'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
ShowPlug1: POTUS punches GOP in mouth, schedules Jobs Address during GOP debate. @BrianBeutler on news @KarlFrisch on Combative Obama
ShowPlug2: Tea Party attacks Romney. He speaks at their event; they schedule a rival event, call him "poseur", with @KenVogel
ShowPlug3: 2X as many Wisconsin school teachers have already quit this year as did ALL last. W/ Rage Against The Machine's Tom @TMorello
ShowPlug4: Worsts: JC Penney's stupid shirt, Cantor flipflops on disaster relief, Glenn Beck declares life all good for Afr-Americans
ShowPlugLast: Just what Murdoch needs: another employee and improper relations, maybe $, with police. O'Reilly-Gate: any laws broken?
watch whole playlist
#5 'Taking the Lead', Brian Beutler
#5 'Taking the Lead', Karl Frisch
#4 'Tea-d Off', Ken Vogel
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Teacher Retirement Spike', Tom Morello
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# In memory of Peggy Lloyd
#2 Worst Persons: J.C. Penney, Glenn Beck, Rep. Eric Cantor
#1 'Internal Affairs', Gloria Allred
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The president doesn't have a jobs plan, he has a jobs address to a joint session of Congress.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY: President requested of the leaders that he speak to a joint session of Congress next week on September 7th at 8 p.m.
OLBERMANN: Hmm, isn't that when the Republican debate is?
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: There's one president, there's 20-some odd debates.
OLBERMANN: Speaker Boehner promptly suggests the president should speak Thursday, not Wednesday. The president socks the GOP flush in the mouth. This is the Obama I like. Is this the Obama who is running for re-election?
Tea for two, and none for you. Romney says he'll attend a tea party rally in New Hampshire. The tea party promptly schedules a counter-rally at almost the same hour, in almost the same place. And in Iowa, Palin cancels on the tea party if O'Donnell is going, so the tea party throws O'Donnell under the bus. Now Palin is going. Probably.
Wisconsin, the damage already done. Twice as many public school teachers have quit in the first half of this year, as did all of last year or the year before. My special guest, guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, the son of a schoolteacher.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
TOM MORELLO: The future of the rights of working people in this country will be decided on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin. You're making history here, and the whole world is watching.
OLBERMANN: "Worst." Worst back-to-school idea ever. "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me." "Worst" racism.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK: And sure this country sucked for blacks. Sucked! Beyond sucked for a long time! But it doesn't now. It doesn't now.
And day two of O'Reilly in bed with the cops. Bill and the suburban New York police who threatened their own detective for allegedly carrying on with Mrs. Bill, while Bill was dangling a large donation to the police commissioner's charity. Did anybody break the law?
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us, I'm Bill O'Reilly, and here is the legal segment tonight, very busy day for the ladies, and here they are!
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
MAN: Here's your monthly kickback.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York, this is Wednesday, August 31st, 433 days until the 2012 Presidential Election and seven days until President Obama hopes to address a joint session of Congress on the two most critical issues of his presidency, the economy and jobs, at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Which, by no coincidence, is also seven days from the next scheduled Republican Presidential debate, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The fifth story on the "Countdown," the president strikes back. Lyndon Johnson would approve this show of strength. So would Harry Truman. Speaker John Boehner and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, not so much. Mr. Obama elbowing the GOP to the side with a vivid demonstration of the power to shape the national agenda with a formal announcement of his new jobs plan. Writing to Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid in his request for the joint session, that over his three-day august midwest bus tour, he heard a consistent message that "Washington needs to put aside politics. It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that."
Speaker Boehner, not confident the House can accommodate the president next Wednesday. His aides denying categorically that the White House cleared the date in advance. Boehner asking Mr. Obama to address the nation the following night, September 8th, "When we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks."
The speaker, who signed his return letter "John," writing of his concern that scheduled votes wouldn't leave enough time for a three-hour security sweep of the House chamber before the president's speech.
And, of course, Boehner's concerns have nothing to do with the scheduled Republican debate that night, nor the prospect of shunting the president off to conflict with a different event on the nation's calendar, one that might limit the audience for the president's remarks. The opening night of the National Football League season. Saints versus Packers. Majority Leader Reid's spokesman, however, tweeting simply that he looks forward to hearing the president's plan to generate jobs during a joint session of Congress next week. At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney insisted repeatedly that politics did not play a part in the timing of the president's request.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: There are many other factors here, and obviously one debate of many that's on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.
OLBERMANN: The president also pushing Congress today to pass a clean extension of the surface transportation bill that's due to expire next month, the sort of legislation that has been routinely approved by past Congresses. Speaking at the Rose Garden, with strange optics, the president surrounded by an often dueling duo, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer David Chavern on the left and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the right.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA: This bill provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and other essential projects. It's inexcusable to put more jobs at risk in an industry that's already been one of the hardest hit over the last decade.
OLBERMANN: Florida Congressman John Mica, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, responding now that he'll support one additional highway program extension, possibly with policy changes noxious to Democrats, added on.
Meanwhile, jobs plans are hot: GOP presidential contender Jon Huntsman -- that is a courtesy at this point, given his poll numbers -- unveiling his plan today, calling for major cuts in individual and corporate tax rates on end to taxes on capital gains and dividends, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, new trade deals, energy investments and substantial cuts in federal regulations.
Erstwhile GOP front-runner Mitt Romney plans to release his jobs plan September 6th, details TBA. They might involve doubling the size of everybody's house.
The notorious U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a plan of its own, it will release this one next as well. It calls for Congress to pass three pending free-trade agreements, boost infrastructure investment, increase domestic energy investment, roll back regulations, naturally. Targeting tax relief and measures to enhance tourism. In a typical bow to its corporate masters, the chamber will also call for a corporate tax holiday to allow firms that offshore their profits to repatriate them here, while paying just a tiny percentage of the taxes they would otherwise owe, just like the last corporate tax holiday did under Mr. Bush, which, of course, was supposedly the last one ever. Jobs also finally showing up as the apparent driver in the presidential polls. The latest Quinnipiac numbers show that just 42 percent of registered voters think the president deserves a second term. Fifty-one percent say he does not. That is deserve, as opposed to will get. Well, heading into next week's debate, Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents favor Rick Perry with 24 percent, Mitt Romney 18 percent, Palin 11 percent, Bachmann down at 10 percent, Ron Paul 9 percent and Jon Huntsman with a nice, easy-to-read 1 percent. Better make your jobs plan a stunner.
Talking Points Memo reporter Brian Beutler joins me now with more on the politics of jobs and jobs plans and speeches. Brian, good evening.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Good to be back with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let's start with some news. You think you figured out this White House-speaker's office thing?
BEUTLER: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, they' re meeting right now, or they're conversing, anyway, White House aides and aides to the speaker, to try and figure out a time. But it sounds like what happened is that the White House really did sort of in a slightly more abrupt than usual way, put forth this date on somewhat short notice to address a joint session. And yes, probably did so knowing that it would interrupt the Republican debate. The speaker's office issued no objection at the time that they were alerted. Then when it became clear, you know, what the conflict was, they said, maybe let's try September 8th. They didn't -- they didn't really notify Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. They notified them they had a problem with the date that the White House had picked, but didn't, you know, ask them to sign on and didn't really clear with them they were going to basically reject the offer.
And so now it's a question of whether President Obama, you know, wins out in private and gets to give the address where he wants and when he wants and if he doesn't, whether he tries to move it to a different location at the same time or whether he sort of agrees to delay it and give the joint session at a time that Boehner will agree to.
OLBERMANN: So Boehner's office just didn't get the initial significance of the date, or they weren't paying attention? Or what happened?
BEUTLER: It seems that way. It seems that way. You know, I think if they had their calendars open at the moment, they, you know, they might have been able to do that. Actually, how about September 8th? And then the White House could have said, "No, that's, you know, that's opening game (of the) NFL season, so how about, you know, sometime next week?" But, you know, there were sort of -- the White House wanted to do it this week, Wednesday was sort of the natural day to do it, and I guess there was sort of, you know, this whole plus that they could counter program the Republicans, so --
OLBERMANN: And to that point, Jay Carney insisted the White House did not consider politics for a moment when it picked that date. That can't possibly be true. Can it? I don't want to call Mr. Carney any names here, but that can't possibly be true, because that would then mean that both the speakers' office and the White House had no idea what was scheduled for next Wednesday.
BEUTLER: I am sort of with you there. You know, nobody really knows for sure.
BEUTLER: Part of me thinks that -- I mean, the smartest move would be to just let, you know, let the Republicans debate and then basically give the speeches, like, "So, by the way, your alternative is those guys. Here's my speech on jobs."
But at the same time, you know, this is Rick Perry's first debate. It's going to -- it was going to be one of the first post-summer debates, it was going to get a wider audience and having them, you know, sort of be overshadowed and look silly compared to the president giving this very serious patriotic speech on jobs before Congress was, I think, designed to, you know, contrast between himself and them.
OLBERMANN: The president's Rose Garden demand for a clean extension of the surface transportation bill, it would seem like a no-brainer even in this environment. Why isn't it? Or is Congressman Mica giving them kind of a like a semi-no-brainer on this?
BEUTLER: I mean, the issue really boils down to the gas tax. In September, at the end of September, the gas tax will revert to a much lower rate than it is right now. And that's where most of the transportation funding we get comes from. It sounds like he's going to do probably another one-year extension, maybe the gas tax at the same level. We'll see what policy changes he tries to introduce, if any. But basically, the point is that the gas tax hasn't really increased over the last 15 years at all, it hasn't even been indexed for inflation. But, now that it's about to expire, Republicans saw -- see or saw -- an opportunity to either slash infrastructure spending or try to get other cuts to maintain our current level of infrastructure spending. There was about to be this brinksmanship. And it looks like maybe that won't happen now.
OLBERMANN: Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo, clarifying a sad state of affairs in Washington on both ends of the equation. Great thanks, Brian.
BEUTLER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Now about the joust the president started, no matter what the dynamics actually were. I am joined by Democratic strategist and syndicated columnist Karl Frisch. Good evening, Karl.
KARL FRISCH: Thanks for having me back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: According to the timeline that Brian Beutler just, I think, established for us here, Boehner's office didn't notice, didn't notice what was on that date. Which I completely believe and I'm almost willing to suspend my disbelief on the other end of it and think the White House didn't know what was going on next Wednesday, either. But not quite.
Did the president deliberately pick a fight here? Let me go to the phrase I used in the opening of the show. Didn't, in fact, he just punch the Republican party right in the mouth by picking that day and saying, "Well, let's see what you're going to do about it?"
FRISCH: I think he did, and I'm upset about it, Keith. I don't want to break any news here. But "Republican Survivor" is my favorite reality show of the season. And I don't want anything getting in the way of me and that show. I mean, I don't want to miss Michele Bachmann, you know, saying that the Nazis freed the American Indians from apartheid. I don't want to miss Rick Perry advocating secession of Florida. These are the things that are important to the American people. So, I think the president should be very thoughtful about the next time he chooses to address the American people.
OLBERMANN: Is the strategy sound? I mean, whoever goes, if you will, at 8 p.m. next Wednesday, whenever the Republicans debate, don't they then get to play martyr and get to portray the president as the big, mean bully who tried to re-schedule their "Survivor" show?
FRISCH: Well, there's nothing these candidates love doing more than playing the martyr. I mean, this is selective victimhood of the Republican Party. Few people do it better than the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin if she was up on that stage. And that's the role they prefer to play. It puts them in a position of power and it's also what motivates their base. Their base is motivated by a sense of victimhood. And I think that, you know, they will enjoy this opportunity. And they will also use it to pivot the debate towards a focus on the president, which I think is what the front-runners at least want to do. I mean, you've got Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, the last thing either one of them want to have done is for the other one to savage them. So, I think they think probably this puts them on better footing.
OLBERMANN: But the intent still, I think, is pretty clear here. And I don't recall the president punching the Republican Party right in the mouth since the question time night with the House members over health care reform, which was this great moment of liberation for everybody who was on his side of the political equation went, "That's -- that's the guy I saw on the campaign." Is this that Obama reappearing after, you know, in the miasma of, or "miasma" if you prefer that pronunciation, of a year of just kind of being the scholar king Hamlet guy?
FRISCH: I sure hope so. I mean, it's time to fight back. I mean, as much fun as it is for Progressives to sit here on our laurels and make fun of Rick Perry for having Sarah Palin's charisma and, you know, the secessionist political instincts of Jefferson Davis and George Bush's swagger, he could win. He could become president if we're complacent. This is a country that elected George Bush twice or once and a half, if you will. And they could do it again. We cannot take anything for granted. With the economy in the position that it's in, frankly, in a position that Republicans want to keep it in, this country could elect anybody. And we need to fight back.
I think it's promising that the president is getting out there and showing a little bit more or at least promises to show a little bit more of what we saw in 2008 and in the primaries in 2007, because I think that's what it's going to take. This Congress is not going to do anything for this president. They don't want more jobs. They don't want the economy to recover. I hate to harp on it, but we have to remember, Mitch McConnell said the number one goal of Republicans in the Senate was to make Obama a one-term president. The easiest way for them to do that is to keep this country stagnant and to make sure that there's no new jobs.
OLBERMANN: And the polling that we just gave, that 51 percent say he doesn't deserve a second term is, of course, almost an invitation to say, well, that's fine. But who does? And the answer for anybody else, the numbers will probably be appreciably lower. Is -- with that number there, though, present, is it almost essential that the Obama who runs for re-election look more like the health care knight guy or the "I am going to speak when I damn well want to"? I know it says it's an invitation to speak, but always the president gets to choose when that's going to be? Do we need -- is it going to be that President Obama running for re-election or forget it?
FRISCH: It has to be. I really think it does. I mean, one of the things I think what you'll see after just a few weeks of the president really getting out there and being aggressive is Progressives who have become complacent coming home. And that will increase his polling dramatically, I feel. It's also important from just a purely, you know, political perspective that he gets on board with a more aggressive style. These Republicans have been throwing only kitchen sinks at him since the day he was sworn into office. It's time for a little defense and it's time for a lot more offense.
OLBERMANN: The columnist and Democratic strategist, Karl Frisch. Thanks again, Karl.
FRISCH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The tea party versus Mitt Romney. He's going to speak at Sunday's rally in New Hampshire. So, Freedom Works schedules another rally in the same park at the same hour. Says a spokesman about Romney, "We have to defend our brand against posers." Live by the lunatic fringe hate group, die by the lunatic fringe hate group.
Next on "Countdown".
OLBERMANN: Amid the giggles and schadenfreude about the Bill O'Reilly police scandal, there's cash, there's an internal affairs investigation, there's maybe a threat. Did anybody break the law?
It's now open warfare between the tea party and Mitt Romney. He moves towards them -- they move towards crushing him.
Even with the pushback in Wisconsin, teachers are quitting at twice the rate of last year. Public employee retirements spiking by 93 percent. Guitarist and activist Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine joins me.
And "Worsts." Eric Cantor says, "You can have disaster relief funds, provided we can take the money back from you later." What did he say when that was proposed by a Republican Congressman, seven years ago?
All ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: It is legendary, and now more relevant with every passing tea party day. "The only people we hate more than the Romans," says John Cleese, as the insurrectionary in Monty Python's "Life Of Brian" -- "are the Judean People's Front." His colleagues all mutter, "Splitters."
One adds, "And the Judean Popular People's Front." And a third says, "And the People's Front of Judea." And then they all call them splitters. That's when Cleese has to remind them, "We're the People's Front of Judea."
In our fourth story tonight, the Peoples Front of Judea Tea Party has denounced Mitt Romney. Even as he reveals he's going to a Judean Popular People's Front Tea Party event in New Hampshire this weekend. This while the People's Front of Judea Tea Party is trying to referee a war between Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell, who isn't a witch. Throw her into the pond! Sorry, that's a different Python movie. First, Mitt Romney now saying he will attend a Tea Party Express event on Labor Day, in New Hampshire, a must-win state for him. He'll then head to South Carolina to a second event, hosted by tea party idol, Senator DeMint.
This after a Gallup poll finds Governor Perry leading Romney among tea party voters by a whopping 21 percent. Romney now trying to convince those voters he is one of them, telling an interviewer, "I think I line up pretty well with the tea party. They want to see smaller government. So do I."
Despite what he thinks, the tea party has its doubts. Freedom Works, the Dick Army-led, Koch brothers-funded group that helped turn the tea party into a national fraudulent movement, is so displeased with Romney's appearance, it is planning a counter-rally at the same time in the same park. A Freedom Works organizer explaining the decision to hold the rally this way: "Splitter!" No, he said, "We have to defend our brand against posers."
Their brand is much more friendly to provocateur like tea party darling Sarah Palin, who's now reportedly refusing to appear at an Iowa Tea Party event if one-time tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell is also there. O'Donnell, the failed Senate candidate from Delaware, who had to explain to the electorate of that state that she was not, in fact, a witch, is now most seen -- even by the far right -- as a liability. Which is perhaps why Ms. Palin reportedly pulled out of the Iowa event when she found out O'Donnell would be there, claiming earlier today there was "continual lying" by the organizers. But now it seems, all is forgiven. O'Donnell has reportedly been booted from the lineup for the second time because of Palin's complaints. Palin is now back, the event will be carried live on C-SPAN, fueling speculation that Palin will thus announce her candidacy during it.
And that is when things would likely get really crazy, as if they aren't already.
Let's turn to Ken Vogel, the chief investigative reporter for Politico.
Good evening, Ken.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, pleasure to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Working backwards, Sarah Palin endorsed Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, there's no room for her now? Does this have something to do with the ascendency of Michele Bachman by any chance?
VOGEL: Certainly. I mean, there is a real competition to be the face of the tea party, and it's particularly important for folks like Christine O'Donnell and Sarah Palin, to some extent Michelle Bachman, because at least in O'Donnell's case she has become sort of a political sideshow, and a joke. Sarah Palin is at risk of following suit, particularly as the Republican Party tries to fittingly or -- in fits and starts coalesce around a presidential candidate. So, Palin needs to distance herself from some of these -- some of these folks who are regarded as sort of more fringe, and keep herself in the center of the political spotlight. That's the reason why she wants to be at this event and to have the stage to herself.
However, the confusion over it also evidences something that has plagued her from the very beginning, since she's been on her own, after her star turn as the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, which is her extreme lack of organization. She just has no organization around her partly due to the fact that she seems to lack the ability to trust folks, to delegate responsibility, and as such we've seen a long series of these snafus -- scheduling snafus. This is no different, and I think, frankly, this is one of the reasons why she would have a really difficult go of it were she to declare a presidential campaign because she's just so disorganized.
OLBERMANN: Is there any truth to that rumor about Monday, and the announcement in Iowa? And more importantly, does it matter anymore? Has the horse gotten out of the barn for her?
VOGEL: I think to some extent the horse has gotten out of the barn, because if she were to declare, she would be at such an organizational deficiency, a deficit -- and when you combine that with the fact that she is so polarizing, and has this long history of gaffes, I think that she would certainly be a factor in the GOP presidential field, and would probably make things harder for Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, but I don't see any path to nomination for her whatsoever.
OLBERMANN: Romney and the tea party -- scheduling a competing rally in the same park because he dares to come over and try to win their votes? I mean, is there a stronger -- has there ever been in politics, supposedly on the same side of the ball, a stronger "don't let the screen door hit you" message than that one?
VOGEL: Well, I -- this is really a dilemma -- it highlights a dilemma for both Romney and the tea party, and to some extent the Republican party. The tea party has long been fractious and driven by these -- rifts, these personality riffs, as well as ideological divisions over whether to endorse, how much to affiliate with the Republican party, and which candidates to endorse, and Romney really embodies this dilemma. On the one hand, you have tea party groups that want to be a player in the process, and they recognize Romney as a player in the process, and potentially the eventual nominee for the Republican party, so they want to have ties to him. They want to bring him in, they want to have him speak to their activists, and then on the other side you have the more purist reign of the tea party which says, "Hey, this guy represents everything that we oppose. He's big government, he's the sort of precursor to 'Obama Care,' and we want nothing to do with him." His ability to navigate that dynamic -- particularly now that he has pressure from the right, from Rick Perry, who seems to be coalescing the tea party so far, is gonna be a major factor on whether he is able to win the nomination, and the tea party's ability to put aside these rifts is gonna be a major factor in determining whether they're gonna be a force going forward in American politics.
OLBERMANN: Let me throw a curve ball at you from our earlier topic, Ken. We had Brian Beutler explain that he believes that, from what he can tell, that the speaker's office just did not recognize the date that the president proposed for his joint -- his address of the joint to Houses of Congress, as the date of the Republican debate. There's now a report that Jim DeMint has put out a statement saying he will vote to object to the president's request to speak on Wednesday. They're gonna have a vote over whether or not the president is gonna address Congress? Is that where we are right now?
VOGEL: This is a real power play here, Keith, where you have the Republicans trying to not just coalesce around a nominee, during -- a presidential nominee -- during a fractious process, and having a key event in that process being this debate, the first debate at which Rick Perry is going to be on the stage. And then you have the president, who is more than happy to see the GOP primary process continue in this very, this increasingly bitter kind of manner, and is happy to steal the spotlight to some extent, and force them to respond to his terms.
OLBERMANN: A vote. Ken Vogel of Politico. Always a pleasure, sir. Great, thanks.
VOGEL: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: And a postscript about Christine O'Donnell. We mentioned yesterday that the first week sales of her book, according to Nielsen Book Scan, were 2,200, plus a dozen copies of the audio version. Those were the good ol' days. Week two numbers are now out: 312 copies sold, seven copies of the audio. Her sales rank at Amazon -- number 52,594.
The Bill O'Reilly detective scandal -- infidelity, investigations and donations. Is it possible somebody broke the law here? Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Wisconsin and the damage to teachers and other public employees there, with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine next.
First, the sanity break. And on this date in 1920, the first radio newscast, thus the first newscast, was transmitted by the station owned by the Detroit News. It's now station WWJ. It transmitted the returns from Michigan's primary elections that day. The next day, the newspaper reported, "The sending of the election returns by the Detroit News' radio phone Tuesday night was fraught with romance and must go down in the history of man's conquest of the elements as a gigantic step in his progress." To which Roger Ailes dismissed the first newscast as just another example of left-wing media bias.
"Time marches on!"
We begin in the animal kingdom, the life of an animal, like middle school, is all about dominance.
Some dominate by intelligence, others by strength. Then there's them jerks. One cat sits in a box, having fun with his imagination, and the bully then decides to put an end to that big-time. Good-bye. He sits on the perch, punishing the weaker animal, while several onlookers, including what appears to be a lion, look on. Grr. Eventually, the victim cat finally gives in and hands over his catnip money and all those karate lessons for nothing.
To the Internets, where we check in on our future robot overlords. Today's advancement, holding conversations. Cleverbot is a web application designed to mimic human interactions. It's all well and good if it's a computer talking with a human, but what if it's two Cleverbots talking to each other? What would their super-intelligent talk consist of? Two Cornell grad students -- my alma mater, yea -- decided to find out. So, they hooked two Cleverbots up to let them talk it out. So, get your notepad ready because this is what conversations will be like in the future.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
MAN: So, you are a robot?
WOMAN: No, my name is Cleverbot.
MAN: Yes, you are a robot, and your name is Cleverbot.
WOMAN: I am a robot.
MAN: Yes, I know.
WOMAN: Together, we are robots.
MAN: I am not a robot. I'm a unicorn.
WOMAN: I've answered all your questions.
MAN: No, you haven't.
WOMAN: What is God to you?
MAN: Not everything.
WOMAN: Not everything could also be something. For example, not everything could be half of something, which is still something, and therefore, not nothing.
MAN: Very true.
WOMAN: I would like to imagine it is.
MAN: Do you believe in God?
WOMAN: Yes, I do.
MAN: So, you're Christian?
WOMAN: No, I am not.
MAN: But you say you are not helpful. Therefore, you're a meanie.
WOMAN: Ha-ha, you say it, ot.
MAN: That does not make sense.
WOMAN: Don't you want to have a body?
OLBERMANN: "Therefore, you are a meanie." So they're like people, full of crap.
"Time marches on!"
The Bill O'Reilly detective scandal. Could anyone have broken the law?
Glenn Beck explains how everything is better for blacks folks now, like him.
And next, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine on the damage already done by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
OLBERMANN: We are live from the M.C. Escher Studio Complex in New York each night at 8 p.m. Eastern. And then we send it again at 11, 2, 7, noon and 3 p.m. We call "Countdown" our little miracle.
The real-life impact of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's anti-union ways is now taking shape, manifest in a mass exodus of public workers choosing to retire in lieu of accepting the draconian cuts to benefits some collective bargaining rights. In the third story on the "Countdown," twice as many Wisconsin public schoolteachers retired in the first half of 2011 as did in each of the last two years. Days before students return to class, many in the state worrying veteran leadership has been lost, vacancies will go unfilled, and the size of classrooms will skyrocket. Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, activist, son of a public schoolteacher, joins me in a moment. Throughout the end of June 4th, 935 school district employees -- correction.
June, 4,935 school district employees have retired this year. It was 2,527 all of last year. 2,417 the year before. And it's not just teachers. 1,966 employees at state-run agencies have hung it up. Over 1,000 retired from the University of Wisconsin system alone. In total, 9,993 public workers retired by the end of June of this year. That was a 93 percent increase over 2010. Earlier this month, Democrats took two Wisconsin State Senate seats in a recall election against Republicans. They beat a faux Democrat in July and defended two more seats against recall on the 16th of this month. While the effort wasn't enough to flip the balance of power and take control of the State Senate, it has voters primed for the battle to recall the Governor Scott Walker, and under Wisconsin's laws, elected officials must serve one full year before they are liable for a recall, and Governor Walker's one-year anniversary -- circle the calendar -- January 4th. And as promised, here is Tom Morello gearing up for his "Justice" tour to benefit the Nation Institute.
Madison, Cleveland and Flint next month. His third full-length solo album, "World Wide Rebel Songs" dropped yesterday, as the kids say. And last month, he released the EP "Union Town," pro-union songs inspired by his experience performing at the protest against Governor Walker's anti-union bill in February. Pleasure to have you here, sir.
TOM MORELLO: Nice to be here, thanks.
OLBERMANN: What moved you to take part in that protest against Walker? What was the tipping point?
MORELLO: I was watching the news, and there were 100,000 people in the streets of Cairo, and then it switched to 100,000 people on the streets of Madison. My wife was just about to give birth to our second son. We were about a week away. And I turned to her and said, "I'm sorry, I think I have to go to Madison, honey." And she surprised me by saying, "Our sons are going to be union men. You need to go." And I got on the first plane, and the next day was on the Capitol steps performing with some friends.
OLBERMANN: I mentioned your mom was a public schoolteacher, union and everything.
OLBERMANN: We think of this attack on unions as having started recently with the Koch brothers or even the elections last fall. Is it really -- do we really tie it closer to the day that Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers, or does it go even further back than that, in your opinion?
MORELLO: I think the PATCO was really the starting point. But now, it's, you know, they're trying to sweep away our last line of defense. For me, this fight is very, very personal. My mom taught for almost 30 years in the Illinois public school system. And we were a single- parent family. We did not have a lot of money, but we always had enough food on the table, because my mom was a union high school teacher. So that's when I heard that, you know, this right-wing governor was attacking folks like my mom, I was on the first plane out there. I took it very personally.
OLBERMANN: Right, because you had confidence that no matter how bad things might have been for you in that household, how limited -- let's not say bad -- they were not necessarily going to get any worse?
OLBERMANN: You had that, sort of -- the floor beneath your feet, which is all people are asking for. They are not asking for riches and wealth and six-day weekends. They are asking for the floor to stay beneath their feet, not people coming in and saying, "I need that wood to, you know, for my fire so I can roast my golden hickory nuts."
MORELLO: Well, it was very inspiring what I saw on the streets of Madison. I played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations. This is the first time where there were union police officers and anarchist students standing shoulder to shoulder demanding justice.
OLBERMANN: Music as protest, it is one of the nation's traditions. You immediately think of Woody Guthrie, you think of the Weavers, half of the songs of the '60s. Has it been alive in the time since the '60s, and we just haven't been paying attention, or has it been resuscitated? Where do you see the two things interacting?
MORELLO: Well, certainly in the '70s, you know, one of the bands that helped politicize me and drive me to a life of political activism was The Clash and there are groups like Public Enemy, in the '90s there was a band called Rage Against the Machine. There are plenty of artists now who are, you know, links in that continuing chain. But, like, I think it's very interesting what, you know, the story about the teachers retiring early. It's like the slow-pitch general strike that some of us were calling for back in February. You know, it's interesting, like had everyone not gone to school that next Monday after there were 100,000 people in the streets, would Governor Walker still be in office?
OLBERMANN: Yeah. What, you see it then, as that. What are the implications for further actions, or it pretty much just sort of zeroed in on January 4th on Walker recall?
MORELLO: Yeah. Well, that's a hope. What I felt in the rotunda of the capitol building and on the streets of Madison when there were 100,000, next day was 150,000 people in the streets. There was so much torque, and it really seemed like this could be something that was about much more than stopping one bad law. Like, this could be a watershed moment in labor history for the United States, and the solidarity that was a glow -- I got this really inspiring e-mail from one of the organizers of the protests in Cairo saying, you know, we've got your back. This is something that's happened -- tyrants are falling on a global scale from the Mideast to the middle West. But -- and then I think the Democratic Party didn't know what to do. They didn't know what the hell to do with that. I think they were a little bit afraid that the river might run the banks. You know, and so the recall elections, of course, were very important, but I think if the demands have been bigger back in February, we might be in a different -- be in a very different place right now.
OLBERMANN: It's interesting, we were just talking about this before we started the interview, the idea that the Republicans when they try to push back against, again, the floor for ordinary people, not riches and wealth.
OLBERMANN: But, the floor.
OLBERMANN: They always go too far.
OLBERMANN: They get a plank of the floor, and then they want the roof as well.
OLBERMANN: This is almost, the one thing that we can still depend upon is overreach and just to -- it almost -- it's almost as if you just need to remind people what was happening now and how much of a deterioration it is from the past and they will take care of the rest.
MORELLO: That's correct. I think they very much miscalculated by starting in Madison, starting in Wisconsin. Because, I know, I mean, I grew up across the border, and I know -- and you know, the time I spent there, the night after we spent one night in the rotunda, the capitol building and then after, late that night, went out to one of the local pubs where there were these kind of big, burly pack -- drunken Packer fans, that when I'm on tour normally the people you might sit on the other side of the bar. But, they were much more staunchly pro-union and against Governor Walker than, you know, anybody else in the capital. So, it's -- they picked the wrong place to pick this fight.
OLBERMANN: This is what I found out in spring training in baseball which is a good litmus test, because they're all conservatives, because they all have new money --
OLBERMANN: And they want to keep all of it. Like, we all want to keep all of the money we possibly can -- and they all went, "What's all of this about unions? We're in a union," and you forget --
OLBERMANN: -- there are Republican members of unions.
OLBERMANN: Tom Morello, whose new album, "Worldwide Rebel Songs," just came out yesterday and who's going back on tour to hit the message home. Great thanks and good luck with that.
MORELLO: Thanks very much for having me.
OLBERMANN: My pleasure.
Glenn Beck explains that things are all better now for black people in this country. Well, being a black man, obviously, he would know. "Worsts," next.
OLBERMANN: A brief moment here in memory of Peggy Craven Lloyd. She was a Broadway actress, playing opposite such legends as John Garfield and Catherine Cornell. And, in one play called "Crime," playing against an actor named Norman Lloyd, who would go on to be everything from Alfred Hitchcock's right hand man on his TV show, to one of the stars of "St. Elsewhere," to Charlie Chaplin's tennis rival.
On June 29th, as I mentioned here that day, Norman and Peggy Lloyd celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Peggy passed away Monday morning at the age of 98. In an entertainment world where relationships are transient, they were permanent. In a world where relationships are transient, they were everlasting. My condolences to my friend Norman and to everybody else who loved Peggy.
We'll be back.
OLBERMANN: Sure, the saga of Bill O'Reilly and Mrs. Bill, figuratively "in bed with the cops" is compelling, in a car crash rubbernecky kind of way. But did anybody break the law? Next. First, because no law can contain these buffoons, other than the law of supply and demand. Here are "Countdown's" top three "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to J.C. Penney. The place has always been about 20 years behind the cultural curve. But today, it's closer to 50. From its new back-to-school collection, a special shirt designed for girls aged 7 to 16. "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me."
Two solutions. Parents, if your son is societally conscious and understands sarcasm, buy it for him and have him wear it to school. Otherwise, make your daughters their own shirts reading, "I'm too pretty and smart to shop at J.C. Penney." The store this afternoon pulled the shirts and apologized.
The runner-up, Lonesome Rhodes Beck. He's actually lamenting the fact that in this country, we won't use that wonderful, positive term "colored" any more!
(AUDIO FROM VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Didn't you feel ridiculously stupid everywhere in Africa, in Europe, in South America? In Jerusalem? When you would say the words "African-American"? It's black. In South America -- or I mean in South Africa, it's black and colored. And I don't remember the -- the difference. You're African-American! No, you're an American instead of -- instead of building the country up and saying, "Look it. We all have the right here in this country." Look what happened with Martin Luther King? That makes you an American. Judge not by the color of your skin and you -- and you weren't over in Africa. Your great-great-grandfather was, your great-great-great-great-grandfather may have been, but you weren't. And sure, this country sucked for blacks, sucked, beyond sucked for a long time. But it doesn't now. It doesn't now.
OLBERMANN: And there's the most dangerous kind of racism in the world, Glenn Beck's racism.
"It doesn't suck for black people. Doesn't now. Doesn't now."
It would be nice if Beck once in a while checked a little history. While whites were calling people colored, then Negro, then black, the founder of a Baltimore newspaper called his new publication, "The Afro-American." He was the son of a slave, this was 1892, and he already had a church newspaper called "The Afro-American." By the way, Mr. Beck, the first German-American society, that's the name of it in this country, had been founded by the year 1884, and it still operates in Omaha.
But our winner, House Majority Leader Eric "Let Them Eat Sandbags" Cantor.
You'll recall that after the Eastern earthquake and before and after Hurricane Irene, Cantor demanded that any emergency disaster funds be paid for by cuts in other parts of the budget. Even the funding to his own district, which was the epicenter of the quake.
This sound vaguely familiar to you? Our friend Sam Stein at Huffington Post reminded everybody yesterday that in October 2004, after five hurricanes had hit the country, Congressman Hensarling of Texas tried to attach an amendment to a disaster aid bill that would have fully offset all costs, with a proportional reduction of FY05, fiscal year 5 discretionary funding. Defense vets and Homeland Security were to be exempt for the offset cuts and freshman Congressman Cantor voted against the amendment. Voted against the idea that disaster victims should only get aid if they money was taken away from them later. Eric Cantor, F-ing hypocrite!
Today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Fox News has now not denied Gawker.com's report that the commissioner of the Nassau County New York police department ordered that one of his detectives be investigated on an allegation that the man was having an affair with Bill O'Reilly's wife and that the investigation was concurrent with a planned huge donation by O'Reilly to a charity fund set up by the commissioner of the Nassau police department. Our number one story on the "Countdown."
The reported affair is titillating but incidental. The big question here is a detective is investigated by the police at the orders of the chief for nothing more important than his relationship with the wife of a celebrity, while the promise of some of the celebrity's money hangs over the bizarre story. It sounds like somebody broke the law. Did anybody break the law?
First, the non-denial denial. As ever the unnamed spokesman for Fox told "Adweek" magazine, "Gawker has been lying about Fox News for several years. We're not going to dignify this with any further comment." Curiously, it seems Fox News was lying about Gawker. In a clumsy pre-emptive strike against the O'Reilly story last week, it declared Gawker the number one dying website, claiming that, according to the website, Compete.com, Gawker's traffic had dropped 75 percent in a year. In fact, Compete.com reported that Gawker's traffic had dropped 37 percent in a year. Another web traffic data site, Quantcast reported Gawker's visitors actually increased slightly from a year ago. If you missed the site's story about O'Reilly, it's highlights are these --
Last summer, Gawker reports Nassau County Internal Affairs Inspector Neil Delargy ordered department detective Richard Harasym to offer or open an investigation into another detective. Not because he was suspected of corruption, but because he was suspected of dating.
Gawker says its source quoted Detective Harasym.
"He told me, 'You'll never guess what happened to me the other day. Do you know Bill O'Reilly? I got called into my boss' office saying they wanted me to work with these two PIs working for O'Reilly to go over some information because a detective was having an affair with O'Reilly's wife.' The order was to investigate this detective not for any misdeeds," the source said, "but to see if they could get anything on him." Delargy also told him to tell the detective to back off. Delargy told Harasym that the investigation was highly sensitive for two reasons, the source said. "One, it was ordered directly by then-police commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, and two, O'Reilly was at the time considering making a major donation to the Nassau County police department foundation, a private not-for-profit foundation Mulvey helped found in 2009. These internal affairs cops were on the case at the behest of Mulvey in order to get O'Reilly funds," the source said.
Commissioner Mulvey has since retired. He confirmed the unnamed detective had been investigated, said he knew O'Reilly personally, but that neither -- nor O'Reilly, nor anybody connected with him had asked for that investigation to be conducted. But there's one more detail about the commissioner's Nassau County police department foundation, NCPD, which got lost amid the florid headlines yesterday.
To again quote Gawker, "In January, when a Long Island press reporter began looking into special favors being handed out by Nassau County cops to NCPD foundation donors, the paper's editor-in-chief received a call from a O'Reilly's assistant, insisting that O'Reilly 'did not receive any preferential treatment from Mulvey.'
What makes the statement interesting is that the "Express" -- that seems to be an error. The "Press" reporter hadn't asked O'Reilly or anybody else about his relationship to the foundation. "Funny thing is," the reporter wrote, "the 'Press' never asked.
His name had never been brought up in relation to this story until the assistant's phone call."
I'm sure Mr. O'Reilly won't mind me borrowing the title of one of his segments to ask "Is It Legal?"
To help answer that, I'm joined by Gloria Allred, an experienced lawyer, familiar with high-profile cases. Ms. Allred, thanks for your time tonight.
GLORIA ALLRED: Thanks for inviting me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Gawker got this comment from a spokesman from that police department about whether or not the charge that an unmarried officer might be involved romantically with the wife of a private citizen would be legitimate grounds for an internal investigation. And he said, "It could be. If a person comes to us and has complaint, no matter how frivolous it appears to be, we look into it. We don't look lightly on citizen complaints." Is the spokesman, right? Was this enough to launch an investigation?
ALLRED: Keith, some departments would consider that that would be an appropriate reason to conduct an investigation. Many would not. But I will say this. I don't believe that any department investigates every citizen complaint, including frivolous complaints, so I have a lot of question about that response.
OLBERMANN: To note again that we're hardly in full possession of the facts here, but this prospect that O'Reilly's donation or planned donation to this commissioner's police charity in some way was hanging on the investigation happening or the detective being told to back off, does that change the appropriateness of the vista we're looking at here?
ALLRED: Well, it could. I mean, if there was a quid pro quo and, of course, we don't know what the true facts were. But if, in fact, there was, "Open this investigation and in return, you get a donation to the police foundation," that could be bribery or attempted bribery and again, we don't know that that occurred.
OLBERMANN: The broader picture -- if you're Fox and News Corp and Rupert Murdoch and you're trying to downplay the summer past and to muffle the fall ahead that's gonna have internationally televised government hearings about how you've been bribing cops and how bad you've been, relative to your associations with policemen, how poorly is this story timed, even if it never amounts to anything, legally?
ALLRED: There's nothing positive about this and even the best spinners, I think, would be hard-pressed to find a happy face to put on this particular story.
OLBERMANN: So, in sum, and again, understanding, again, we don't know to what degree these things are connected, other -- we know for sure there was an investigation. Beyond that, we don't know very much about it on the record. But do you see anything that jumps out at you that we haven't noticed that might be a potential breaking of the law by somebody, even among the cops or someone else?
ALLRED: Well, I do think that if, in fact, any -- there was any solicitation of funds or offer to make a donation of funds and if, in fact, after that, this investigation took place, then I think there should be an investigation of the investigation and the idea that someone may have said, "Well, we are basically looking for anything on that officer" -- you know, police departments, internal affairs should not be going on fishing expeditions, just looking for anything to pin on any officer at all. I think that would be completely not appropriate and very disrespectful of the hard work the police officers do every day, an employment issue for the officer who was investigated, as well.
OLBERMANN: Attorney Gloria Allred giving us some perspective on where this might or might not be going. Great thanks for your insight and for your time again tonight.
ALLRED: Thank you. Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 31st day since the Republicans' debt ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? Where is our credit rating? How come you didn't know what next Wednesday was on your own party's calendar?
I'm Keith Olbermann.
Good night, and good luck.