said he got some of the nuclear materials in Germany.
They were from common items like smoke detectors and the hands of old clocks.
More came from a Geiger Counter he bought by mail order from the U.S.
And he said, proudly, that he had even had a quote "little meltdown on my stove."
It was at that point that he wondered if his little hobby might not be legal, so he sent a question about that to the Swedish Radiation Authority. Instead of sending him a note back, they sent the cops.
Even though its chief says there were no raised levels of radiation and Handl's neighbors were not exposed to radiation, Handl says he's going to stick to theory from now on. "I just wanted to see if it's possible to split atoms at home."
Richard "It Sure As Hell Is" Handl.
Today's Worst Person In The World.